President Hornswoggle and the Debted HallowsPosted: July 7, 2011 | |
So, you know me. I’m out looking for exactly how bad this debt ‘deal’ is going to austere our economy in to the Great Recession Redux. BostonBoomer has been writing about President Hornswoggle putting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security–not even part of the federal budget–on the table. I’ve searched and searched and can’t find the details on the great American Give Away other than a few articles showing a beaming Boehner saying we’re at a 50-50 chance of reaching a deal now. If Boehner is beaming, all but the richest among us should be holding on to our personal liberties and wallets.
We know that the President has caved on a bunch of things during both the HRC negotiations and the extension of the Dubya Tax Breaks for Billionaires pogrom. However, the Democratic leadership was aware of this, grumbled some, and backed his usurpation of responsibility for our future. Imagine my surprise when I watched Chuck Schumer on Andrea Mitchell say that he had no idea about the details of the current deal so he couldn’t really comment on it. The most noticeable detail was his face that said “I’ve got a sick tummy, mommy”. Senator Schumer is on the Senate Committee on Finance that handles all of these things and is supposedly a key person on the budget deal. You would think he would know. But, he doesn’t and neither does any other Democratic Senator or Congressman. It appears the press told them what Obama was handing over to the Republicans.
Senate Democrats reacted angrily Thursday to a report that President Obama has proposed significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security in closed-door talks with GOP leaders.
Democratic lawmakers said they were dismayed to read about Obama’s offer in the press rather than hearing it from the president himself. Their frustration is exacerbated by Obama’s snub of their invitation to speak to the Senate Democratic caucus Wednesday.
Instead, Obama is meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders from both chambers Thursday morning.
“We would have preferred to hear it from the president instead of from the press,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), a senior member of the Senate Democratic conference. “We first have to go after tax earmarks.”
Mikulski said cuts to Medicare and Social Security should be a solution of last resort. She said closing tax loopholes and pulling back from Libya should be considered before entitlement cuts.
She said Obama should not assume Democratic support for a deficit reduction plan that cuts entitlements.
I now fully expect President Cave-in to hand the keys to the nation over to a bunch of punch-drunk Republicans. What I don’t get is why the Democratic members of Congress continue to let him get away with it. They are the very face of “sound and fury signifying nothing”. Let me ask you if you’d want to be a congress member from some solid Democratic district facing re-election by having to defend a Democratic President that’s happy to cut Medicare and Social Security? Social Security doesn’t even need to be on the table. He’s just offered it up for some reason that I can’t fathom. How on earth could you face your electorate and back such a deal?
Let me remind you, all of the economic data gathered in the last 80 years tells us that this austerity agenda is just going to tank the economy. We continue t0 enact the very same crap that put us in the worst economic position we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Why oh why are they doing this to us? Here’s a taste of Noble Prize winning Joseph Stiglitz for some perspective.
A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the United States faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt. Unaffordable tax cuts and wars, a major recession, and soaring health care costs—fueled in part by the commitment of George W. Bush’s administration to giving drug companies free rein in setting prices, even with government money at stake—quickly transformed a huge surplus into record peacetime deficits.
The remedies to the U.S. deficit follow immediately from this diagnosis: Put America back to work by stimulating the economy; end the mindless wars; rein in military and drug costs; and raise taxes, at least on the very rich. But the right will have none of this, and instead is pushing for even more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, together with expenditure cuts in investments and social protection that put the future of the U.S. economy in peril and that shred what remains of the social contract. Meanwhile, the U.S. financial sector has been lobbying hard to free itself of regulations, so that it can return to its previous, disastrously carefree, ways.
Here’s a thorough, peer-reviewed, strong methodology-based IMF study–cited by Paul Krugman–that provides evidence that austerity programs are recessionary and bring on worse budget problems.
The paper corrects this by using the historical record to identify true examples of deliberate austerity — and it turns out that they are contractionary. The multiplier is less than one, but that may reflect the fact that these austerity programs did not take place in the face of a zero lower bound, so they were partly offset by monetary expansion.
The paper also provides a tentative answer to the apparent tendency of spending cuts to be less contractionary than tax increases: it looks as if central banks take more aggressive action to offset spending cuts than tax hikes, reflecting some combination of inflation concerns, belief that spending cuts are more durable, and (the paper doesn’t say this) bankerly ideology.
If we were discussing a politically neutral subject, the evidence here would long since have been considered definitive: expansionary austerity is a doctrine that failed. But since we’re in the political realm, of course, such a convenient doctrine can’t be abandoned. On the contrary, it now seems to be the official doctrine of both the GOP and the White House.
Also, let me remind you that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are very successful programs. They have successfully stopped the elderly from being the poorest segment of society. Just as an example, the majority of single, elderly women would be in poverty without Social Security.
Elderly unmarried women — including widows — get 51 percent of their total income from Social Security. Unmarried elderly men get 39 percent, while elderly married couples get 36 percent of their income from Social Security. For 25 percent of unmarried women, Social Security is their only source of income, compared to 9 percent of married couples and 20 percent of unmarried men. Without Social Security benefits, the elderly poverty rate among women would have been 52.2 percent and among widows would have been 60.6 percent.
When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid.
While the findings may seem obvious, health economists and policy makers have long questioned whether it would make any difference to provide health insurance to poor people.
It has become part of the debate on Medicaid, at a time when states are cutting back on this insurance program for the poor. In fact, the only reason the study could be done was that Oregon was running out of money and had to choose some people to get insurance and exclude others, providing groups for comparison.
I continually feel as though we’ve all been drug down the rabbit hole. It is like the President is purposefully enabling joblessness, poverty, and public health problems. No amount of research, historical data, and polls appear to be able to penetrate the Washington, D.C. group think these day. The biggest issue is that the President himself believes in the confidence fairy, the bipartisan elves, and the high priests of voodoo economics. He’s not just part of the problem, he is THE problem. Can just one or two members of the Democratic caucus please stand up to this man and his notion that bipartisanship that surrenders the country to right wing reality-deniers is better than any form of principled leadership? Can at least one of the please be brave and start talking some sense and representing the will of the people for a change?