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.
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.
“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.
” … 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.”
… 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.
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.)
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.
Here is a chart of the deficit as a percent of GDP: (Data sources below)
Government spending is We, the People doing things to make our lives better. Trade deficits are caused by billionaires and their giant corporations pitting America’s working people against exploited people who have no say, so they can drive down our wages and pocket the difference. Have you noticed that the people who are making the most noise about the budget deficit tend to be the same crowd that’s benefiting from the ruinous trade deficit?
Budget vs trade deficit… You can learn a lot about how our country’s media and policy apparatus works by taking a good look at the way the two are handled. One — pushed by the billionaires and their giant corporations — gets all the attention. The other — the cause of the destruction of our middle class — gets none.
Reporters and others: you should ask policymakers what they plan to do about the trade deficit — that’s the one that really is hurting the country.
When Obama took office we were losing more than 800,000 jobs a MONTH — and according to FactCheck.org that is Obama’s doing, not Bush’s.
From Obama’s Inflated Jobs Claim,
In a new TV ad, President Obama makes an inflated claim to have added 5.2 million new jobs. The total added during his time in office is actually about 325,000.
In the ad, the president says “over 5 million new jobs” while the figure “5.2 million” appears on screen. But that’s a doubly misleading figure.
* Viewers would need to pay close attention to the on-screen graphic to know that the ad refers only to employment gains starting in March 2010, omitting the 4.3 million jobs that were lost in the first year of Obama’s term.
* And there’s no way a viewer would know that the total counts only private-sector jobs, omitting continuing losses in government employment.
Here is the reality:
The red lines on the left are the Bush months. The blue lines are Obama months. The DOWNward-heading lines on the left side of that huge V shows what was happening before the stimulus turned things around. The right side of that V, where things start getting better, is what happened after the stimulus kicked in.
ALL the job losses that Romney — with FactCheck.org’s backing — claims occurred because of Obama were in that V. Yes, even after the stimulus turned things around we were still losing jobs, but losing fewer each month, and then breaking into positive territory and staying there.
As for public/private -sector jobs, yes Obama did try to save public-sector jobs and did a good job of that with the stimulus, but Republicans blocked further efforts, and in the state were able to lay off many, many teachers, police, etc.
And according to FactCheck.org, that’s Obama’s fault, too.
In my local paper today
Above-fold front-page headline, story about how public employees are draining the state. They are not tasking vacations, and then getting all their vacation and sick pay when they retire… Getting their vacation pay is draining the state. “No vacations for taxpayers.” “They’re cashing in by retiring with whopping final paychecks worth, in some cases, more than $500,000 in unused time off.”
Page 2, The Kochs’ quest – a story about how the Koch brothers are fighting to save America from bankruptcy.
“The country was headed toward bankruptcy, they agreed. Fink told them bluntly that Obama’s administration represented the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloated, regulation-heavy, free-spending government that could plunge the country into another deep recession. That day, Fink advised two of the richest men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the government spending spree and to change the course of the country, starting with the 2012 election.”
Any “science” story that begins like this probably isn’t worth reading, because the very first sentence gets it just wrong,
SINCE 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years. This surge comes mostly from improved hygiene and nutrition, but also from new discoveries and interventions: everything from antibiotics and heart bypass surgery to cancer drugs that target and neutralize the impact of specific genetic mutations.
The implication is that people generally died at 47 years old then, and 80 now. But what really happened is fewer babies die now, so at birth the average would be 47 then and 80 now. But people then and now can live to about 80 if they aren’t killed by something like childhood illness, war, etc.
Note that this is the same fallacy that propels people to think Social Security is a problem, because life expectancy at birth is greater now. This tricks people into thinking that we pay out Social Security longer…
NY Times: How Long Do You Want to Live?
Note — see the update at end of post, in which the Romney campaign uses astonishingly doctored audio, to make it seem as if Obama said something he never said.
Early in this campaign the Romney team put out an ad with a doctored Obama quote. Now Romney is again claiming Obama said things he never said. The billionaire-corporate-funded right-wing media machine drives the lie to millions. This might well work, which brings up a question: If someone gets into office based on lies, what kind of policies result? Those policies help the people pushing the lies, but do those policies help or hurt us in the real world in the long run?
The Lie The First Time
In November the Romney campaign was caught editing a quote in an ad to make it sound like Obama had said something he never said. The ad portrayed Obama as saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” when Obama had really said (four years previously), “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”
The Romney campaign defended this use of lies, saying they are just showing they are willing to do what it takes to win. The Boston Globe reported, “Romney aides even said they were proud of the reaction and suggested that the ad was deliberately misleading to garner attention.”
At the time Thomas B Edsall wrote in the NY Times,
“…the spot’s direct duplicity is also the latest step in the transgression by political operatives of formerly agreed-upon ethical boundaries. What was once considered sleazy becomes the norm.”
And so the sleazy became the norm for the Romney campaign.
The Lie This Time
The sleazy became the norm, so they’re cranking it up. This time, the lie machine is telling people that President Obama said that business owners didn’t build their businesses, government did. What President Obama actually said was that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets:
Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.
The billionaire-corporate lie machine version? Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs “You Didn’t Build” Your Business.
Watch the beginning of this FOX News segment, note how the editing actually shows Obama’s mouth moving, before they bring the sound up partway through what he is saying, then listen to the commentators as they pretend this is what Obama actually said. (Of course they know this is not what he actually said, which makes the performance so shocking.)
The lie is propelled through the right-wing media: FOX News, Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch-owned papers, Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Washington Times, Weekly Standard, NewsMax, WorldNet Daily, hundreds of right-wing blogs, etc., and then posted by paid operatives as “reader comments” at local news sites, hundreds of sports and auto and other discussion forums, and many, many other places until it “becomes truth.”
Watch the kind of crap that much of the public is hearing from almost every media source many of them are exposed to. Seriously, make yourself watch the whole thing, and then think about how many people watch FOX News or listen to talk radio or read the Wall Street Journal or one of the other newspapers that pushes this stuff, or read right-wing blogs — and even CNN. There is a huge corporate-billionaire-funded media machine pushing this stuff, and it seems it is almost everywhere now.
And then, once it “becomes truth” the Presidential candidate repeats it. WaPo: Romney Hits ‘Didn’t Build That’ Obama Remark Romney: “I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish” … FOX News dedicated 2 hours, 42 segments, to pushing the lie. CNN even helped push the lie.
So, once again, the lie machine is working to “kinda catapult the propaganda.”
And this latest lie is just a warm-up. The corporate-billionaire-funded machine will seriously be in operation in October, just before the election. The lies will be all over the place, and democracy doesn’t have an advertising budget.
So here’s where this is going. The Romney campaign is out with a new Web video hitting Obama over the “don’t build that” quote. It features a business owner who is angry at Obama for supposedly insulting his hard work. “My hands didn’t build this company?” the man asks. “Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”
But the video deceptively edits Obama’s remarks to seamlessly link up two different parts of the speech, removing a chunk in order to make Obama’s remarks seem far worse than they are.
What Did He Really Say?
Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday’s post, The Latest Lie: “You Didn’t Build That”:
President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.