Tom Friedman Explains The Problem With The Economy

Tom Friedman says the way to get the economy moving is with a “grand bargain” that “slows the growth of both Social Security and Medicare entitlements” along with “reform” that cuts taxes for the rich and corporations.

Tom Friedman says this will provide “certainty,” so companies will have “confidence” and will invest and hire.

You see, the problem isn’t high unemployment leaving people out of the economy, resulting in businesses not having enough customers coming in the door. That is not the reason businesses don’t feel confident enough to expand and hire.

And the budget problem isn’t because Bush doubled the military budget after Reagan did the same, after cutting taxes on the rich… And never mind that the budget didn’t have a deficit before those things… And never mind that they said they were “cutting the government’s allowance” and “starving the beast” in order to manufacture a deficit crisis so they could scare people into cutting the things we do to make our lives better. Never mind that they said that was the plan

The real problem with our economy is that regular working people have too much, and the wealthy and their corporate masks have too little.

And we need a “Grand Bargain” imposed on us from the top, instead of just going with the results of the election we just had or all of the polls in which people said they want JOBS, higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, military spending decreased, and better retirement and health care packages for regular people…

Tom Friedman thinks the wealthy people at the top should be making the decisions, not the people.

Surely anyone can see the wisdom in that, right?

And yes, this post is in the category “Plutocracy

Update: TRADE DEFICIT. Dean Baker at CEPR says the problem is the trade deficit, in The Educate a Cab Driver, Educate Thomas Friedman Campaign:

Our cab driver could also explain to Thomas Friedman how a trade deficit of 4 percent of GDP (also $600 billion in annual demand) affects the economy. The national income accounting that students learn in intro economics is that GDP = consumption + investment +government spending + net exports. If we have a trade deficit of $600 billion then we need to have the other categories fill that gap to get the economy back to full employment.

In the last decade the demand created by the housing bubble filled the gap created by the trade deficit. In the 1990s the demand created by the stock bubble filled the gap created by a somewhat smaller trade deficit. Now we have nothing to fill the gap. And if anything Friedman’s remedies go in the wrong direction.

Filibuster: Hate To Say It But We Told You So

Many of us fought hard to reform the filibuster and fight the Republican obstruction that is blocking everything the country needs to get done. And I do mean everything. We said please just “make them talk,” which is what the public already thinks the filibuster is anyway. But they reached a “gentleman’s agreement” instead. Those Republican “gentlemen” just filibustered a Defense Secretary nomination — the first such filibuster in history. We told you so.

Filibuster Reform Blocked

For months a coalition of labor and progressive-aligned organizations worked to build support for reforming the filibuster. The hope was that the Senate would change its rules and return the filibuster to the form that the public understands: “Make them talk.” This preserves the ability of the minority to delay bills long enough to rally public support (or not) when they feel that the rights of the minority are being smothered.

At the last minute Harry Reid blocked the reform effort, reaching a “gentleman’s agreement” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Reid explained,

“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid said in an interview Thursday with The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Chris Cillizza, writing in the Washington Post in Why filibuster reform didn’t happen explained,

The news of an agreement that skirts around the edge of reforming Senate filibusters without actually, you know, reforming the filibuster will disappoint liberal Democrats and leave old Senate hands saying “I told you so.”

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DO Companies Lay People Off Because Of Taxes Or A Minimum Wage Rise?

Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave a “Republican Response” to the President’s State of the Union address. He said that taxes cause employers to reduce hours or lay people off. Others say that raising the minimum wage will mean layoffs. Let’s take a closer look at that.

In Wednesday’s post, What Do Republicans, Rubio And Rand Have If They Don’t Have Deficits? I focused on one line from Rubio’s speech,

One line of Rubio’s stands out: “Because more government raises taxes on employers who then pass the costs on to their employees through fewer hours, lower pay and even layoffs.”

With this Rubio is trying to scare people who are worried about jobs. Business taxes are on profits. Good businesses employ the right number of people, so a company that is making profits isn’t going to reduce staff or hours. That is simply preposterous to anyone who has ever run a business.

I was in a local CVS store today. There weren’t enough employees in the store, and there was a long line of people waiting to pay for items at the only checkout register. There was also a long line of people in line at the pharmacy. I saw a one person give up, leave their nearly-full carrier on a shelf, and just leave the store. I saw another person come in the door, take one look at the line and leave. I left without buying anything and went to a different store — not a CVS, for what I was looking for.

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What Do Republicans, Rubio And Rand Have If They Don’t Have Deficits?

Koch-funded Florida Tea-Party Sen. Marco Rubio gave the “Republican Response” to the President’s State of the Union speech. Then Koch-funded Kentucky Tea-Party Sen. Rand Paul gave the “Koch-funded Tea-Party” Republican response. (Did the networks ever air a Progressive Caucus response to Bush’s SOTUs?) They scared people with wild stories of deficits, taxes, job losses and “big government.”

Before going over what they said let’s set the stage with a few items that explain reality (always a good idea before discussing things Republicans say):

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It’s About Corruption

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Here is a comment I left at my post over at Huffington, You Should Be Outraged By What Is Being Done to Our Postal Service:

This is about more than the Post Office, it is about this whole billionaire-funded anti-government operation that has been attacking our We, the People government for some time — all for their personal enrichment. “Privatization” means they get rich from something that We, the People used to do or own. “Limited government” means getting We, the People out of their way. Etc.

The main thing we need to do is get the influence of money out of our politics.

1) Ban corporations for using corporate money for anything other than operating the corporation. That includes funding “think tanks” and other propaganda outlets.
2) Limit the amount that individuals can donate to candidates to a few hundred dollars, and require free TV time for candidates at all levels.
3) Ban “independent” spending on candidates and politics.
4) Ban any government employee from going to a job that pays significantly more than they were paid in government. This stops the “revolving door” bribery.

There are a number of other steps, but first we have to recognize that this anti-government propaganda we are smothered in is really just about corruption, not ideology. (Unless you can name anything the conservative movement advocates that doesn’t just happen to enrich a few billionaires.)

You Should Be Outraged By What Is Being Done To Our Postal Service

You are probably hearing that the Post Office is “in crisis” and is cutting back Saturday delivery, laying people off, closing offices, etc. Like so many other “crises” imposed on us lately, there is a lot to the story that you are not hearing from the “mainstream” media. (Please click that link.) The story of the intentional destruction of the US Postal Service is one more piece of the story of crisis-after-crisis, all manufactured to advance the strategic dismantling of our government and handing over the pieces to billionaires.

Here are a few things you need to know about the Postal Service “crisis”:

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Fix The Trade Deficit, Fix The Economy.

Yet another report is out showing how the trade deficit is costing us millions of jobs and hurting our economy. This report has specific numbers: between 2.2 million and 4.7 million U.S. jobs, between 1 percent and 2.1 percent of the unemployment rate and a gross domestic product increase of between 1.4 percent and 3.1 percent.

These are real numbers that were carefully calculated. This is a real problem that is hurting people, hurting small and mid-sized companies, hurting communities, hurting our tax base and hurting our ability to make a living in the future. And there are real solutions available to fix the problem.

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They Talk Deficits Instead Of Jobs — It’s Corruption

Washington is back to talking about deficits and not about jobs. Didn’t we just have an election? Didn’t we vote to tax the wealthy, provide public services and benefits and provide people with jobs? Isn’t the deficit down 50% from where Bush left it? So why are even our own people talking about deficits instead of jobs? Unemployment is destroying people. Do something about that.

I was going to write about the trade deficit again today, and the damage it is doing to the country’s economy. (And the trade deficit is one more way the billionaires grab more and more of the country’s income and wealth.) But I read this, Unemployment Stories, Vol. Six: ‘If It Weren’t For My Children I Probably Would Have Killed Myself By Now’, linked by Atrios, and I’m too depressed to do the research.

People need jobs, and Washington is talking about how to cut back on … jobs and government and the things We, the People do to make our lives better.

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New iPhone App Tracks Corporate Responsibility

A new app called BizVizz helps you track corporate responsibility. The app tracks corporate tax rates, government subsidies, profits, campaign donations and will soon include CEO pay and other info. It is available for iPhone now, Android soon.

The AFL-CIO Now blog explains,in BizVizz: New Free iPhone App Makes Tracking Corporate Taxes and Government Subsidies Easy,

If you have an iPhone, make sure you take a minute to download the new free app, BizVizz. BizVizz tracks taxes paid, government subsidies and political campaign donations of major corporations.

Once you download the app, simply enter a company’s name or snap a picture of its logo and then the company information pops up. Future developments include creating an Android version of the app and expanding the catalog of corporate information.

You also can browse corporate info without snapping a picture of a logo. Click “explore” to view the catalog.

Go to the app store and start your free download.

So Go to the app store and start your free download.