As the Occupy Wallstreet movement continues to grow around the country and with the majority of americans agreeing with the protesters, the 1% who controls nearly half of our nation’s wealth are starting to get antsy. Eric Cantor canceled a speech he was going to give about how income inequality isn’t really a big deal after he found out it would be open to the public (those icky icky poors were planning on attending). And Paul Ryan did a whole lot of double speak about about the dangers of moderate policy. Many conservatives still claim that in America, it doesn’t matter if you are born the son of a banker in Manhattan or the daughter of an unemployed mother of 5 in the Ozarks, if you work hard you’ll do just fine. But a new study shows what most of us already know, that upward mobility or as many call it, The American Dream, is in most cases, not realistic.
And that’s really why the Occupiers are so mad. It’s not that someone else got rich, it’s that they have so little control over their own destiny. After years of school and tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, all they have to show for it is a part time job at the mall, while the people who already have so much are raking it in faster than ever.
That message, that the 99% deserve to be rewarded for their work too, is scaring the 1%. Why else are we seeing scenes that look a lot more like Iran than America. In Oakland an Iraq War vet was shot in the face by a Police rubber bullet. He survived looking for nonexistent WMD’s in Iraq, but when fighting real live Mass Destruction like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America he ends up with a fractured skull. He probably enlisted with ideals like “defending our freedom”, but at home he isn’t allowed the freedom he thought he was protecting.
When scenes that looked like this happened overseas, The Obama administration was quick to condemn government violence against peaceful protesters. I wonder how long it will take to break there silence when it is happening to their own people. If I were a gambling man, I would bet ‘not soon.’
Speaking of inspiring, a youtube user put together this video about the protests called “I’m Not Moving” which compares the statements made by our government about the protests in the middle east along with footage of the Occupy Wallstreet demonstrations and subsequent police response.
I know I just wrote about the conservative blood lust on display at the recent GOP debates, but they seem to be putting their money where their jeers are. After Obama released his jobs plan last week, Republican in the house seem to have come up with their own ideas about how to get the economy moving again. It involves of course cutting taxes and cutting regulation (which has obviously worked so well over the last decade) but they did show some creativity. Specifically in going after a law that regulates the buying and selling of giant killer snakes. Seriously. From Talking Points Memo…
GOP members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today called attention to a proposed regulation that would restrict the transportation and importation of nine types of snakes, including the Burmese Python.
In a new report entitled “Broken Government: How the Administrative State has Broken President Obama’s Promise of Regulatory Reform,” GOP members cited the proposed snake ban as one of seven examples of red tape choking off job growth in an already ailing economy…
…Florida officials, led by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), are pushing for the new rules because the Everglades are under attack by 100,000 gigantic Burmese pythons who have been accidentally introduced by negligent pet owners. The outside invaders have been on a rampage, devouring native birds and other creatures. One python grew so big that it managed to devour a six-foot alligator before exploding. No really. This actually happened. There’s a photo.
Yes. Of Course. Stupid big government. Think of all the jobs we’ll create!
And of course Snake Bait
A major GOP talking point is that President Obama and the Democrats are obsessed with spending. They just can’t get enough of it, it’s their number one drug of choice. But what is the reality?
This is chart is sure to make the rounds today.
If Obama is obsessed with spending, what kind of compulsive disorder to the Republicans have?
Before this deal was struck, Obama gave a speech to the nation where he rallied us all around a common cry for… Compromise! Ok, so it wasn’t that inspiring. But in principle I don’t think compromise is that bad of a thing, that is, if it’s an actual compromise. But this so called deal, doesn’t look like any compromise I remember leaning about as a kid. Democracy Now has a good run down of who gets what in this bill.
The deal includes no new tax revenue from wealthy Americans, provides no additional stimulus for the lagging economy, and will cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years, while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. The debt deal was a victory of sorts for the Pentagon. Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, it trims just $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade.
See? Compromise! Rich people get to keep their tax cuts, the military gets to keep more money than expected, and the American people get keep their recession.
Keeping these tax and service cuts are really only going to do one thing, and that is put more burden on the states. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities issued a report showing just how big the burden of the recession is on the states. Fourty two states have budget shortfalls and rely on Federal dollars to cover their needs.
When those dollars dry up the states are forced to either make even deeper cuts, raise their taxes, or shut down completely. The CBPP concludes that these cuts will of course make our recession worse, not better. And the consequenses are very real
Spending cuts are problematic during an economic downturn because they reduce overall demand and can make the downturn deeper. When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals. In all of these circumstances, the companies and organizations that would have received government payments have less money to spend on salaries and supplies, and individuals who would have received salaries or benefits have less money for consumption. This directly removes demand from the economy.
So where is the balance? Why didn’t the Democrats stand up for progressive values? Matt Taibbi has a pretty good answer.
The Democrats aren’t failing to stand up to Republicans and failing to enact sensible reforms that benefit the middle class because they genuinely believe there’s political hay to be made moving to the right. They’re doing it because they do not represent any actual voters. I know I’ve said this before, but they are not a progressive political party, not even secretly, deep inside. They just play one on television.
Most of the Democrats have been keeping up this act for a long time, but I’m not really buying it anymore.
Welp, looks like, once again Obama has completely folded. Obama and Boehner have agreed to a horrid piece of legislation that gives the GOP everything they want just so that they will pass a bill that they have passed several times before. What kind of change is Obama hoping for? He has stated before that compromising on this issue will give the Democrats more leverage on the next big thing, but I agree with Paul Krugman. That seems like a complete pipe dream.
Republicans will supposedly have an incentive to make concessions the next time around, because defense spending will be among the areas cut. But the G.O.P. has just demonstrated its willingness to risk financial collapse unless it gets everything its most extreme members want. Why expect it to be more reasonable in the next round?
In fact, Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a pattern here.
Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.
First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.
And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.
At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.
But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.
Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.
And the GOP is not exactly being discreet about how saying just how bad they are beating up on Obama. The first title in the bill? It doesn’t get more much more insulting.
So I had this big plan to write a long post about the debt ceiling negotiations, filled with information and commentary. But then I saw this clip of Colbert doing it and I can’t imagine possibly doing it better.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Republicans Choose None of the Above|
Obama announced his budget for 2011, and since I have long believed that budgets are moral documents I think we need to take a look at this thing pretty closely.
The best and easiest way to look at it has been the NY Times interactive graphic.
In the budget some severe cuts to domestic programs, especially ones that help the poor and children like LIHEAP and Head Start. And of course no cuts were made to military spending, and our military aid to Isreal actually increased. It’s hard for me to look at this document and reconcile it with the State of the Union speech that Obama gave just a few weeks ago about investing in the future.
Is the deficit a problem? Yes. But it’s pretty hard to see our politicians seem perfectly fine with cutting jobs and programs that help the people hit hardest by the recession when they aren’t willing to even look at military spending, let alone raising taxes on rich people.
John Boehner made this perfectly clear.
“In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Boehner said. “If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We’re broke.”
Yeah, that’s the same guy who’s been railing against Obama for not creating enough jobs, and then fought tooth and nail to keep taxes for the wealthy low even though it will raise the deficit. But now the deficit is so important he’s willing to put people out of work and lower our education standards. At least he’s made it clear where is priorities are.
So Obama has been appointing several people to his cabinet who worked for Clinton back in the nineties. There has of course been some criticism of this. People feel like the same song is getting played to them, and that Obama was supposed to be different. But I understand why he is doing it, he wants people who know what they are doing. I agree with Ezra Klein.
Thinking back to the primary, Barack Obama was the guy who was going to transform Washington and chart an alternative to Clintonism and prioritize energy reform and wrest foreign policy away from the class of Democrats who had mucked it all up so badly. His was supposed to be a new, or at least somewhat different, Democratic Party than we’d seen in the ’90s.
But then he got to Washington, sat down with the people who seemed to know what they were doing, and found that moving his agenda meant playing by the town’s rules, that the people with the most relevant experience to the tasks he needed done were mostly Clinton veterans, that the voters weren’t there for energy but were potentially there for health care, and that it made sense for him to put Hillary Clinton herself in the top foreign-policy slot…
…That’s not meant as a criticism or an endorsement, really. I tend to be sympathetic to that type of institutional pragmatism: The White House isn’t a great place to try and wing it.
I’ve always found it a bit interesting how much value is given in American politics to being an outsider. If a candidate can portray themselves as being a stranger to Washington they are given a sizable boost in their public image. It goes across the political spectrum, both Obama and Sarah Palin have used it to their advantage. It’s even taken to the extent that the basic assumption is being a politician for very long is bad, and so we get things like term limits.
I understand this inclination towards outsiders. If you view our government as corrupt, inefficient, wasteful, militaristic, or just filled with idiots, than of course it makes sense to want someone different. But I also think it’s strange that being a legislator is the one job where having no experience looks great on your resume. I think people forget that it’s a job like any other that takes time to learn, and more time to get good at. If you look at the big accomplishments in government, very few of them are crafted and pushed through by new people. It’s the veterans who get things done.
The other problem with always jumping to a political outsider is the issues of corruption, inefficiencies, wastefulness, ect. can’t be solved simply by bringing in a new guy. This is something the left is having a hard time learning with Obama. One newbie can’t change an entire system, the system itself has to change in order reduce the problems in our government. And the only way the system can change is to make major reforms, which is a job I would prefer to have done by someone with a little experience.