The Not-So-Loyal Opposition

In the debt-ceiling debate Republicans are holding the country hostage again, demanding that the country shift to a radical pro-big-corporate/big-wealth agenda as the ransom. At the same time the Tea Partiers say don’t raise the debt limit, period, and let the country default, hoping that out of the resulting chaos and desperation they can rebuild the economy in an Ayn Randian, rule-by-the-rich vision.
Either way, this is a radical, unprecedented attempt to redefine our form of government, largely privatizing for a few the wealth of We, the People while stifling our voice. If we give in to this extremist vision of cut and gut, America will lose the engine that made us prosperous.
Sabotaging Economy Short-term
In the short-term it is looking more and more like Republicans are deliberately sabotaging efforts to recover the economy and create jobs, as a strategy to turn voters against President Obama in the coming elections. The cuts that Republicans are demanding threaten jobs and the recovery. From the post Debt-Ceiling Deal’s Cuts Could Crash Economy:

Withdrawing government spending literally “takes money out of the economy.” We have a crisis because of lack of demand. Republican solutions of giving the wealthy and corporations even more money and tax cuts obviously will not work because the rich don’t create jobs, we do. The rich are already richer than ever, with a greater share of the income and wealth than ever, and giant corporations are already sitting on tons of cash.
So with the stimulus winding down, and state and local budget cuts causing layoffs of teachers, firefighters and other government employees, Republicans are demanding even more layoffs from federal budget cuts as a “cure.” But cutting government as a prescription for creating jobs sounds a lot like their claim that cutting taxes increases revenue. The problem is a lack of demand, and budget cuts taking hundreds of billions out of the economy only makes that worse.

So are Republicans doing this on purpose, to tank the economy, improving their 2012 election chances?
Late last year, Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen surfaced the question, saying that in light of Republican efforts to take capital out of the economy, stop the focus on unemployment, and take economic growth off the agenda in favor of deficit reduction,

I obviously can’t read the minds of GOP policymakers, but it seems at least worth talking about whether they’re prioritizing the destruction of a presidency over the needs of the nation.

Early this month Henry Blodget asked Are Republicans Intentionally Sabotaging Economy For Political Gain? Click through for the video.

More recently, in Democrats Explicitly Call Out GOP For Sabotaging The Economic Recovery, TPM reported:

In a Capitol press conference Wednesday, the Senate’s top Democrats argued that Republicans don’t want to pass measures like a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers because they’ll improve President Obama’s re-election chances.
“Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The harshest denunciation came from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the man who crafted the Dems’ new “jobs first” message.
“We are also open to hiring incentives, perhaps in the form of a payroll tax cut for employers that was floated by the administration…. [T]hat might not be our first choice, that shows how willing we are to work with the Republicans to create jobs. It’s pro-business, it’s a tax cut, and many Republicans have been for it in the past. But now all of a sudden they’re coming out against it,”

Steve Benen reacted, in The ‘sabotage’ question goes mainstream,

E.J. Dionne Jr. inched pretty close to it last week, noting that Republicans “have no interest” in working on job creation because “Republicans benefit if the economy stays sluggish.” Kevin Drum wondered whether this will ever be “a serious talking point,” adding, “No serious person in a position of real influence really wants to accuse an entire party of cynically trying to tank the economy, after all.”

Michael Tomasky takes the point a step further at The Daily Beast, in The GOP vs. Democracy, writing:

It’s about time the Democrats started saying openly what has been clear for months or even years now—that as long as economic recovery would work to the political benefit of Barack Obama, the Republicans have been, are, and will be in favor of sabotaging the economy.
[. . .] Today’s GOP is about ideological maximalism on all fronts. … They cannot negotiate, because negotiating means accepting something you don’t like, which the noise machine will not permit. And worse, because the noise machine wants Obama to fail and is so powerful, Republican office-holders inevitably arrive at that point too. … they hide their political motives behind rhetoric about the deficit. It’s high time the Democrats started pulling back the curtain.

Wrecking Ball Long-term
On the longer term, Republican radicals are advocating “a wrecking ball agenda” that cuts the very things that made us prosperous: infrastructure, education, scientific research as well as the things the define us as a caring people and enable all of us to pursue our dreams: retirement security, health care and a social safety net. The cuts mean lower taxes for the wealthy and less supervision of the practices of their giant corporations. Privatization of public wealth and functions means a wealthy few benefit and receive economic gain instead of We, the People.
At Netroots Nation Van Jones talked about this conservative wrecking crew, calling them “dream killers, who have a wrecking ball agenda for our country. A wrecking ball for America. But they painted that wrecking ball red, white and blue.” At the launch of the Rebuild The Dream movement, Jones said,

Look at their great leader, Grover Norquist. This guy, he has proudly said on the record that he wants to shrink America’s Government down to the size that he can drown it in a bathtub, he wants to drown America’s Government in a bathtub…who talks like that?
Who, who even thinks like that? That is not a very patriotic statement sir…
But their contempt for America’s Government perfectly matches their plan for the American people. Paul Ryan’s budget would knock out more critical American infrastructure that our sworn enemies ever dreamed of knocking out. These massive cuts wouldn’t just kill Medicare, as the states and cities adjusted to all that, states and cities would wind up sitting down first responders.

First Priority Is Not The Country – It Is Getting Rid Of Obama
As Obama took office and began to try to address the economic emergency, conservative leader Rush Limbaugh voiced Republican hopes for party-over-country, saying,”I hope Obama fails.”
Last year Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Limbaugh, explaining Republican priorities: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Again just last week explained why Republicans are sabotaging jobs and economic recovery, saying,

“I think the president can be defeated if conditions in November of ’12 are anything like they are today. … The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he told National Journal.

Now Hoping For Default
This weekend Rep. Michelle Bachmann says that under no circumstances would she vote to increase the debt limit, instead allowing the country to default and economy to be destroyed. Announcing her candidacy for President she says that warnings of consequences if the government doesn’t raise the debt limit and defaults are just “scare tactics,” saying the Treasury can still pay interest.
Candidate Tim Pawlenty says “pay China first
Here is Bachmann opposing the minimum wage in 2005, explaining her opposition to the state’s minimum wage as a form of job creation: “Literally, if we took away the minimum wage—if conceivably it was gone—we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”
In 2011, Bachmann suggests an unlikely fix to the nation’s long-term deficit: “I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this.”
Radical Ayn Randian Cultists
Much of the Republican Party has morphed into a radical, cult-like group. Many are now followers of Ayn Rand, the novelist/philosopher who espoused a vision of a society divided into “producers”— the “job-creators”—and the rest of us, the “parasites” and “leeches” who use democracy to “loot” the wealth of the deserving business owners. As Yaron Brook and Don Watkinsof the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights explained in an op-ed last year,

It is the producers who make life possible: who keep grocery shelves stocked; who discover new lifesaving drugs; who make computers faster, buildings taller, and airplanes safer.
The looters, on the other hand, leech off the wealth created by producers.

In Concern Over Republican Embrace Of The Ayn Rand Poison I wrote,

Some say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a political party’s ideology on a belief that altruism, democracy and Christianity are “evil.” Others say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a country’s policies on fictional novels rather than science and history. Still others say is it a bad idea for national leaders to think of most of the public as “parasites” while saying people with tons of cash are “producers” who should govern. I am talking about the Republican Party’s embrace of Ayn Rand and her cruel philosophy.
Disciples of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness now dominate the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. There is no way around it. Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan says Rand is his guide. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is his “foundation book.” Senator Rand Paul is named after her (or not). Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead. Fox News promotes Rand. Conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck has been promoting Rand for years. So has Rush. This isn’t recent, Alan Greenspan lived with the Rand cult and promoted and implemented her ideas.

Backmann often echoes the Ayn Randian vision of “job-creators”:

So if we cut back the corporate tax rate, if we would zero out the capital gains, right, allow for a 100 percent expensing when a job creator buys equipment for their business, that would go a long way towards job creators recognizing that this is a pro-business environment. ”

Speaker of the House John Boehner also frequently echoes this Randian perspective of “job creators.”

“Everything is on the table except raising taxes on the very people we expect to create jobs and get our economy growing again.”

The rich are “job creators? Actually, “The Rich” Don’t “Create Jobs,” We Do.
Attacking Our Form Of Government
As I wrote the other day about the story of America: We fought a wealthy powerful few who had all the say and didn’t let us have a say. We won and made a country where We, the People made the decisions and share the benefits. So because we had a say we built up a country with good schools, good infrastructure, good courts, and we made rules that said workers had to be safe, get a minimum wage… we protect the environment, we give out social security. We take care of each other. This made us prosperous.
The current Republican Party is fighting our form of government, with China as their “business-friendly” ideal. They want to defund through tax cuts and dismantle through spending cuts the things democracy entitles us – We, the People – to, and sell off our common wealth for the private gain of a select and wealthy few.
Violating The Oath They Took
Just what does it mean to take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? Let’s look to another time when the country was under attack from within.
Members of Congress today take this oath,

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

This oath was brought in following more severe changes in the oath during the 1860s Nort/South conflict, According to Senate.gov,

In April of 1861, a time of uncertain and shifting loyalties, President Abraham Lincoln ordered all federal civilian employees within the executive branch to take an expanded oath. When Congress convened for a brief emergency session in July, members echoed the president’s action by enacting legislation requiring employees to take the expanded oath in support of the Union. This oath is the earliest direct predecessor of the modern oath.

Then as now the country was under attack from within. Those still loyal to the Constitution insisted that officials take an “Ironclad Test Oath” swearing they had never engaged in disloyal conduct. The difference is that then they enforced it, and those who took the oath falsely were prosecuted for perjury. Today, not so much.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Section. 4: The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.


Eric Hunt contributed to this post.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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How Free Trade Made Democracy A Disadvantage

This is my presentation from last week’s Netroots Nation panel session: Revitalizing Manufacturing: The Road to Renewed Job Growth. Click through for panel details and other panelists, here for a pdf of slides, including Jared Bernstein’s. See below for video — and be sure to watch Beri Fox!!!
Four Stories
I want to share four quick stories:
1. Democracy
The story of America
We fought a wealthy powerful few who had all the say and didn’t let us have a say, and made a country where We, the People made the decisions and share the benefits.
So because we had a say we built up a country with good schools, good infrastructure, good courts, and we made rules that said workers had to be safe, get a minimum wage… we protect the environment, we give out social security. We take care of each other.
And we used to protect that. We used to put a tariff on goods coming in if they were made by people who didn’t have the ability to speak up and better their condition. It was called the American System. Look it up. We’d let the goods in but we would use a tariff to strengthen our country, our infrastructure, our schools – our democracy.
But that changed. Superman left and we stopped protecting the American Way. We started letting goods in made by people who had no say, so the goods were cheap and they undercut us.
We have made democracy a disadvantage. We made it a disadvantage instead of an advantage.
Make no mistake, people who say they want things more “business friendly” they mean they want America to be less of a democracy, with fewer of the protections we fought to build for ourselves.
2. Trade
Once upon a time some areas made some things well, and other areas made other things well, and they would trade, and both areas could have the things they made AND the things made somewhere else, and everyone benefitted. And both areas increased the customers they had.
And so to most people “trade” means we buy things made somewhere else, and they buy things we make. In what world does “trade” mean closing a factory that is located here, moving it there where they don’t already make something, laying off all the people, and then bringing back here the same things that used to be made here and selling them in the same stores?
And the result is a lot of people have lost jobs, devastating our communities.
And then they tell workers who still have jobs that the same can happen to them, we can just close this factory, so shut up and don’t expect raises or benefits or safety or dignity.
What we see happening when a company moves production out of the country is not trade, it is getting around the borders of the democracy we built, and the things we fought and sacrificed to build.
Letting companies move factories away was giving up our ability to make a living. Sure a few people might get really rich from it, but look around you the rest of us, and our communities, and our economy have been sent sliding down a hill into the sewer.
3. The Deal
There once was a company. The company made a deal with a company in the next county, they make something you don’t, and you make something they don’t. So the deal is you’ll buy things from them if they buy from you. And you start buying from them, but they aren’t buying from you. And this goes on, and they still aren’t buying from you, but you are starting to owe them a lot of money. And they you’re borrowing from them to buy from them, and they still aren’t buying. And then they show up in your county selling the things you already made and sold, buy they used the money they got selling to you to set up to make what you made.
And by the way they say you have to pay them what you owe them.
That is how our deal with China is working out. We bought from them, they didn’t buy form us, and now they have accumulated $1.5 trillion which they were supposed to have been buying American-made goods with.
And they cheated. Or I would say they were smart and watched out for their own interests excessively, and we didn’t at all.
$1.5 trillion! So imagine what would happen if we said we’re going to default on the debt but these bonds are redeemable in the next 3 months for American made good. Can you imagine what $1.5 trillion of orders would do for our economy right now? $1.5 trillion in orders? Factories humming…
Well the picture of what that would do FOR our economy is a way of understanding what that has done TO our economy.
4. The Cost
I like to tell you a story about the cost of our free-trade deals and tax policies.
I took a road trip last fall, through four industrial states, MI, OH, WV, PA to visit some of the Manufacturing Town Hall meetings that Scott’s group put on. [Note - see posts about this tour here.]
They call it the “rust belt” because so many factories are closed and rusting.
From town to town you see downtowns devastated, because the way you make a living is gone and the cheap imported goods at wal mart competing with local businesses. Michael Moore wrote about Flint after the auto plants closed. That kept happening, town after town, year after year, and got worse.
You have to see to first hand. [Note - there are pics in this post.]
But I’ll tell you, we’re even seeing it now in Silicon Valley, seeing downtowns with lots of empty storefronts. Empty office and manufacturing buildings everywhere. That wave that hit the Midwest has reached the tech areas now.
So the moral of the four stories is that We the People have to protect the things we fought for and won. And we have to remember that We, the People have to take care of and watch out for each other because the wealthy and powerful won’t do that for us. And markets aren’t about that, either.
When we relax our eternal vigilance they will come back with a vengeance.
Progressive Solutions

    a. Industrial Policy
    We don’t believe in having the government help. We think the markets will fix everything. But other countries don’t see it that way.
    We are pitting our companies on their own against the national resources of governments. We can live in an ideological dream world and say we shouldn’t, but our competitors in the rest of the world DO.
    b. Protect Democracy
    Tariffs. Call it a democracy tariff. Or a thugocracy tax. Use this to help lift others out of their exploitation. By making democracy a disadvantage we are only encouraging the worst, and encouraging it here, too. “Business friendly” is a code word that means get rid of all the protections We, the People have built for ourselves.
    They can protect the environment, etc, or charge a tariff to bring those goods in.
    c. Renegotiate Trade Deals
    Trade can mean something different. We still have a huge market. We can require goods to either be made by people who are not exploited and who have a say so
    d. Enforce Trade Laws
    China cheats in so many ways, and we all know it. Currency rates. Indigenous innovation . Forcing companies to turn over proprietary IP…

We can do these things. Because of the strong prosperity that democracy brought us others really want to sell into our markets.
And my own favorite:

    e. Top tax rates
    With high top rates it takes time to build a fortune. You have to have long-term plans, sustainable businesses that are surrounded by healthy communities, good schools, good infrastructure.
    Lower rates, you can make a fortune in a few days. Business models changed, became short term, cash in, quick-buck schemes. Harvest infrastructure, close factories, no need for healthy communities, etc.

Video Of The Panel
Scott Paul opens
Jared Bernstein at 6:02
Rep. Jim McGovern at 17:00
Beri Fox at 31:29
Dave Johnson at 48:13
IF the video below doesn’t show up, click to see it here.

Sobotka
As always, Frank Sobotka explains what’s wrong:

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Absolute MUST-WATCH For All Progressives!!!

Here is the video of last night’s launch of Rebuild the Dream campaign, with Van Jones. ((If you want to skip the music parts, start at 9:15.)
The three big lies:
1) America is broke.
2) Asking the super rich to pay taxes hurts the economy.
3) Hating America’s government and wrecking America’s infrastructure is patriotic.

Watch live streaming video from rebuildthedream at livestream.com

Alternet has a great write-up of the event and its meaning, in Van Jones Kicks off American Dream Movement with Energetic Rally and Speech at NYC’s Town Hall
And then you can watch this:

Manufacturing Hearing: Republicans, Corps Say Taxes, Regulations, Government, Democracy Bad

I watched a Congressional hearing yesterday (webcast), examining why we need a national industrial strategy. There were a few pro-manufacturing voices. But in a surprise move, Republicans and representatives of Wall Street & giant multinationals opposed such a policy and repeatedly called for more tax cuts for the rich and corporations, more “free” trade agreements, getting rid of regulations and stopping government from holding corporations accountable to our laws. And at the end of the hearing the top committee Republican said we should not blame China’s trade-cheating for our trade deficits, we should instead blame our “home-grown” regulations, citizen access to courts, taxes, good wages, benefits, worker-safety protections, environmental protections, etc. [aka democracy] that China lacks.
Yesterday’s hearing was before the Joint Economic Committee, which is a committee of members of the House and Senate, created by Congress to review economic conditions and to analyze the effectiveness of economic policy. The hearing was named: Manufacturing in the USA: Why We Need a National Manufacturing Strategy? Click through for details and an archived video of the hearing.
The format was remarks by the committee heads, brief remarks from a panel of two members of Congress and a panel of four “experts” in the subject, followed by a question/answer session.
Rep. Kevin Brady’s introductory remarks set the stage for the coordinated Republican/Wall Street/multi-national corporate position. Opposing the idea of a national industrial policy, Brady summed up the reasoning:
The concern is that policy can “morph” into “central planning” that interferes with “the invisible hand.” He said industrial strategies have failed everywhere. [note- of course they haven't, just look at China, Germany, Brazil, India...] It comes at the expense of the consumer and leads to protectionism. Instead we should adopt “pro-growth” economic policies: (see if you can guess what is in the following list)
Reduce government spending, reform entitlements, cut taxes, give more tax breaks to big companies, give a tax “holiday” to repatriate “stranded” American profits, do even more trade agreements, repeal regulations and health care, enact tort reform.
Panelists
Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute testified that we should “rely on market forces,” and government should make no specific policies. We should not expect an increase in employment in manufacturing because of productivity growth, which increases our standard of living.
The downward employment trend prompts some to conclude need government assistance, but that can harm “other sectors,” with resources misallocated. Manufacturing is only one sector of economy. Rely on market forces, government should stay out of it. [Note - by "other sectors" see if you can guess which "other sectors" he means. Hint: the answer is Wall Street.]
Instead we should should Improve US business environment as a whole. Encouraging growth across the economy [i.e. Wall Street].
Having government involved in manufacturing policy is an oxymoron in a free market economy [i.e. Wall Street].
To reduce the harmful distortions: (get ready, here it comes)
Reduce the corporate tax rate. We need a significant reduction, to level the playing field, improve general competitiveness. This is one step toward “neutral” fiscal policy.
Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers offered a contrasting opinion, saying that we need tax cuts, deregulation, etc.
We must have policies to compete successfully in international marketplace. Pro-growth policies: (get ready, here it comes)
Reduce the corporate tax rate. Reduce the regulatory burden, and “onerous” regulations that put the weight on “job creators.” [Note - see: Actually, "The Rich" Don't "Create Jobs," We Do.]
Get rid of barriers to trade and growth. We need more trade agreements. We are ceding market share to competitors. Our policies are turning clock back. There are excessive new regulations, like ozone standards. They “hamstring” the economy and “job-creators.”
A Different Perspective
Scott Paul from the Alliance for American Manufacturing offered a pro-manufacturing perspective.
Robust strategy has been at the core of American policy from the country’s beginnings. Today’s dearth of policy is the exception, not the rule. Hamilton’s manufacturing policy was in place until WWII.
Having a manufacturing strategy is not partisan, Reagan had one, the Plaza Accord. His administration made key investments, including semiconductors, and had “Buy America” requirements.
We saved the auto industry, which stabilized part of the support structure for domestic manufacturing.
There are many problems that can’t be solved on their own by companies, like R&D investment.
No single firm can coordinate national projects. We need a robust manufacturing strategy because fate of this sector is too important. The decline of manufacturing is not inevitable or desirable.
Paul’s solutions
1) Address Chinese currency manipulation
2) Counter China’s other cheating – when we act and enforce we get results.
3) Retool our export initiative to focus on zero trade deficit.
4) Tax changes – but don’t offset corporate tax reduction with reductions in manufacturing – this is just a windfall for Wall Street
5) Winning a race to the bottom — don’t engage in this.
6) Infrastructure bank
7) Skills and training infrastructure
The Q&A
Currency manipulation.
Chairman Casey asked Scott Paul about Chinese currency manipulation.
Chairman Casey and Mr. Scott Paul on International Currency Manipulation:

Paul: We need legislation to allow workers and firms relief from currency manipulation. Currency manipulation is one of most harmful policies out there, contributes to global imbalances, viscious cycle, hard to get out of. A year ago China took off the “peg,” and the currency appreciated but arguably not enough, still grossly undervalued between 30-40%.
Rep. Brady Brady: “If we blame china we will be sorely mistaken.” Our challenges are home-grown. Fiscal stimulus is one cause of our problems, we have fewer workers because of it, unemployment higher, etc.
A Unified, Coordinated Front: Government, Taxes, Regulation, Democracy — All Bad
Question – to Timmons (NAM), don’t your manufacturing members want tax cuts instead of jobs programs?
Timmons – Enact legislation that reduces costs and barriers. 18% higher cost here because of taxes, tort, regulatory and energy costs. We can reduce those costs, not blame other countries.
Then most of the Republicans and panelists got going about why government and taxes and regulations are bad. They were a unified, coordinated front, dismissing any consideration of government involvement…
Someone talked about uncertainty which is caused by government. This is why businesses are slow to hire. Businesses don’t know what We, the People might demand next.
Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics argues that government itself creates uncertainty because it has the power to tax and regulate. This makes companies question whether to do business in the US. Need to provide certainty and stability [like China?]
Someone said, “Pull back and eliminate as much as we can.”
Finally someone said we need to get rid of the National Labor Relations Board “to lower labor costs.
Sobotka
As always, Frank Sobotka explains what’s wrong:

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Infrastructure Work Is Needed And People Need The Work

We’ve been deferring maintenance of our infrastructure since the Reagan tax cuts – never mind modernizing to restore American competitiveness. It is something that has to be done anyway, and here we are with so many people needing work. It’s just nuts. Millions of jobs that need doing, and millions out of work, and we can’t connect the dots.
Finally SOME people in DC are trying to get some jobs going. “Senior Senate Democrats” are proposing “a large infrastructure package funded by tax increases” and that is exactly what the country NEEDS. From The Hill last week, Do more on jobs, Dems tell Obama,

Senior Senate Democrats are growing frustrated by what they see as President Obama’s passivity on the economy, and are beginning to discuss a large infrastructure package funded by tax increases.
. . . “I am concerned about the Obama administration’s approach on this,” Harkin said. “It always has been about jobs. I think the administration kind of got snookered talking about the deficit and the debt after the last election.
“The last election was about jobs and the economy, and now we’re in a position where we really do need some economic pump-priming by the federal government,” he said.

Has To Be Done Anyway
The country needs this infrastructure work done anyway. Since the Reagan tax cuts we have been putting off maintenance of our infrastructure. And this is catching up to us.
Experts say $2 trillion of infrastructure work is needed just to catch up. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card, says a $2.2 trillion investment is needed to bring the country up to current standards. ASCE says, “Years of delayed maintenance and lack of modernization have left Americans with an outdated and failing infrastructure that cannot meet our needs.”
Imagine where the economy would be today if this work had been done as needed. We would have a well-maintained infrastructure, keeping our businesses competitive in the world, not to mention where we would be with an additional $2 trillion of employment and the resulting savings, homes, kids sent to school… This is a measure of the cost of the Reagan tax cuts and the pullback of public investment it caused.
Another measure is the resulting attitudes. Here we are with millions out of work, and millions of jobs that need doing, and we can’t even get going on doing the needed work! So the continued lack of investment in our public structures will have future costs as well.
“Falling Dramatically Behind”
Recently the Urban Land Institute issued a report on the country’s infrastructure, showing how we are falling behind countries like Brazil, China and India. The Washington Post covered the report last month, in Study: $2 trillion needed for U.S. infrastructure

The United States is falling dramatically behind much of the world in rebuilding and expanding an overloaded and deteriorating transportation network it needs to remain competitive in the global marketplace, according to a new study by the Urban Land Institute.
Burdened with soaring deficits and with long-term transportation plans stalled in Congress, the United States has fallen behind three emerging economic competitors — Brazil, China and India, the institute said.
[. . .] As Congress debates how much should be spent and where to find the money, China has a plan to spend $1 trillion on high-speed rail, highways and other infrastructure in five years. India is nearing the end of a $500 billion investment phase that has seen major highway improvements, and plans to double that amount by 2017. Brazil plans to spend $900 billion on energy and transportation projects by 2014.

According to the report,

  • … the U.K. has committed Us$326 billion (£200 billion) over the next five years to continue national infrastructure projects focused on rail, energy production, and broadband access, with an emphasis on reducing the nation’s carbon emissions through investments in renewable energy.
  • France, germany, spain, and Italy continue to build out high-speed rail and freight networks between major cities and extend cross-border transport links …
  • Australia is working to shore up existing infrastructure while setting national priorities for future investments; expansion of ports, refashioning of rail lines, and relief of urban traffic congestion take precedence.
  • Canada is expanding its PPP initiatives to address the revamping of aging facilities.
  • … China is moving ahead with wide-ranging infrastructure programs, including completion of an unprecedented 10,000-mile high-speed rail network by 2020. newly constructed airports, ports, and subway systems in China’s major centers facilitate the country’s growth into the world’s second-largest economy and help it deal with mounting congestion from burgeoning urban populations.
  • India is working hard to attract more private financing for desperately needed infrastructure to nurture aspirations for global economic leadership, while the United arab emirates and Kuwait continue to use oil wealth to build out transport hubs and seek energy-efficient solutions for future power and water needs.
  • Brazil is accelerating road, transit, and water projects to accommodate its burgeoning economy and buttress an enhanced standing on the world stage; it does not want to disappoint people visiting for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 summer olympics.
  • Public Wants It
    Public Opinion Snapshot: Public Backs Infrastructure Investment, from the Center for American Progress, says,

    Eighty percent declared themselves in agreement with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call for a major effort to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure in a new Hart Research/Public Opinion Strategies survey for the Rockefeller Foundation.

    Last month Rep. Jerry Nadler wrote a pro-infrastructure op-ed for Politico, The necessity of infrastructure cash,

    The single greatest challenge is to fund the investments that we so desperately need in the face of a Republican-sponsored hysteria for budget cutting that pays no regard to the consequences. Just last week, for instance, an Urban Land Institute study concluded that we need $2 trillion just to make basic repairs to our critical infrastructure.
    [. . .] Every stage of American prosperity and growth has followed federal investment in infrastructure. From Henry Clay’s “American System” to Abraham Lincoln’s “Internal Improvements” and Trans-Continental Railroad to Dwight Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, the federal government has financed the nation’s major infrastructure growth and enabled our economic development.
    If America is to lead the world economy in the 21st century, it will require a modern infrastructure capable of promoting and sustaining economic growth. And it will be built not by happenstance but only through the leadership and investment of the federal government, as in the past.
    If we choose not to make the investments necessary to lead the world, there will be no shortage of countries ready and willing to take our place.

    So here we are, stuck, with all this work that needs to be done, and all these people needing work, and we can’t as a country connect the dots and get this going.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    The Speakout For Good Jobs Now Tour

    This summer: Speak Out Tour

    From the site:
    The Speakout for Good Jobs Now tour will feature stops in numerous cities across America giving Americans the chance to speak out about how the economy is affecting them. Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will listen to what everyday Americans have to say and take that back to Washington with them as they continue to fight to reinvigorate the American Dream — the ability to put in a day’s hard work for good wages and benefits so we can provide our children with a better future.
    Schedule details are here
    You can upload a video or write a story talking about your own situation with jobs..

    Conservatives Crying Wolf

    Go see the Cry Wolf Project.

    Throughout American history virtually every legislative initiative for progressive reform has been achieved only after bitter struggle by citizens, workers and advocates demanding fundamental rights and protections. In each case, they were met with claims that the proposal will “kill jobs,” generate a stifling government bureaucracy, or curtail economic growth.
    The Cry Wolf Project is a network of advocates, researchers and scholars dedicated to demonstrating that, in fact, conservatives and business groups are only “crying wolf” to delay, prevent and weaken important and common sense regulations that save lives, clean our environment and make our families more secure.

    Brilliant!

    Deficit Reduction Trap Sprung — Republicans Campaigning On Jobs

    In the middle of the worst job crisis since the Depression many Democrats forgot about jobs and got all in a tizzy about cutting budgets. All the usual suspects made a lot of noise about deficit reduction, and the cocktail-party and dinner-party circuits all knowingly nodded and told each other they were so smart, they could see that these entitlements were killing the country, these deficits were killing the country, these entitlements were killing the country… So in the DC bubble many Democrats forgot about who and where those deficits came from (tax cuts, military spending and an economic crash caused by deregulation), and got caught up instead worrying about how to cut budgets. And now, wham, the trap is sprung, Republicans are campaigning on how Democrats didn’t provide jobs.
    For example, this Romney “BUMP IN THE ROAD” campaign ad:

    What this ad says:

    The video highlights President Obama’s failure to create jobs for millions of unemployed Americans. The video also shows that the unemployed are not just economic statistics, but are real Americans looking to support themselves and their families.
    “Millions Have Lost Their Jobs Under President Obama” Video Text: “Long Term Unemployment Is Now Worse Than The Great Depression” Video Text: “June 3, 2011 Unemployment Hit 9.1%” Video Text: “President Obama Called It A Bump In The Road” President Obama (audio): “There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery.” Mark: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Derrick: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Melissa: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Jessica: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Jerry: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Kevin: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” American Family: “We are Americans, not bumps in the road.” Matt: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Dustin: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Shirley: “I am an American, not a bump in the road.” Ryan: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Jason: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Group: “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.” Video Text: “BELIEVE IN AMERICA November 6, 2012.”

    Romney The Job Killer
    Never mind that Romney made his money from laying people off with his private equity firm.

    As Colbert says in the video, Romney cut jobs, workers, employees and jobs. But what the public knows today is that people need jobs, the American Majority was demanding that Washington focus on creating jobs, and the Democrats didn’t do that.
    Here They Come
    The Democrats didn’t focus on creating jobs, instead “pivoting” to deficit reduction, and now Republicans are starting the campaign against them for not creating jobs. But who could have known? Who could have predicted?
    The Daily Caller explains what to expect “If anyone was wondering where exactly Republican presidential candidates would hit Obama,” in Romney releases ‘bumpy road’ video ad hitting Obama,

    If anyone was wondering where exactly Republican presidential candidates would hit Obama in the first stretch of the 2012 race, Mitt Romney has put that question to rest in a new video. Or rather, he’s run it over with his car.
    Romney’s new video, “Bump in the Road,” takes an unnerving and morbidly creepy shot at Obama’s insistence that the continuously bad unemployment numbers are just part of the difficult path to a better future.

    Not The First Time
    In the 2010 midterms Republicans campaigned that Democrats “cut $500 billion from Medicare” and seniors voted Republican for the first time, costing Dems the House.
    This is is what listening to Republicans and Wall Street and “pivoting” to deficit reduction got you: Republicans are starting to campaign for office full-on on jobs. Not a word about deficit reduction. They are saying that Democrats in Washington were in charge and didn’t create jobs.
    Questions And Facts For Dems
    Question: how much credit are Democrats getting for budget cuts?
    Facts for Dems: Jobs fix deficits because spending on the jobless goes down, tax revenue goes up and people buy things again, so businesses start hiring again.
    Invest In Jobs, Don’t Cut Them
    Investment in infrastructure pays a huge dividend because it makes our businesses more competitive in the world while providing those jobs. And we have to do it anyway, we have been putting it off since the Reagan tax cuts and the infrastructure is crumbling. Investing in infrastructure is millions of jobs that need doing while millions need jobs.
    Oh, and if you pay people to retrofit homes and buildings around the country to be more energy-efficient, the result is that we stop sending so much money out of the country for oil. The whole economy becomes more efficient, and it pays off the cost of hiring all those people. It’s called “Cash For Caulkers.”
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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