Showing posts with label bill clinton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bill clinton. 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

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)

Nov 8, 2008

Rightwingers Set to Mock Themselves

A valuable bequest from the Clinton administration is the revealing to a wide political audience of the American rightwing as hateful whack jobs.

Decent, hard-working people no doubt, but whack jobs nonetheless who pursued the Clintons relentlessly and shamelessly, casting every aspersion imaginable upon a cautious administration.

As a result of the Clintons' devastating rebuttal of the rightwing attacks [at the height of the impeachment, Bill Clinton's approval numbers rose to 69 percent], George W. Bush was forced to run as an anti-rightwing, centrist Republican, proclaiming non-divisive moderation in the 2000 election.

Progressive groups like Move On flowered as the attacks on Clinton became utterly untenable and the American people soured on the politics of the right.

Yet, there is every indication to believe that the rightwing is ready to launch another war on Obama led by many of the same characters.

Arguably, the war has already been declared in light of the vicious attacks that Obama has already repelled, and faces in the more doctrinaire Republican Party remaining in Congress.

But the vast majority of the American people have seen enough of negativity and hate as the results of the last two national elections clearly show.

During the 2008 presidential debates even an intellectual disagreement with McCain voiced and generalized by Obama as reflecting badly on McCain would result in focus groups effectively booing the statement because it came across as bordering on the mean-spirited side of the spectrum.


'Tell what you're for; not what the other guy is,' is the effective sentiment.

The GOP Southern Strategy is on its death bed though no complete victory is ever achieved. As the Clarance Darrow-inspired character in Inherit the Wind reminds us, "...fanaticism and ignorance (are) forever busy, and (need) feeding."

The attacks will still come, the vote suppression will continue [right here in Wisconsin as J.B. Van Hollen fights to cover his political behind in his losing quest], but in today's political culture here's a bet that those rightwingers still launching their hate-tipped cultural missiles will be perceived by the American people as merely making fun of themselves.

And that goes double for Milwaukee police detective Michael Sandvick; you blow-hard whack!

Mar 21, 2008

Photo of Clinton Meeting Rev. Wright


As Clinton continues her under-the-radar campaign asserting Obama is unelectable because of his pastor, it has come out that Bill Clinton met with and was photographed with Rev. Wright.

From Ben Smith:

Responding to the Times's report that Obama campaign had "provided" them a photo of Bill Clinton and Jeremiah Wright (which had surfaced a bit earlier here and elsewhere) , Clinton spokesman Jay Carson emails:

"The Obama campaign put this photo out? How pathetic," he said. "Less than 48 hours after calling for a high-minded conversation on race, the Obama campaign is peddling photos of an occasion when President Clinton shook hands with Rev. Wright. To be clear, President Clinton took tens of thousands of photos during his 8 years as president."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton responds:

"After their top surrogates pushed this story line and Senator Clinton's campaign outlined this as a central strategy in her plan to overturn the will of Democratic voters, I can see why they wouldn't want a photo out there that shows the kind of hypocrisy we've all come to expect from their campaign."

Jan 26, 2008

Obama Win in South Carolina May Be Critical


In a rousing, pitch-perfect victory speech tonight, Barack Obama appeared every bit the transformative, promising new candidate for president that has been the message of his campaign since its inception.

Contrasting with an increasingly negative tone from the Clinton campaign, Obama said of his opponents that they are “fierce competitors who are worthy of our respect and admiration …”

Obama's overwhelming win in South Carolina may prove pivotal, not because of the voters' apparent rejection of weeks of snide comments from the Clinton campaign in an apparent effort to brand Obama as an unreliable and untested stranger in America, or even the embrace of Obama's message, but because of Bill Clinton's shocking dismissal of the significance of South Carolina's black vote propelling Obama to victory.

Said Clinton of Obama's win in response to a question that Obama faces two Clintons as Democratic primary opponents: “That’s just bait, too. Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88. And he ran a good campaign. Senator Obama's run a good campaign here, he’s run a good campaign everywhere.”

The significance of Clinton's remark is that Clinton diminished Obama's win by pointing out that another black man, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, won South Carolina twice, suggestive that it's no big deal another black man would win there.

This explicit attitude of failing to acknowledge Obama's character and positive qualities will feed into an existing political matrix of the Clinton campaign as ungracious and disrespectful, a dynamic that has already seen Hillary Clinton's lead over Obama among blacks evaporate.

In other developments, Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama today in a New York Times op-ed entitled, "A President Like My Father".
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