“Government Doesn’t Have The Resources To Stop It”

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
People want the President to exert leadership to turn things around.
The oil leak. Unemployment. Credit card scams. Foreclosures. Predatory corporations. Environmental destruction. Global warming. Roads and bridges crumbling. Incomes stagnant. Schools getting worse. Companies moving overseas. Problem after problem.
People want to know, “Why doesn’t the government push BP aside and take over?” The answer is, “Government doesn’t have the resources to stop it.”
People want to know why the government can’t do more to help unemployed people, help with health care, help provide good educations, help with college, maintain the infrastructure, and all the other things that government does.
The answer, these days, is always, “Government doesn’t have the resources.” And that, in a nutshell, was exactly the plan.
We, the People no longer have the resources to solve our problems. We now must depend on and defer to the corporations and the wealthy few to make the important decisions and get things done instead of being able to decide and do on our own.
This is the legacy of 30 years of conservatism. They called it “starving the beast.” Reagan called it “cutting their allowance.” President Bush, told that his policies had turned the country back to massive deficits, said this was, “Incredibly positive news” because it will create “a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” He came into office with a $236 billion surplus. His last budget left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit. “Incredibly positive news.”
They disemboweled the regulatory agencies. They “privatized” government functions and resources, letting a well-connected few profit at the expense of the rest of us.
The Reagan deficit plan was right there for everyone to see:

    Step 1: Cut taxes to “cut the allowance” of government so that it can’t function on the side of We, the People. Intentionally force the government into greater and greater debt.
    Step 2: Use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. When the resulting deficits pile up scare people that the government is “going bankrupt” so they’ll let you sell off the people’s assets and “privatize” the functions of government. Of course, insist that putting taxes back where they were will “harm the economy.”
    Step 3: Blame liberals for the disastrous effects of spending cutbacks.

And here we are. Every time you hear someone say that we have to fight the deficit instead of getting things done that We, the People need done you are witnessing The Plan in action.
And now, government doesn’t have the resources to stop it.
NOTE: Part of the America’s Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America’s economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost – America Drowning In Debt

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
“Watch what we do, not what we say.” (Famous Republican advice.)
The Reagan Revolution was first and foremost about cutting the taxes paid by the rich and corporations. Now, almost 30 years later, the United States of America is drowning in debt. And that is exactly what they wanted to happen.
The Plan
There were the reasons for the tax cuts Reagan said, and there was the plan Reagan had. Reagan SAID that there was this thing called the “Laugher Curve” that he said proved cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue. But what they were saying was a smokescreen, something to tell the rubes. Increasing government revenue was the last thing Reagan and his cohorts wanted. They knew (and have since said so) cutting taxes would lead to terrible deficits. They called this a “strategic deficit.” This was the plan.
Bankrupting our government (We, the People) was the plan and today we can see that it was what they did. They didn’t want revenue to increase because the idea was to “starve the beast.” Reagan called itcutting their allowance.”
The plan was that by cutting the funding for government, government would have to cut back on what it does: regulating business, protecting regular people against powerful interests, building infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly. With government (We, the People) out of the way businesses could be unleashed and really start to make money. And for those who could afford to pay, private companies would take over those other functions. That was called “privatization.”
Infrastructure? We had plenty of infrastructure back then – grab the cash now and worry about that later. (It’s later now.)
So taxes were cut. And immediately the budget went into deficit and the government started borrowing. The debt started to grow. That was the plan. They said so.
Conservatives well understood that the public was not behind their plan. This was why it was explained as a way to increase government revenue. “Watch what we do, not what we say” is about tricking the public – deceive people by telling them you are doing one thing while really doing another. They knew that if the public came to understand their plan they would all be voted out of office. The idea was to force the other party to make the cuts.
Every time someone did try to cut the public outcry was enormous. So they just kept borrowing, intentionally trying to make the debt get so bad that eventually the government would be faced with bankruptcy.
Clinton, for a time, foiled their plans. In 1993 there was a hard-fought battle to raise taxes at the top by just a small amount. Every Republican voted against it. The public was saturated with lie after lie about how this would destroy the economy. Of course, the economy boomed in the 1990s following the Clinton tax increases and by the end of Clinton’s term the government was paying off debt so quickly that Alan Greenspan called for Bush II to again cut taxes on the rich, saying it was dangerous to pay off the government debt – yes, the same Alan Greenspan who now says we have to get rid of Social Security to pay off debt. The plan.
Bush called restoration of deficits “incredibly positive news”
Seven months after taking office, George W. Bush learned that his budgets had already erased the previous administration’s huge surplus — that was paying off our country’s debt at a rapid rate — and had instead forced the country to start borrowing heavily again. Bush said the huge deficit was “Incredibly positive news” because it will create “a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” That’s right, massive deficits were “incredibly positive news.” The plan.
Deficit hawks today
Now we’re experiencing part two of The Plan: use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. The deficit cutters insist that the government should cease investment in infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly and protecting regular people against powerful interests. First and foremost they want to cut Social Security. They blocked a reasonable health care plan in the name of “less spending.” They fight every effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs so that We, the People can get out of this unemployment emergency. (High unemployment puts tremendous wage pressure on the remaining workers.)
Are we going to fall for it? Are we going to walk right into part two of The Plan? Or are we going to restore the tax base, which is the lifeblood of democracy. Taxes on the wealthy and big corporations are what brings the ability of We, the People to control our own destiny instead of yielding always to the powerful interests.
This is the choice we are faced with. The “deficit hawks” are offering only The Plan. So far restoring the tax base back to where it was is off the table, not even to be discussed. Are we going to allow that? Or are We, the People going to fight back and demand that democracy be restored?
Previously: Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling and Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation
NOTE: Part of the America’s Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America’s economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The terrible Gulf oil, West Virginia mining, Wall Street finance and government debt disasters all demonstrate the ongoing catastrophic and continuing results of conservative policies. Each of these is a direct consequence of letting corporate conservatives take over government and dismantle the regulatory and democratic protections that We, the People fought so hard for following the Great Depression — itself a previous demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.
How often have you had to hear that “the market” is the best way to run things? That is is “self-correcting?” That regulations are government “interference” or “meddling” in the market? That business/free markets/private sector always does things better or is more efficient than government? When you hear these you are experiencing the clash between a “one-dollar-one-vote” free market system — as we had before the Teddy Roosevelt progressive era and the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal — and “one-person-one-vote” democratic, We, the People system that brings the benefits of our economy and our country to the most people. But because of the power of money and marketing most people are hearing only one side of an ongoing argument between the wealthy few and the broad masses of working people.
For decades we have heard these pro-market, anti-government arguments repeated over and over and over and over and over and over. Big corporations have a lot of money to buy a big megaphone, so you hear that government is bad, business is good and the people ought to just keep their noses out of the marketplace and stop telling businesses how to do things. You hear that taxes are bad, “hurt the economy,” “cost jobs,” “take money out of the economy,” “just get passed through to customers anyway” and a million similar great-sounding slogans that fall down under minimal evaluation. They have been repeated over and over, until we forgot why we had fought so hard for strong government regulations and high taxes at the top.
After the disaster of Nixon the country learned about cracks in our democracy that let big money get their nose under the tent. But after Watergate we didn’t plug all of the leaks, and big money got into the tent anyway. They used their position to give themselves more power, and used that power to give themselves even more, etc. and now we have a system that is corrupted absolutely.
So with the conservative government of Reagan and then later under the all-out anti-government conservative administration of George W. Bush we have had the opportunity of seeing just what happens when these “free market” ideas are given free reign to replace democracy. Anti-government zealots were put into positions inside the government and used that power to take apart the protections that We, the People had painstakingly built.
Taxes were cut to “defund” government in order to “starve the beast.” The strategy was create huge deficits so the public would later demand cuts in government benefits. In the meantime the deficits would be used as an excuse to cut government oversight, inspections and enforcement of rules restricting the activities of big corporations. But all they did was create huge deficit that added up to massive debt.
Katrina was the first clear, public demonstration of the governing offered by conservatives. When they talked about replacing progressive ideas of “we’re in this together” and “watching out for each other” with “personal responsibility” they meant it. And the country saw what that meant to real people in real trouble.
More recently we have been hearing about disaster after disaster and catastrophe after catastrophe, all caused by businesses running out of control, aided by conservative government that relaxed or just stopped enforcing regulations and laws. Each catastrophe is beyond the scope or willingness of private businesses to repair, requiring public intervention, at great cost. (But never any suggestion of “clawback” – or getting back the profits that were made while creating the catastrophe.)
We all certainly know about the Wall Street financial crisis caused by the big banks and insurance giants. We heard about the SEC ignoring warnings about Bernie Madoff and Goldman Sachs and all the others. We’ve seen hearings about the things that WaMu was doing, and loans going to people who couldn’t read, and brokers making up incomes on “liar loans” and ratings agencies giving top ratings to “designed to fail” bond deals that investment banks and hedge funds had put together so they could make huge “swap” bets against them when the loans went under… The government, under control of “free market” conservatives looked the other way the whole time.
They brought down the economy of the whole world, requiring government bailouts that added up to more money that has been spent by our government in the history of the country. And now they are fighting tooth and nail to keep We, the People from passing financial reforms to bring Wall Street back under control.
Just recently there was the West Virginia mining disaster caused by deregulation, sweet deals between the company and regulators and lack of enforcement. The CEO of the Massey Energy had literally bought himself a judge, who then voted in favor of Massey Energy. Corrupted absolutely, 29 dead later.
And now, the huge, huge catastrophe in the Gulf.
This is the Reagan Revolution coming home to roost, and I will be writing about the terrible price we are paying and will be paying for a long time for the failed experiment in conservative ideology.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Attacking Deficits

This post originally appeared at Open Left.
Yesterday was the President’s Deficit Commission and today is the Peterson summit. The very serious people (who didn’t know there was a housing bubble) are telling us that our own government providing benefits to our people is baaaad and very unserious. (Military spending? What’s that?)
As Paul mentioned here yesterday in a GREAT post, Campaign for America’s Future is hosting a “Virtual Summit On Economic & Fiscal Responsibility (For People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy)“. Mike Lux has pitched in there as well. Lots of great stuff.
So what about that deficit, and the Social Security crisis? Always, always keep in mind that the whole bruhaha over Social Security comes out of a strategic plan to get rid of it. As Paul pointed out in his post and as I have written about,

This strategy goes back to a larger Wall Street effort to get rid of Social Security. A 1983 Cato Institute Journal document, “Achieving a Leninist Strategy” by Stuart Butler of Cato and Peter Germanis of Heritage lays it out for us. The document is still available at Cato, and select quotes are available at Plotting Privatization? from Z Magazine. …
[quotes from the Cato strategy document]
… Every time you hear that “Social Security is going broke” you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point. Every time you hear that “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme” you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point. Every time you hear that “Social Security won’t be there for me anyway” ” you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point.
Don’t fall for it. If they can gut Social Security they stand to make a lot of money but you stand to lose your retirement.

AND never forget that the deficit was also manufactured on purpose, to defund government’s ability to regulate business and protect citizens, and to force a shrinking of what the corporate right calls “big government.” Government is We, the People making the decisions for ourselves, “big government” is We, the People making more decisions for ourselves. The only alternative is the wealthy and big corporations making the decisions for us instead. Don’t fall for it. We didn’t have deficits until we cut taxes on the rich.

Continue reading

14 Ways A 90 Percent Top Tax Rate Fixes Our Economy And Our Country

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
A return to Eisenhower-era 90% top tax rates helps fix our economy in several ways:
1) It makes it take longer to end up with a fortune. In fact it makes people build and earn a fortune, instead of shooting for quick windfalls. This forces long-term thinking and planning instead of short-term scheming and scamming. If grabbing everything in sight and running doesn’t pay off anymore, you have to change your strategy.
2) It gets rid of the quick-buck-scheme business model. Making people take a longer-term approach to building rather than grabbing a fortune will help reattach businesses to communities by reinforcing interdependence between businesses and their surrounding communities. When it takes owners and executives years to build up a fortune they need solid companies that are around for a long time. This requires the surrounding public infrastructure of roads, schools, police, fire, courts, etc., to be in good shape to provide long-term support for the enterprise. You also want your company to build a solid reputation for serving its customers rather than cheapening the product, pursuing quick-buck scams, cutting customer service, etc. The current Wall Street/private equity business model of looting companies, leaving behind an empty shell, unemployed workers and a surrounding community in devastation will no longer be a viable business strategy.
3) It will lower the executive crime rate. Today it is possible to run scams that let you pocket huge sums in a single year, and leave behind the mess you make for others to fix. A high top tax rate removes the incentive to lie, cheat and steal to grab every buck you can as fast as you can. This reduces the temptation to be dishonest. If you aren’t going to keep the whole dime, why risk doing the time? When excessive, massive paydays are possible, it opens the door to overwhelming greed and a resulting compromising of principles. Sort of the definition of the decades since Reagan, no?

4) Combined with badly-needed cuts in military spending – we spend more on military than all other countries on earth combined – taxing the wealthy ends budget deficits and starts paying off the massive Reagan/Bush debt. This reduces and ultimately eliminates the share of the budget that goes to pay interest. The United States now has to pay a huge share of its budget just to cover the interest on the borrowing that tax cuts made necessary. Paying off the debt would remove this huge drag on our economy. (Never mind that Alan Greenspan famously called for Bush’s tax cuts by saying it was dangerous to pay off our debt – now that same Alan Greenspan says we need to cut benefits to retired people because our debt is so high.)
5) It will bring in revenue to pay for improvements in infrastructure that then cause the economy to explode for the better. Investing in modern transit systems, smart grid, energy efficiency, fast internet and other improvements leads to a huge payoff of increased prosperity for all of us – especially for those at the top income levels. Infrastructure improvement and maintenance is the “seed corn” of economic growth. We have been eating that seed corn since Reagan’s tax cuts.
6) (related) It will bring in revenue for improving our schools, colleges and universities. Not only will this help our competitiveness, but it will improve each of our lives and level of happiness.

7) It will boost economic growth and rebuild a strong middle class. A consumption-based economy does better when consumers have more to spend. Perhaps not cause-and-effect, though I suspect so, but after FDR raised top tax rates the economy grew dramatically. The 90% top rate years under FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and the beginning of the Kennedy years were the years when we built the middle class. And remember, after Clinton raised top tax rates only modestly the economy grew. How’s it been doing since Bush’s tax cuts for the rich?
A look at economic growth rate charts shows a steady decline in the decades since top tax rates began to fall. Is it just a coincidence that the economy booms after tax increases that provide revenue to invest in new “seed corn,” and that the economy declines as we reduce taxes?
8) It is good for business because increased revenue will enable increasing government spending for the benefit of regular people. This recirculates money into the economy more productively than the current system of putting huge fortunes into a few hands and hoping for a resulting consumption of high-end goods. The wealthy can only spend so muc h so more disposable income in the hands of regular people is good for business. Any business owner will tell you they want customers more than they want tax cuts. (Let’s wait until the top one percent no longer owns most of everything before we talk about whether there is an effect on investment.)
9) It protects working people. Exploiting workers with long hours, low pay or lack of pay increases, lack of worker protections, firing union organizers and schemes that call employees “contractors” will no longer pay off as it does today. The era of extreme union-busting came in at the same time as the tax cuts.

Krugman:

The chart shows the share of the richest 10 percent of the American population in total income – an indicator that closely tracks many other measures of economic inequality – over the past 90 years, as estimated by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.

10) It redistributes income and wealth in ways that help all of us. Currently a few people receive most of the income and own most of everything. A very high top tax rate reduces this concentration of wealth.
11) It fights the political instability that results from concentration of wealth. Great inequality in a society and the resulting loss of opportunity results in political instability that can lead to extreme ideologies, rebellion, etc. We are seeing all the signs of a resurgence of these problems today.
12) It will help rebuild our sense of democracy and belief in equality. As we have seen and are seeing, when too much is in the hands of too few, they have too much power and influence and use it to get even more.
13) It will strengthen the government that We, the People have worked hard to build, and strengthen its ability to enforce the laws and regulations that protect all of us and the resources we hold in common. It will increase its ability to provide all of us equally with the benefits of our joint efforts and our economy.
14) Finally, for good measure, increasing top tax rates will cause those affected to work harder to make up the difference. The Ayn Randians claim the very rich are the “producers” and all the rest of us are just parasites and slackers who feed off their “work.” So it will be very good for our economy to get them working harder by taxing them at 90%! You may have heard about those 25 hedge fund managers who brought in an average of $1 billion each last year – an amount that would have paid for 658,000 teachers — while the rest of the country suffered through a terrible economy. If we had a top tax rate of 90% they would “only” take home $100 million or so each – in a single year. And we could have 658,000 more teachers. So it’s a win-win.
Taxes are how we all pitch in to enjoy the benefits and protections of modern society. Those benefits and protections are what enable people to become wealthy, and we ask that they give some back so others can prosper as well.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Dear Deficit Commission, It’s Not Hard

Dear Deficit Commission,
It’s not hard to figure out why we have a huge deficit. It’s so easy I don’t have to use words. Here are some pictures:

Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich. Bush cut them.
Now, about that huge national debt…

That second chart kind of explains itself.
The third chart can help you find a place to get some money:

(Note: There is no more Soviet Union.)
In case that isn’t clear enough, try this:

Let me know if you still have any questions.
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.

Conservatives Caused Huge Deficits, Blame Obama

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Headline at Drudge Report: Obama policies projected to add $9.7 trillion to debt by 2020… points to this story, National debt to be higher than White House forecast, CBO says,

President Obama’s proposed budget would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday. Proposed tax cuts for the middle class account for nearly a third of that shortfall.

So here is the deal. This Drudge headline, saying Obama’s spending “adds to the deficit” is a trick. Here is how it works. Suppose you take over a company that is losing $100 million a year, and your jobs is to turn it around. So perhaps the second year the company only loses $70 million, $30 million the third year, and breaks even in year four. You saved the company. But in those years the company “lost” another $100 million. Should you be fired?
President Obama took office as President of a country with a $1.4 trillion deficit – thanks to the failure of conservative policies. Their tax cuts, wars, military buildups, corruption and incompetence drove the borrowing WAY up, and then their deregulation, corruption and incompetence destroyed the economy, driving the borrowing up into the stratosphere.
If the borrowing just stayed the same at the $1.4 trillion level Obama inherited each year — never mind that interest on all that borrowing gets higher and higher each year — that would mean $14 trillion would be added to the deficit by 2020. That’s a LOT more than the $9.7 trillion that Drudge and the conservatives are making so much noise about. Obama is dramatically reducing the borrowing, but they use trickery to make it look like he is causing it.
What about that $1.4 trillion deficit? That was the deficit for the 2009 budget year. Conservatives say — over and over — that Obama “tripled the deficit” in 2009. This isn’t even a trick, it is just a lie. The final Bush budget year ended with a deficit of $1.4 trillion. Conservatives have been telling the public this was an “Obama Deficit” and use graphics and charts that label this last Bush budget as Obama’s. Look at that chart, and then look at this. The first chart is nothing more than a lie, of course repeated endlessly.
But what else should you expect? Like the scorpion that stings the frog as the frog ferries it across the river, it’s what they do. They screw things up, and then point the finger of blame at everyone else.

Huge 2009 Budget Deficit — Just One More Conservative Failure

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.
Conservatives claim that President Obama “tripled the deficit” and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit as proof. The fiscal-year 2009 deficit, as reported in October was, indeed, about triple the prior year’s borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last budget year of the prior, conservative administration. It is just one more demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.
Basic math: A budget year that ends 8 months into a President’s first year wasn’t that President’s budget.
Yet we hear, over and over, that “Obama tripled the deficit.” Recently, when President Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had “tripled the deficit.” A CNN fact check addresses this,

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

Don’t believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,

Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.
[chart]
. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.
[corrected chart]

Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who’s To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,

What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama’s expansion of the children’s health insurance program? Didn’t these all boost spending in 2009?
The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.

Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. Keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget, and began before Obama even took office.
Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the colors on the chart trick you into thinking that 2009 is an Obama budget year. This is just outright deceit.
Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama’s in a chart.
Here is a similar use of deception in charts, by right-wing blogs.
More examples: Federal budget triples under Obama – yes TRIPLES, and After Tripling The Deficit, Obama To Try And Create Jobs With More Government Spending, and Obamanomics: Deficit Tripled in One Year
Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:) fox nation clip
Here’s a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures
The right’s noise maching is good, though, there are 27,000 websites listed if you search for “obama tripled the deficit” in quotes.
Conservative policies since Reagan have led to massive debt. Don’t let them trick you by changing the colors on a chart.

Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?

From Open Left
When you sell the farm, the farm’s gone.

Is it already too late for America? I’m starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite — and we’re only now just starting to realize it. To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing. To satisfy their hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote. We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.

Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years – to be blamed on Obama. The “free marketers” gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover. Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing. We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan. But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.

The conservatives destroyed the regulatory structure of the government. They removed the inspectors, administrators, regulators and replaced them with corrupt cronies.

The conservatives killed off, contracted out or sold off – “privatized” – so much of our in-common resources and heritage of public structures. Water systems, oil and mineral leases, government functions, elements of the military, etc.

The conservatives destroyed the rule of law, leaving behind public perception of rule by cronyism, favoritism and mob.

The conservatives destroyed public understanding of democracy, leaving behind a one-dollar-one-vote system that their Supreme Court just formalized, along with a corporate media that works to keep people uninformed. And to make matters worse, now the telecoms can argue before Federalist Society judges that their “speech rights” are violated by rules making them carry labor and progressive websites over the internet lines they control. And forget about the idea of them ever letting anti-corporate-rule candidates raise money on “their” internet.

I hate to reference Friedman but this from last week has been sticking in my mind. He says the world is looking at the mess in the US and is turning away from democracy as a result.

[Foreigners] look at America and see a president elected by a solid majority, coming into office riding a wave of optimism, controlling both the House and the Senate. Yet, a year later, he can’t win passage of his top legislative priority: health care.

“Our two-party political system is broken just when everything needs major repair, not minor repair,” said … who is attending the forum. “I am talking about health care, infrastructure, education, energy. We are the ones who need a Marshall Plan now.”

Indeed, speaking of phrases I’ve never heard here before, another goes like this: “Is the ‘Beijing Consensus’ replacing the ‘Washington Consensus?’ ” Washington Consensus is a term coined after the cold war for the free-market, pro-trade and globalization policies promoted by America. … developing countries everywhere are looking “for a recipe for faster growth and greater stability than that offered by the now tattered ‘Washington Consensus’ of open markets, floating currencies and free elections.” And as they do, “there is growing talk about a ‘Beijing Consensus.’”

The Beijing Consensus, … is a “Confucian-Communist-Capitalist” hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state, with a lot of government guidance, strictly controlled capital markets and an authoritarian decision-making process that is capable of making tough choices and long-term investments, without having to heed daily public polls.

It is too late to recover?

Accountability is a first step. If the current administration would hold the corrupt actors accountable, maybe we could begin to restore governance. And the public would know who to blame for what has happened to us, enabling them to support policies that will get us out of this. But so far they won’t. If they won’t even investigate torture and illegally invading a country why should we expect any accountability for the financial collapse, corrupt government contracts, bribery, embezzlement, corruption and other crimes of the Bush era?

More equitable distribution of the fruits of our economy is another step. Our system worked so much better back when the top tax rate was 90%. The returns from our investment in infrastructure were more widely shared. And back when it took many years to build a fortune businesses had an interdependence with their communities. Executives needed the schools and roads and other public structures functioning well. They needed long-range business and community planning. But just imagine trying to do something about the concentration of wealth today.

So where do we go from here. Is democracy over? Is rule of law a thing of the past? Is predatory monopoly control by the largest corporations the way things are and will be? Does the world now move to governance by a wealthy elite?
Or is the winter and the rain and the snow just getting to me?

What are your thoughts?

Roots Of Conservative Failure: Bush Called Deficits “Incredibly Positive News”

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Lest we forget where the huge deficits and debt came from…
On August 25, 2001, just seven months after taking office, George W. Bush learned that his budgets had already erased the previous administration’s huge surplus — that was paying off our country’s debt at a rapid rate — and had instead forced the country to start borrowing again. Bush said it was “Incredibly Positive News”

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.

Bush certainly wasn’t the first conservative to think deficits and debt were a good thing. Conservatives had for years advocated a strategy to “starve the beast” by intentionally plunging the country into debt, forcing cutbacks in government oversight of corporate behavior such as regulatory oversight, safety inspections and consumer protections.
In the 1980 campaign for President, Reagan explained his tax cut strategy, after candidate John Anderson called for spending cuts,

“John tells us that first we’ve got to reduce spending before we can reduce taxes,” Ronald Reagan declared in reply to the independent candidate, John Anderson. “Well, if you’ve got a kid that’s extravagant, you can lecture him all you want to about his extravagance. Or you can cut his allowance and achieve the same end much quicker.”

In his two terms Reagan quadrupled the federal debt.

Cut What?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.
Here’s an easy way to win an argument with a conservative over taxes and spending. Hand the conservative a piece of paper, a pencil and a calculator and ask him or her to write down exactly what spending they would cut, and by how much. And ask them to keep writing until they balance the budget.
There is a reason they are always calling for spending but they will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever say WHAT spending they mean to cut. That reason is simple: except for military spending the problem is not spending. It is the tax cuts, first under Reagan and then under W.
Monday Bill Scher posted, Sen. McConnell, If We’re Really Spending Too Much, Why Can’t You Say What You’d Cut?,

The fact is the only way to eliminate deficits solely by cutting spending along is to completely hobble our retirement security, shred our social safety net, condemn us to energy dependence, prevent the next generation from competing in the global economy and ensure a jobless recovery.
And there is no way conservatives are willing to spell that out and have a honest debate about their dark vision for an austere America.
The conservative movement is eager to shift the frame of debate away from how to deliver on the mandate for progressive change that swept Obama into office, and towards a debate on who can gut government the most.

There you have it. It isn’t about spending, it’s about government and democracy. We, the People paid taxes and built up an infrastructure and that infrastructure enabled the prosperity that we enjoyed for decades. Then came Reaganism and the tax cuts, the dramatic increases in military spending and the gutting of government services meant for the people. We started borrowing and borrowing. We stopped modernizing our infrastructure — even stopped maintaining it. We started selling off (“privatizing”) the public structures that had enabled all of us to live well. Income and wealth and power shifted up and up as wages and opportunities went down and down. And here we are.
So the next time you hear a conservative talk about how bad the deficits and debt are — the deficits and debt caused by the failure of conservative policies — ask that conservative this question: cut what? And don’t let them stop answering until their cuts add up to the $1.2 trillion deficit that the conservatives left behind.

Cato: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit

Republicans like to claim that Obama “tripled the deficit” and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit. They use charts that show the 2009 deficit was, indeed, huge and about triple the prior year’s borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last year of BUSH budgets.
When you look at charts or hear descriptions from Republicans, they always say that this was Obama’s deficit. This is just propaganda- lies intended to deceive. For example, when Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat yesterday, GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had “tripled the deficit.” A CNN fact check addresses this,

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

So again, Republican claims that Obama has somehow increased the deficit are just lies intended to trick people. This massive increase that was reported after the fiscal year ended Sept. 20 occurred under Bush.
Don’t believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,

Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.
[chart]
. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.
[corrected chart]

Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who’s To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,

What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama’s expansion of the children’s health insurance program? Didn’t these all boost spending in 2009?
The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.

Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget, and began before Obama even took office.
Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the chart tricks you into think that 2009 is an Obama budget year.
Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama’s in a chart.
Here is a similar use of deception in charts, by right-wing blogs.
More: Federal budget triples under Obama – yes TRIPLES, and After Tripling The Deficit, Obama To Try And Create Jobs With More Government Spending, and Obamanomics: Deficit Tripled in One Year
Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:) fox nation clip
Here’s a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures
The right’s noise maching is good, though, there are 18,200 websites listed if you search for “obama tripled the deficit” in quotes, another 1,790 searching for “Obama triples deficit” in quotes