Are Republicans Ready To Drop “No-Tax” Pledge?

Republicans have been holding to a no-tax pledge for decades as a strategy to undermine government. But more and more people are noticing that our schools, roads, police and fire departments, bridges, courts, food-safety system — and everything else non-military that our government does — are starting to fall apart. At the same time, Republican-created anti-deficit hysteria is starting to backfire on Republicans themselves. So are some Republicans starting to back off?

But First

Before any deficit discussion begins people should be reminded of one very important and relevant fact: When ‘W’ Bush took office we had a huge budget surplus and we were on track to pay off the entire national debt in just ten years. In other words, our country’s debt would be entirely paid off by now, and there would be no emergency at all. But Bush changed some things, and said the return of budget deficits was “incredibly positive news,” and now we have a huge deficit and debt. The cause of our deficits and debt has implications for any discussion of what can be done about our deficits and debt.

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Everything You Need To Know About Fixing Deficits & Jobs

Here is everything you need to know about how to fix the deficits and jobs problems. This is a chart of job creation over the last few years:


There is a report in Saturday’s New York Times, “White House Debates Fight on Economy,” saying the Obama administration is choosing between doing very little about jobs, or doing nothing.

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. … But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view.

So according to the Times the choices being debated are a) do nothing, because the mean Republicans will block it anyway, or b) offer even more tax cuts for businesses. Yikes!
Meanwhile, out in the Real World…

The ailing economy, barely growing at the same pace as the population, has swept all other political issues to the sidelines. Twenty-five million Americans could not find full-time jobs last month. Millions of families cannot afford to live in their homes. … [. . .] A wide range of economists say the administration should call for a new round of stimulus spending, as prescribed by mainstream economic theory, to create jobs and promote growth.

But, back in the White House?
Mr. Plouffe and Mr. Daley share the view that a focus on deficit reduction is an economic and political imperative, according to people who have spoken with them. Voters believe that paying down the debt will help the economy, and the White House agrees, although it wants to avoid cutting too much spending while the economy remains weak.
They think that taking money out of the economy will put more money into the economy. Great. As I wrote the other day, this is austeridiocy. As England, France and every other country that ever tried to grow an economy by cutting the economy has learned, taking money out of the economy takes money out of the economy.
What Works In The Real World
Here is everything you need to know about how to fix the deficits and jobs problems:


This is a chart of the monthly job losses that were occurring before and after the “stimulus” package.
Before The Stimulus
In this chart, the RED lines on the left side — the ones that keep doing DOWN — show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse.
During The Stimulus
The BLUE lines — the ones that just go UP — show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better.
The Stimulus Winds Down
The TAIL — the leveling off on the right side of the chart — show what happened as the stimulus started to wind down. Job creation leveled off.
It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus.
Jobs Fix Deficits
When people are working they are paying taxes and are not collecting unemployment. And they are buying things, which means there is demand in the economy again, so businesses will hire people.
Customers Create Jobs
Actually, the rich don’t create jobs, we do. Lots of regular people having money to spend is what creates jobs and businesses. That is the basic idea of demand-side economics and it works. In a consumer-driven economy designed to serve people, regular people with money in their pockets is what keeps everything going. And the equal opportunity of democracy with its reinvestment in infrastructure and education and the other fruits of democracy is fundamental to keeping a demand-side economy functioning.
When all the money goes to a few at the top everything breaks down. Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going. Cutting taxes at the top steals from democracy’s ability to continue this reinvestment.
It doesn’t matter how much more money you give to business owners, businesses are not going to hire any more employees until they have a REASON to — and that reason is customers coming in the door.
Businesses Do Not Create Jobs
Businesses do not create jobs. In fact, the way our economy is structured the incentive is for businesses to get rid of as many jobs as they can. It costs money to pay employees, so businesses want to trim down to the minimum number required to get the needed work done.
Many people wrongly think that businesses create jobs. They see that a job is usually at a business, so they think that therefore the business “created” the job. This thinking leads to wrongheaded ideas like the current one that giving tax cuts to businesses will create jobs, because the businesses will have more money. But an efficiently-run business will already have the right number of employees. When a business sees that more people are coming in the door (demand) than there are employees to serve them, they hire people to serve the customers. When a business sees that not enough people are coming in the door and employees are sitting around reading the newspaper, they lay people off. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.
A job is created when demand for goods or services is greater than the existing ability to provide them. When there is a demand, people will see the need and fill it. Either someone will start filling the demand alone, or form a new business to fill it or an existing provider of the good or service will add employees as needed.
Once again:


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Austeridiocy: Budget Cuts Take Money Out Of The Economy

“The patient is sicker so we have to apply more leeches.” Countries that are trying to fix deficits with spending cuts are finding out that taking money out of their economies by cutting government is slowing their economies. Duh! Imagine that! So instead of cutting deficits the resulting slowdowns are making their deficits worse as tax revenues drop and joblessness goes up. So what are they proposing? More “austerity” spending cuts. I call them “austeridiots.”
It Didn’t Work So Do It More
See if you can find the logical flaw in this AP news report: French growth sputters to a halt in 2nd quarter,

The French government was put under further pressure to cut deeper into spending after figures Friday showed growth in Europe’s second biggest economy ground to a halt in the spring, in another sign that the global economy is facing rising recessionary threats.
With the worse-than-expected French growth figures suggesting a possible budget shortfall this year, government ministers may have to find additional savings…

Right, the cuts are slowing the economy, which means the deficits are worse, so they “have to find additional savings.” Cutting government – taking money out of the economy – slowed their economy, so they think they’ll solve the problem by taking more money out of their economy. Austeridiocy.
Austeridiocy Here, Too

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Jobs Fix Deficits

Polls show that the American Majority is much more concerned about jobs than deficits. So why is DC talking only about deficits instead of jobs, when jobs are the medicine for deficits? And why is DC only talking about budget cuts as a path to fixing the deficits, when the deficits were caused by tax cuts and lack of jobs? In fact most of the “deficit cures” being discussed in DC don’t make the deficit better, they make deficits worse because they kill jobs.
Stimulus Ends And Job Growth Ends, Too
Now that the stimulus is running out, so is any sign of a jobs recovery. The stimulus stopped the economic freefall that was occurring under the prior administration, and restored at least some job growth. It worked, but it was not big enough. Much of it was wasted on tax cuts that leave behind only debt, and it is running out. At the same time, state and local government cutbacks are working against any current economic rebound. For the longer term, badly-needed restructuring of trade deals, development of a national industrial policy and removal of the plutocratic tax and regulatory changes that led to intense concentration of wealth have not occurred, keeping the economy from moving forward. See for yourself in the following chart:

All Jobs - April 2011

Follow the timeline on this chart:

  • First, the Bush freefall,
  • then the effect of the stimulus spending,
  • then the stimulus winds down,
  • combined with state & local budget cutbacks.

Until needed changes are made the economy remains mired in the failed Reagan/Bush/Bush plutocratic, everything-to-the-top structure and cannot sustain itself without stimulus. The worst thing that could happen now is federal budget cutbacks on top of the state and local government cutbacks. Pulling that much out of the economy, laying off all those government employees, and ceasing to invest in the infrastructure and education that make us competitive in the world would be a tragic mistake.
Jobs In The News
Stimulus winding down, state and local governments cutting back, trade deficit increasing again… Which brings us to to this week’s economic news. Reuters: Private sector job growth slumps in May,

The ADP report showed private employers added a scant 38,000 jobs last month, falling from a downwardly revised 177,000 in April and well short of expectations for 175,000. It was the lowest level since September 2010.
… A separate report showed the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose modestly in May with the government and non-profit sectors making up a large portion of the cuts.
… The housing market, meanwhile, continued to struggle as a report from an industry group showed applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week, pulled lower by a decline in refinancing demand.

And, Manufacturing growth slowest since September 2009: ISM

The pace of growth in the manufacturing sector tumbled in May, slackening more than expected to its slowest since September 2009, according to an industry report released on Wednesday.
… New orders fell to 51.0 from 61.7 in April, the lowest since June 2009. The index for prices paid fell to 76.5 from 85.5, below expectations of 82.0.

Forbes: Double Dip in Housing; Could Double Dip Recession Be Next?

This chart from Business Insider shows what the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index looks like on a graph chart: bad. National home prices are back to their 2002 levels, according to the index data released May 31.
. . . Moreover, consumer confidence unexpectedly declined in May to its lowest level in six months due to the lackluster job market and declining home values.

Austerity Cuts Jobs
But DC is not only not talking about jobs, they are talking about austerity — cutting the very things that create jobs. History and the experience of other countries as they struggle to crawl out of the economic collapse has shown again and again that government investment in infrastructure and education and scientific research and manufacturing are the path to recovery. England, Greece and others trying austerity are falling back into recession. Meanwhile China is investing hundreds of billion in high-speed rail and other infrastructure. Germany is investing in manufacturing. Others are investing billions more in infrastructure. All are pursuing green energy sources.
Mired in austerity ideology we are doing none of these. For example, on a PBS NewsHour discussion of the House vote rejecting a “clean” debt-ceiling bill Tuesday, Rep. Peter Roskam said,

…any raising of the debt ceiling has to be preconditioned upon cuts that drive towards a real economic recovery and long-term growth and prosperity and job creation.

Rep. Roskam actually claimed that cutting the things that have proven to drive growth and job creation will drive growth and job creation.
Austerity Can’t Cut Deficits
The other day I wrote about calculations that shows that cutting budgets does not cut deficits. From See WHY Austerity Can’t Reduce The Deficit, (click through to see the calculations that prove austerity can’t reduce deficits),

Austerity — cutting government benefits and services — is not the path to fixing deficits. In fact, economists warn that trying to fix a sluggish economy by cutting government spending will just make things worse. Worse yet, this approach can have damaging effects that last into the future. This can be easily shown with simple calculations.

Jobs First In Democracy
In a democracy jobs would be the first topic of discussion and the only toipic until plenty of good-paying jobs are available. But in a plutocracy — government by the wealthy — jobs for regular people would be of little concern. Which are we seeing here?
The American Majority clearly, absolutely, firmly and primarily want jobs as government’s — our — first priority (click through to see the polling), while our leaders are talking about doing things that cut jobs and cut the thing that We, the People do for each other.
The solution to the huge post-collapse jump in deficits is to restore the jobs. Restoring good-paying jobs starts to restore the tax base and stops the emergency spending on the unemployed. The increased demand as people find work and paychecks revives retail and manufacturing. Housing recovery, for example, depends on more jobs. With more jobs and better pay. Unemployment is high and wages are low, so many people just can’t afford to buy — or keep — a house.
Just cutting people out of the economy doesn’t fix the problem, it shifts the problem and eventually will kill the economy.
Jobs First In Election
One thing is for sure: jobs will be the first concern of voters in the coming 2012 elections. And Republicans understand that making things worse now helps Republicans later. The question is why aren’t Democrats and the President focusing on making things better now to help themselves and all of us later?
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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How About A Summit With The Unemployed?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
We had bailouts and bonuses for Wall Street but letdowns and layoffs for Main Street. We had a deficit commission but no jobs commission. We have tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the rest of We, the People. And this week the President is having a “summit” with the heads of giant corporations. So how about holding a summit with the unemployed?
President Obama is holding a “summit” with 20 or so CEOs Wednesday, “to ease strained relations with business.” NY Times: Obama to Meet With Executives,

President Obama will host a roundtable with about 20 corporate chiefs on Wednesday, according to the White House, part of an attempt to ease strained relations with business.
… With the mood for the meeting already lightened by his recent announcements of a trade deal with South Korea and a compromise on tax cuts with Congressional Republicans, Mr. Obama and the executives will discuss an overhaul of the tax system…

See if you can guess what sort of “overhaul of the tax system” suggestions are likely to come out of a “summit” with top CEOs. Hint: a recent “summit” with Republican leaders resulted in a plan for extending tax cuts for the rich and cutting the inheritance tax.
Record Profits
The Washington news types talk about “strained relations” between business leaders and President Obama. The business news reports I’ve been reading don’t reflect a “strain” at all. A recent NY Times story: Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter,

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

Record corporate profits. Wow. Just wow. And for the rest of us?
High Unemployment, Very High Long-Term Unemployment
But wait, something else is at high levels as well. This year’s headlines:
January: Number of long-term unemployed hits highest rate since 1948
June: Long-Term Unemployment at Highest Recorded Rate
September: Long-term unemployment reaches crisis level
December: Long-term unemployed are left without assistance
Susie Madrak , over at Crooks and Liars, has a few things to say about this summit in her post, Obama To Hold CEO Summit Wednesday; Execs To Present Their Very Reasonable Demands For Ransom

Basically, they want to run untaxed, unregulated businesses with few (if any) legal obligations to the people who still work for them. Oh, and they want “austerity” for the working classes…
… Now perhaps the president can convene a one-day summit of the unemployed and the working poor to ask them what they think, for a change.

Yes, perhaps the President can convene a summit with the unemployed.
Playing The Ref
In November I wrote about this idea that President Obama is “anti-business,”

Here is what has been going on. In a classic “playing the ref” move, the Chamber of Commerce has been pitching the idea that the Obama administration is “anti-business” because they don’t give the big, monopolist, multi-national corporations everything they want. “Playing the ref” is a sports term, the idea being that if you complain enough about the calls a referee makes the referee will feel the need to give your team a few breaks in order to appear to be making fair calls.
So the Chamber, by complaining that Obama is “anti-business,” is really trying to get Obama to be even more pro-business. (The same strategy is at work when you hear complaints about the “liberal media.” After so may years of this accusation by right-wingers, newsroom editors are terrified of appearing to be left-leaning, resulting in so many right-leaning news stories.)

This summit to “ease strained relations” with business leaders is in response to a classic “playing the ref” move. While sitting on the highest profits ever they complain that the President is :anti-business” and get what they want. It’s too bad the unemployed — with the highest rates of long-term unemployment ever — are not represented in Washington by swarms of well-paid lobbyists, or by campaign contributions, or by “independent expenditure” smear-ad campaigns, or by astroturf (providing a corporate-purchased appearance of “grassroots” support) organizations. That seems to work. Being one of the regular old-fashioned “We, the People” doesn’t seem to buy much influence on our government and its leaders any more.
So how about holding a summit with the unemployed, and taking their suggestions? This might “ease strained relations” between the unemployed and the country’s leaders and their policies.
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Incredibly Obvious Things In Front Of Our Faces

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.
Conservative economic policies just don’t work and it’s incredibly obvious right in front of our faces. Knowing that obvious things are right in front of our faces and knowing that conservatives really, really don’t want us to see those things, it’s instructive (and sometimes entertaining except for the tragic consequences) to watch how conservatives try to distract us.
For example, look at this chart:
July Jobs Report
The stimulus worked but was not enough. It is obvious. It is right in front of our faces.
So what do they do to distract us? LOOK OVER THERE!!! A MOSQUE!!! BURN A KORAN!!!
Next up, tax cuts. President Clinton raised taxes on the rich and conservatives claimed it would destroy the economy. But after the tax increases the economy was great, millions of jobs were created and the huge Reagan/Bush I budget deficits (caused by tax cuts and military spending increases) turned into surpluses. Here are some charts that show deficits and jobs following Clinton’s tax increases. First compare job growth after Clinton’s tax increases and Bush’s tax cuts:
It’s obvious. Right in front of our faces. Tax increases did not slow the economy or cost jobs, and tax cuts did not create jobs. This next chart shows how the budget went from deficit to surplus after Clinton’s tax increases and then, after ‘W’s tax cuts, to massive, huge, incredible deficits:
It’s obvious, right in front of our faces. So how do they distract from that? Well, they just lie!
Conservatives explain the huge 2009 $1.4 trillion Bush budget deficit by just saying it’s Obama’s. Have you heard that “Obama tripled the deficit”? Look at “Obama’s Deficit in Pictures” from Heritage Foundation, claiming Obama has “quadrupled the deficit with his stimulus package”.
The problem is that these distractions and deceptions can lead the public to support really bad policies. If conservatives — after nearly destroying the world’s economy the last time they had power — are able to convince people that we should cut taxes again, or stop efforts to restore demand to the economy, then they could make things get even worse than they did last time.
Don’t be distracted. Keep seeing the obvious.

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Week Of Action On Jobs

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.
On the one side there are millions of people needing jobs and millions more “underemployed,” the economy is still mired in a very, very slow recovery that is a recovery only in the technical sense, an increasing wave of foreclosures that has reached into the “prime” loans and 1 out of every 7 mortgages has at least missed a payment and has at worst stopped paying.

Foreclosures continue to rise.

Businesses are not hiring. People need jobs that only government programs can provide. The reason only government can is because of the spending gap created by the economic crisis.
The Spending Gap
This chart from Brad DeLong explains why and by how much government needs to make up the difference:

Deficit Hawks Following The Plan
On the other side are the “deficit hawks,” driven by anti-government ideology, following The Plan of the Reagan Revolution:

  • 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.

Now, true to the plan, Bush leaves behind a $1.4 trillion deficit and the corporate/conservative opinion-shapers are saturating us with warnings that the government is going to go bankrupt if we don’t cut back. Typical of the debate, Jobs Bill Funded by Higher Buyout Tax Faces Friction on Deficit

A jobs bill containing a proposal to more than double taxes on managers of buyout firms is running into resistance from House and Senate lawmakers worried that the legislation will widen the U.S. budget deficit.

Facing A Lost Decade
Paul Krugman warns that we face a “Lost Decade” if we listen to the deficit cutters now,

But the truth is that policy makers aren’t doing too much; they’re doing too little. Recent data don’t suggest that America is heading for a Greece-style collapse of investor confidence. Instead, they suggest that we may be heading for a Japan-style lost decade, trapped in a prolonged era of high unemployment and slow growth.

Don’t Fall For It
President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?
The corporate conservatives know darn well that government job-creating programs will help and that is why they are trying to block them. See what one of the top anti-government, anti-spending conservatives has to say in Gingrich: Obama a One-Term President Because Team Can’t Create Jobs. From the video: “No ability to craft positive programs that work. … You don’t have anything like an appropriate level of focus on job creation in this administration.”

The only way to realistically cut the deficit is to invest in our economic future.
This means maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, increasing educational opportunities for our people, investing in the new Green Manufacturing Revolution and government programs to create jobs now. Common-sense changes in taxes can help pay for jobs programs. For example, what about getting rid of the amazing tax break for hedge fund managers? At the same time it makes sense to bring taxes on the wealthy and corporations back to pre-Reagan/pre-borrowing levels to fight the deficits (that the tax cuts created in the first place) and decrease the concentration of wealth that is killing our democracy.
The Jobs For America NOW coalition is organizing a Week Of Action next week, around the country. Please see Week Of Action Events. Also, see the resources on the Jobs for America now site including the click to call feature at Finish the Job on State Aid, Unemployment insurance and COBRA Health Subsidies NOW
More JOBS resources:
Citizens for Tax Justice has a report on The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.
The American Federation of Teachers is organizing a “Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” campaign. “Schools throughout America are facing devastating cuts. Our children’s future hangs in the balance.”

Our government didn’t walk away from Wall Street. We should demand no less from them when it comes to saving our children’s future. We must voice our support for federal legislation that will provide $23 billion to help school districts avoid layoffs and cuts in vital services for children. Help us preserve the education lifeline our students deserve.

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.

It’s The JOBS, Stupid! Why DC Elites Don’t See This

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, and the “Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy.” I am a Fellow with CAF.
People care about jobs. They still care about jobs. And politicians who don’t care about jobs will lose their jobs, because that is what motivates voters.
Polling at proves that people are much more concerned about jobs than deficits. (Note there are some polls that show equal concern, no polls that show deficit with a higher concern)
* FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. May 4-5 Economy and jobs 47% Deficit, spending %15
* BS News/New York Times Poll. April 5-12 Economy/Jobs 49% Budget deficit/National debt 5%
* CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. March 19-21 The economy 43% The federal budget deficit 8%
Lesson: Spending and deficits matter, but jobs matter more. When Dick Cheney said, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter” he meant that voters didn’t vote against politicians like Reagan and Bush for running up huge deficits. Bush’s tax cuts and military spending increases left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit, but that isn’t the reason people voted for Obama. The biggest reason was that we were losing millions of jobs.
Why don’t DC elites see this?
It is obvious that people vote on jobs, not deficits. But for some odd reason the DC politicians don’t seem to grasp that. I think I know part of the reason why they don’t. If you are in DC the “information environment” is making it look as though the public is clamoring about deficits and don’t care that much about jobs.
DC is a manufactured information environment
People in DC see things differently because there is a manufactured environment there. The one time when lobbyists do care about manufacturing is when they are manufacturing the appearance of public support for their issue.
If you are trying to influence national policy you influence DC. You spend a lot of money to make the DC opinion leaders think that your issue is urgent and the public is demanding action. You create “astroturf” which is a name for a lobbyist-manufactured appearance of grassroots support. You get your stories into the morning Politico, which every DC staffer reads on the train into the capital, but no one outside of DC cares about. You get the cable news show producers to book your talking heads. You wine and dine (and get lucrative speaking engagements for) the DC punditocracy so they’ll talk urgently about your issue. You put ads on the DC radio stations.
After a while everyone in the DC area thinks your issue is the only thing voters are concerned about, while outside of DC everyone wonders why DC people are talking about something so idiotic and unimportant to regular people.
Deficits: a manufactured drumbeat
There is a well-funded effort to stampede Congress into thinking there is an urgent voter concern about deficits. One source of the manufactured concern is a Wall Street billionaire named Peter G. Peterson, who has for years been trying to get the Congress to cut the Social Security benefits that people paid for all of their working lives. Recently, for example, he made a deal with the Washington Post to print stories for the DC elite to read, about how the deficit needs to be cut and that “entitlements” like Social Security are the problem that needs fixing. There are numerous other examples of the deficit drumbeat manufacturing process..
Tea Party vs real grassroots concerns
Example: The other day there were mass rallies all around the country, by people who want the government to act on immigration. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out in cities from LA to New York. But if you are in DC, this barely registered. In DC it is “Tea Party, Tea Party, Tea Party.” A few hundred people turn out (also here, here, here,here) for Tea Party rallies, and “the Tea Parties” are just about the only thing in the news, and the discussion topic on the cable news shows for weeks. (And never mind the Coffee Party, with more members and more events than the Tea Party.)
Politicians should remember the bailouts
These were just a few examples of how it works. And, for sure, it works. The process is so well-tuned that DC politicians can be stampeded easier and faster than Wal-Mart shoppers promised $100 flat-screen TVs on Black Friday.
Remember the Wall Street bailouts, with the Bush administration demanding they be passed in just 48 hours, or the entire world would end? (Remember “non-reviewable by any court or any agency?”)
So how is it working out for politicians who were stampeded into voting for bailouts for Wall Street instead of jobs for Main Street?
Lesson: It’s the jobs, stupid. JOBS FOR MAIN STREET!
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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.