Showing posts with label Joe Conason. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Conason. Show all posts

Nov 8, 2012

Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in Grand Bargain

FDR signs the Social Security Act in 1935
Time to get back to work, Mr. President. The forces of feudalism are forever busy.

Outside of the idiot caucus, and it pundits, no one wants the most successful social insurance programs in U.S. history diminished.

And no one, rational, wants the working class targeted in the coming the Grand Bargain.

Facing the elimination of public debt in 2001, the GOP under Bush-Cheney drove up the debt in the hopes that later structural deficits would force massive cuts to social insurance, education, stimulus spending and research.

Now is the time of reckoning of the lost decade.

Let's not reward what Bush-Cheney did.

In 2001, Fed Chair Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the potential dangers of having zero federal debt, a fiscal legacy that Bush, Cheney and his rightwing ideologues were desperate to avoid.


And avoid and reverse this no-debt legacy they did.

Greenspan’s was an ambiguous and wide-ranging testimony—recounted by former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil in The Price of Loyalty—that included Greenspan’s “fear that large surpluses would create a drag on the economy,” among other expressed cautions and concerns about the then-proposed Bush tax cuts (O’Neil p. 63) for the super-rich, now set to expire.

But the damage was done and Greenspan gave political cover (then and in later statements) to the reckless Bush tax cuts.

Said Greenspan in his subsequent testimony before the House Committee on the Budget (March 2, 2001):

At zero debt, the continuing unified budget surpluses now projected under current law imply a major accumulation of private assets by the federal government. Such an accumulation would make the federal government a significant factor in our nation’s capital markets and would risk significant distortion in the allocation of capital to its most productive uses.
A significant distortion to productive uses of capital? You mean like AIG, Citibank and Goldman Sachs?

Greenspan has since more or less apologized for his role in the train-wreck of the Bush-Cheney years that the GOP wants brought back, in part because the GOP friends in the Tea Party cannot stand the site of a black president reelected by other 'mud people.'

If President Obama takes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the table, the American people will be behind him, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson be damned.

- A version of this piece has previously appeared

Nov 20, 2009

Fear-mongering as patriotism

From Joe Conason:

The loudest voices on the right never tire of telling us that they are the truest patriots. They claim to be the deepest believers in our system, the strongest defenders of our Constitution, the most upbeat, bold and courageous Americans anywhere. But now that the government is finally prepared to put the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks on trial, these same patriots are the first to spread doubt, instigate anxiety and abandon constitutional principles. When did fearmongering in time of war become an act of patriotism?

Without fear, the GOP would not exist. Their back-up is hate.

Mar 27, 2009

Hey Wisconsin, Remember the Fear of Zero National Debt

As Gov. Doyle grapples with the giant budget deficits, it's worth recalling a time when zero national debt was feared and states argued about how much fiscal revenue they should shave off their budgets.

In 2001 Fed Chair Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the potential dangers of having no federal debt [we're at $11 trillion now], a fiscal legacy of the Clinton administration that Bush, Cheney and his rightwing ideologues were desperate to avoid.

It was an ambiguous and wide-ranging testimony, recounted by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil in The Price of Loyalty, that included Greenspan's "fear that large surpluses would create a drag on the economy," among other expressed cautions and concerns about the then-proposed Bush tax cuts (O'Neil p. 63).

But the damage was done and Greenspan gave political cover (then and in later statements) to the reckless Bush tax cuts for the super-rich.

Said Greenspan in his subsequent testimony before the House Committee on the Budget (March 2, 2001):
At zero debt, the continuing unified budget surpluses now projected under current law imply a major accumulation of private assets by the federal government. Such an accumulation would make the federal government a significant factor in our nation's capital markets and would risk significant distortion in the allocation of capital to its most productive uses.
A significant distortion?

The GOP commitment to make a fiscal mess of things is long-standing, notes Joe Conason in Salon today, and "and Republicans who are complaining about Barack Obama's spending are hypocrites," and avoid even addressing the arguments for stimulus spending (see Krugman, Dec. 1, 2008). Writes Conason

In our time, the Republican Party has compiled an impressive history of talking about fiscal responsibility while running up unrivaled deficits and debt. Of the roughly $11 trillion in federal debt accumulated to date, more than 90 percent can be attributed to the tenure of three presidents: Ronald Reagan, who used to complain constantly about runaway spending; George Herbert Walker Bush, reputed to be one of those old-fashioned green-eyeshade Republicans; and his spendthrift son George "Dubya" Bush, whose trillion-dollar war and irresponsible tax cuts accounted for nearly half the entire burden. Only Bill Clinton temporarily reversed the trend with surpluses and started to pay down the debt (by raising rates on the wealthiest taxpayers).
As is clear among honest observers, among the pathological programs pursued by the Bush administration was its enterprise to turn the national debt from prospects that were made in 2001 of the debt being completely paid off in 10 years to upping the debt to $10 trillion when it left office.

The wish list that the rightwingers, like Grover Norquist, desired from the future administrations dealing with the massive debt: Eliminating those awful programs like Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare which they hoped would become unsustainable because of the debt purposefully piled up by Bush and Cheney.

Bush bequeathed more than that: Millions of jobs shipped overseas, $trillions of unregulated financial products that may yet cost the dollar its role as reserve currency, states' deficits like Wisconsin's and on and on.

Obama has been scrupulously careful not to put the blame on the GOP; it's the wrong message for the guy sent in to clean up the mess. But Conason, Krugman and others should continue to further an understanding of the political-economic commitments of the GOP.

- See also Krugman: Large fiscal expansion needed (Dec. 1, 2008)

Sep 21, 2007

Chris Matthews Led the Way in Condemning Taser Attack

Joe Conason at Salon heaps praise on Chris Matthews for his work in condemning the police attack against a U. Fla student asking questions of Sen. John Kerry.

[Update: Author Greg Palast Offers Job to Tasered Journalism Student.]
[Update II: Amnesty International, ACLU Condemn Use of Tasers at University of Florida. Those John Kerry haters; they must have some sort of an anti-Kerry agenda!]

And Matthews deserves the praise. He was far and away the most incisive television commentator explaining that democracy must suffer, for the better, an occasional long-winded questioner.

Writes Conason:

Appalled by the Tasering of student Andrew Meyer during an appearance by Sen. John Kerry at the University of Florida, Matthews said on "Hardball" that he regards that incident as "an iconic moment" in the degradation of free speech during the Bush years.

As a guest on that segment, along with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, who is regularly arrested for protesting at public events, I had to agree.
Good for Conason.

But he lets off John Kerry who ineffectually droned on and allowed this police attack to go unchallenged as it transpires before his eyes, and then had his office spend the next two days swiftboating the college student, Andrew Meyer, who we are to believe had it coming, or, gasp, had an "agenda."

Much of the liberal blogosphere (OpEdNews.con, Talking Points Memo)went along with Kerry's damage control efforts, though journals like Salon, Huffington Post and other sites blasted away.

Most disappointing was the commentary of the Kerryites at Daily Kos.

In sum, the juvenile diary commentators defended the tasering and Kerry's do-nothing approach to the incident by noting that Meyer had an "agenda," a "reputation," his questions and statement constituted a "disturbance," and asking questions of Kerry was just a "stunt."

The questions Meyer asked of Kerry pertained to contesting the 2004 presidential election, a book, Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast, black voter disenfranchisement in 2004, the relationship between Kerry and Bush as members of the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale, the Iraq/Iran war, and the proposed impeachment of Bush.

Chris Rowthorn at Smirking Chimp leaves us with this question:

As Naomi Wolf has rightfully pointed out, the tasering of Andrew Meyer will be remembered as a watershed moment in American history. That much is certain. The only thing that remains to be seen is how we, as Americans, react to it. Will we sit passively by while our Constitution and our Democracy are murdered right before our eyes? Will we demand that our supposed political leaders take meaningful and principled action? Will we allow our press to make excuses for the fascist takeover of our country?

The choice is clear: either we fight fascism right now with all our power, or we will be the next ones on the ground with a policeman's knee on our throats and 50,000 volts of electricity coursing through our bodies.


For those who have not seen it: Watch this video.
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