Archive for deficit

If You Need it Explained…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2011 by rottenart

…then  here you go! From the magnificent Story of Stuff website:

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Failure is a Pretty ‘Super’ Option

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2011 by rottenart

It’s been clear for a while now that Republicans on the so-called “Super-committee” to oversee deficit reduction weren’t going to budge in the slightest. The media, for their part, have continued to advance a ridiculous narrative in which the GOP’s offer of $300 million in raised revenue (read: taxes) while making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent is somehow serious. Democrats on the panel, surprisingly, have refused to go along with such an inane proposal. So, here we are, less than a week until their deadline and they appear to be headed for complete failure.

Good.

First of all, the whole idea was stupid in the first place. It’s already congress’ job to come up with a budget. To put in the hands of an extra-super-secret congress is just political theater. More important, however, is what happens when they do fail. The whole idea was to make this committee accountable by building a doomsday scenario into their work:  if they can’t come to an agreement, automatic budget cuts (or sequestration, to use the word of the day) are triggered. Entitlements take a hit, defense takes a big hit, everyone’s pissed off and everyone can brag about reducing the deficit, right? Well, yes, but there’s one other huge piece of the puzzle that would have more of an effect than anything else: letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire.

We faced this same scenario earlier this year in the debt limit fiasco and last year when the cuts were supposed to expire originally: Republicans are too busy licking Grover Norquist’s boots (no matter how much John Boehner tries to pretend otherwise) to actually get serious and admit to fiscal reality. The fact that the GOP has become radicalized to the point of self-parody doesn’t help either. Tax rises, no matter the context or practical use, are anathema to the modern Republican party.

Regardless, the super-committee’s failure to reach an agreement, for all the bitching and moaning that Republicans will undoubtedly do, will actually lower the deficit. They won’t admit it, but it’s hard to deny facts. In fact, it looks to be as much as $7.1 trillion over the next decade. That’s a lot of scratch and it should be cause for celebration for those who feel the deficit is the end-all, be-all of American political discussion. Yet it’s clear that if the panel fails to deliver, the blame game is going to shift into overdrive with an election year looming. At the end of the day, however, the Bush Tax Cuts are the major driver for the deficit and letting them expire at the end of 2012 would put us back on track, with virtually no other actions to be taken.

It seems like those on the GOP side who are accusing the Obama administration of cheering for the super-committee’s failure should be doing a little cheering themselves if they truly care about the deficit. Anyone believe that’s the case?

They Call This ‘Serious About the Deficit’

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2011 by rottenart

In case you’ve been too busy following the dramatic goings-on in WI over the state supreme court election (something smells rotten in the Cheese State), there’s also been lots of action in DC. One party is trying to make sure the government continues to function and provides services for millions of people and the other is giddy at the idea military personnel won’t get their paychecks. Guess which is which.

Apparently, the main sticking points have so little to do with the Most Important Issue of Our Time™ (i.e. the budget deficit for some reason) it’s laughable. I’m not sure anyone  other than the most fervent Tea Baggers and this guy understand why taking rights away from women and gutting the EPA’s ability to keep our air clean is going to make us prosperous again. But here we are. Negotiations have been ongoing since early this week with no solution in sight. As of this morning, there was still hope that a shutdown might be averted, even as furlough notices were going out. But Boehner and his rabid caucus are refusing to budge and so we’re practically back to square one. It’s like a slow motion bad dream that seems too ridiculous to be true.

Then you wake up and Paul Ryan is handing you his budget proposal.

Joe Barton, Representative for Exxon

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by rottenart

I find it funny that in the latest battle over funding for NPR and public broadcasting, the focus seems to be on the fact that these companies could probably do just fine without government help. Of great interest to conservatives is the amount Sesame Street makes from merchandising:

“Shows like Sesame Street are thriving, multimillion-dollar enterprises,” [Jim] DeMint wrote. “According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, Sesame Street made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales. Big Bird will be just fine without his federal subsidies.”

Ok, fair enough. If we want to have a conversation about the free market and the need for government subsidies, then by all means let’s have it. The funny part is when we start talking about the amount of government funding that goes to things other than educational programming. A reporter got some face time with Texas Rep. Joe Barton, already somewhat infamous for apologizing to BP in the wake of the spill in the Gulf, and quizzed him on massive government subsidies for oil companies that, by all accounts, are doing just fine:

ABC’s Jonathan Karl noted that the taxpayer subsidies the oil industry receives are relics, which seem hard to defend in the 21st century. Barton initially argued, “Do you want everything made in China?” I’m not at all sure what argument he was trying to make with this.

So Karl pushed further, asking if there was any credible threat of major oil companies going out of business if they stopped receiving taxpayer subsidies. “Over time if you put so many disincentives against any U.S. manufacturing or production company, or oil and gas exploration company, they’ll go out of business,” Barton said.

Pressed further on whether he has trouble defending subsidies to an oil industry that’s already enjoying enormous profits, Barton said the money we throw at them is acceptable “so long as you believe that you believe in the free market capitalist system.”

If you have a hard time following the logic, you’re not alone. Apparently, it’s the height of wasteful spending to send taxpayer dollars to public broadcasting in the public interest, but it’s an affront to the very free market system itself to suggest that oil companies will probably get by without a government handout. Even if Barton made a cogent argument it still doesn’t make sense. Taxpayer subsidies are the very opposite of the free market. So, that’s not really the issue. Basically, it’s as simple as “handouts for me but not for thee.”

I’m sure lots of us suspected that Big Oil had a stranglehold on some politicians. Here’s the proof.

 

 

Banning More Herbs is Good Public Policy?

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by rottenart

I wonder if there would be as many “problems” with synthetic substitutes if we were to take a long, hard look at the laws concerning marijuana in this country. According to Drugsense.org, we’ve spent a little over $2.5 trillion in the War on Drugs™ to date. That much money could go a long way towards fixing the deficit problems that are the biggest distraction number one priority in DC at the moment. I recall president Obama getting a Youtube question about this very issue a while back and calling it “worthy of debate”. Are we ready for that debate yet? Because apparently the DEA has nothing better to do than to just keep banning herbs.

Party Sanctioned Sabatoge

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by rottenart

It’s official: the Republican party is actively seeking to hurt the economy and raise unemployment to satisfy the tiny percentage of the American people who think the deficit is more important than jobs. We had an inkling of this sort of thing when Speaker Boehner uttered his famous “so be it” remarks and now we have definitive proof. Of course, we already had the Goldman-Sachs report but the new independent analysis from Moody’s is just reinforcing the premise. Don’t be fooled by the Wall St. Journal, kids; the GOP is going to slash the budget and American jobs be damned.

The truth is that we’ve been in a similar situation before. As a caller, roger, on the Diane Rehm show put it this morning:

And the last time we were, we got out of it by engaging in massive deficit spending and a absolute mandatory jobs program that was called WWII and the draft. And it actually led to the greatest prosperity we’ve ever seen.

And as a corollary, before the ramp up to a war footing got the economy into overdrive, a massive federal jobs program put the country back to work with the extra benefit of rebuilding the national infrastructure. Of course, there’s no way such a thing could happen today. Republicans simply won’t accept reality and Democrats are too cowardly to do what’s right. The history of the country, the facts on the ground today and simple common sense tell us that the plan to gut federal spending is a disaster waiting to happen. And the Republicans are apparently not ashamed in the slightest about it. In fact, they seem to relishing the possibility of a meltdown.

So, really, the only question left is the one Steve Benen is asking: why the hell is this not considered front page news?

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by rottenart

Everyone in Washington seems obsessed with the idea of ‘grown-up conversations’ and ‘hard sacrifices’ these days. Of course, these terms are reserved for the little people out here in Real America. I have not yet heard any major political figure, from Obama to Dick Armey to Alan Simpson, suggest that maybe the Wall Street bankers and Big Business CEOs might be asked to get in on some of this sacrifice. No, instead it’s back to the tried and true methods of screwing the regular taxpayers and vacuuming up every spare dollar the greedy parasites can get their hands on. I wonder how many hedge fund managers are worried that may have to work until the age of 70 to be able to eek out an existence on Social Security and Medicare alone?

Today comes more news of the growing consensus among Very Serious People™ in DC that slashing support for the rest of us is the only possible solution. This is hot on the heels of Obama’s budget, due next week, which seems to take the ‘drown-government-in-a-bathtub’ crowd’s suggestions as a starting point. Turning to the other side of the aisle, Republicans are salivating at the prospect of cutting funding for everything from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to WIC and Head Start. In Wisconsin, newly-minted Teabagger governor, Scott Walker, is threatening to call out the National Guard to break up state worker protests to his plan to unilaterally renegotiate their pension contracts in order to solve his budget crisis. The criminal governor in Florida, Rick Scott is on track to cut almost all public assistance and privatize everything in sight, all while cutting corporate tax rates for his wealthy cronies.

These are only the tip of the iceberg, folks. There is a concerted effort afoot to finally win the class war, begun 30 years ago under Ronnie Raygun, and things don’t look good for the working people of America. And, as they’re telling us slashing SS and Medicare funding is the ‘grown-up sacrifice’ that we’re hungering for, keep in mind that Wall Street bonuses are back up, corporations are sitting on billions in unspent capital rather then investing and hiring, and the richest men in the country are continuing to subvert democracy and public health with billions in private money.

What’s really galling is that the group that seems the most angry about the direction of the country (and scream the loudest) are directly aiding and abetting the wholesale destruction of their own economic prosperity. These are the people who stand to lose the most from gutting the social safety net and they are cheering it on. On the other hand, the sanity-based community is pilloried for even suggesting that perhaps their ire is misplaced.

What will it take to unite the working and lower classes in this country in opposition to the growing oligarchy forming under our very nose? What will it take for those who profess to defend us on the Left and those who profess to despise us on the Right to stop agreeing to screw us together? When will we recognize that a continued assault on our safety net is going to eventually take us all down? I cheered at the crowds gathered in Tahrir Square today as they shook off the shackles of 30 years of autocratic capitalism and wondered to myself, “when will it be America’s turn? When will we recognize that the Egyptian people’s struggle against a powerful, ruling elite is also our own?”