The country is broke and our grandchildren will all be beggars in the streets, but there's always millions to spare for bullshit propaganda isn't there?
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation has announced a $1 million grant to the newly established Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
The grant will support the establishment of a Fiscal Responsibility Institute at the center as well as an annual conference focused on national budgetary issues. The center, which aims to provide scholarship, training, and opportunities for a new generation of leaders who value public service, was formally launched this week by an inaugural conference on the topic of "The Federal Budget and the Law: Finding a Way Forward."
Another think tank on fiscal responsibility is exactly what we need. It's the highest priority for those least affected by the ebbs and flows of our nations' economy.
I expect all of Colorado's Loyal Austerians to be at the first conference...
Part of the answer surely lies in the widespread desire to see economics as a morality play, to make it a tale of excess and its consequences. We lived beyond our means, the story goes, and now we're paying the inevitable price. Economists can explain ad nauseam that this is wrong, that the reason we have mass unemployment isn't that we spent too much in the past but that we're spending too little now, and that this problem can and should be solved. No matter; many people have a visceral sense that we sinned and must seek redemption through suffering - and neither economic argument nor the observation that the people now suffering aren't at all the same people who sinned during the bubble years makes much of a dent.
But it's not just a matter of emotion versus logic. You can't understand the influence of austerity doctrine without talking about class and inequality.
Thus, the average American is somewhat worried about budget deficits, which is no surprise given the constant barrage of deficit scare stories in the news media, but the wealthy, by a large majority, regard deficits as the most important problem we face.
(This is where the influence of big donors, who can speak to their senators whenever they want, becomes the enemy of common sense and the Middle Class. -z)
And how should the budget deficit be brought down? The wealthy favor cutting federal spending on health care and Social Security - that is, "entitlements" - while the public at large actually wants to see spending on those programs rise.
You get the idea:
The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.
So, they've crunched some real numbers and determined exactly how much money the average Social Security recipient can expect to lose if the Chained-CPI is implemented. I'm going to assume that if someone told you that the government was going to seize $15,000.00 from your 401k you'd think it was a cut.
To rich people, 15 grand amounts to tip money so they cannot see why average Americans shouldn't be willing to give up such a paltry sum especially if it will "save" Social Security for their grandchildren.
Funny thing about that --- it won't. Save Social Security, that is.
So Social Security's status will barely be improved by Udall and Bennet and Obama and Pete Peterson's solution. Though it will absolutely be felt by almost every recipient - young, old, retired, working, disabled.
And that $15,000 is a little over a month's pay for our esteemed senators who will soon make those "tough" decisions to cut Social Security and bless America's wealthy with another generation of low-tax, America the Beautiful living.
Thank God they are not average, for they all do so deserve their bounty...
Trying to think of a core Democratic principle that Barack Obama has stood up for, fought for, implemented, damn the political costs.
I can find none.
He stopped torture, thank goodness. But drone attacks that kill innocent civilians continue. He's wound down 2 wars, that we couldn't fight forever anyway (no matter the desires of John McCain and Lindsey Graham) and that should've ended years before they did.
Oh, wait, Afghanistan hasn't ended yet.
Health care "reform" was/is a disaster achieved with Michael Bennet's great flair, and nothing else. It's still on a slow roll with Republicans poised to repeal it at any minute.
The President certainly has evolved on LGBT issues and gay marriage, but boy, did that take some time and a "gaffe" by Veep Biden.
But now some say his convenient evolution on social issues gives him some further desire to cut social programs as a give back to the political center. This is to make Republicans less hostile and donors more amenable, though Republican hostility to this president is an ever-morphing beast who feeds on any statement, policy, utterance, thought emanating from the White House.
Will the beast ever be soothed? NO.
BP tried to kill the Gulf, they received a relatively mild slap on the wrist. Keystone pipeline seems a given, though its massive potential for polluting the environment will far outweigh its economic benefits of 35 full time jobs.
Coloradans praised Obama's interior secretary Salazar, a local yokel who opened up offshore drilling, had the Horizon and the Kulluk on his watch, yet did very little for the good of the environment to my eye.
And still Obama's supposed allies in the Senate never cease their calls for more and more bipartisanship. This quest has turned into a continuing win for Republicans who are given a mile only to take another mile on almost every issue. Obama has pre-negotiated with Republicans so much they only have to wait and watch for him to give them more.
The Republicans have won so many economic issues or so many years it seems impossible the Obama/Peterson/Third Way plan to cut Social Security and raise Medicare's eligibility age seems inevitable. Thanks, once again, to a compliant and weak-kneed and economically ignorant delegation from Colorado and to a Zombie Bowles/Simpson cyborg that nothing can kill, not even a simple spreadsheet.
If someone can name a core Democratic issue on which Obama has staked significant political capital (oh, and he had and has it yet) then please chime in.
I'll keep searching for one - and wondering what it would take for a Democrat to act like a true Democrat in this day and age in our nation's capital.
Polls tell us something about the characteristics of gun rights supporters and gun owners specifically. If we look at these categories, we see that they are disproportionately white, male and old.
"Disproportionately white, male and old" is a description that fits the Senate and, to a lesser degree, most other American political elites quite well.
For example campaign contributors are disproportionately white male, and old too.
Gun rights supporters are also more likely to be registered to vote than gun control advocates. So from this standpoint the cause of gun rights gets more of a hearing because it appeals to the kind of citizens who are already comfortable and used to participating in politics.
There is nothing here to disabuse me of my long-held notion that most economists reach their conclusions by cutting up a sheep on a rock and reading the entrails.
This error is needed to get the results they published, and it would go a long way to explaining why it has been impossible for others to replicate these results. If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel.
And are we at all surprised that a certain zombie-eyed granny-starver of our casual acquaintance was one of the delivery mechanisms into our politics for what may be one of the great public-intellectual blunders (or worse) of the century?
Why, no, we are not at all.
This has been one of the most cited stats in the public debate during the Great Recession.Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget states their study "found conclusive empirical evidence that [debt] exceeding 90 percent of the economy has a significant negative effect on economic growth." The Washington Post editorial board takes it as an economic consensus view, stating that "debt-to-GDP could keep rising - and stick dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth."
Only, the technique has lost its sizzle. Blue Dogs have been losing elections in droves.
Republicans have kept tacking starboard, but Dems have mostly given up trying to affect the dialog even though voters have given them every reason to curse the darkness and act as foes to their hyper-ignorant political enemies.
Melissa Harris-Perry had a good panel on recently to question the sanity of Dems who are determined to cut Social Security in a psychotic fit of triangulation:
Melissa HARRIS-PERRY: The budget plan President Obama presented this week makes another push toward a grand bargain with an inclusion of an enticement to Republicans that had so far been off the table in the deficit battle, a proposal to take a scalpel to Social Security. His plan would limit the benefits paid to seniors by charting the calculation for inflation -- changing the calculation for inflation, to cut the growth of monthly Social Security payments in the future. So instead of tying the increases to the consumer price index, the President's budget would change it to a different calculation called chained CPI.
And while his budget exempts the oldest and the poorest of Social Security recipients, it would cause 65 year old retirees to lose more than a thousand dollars a year by the time they reach age 85, which far more of them are now going to reach.
House Republicans for their part, have refused to take the bait.
But the plan has sparked resistance from within the President's own party as progressives launch an organized campaign against the proposal. So I mean, I mean I know what second term presidents are supposed do. They're supposed to touch the third rail that nobody else can. They're never run for election again. But this one has been tough.
ULRICH: Why are we picking on old people? Why are we nickel and diming our seniors who can't afford this? A thousand dollars a year, that can pay for prescriptions, prescription coverage that's not covered by the government, because in retirement, more than a third of your costs are going to be related to health care. $200,000 on average for seniors in their senior lifetime. It's crazy.
HARRIS-PERRY: And with baby boomers being where they are in their life cycle right now, we've got a lot of seniors, if everybody is going to stop smoking, even more old people, right, and so we know this is a huge population and I think part of the conversation has been, what are we going to do with all of these retirees, and this is one answer.
Dean BAKER: You know, it really is outrageous I think, because the presumption is that somehow seniors have too much money. And you know, Josh actually wrote a nice piece on this a little while back. Our retirement system collapsed.
We don't have defined benefit pensions any longer.
Most people have little by way of savings.
We know that a lot of people took a big hit on their homes with the collapse of the housing bubble. Social Security has been the one pillar of retirement income that's stood up.
If anything we should looking into expanding it. So, I mean, this is just you know, the Washington Post loves this. But apart from the Washington punditry --
You'll never see Mark Udall on a panel like this.
You'll never hear Michael Bennet talk of expanding Social Security.
You'll never hear Jared Polis stand up for the elderly against this plan.
They've Triangulated...as far away as possible from the Democratic base that put them in office.
They did it almost as soon as they were sworn in.
That's what you need to know about those Colorado Democrats who are determined to do the outrageous to Colorado's seniors and vets and disable.
The War on Workers has been internalized by the Democratic Party.
Jared Polis and Mark Udall are both "Honorary Co-Chairs" of Third Way, a Pete Peterson front group that intends to cut the social safety net and cripple that pesky Middle Class.
Joining them are Michael Bennet, who actually voted down the sequester deal because it didn't cut enough, and Democratic President Barack Obama, who is the first Democratic President to propose cuts Social Security.
Despite the fact that many millions of elderly, retirees, and disabled rely on those meager funds, that both private and public pensions are less funded than required by law, and that the 401k retirement fund experiment has failed its primary purpose (oh, the banks and fund managers make their money) President Obama's budget also includes cuts to federal worker pensions:
Chained CPI would hit federal workers especially hard-under President Obama's budget, federal pensions as well as Social Security would be subject to the chained CPI cuts. That proposal comes at the same time as Obama's budget calls for increased pension contributions from federal workers:
Under that plan, a repeat of an administration proposal advanced last year, federal employees would pay an additional 1.2 percentage points of their pay, spread out over three years - 0.4 percent annually. Federal retirement payments and Social Security payments, among other benefits, would increase at a slower rate under an alternative inflation index Obama recommended.
So three years into a pay freeze and as furloughs under sequestration are starting, the president's budget has federal workers start paying more into their pensions and getting less out of them-but hey, he's proposing they get a one percent pay raise, so it's all good, right?
Despite clear electoral mandates in the last two elections, a Democratic President is coerced into playing by the Republican game plan: anti-worker, anti-tax-fairness, anti-democratic, anti-transparency.
I can link to all that crap if you'd like, but it's been in the news every day. And every day Democrats will tell you they're doing a great job fighting for their constituents.
But they'll be lying, just like a good Republican does.
It's quite obvious ColoradoPols doesn't give a crap what most D's do as long as there's a (D) behind their name. Maybe it's because they use the "don't get caught with a live girl or a dead boy" standard. Maybe it's that they're mostly insiders, the Professional Left of Colorado, and don't want embarrass the boss - even if he or she embarrasses the Brand.
I expect our side to uphold the ideals laid down by their Democratic forebears who made history: FDR, Harry Truman, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter even Progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt. If you dare to think you can lead, it should be with a purpose beyond your family's welfare and your own checking brokerage account.
That being said, I shall praise Colorado's Senator Mikey* Bennet for one act, and condemn him for 2 others.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is a Democrat's Democrat and it is very clear she will hold bankers and regulators feet to the fire for the profound responsibility the have in causing our current economic mess.
Here is some of what Mikey Bennet could have done if he gave a crap about what bankers did to you and me:
Now I condemn Bennet's egregious acts, committed in a way to curry more favor from bankers and further distance himself from ordinary citizens:
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today welcomed Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who will join the committee for the 113th Congress starting in January. Senators Brown and Bennet will replace outgoing Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), both retiring this year.
"Michael Bennet brings a wealth of practical, real-world experience to the Finance Committee. He has proven himself to be an up-and-coming leader who is always willing to reach across party lines," Senator Baucus said. "As a fellow Westerner, I know Michael has a top-notch work ethic and will deliver common-sense solutions."
This is a case of political malpractice on the part of state and national Democrats.
(Michael Bennet is Chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. It is his job to find a candidate that will defeat the man whose only goal was to defeat Barack Obama. -z)
McConnell is a leading symbol of the GOP and of what Democrats loathe about the GOP. And he is, on paper, the most vulnerable Senate incumbent.
In his fifth term now, McConnell has an approval rating in Kentucky of 36 percent. Silent but sullen, most of his own party doesn't really like him. The state's Democrats, who still control the governorship and the lower house, positively despise the man.
Yet out of a toxic mix of fear, self-interest and timidity, no credible candidate has stepped forward to challenge him.
So I thank Bennet for stepping down from a committee on which he did not care to perform his most basic responsibility as a senator. He could've stayed and gummed up the works.
I derisively call Bennet "Mikey" because this is just how he treats his constituents: as his lessers who should be seen and not heard.
I criticize his continued transformation into the Ultimate DC Insider: a man who'll use committee seats to boost his campaign accounts and as an employment agent for his staffers. Senator Bennet has been transformed from a green politico who saw the how broken DC was to an insider who makes every move political and who only sees how his own future can benefit fro his days ahead as one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, DC.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer has reported that the US Department of Justice secured a court order demanding that the state agency in Oregon that oversees the provision of medical cannabis to Oregonian patients who are suffering from serious, and in some cases, life threatening diseases to turn over records that personally identify patients, care givers and suppliers of the medicine.
The search warrant was filed in November of 2012 and requires the Oregon Medical Marijuana Project to turn over the names, addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, and driver's license numbers of "patients, growers and care givers in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program database files."
The state officials who register patients and suppliers were ordered by the US Department of Justice to not disclose the existence or contents of the search warrant.
It also shows what a bushel of ignorance mixed with a ton of concrete can get for a party that lives in the past yet won't die a normal death.
Republicans have pushed the debate so far to the right for so long that Democrats have now proposed to incrementally ruin Social Security so their Millionaire Donors and Billionaire Buddies can send a message to the riff-raff:
Over the last few years Wall Street has thrown every commission, gang, sequester and supercommitee they could come up with at our earned benefits. Each time, you have risen to the occasion.
Here's a rally of some who disagree with the current batch of Corporatist Dems and their imminent failure. Senator Bernie Sanders delivered over 2 Million signatures to President Obama.
The Republican bargaining habit is well-established -- take Obama's "final" offer as the new starting point and demand further concessions. With this strategy, our president has let them take him to the cleaners for more than four years now, and is still hoping that sweet reasonableness will produce compromise. It never has and never will.
If Democrats stand for anything, it is defense of Social Security and Medicare -- America's two most broadly beneficial and most beloved government programs -- and the president just gave away this last bit of product differentiation. In the past, Republicans have saved Obama from himself by refusing to consider any tax hikes. Now, I'm beginning to think, it's time for Democrats save him from himself. And the Democratic Party. And us.
Congress and the Administration are considering, as a means of deficit reduction, a legislative change to the consumer price index - the so-called "chained CPI." This change would have a particularly negative impact on Social Security benefits - here's why:
1. Chained CPI compounds over time.
As a result of a chained CPI, there will be a 0.3% annual cut in Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLAs). Social Security loses $112 billion over the next 10 years.
(That $112 Billion is probably how much the Koch Brothers will be worth when this is over. -z)
2. The greatest impact will be on the most vulnerable older Americans.
As retirees age, they have less income, fewer financial assets, and are more dependent on Social Security. Specifically, women tend to live longer than men and tend to have lower incomes, so women and poorer households are more at risk of falling into poverty with any cuts to Social Security.
3. Benefits for disabled and retired veterans would be cut.
3.2 million disabled veterans and another 2 million military retirees would see their benefits cut if chained CPI is adopted.
(And here I thought everyone in Washington, DC, loved our veterans and vowed to uphold our nation's promise to them. -z)
4. Chained CPI is a less accurate measure of inflation
(Google it if you don't believe the AARP. -z)
5. Social Security does not drive deficits, and should not be cut as part of a budget deal.
(And has never been part of a budget deal. -z)
So now the questions are:
Can Michael Bennet find enough new and returning senatorial candidates who support these cuts that he can support as chair of the Senate Campaign Committee?
I firmly believe Coloradans didn't vote for this B.S. last November. It's quite obvious who wants to cut Social Security and thinks it's a good idea politically and will somehow fix the budget: The 1%, The Donor Class, The Third Way Co Chairs Jared Polis, Pete Peterson, every elected Republican since FDR, All 3 of the Koch Brothers, Jon Caldara, Mike Rosen, and the list goes on.
Oh, and Barack Obama, Jared Polis, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.
Those big-time donors and Republican mouthpieces might have the ear of legislators by virtue of their gifts of gab and cash. But, unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, they still only have one vote to cast next time Polis and Udall and Bennet are up for a contract renewal to their cush jobs with killer benefits.
In essence he spells this out in great detail, with graphics and charts:
[Social Security] is not generous enough to counteract the sorry state of retirement savings nationwide. In a report for the New American Foundation, Michael Lind, Steven Hill, Robert Hiltonsmith and Joshua Holland survey this data and conclude that the ongoing debate over how to cut Social Security is all wrong:
We need to make Social Security much more generous.
And then this --- problematic in some respects, but really radical by establishment discourse standards:
Medicare uses its massive market power to negotiate much lower prices than private insurers. For that reason, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2011 that "average spending in traditional Medicare will be 89 percent of (that is, 11 percent less than) the spending that would occur if that same package of benefits was purchased from a private insurer." Back during the health-care debate, the CBO estimated that a public option able to use Medicare's pricing power could save more than $100 billion over 10 years.
In a policy paper for the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Robert Berenson, John Holahan and Stephen Zuckerman propose a package of changes that would save more than $700 billion over 10 years. One of the changes they propose is raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. But in order to blunt the impact of that change, they propose letting people between the ages of 65 and 67 buy in to Medicare on their own - that way, they can take advantage of Medicare's lower prices, even if they're paying for them out-of-pocket. "Buying into Medicare gives them as good a deal as they're going to get," Berenson says.
If it's such a good deal for the 65-to-67 crowd, then why not let 55-year-olds buy into Medicare, or even let everybody buy into Medicare? "I've always assumed it was just political opposition from Republicans," Berenson replied. I asked him to put aside the politics and just assess whether it would work. "Conceptually, I don't see a problem," he said.
The problem is if Udall proposed expanding Social Security then Kudlow would never stop calling him names, and he'd never again get his ego stroked on national basic cable again.
And if Bennet ever stopped listening to, let alone greasing the skids for, his Bankster friends they would never invite him to drinks at the Ritz again.
Senior elected Democrats in Washinton, DC, have a serious choice ahead of them in the very near future. And there is absolutely no evidence they will make the truly difficult and moral choice to support the elderly, veteran's and their families, the retired, and the disabled over their Big-Time, Big-Money Friends who have them on speed dial.
For the first time in history, a Democratic president has officially proposed to cut the Democratic Party's signature New Deal program, Social Security.
How far to the right has Obama gone in Pre-Negotiating for Republicans?
God help us if the Republicans wise up and take this deal. After all, it's a more conservative budget than even their hero Ronald Reagan ever submitted.
Is the Bipartisanship Fetish of Democrats like Obama, Udall, Polis and Bennet a good and smart thing?
This is rotten public policy, and all those political reasons pale in comparison to the damage he is doing here.
With the demise or curtailment of most pensions, the drop in family wealth due to the collapse of the housing sector in 2008, the big unemployment numbers cutting into many families' life savings, the flattening or decrease of wages for most workers, and the inflation in many essentials among those who are working driving down the ability to save for retirement, this is the absolute last time we should be looking at cutting incomes for retirees.
Democrats in the Presidency, the House and the Senate are bailing on their prime constituency, and have once again failed to respond to voters' mandate and are too afraid of their own shadow to lead like true Democrats should:
First, we cannot simply sit back and expect the GOP to do our dirty work for us. After all, the way things are going, the Prsident or could start offering up new tax cuts for all we know. He's either a terrible negotiator or he really, really wants these cuts.
Either way, counting on President Obama holding the line is probably not a good idea.
Call your Senators starting today.
The pattern so far has been that Speaker Boehner will only suspend the Hastert Rule (allowing legislation to the floor without a Republican majority) if it is already passed with a bipartisan Senate vote. Best to try to stop it here first.
Meanwhile prepare for a barrage of savvy, world weary commentary from your fellow liberals telling you that this is no big thing and that Democrats will not suffer even a tiny bit if they vote for a common sense proposal like this one. You will be shushed and told to calm down and take a chill pill. In other words, you will be gaslighted by fellow liberals who are embarrassed that you aren't being coolly accepting of something that is completely unacceptable. This is how this works.
Tell them to Shut The Fuck UP and move out of the way.
All this calls into question just how many votes, how much evidence, how much polling must take place for Democrats to act the part.
Republicans never back off their principles.
Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity - no matter who one the last election.
Now that Obama has fully embraced the cuts, no amount of White House spin is going to be able to permanently pin the chained CPI on Republicans, as the administration official is trying to do. Republicans have been demanding for months that Obama specifically spell out the cuts to social insurance programs he would accept; now he's done so, they will make sure he owns them.
The White House seems to believe that this will show the American public that he is Very Serious about both deficit reduction and working with Republicans, that "he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit," in the words of a senior administration official. Because of course a willingness to compromise is all that it takes to make the Republicans come around. That and his charm offensive.
Republicans aren't going to come around, and now have a weapon.
And what the American people will probably remember is that in 2008 candidate Obama promised that as president, he would not cut Social Security, a promise reiterated by Vice President Biden in 2012.
In fact, we're probably not going to be allowed to forget that, once the Republicans get their ads running in congressional districts around the country saying that Barack Obama broke his promise and wants to cut your Social Security.
Besides the fact that Obama and his henchmen Polis, Udall, Bennet are determined to cut the most successful and popular social welfare (check the Constitution for use of that word) program in human history, we also know that
You will pat each other on the back at the "tough" decision to cut Grandma's Social Security, keep those damned lazy slacker kids off Head Start, and continue to let the unemployed starve and our infrastructure crumble.
You will lie to yourself that it "had to be done" and you,yes You, were the adult in the room.
As an emailer said of Polis, Udall and Bennet et al.:
Making seniors have to decide between food, medicine or rent in exchange for the lint in the pockets of millionaires and billionaires is NOT courageous.
Betraying the principles of his party, betraying fundamental humane values, betraying people who voted for you, people who just can't believe you would do this, is the opposite of courage.
Being the handmaiden of plutocrats is not the sign of bold leadership.
P.P.S. Administration Hacks telling us "the American people want a solution that is halfway between R's and D's". Hacks forget that Republicans are Sociopathic Racists and Democrats are thisclose to enacting Eisenhower-era conservative policies.
I have said that part of getting our economy going and creating jobs means setting our budget on a sustainable footing and reducing the deficit. I supported President Obama's work in 2009 to create a bipartisan commission focused on reducing the deficit. And since then, I have called on Congress to embrace its balanced and bipartisan final recommendations. Confronting sequestration is just the latest challenge in the process to responsibly reduce government spending.
That's "Bowles-Simpson" that Udall still thinks is relevant and has a reasonable approach to our budget issues. Shame on him for thinking we could be so ignorant.
"Washington needs to have a broad and serious conversation about our nation's deficits and debt. We need a bipartisan and comprehensive deficit solution that builds on the work done by the President's Fiscal Commission that materially addresses the problem, ensures we're all in it together and is bipartisan."
-Michael F. Bennet
Sweet Jesus, that is just friggin' stoopid.
I think we can safely say "bipartisanship" is a higher goal than good policy and/or listening to voters for both Udall and Bennet.
Man, Ted Cruz is a real piece of work isn't he? This interview shows him to be a very nimble liar. For instance:
"The Democrats' budget does nothing to solve the enormous challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. Every one of us would like to see those critical bulwarks of our society strengthened, and right now those programs are careening toward bankruptcy."
1. Republicans do not want them "strengthened. This is not just a matter of semantics. You only have to look at what these people have been saying since these programs were enacted to understand that they do not believe that the government should administer these programs at all.
2. These programs are not careening towards bankruptcy. Social Security is funded as long as there are people working in this country. The only question is whether there is enough money in the dedicated funding stream to pay out the benefits that are currently mandated.
Like everyone else who makes this specious claim, he's saying that the only way to deal with a projected shortfall in the dedicated funding stream is to make it official immediately and prepare everyone but the well-off to live in penury in their old age.
Democrat Michael Bennet asked Jamie Dimon to weigh in on the country's fiscal situation.
Bennet sounds more like a lapdog than a senator.
Now it's looking like a true bulldog, Sherrod Brown, might be in line for the Chairmanship of the Banking Committee, a great place for someone who can fight "too big to fail" and ask tough questions of these sociopath bankers:
The departure of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has left a vacancy atop the powerful panel that could fall to one of Wall Street's most outspoken foes, a possibility that has bank lobbyists fretting.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), whose call to break up and cap the size of major banks has spooked Wall Street, is behind three senators who would have dibs on the gavel, but all three are likely to bypass the opportunity. A Brown chairmanship would also be a boost to his ally Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), strengthening her hand on the panel. Brown's office didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Of course, it sank like a bowling ball heaved into a vat of oatmeal. But it did illustrate a fundamental truth about the way economics is lodged in our politics: when Republicans talk about their love for a "pro-growth" economy, and when the Democrats talk about their love for "the middle class," they're both pretty much lying to you.
The entire economic debate right now takes place in a tightly circumscribed universe of options, and there simply is not enough in that universe to rescue a crumbling middle-class from the forces that are taking it apart, piece by piece.
There is nothing being debated that will do fuck-all* about income inequality, or about the geyser of money that has spouted upward during the period Johnston describes.
Instead, we're fighting over how austere we have to be.
Across the country, suburban poverty rose by more than half in the first decade of the new century. Families now find themselves navigating landscapes that were built around wealth: single-family houses that are sold, not rented; too few apartment buildings; and government agencies hidden at the far edge of the suburban ring, more responsive to trash-pickup complaints than rising hunger rates.
The Ramada families became homeless because they could no longer pay rents and mortgages and found little help to slow their fall.
In 2011, Colorado ranked eighth in foreclosures nationwide. When families in Jefferson County, which encompasses Denver's western suburbs, lost their home in the recession, they flooded a market that had the lowest number of rental vacancies in ten years. The Section 8 program in the area dispenses vouchers through a random lottery that typically has about 2,500 applicants; in any given year, only 30 to 40 spots become available. The school system, which keeps the best records of homelessness in the county, says the number of homeless students rose from 59 in 2001 to 2,812 in the current school year.
Unable to find another home and unable to find space in the county's shelters, which hold fewer than 100 beds, the new poor disappeared into the suburban landscape wherever they could find a roof. With nowhere else to go, they turned the Ramada Inn into an impromptu SRO.
Potts is most remarkable in her ability to demonstrate the subtle ways in which people not only become poor, but also how they begin to start thinking of themselves as poor people, including the inherent terror of anyone with any kind of authority over their fragile lives:
The hotel's residents know who Bruce is, though. They've seen him come by on Sundays to collect money from the washers and dryers, and they know he issues commands that affect their daily lives. From the perspective of the Ramada families, he has one rule that he wants observed above all others: no children in the lobby or hallways. If he drives up and one of the nice clerks is on duty, she'll yell, "Bruce!" and whoever is in the lobby runs back to their room.
The Ramada families rate an article in the Prospect.
Homeless students are counted, but do they count?
Do they rate the concern of Colorado's representatives in Washington, DC?
Like the Koch Brothers, Peterson has funded many "independent" organizations specifically tasked to work against Social Security and put undo attention on our nation's debt -- which is definitely not the problem Peterson, his front groups and his other flacks argue that it is.
Fix the Debt took only $5 Million to get rolling. Here's some of what he got for that miniscule investment:
Fix the Debt is the most hypocritical corporate PR campaign in decades, an ambitious attempt to convince the country that another cataclysmic economic crisis is around the corner and that urgent action is needed. Its strategy is pure astroturf: assemble power players in business and government under an activist banner, then take the message outside the Beltway and give it the appearance of grassroots activism by manufacturing an emergency to infuse a sense of imminent crisis.
Behind this strategy are no fewer than 127 CEOs and even more "statesmen" pushing for a "grand bargain" to draw up an austerity budget by July 4. With many firms kicking in $1 Million each on top of Peterson's $5 million in seed money, this latest incarnation of the Peterson message machine must be taken seriously.
Fix the Debt has hired such powerful PR firms and lobby shops as the DCI Group, the Glover Park Group, the Dewey Square Group and Proof Integrated Communications, a unit of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, which was the go-to firm for Big Tobacco. In the run-up to the "fiscal cliff," these firms launched a flashy $3 million media campaign, blanketing Capitol Hill with TV, Internet, Metro and newspaper ads featuring slogans like "Got Debt?" and "Just Fix It."
Fix the Debt's stable of CEOs are a PR flack's dream. Not only are they able to get meetings with everyone from John Boehner to President Obama; they can flood cable news with laughable messages of "shared sacrifice" and be treated with fawning respect.
Fix the Debt's David Cote, CEO of Honeywell, "brings serious financial muscle to the table" when he pushes "market credible solutions," chirps The Wall Street Journal. There is no mention that Cote is a tax-dodging, pension-skimping hypocrite: Honeywell has a negative average tax rate of 0.7 percent and underfunds its employee pensions by $2.8 billion, making Cote's workers even more reliant on Social Security.
Creating a crisis is key.
"America is more than $16 trillion in debt," Fix the Debt's website warns, calling it "a catastrophic threat to our security and economy." The CEOs echo this warning, writing to Congress of the "serious threat to the economic well-being and security of the United States."
To foster the illusion of a grassroots uprising, Peterson has nursed what the National Journal calls a "loose network of deficit-hawk organizations that seem independent but that all spout the Peterson-sanctioned message of the need for a 'Grand Bargain.'"
Sound Familiar? High power deficit hawks spread the lie that our nation's debt is causing an economic crisis that can only be fixed by implementing the shared sacrifice of cutting Social Security.
Udall and Polis, you can throw Michael Bennet in there too, fit the bill. They are playing the Oligarchs' game that will harm the Middle Class that they tell themselves they are helping.