Does The U.S. Really Have A Fiscal Crisis?

Does The U.S. Really Have A Fiscal Crisis?:

“But the problem here is bipartisan – as it was with the tax cut last year.  None of the leadership on either side is willing to talk openly about how our biggest banks caused great fiscal damage.  No one is willing to explain why our healthcare costs continue to rise.  And no top politicians currently champion real tax reform.

The Republicans have seized a moment.  To them, this is not really about fiscal responsibility; this is about an opportunity to shrink the size of government.

But the Democrats have played perfectly into their hands.  The heart of their mistake was the president’s refusal to explain clearly how the financial system produced a recession that has pushed up our national debt. “

(Via The Baseline Scenario.)

Axis of Depression

Axis of Depression – NYTimes.com:

“So what’s really motivating the G.O.P. attack on the Fed? Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues were clearly caught by surprise, but the budget expert Stan Collender predicted it all. Back in August, he warned Mr. Bernanke that ‘with Republican policy makers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory,’ they would be ‘opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better.’ In short, their real fear is not that Fed actions will be harmful, it is that they might succeed.

Hence the axis of depression. No doubt some of Mr. Bernanke’s critics are motivated by sincere intellectual conviction, but the core reason for the attack on the Fed is self-interest, pure and simple. China and Germany want America to stay uncompetitive; Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.”

(Via Grasping Reality with Both Hands.)

I long suspected this when I saw the GOP opposing its own policies when they came from a Democrat in the White House.  They know that opposition to Obama is more about high unemployment than support for the GOP.  It’s party before country which is all pretty disgusting until I realized that the real blame lies with us, the fools.  We are the ones who should laugh in Mike Pence’s face when he suggests that The Fed should focus only on stabilizing prices against the law that created it amidst the worst unemployment we’ve seen in decades.  To quote the Federal Reserve Act, the purpose of The Fed “to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.”   Nope.  Instead, all too many of us cheer and then blame the Obama Administration for high unemployment!

You get the government you deserve.  Always.

Three Steps Toward a Balanced Budget

Three Steps Toward a Balanced Budget:

“Our personal and national relationship to debt is indeed a moral issue. Leaving our children to pay the bills for excessive spending cannot be justified. But, if a budget really is a moral document, how we reduce the deficit is also a moral issue. Our budget should not be balanced on the backs of the poor. Cuts should not come from the services and programs that people rely on now more than ever. The reality is that we have a lot of wasteful spending in our federal budget, but most of it does not come from things that help the most vulnerable people in our society.”

(Via God’s Politics Blog.)

In short, he suggests cuts to:

  • Defense spending
  • Return to Clinton-era tax rates for the wealthy
  • Eliminate farm subsidies

We’d save billions upon billions and we’d have a more moral budget to boot.

Why Friends Dont Let Friends Vote Republican, Ever

Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Republican, Ever: “

Ezra Klein watches newly-elected Republican House member Andrew Harris (R-MD) demonstrate why he should immediately resign his post and let himself be replaced by somebody who is more intelligent:

GOP legislator frets over 28 days without insurance — but what about 30 million he’d leave uninsured?: It’s worth dwelling for a moment on the reaction of Rep. Andy Harris, an incoming legislator who staunchly opposes the new health-care law and ran promising its repeal, to news that he’d had to wait a month for his government-funded health-care benefits to kick in:

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health-care policy would take effect Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in. ‘He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,’ said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. … ‘Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,’ added the aide.

The point is… Harris’s fear at being uninsured… whatever else you think of the health-care law, it really does keep people from being uninsured…

 

(Via Grasping Reality with Both Hands.)

Why Our Tax Code?

Why Our Tax Code?:

“But if you are the rich people in a democratic society where most people believe in reduced inequality, what kind of tax code do you want? You want to start with an overall progressive structure (so the people won’t revolt), and then you want a boatload of exceptions to that structure that (a) favor the rich and (b) can be individually defended on plausible (and sometimes even reasonable) grounds. Which is what we’ve got.”

(Via The Baseline Scenario.)

Best summary of our tax code I’ve ever heard or read.  Democracy is chess, not checkers.  If you aren’t playing, you get played.  Simple as that.

Comparing Democratic and Republican tax plans

Comparing Democratic and Republican tax plans:

GR2010081106717.gifSOURCE: Joint Committee on Taxation

(Via The Washington Post.)

Reason #4080 to vote against the GOP: rational economic self-interest.

Amos on Economic Justice

“We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!’ The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!” What does that say about minimum wage?

USCCB | NAB – September 19, 2010:

Am 8:4-7

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! ‘When will the new moon be over,’ you ask, ‘that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!’ The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: ‘Never will I forget a thing they have done!'”

(Via United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

This was the First Reading at Mass this morning on the theme of the day: socio-economic justice.  I always read this Bible passage as a general attack on the exploitation of the poor and so it is.  But it’s worth examining exactly what’s going on here.  Diminishing the ephah and adding to the shekel is pretty straightforward: It’s evil to cheat the poor.  But buying the lowly for silver the the poor for a pair of sandals hit me because it speaks to the morality of living wages and paying people below them.

Continue reading “Amos on Economic Justice”

Efficiently Just?

“These are not idle academic ruminations. Suppose a restructuring of the economy has the effect of increasing the growth of average gross domestic product per capita, but that the benefits of that growth accrue disproportionately to a minority of citizens, while others are worse off as a result, as appears to have been the case in the United States in the last several decades. Can economists judge this to be a good thing?”

Is ‘More Efficient’ Always Better? – Economix Blog – NYTimes.com:

“These are not idle academic ruminations. Suppose a restructuring of the economy has the effect of increasing the growth of average gross domestic product per capita, but that the benefits of that growth accrue disproportionately to a minority of citizens, while others are worse off as a result, as appears to have been the case in the United States in the last several decades. Can economists judge this to be a good thing?”

(Via Economix Blog.)

And this is where politics comes in.  Free market zealots (so-called, but that’s an argument for another day) argue in terms of GDP growth, side stepping the issue that only the top 10% of wage earners saw any of the gains over the last few decades.

Morally Impoverished Economics?

One must wonder whether physicians, nurses and other workers toiling day and night in health care — let alone the medics and helicopter pilots who risk their lives to help the wounded — see their work and its product quite as Mr. Limbaugh casts it.

One further wonders whether families with a cancer-stricken member are likely to view going without health care as the moral equivalent of going without a beach house.

via Is Health Care Special? – Economix Blog – NYTimes.com.

Great article.  There are moral dimensions to healthcare and it shows how economics can handle something as thorny as morality. But, as for Limbaugh, I can see why Jon Stewart calls him a douche.  Wow.