This fight over spending cuts led to the “sequester,” which might take us back into recession. The fight will now roll into another manufactured crisis over the continuing resolution, with a government shutdown as the hostage, and of course this will be a further drag on the recovery.
Economics 101, Europe’s austerity experiment and the experience of history all tell us that cutting government is contractionary policy. Cutting government cuts economic growth and costs jobs, which leads to to lower tax revenue and higher government expenditures. Economics 101 and the experience of history also tell us that government investment in jobs, infrastructure, education, research and the rest grows the economy, which fixes deficits. Cutting deficits and debt is important but clearly should not be done when the economy is weak. This is the time to invest, and the investment returns will pay for the investment and more.
Again: There is no real discussion or debate about what we ought to be doing to make this economy work for working people. There is only discussion of what and how to cut. This is the wrong approach to our economic problems.
CAF is presenting job-creating and economy-growing ideas that ought to be debated so we can begin to turn this economy around and make it work for all of us instead of just a few of us. Jobs and growth fix deficits.
The Vast Trade Deficit Drains Our Economy And Jobs
Recently the 2012 U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services was announced. It fell slightly in 2012 (due in part to a decline in petroleum imports), to $540.4 billion from $560 billion in 2011. But 2012 saw a record trade deficit of $315 billion with China – approaching $1 billion a day. That is $540 billion a year drained from our economy, $315 billion of that just to China.
This vast trade deficit represents the loss of millions of jobs, tens of thousands of factories and entire industries. It hits at our ability to fix our economic problems. In particular, this problem affects our manufacturing companies, which provide solid, middle-class jobs and exports that strengthen the country.
Instead of the current focus on budget deficits, Washington should be talking about how to fix this vast trade deficit. Here are some of the things they should be talking about — and doing.
Countries manipulate their currency rates because a “weak” currency means products made there are much more price-competitive. China’s currency is still estimated to be at least 20 percent below “market” rate, meaning goods made in China cost at least 20 percent less than goods made here, even before you factor in other things China does to give itself a trade advantage.
Confronting currency manipulation offers the biggest “bang for the buck,” requiring no tax dollars and reaping huge returns, shrinking the federal budget deficit by between $78.8 billion and $165.8 billion over three years.
Fixing this one problem could create between 2.2 million and 4.7 million jobs and increase GDP between 1.4 percent and 3.1 percent, helping manufacturers in particular, gaining between 620,000 and 1.3 million of those jobs. It would reduce the U.S. trade goods deficit by at least $190 billion and as much as $400 billion over three years.
Reform Trade Agreements
A $540 billion trade deficit doesn’t come from balanced trade; it is the result of one-sided trade agreements we have entered into. These trade agreements exposed America’s companies, workers, factories and tax base to direct competition with non-democracies, impoverished and exploited workers and countries that do not protect the environment. That could only go one way.
We have a democracy, in which people have a say. So they say they want good wages, safe workplaces and a clean environment. When we open that system up to direct, unregulated competition from places where people have no say and are told they can’t have those things, we put our democratic system at a competitive disadvantage in world markets. We make it a disadvantage to protect the environment, pay well, provide benefits, protect worker safety and the other things that we do and others do not do. Those become just “costs” to be eliminated.
Those trade agreements could have had different terms that lead to different results that lifted working people on both sides of the trade border instead of pushing terrible and increasing worldwide inequality. They could have lifted environmental protections on both sides of trade borders. They could have increased worker and consumer protections. They still can.
Our country’s trade agreements can still be reformed to do these things, rebalancing trade and lifting people and the environment. Future trade agreements should learn the lessons.
The Bring Jobs Home Act would have cut taxes for U.S. companies that move jobs and business operations to the United States, and ended tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping jobs overseas. The bill would have allowed companies to qualify for a tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost associated with bringing jobs and business activity back to the United States. It would have closed a loophole allowing a company moving jobs overseas to deduct various relocation costs.
Additionally, any new bill should tax the overseas income of U.S. corporations the same way domestic income income is taxed, so there would be no tax advantage to them from shifting income and jobs overseas.
Strengthen Buy America In Federal And State Procurement
There is no reason our own government should be undermining American manufacturers. “Buy America” provisions should be a mandate on federal, state and local government purchases, consistent with our trade laws. To accomplish this, our bottom line should be:
All federal spending should have “buy America” provisions giving American workers and businesses the first shot at procurement contracts.
New federal loan guarantees for energy projects should require the utilization of domestic supply chains for construction.
Our military equipment, technology and supply purchases should have increased domestic content requirements.
Renewable and traditional energy projects should use American materials in construction. State-level spending should have similar requirements, as well as strategies for getting them in place.
Many state-level procurement laws are very weak. As a result, a lot of tax dollars go to purchase goods made overseas instead of goods made in the USA. States should also strengthen their procurement policies to promote buying American-made materials.
The Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013, announced Tuesday, is a good start and deserves support and discussion. The Act strengthens Buy America preferences, closes loopholes and improves transparency in the federal waiver process.
These are a few examples of the things that Washington should be talking about. These proposals solve real problems in practical ways that help the American people.
We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem,” Boehner added. “How much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government? I’m for no more.”
Yes, the old “taxes are theft” argument again. This is the line of reasoning that says government is bad, that decision-making by We, the People is bad, that people are “takers” and the wealthy are “producers” and “job creators,” and that the people are lazy and “don’t want to work” and if you let them assemble together and vote they become a mob that will steal everything from the rich who are rich by Divine Right, etc…
Keep in mind that in a democracy We, the People make decisions and government spending by definition is We, the People deciding to do things that make our lives better.
In honor of Speaker Boehner’s argument that taxes are theft, this is from August 2010: (even though the post will say June 12, 2012…)
Conservatives like to say that taxes are theft. In fact it is tax cuts that are theft because they break a long-standing contract.
The American Social Contract: We, the People built our democracy and the empowerment and protections it bestows. We built the infrastructure, schools and all of the public structures, laws, courts, monetary system, etc. that enable enterprise to prosper. That prosperity is the bounty of our democracy and by contract it is supposed to be shared and reinvested. That is the contract. Our system enables some people to become wealthy but all of us are supposed to benefit from this system. Why else would We, the People have set up this system, if not for the benefit of We, the People?
The American Social Contract is supposed to work like this:
A beneficial cycle: We invest in infrastructure and public structures that create the conditions for enterprise to form and prosper. We prepare the ground for business to thrive. When enterprise prospers we share the bounty, with good wages and benefits for the people who work in the businesses and taxes that provide for the general welfare and for reinvestment in the infrastructure and public structures that keep the system going.
We fought hard to develop this system and it worked for us. We, the People fought and built our government to empower and protect us providing social services for the general welfare. We, through our government built up infrastructure and public structures like courts, laws, schools, roads, bridges. That investment creates the conditions that enable commerce to prosper – the bounty of democracy. In return we ask those who benefit most from the enterprise we enabled to share the return on our investment with all of us – through good wages, benefits and taxes.
But the “Reagan Revolution” broke the contract. Since Reagan the system is working like this:
Since the Reagan Revolution with its tax cuts for the rich, its anti-government policies, and its deregulation of the big corporations our democracy is increasingly defunded (and that was the plan), infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are falling behind, factories and supply chains are being dismantled, those still at work are working longer hours for fewer benefits and falling wages, our pensions are gone, wealth and income are increasing concentrating at the very top, our country is declining.
This is the Reagan Revolution home to roost: the social contract is broken. Instead of providing good wages and benefits and paying taxes to provide for the general welfare and reinvestment in infrastructure and public structures, the bounty of our democracy is being diverted to a wealthy few.
Yesterday’s testimony at the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act was historical for many reasons. The 1965 VRA is the law that Congress passed in response to the 15th amendment, which was ratified 97 years earlier. In other words it took Congress 97 years to develop the courage, information and creativity to craft a bill to protect the foundational right of our democracy.
It was also historic in than it comes at a time of increased attempts to suppress votes of minorities – not just blacks, but Hispanics, Asians and anyone else who is not white and Republican. The motivation for this suppression is as much partisan as it is racist, but the outcome is the same…fewer voters of color and fewer faces in the Congress and state legislatures and city councils that look like America today.
But it was also historic for the words of Justice Scalia. Scalia told Donald Verrilli, the Administration lawyer defending the VRA, that Congress could not be trusted to amend the VRA because it is a “racial entitlement” and Congress cannot get out of obsolete racial entitlements through the normal process, so it is up to the courts to eliminate them.
There was a gasp in the courtroom and in the lawyers lounge where attorneys were listening to the proceedings. A Supreme Court Justice had called the 1965 VRA the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement.”
Justice Scalia, with all due respect, the Voting Rights Act is not a racial entitlement; it is the Constitutionally demanded shield protecting an American Constitutional right. It is the Act of Congress called for in Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment to guarantee for all Americans the foundational right – not an entitlement, but a right - that underpins this and every other democracy around the world modeled on our Constitution.
Fifty people were beaten to near death on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, marching for their right to vote. Twenty-five thousand people – including Dr. Martin Luther King – took up their fallen banners and completed the march with Federal troops guarding them. Four people were bombed and died later on defending their right to vote after the march. Others were shot or hanged or run over trying to register black people to vote.
President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in memory of the blood shed by the people who were beaten and died on the Edmund Pettis bridge that day and afterwards defending the right to vote. Voting is not an entitlement to be given or withdrawn at the whim of whatever party is in power in Congress or a state legislature. It is the foundation of everything America stands for: equality, democracy, popular election of the government and its accountability to the people. People died for it, for us, so that we can live in a democracy.
That includes you, Justice Scalia. You took the same oath to uphold the Constitution, including the 15th Amendment, that President Johnson did. Bloody Sunday is part of your national history. Jimmie Lee, whose death at the hands of an Alabama state trooper led to Bloody Sunday, died so that you could live in a true democracy and rise to its highest court. The little children blown to bits in a southern church by people who didn’t think Negros should vote died for the democracy you live in today, for the Court that has room for your black and female and Hispanic colleagues.
The fact that you don’t know that; the fact that you see voting as an entitlement, not a right – the most important right in the Constitution – disqualifies you from the bench. Your 1950′s conservative ideology has blinded you to the history and the basic premise of American democracy. And your partisanship has led you to an insult to the memory of those who were beaten and fire-hosed and whipped and shot and killed to enshrine this right in the Constitution that you are supposed to know and understand and protect.
You should apologize to every American and especially to those whose deaths gave us the Voting Rights Act. And then you should resign.
Before the election reporters and pundits were saying that not so many people would turn out this time, that it would be close at best. But on election day it turned out that it wasn’t even close. The people did turn out, some waiting in lines four, five, six hours to vote, many using provisional ballots because their states were trying to stop them. We, the People had a clear choice in front of us and We, the People made a clear choice.
Then, immediately after the election the “Very Serious People” tried to force through continued tax breaks for the wealthy paid for by cuts in the things the American people do to make each other’s lives better. People got involved and organized and it didn’t work out quite the way the one-percenters and their Very Serious spokespeople wanted it to work out.
For President Obama’s second inaugural the reporters were saying that not so many people would show up on the Mall this time. (“Assignment editor” Drudge had that up so that’s what much of the career media were repeating.) But from the inauguration stage at the Capitol Barack Obama looked out and saw as many as a million people on the National Mall cheering him on. People did show up.
California’s deficits are gone, and Republicans are furious. The national deficit problem is largely solved, too, and Republicans just don’t know what to do! Of course what we need to do is invest in modernizing our infrastructure, which will put people back to work and we will end up with a … wait for it … modernized, energy-efficient, 21st century infrastructure that will boost our economy.
Learn From California
In California Republicans caused the deficit with tax cuts and restrictions on democracy that prevented citizens from fixing problems. They blocked every attempt to help the economy and the state budgets, demanding only cuts — and more tax cuts for billionaires and corporations. But California’s citizens finally got them out of the way, elected Jerry Brown (again), elected a supermajority of Democrats, passed tax increases, and the budget is balanced and will be in surplus soon. Republicans can’t stand it. They have no more excuse to scream “crisis!” and call for cuts in the things California’s citizens do for each other and the state’s economy. Now alifornia is moving forward, and even building a high-speed rail system.
If this sounds strangely familiar there’s a national lesson to learn here.
How many real and serious national problems can you list? And how many obvious solutions can you come up with literally off the top of your head? Now an experiment: list how many of them are being worked on by our DC elites or even discussed my our elite media? The answer is none. Why is this? And what can you do about it?
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.
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.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown won reelection by “waging class warfare” using middle-class populism. Here is how. Today the Campaign for America’s Future launches a new website – WageClassWar.org – to detail the new terrain of American politics. The site tells the story of key races, and compiles copies of ads, speech and debate excerpts, new stories that highlight critical moments.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, faced a tough battle for reelection. Huge amounts of Wall Street, multinational corporate, billionaire and undisclosed money (China?) — at least $35 million — poured in. Brown beat Ohio’s State Treasurer Josh Mandel and was reelected by more than 5% using a strong middle class populist argument. He called for curbing the excesses of Wall Street, and ending taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that send American jobs overseas. And Brown especially, especially championed American manufacturing over the interests of Wall Street and the giant multinational corporations. Brown stood up for the class interests of Ohio’s blue-collar voters and won reelection. He took the side of the many against the side of the big-money few.
Earlier this year Brown was considered vulnerable because he had voted for the stimulus and Obamacare. But Brown supported the “auto bailout” and was a strong proponent of manufacturing, and of taking on China, especially over currency manipulation. Josh Mandel, Brown’s opponent, opposed the auto bailout.
On jobs, Brown stressed investing in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, developing a coherent national manufacturing strategy, and taking on China for manipulating its currency and other trade violations. Mandel stressed the Republican basics: tax cuts and cutting regulations — especially those limiting mercury and other air-pollution standards that affect coal-burning utilities. Also said we should “eliminate government bailouts of industries.”
“A Proud Labor-Populist”
Brown campaigned as, in EJ Dionne’s words, “A proud labor-populist,” (Note that the $20 million figure is from early October.)
A proud labor-populist, Brown seems to invite the hostility of wealthy conservatives and deep-pocketed interest groups. The amount they have spent to defeat him topped $20 million this week.
… Ryan, Brown said, has “dressed up trickle-down economics and wrapped it in an Ayn Rand novel.” The vice president, Brown added, should highlight the Republicans’ desire to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, reflected in Ryan’s own record and Republicans’ attempts to do so whenever they thought they had the votes. “It’s clear they want to go there,” Brown said.
In an Oct 24 email to supporters, Brown wrote about himself,
“I’m fighting to end “too big to fail” and put the reins on Wall Street banks. I want to end taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that ship American jobs overseas. I want to put an end to the torrent of special interest spending in our election process unleashed by Citizens United.
They’ve spent more than $21 million on attacks against me.”
By campaigning with a middle-class populist class-warfare argument Brown has won a mandate to act in the interests of working people. And this is exactly what Brown is doing: Fiscal Cliff, Taxes & Social Security: WFIN, Sherrod Brown Talks About Pressing Issues In Washington
Brown, siding with president Obama on tax increases for those making over $250,000 a year, should not be negotiable, nor should Social Security. Despite the market sell-off Brown said that the Dow is up nearly 100 percent since Obama took first took office.
It should come as no surprise that Sen. Sherrod Brown’s first post-election legislative push would be on campaign finance reform. After all, Brown won a second term in the U.S. Senate this past week despite a barrage of outside spending — about $40 million from conservative groups gunning for his ouster. …
He called for three steps:
• Passage of legislation called the Disclose Act, which would require independent groups to disclose the names of their high-dollar donors.
• Adoption of a measure giving shareholders the right to vote on a company’s political expenditures.
• An investigation by the IRS into whether some nonprofit groups are abusing their tax-exempt status by engaging in overt political activity.
Arguing For Working People And The Middle Class Works
Here is the point. The public understands that there is a war going on between the top few and the rest of us. The top few benefit from keeping unemployment high and wages low. They benefit from keeping We, the People from investing in a modern infrastructure and good schools & universities and good courts and the rest of the public structures that democracy builds, because it means they would have to pay taxes and follow the rules that benefit We, the People.
The top few can cough up a lot of money to run ads that tell people they shouldn’t support their own interests. And this can go a long way, so a lot of politicians go down the road of saying what the billionaires want to hear, and getting their campaigns funded, and getting themselves lucrative jobs after they leave office.
But when votes are on the line, when votes are the deciding factor, and when people understand where their interests really are — then a candidate needs to be on the side of We, the People.
If you are running for office take note: the big money bought a lot of campaign ads, but standing up for We, the People won the election. The public is behind this, and it works. Sherrod Brown’s reelection shows that it works. Visit the Wage Class War website and see how candidates who supported the economic interests of the many over the few won their elections.
— This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary
Anyone who has read The Shock Doctrine understands exactly what this “Fiscal Cliff” scare is.
If you have already read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein you have probably been rolling your eyes at all this “Fiscal Cliff” scare talk. “Here they go again” you’re thinking… If you haven’t read the book, you should. You really, really should.
The Phony “Fiscal Cliff” Scare
At the end of the year the Bush tax cuts expire. When this happens tax rates will rise modestly to where they were when Clinton was President. Also at the end of the year budget “sequestration” occurs. This means that the various cuts Congress approved to end the debt ceiling “crisis” will begin to phase in. (Remember, the debt-ceiling “crisis” was when Republicans refused to allow the country to honor its debts, holding the economy hostage, unless they got deep budget cuts in the things We the People do for each other.)
That’s it. That’s the “crisis.” All of the people who had been hysterical about the budget deficit “crisis” are now hysterical that taxes will go up and spending will go down. Go figure. Maybe — just maybe — I shouldn’t even say it — these “serious people” weren’t … serious … when they said they were worried about the deficit. You see, the hysteria now is because tax rates at the top will go up (cutting the deficit), and because a big part of those budget cuts (cutting the deficit) is military spending. Unfortunately the sequestration also cuts important things that help a lot of people and our economy. But these cuts do not take place all at once (a “cliff”), they will be phased in over time, and the Congress can act at any time to halt any of these cuts. The “Fiscal Cliff” is not a cliff and the language itself is intended to scare people. The name itself is designed to create panic, evoking disaster imagery of people and the economy falling off a cliff. It is the latest manufactured “crisis” and we are all supposed to be terrified and demand immediate and extreme solutions.
Again, the very people screaming loudest about deficits are the people who passed tax cut after tax cut, and military spending increase after military spending increase, and started war after war. Then these same “serious people” terrify the public, telling them that budget deficits will lead to the destruction of the country — and soon. After a decade of screaming “9/11,” “9/11,” noun verb “9/11,” they screamed “deficit, deficit, deficit.” Now they scream, “fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff.”
Then after the public is suitably stirred up and terrified they offer “solutions” they say are necessary to cut the scary deficit (that they caused, for this purpose).
And the fixing all has to happen right now, in the “lame duck” Congress, before those new legislators We, the People elected can take office.
The “Grand Bargain”
The “serious people” are pushing for a “grand bargain” that they say will “solve” the “deficit problem” “once and for all.”
Of course, nothing in any “grand bargain” can bind the Congress, and any part of this “grand bargain” can and will be undone by Congress at the earliest opportunity.
The outline of this “bargain” involves “tax reform” and “getting a handle on entitlements.” Tax “reform” does not involve raising tax rates on the wealthy, it “reforms” taxes by getting rid of various deductions and lowering tax rates. “Getting a handle on entitlements” means cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and the rest of the things that We, the People do for each other — the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy.
(Note — Social Security by law can not and does not contribute to the deficit — they just threw it in because it is “in crisis.” The Social Security “crisis” is that under certain economic projections its funding might run a bit short many years down the road. Compare this possible future shortfall to the huge, vast, bloated, enormous military budget which, unlike Social Security, has no separate funding mechanism and runs 100% short every year. But that is not a “crisis.”)
So a fix for a budget problem caused by cutting taxes, massively increasing military spending and crashing the economy will be “solved” by … not fixing those things. Once again the income and wealth of the country will be shifted away from We, the People and upward to the same 1% who have been benefiting from everything in our economy since the election of Ronald Reagan and the disaster-capitalism formula: cut taxes, raise military spending, then use the resulting deficits to scare people into accepting extreme “solutions.” Rinse and repeat.
The Shock Doctrine
The Shock Doctrine is a book by Naomi Klein that describes a “disaster capitalism” strategy used by wealthy and powerful people to take advantage of crises — even causing crises — to herd people into accepting “solutions” to those crises that really just enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
In times of crisis (real or perceived) the public is in a state of shock, distracted and ready to grasp at straws to get out of the panic. This is the perfect time for “serious people” to come in and offer pre-planned “solutions.” These solutions usually involve privatizing public institutions and wealth, cutting public services, cutting taxes on the rich, seizing property, lowering wages and pensions … well, just look at Europe’s “austerity” and you get the picture.
This shock-doctrine disaster capitalism model has become standard practice. We see this happening over and over again: crises occur or are manufactured, the media whips people into a panic, and then the “solution” is introduced. The solution involves a “reform” that transfers wealth or institutions into a few private hands.
The Real Problem And Real Solution
We have a jobs problem, not a deficit problem. The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work. The real job creators are working people with money in their wallets. We can’t cut our way to growth. These are not just slogans, these are solutions to real problems.
We need to invest in our economy, restoring and modernizing our infrastructure, retrofitting our homes and buildings to be more energy efficient, upgrading our public schools and universities, and fighting to create the manufacturing ecosystems for the new industries of the future,. All of these investments create jobs while they are underway, and pay off by improving our economy for the long term. Inoculate yourself by reading The Shock Doctrine. Inoculate your friends by telling them about the book, and how this game works, over and over again.
“Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” — Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay, 2003
More than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement and conservatives are still fighting to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting. A 97-year-old in Georgia — who has voted in every single election since she was old enough to vote — is denied her right to vote. Florida is making citizens stand in line 4,5,6 hours to vote. Why are we putting up with this for one minute? Why isn’t our government sending the US Army into these states that are trying to stop “the wrong kind of people” from voting?
This Was Settled!
This country already settled this: you can’t keep people from voting! In the 1950s and 1960s conservatives tried to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting and going to school. As a country we did something about it. We stopped putting up with it and ordered the army to push the conservatives aside and let people into the schools and voting booths.
In 1957 a Republican president sent the US Army into Little Rock to escort nine of “the wrong kind of” students into a school:
President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard after George Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door to prevent “the wrong kind of people” from entering:
Once again conservatives are trying to keep “the wrong kind of people” from fully participating in the rights and privileges that we are all entitled to as citizens. (They really hate the idea that as citizens We, the People are “entitled” to certain things. We all are ENTITLED to share in the fruits of democracy — that is what an “entitlement” is!)
Georgia Blocking Voters
Georgia is one of those states that has found a way to keep lots of “the wrong kind of people” from voting. They have imposed “Voter-ID” laws that are designed to keep lots of the elderly, minorities and students from being able to vote.
For just one example of how this has made it difficult for “the wrong kind of people” to vote, read Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade
Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs … Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. …
She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.
The story describes the obstacles she encountered trying to get the right ID to vote… most people would be forced to give up — which is exactly the intent because she is “the wrong kind of person.”
Florida Blocking Voters
Florida is one state making “the wrong kind of people” wait 4,5,6 hours in line to vote. People who work, the elderly and the simply fed up can’t or won’t do that so they don’t, and that is the intent. Florida cut early voting time in half — because 2008 showed that it made it too easy for “the wrong kind of people to vote” — for the wrong kind of people. The effect is that minorities, students and elderly people find it difficult or impossible to vote. Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports, in Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge.
While many Democrats viewed it as a victory when a few offices opened absentee balloting on Sunday, the process is not the same as early voting — and could result in more individuals not having their votes counted.
“Absentee ballots have a much higher rejection rate for minorities and young people, if you look at the Aug. 14 primary,” said Smith.
A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. …
… Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that in 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.
Other States Blocking Voters
Conservatives in state after state have set up barriers to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting. Pennsylvania conservatives tried to implement a restrictive voter-ID law to keep “the wrwong kind of people” from voting. Several other states have implemented them. Ohio — already famous for putting lots of voting machines in conservative areas and few in the areas where “the wrong kind of people” vote — threw up barrier after barrier to voting including attempts to cut early voting hours.
Now Ohio will even throw out your provisional ballot if you write down that a drivers license was your ID when it was really some other valid ID!!! And the provisional ballot is set up to trick voters into doing that! Groups file emergency motion over last-minute move that could toss Ohio provisional ballots,
Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters.
… Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.
This is just blatantly trying to keep citizens from voting because they are “the wrong kind of people.” We just should not put up with this for even one minute. Why isn’t Husted in jail?
Where Is Our Government?
Conservatives who run several states are trying to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting for “the wrong kind of people.” Where is our Federal government? Why are they allowing this? Why are they not sending the Justice Department to force those states to let people vote? Why are they not sending the US Army into those states that are trying to keep people from voting, so American citizens can vote?
I am getting fed up with accommodating these bigoted conservatives, just because they are backed by billionaires and giant corporations this time around. We are theoretically a country of laws. I mean, unless you’re a banker. This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary
Since forever, the Republican message is STILL “Dems take your money and give it to black people.” Doesn’t change. Doesn’t have to. It’s OUR fault.
I am not young. I remember when Nixon campaigned with his racially divisive “Southern Strategy.” Nixon campaigned on “crime” – fear of black people – and on the claim that Dmeocrats take “your” money and give it to black people. It worked.
It worked for Reagan, too, when he talked about “welfare queens” and “welfare Cadillacs.” Here is part of a Reagan campaign stump speech,
“She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.”
Bush II beat back John McCain in the primaries by circulating stories that he had “fathered a black child” and “terrorists.” (But correct me if I’m wrong, Bush II didn’t appear to use race against Gore, instead preempting potential attacks on his own character and honesty by hammering Gore’s “character” and making him out to be a liar – both with the help of the media. His later use of “terrorists” (brown people) is another story entirely…)
So I’m going to go way out on a limb here. I predict that Republicans will use race and other terribly divisive tactics to distract us from the real situation — the draining of the wealth of 99% of us and the country for the benefit of an already-wealthy few — in the 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 and every campaign after that. They will say that “Democrats take your money and give it to black people.” They will campaign against “union thugs” and “union bosses” and say paying fair wages “hurts business” and we need to be more “business friendly.” They will say “government takes money out of the economy” and helping each other “makes people dependent.” They will say “cutting taxes increases government revenue.” They will say a lot of nonsense, and their policies when enacted will always, always benefit an already-wealthy few at the expense of the rest of us, our economy, our country and our planet.
They will say all kinds of stuff to keep We, the People from seeing what is in front of our faces.
That is who they are and that is what they do. Unless we do something about it.
Look Where We Are & At What Romney Is Doing
Look where we are: Deregulation pretty much destroyed the economy. Tax cuts have partially defunded the government’s ability to empower and protect We, the People. The 1% and their giant corporations get so much of the benefits of our economy now. The climate is obviously getting worse and worse, already risking crop failures, incredible heat waves and terribly destructive storms. And with all of this going on one party blocks efforts to improve things, so they can campaign saying nothing is getting done. Yet with all that going on, the election so far is all coming down to billionaires spending hundreds of millions to run ads that say Obama is taking your money and giving it to black people.
Look what Romney is doing! He is running ads that come pretty close to the “welfare queen” messaging, pretty much saying that Democrats take your money and give it to black people. He is running ads about Medicare that pretty much say the same thing. And now he is even going “birther.” Thomas Edsall explains today in the NY Times, in Making The Election About Race,
The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.
… The racial overtones of Romney’s welfare ads are relatively explicit. Romney’s Medicare ads are a bit more subtle. … Obamacare, described in the Romney ad as a “massive new government program that is not for you,” would provide health coverage to a population of over 30 million that is not currently insured: 16.3 percent of this population is black; 30.7 percent is Hispanic; 5.2 percent is Asian-American; and 46.3 percent (less than half) is made up of non-Hispanic whites.
… The Romney campaign is willing to disregard criticism concerning accuracy and veracity in favor of “blowing the dog whistle of racism” – resorting to a campaign appealing to racial symbols, images and issues in its bid to break the frustratingly persistent Obama lead in the polls, which has lasted for the past 10 months.
Once again, Republicans are saying, “Democrats take your money and give it to black people.”
And just like they do every time it works they take our money and give it to rich people instead.
It’s Our Fault
Here’s the thing. This is our fault. Fool me once, shame on you. We were fooled once, when Nixon did it. Shame on Nixon. But … We were fooled twice, when Reagan did it. We were fooled again and again, and apparently never caught on that this is what they do.
And if this is what they do, we should have taken steps after, maybe, the fifth or sixth or seventh or eighth time? This is our fault.
WHY are Republicans still able to use race in their campaigns to deflect attention from their ongoing campaign to turn the wealth and management of our country over to the 1%? Because we have not organized ourselves to reach out to regular people around the country and help them to understand what is happening to them. Instead we (progressives) have largely focused our on changing things through elections. But we have not done the hard work between elections to set the stage for elections. We have not been very good at reaching out to tens and tens of millions of regular people and helping them to understand and appreciate the benefits to them of a progressive approach to solving our problems.
I mean, a lot of us do get this and try. This is a big part of what Campaign for America’s Future does – or tries to do with the very limited resources it has. But a real national, between-elections, ongoing — decades-long — campaign takes real resources, facilities, coordination, supplies, management, researchers, writers, talkers, technologists, and the rest. And that takes real money. The kind of money conservatives have been willing to put into such and effort, and progressives have not.
Let’s Finally Do Something About It
When are we going to recognize that this is what they do, and do something about it? They use race. They divide us. They make shit up, and spend millions and millions on blasting their made-up shit into people’s brains. Then they enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us, and use part of that to do it more. This is what they do. And very little is done to counter it. (Some say the problem is, “democracy does not have an advertising budget.”) What if we had started 4 years ago to get ready for this campaign of lies and division, knowing full well that they are going to use race and lies and the rest against We, the People? What if we had started then to reach and educate millions and millions of working people, bring them together, help them see the bigger picture? What if we had reached out to millions of disaffected white voters and explained directly to them, in language that reaches them, with stories that resonate with them, so they would be ready for it when they are told “Democrats take your money and give it to black people,” and why believing it hurts them.
What if we did this between elections, and kept doing it after elections, and explained and reinforced the concepts of democracy so that people’s understanding and appreciation of democracy and what it really means increased year after year after year?
What if we had started doing this 8 years ago? 12 years ago? After Nixon’s election? What if we had started to dedicate a percentage of progressive-aligned funding and organizing toward a centrally organized, well-funded campaign of reaching regular people and explaining the harm conservatives are doing, and the benefits to them of democracy and a We, the People approach to our mutual problems?
How well would their campaign of racism and lies and division work, if we had done that? How well will it work if we do it.
What would it have done for the goals of environmentalists if we had put serious money into a coordinated, values-based approach that helped people understand and appreciate the meaning and benefits to them of truly honoring We, the People “we are in this together” democracy over the prevailing corporate/conservative, Randian, “you should be on your own”?
What would it have done for the goals of labor unions if we had used this approach?
What would it have done for the goals of consumer attorneys if we had used this approach?
What would it have done for the goals of Medicare-For-All advocates if we had used this approach?
And what could it do for all of these if we started today?
A Fight Back Strategy
Research & Development, and Action: What we need is a major, coordinated, funded, national project dedicated to researching the ways the 1% manipulates us, and developing strategics for overcoming them. This project also needs a national action arm that takes the research and strategies out to the country and continues this work for as long as it takes.
Just think about this, think about changing your orientation from election cycle to outside of the election cycle, ongoing, as-long-as-it-takes strategies. And mostly, please help and continue to help fund organizations that work outside of elections to help make these changes, so that progressive candidates and policy initiatives have fertile ground in which to do well!
Of course, this kind of work is a big part of what Campaign for America’s Future does – or tries to do with the very limited resources it has. You can and should help us with this, and you can do that right now by visiting this page. If you can give $3 right now, that helps. Seriously, if everyone reading this just gave $3 (or more) it would help.
And this is not a selfish appeal so I can get a raise (although it can’t hurt). There are a number of other organizations that are seriously working on this kind of approach. You can also give a donation to Center for American Progress here, or to the National Council of La Raza here, or to the Economic Policy Institute here, Media Matters here, to the Center for Community Change here, to Progressive Congress here, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights here, to People For the American Way here, and there are so many other organizations that are working in their own way to help. (I’ll add them as they read this and write to yell at me for leaving them out.)
There is a (somewhat out of date) page on funding progressive infrastructure here and a (somewhat out of date) list of progressive infrastructure organizations here.
We really need for progressives to understand this need, and the difference between this and election campaign contributions. Think about it, and help spread the word. Help fund it, and help others understand this need. We can beat back the conservative machine by building a machine of our own that is strong enough to do the job. This takes money.
And to keep that machine answerable to US, we have to fund it democratically, with each of us stepping up and contributing what we can. It has to be lots of people giving small and medium amounts, not depending on a few large donors. ANY organization or candidate is going to dance with the ones that brung ‘em, so WE have to bring them to the dance together. Go give $3 or $10 or $100 to any of those organizations now, and keep doing it, and get others to do it.
A dollar donated to an effort like this now is like a dollar donated again and again to each and every progressive issue campaign and candidate from now on, except that the dollar is amplified. This is because doing the work now makes elections and policy battles so much easier and less expensive.
Conservatives have developed a “brand” and their candidates and policy initiatives ride that brand like a surfer surfs a wave. They just hop on the wave and attach themselves or their issue. So much of the things we have to spend so much money on are already covered by their infrastructure of like-minded organizations, so for each candidate and policy initiative they have to spend so much less! ALL of their candidates are helped by the central branding effort.
Progressive-oriented candidates and policy initiatives start almost from scratch, and so it is tremendously expensive to get them elected or passed. We have to raise tremendous sums to do the things that conservatives have ready-to-go. And each of our candidates have to each raise that money, on their own, just to overcome the things conservatives already have in place – for all of them. One dollar spent on a core branding effort could have the same effect for all of our candidates and policy initiatives as the more-than-one-dollar spent for EACH candidate or policy initiative at election time to overcome it.
So help out, OK?
P.S. Here is a talk I gave on this subject in 2004, titled “On Our Own?“ that talked about how the corporate right works between elections to market their ideology, and suggesting that we should try a similar outside-the-election-cycle approach. Here is a talk I gave to an education organization in 2007 titled, “We’re All In This Together” that described how the right uses the Overton Window to move public attitudes,
What can we, as supporters of public education, do about this?
The supporters of public education must join with their natural allies — the trial lawyers and the environmentalists and reproductive rights organizations and others and begin to talk to the public with a COMMON message that says WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER because we are a COMMUNITY. Only after people come to understand and appreciate this philosophy of community again, will they begin to understand and appreciate the value of public schools.
… The Right pushes an ugly message that we are each on our own, out for ourselves to get what we can, in a dog-eat-dog world. But in truth, we are really ARE all in this together, not only as being on the receiving end of similar attacks, but also because we can work together to help each other. We can work to counter the Right’s message by restoring the public’s understanding and appreciation of COMMUNITY and the value of responsible government.
How can we do this?
As I’m sure you know, frame and message development and testing are complex and require skilled professionals. Messaging efforts on behalf of public education will have the greatest effect if linked to broad frames that are developed across sectors, frames that support the value of community and government. And the messaging that supports these values will be most effective if it is delivered by multiple voices, third-party voices that are not strongly identified with public education and other interest groups. It must be coordinated with a long-term strategy.