A collection of link highlights today and somewhat a continuation of yesterday’s post.
I appreciate David Leonhardt’s optimism and the substance of his suggestion even if some are bitter pills. The problem, as usual, is thinking Senate Republicans are actually interested in helping the average American worker, 5 Ways Congress Can Bolster Growth
These steps — like preventing layoffs of teachers, police officers and other government workers — are especially important now that the recovery has lost some steam. But we’re going to imagine a world in which the Senate is incapable of distinguishing between the long-run budget deficit (a big problem) and the near-term deficit (quite manageable, according to financial markets). So even modest, short-term spending bills can’t pass.
In that unpleasant world, could Congress still do anything to help the economy?
Yes, it could.
It could clear up some of the uncertainty about future government policy and, in the process, persuade companies to spend some of the $1.8 trillion in cash they have hoarded. Congress could agree to help struggling states if, and only if, they took steps to reduce their own long-term deficits. And Congress could push two opaque bureaucracies on opposite sides of the world — the Federal Reserve and the Chinese Communist Party — to do more for global growth.
Leonhardt pushes a Republican Governor’s trade-off with teacher unions to keep costs down, paying more for their health-care benefits to prevent layoffs. The magic here is supposed to be that it is a Republican idea. Much of the humble health-care reform passed by Democrats was modeled on a plan that conservatives previously thought was great. Now promising to repeal the self-same conservative health-care reform is how tea nuts show their bona-fides. Trade deals with China and North Korea that increase U.S. exports is doable. Obama is working on a trade deal with North Korea, but expect a lag time of at least a year before Main St gets any real benefit. Though breaking news of such an agreement would likely run up some good numbers on Wall St trading. Pass an energy bill so business can know what to expect and plan ahead. Tax credits for clean energy supposedly has the support of conservatives Hatch and Lugar, but if newer, easier to obtain credits were offered would those two dweebs have the guts to buck the Senate conservative’s determination to keep the economy in the doldrums for the sake of making Republicans seem like a viable alternative in the mid-term elections. All David’s ideas are worth pursuing even if only to pull back the curtain on Republican motivations. If Republicans are determined to sabotage any efforts to help average Americans, Democrats can use that as political jujitsu.
In a post last year as the polls once again focused on backlash against incumbents I mentioned that every Democrat should worry less about the polls and more on running their particular races in their states and districts. Disregard the rabid Right. Their vote is a vote to bring back Bushnomics and nothing a moderate Democrat can say is going to get that vote even if we were all driving Lincolns and eating high off the hog. Only one example, but worth Democratic candidates taking a look. The Tom Frank Candidate
Sowers is running the kind of campaign that Thomas Frank famously urged in his book “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” It’s a genuine populist campaign, combining right-wing social affinity with left-wing anti-corporate economics. I’ve always wondered why more rural Democrats don’t give this a try — whatever the merits of trade deals, they’re hardly popular, especially not in downscale areas. And running against the bailout is kind of an obvious call for any candidate who wasn’t in office in 2008.
Johnathan Chait’s use of the term “trade deal” is inartful (see above). American are certainly not against competing in the world marketplace, but they are against the kind of off-shoring of jobs that have been a major hallmark of conservative economics since Reagan. Sowers also happens to be a Iraq vet which in red to purple district helps a lot.
In his new book, economist Dean Baker debunks the myth that conservatives favor the market over government intervention. In fact, conservatives rely on a range of “nanny state” policies that ensure the rich get richer while leaving most Americans worse off. It’s time for the rules to change. Sound economic policy should harness the market in ways that produce desirable social outcomes – decent wages, good jobs and affordable health care.
A timely example of what Baker is talking about – WaPo Whopper on Trumka, Social Security and Taxes
Here’s a great way to save some Social Security money. Let more folks die before they can get a check. Cold? Maybe. But pretty darn effective according to Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.
Marcus seems to have taken offense at AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s objection to raising the retirement age and his call for the better-off among us to pay the Social Security tax on all their income, just like the rest of us do.
[ ]…Currently all workers pay the Social Security payroll tax on the first $106,000 of their earnings. Earnings above $106,000 are exempt from the Social Security payroll tax. A nice tax cut for those on the top side of $106,000. But that 6.2 percent tax takes a good chunk out of the salary of most workers.
Trumka, and many economists, say that raising or eliminating that cap not only would be more fair, but would also be a hefty boon for the Social Security Trust Fund that deficit hysterics are making such a big fuss over. Marcus however, calls it Trumka’s “one-sided, tax-the-rich reflex” solution to all economic problems. Let Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) explain:
Marcus also implies that Trumka believes that the country’s fiscal problems can be solved exclusively by taxing the rich. This is not true. Trumka and the AFL-CIO have consistently been strong proponents of measures that would make the U.S. health care system more efficient, such as a public health insurance option and negotiated prices for prescription drugs.
If per person health care costs in the United States were the same as in any other wealthy country, the United States would be looking at huge long-term budget surpluses rather than deficits.
It is important also to note that measures that reduce the trend toward growing inequality, such as improved corporate governance that reins in CEO pay or a trade policy that is not designed to increase inequality, would also have beneficial budgetary impact. As more income goes to those at the middle and bottom, there would be less need for various government transfer programs. It would be useful if Post columnists would try to directly address the agenda of the unions, rather than caricature it in order to discredit it.
The wealthy do not, as conservatives believe, get wealthy in a vacuum. They need workers with some education, they need infrastructure like roads, utilities like water and power, they need fire and police protection and of course they need average folks to do their labor and buy their products. The wealthy, have greatly benefited from this arrangement. Enough to insist they pay their fair share to continue the life style to which they have grown accustomed.
Miller is furious that Barbour has continued to play down the disaster at every turn, saying just about “anything” to quell people fears and take the heat off BP.
“Barbour tells us, ‘this oil isn’t anything to worry about, it’s like the sheen coming off the back of a ski boat, you know, you wouldn’t want to wash your face in it, but you don’t mind skiing through it.’”
Where do Republicans get their analogies, the Dummy’s Guide to Inane Comparisons.
Octavia Nasr’s firing and what the Liberal Media allows. I’m not a big fan of Tweeter and the character limitations is one reason. A thought strikes a user, than without thinking a tweet is sent out into the world without the complete context inside the user’s head. Context which the user probably thinks is implied. That said, once again an example of what conservatives media figures and spokespersons get away with day in and day out and their ability to mount an ideological purge against anyone that deviates from the Right’s political correctness.
J. Christian Adams’ accusations that President Obama’s Justice Department engaged in racially charged “corruption” in the New Black Panther Party case do not stand up to the evidence. Adams is a right-wing activist tied to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department who has admitted he lacks first-hand knowledge of the events he is discussing, and his claims fall apart given the fact that the Obama DOJ obtained judgment against one defendant, while the Bush DOJ declined to pursue similar allegations in 2006.
This story – or manufactured scandal by Fox and the Right – might get some coverage in the print media, but the broadcast media is unlikely to step in and correct Fox. Why? Because Fox is part of the fraternal order of broadcaster colleagues and the media does not fact check and correct their colleagues. Bros over facts. More here – Why Hasn’t Megyn Kelly Done Any Investigation Into Allegations Of Racism And Voter Fraud Enabling At DOJ?