Today’s Housing Bubble Post: Who Could Have Known?

People are writing about the just-released transcripts for Federal Reserve deliberations during the 2008 financial crash, and who knew what and when. No one at the Fed knew, didn’t get it even after it started, and still say no one could have known.

The first “Today’s Housing Bubble Post” on this blog appeared on April 5, 2005. Yes, I was already writing about the housing bubble and its dangers so often that I started giving the post a “Here we go, again” title…

I was not alone. Bloggers all across the country were screaming that a crash had to come from this.

Reading this one dated April, 2005 today was heartbreaking because it links to this post,

The warning signs are everywhere that a mortgage/housing fiasco is unfolding and the silence is deafening. Except for newcomers like Cramer, the media isn’t covering this debacle or the Doral matter. The home builders having their head handed to them after record existing and new sales, plus record earnings, should put the media on notice that we have a problem.

Perhaps asking the media to quit cheerleading and look at the housing crisis objectively is too much. What of our representatives in Washington? The congress had better be meeting to figure out what the heck they are going to do instead of debating who is more responsible for Fannie.

It was heartbreaking because I happened to see this comment today, which is dated 2005 – 9 years ago:

Our economy is awash with problems right now:
- inflation
- lack of jobs
- manufacturing moved offshore
- pending health care crisis
- pending social security crisis
- housing bubble
- foreign investors fleeing the dollar.

Do you hear the media or government discussing any of this in great detail ? Instead they focus the publics attention on trivia personal interest stories.

… If the media started focussing on the real above mentioned issues, maybe the general public would start making better life decisions…

The post I linked to is titled, “Media, Congress Need To Wake Up.” Inflation is not a problem today, potential deflation is. (In fact inflation hurts bankers but helps working people…) The health care crisis will be helped a lot by Obamacare. There is and was no “pending social security crisis.” Foreign investors are fleein to the dollar. But “lack of jobs” and “manufacturing moved offshore” are worse, and the housing bubble is back in some areas.

Yeah, well, fat chance with that, it’s much worse 9 years later. The media and Congress have their heads even further up their asses.

National Media Blackout Of Saturday’s Huge Moral March In Raleigh

A crowd declared by organizers to exceed 80,000 showed up to march to protest Republican policies in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday. But you wouldn’t know it if you live outside the area.

Saturday’s big march, organized by the North Carolina NAACP along with more than 160 partner organizations, was called “the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People’s Coalition.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP and convener of HKonJ, said at the march,

“We are black, white, Latino, Native American. We are Democrat, Republican, independent. We are people of all faiths, and people not of faith but who believe in a moral universe. We are natives and immigrants, business leaders and workers and unemployed, doctors and the uninsured, gay and straight, students and parents and retirees. We stand here – a quilt of many colors, faiths, and creeds.”

Local News Reports

Continue reading

The Health Insurance Website Works – What Will Media Whip Us Up With Next?

OK HealthCare.gov works now. The people in states that didn’t set up their own websites can get insurance. The great panic of October/November 2013 is over. What will we be whipped into a lather over this week? What will the media sensationalize next? What about our real problems?

Will the media whip the public up into a frothing fit over the terrible state of the nation’s infrastructure? What about the millions of unemployed, underemployed and underpaid (and how they could get jobs if we start fixing the infrastructure)? What about the 443,000 Americans who will die from tobacco this year, and next year, and every year? What about the pending collapse of coastal real estate prices when people realize that climate change is real? Will it be the terrible trade deficit that is draining our economy and is killing the middle class?

The answer is: probably not. We are probably going to be manipulated into being all worried about something that either makes a ton of money for a bunch of large corporations (to the detriment of smaller businesses and the rest of us), or something that ends up benefitting the Republican Party. Because that’s how our modern corporate media works now.

For decades the Republican/conservative/corporate machine has worked to “inject” their topics into the national media. For the last few weeks it was “Oh my God the Health Care website doesn’t work, shut down the government” followed by “A few people claim their health care costs went up and maybe that is because of Obamacare and not insurance company greed – never mind that tens of millions can finally get health care.”

Anyway, we’ll see. But we can be sure the corporate media will work to whip the public into a lather about something that distracts from the country’s real problems. Because that’s how our modern corporate media works now.

People tend to follow where the media points their noses. For example, “Black Friday.” People get all whipped up about “Black Friday” to the point where they are fighting each other in stores over a 40% discount on crap. (Even bringing stun guns to move other shoppers out of the way.)

PS you have 200 people in line, and you have 24 items on special sale, and you don’t think there’s going to be fighting and chaos? Really?

—–

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

Misunderestimating Who They Are

p5rn7vb

There is a miscalculation at the core of Democratic strategies for ending the shutdown and avoiding default. Democrats keep saying, “They wouldn’t really do that.” But this calculation doesn’t “get it” about who and what the country is dealing with.

Here is the miscalculation: If you listen to right-wing radio, watch FOX News and read their online media and take it seriously (because they do) then you would know that many on the right don’t want to live in a country that has Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, the minimum wage, Food Stamps, immigration, public schools, infant nutrition programs and the rest of the things government does to make our lives better. And they don’t want anyone else to live in a country that has those things, either.

They are willing to destroy the village to keep the village from having those things. If you don’t “get that” before entering into negotiations, you’re at risk of making a terrible mistake — like the sequester.

The Sequester

Remember what led to the sequester? There was a fundamental miscalculation that led to these terrible economy-killing cuts taking effect. White House negotiators believed the sequester cuts were so terrible and stupid that Republicans wouldn’t really let that happen. So they offered these cuts as an inducement — a worst alternative — to coming to an agreement about taxes and cuts. (Never mind the mistake that any deficit reduction at all right now is economy-killing.) The idea was that the sequester cuts are so terrible and have such a disastrous effect on the country and economy — and people — that “they wouldn’t really do that.”

But they did that. Now many Republicans are celebrating the sequester cuts, calling the sequester an accomplishment. They are celebrating the damage that they have caused to our government.

If you “got it” about who they are then you knew that of course they would do that. Offering the terrible sequester cuts because they were so terrible and stupid that “they wouldn’t really do that” was a fundamental miscalculation of how terrible and stupid — and destructive — their insular ideology has become. It was based on a fundamental misunderestimation of who they are.

Misunderestimating Who They Are

Are enough Democrats listening to right-wing radio, watching FOX, reading the right’s online media? Are they taking what they see and hear seriously? We listen to Rush Limbaugh and laugh. But they listen to Rush Limbaugh and believe.

Are Democrats and the President making a fundamental miscalculation by assuming the right-wingers of the Republican Party don’t want the country to default, and the terrible economic destruction that would bring? A strategy based on the idea that movement conservatives will yield rather than do that much harm to the country and economy and people, like the sequester strategy, is a fundamental miscalculation, fundamentally misunderestimating who they are: They do want things to be that bad!

Don’t Give In

The strategy of offering terrible and stupid cuts to an opposition that is bent on destruction only led to terrible and stupid cuts becoming the ongoing baseline, with them celebrating the sequester as a victory. Trying to scare and shame them with the terrible specter of the destruction from default could be offering them just what they want.

I am certainly not saying here that Democrats should give in to avoid the destruction Republicans are willing to cause. Giving in — or miscalculating and accidentally handing them what they want (like the sequester) — means they will just escalate the destruction — as they have done each time. That has been their game and will be their game. It’s just time to realize this and change strategies.

It is late in the game, much harm has been done, much harm is being done, but it is time for a shift from “get along” strategies to reach “bipartisan compromise” to instead realizing this crowd fundamentally opposes and seeks to dismantle the very things that most of us treasure about our country.

—–

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

The Deficit Is Down By Half – PolitFact Says It’s OK To Say It Is Growing

The blogosphere is talking about how Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor was caught in an outright falsehood about the country’s deficit, and how PolitiFact backed him up. Cantor said Sunday that Congress should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.” Fact: the deficit is shrinking faster than any time since the end of WWII, and is down 50% from where Bush left it. But PolitiFact declared Cantor’s lie “half true.”

Fact: the deficit is down more than 50% from where Bush left it. Fact: the deficit is falling at the fastest rate since the end of WWII. This chart is from my February post, Deficit Is Falling Dramatically, But Only 6% Know That: (Note, the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget year, before the “stimulus” kicked in.)

PolitiFact excuses Cantor for saying the country’s “ultimate problem … is this growing deficit” because even though the deficit is shrinking rapidly, at some point in the future deficits might maybe perhaps start to grow again. Or not.

Steve Benen writes about Cantor and PolitiFact at the MaddowBlog, PolitiFact finds its pants on fire, (click through, there are links in the text)

What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth — he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public — Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are — or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.

Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact.

Atrios declared Politifact “Wankers of the Day“.

Continue reading

The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

Remember the video of the guy in the “pimp costume” who got advice from ACORN employees on how to run his prostitution ring? Turns out the whole story was just a lie, a doctored-video smear job on an important organization. The guy never wore a “pimp costume” and the real, undoctored videos showed that ACORN employees did nothing wrong. But a lie travels around the world before the corporate media bothers to check the facts. The “news” media blasted the story everywhere, and Congress was so outraged they forced ACORN to close its doors. And here we are again.

The corporate media is blasting out the story that the IRS “targeted conservative groups.” Some in the media say there was “IRS harassment of conservative groups.” Some of the media are going so far as claiming that conservative groups were “audited.”

This story that is being repeated and treated as “true” is just not what happened at all. It is one more right-wing victimization fable, repeated endlessly until the public has no choice except to believe it.

Conservative Groups Were Not “Targeted,” “Singled Out” Or Anything Else

You are hearing that conservative groups were “targeted.” What you are not hearing is that progressive groups were also “targeted.” So were groups that are not progressive or conservative.

All that happened here is that groups applying to the IRS for special tax status were checked to see if they were engaged in political activity. They were checked, not targeted. Only one-third of the groups checked were conservative groups.

Once again: Only one-third of the groups checked were conservative groups.

Continue reading

Deficit Falling Even More Dramatically, Few Know It

Austerity is beginning to hit and the economy is slowing as a result. The most immediate effect is that flights are delayed, but unemployment checks are smaller and there are fewer things We the People do to make our lives and economy better — also called “government spending.” But hey, as Dean Baker writes in, Deficits Are Bad and the Sun Goes Around the Earth,

…many people can profit from slow growth and high unemployment. The after-tax profit share of GDP is at its highest level more than 60 years. For those who own lots of stock and are at the top of the income ladder, times are good. These people may see efforts to lower unemployment as posing a risk. With lower unemployment workers may be able to get a larger share of productivity growth. This may be good for most of the country and mean increased economic growth, but it would mean less for the one percent.

Continue reading

Elite-Pundit “Grand Bargain” Frenzy Just Like “Run Up” To Iraq War

The “Grand Bargain” is about showing the world that we can hurt people, so they will know we are “serious.”

Reading Jason Linkins’ HuffPo account of elite-pundit thinking about the “Grand Bargain,” Passing ‘Grand Bargain’ Voters Don’t Care About Is Critical To Confidence In Government, Apparently, I am struck by the similarity between the (elite pundit) Joe Klein quote Linkins references, and the elite-pundit thinking about invading Iraq.

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein — who is confident that Congress will agree to a “grand bargain” — says that people like me who contend that voters don’t place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

In other words, Klein is saying the elite punditry has made such a big deal about something we all know is the wrong thing to do, that the public has to see us follow through — “take significant action” — or they’ll lose confidence in the country’s ability to make things happen following a pundit frenzy like this one.

Now let’s remember the words of elite pundit Tom Friedman on why invade Iraq.

Tom Freidman, on Charlie Rose, May 29 2003: (link is CS Monitor, Thomas Friedman, Iraq war booster),

“And what we needed to do was to go over to that part of the world and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically uhm, and, uh, uhm take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble. And there was only one way to do it because part of that bubble said ‘we’ve got you’ this bubble is actually going to level the balance of power between us and you because we don’t care about life, we’re ready to sacrifice and all you care about is your stock options and your hummers. And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad uhm, and basically saying which part of this sentence don’t you understand. You don’t think we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy we’re going to just let it go, well suck on this.”

Friedman said we had to invade Iraq so the world can see that we can use our immense power to hurt people there. Because Iraq is in “that part of the world.”

Joe Klein says we have to do the Grand Bargain to show the world that we can use our immense power to hurt people here, too.

That’s balance for ya.

The “Grand Bargain” is about hurting regular people (“shared sacrifice”) who have been sacrificing since Reagan. The rich have gotten tax cut after tax cut. Their corporations get breaks and subsidies. Wages have been stagnant since Reagan broke the unions, but prices have gone up. People used up their savings, then went into debt. Meanwhile government services for We the People have been cut, cut, cut. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our transportation and electrical and other systems are just a mess. The safety net has collapsed. College has become unaffordable. Poverty is soaring and the middle class is disappearing.

So now regular people have to “sacrifice” to pay off the money the government borrowed to give the rich their tax cuts and subsidies. That’s the “Grand Bargain” in a nutshell.

P.S. Please read Linkins’ piece, it’s short. Linkins concludes,

” … a deal that will further immiserate Americans with painful cuts to earned benefit programs (like chained CPI) at a time when everyone’s still struggling to get by. Why anyone thinks this would restore the public trust is beyond me. Pundits really need to get out more.”

—–

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

Bipartisan Solutions

Here is how the DC game works:

- One side proposes to kill everyone in Kentucky and Tennessee. 15% of the public supports this (0% in Kentucky or Tennessee.)

- The other side thinks children should have enough food so they can grow up strong. (85% of the public supports this.)

- A Grand Bargain is reached in which they agree to kill everyone in Tennessee and spare the people in Kentucky, and children will get half as much food as they need.

The DC pundits will say that since everyone is angry at this, it must be the right solution because “both sides” only got part of what they want.

72000+ to 2: “Wired For Republican” Media Ignores CPC/Dem Back-To-Work Budget

They say that Washington DC and the major media are “wired for Republicans.” Steve Benen explains how this works,

… week in and week out, this debate is dominated by voices from only one party.

A couple of years ago, Josh Marshall talked about how the Washington establishment is simply “wired” for Republicans. It’s GOP ideas that get attention; it’s GOP talking points that get internalized; it’s GOP voices that get aired.

Today we have a measurement of this effect: 72,000+ to 2.

Today the Progressive Caucus released their “Back To Work” budget. Rep. Keith Ellison, the Progressive Caucus co-chairman, explains the budget in this interview.

Continue reading

Both Sides Are NOT To Blame For Sequester!

If you are a citizen in a democracy you need to have correct information about important issues so you can make decisions and know who to hold accountable for things they do. But you wouldn’t know anything if you follow America’s corporate news media. For example, you certainly wouldn’t know that the deficit is currently falling at the fastest rate since the end of WWII. (Only 6% of the public knows that the deficit is falling, not rising.)

Watch as NBC News (March 1 broadcast) blames “both sides” and “Congress” for the sequester cuts that could bring in a new recession:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“Congress” has left town – not that Republicans adjourned without doing allowing votes.

“No serious attempt all week long” to stop this.

“President didn’t rise above political rhetoric.”

“Both sides maintained the blame game.”

Deficit Is Falling Dramatically, But Only 6% Know That

There is no deficit problem. The deficit is down about 50 percent as a share of gross domestic product just since President Bush’s fiscal year 2009 deficit and is falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War II. Yet the Washington debate is about how and where to cut us back into recession. Why?

Congress should just repeal the sequester – we don’t need it. We have 10 years to fix the long-term deficit situation. We should not be stampeded by deficit-scare propaganda and instead take the time to carefully consider the right approach. That way we won’t make the mistakes that Europe is making.

Deficit Falling

Here is a chart of the deficit as a percent of GDP: (Data sources below)

Continue reading