Lemkin

Gone To Since 1984

And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.

George Carlin

  • November 12, 2012 1:41 pm

    "Obama ignored vast swaths of his agenda [while campaigning], barely mentioning climate change or education reform, but by God did he hammer home the fact that his winning would bring higher taxes on the rich. He raised it so relentlessly that at times it seemed out of proportion even to me, and I wrote a book on the topic. But polls consistently showed the public was on his side."

    Jonathan Chait, who may as well be yelling at the clouds because, even though he’s right, it seems the forces of the status quo (MSM and GOP alike) can and will move heaven and earth if need be to preserve the current Bush-Obama tax cut rate for the very richest ~2% of Americans rather than simply revert to current law and let those rates on income above $250k move up by (gasp) ~2.5% to the Clinton era rates. Far better to memory hole all that Romney/Obama debating, claim the election was shockingly “idea free,” that nearly 4M extra popular voters and 332 electoral votes isn’t a mandate, and demand the ever-popular grand bargain, which, if course, is only grand or a bargain for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, many or most of whom likely did not vote for Obama. The rest of you: go die in the streets.

  • November 28, 2011 11:54 am

    Upstairs/Downstairs

      John Kyl (R, AZ), Saturday:  [tax increases are] the wrong medicine for our ailing economy, [...] [any possibility of a potential future increase only serves to] put a wet blanket over job creation and economic recovery.
      John Kyl (R, AZ), Sunday:  The payroll tax holiday has not stimulated job creation. We don’t think that is a good way to do it. [Thus we want to raise taxes on every American that currently receives a paycheck]. The best way to hurt economic growth is to impose more taxes on the people who do the hiring. As a result, the Republicans have said, ‘Don’t raise the existing tax rates on those who do the hiring.’ [That is to say, the 1%. Who aren't, uh, actually hiring. But still. Don't raise THEIR taxes. Raise the 99%'s taxes. Only that will get the old economy going again!]
      Lemkin:  Again, the MSM will see no dissonance whatsoever in these positions. Of course raising taxes on most everyone in the country to avoid a tiny tax increase on a tiny fraction of the country makes the best economic sense in an aggregate demand-based economic downturn. What other conclusion is even possible given this data? Surely both sides are at fault for low aggregate demand in the 99%; this is only fixable if both sides agree to lower taxes on the 1%. Again: what other conclusion is even possible?
  • November 22, 2011 4:54 pm

    The Rub

    In all the rush to cast a pox on both houses, most Serious People seem to be missing the underlying point here.

    The Republicans want tax rates to remain at current (i.e. Bush/Obama tax cut) levels or to be lowered. To do that without collapsing the Federal Government, they have to end Medicare. Period, the end, no other way to do it. Zero the non-military discretionary budget and you still aren’t getting particularly close. Thus, this:

    …committee Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health-care entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid—based upon the reforms included in the budget the House passed earlier this year [this is what is commonly referred to as the “Ryan plan”; it ends Medicare but leaves in place a voucher system which seniors would use to try to buy coverage on the open market. Good luck with that, seniors. Anyone paying attention will recall that this is the issue Medicare was created to solve. At any rate, under Ryan’s plan everyone that fails to find coverage they can afford with regard to the differential between voucher and actual cost: go die in the streets.]

    Republicans on the committee also offered to negotiate a plan based on the bipartisan “Protect Medicare Act” authored by Alice Rivlin, [which would allow seniors to] choose from a list of Medicare-guaranteed coverage options, similar to the House budget’s approach—except that Rivlin-Domenici would continue to include a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan among the options.

    So, the GOP “choices” here are: completely voucherize and functionally end Medicare under the Ryan plan, or vastly extend Medicare Advantage and get to Ryan’s plan stepwise. After all, Medicare Advantage has bee such a smashing success; it’s the plan that delivered a ~14% more costly version of Medicare, the program it sought to “revolutionize.”

    Democrats, on the other hand, believe that a return to Clinton era tax rates fundamentally solves the near- to mid-term budget issues. This is widely known to be true; it is also known to be true by Republicans, who are simply using the current “crisis” (which, not coincidentally was invented by them during the run-up and denouement of the debt ceiling “crisis”) as an excuse to attempt various long-held policy goals, most notably: ending Medicare.

    Long term issues in our budget do indeed exist, these can only be handled by bringing health care costs under control; Democrats wish to work towards that goal, Republicans choose to address the issue by simply ending that program entirely. This is the point at which it’s worth noting that, if we paid for medical care the per-capita rates that our next-nearest “competitor” pays, we’d be facing surpluses as far as the eye can see. Right now.
    But, a massive step in that “solvency” direction would, in fact, be Medicare for all. Instead, the GOP demands Medicare for none or they blow up the country. Those are your two GOP-approved choices. They simply don’t want to talk about it in public, because eliminating Medicare is a wildly unpopular position to hold. You’d think someone in the media would mention something as explosive as this from time to time. Doesn’t ever seem to come up.

    Clearly, though, both parties are equally at fault here. Truly a triumph of 21st Century Journamalism.

  • October 11, 2011 12:25 pm

    "Most Republican voters believe, with good reason, that Romney stands a strong chance of winning the nomination and beating President Obama. The question is whether he would put repeal front and center—whether he would emphasize it in the general election campaign, and whether he would go to the mat for repeal once in office. Would Romney’s campaign build enough momentum for repeal to achieve 60 votes in the Senate and defeat a potential filibuster? If not, would Romney be willing to advance repeal in the Senate via reconciliation, the complicated and unconventional process that takes only 50 votes but which would also require a far greater expenditure of political capital?"

    Jeffery H. Anderson makes me wonder if he’s even been paying attention. If we assume that the posited chain of events occurs: GOP holds some kind of House majority and gains a new but non-60 vote majority in the Senate (and, of course, President Mittmentum) then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to derive the complex psychohistorical formulas for what happens next?!?!?
    The GOP eliminates (by simple majority) the filibuster on the first day of the new Congress. The MSM declares this an entirely reasonable, “sensible center” approach to governing. Wholesale dismantlement of the New Deal follows, coupled to and justified by the oncoming tax revenue collapse from a 0% effective tax rate on the rich and consumption-based, maximally regressive tax on everyone else.
    It’s what they’ve been talking about for years. They are entirely serious. They mean to do it at the first opportunity, and this would be it. There will be no fiddling with reconciliation or anything approaching “normal order” as we define it in 2011. How many times do they have to say this stuff before someone in the MSM takes them seriously and asks a follow-up or two? Or, for that matter, before The Democrat starts using these positions against them. (Shrill! Class War!!).
    The far-right GOP candidates and elected officials are not “blowing smoke” or “providing red meat” for the “true believers.” This is who they are. Everyone else can kindly go die in the streets.

  • June 7, 2011 1:16 pm

    Default Already Hitting Pocketbooks

    The GOP’s hostage taking re: the debt ceiling is already causing ripple effects in the economy:

    As of late May, the number of CDS contracts — essentially insurance policies on the possibility of a default — had risen by 82 percent. Equally as important, the cost of a CDS — the best indication of how much riskier U.S. debt has become — rose by more than 35 percent from April to May. Last week I spoke to a number of people who calculate such things for a living, and they said this change means that the interest rate the U.S. government has to pay has already increased by as much as 40 basis points compared with what it otherwise would be. This means higher federal borrowing costs and deficits, and overall higher interest rates on everything from car loans to mortgages to credit cards.

    Remember all those “confidence” trolls the GOP trotted out in advance of retaining the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals in the US? Wonder where those guys went.

    But, by all means, let’s talk about Weiner and whatever other body parts are on display in the Halls of Serious People. That’s the stuff that really matters.

  • June 3, 2011 11:49 am

    In a Decent World

    jeffmiller:

    Let me see if understand this:  You originally posted a quote that suggested we’re living in a conservative dream-world in which government has shrunk over the past two years, and that this has caused economic stagnation.  Now you’re arguing that things have gotten better these last two years because of Democrat policies.  I don’t think there’s a consistency here, but I have to tip my hat to the partisan dexterity.  

    In, as Yglesias likes to say, a “decent world,” we’d all agree that (1) a job loss chart can’t tell the whole story of the economy, (2) the job loss chart doesn’t reflect the number of people who have given up and dropped out of the labor market, and (3) throwing red and blue colors on a chart doesn’t mean you’ve shown causation. 

    Nope. I’m pretty clearly pining for a world in which the media questions conservative desires and their likely outcomes based on real world observations. How’s austerity working out in the UK? How’s government-based job loss affecting our larger economy, re: the jobs chart? Why do you think more job loss at the hands of state and local cutbacks will magically create jobs when, in fact, more people will be out of work and have no money to spend in the broader economy? That sort of thing.

    I’m also saying that in a world with larger implementation of “Democrat policies” that the jobs graph would look better than it does. That’s not “partisan dexterity,” it’s cold reality. Government funded jobs are jobs. Period. People are employed to do something and receive a paycheck. That money feeds back into the larger economy. As the private economic situation improves, those government backed jobs can begin to taper. It’s no coincidence that the steepest climb in that chart is also the period of highest government stimulus and the graph flattens as the stimulus ends.
    Predictably, we’re also seeing exactly this model play out in the auto industry. Government directly funds US auto companies. Those companies and their suppliers remain in business. People are employed. Conditions improve. Companies repay government and go their merry way. And but also: no Serious People seem to notice. Ever.

    Far from it. The conservatives and their media enablers act as if none of this has transpired. Cuts today, cuts tomorrow, cuts forever! Couple that with some high income tax breaks and a ban on abortions and the country would start to grow again! Huzzah!

    (Source: lemkin)

  • June 2, 2011 1:24 pm

    2.96

    Emphasis added:

    …if even 1/50 of the austerity-induced decline in current output flows through to reduce the economy’s productive potential, that austerity today worsens the debt burden.

    This is an unusual result: it applies only to a country with a substantial fiscal multiplier that can fund its debt at very low interest rates. But we are a country with a substantial fiscal multiplier that can fund it’s debt at very low interest rates…

    Indeed we are. But no one seems interested in noticing. We can borrow against a 10-year Treasury at a 2.96% yield. The money behind that rate is clearly not concerned with either deficits or the capability of the United States to meet the debt incurred by their purchase yesterday or all the days before that. As Jared Bernstein notes, the current “budget math” still strongly favors a jobs target and not a deficit target.

    This is very simple stuff. How many ways do you have to prove that cuts today worsen our long-term fiscal situation before somebody with a D after their name starts talking about this in a compelling, no-nonsense fashion? We can borrow, cheaply, and those dollars (when pumped into the economy) would hasten the closing of our current output gap. This would simultaneously a) obviate the need for further borrowing, b) close the revenue shortfalls of Great Recession, and c) coupled with a do-nothing legislative approach relative to the Bush tax cuts would almost entirely close the existing budget deficits within a few years.

    But, by all means, let’s go on pretending that deep, punitive cuts to the social safety net and eliminating access to abortions are the only Serious Person positions possible given the current situation.

  • May 17, 2011 11:24 am
    Shocking. Overall economic growth and employment were both dramatically higher post Clinton tax hikes than post Bush tax cuts. It’s almost, almost like tax cutting doesn’t guarantee economic boom days. Almost.

This should be sitting behind every Democrat in each and every public appearance until it is indelibly burned into the retinas of each and every voter in the most distant reaches of East Turkmenistan and Americans simply cry a few involuntary tears when it’s brought out yet again. Then you can start cleaning out the tax reforms barn once and for all.

    Shocking. Overall economic growth and employment were both dramatically higher post Clinton tax hikes than post Bush tax cuts. It’s almost, almost like tax cutting doesn’t guarantee economic boom days. Almost.

    This should be sitting behind every Democrat in each and every public appearance until it is indelibly burned into the retinas of each and every voter in the most distant reaches of East Turkmenistan and Americans simply cry a few involuntary tears when it’s brought out yet again. Then you can start cleaning out the tax reforms barn once and for all.

  • May 4, 2011 10:12 am

    Shocking News about Gang of Six

    A bipartisan effort to rein in the national debt stalled Tuesday, as members of the Senate’s so-called Gang of Six signaled that an agreement is unlikely to come this week in time for the start of White House-led budget talks.

    Also unlikely to come in the weeks following the start of White House-led talks. And in the months and years after that. And, you know, forever. Just like the Baucus-led Gang of Whateveritwas on healthcare reform, these talks were never going anywhere. Ever. They were solely an attempt to get >50% of the Ryan plan and then stamp it with the Broder-approved Seal of Bipartisanship. And then demand another 20-30% on top of that “bipartisan” plan when the mess hit the floor. Period. That is all that was ever going on in there. All that is going on in there.

    Though never mentioned in the mainstream media, there is one party, the GOP, that has categorically ruled out any revenue increase from any source and intends to “balance” the budget by eliminating Medicare, fundamentally ending Medicaid, and then passing those “savings” on to the very rich in the form of more tax cuts. And then, of course, raise the debt ceiling to pay for it by borrowing ever-more. This is their plan. Magically, they also plan to reduce all government spending to levels below what just the military consumes today. And this all seems likely to the Serious People. Sensible and courageous, even.

    Notable that Tom Coburn, one of the vanishingly few people with (R) after their name that actually accepts revenue probably has to increase, has suddenly left town. Shocking. I’m sure it’s truly pressing business back home.

    Can we finally be done with time-wasting and air-sucking idiocies such as the Gang of Six and, for that matter, all these other “Gangs of” now and forever? I know Serious People love their Gangs, but there simply is no middle ground, or anything approaching “middle ground” between Ryan and the status quo. There just isn’t. And though Serious People will never, ever accept it, sometimes doing nothing is indisputably the best way forward when faced with intransigent and unthinking opposition such as that presented by the modern GOP.
    In this case, doing nothing fixes at least half of our budget problem. But let’s not talk about that. Everyone knows that Medicare has to go away. Anything less would destroy America.

    All I have to say is: All hail gridlock!

  • April 21, 2011 4:42 pm

    "In my fantasies, not only would the Republicans block all these [“compromise” spending cuts], Obama would fix the medium term deficit entirely with one swipe of the pen in December of 2012 by vetoing the inevitable extension of all the Bush tax cuts and letting them expire. He would have already won his final election and could afford to take the heat."

    Digby
    I actually think this is the plan. As I’ve said before, Obama is the outcomes President. If a package of spending cuts is presented that he and his advisers thinks makes sense, I have no doubt he’ll sign off on them; given the current environment I’d say this outcome is vanishingly unlikely. Therefore you plan on Republican intransigence (and their sending Kyl and Cantor as “negotiators” pretty much says it all), you try to make said intransigence reflect poorly on the GOP at large (Ryan has really helped here), and you talk about middle class tax cuts all the way to raising middle class taxes just after the election either through utter inaction (they just expire, Obama does nothing other than ask for middle class extension and Congress fails to act either way) or because you’ve been “forced” to veto Bush tax extensions by the presence of cuts for the very wealthy. Why? Because that’s the necessary outcome. As Digby notes, it’s what puts the country on a more sound middle-term economic footing; it is not a coincidence this issue was set to go off just after the (presumptive) second term is settled. They’ve been working towards this all along.