Tag Archive: sequester

Dec 18 2013

The Rich Get Richer: Embrace the Suck

The Senate will pass the budget bill that was approved by the House last week. It passes the hurdle of cloture with a “bipartisan” vote of 67 – 33. The bill leaves a lump of coal in the stockings of 1.5 million Americans whose unemployment benefits expire the end of December and future career servicemen and women whose cost of living increases to their pensions will be cut. But the Pentagon will get their due and so will the 1%.

Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Passes Senate Hurdle

By DSWright, FDL News Desk

The truly horrendous Ryan-Murray budget has passed the Senate clearing the way to fully pass Congress this week. The deal restores war spending to astronomical levels while cutting federal pensions and raising airline fees. In other words, cash for defense contractors and groin kicks for the middle class. [..]

Why any Democrat would vote for such an awful reactionary budget is beyond comprehension. According to Nancy Pelosi Democrats had to “embrace the suck.” Otherwise things might not suck? [..]

We truly have the best government money can buy. The naked corruption on display in dumping oceans of cash into the Pentagon patronage den while attacking worker pensions and leaving the unemployed to rot is proof positive that we live in a deranged oligarchy where money is everything and the people are nothing.

“Makes Absolutely No Sense”: David Cay Johnston on Budget Deal That Helps Billionaires, Not the Poor

A bipartisan budget deal to avert another government shutdown comes before the Senate this week. The vast majority of House members from both parties approved the two-year budget agreement last week in a 332-to-94 vote. It is being hailed as a breakthrough compromise for Democrats and Republicans. The bill eases across-the-board spending cuts, replacing them with new airline fees and cuts to federal pensions. In a concession by Democrats, it does not extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people, which are set to expire this month. To discuss the deal, we are joined by David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize while at The New York Times. He is currently a columnist for Tax Analysts and Al Jazeera, as well as a contributing editor at Newsweek.



Full transcript can be read here

Once again the vast majority are Scrooged.

Dec 11 2013

The 2 Year Budget Deal In 90 Seconds

A two year budget deal was reached yesterday with congressional leaders announcing the deal that would to replace $63 billion in sequester cuts, a very small part of the $180 billion in cuts that will occur over the next two years. The deal will restore defense cuts by funding from a tax on airline travel and cuts to federal pensions. The budget does not include extension of unemployment funds to the millions of workers who are about to lose their benefits the end of December. There will be no changes to Medicare or Social Security but none of the tax loop holes were closed.

As Ezra Klein puts it:

Whether this deal can be a model for future deals is an open question. The core principle of this deal is that Democrats didn’t have to touch entitlements and Republicans didn’t have to touch taxes. But a lot of the policies that made that possible got used up in this deal. It’s not clear that another deal like this would work in 2016.

DSWright at FDL News Desk notes:

The Republicans got everything they wanted. They get more cuts while none of their friends in the defense industry get hurt – actually they even got to do some damage to the federal pension system. All that while avoiding another shutdown that killed their poll numbers before the 2014 elections. Christmas came early for the GOP.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, sold out its own base to help Republicans maintain power. Why? Who knows? The only thing that is clear is this is an awful deal for majority of Americans.

Once again, the majority of Americans get screwed by their elected representatives.  

Oct 10 2013

President Obama Gave Speaker Boehner the Debt Ceiling to Play With in 2010

Disclaimer: This forum rules as do the moderators. You know who I am talking about.

And here we are again! It started in 2010. The Bush tax cuts were about to expire. There was leverage to negotiate a debt ceiling raise or to just let them expire. How do I know there was leverage? I know Republicans like tax cuts for the rich, and there was a deal for the purpose of extending them with Republican votes. It passed with those Republican votes, which led to this whole thing because there was no debt ceiling raise included.

Maybe others are unaware of this? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter though; the uninformed shouldn’t dictate fantasy as reality in a reality based community. This is the actual reality and why we are worried about a global financial calamity with regard to a possible political default on the public debt, which is a choice and otherwise impossible for a sovereign currency issuer.

Obama on the Debt Limit – December 2010

Q Mr. President, thank you. How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit? Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in. Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?

THE PRESIDENT: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?

Q Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the – we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do. I mean, what leverage would you have –

THE PRESIDENT: Look, here’s my expectation – and I’ll take John Boehner at his word – that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

You know, we on the left knew what this would lead to. You don’t trust John Boehner with the full faith in credit of the United States unless one is completely clueless or an economic nihilist. The resulting signs we are starting to see of a financial panic in response to the prospects of a default on top of the ongoing depression, the jobs crisis, the continuing climate and ecological crisis all converging into one huge Epochal crisis, point to a special kind of disdain for the public that all our elected leaders have for us.  I mean, we have enough problems without adding to them through a self induced global financial then economic crisis caused by the President’s pursuit of a deficit terrorist grand bargain whether through incompetence or outright corruption.  

Oct 03 2013

Grand Bargain Circus – Red Clowns Ready?

Jugglers_Circus_Amok_by_David_Shankbone

There’s a big deal brewing in the Beltway Bigtop that’s been years in the making.  The Grand Bargain is now officially on the red clown leadership’s radar.  But can they get their ducks in a row?  Will the rank and file blue clowns have an attack of conscience?  And what about the audience – will they meekly accept the shears as the Ringmaster and clowns together begin to fleece them?  Or will they bombard the clowns with rotten tomatoes, imprecations, incantations and entreaties frightening them away from yet another of the Ringmaster’s big plans as they did with the Ringmaster’s recent plan to engage in yet another stupid and expensive war of choice?

Here’s a wrap up of the past couple of days under the Beltway Bigtop.

Bigtop Blame-a-Rama – Juggling the Hot Potato of Blame

The lights have been doused under the Beltway Bigtop as the red clowns and blue clowns could not come to agreement over how best to rob the audience.  The blue clowns adamantly protected the Ringleader’s plan to demand tribute of the audience for his donor cronies in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in return for health care insurance products of dubious utility.  The red clowns would not give up their demands to kill the Ringleader’s program as well as demands for a smorgasbord of environmental destruction, means-testing for medicare, limitation of court awards for medical malpractice, repeal of taxes on some of their cronies and a contraceptive-free dessert bar.

Killer-Klowns-from-Outer-Space-pies

As the sun came up on the Beltway Bigtop Tuesday morning there were lines of circus employees leaving the parking lot as the tall order of the day began – the search for a scapegoat.

While both the red clowns and the blue clowns stayed up until the wee hours juggling the hot potato of blame back and forth between the red clown-controlled Ring 1 and the blue clown-controlled Ring 3, the Ringmaster called the red clowns “irresponsible” and upbraided them for their, “ideological crusade.”

The US government shut down early Tuesday for the first time since 1996 after lawmakers divided over Obamacare failed to reach an agreement to fund federal agencies through the next fiscal year.

President Barack Obama called it the “height of irresponsibility.”

Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Obama slammed Republicans for shutting down the government as part of an “ideological crusade” designed to kill his signature health care law.

“I urge House Republicans to reopen the government,” Obama said at the White House Rose Garden, while surrounded by Americans he said would benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile one of the red clowns’ leaders, Boner T. Redclown, did impressions of the Ringmaster over in Ring 1 as he passed juggling potatoes back and forth with Harry T. Blueclown over in Ring 3.  Harry T. Blueclown, for his part, returned the relentless hail of hot potatoes with all of the speed and bravado he could muster.

House Speaker John Boehner imitated the president on the House floor as he described their ultimately fruitless conversation Monday evening in the hours before a U.S. government shutdown.

“I talked to the president earlier tonight,” the Ohio Republican said before dropping his voice to sound more like President Barack Obama. “‘I’m not gonna negotiate. I’m not gonna negotiate. We’re not gonna do this.’ Well, I would say to the president, ‘This is not about me. This is not about Republicans here in Congress. It’s about fairness for the American people.'”

House Republicans repeatedly sent bills that would have temporarily funded the federal government but cut funding or delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate’s Democratic majority repeatedly stripped those bills of their anti-Obamacare provisions and sent them back to the House for approval, setting up the impasse that led to the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years.

Audience reaction was mixed to the impressions and the rapid-fire juggling spectacle, however, the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions was quick to assign responsibility for Boner T. Redclown’s performance to a subset of the most effusive and animated of the red clowns.  Some in the Beltway Bigtop’s Office of Promotions claim that a conspiracy is afoot amongst some of the red clowns to force Boner T. Redclown into his behavior, while others claim that Boner T. Redclown and his leadership group

held a meeting outside of the Bigtop and stole the schtick of the more animated red clowns.

Bozos_Circus_postcard_1960sMonday was a frantic day on Capitol Hill, though all the activity ultimately came to nought: A flurry of last-minute legislative feints failed to prevent the government from shutting down at midnight. But in the process, House Republicans’ total crackup was on full, public display.

The breaking point was Speaker John Boehner’s penultimate proposal, a bill that would have funded the government — and Obamacare — while delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and canceling congressional staffers’ insurance subsidies. To Boehner, this was a major concession from the House’s previous offering — a delay of the entire law. To the White House and Senate Democrats, it was just as unacceptable and no concession at all.

But within the GOP, it provoked a freakout on both Boehner’s right and left flanks. Moderate Republicans, long silent for fear of the party’s angry base, correctly viewed the proposal as inexorably leading to shutdown, and threatened to rise up and block it. “This is going nowhere,” New York Representative Peter King told National Review. He claimed to have 25 members on his side and demanded that Boehner instead put a “clean” government-funding bill — one that didn’t touch health care — on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, conservatives were also in revolt. The Senate Conservatives Fund sent an email to its supporters denouncing “the Republican establishment in Washington” for telling “lies to help them fund Obamacare.” It accused GOP leaders of using the mandate delay as cover to disguise the fact that they were allowing the rest of the law to go into effect — something the group called unacceptable.

Many in the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions are eager to sell the narrative that the clowns have cracked up and become completely dysfunctional, creating new norms for governance.

Many of the contributing media outlets in the Beltway Bigtop’s Office of Promotion apparently can’t seem to remember previous government shutdowns as they swoon from the vapors from their, “discovery” of the, “new governing norms.”

In the past the blue clowns have been quite willing to press their advantage as a majority to protect their constituency just as the red clowns are doing now:

There were four shutdowns over abortion funding in the 1970s, a Democratic-led shutdown over funding for the notorious MX missile in 1982, a Democratic-led shutdown over a Supreme Court civil rights ruling in 1984, a Democratic-led shutdown over expanding Aid to Families with Dependent Children (that’s welfare) in 1986, and a Democratic-led shutdown over aid to the Contras and the Fairness Doctrine(!) in 1987. So shutdowns were for quite a while part of the normal business of government. And as I said, there’s a cruel logic to them. When Congress and the White House are held by different parties, Congress has no bigger chip at their disposal than the power of the purse. So they use that, over and over again, to extract often unrelated policy concessions from the executive branch. It may have stopped for a while for various reasons, but it’s back because it’s a very inviting way for a Congressional majority to assert their will.

Weirdo with a hula hoop.

Why Can’t the Blue Clowns Play the Game?

While one set of red clowns stalks the Ringmaster holding out hoops for him to jump through, another group of red clowns is sneaking out towards the fringes of the tent brandishing torches and threatening to burn the Bigtop down.

The Ringmaster remains impassive and, out of one side of his mouth refuses to negotiate, while out of the other makes promises to negotiate, but, on his terms:

Placing blame squarely on House Republicans, Obama said “the bottom line is that the Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it, that allows us then to negotiate a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues but that ensure that we’re not shutting down the government and we’re not shutting down the economy at a time when a lot of families out there are just getting some traction in digging themselves out of the hole that we’ve had as a consequence of the financial crisis.

Given that the blue clowns control both the Main Ring and Ring 3, one would assume that the party of the Four Freedoms and the Great Society, friend of the working man and the underprivileged, would have pressed their advantage to make some serious gains for their constituency.

Instead, the blue clowns, in concert with the Ringmaster have been working to apply increasing levels of austerity to their constituency while their policies reward the Beltway Bigtop funderswho want austerity.

And the blue clowns aim to please their masters:

Virtually all of the services that will go unfilled during this shutdown, for example, are services for the poor or near-poor. A sclerotic governing system empowers a status quo that is biased toward elites, who are often the only ones able to break the gridlock, when it suits them and their pocketbooks.

Consider also how the nature of the gridlock itself empowers elite goals in this case. Democratic pundits and allies have talked themselves blue about the doomed Speakership of John Boehner, the lunacy of Ted Cruz, and whether the Republican fever will break. Precious few words, by contrast, have been written about the fact that the SOLUTION here, the position that Democrats have been pushing, is a “clean” continuing resolution, which will enforce sequestration limits, a spending cap below societal need and economic demand, into Fiscal Year 2014. And while that would only hold for a couple months, anyone who thinks sequestration will somehow be cancelled (or even “replaced,” which does the economy next to no good from a macro standpoint) by the same people who just shut down the government over “defunding” Obamacare, which is by its nature mandatory spending and not defunded today, is nuts. But Democratic politicians benefit from the virtual silence about how the country is doomed to austerity spending caps for what could be an entire decade. And elites enjoy advantages from such a state of affairs as well.

When the Ringmaster speaks of, “negotiat[ing] a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues,” he’s not talking about a bold plan to meet his constituency’s demands.  The Ringmaster is talking about another round of his “Grand Bargain” negotiations.  

The Ringmaster’s base constituency is certainly not demanding cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or other similar cuts to social programs.

American People Fight Obama’s Treacherous Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

The vast majority, left, right and in-between, have repeatedly made it clear that they do not want cuts to either of these vital programs. A CBS News poll conducted last month shows that 80 percent of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, opposed cutting spending on Medicare to reduce the budget deficit, while 79 percent were against cutting Social Security for that reason.

The people don’t want the cuts, and the facts don’t support them. There are certainly no economic excuses: The federal deficit politicans howl about is shrinking, as none other than Goldman Sachs’ chief economist has attested. And even if it wasn’t, Social Security doesn’t affect it – a fact that many Americans have copped onto despite the best efforts of politicians to deceive them. Clearly, in a time of growing economic inequality, there is no justification for taking more money out of the hands of the elderly and the vulnerable.

 

The only people demanding entitlement cuts are, hmmmm… the Beltway Bigtop funders:

Mark Thoma has an excellent column at the Fiscal Times linking the fight over the debt ceiling to the larger issue of extreme inequality. … I’d like, however, to suggest that the reality is even worse than Thoma suggests.

Here’s how Thoma puts it:

Rising inequality and differential exposure to economic risk has caused one group to see themselves as the “makers” in society who provide for the rest and pay most of the bills, and the other group as “takers” who get all the benefits. The upper strata wonders, “Why should we pay for social insurance when we get little or none of the benefits?” and this leads to an attack on these programs.

How, then, are things even worse than he says? Because many of the rich are selective in their opposition to government helping the unlucky. They’re against stuff like food stamps and unemployment benefits; but bailing out Wall Street? Yay! …

The point is that the superrich have not gone Galt on us – not really, even if they imagine they have. It’s much closer to pure class warfare, a defense of the right of the privileged to keep and extend their privileges. It’s not Ayn Rand, it’s Ancien Régime.

And this just in… the red clown leadership is taking the bait!

Boehner to GOP: Grand Bargain in the Works

House Republicans tell me Speaker John Boehner wants to craft a “grand bargain” on fiscal issues as part of the debt-limit deliberations, and during a series of meetings on Wednesday, he urged colleagues to stick with him.

The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package.

“It’s the return of the grand bargain,” says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.”

But can the red clown leadership bring along the rank and file?

The Red Clowns Try To Put Their Scary Monster Back In the Closet

The Ringmaster is clearly ready to do the business and the bidding of the Beltway Bigtop funders.  

In order to signal this to one and all, the Ringmaster has taken to the center ring, lit a fire and is sending up smoke signals to announce that he has appointed his former “opponent,” Mitt T. Redclown’s policy director, currently a fellow at the Hoover Institution Clown College, to the Social Security Advisory Board.

Given the red clowns’ expressed desire to “roll back the new deal,” will they come to the table to take down the programs that red clown funders and the blue clown funders both want gone?

It looks like the red clowns will have to deal with the remnants of a rather unweildy stage prop that they made for previous shows in order to get down to business:

Frankenstein 1 by Mazzastick[T]here is no doubt that the Republican right in the age of Obama, and to some extent before that, in its desire to roll back what’s left of the welfare state, what’s left of the New Deal, and back in the Reagan era, in order to crush what was left of the New Deal era, did call, has called into being an almost Frankenstein-like monster in the form of Fox News, a far right-wing talk radio network, and has really created a kind of almost frothing constituency in these very tightly gerrymandered, often rural, white congressional districts. …

And these people seem to have gone just completely off of the reservation. And it’s gotten to the point that the big capitalist elites that called them into being are now sort of horrified of them. And you see The Wall Street Journal in particular, and some of the old-line more centrist type of Republicans like John McCain and Senator Corker from Tennessee, calling them “wacko birds” and being horrified by them. But, you know, the GOP establishment created all of this in many ways. …

[T]hey’ve really cultivated a group of people who are motivated by some pretty dark, almost proto-fascistic, certainly racist … people who don’t seem to know where to stop and really are just sort of, you know, Ted Cruz stand your ground, who are willing to go all the way, you know, go to the wall to stop this horrific Obamacare, which they have been told by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing talk machine noise machine is some sort of incredible socialist government intervention in the health care system, which is, of course, completely preposterous, ’cause Obamacare is a fairly center-right corporate-friendly health care intervention. It was designed in part to head off the real social democratic and majority-supported health reform, which was single-payer.

Ironically it is the red clowns’ “Frankenstein Monster” (courtesy of the Koch Clowns, Rupert T. Redclown and Rush T. Redclown among others) that has so far saved the audience from the implementation of cuts to “socialist” entitlement programs which are opposed by the vast majority of the audience.

As the clock ticks down to the Debt Limit Doomsday, can the red clowns tame their Fractious Frankenstein monster?

The Ringmaster and most of the blue clowns are happy to enact much of the red clowns’ agenda (because it is also the blue clowns’ agenda) so long as the red clowns can conveniently be the final recipient of the hot potato of blame. The blue clowns are just too cowardly to enact the corporate agenda of the Beltway Bigtop funders all at once; they mean to implement it in tiny pieces, much like the effect of the Ringmaster’s chained cpi, in hopes that the slow implementation will suppress audience outrage.

Stay tuned! And stay tuned after the main event, because the  blue clowns and the red clowns are already making plans for a joint project to benefit the Union of Pickpockets and Banker Bozos just as soon as the center ring goes dark between acts.

Wall Street Deregulation Bills Likely To Attract Bipartisan Support After Shutdown Negotiations

Attention aux PickPockets (dans La Tour Eiffel) by dullhunkWhen the drama surrounding a government shutdown abates, the House of Representatives expects to take up legislation to expand taxpayer support for derivatives, the complex financial products at the heart of the 2008 meltdown. And while traditionally straightforward tasks like funding the federal government have become raucously contentious in recent weeks, a bill subsidizing Wall Street banks is likely to garner significant bipartisan support.

Also on the post-shutdown agenda is legislation that would prevent the Department of Labor and the SEC from implementing new consumer protection standards for 401(k) accounts and other retirement funds.

Both bills are efforts to roll back reforms that passed under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. A small cadre of liberal Democrats are marshaling opposition to the bills, but still expect dozens of Democrats to join a united Republican Party in passing the legislation.

“As we’re trying to forestall a government shutdown, we’ve got these ugly financial services bills on the horizon,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. “It’s a multi-pronged attack on the middle class.”

Sep 30 2013

Grand Bargain Circus – Midnight on the Highwire

Midnight on the Highwire

tight rope bike

Welcome back circus fans!  The drama under the Beltway Bigtop is rising ever higher as the antics of the red clowns have captured the show.  The clowns are still refusing to get in their car and leave the stage.  

Jul 05 2013

More Jobs Than Expected But Don’t Get Optimistic

The June employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the US added 195,000 jobs but the unemployment rate remained at 7.6%. This better than expected number, along with upward revisions of the April and May jobs numbers led to some speculation by Wall Street analysts to speculate that the Federal Reserve would start to back away from part of its stimulus program.

But hold your horses on the optimism. The reality is that this an anaemic recovery with flat growth and low productivity, as Dean Baker points out in his article:

First, it is important to remember the size of the hole the economy is in. We are down roughly 8.5 million jobs from our trend growth path. We also need close to 100,000 jobs a month to keep pace with the underlying growth rate of the labor market. This means that even with the relatively good growth of the last few months, we were only closing the gap at the rate of 96,000 a month. At this pace, it will take up more than seven years to fill the jobs gap.

It is easy to miss the size of the jobs gap since the current 7.6% unemployment rate doesn’t seem that high. However, the main reason that the unemployment rate has fallen from its peak of 10% in the fall of 2009 is that millions of people have dropped out of the labor force and stopped looking for jobs. These people are no longer counted as being unemployed. [..]

This gets to the type of jobs that have been created in the upturn. Over the last three months, three sectors – restaurants, retail trade, and temporary help – have accounted for more than half of the jobs created. These sectors offer the lowest-paying jobs, with few benefits and little job security. [..]

Workers take these jobs when there are no better alternatives available.

There is also the impact of sequestration that has yet to have its full impact on the economy and Congress seems content to leave in place with one side blaming the other. There is little chance that a budget or any significant legislation will get through this Congress:

Do you see the problem here? The president’s adversaries lament his lack of warmth and his remote intellectualism; his supporters see the same quality as an analytical and cool-headed virtue. This could be a cute “the president is from Mars, Republicans are from Venus” thing – if it weren’t for the fact that several important issues this summer, including the budget and food-stamp funding, hinge on whether these two crazy kids will ever figure it out. At the base of their problem is an absence of mutual respect and a lack of legislative sportsmanship.

Until the players figure this out – and there’s no sign they ever will – we’re going to be stuck in an endless loop of revisiting these unhelpful battles that drag on for years. This summer is the last chance for any legislation to get through. Starting in the fall, the campaigns for the 2014 midterm elections are going to start, and the window for serious legislative action will have closed – at which point you can kiss any progress on major bills goodbye. [..]

the sequestration cuts are not a question of “one side” winning or losing. They’re a question of the nation, the economy and the American people losing. They’re a question of poor people losing: Meals on Wheels will suffer, as will those living in federal housing.

No one, so far, is winning at all. Even more concerning, it’s not abundantly clear that anyone in Washington knows how to play the game anymore.

Voters need to start making greater demands on their congress critters and start threatening to throw them out for ones who will represent the people and not Wall Street and their own self-interests.

May 22 2013

John T. Harvey: Austerity Leads To… Austerity!

In the real world and the reality based community, there is talk about austerity from people who understand the nuances of it and macroeconomic accounting identities. They point out the undeniable fact that there is austerity in the UK, the Eurozone, and yes, the United States. This interactive chart will show this, though I can’t embed it here. So instead, I will add a small snapshot of some of the data.

Net spending in the United States has steadily declined since it rose from 2008 to 2009 when the inadequate stimulus(only $500 billion of direct spending at about 1.5 percent of GDP) was passed. Stimulus packages don’t exist in a vacuum, and you have to count all government spending, which basically shows how exactly the numbers, including the stimulus as this does, didn’t close the output gap. And since the numbers didn’t, that is actually austerity. After all, spending went up in the UK and Eurozone from 2008 to 2009 as well, and since then, their spending has declined. Even though it is on a higher level, it is being cut at an even more alarming rate with its fate set to go below our miserable level by 2017.

I have pointed this out before. Sometimes I get frustrated, and point this out harshly, because some pride themselves on denying this established data to support whatever a politician in their party says or does. I don’t know why. Denying reality is not going to give resources to people who need them. There is a reason my last diary has been cited by the reality based Post Keynesian MMT community, in which I am truly grateful for and humbled by; it is the truth.

The real economy of jobs and wages continues to go nowhere thanks to the lack of deficit spending and an illogical debate in DC about how much austerity we need to appease the invisible bond vigilantes and confidence fairies. It is neoliberal deficit terrorist economic insanity based on lies. And on that note, it is my pleasure to republish a piece by someone in the reality based economic community whom I can now proudly say is a friend of mine, Post Keynesian MMT economist John T. Harvey. He, once again, brings clarity to these matters in a way that only he can.  

May 19 2013

What We Now Know

We learn in this week segment of Up‘s “What We Know Now” with host Steve Kornacki that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed marriage equality passed by the Demcratic held state legislature. Also, Jason Richwine resigned from the Heritage Foundation after revelations about his doctoral dissertation. In the aftermath, Pablo Pantoja, the director of the RNC Florida Hispanic Outreach, resigned and became a Democrat.

Democratic nominee for the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts, Ed Markey dis-invited  former Georgia Democratic congressman Ben Jones from a fundraising event over Jones’ support of the displaying the Confederate flag public events.

According to Public Policy Polling, hipsters are no longer “in.”

Telling us what they have learned this week are Steve’s guests: Patricia Ireland, former President of the National Organization for Women; Anu Bhagwati, executive director and co-founder, Service Women’s Action Network; Goldie Taylor, MSNBC contributor, managing editor, The Goldie Taylor Project; and Jessica Hinves, former U.S. Air Force member, board member of Protect Our Defenders (a group that works to being attention to military sexual assault).

Minnesota Legalizes Gay Marriage: Gov. Mark Dayton Signs Bill Into Law

from Huffington Post

Minnesota officially became the 12th U.S. state to approve same-sex marriage May 14 when Gov. Mark Dayton appeared before a jubilant crowd to sign a marriage equality bill into law.  [..]

Dayton’s signature came just a day after the state Senate approved it with a 37-30 vote, the Associated Press reported.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should certainly include the right to marry the person you love,” he noted.

Echoing those sentiments was State Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, who are both openly gay.

Jason Richwine Resigns From Heritage Foundation After Dissertation Controversy

by Luke Johnson, Huffington Post

Jason Richwine, the co-author of a Heritage Foundation report on immigration who came under fire this week for arguing in his Harvard dissertation that Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. have substantially lower IQs than whites, resigned Friday. [..]

The report put the cost of immigration reform at a whopping $6.3 trillion. Though Heritage’s 2007 report was one of the reasons an earlier immigration bill failed, the 2013 report was widely mocked, even by Republicans the foundation hoped would support it.

Harvard accepted Richwine’s 2009 dissertation for a doctorate in public policy. In it, he spoke of the “growing Hispanic underclass.”[

Pablo Pantoja Turns Democrat: RNC Florida Hispanic Director Cites GOP ‘Intolerance’ In Making Party Switch

by Chris Gentilviso, Huffington Post

Less than two months after the Republican National Committee announced a multi-million dollar campaign to improve minority outreach, one of its state Hispanic directors is leaving the Republican Party altogether.

In a letter released by The Florida Nation on Monday, RNC State Director Of Florida Outreach Pablo Pantoja announced that he is changing his political affiliation to the Democratic Party.

“It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today,” he wrote. “I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.”

Ed Markey Disinvites Ben Jones From Campaign Appearance Over Confederate Flag Beliefs

by Pam Lavender, Huffington Post

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) disinvited former Georgia Democratic congressman Ben Jones from a fundraising event after learning of Jones’ support for the Confederate flag. [..]

Jones defended the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern culture in 2012 when NASCAR canceled plans to have professional golfer Bubba Watson drive the General Lee — the car from “The Dukes of Hazzard” which features a Confederate flag on its roof — at Phoenix International Raceway. Jones called the cancellation of the event “an extraordinary insult to rural Southerners.”

Hipsters trail in the polls but survey’s worth called into question

by Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

Public Policy Polling claimed 42% of Americans viewed hipsters unfavourably but methodology and purpose of poll questioned

A US polling company claimed on Monday that a shocking 42% of Americans have an unfavourable opinion about hipsters – in a telephone poll conducted among people who only have landlines.

Public Policy Polling was widely mocked for its survey, both for the frivolity of the poll, and for using a methodology that seemed guaranteed to produce the result that emerged.

May 13 2013

Austerity Still An Issue. Why?

Austerity was thoroughly trounced by a couple of university grad students who discovered major omissions in the much touted study by a couple of Pete Peterson’s paid cronies. So why are we still even talking about it? Good question that no one so far has asked our fearless leader in Washington.

Up host Steve Kornacki discussed whether the elite consensus on austerity has started to shift and if there is any effect on the opinions in Washington. His guests Josh Barro, Columnist, Bloomberg View; Jared Bernsein, former economic adviser to V.P. Joe biden; Lori Montgomery, Economic Policy Reporter, The Washington Post; and Heather McGhee, Vice President, Demos; examine the lessons that can be learned from Europe’s austerity experience and what the US economy will look like if it continues on the austerity path. The panel also discussed how conservative have backed away from cuts to Social Security shifting their focus to tax reform, controlling spending through cost efficient measures and the roadblocks to getting it done.

Apr 28 2013

Rant of the Week: Chris Hayes

Congress protects air travelers alone among sequester victims

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