Deficits Were On Purpose To Cause This “Crisis”

Before ‘W’ got in and made changes in taxes and military spending we were paying off the debt. Bush said the deficits that resulted from his changes were “extremely positive news.” (Yes, that is in quotes, click the link.) Before that Reagan also caused deficits on purpose. He called it “starve the beast” — as if democracy is a “beast” that needs to be killed. So don’t fall for all this deficit hysteria, let’s just fix what caused the deficits and move on.

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What’s Wrong With Spending To Make Our Lives Better?

Not sure what is wrong with “spending.” It is the things we do as a democracy to make ALL of our lives better, instead of just a few people hoarding all the money. As a country we can certainly afford to spend on health care, retirement, things like that. We coughed up to bail out the banks on a moment’s notice, more than a trillion to invade Iraq. We doubled the defense dept budget under ‘W.’

Remember, when he took office Bush said that it was important that we stop paying off the debt. He said that the return to deficits was “incredibly positive news.” That is a quote.

Go see for yourself. Here is a news report, Aug 25, 2001: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/25/politics/25BUSH.html

President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government’s fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create ”a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” He said that was ”incredibly positive news” because it would halt the growth of the federal government.

Gun Lobby Calls For Law Making Schools Buy Guns – From Them

Here is a surprise, the gun manufacturers called for a new national law requiring all schools to buy guns – from them.
LA Times: A defiant NRA calls for armed guards in every school,

National Rifle Assn. Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre on Friday forcefully rejected calls to clamp down on guns in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, arguing instead for a massive deployment of armed guards to every school.
LaPierre pledged that the NRA would spearhead such an endeavor, appointing former Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchinson to lead an effort to develop a cutting-edge model school security plan and a program to train volunteers who would be dispatched to campuses around the country.

This is the same crowd that objects to Obamacare because it orders us to buy insurance from the giant insurance companies.

Social Security Talk With Richard Eskow

This is a good time to remind people that I had a great Virtually Speaking talk with Richard Eskow, about Social Security that you should listen to.
I joined Campaign for America’s Future’s Richard Eskow to talk about the “fiscal cliff” scare, austerity, Social Security, Medicare and how we WON the election so we really should be talking about jobs instead.
This was a GREAT hour, and hold the information you need to arm yourself to win holiday-dinner conversations with your right-wing brother-in-law.
The conversation refers to my post, Fiscal Cliff Scare Talk Follows Shock Doctrine Script as well as several posts by Richard Eskow including,
Wall Street Finds a ‘Third Way’ to Plunder Our Wealth,
The “Fiscal Cliff” Is a Hoax … and a Mel Brooks Routine,
The Grand Swindle – Veterans on a Cliff,
After the Election, a New Mandate – and New “Fiscal Cliff” Math
Click here to listen, or listen using the widget below:

Social Security is Still the Third Rail (You’ve Been Warned)

We JUST had an election where the public (not to mention Every. Single. Poll.) overwhelmingly said no cuts to Social Security or Medicare, and raise taxes on income over $250K. That ought to mean something. But the “word” out of DC is that a deal is underway that cuts the Social Security COLA and increases the income level subject to a higher tax from $250K to $400K.

Senators and Representatives who are thinking of touching the “third rail:” How many constituents are calling your office today to say, “Yes, I want you to cut the Social Security COLA”?

Readers: Have YOU called YOUR senators and representative yet to let them know how you feel?

Also: Click here to tell the President: No Deal That Cuts Benefits.

Political Suicide

Cutting Social Security makes no sense, and is bad politics because it hurts people. Old people depend on this meager benefit and by law Social Security can not contribute to deficits. But never mind the numbers, look at the social and political effects of a deal that cuts the Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) immediately after the public voted not to do this.

The social effect: Does our society care about people, or just about money? Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security hurt PEOPLE. Raising tax rates on the wealthy is just money. What does it tell the public about our society if their government cuts Social Security benefits immediately after we have an election in which the public overwhelmingly votes against cuts in Social Security or Medicare, and to increase taxes on $250K and up? This reported deal raises that $250K to $400K, reduces military cuts, and ignores that the same amount of money could be raised in ways that actually help the country and economy, like a Financial Transaction Tax.

Bankers got huge bonuses with government bailout money, and now you are cutting the meager benefits old people get? What does this tell the public, to cut this when one after another Democratic leader, including Vice President Biden, has stepped up to insist that Social Security is off the table? It tells the public not to trust their leaders, because the big money will win every time.

Talk about undermining “certainty” and “confidence.” Wow.

The political effect: Suicide. Seniors pay attention to the yearly COLA increase. Every single year from now on when the COLA is announced it is more than likely that seniors will believe they are getting a lower increase because President Obama and the Democrats betrayed them. This is human nature, they will think they would have gotten more (and Republicans will tell them they would have gotten more).

It will become folklore — conventional wisdom — that they would have received a much higher increase, except Obama and the Dems betrayed seniors.

Alternatives

Need to raise some money? Here are a few things you can offer instead of cutting the Social Security COLA:

  • Financial Transaction Tax on speculative investments – a quarter of a penny per share.
  • A BIG surtax on incomes over $10 million until the debt is paid off.
  • Cut the military budget a lot more. Reagan doubled it and ‘W’ Bush doubled it again. The Soviet Union is gone.
  • Get rid of oil company subsidies.
  • Rebuild the nation’s infrastructure (with American-made materials) thereby employing millions who will then be paying taxes and won’t be getting assistance, and then our economy will be more efficient and competitive in the future.
  • Retrofit (with American-made materials) our buildings and homes to be energy efficient, thereby employing millions (etc) plus our economy will have to spend less on energy from now on.
  • Make companies bring home the money they are holding offshore, and pay the corporate tax on it.
  • A thousand other ways to cut the deficit without hitting old people with the bill.

Now Please Read Richard Eskow’s Post

It seems like everything I try to say Richard Eskow succeeds in saying, and does so better than I ever could. (Seriously, read what he wrote about the CT shootings.)

Richard explains why this COLA-cut offer is a bad idea, in This Is Not America’s Deal,

This deal would make voters very unhappy. It reflects neither their wishes, their needs, or their values. They’ve already said so – to pollsters like ours and in the voting booth on Election Day. Instead of responding, this looks like another “insider deal” – another agreement that suggests the public’s values and concerns vanish once you cross the Beltway.

… The Republicans lost the last election – by a landslide, in fact, in both the Presidential and Senate races. They even lost the House — by more than 1.6 million votes. Only their gerrymandering, vote suppression, and billionaire campaign cash allowed them to retain control of that body despite a popular-vote defeat.
And only their outrageous abuse of Senate rules like the filibuster has allowed them to tie up that body and prevent it from doing its work.

Republicans lost because their ideas are unpopular. But this deal would turn those ideas into policy. This undemocratic ”Loser Take All” strategy will further alienate voters, while encouraging extremists in Congress to keep abusing the system.

… This deal would send the wrong message: that successful programs and policies – Social Security, Medicare, and progressive taxation – are problems to be fixed, not solutions to be implemented and strengthened. These programs reflect our finest values: fairness, self-sufficiency, and mutual support. And they work.

A deal like this would also distract the nation from the real sources of our economic difficulties – like wealth inequity, a shortage of good middle-class jobs, and the misdeeds of under-regulated banks and corporations.
No deal is acceptable that undermines our social contract — our common agreement to work together and help each other — as this one would. They’ve made us strong and prosperous and they must be protected.

PS If you really want to change the COLA formula, use a measurement that looks at the things old people actually spend their money on, like the cost of prescriptions or dental care. “Chained-CPI” doesn’t look at these things, so it would lower the COLA. An honest look at how the cost of living changes for old people would mean a higher COLA than now, not a lower one.


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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Filibuster: Sen. Merkley Says “Make Them Talk”

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley took to the white board to explain the talking filibuster and why we need to reform the Senate.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snprp-36dMk[/youtube]
Merkley White Board: Its time to Reform the Senate with a Talking Filibuster

Fix The Senate Now. You can sign the petition.
The filibuster used to be an important tool that gave the minority a real voice in the Senate. Not anymore.
For too long now, this tactic has been misused and abused. Congress has stopped legislating effectively, with Senators using ridiculous dodge tactics to block real progress. Right now there is an opportunity to restore the filibuster to its original purpose, but senators like Merkley need your help and backing to do it.
Call 1-866-937-5062 or text FIXTHESENATE to 69866 and tell your senators you support Senate rules reform, including returning to a talking filibuster, and they should, too.
IBEW has an action page that helps you “determine who your Senators are and then you can email or call them to express your support for the talking filibuster. For your convenience the Political-Legislative Affairs Department has already drafted an email regarding this issue for your Senator that you may choose to send as-is or edit as you see necessary.”

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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Mayor Emanuel Races Chicago’s Economy To Bottom

Does a city “save money” by outsourcing good-paying jobs to a company that pays crap wages? The people who had good-paying jobs are out of work, replaced by people in low-wage jobs, and the rest of us feel the downward pressure on our wages and benefits as the race to the bottom accelerates. The city tax base is reduced as wages drop and people can’t shop at local businesses. And to make matters even worse the newly-hired crap-wage employees make so little they are likely on public assistance just to get by.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is giving city contracts to private companies that promise to “save money” by replacing hundreds of good-paying union jobs with low-paying non-union jobs. More than 300 janitors and window washers at O’Hare International Airport are at risk of losing their jobs just days before Christmas this year because Mayor Emanuel is replacing their employer with United Maintenance.
As Republicans across the country continue their all-out assault on public employees, labor unions and the middle class, why is Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel — President Obama’s former White Hose Chief-of-Staff — joining in by awarding contracts that eliminate good-paying union jobs for race-to-the bottom, low-paying, insider-connected, anti-middle-class non-union jobs?
To top it off, several news organizations are reporting that the companies involved may have “ties” to organized crime, including top employees convicted of racketeering in organized crime prosecutions, and partnerships with known organized crime figures.
Progress Illinois reports, O’Hare Janitors Set To Lose Jobs Before Holidays Hold Vigil At City Hall (VIDEO), (click through for the whole story)

Time is running out for more than 300 O’Hare janitors who stand to lose their jobs by the end of next week as a result of a new city contract.
Local clergy members and workers’ rights advocates held a prayer vigil with airport workers at City Hall Tuesday afternoon in a last ditch effort to persuade city officials to reverse their decision to award a $99 million custodial contract to a company critics claim plans to replace union jobs with non-union, lower-paying positions.
More than 100 supporters filled the fifth floor hallway outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office in protest over the city’s five-year agreement with United Maintenance Company Inc. to provide janitorial services for the airport beginning December 15.

Last week, the last of 54 union custodial jobs at Chicago public libraries were cut and replaced with workers from private firms as part of the city’s contracts with Triad Consulting Services and Dayspring Professional Services. This past summer, as many as 50 union janitors were laid-off when a new company contracted to clean police stations, city senior centers and health clinics replaced them with non-union workers.

Organized Crime Connections?
Several news organizations are reporting that these city contracts are going to insiders who are possibly conencted with organized crime figures.
NBC Chicago: Rahm Emanuel Mayor Skirts Questions About Mob Ties in O’Hare Contract,

The mob-related questions keep coming in connection with the company awarded a $99 million custodial contract at O’Hare International Airport, and for the second day the mayor dodged potential Rahmfather implications.
Reports surfaced Wednesday that Paul Fosco, a vice president of United Service Companies, served time in 1987 after he was charged in the same corruption case as late mobster Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo, who was acquitted. A day earlier the Chicago Sun-Times reported the owner of United Service, Richard Simon, had partnered in the past with alleged mob figure William Daddano Jr.
Emanuel skirted questions about both connections, twice pointing to the city’s “competitive process” that he said resulted in work for the Service Employees International Union and the hiring of about 100 former employees.

Chicago Sun-Times: More mob ties to contractor in O’Hare cleaning deal,

A high-ranking employee of the contractor who recently won a $99.4 million janitorial contract with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration once served a prison sentence after he was charged in the same corruption case as late Chicago mob boss Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo.
Paul A. Fosco was convicted on racketeering charges in 1987, sentenced to a 10-year prison term and left federal prison in 1993, public records show. He now is an executive vice president of United Service Companies, according to his profile posted on the LinkedIn networking website.
United Service is owned by Richard Simon, a former Chicago Police officer who led the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau from 2002 to 2005. On Oct. 31, Emanuel’s administration chose one of United’s many companies, United Maintenance Co. Inc., to clean O’Hare International Airport for five years starting Dec. 15.
The Chicago Sun-Times first reported last week that Simon had partnered in yet another firm with William Daddano Jr., who was accused of organized-crime ties by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Chicago Crime Commission.

Workers Take Action
CBS Chicago reports, in O’Hare Janitors Descend On Mayor’s House To Protest Looming Job Cuts,

Dozens of union airport workers were holding a prayer vigil outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house on Thursday, asking him to reconsider a decision to hand custodial work at O’Hare International Airport to a new company that doesn’t use union labor.

You Can Take Action
Click here to read about Good Jobs and Chicago Families at Risk: O’Hare Worker Stories.
Petition here: Mayor Rahm Emanuel: STOP CUTTING GOOD JOBS

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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Wait, Cut Social Security? What?

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We JUST had an election where the public said no cuts to SS or Medicare, and raise taxes on income over $250K. Didn’t we?
The likely politics of changing the Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment formula is that every year when the COLA increase is announced, seniors will believe they were cheated. It won’t matter if that year the difference is zero, or very, very small, or even somehow more than they would have received under the old system. It will become folklore that they would have received a much higher increase, except for Obama and the Dems selling them out.
Why do we even bother to have elections anymore?