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WhaTHellsgoingonhere's Journal
WhaTHellsgoingonhere's Journal
March 11, 2013

I'm gonna go with "somewhat true"

It does serve a valuable purpose, that of allocating funds between borrowers and lenders, but it's been corrupted to the point that it's a casino for the uber-rich and hedge managers.

We need to Glass-Steagall the stock market to separate the two.

March 8, 2013

Will Bernie Sanders filibuster Barack Obama?

I don't know, but at this rate, we may find out

President Obama stepped up efforts this week to cut Social Security benefits and lower payments for disabled veterans and their survivors. Obama doesn’t say so directly. Instead, the White House talks in lofty terms about a “grand bargain” with Republicans in Congress. They use inside-the-Beltway jargon to talk about something they call a chained CPI. In plain English, it would change how inflation is measured in a way purposely calculated to cut annual cost-of-living adjustments for retirees and veterans. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday called it “a bad bargain” and a “horrendous” idea. In television interviews, he explained how the president’s proposal would really work and how it would hurt retirees, widows, orphans, disabled veterans and their survivors.

Sanders has a better idea how to make Social Security strong for decades to come. He would apply the Social Security payroll tax to income over $250,000 so millionaires and billionaires pay the same payroll tax rate on all their income as almost every other worker in America. He got the idea, coincidentally, from Barack Obama. In 2008, Obama advocated the same thing during his first campaign for the White House. Sanders on Thursday introduced Obama’s good idea as a bill (S.500) in the Senate. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced a companion bill in the House.


March 4, 2013


March 4, 2013

So... who won?

Did the Republicans get p'wnd in a game of 3-dimensional chess with President Obama? Or were the Republicans able to double speak their way to yet another victory?

A really great discussion from earlier today.

Transcripts from UP With Chris Hayes

CH: Republicans seem to be failing politically but seem to be succeeding in achieving their actual ideological goals and setting the terms of the debate in washington.

The lone few voices of sanity have been the members of the progressive congressional caucus, who call for cancelling the sequester focusing on job creation, instead. They, however, remain marginalized thanks to the GOP's success in getting everyone to focus on the deficit. Many Republicans are calling that a victory. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS): "This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington."

I think what's fascinating about this is the way the sequester is being spun. At the beginning, Republicans said the sequester is a bad thing and it's obama's fault hence the failed Obamaquester. But by the end of it, they said 'It's actually a good thing. This is what we wanted.' You saw a lot of honesty, I felt, from members of the tea party caucus. There's a whole bunch of quotes this week that said, 'Look, this is what we wanted.' Paul ryan, of course, said this back in 2011.

Do you, Mattie (Duppler, Director of Budget & Regulatory Policy for Grover Norquist) view this as a success for fellow travelers in the austerity camp?

MD: Absolutely. I think you are right in terms of republicans winning this debate.

Jared Bernstein (Chief Economist and Economic Adviser VP Joe Bidden): There's another person who's been talking sanely about this in terms of the jobs deficit, which I believe is the most immediate deficit we face, and that's Ben Bernanke. And so, it is a very bad outcome, one that both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to, that we're stuck in hair-on-fire deficit obsession, which I believe is a medium or long-term constraint, not an immediate one.

David Sirota (liberal commentator, author, and radio host): It's important what you said about democrats. Bill clinton is the guy who touted surpluses. Talking about surpluses and deficits as opposed to jobs and the economy is, essentially, the box our politics are now in. Dick cheney was the guy who said deficits don't matter.

MD: To that point, deficits don't matter. If you are a conservative, you are looking at the size of government, you don't necessarily care about how much the government is not taking in in taxes, you care about how much they are overspending.

CH: Thank you for saying that. Thank you for being honest. It's true. Conservatives don't care about the deficit.

MD: "Deficits" is a rhetorical device, it's not actually the product we are focusing on.

CD: That is 1000% true!

JD: I know they thought that, I didn't think they said that! But don't you use the deficit as a cudgle to reduce the size of government? Isn't that the idea?

MD: But it's not a cudgle; 'deficit' relates to people, it's a narrative that people understand.

CH: I don't think the deficit does relate to people, A, and B, I totally agree with (MD). The only way to make sense of the Republican position is to ignore when they say they care about the deficit, because they don't care about the deficit. The people who are committed to reducing the size of government...

JD: They don't care about reducing the size of government, either! George Bush was not someone who cared about the size of government.

MD: That's correct, but is he the token Republican?

CH: He's not a token, he lead the party for 8 years! You don't get to call him a token!

CH: Here's what I think is so fascinating about the sequester. My pet theory is...I used to be really convinced that the Republican party wanted to go after social security and medicare, but based on their behavior in the last year, I'm increasingly convinced they don't want to make cuts to social security and medicare. They certainly don't want to make cuts to current beneficiaries, and the reason is, that's their base, A. B. Poll Republicans about cuts to medicare and social security...

JD: Tea Party!

CH: Tea Party! People self-identified Tea Party. Wildly unpopular. And if they really wanted cuts to social security and medicare, if that's what they were really focused on, they could have had them by now, because it has been extended to them time, and time, and time again. I want to show the President complaining about the fact that he has tried to give them this and they won't take 'Yes' for an answer.

President Obama: I've put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of a long-term deficit problem. I've offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach.

CH: And he's gotten nowhere.


CH: ...Republicans came to stop worrying and loving the defense cuts.

MD: Exactly. And you're talking about Republicans winning--as a small government, libertarian-type--this is a great win. This is extraordinarily promising for someone like me, who sees Republicans as being consistent on this message...

JD: Don't get too excited because I don't see a ton of defense cuts coming.

CH: From the perspective of the fact that we still have 8% unemployment: what's so perverse about the way the budget politics have played out is there is a broad consensus that we need a short-term counter cyclical fiscal policy--which is run deficits in the short-term for jobs--but that our deficit problems are genuinely mid-to long-term. What happened is the absolute reverse. Nothing has happened in any of these deals to do anything about the mid-to long-term -- (the affordable care act will do a lot to that) -- it's all been about short-term contraction. So what we've gotten is austerity in the midst of a jobs crisis. It's a perverse out come.

Stephanie Kelton (Modern Money Theory economist at UMKC): Because, by and large, the republicans have convinced everybody that we have this long-term deficit problem, they are able to sell this austerity in the short-term because--'My God, if it's coming, we might as well act now!' And that's how you get people to support the awful economic policies that just make the conditions worse.


DS: If Barack Obama wanted a grand bargain, and I think he does, then perhaps he's a poor negotiator. In other words, if we're in a Washington where a republican doesn't want to look like they're making a deal with barack obama, then if barack obama ultimately wants a grand bargain in this middle, then he would take a position that is far to the progressive left with the bully pulpit so that republicans could politically show they forced him to a middle. And that's not what he has done.

CH: That's interesting.


WTH (me): That IS indeed interesting!

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