Typical Conservative Tricksters

Why are so many conservative “arguments” really just tricks, trying to fool people?
See American Thinker: Bush or Obama: The Quiz

4. Bush was criticized for excessive federal spending and running up huge deficits. Bush’s deficit in 2008 was the largest in history. In fact, President Obama said,

It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they’ve presided over a doubling of the national debt … What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place.

Whose deficit was more than triple the size of the other’s: Bush’s in 2008 or Obama’s in 2009?

The correct answer? The 2009 budget, with its 1.4 trillion deficit, was also Bush’s. The 2009 budget year began in September 2009, before the election. The “stimulus” had barely started b ythe end of that fiscal year. This according to the Cato Institute.
This is what so many “conservatives” are made of. At least Cato Institute showed integrity.

Crappy Jobs Caused By Plutocracy And Austerity

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
There are good jobs and there are crappy jobs. There are burger-flipping jobs and there are skilled trades and professions. There are jobs that pay well and have benefits and jobs that don’t.
There is even the job you had, now paying less, with no benefits.
Much of the post-recession job growth is at low end. Many “better” jobs not at the low end pay less and offer fewer benefits than they used to. So the middle class continues to fall. The “economic divide” — the gap between the top few percent and the rest of us — continues to accelerate, pushed by the recent continuation of tax cuts for the wealthy, stock bubble-pumping from the Fed, and ongoing attacks on labor. And now, in particular by “austerity” budgets in the states and the pullback of stimulus and other programs from the federal government.
If you are desperate you’ll take any job, and the “austerity” idea — cutting taxes for the rich and using the resulting deficits to force cuts in unemployment, services, things government does for We, the People — forces people to be desperate enough to do just that. At the same time, it is cutting the number of jobs and the possibility that the economy will ever create more.
Why Crappy Jobs? Plutocracy and Austerity
Why isn’t the economy rebounding and producing lots of good jobs? The answer has two parts: plutocracy and austerity. Plutocracy forces the money and power to the top, and that power forces austerity measures on us to remove even more money and power from the rest.
Plutocracy: Fundamental changes brought in by the Reagan Revolution have come home to roost, shifting almost all of our economy’s income growth to a few at the top, while pitting working people around the world against each other. The forced decline of labor unions has left people on their own against giant corporations.
This video shows what it is like to negotiate on your own, up against companies with billions in resources:

Austerity: The second part of the crappy-jobs, slow-growth equation is austerity. Tax cuts for the wealthy have resulted in huge budget deficits, defunding government’s power to protect regular people. The plutocracy uses these deficits as an excuse to force budget cuts, “spending down” our infrastructure by deferring maintenance and modernization, cutting back on education, cutting back on basic scientific research and cutting back in many other areas thereby reducing our economic competitiveness. But they’re doing fine today, so they don’t care about how this hurts the rest of us tomorrow.
Austerity cuts back economic growth. This week a Goldman Sachs report says that the proposed budget cuts passed by the House shave a couple percent off of economic growth. Goldman Sachs Says GOP Budget Plan Will Hurt Economy

A Goldman Sachs economist has warned that the $60 billion package of spending cuts proposed by the Republicans to counter President Obama’s proposal could slow economic growth.

The cutbacks will also hurt employment. Center for American Progress this week, in Cuts In House GOP’s Continuing Resolution Could Drive The Unemployment Rate Up One Full Point,

Earlier this month, the Economic Policy Institute released a report finding that the $100 billion in discretionary spending cuts that the House GOP passed last weekend would result in the loss of nearly one million jobs. “Cuts of this magnitude will undermine gross domestic product performance at a time when the economy is seeing anemic post-recession growth,” wrote EPI’s Rebecca Theiss.

Another report this week shows how state and local cuts are also shaving growth. And who can be surprised by that? When you lay off thousands of teachers and other government workers, this causes a ripple effect to grocery, clothing and other stores. It causes even more foreclosures. AP: State spending cuts slow US economic growth in Q4,

The government’s new estimate for the October-December quarter illustrates how growing state budget crises could hold back the economic recovery.
The Commerce Department reported Friday that economic growth increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the final quarter of last year. That was down from the initial estimate of 3.2 percent.
. . . State and local governments, wrestling with budget shortfalls, cut spending at a 2.4 percent pace. That was much deeper than the 0.9 percent annualized cut first estimated and was the most since the start of 2010.

The Effect On People
This “austerity” craze — cutting taxes for the rich to force cuts in the things government does for We, the People — is threatening to destroy even the small amount of job creation we are getting. And what is the human effect?
A report from the Coalition on Human Needs titled, A Better Budget for All: Saving Our Economy and Helping Those in Need shows that millions of Americans would suffer from the proposed budget cuts:

At a time when 14 million people are out of work, the House approach to the federal budget fails those who are struggling most, according to a new report by the Coalition on Human Needs for the SAVE for All campaign.
The report draws a sharp contrast between the president’s budget for next fiscal year and the House plan for the remainder of this year, although it also notes serious concerns with elements of the president’s budget. It shows how the proposed budget cuts would both harm individuals and damage the country’s fragile economic recovery. The House plan includes the largest cuts, on an annualized basis, in domestic appropriations funding in history.

An Expanding Economy Fixes This
Cutbacks shrink the economy. And expanding economy provides good jobs with good pay and benefits and fixes budget deficits. We want an expanding economy for We, the People, not tax cuts for the rich and cutbacks on the things government does for We, the People. Tax cuts and austerity provide an opportunity for a few to cash out and take off, but does not provide for the rest of us.
March 10 Summit on Jobs and America’s Future
On March 10, 2011, the Summit on Jobs and America’s Future will bring together leaders and activists who understand that America faces a jobs crisis – and who are committed to building a political movement for sustainable economic growth, dynamic job creation, and a revival of the American economy.
Free. $15 with lunch. Register here.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

A Joke To Send To Right-Wing Relatives

A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party and a Big Corp CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says, “Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”

We Didn’t Have Any Of These Problems When The Top Tax Rate Was 90%

Huge national debt
Massive debt-interest payments
Extreme concentration of wealth
Unfunded public-employee pension liabilities
Corporate business models operating for the quick buck instead of for the long term
The list goes on and on. Add to it in the comments.

What Is The Real Agenda Of The Budget-Cutters?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
What is the real agenda of the budget-cutters? Are they really trying to bring the country back from the edge of financial ruin? Or did they bring about the appearance of a borrowing crisis to create a public panic that enables them to impose “solutions” that change the very nature of our country — while doing little about the borrowing?
In the news this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker “ginned up” a budget crisis, then introduced legislation that removes collective bargaining rights from public employees, and over time effectively destroys their unions. Similar measures have been introduced by Republican governors or legislatures in several other states.
This legislative attack on public employees follows more than a year of “preparing the ground” with a coordinated campaign from conservative organizations to convince the public that public employees are overpaid and that their pensions are “bankrupting” state governments — not the effects of the recession.
In the news soon, the coming strategic “shutdown” of the federal government by Republicans. After decades of forcing through tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, again and again — most recently just a few weeks ago — Republicans and corporate conservatives are engaged in a national campaign promoting the belief that there is a “deficit crisis.” Their solutions involve gutting the things government does for We, the People like consumer, health, safety, labor and financial, retirement and income protections, while keeping things the government does for corporations and the wealthy “off the table.”
We see variations of the same formula over and over. Here is how it works:
1) Cut taxes for the rich and corporations (corporate stock is mostly owned by the top 1%); big deficits result.
2) Claim a deficit emergency and use their domination of corporate-owned media to whip the public into a panic, creating the appearance of demand for corporate-approved “solutions.” Manipulate the appearance of consensus.
3) With taxes and military “off the table” push through cuts in the things government does for We, the People.
Repeat as often as needed to create a plutocracy.
Today’s “debt crisis” is the culmination of the long-term “starve the beast” strategy from an organized corporate-conservative movement. By cutting taxes for the wealthy they have starved the government, created massive debt (guess where the interest payments go) gutted the infrastructure, and put our country on the road to third-world status. This conservative movement has an agenda, and is not interested in working out “bipartisan” compromised.
In an example in the news this week, a hoax call, purported to be from David Koch, one of the billionaire-industrialists helping fund the conservative movement and major funder of efforts to make it appear that Wisconsin is having a budget crisis. In the hoax call, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker clearly understands that he and Koch are in engaged a joint effort, describing a Democratic Senator who could work with him as “not one of us.”

Koch: Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat bastards, are you?
Walker: Ah, I—there’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes, mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship and he’s worked with us on other things, to tell him I wasn’t going to budge.
Koch: Goddamn right!
Walker: …his name is Tim Cullen—
Koch: All right, I’ll have to give that man a call.
Walker: Well, actually, in his case I wouldn’t call him and I’ll tell you why: he’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us…

Elsewhere in the call Walker and faux-Koch talk about whether “planting troublemakers” would “work” or not.
In another example of the self-awareness of this strategy: On public radio’s Marketplace, February 22 Vincent Vernuccio of the Koch/conservative movement/corporate front-group Competitive Enterprise Institute discusses how the real agenda of the state actions is to destroy unions and their ability to fight corporate power politically, not to solve budget problems. (Note, he was not identified on the show as funded by conservative/corporate interests and Koch.)

VINCENT VERNUCCIO: Union bosses want to inflate these budgets so they can get more members, so they can get more dues. And in turn, they take that dues money they have and give it to politicians who are going to give them more favors in the future.
Several states are considering bills that would allow workers to opt-out of a union. Again, Vincent Vernuccio.
VERNUCCIO: The main focus of this isn’t just the budget cuts. It’s actually giving workers the right to say no to the union if they so choose.
Professor Bruno also sees broader implications for the debate. Since union money helps support the Democratic party, he argues changes in collective bargaining could shake up the political landscape far beyond the Midwest.

These are just two small examples, in the news on the same day, showing the difference between the public pronouncements of concern for the country and a private agenda to fool the country. It is one thing when responsible leaders disagree on the best way to solve the country’s real problems. It is quite another thing when organized wealth pursues a strategy to scare the country into handing over our remaining wealth and power.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

State Labor Attacks — Not Just Wisconsin

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The attack on public-employee unions in Wisconsin is in the news because of the large Egypt-style turnout of supporters at the state capital (70,000 on Saturday!), and the dramatic theater effect of Democratic Senators leaving the state to delay a vote on the measure, and give the public time to rally.
Today the rallies are spreading to other states where public employees are under attack.
After “ginning up” a budget deficit with tax cuts and breaks for corporations, Governor Scott Walker introduced a “Budget Repair” bill that strips public employees of collective bargaining rights. The bill, however, exempts firefighters and police, whose unions supported Walker’s candidacy.
Over the weekend 70,000 people flooded the capital in Madison to protest the governor’s plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights. The State’s Democratic Senators remain out of the state, continuing to delay a vote on the bill.
Power Plant No-Bid Sale: On another front it came to light that the “Budget Repair” bill also contains a provision allowing the sale of the state’s power plants on a no-bid basis. The most likely beneficiary would be Koch Industries, which already has pipelines and coal operations in Wisconsin. Control of power plants gives them an in-state, top-to-bottom vertical chain. Koch was a major supporters of Governor Walker’s candidacy as well as being the group that is promoting the budget hysteria, busing the Tea Party supprters to the state capital for counter protests. The Koch Brothers are also a primary funder of ALEC, the organization that wrote the budget bill the outlaws collective bargaining and enables the sale of the state power plants on a no-bid basis to … Koch Industries.
This appearance of a quid-pro-quo raises the question whether this is a deal to repay Repubican backers, quietly giving huge wealth public assets to the Koch Brothers.
See also: Top 5: Why Wisconsin Matters To You
In Ohio Gov. John Kasich introduced a bill to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. Unlike Wisconsin this bill strips right from all public employees.
NY Times: Thousands Gather to Protest Bill in Ohio

Protestors packed into Ohio’s State Capitol building and several thousand more gathered outside on Tuesday, as its legislature planned new hearings on a bill that would effectively end collective bargaining for state workers and dramatically reduce its power for local workers, like police officers and firefighters.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels introduced anti-union “Right To Work” legislation to strip public and private unions from being able to collect dues from members. Other bills remove collective bargaining rights from teachers, as well as implementing a voucher program in opposition to public schools.
Indiana Democrats flee state to protest anti-union bill

Indiana Democrats are reportedly joining their Wisconsin counterparts in staging an exodus from their state to protest a new union-busting Republican measure.
Only two of Indiana’s 40 House Democrats showed up for a session Tuesday morning, precluding Republicans from attaining the votes needed to proceed on motions. The rest are fleeing to Illinois to stage a walkout…
Only 58 lawmakers were present, falling short of the 67 required for a quorum.

In Michigan the Republican legislature introduced anti-union measures allowing cities and schools to terminate labor union contracts, eliminate required binding arbitration for police and fire departments and repealing “prevailing wage” laws.
In Tennessee Republicans in the legislature are finalizing a bill to remove collective bargaining rights from teachers. A march is planned for Saturday in the state capital.
In Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says the state’s labor laws are too friendly to unions and is asking for,

“veto power” over state worker pay and benefit agreements, giving the governor and legislators authority to reject negotiated union contracts which legislators or the governor find unacceptable.
Branstad also wants health care benefits for state workers to be set by the governor and legislators and no longer be part of contract negotiations.

In Florida the legislature is considering a bill, SB 830, that prevents union dues from being deducted from paychecks, and prohibiting dues from being used for political activity without written consent. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, however, sides with labor on this one,

“My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine,” Scott said in an interview with Tallahassee’s WFLA FM radio station.

Join With Labor
The AFL-CIO has an action page up:

Stop Attacks on Working Families
Corporate CEOs spent more than $1 billion to elect politicians and now they want pay back. Recently elected politicians in many states are already saying “thank you” by pushing dangerous legislation that attacks workers.
Please add your name to our petition urging state legislators to stop attacks on workers—we’ll deliver your signature to your state legislators.

March 10 Summit on Jobs and America’s Future
On March 10, 2011, the Summit on Jobs and America’s Future will bring together leaders and activists who understand that America faces a jobs crisis – and who are committed to building a political movement for sustainable economic growth, dynamic job creation, and a revival of the American economy.
Free. $15 with lunch. Register here.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Fairness Doctrine

I was listening to an NPR show about the civil rights movement in Mississippi, and how the FCC forced a radio station to put Medgar Evers on the air for 15 minutes to respond to a White Citizen’s Council smear. That is what the Fairness Doctrine was about and the civil rights movement is an example of the difference it made.
The Republicans got rid of the Fairness Doctrine under Reagan. And now you will never hear someone from a union talking about the benefits of being a union member. Ever.
And now they are getting rid of NPR, so you won’t even be able to hear that it used to be different.