Archive for fiscal austerity

"Think what Ballmer's play money could do to help farmers and their children."

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it's all about the money 2

Let's talk money. Few people have enough. A very, very few are sitting on craploads of money, *coughKOCHS, ADELSONcough* but most of us aren't.

GOP Congress members block any Democratic bill that aims to rectify that. *coughMINIMUMWAGEcough* Without wage hikes, the "have-nots" can't spend money. Without that money going into the economy, our situation remains stagnant. And Americans continue to struggle.

But that's okay with Republicans. That way they can blame it all on the president and use his/the Dems' "failure" as a fundraising ploy to win elections while claiming they could do better. Never mind that they've come up with no plan of their own other than that proven catastrophe called austerity. *coughPAULRYANcough*

Billionaires and corporations continue to hoard their money, while the rest of us agonize over how to stay above water, feed and clothe our kids, and simply make it through another day.

And with that, here are a couple of Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Thank you for Friday's compelling story about agricultural workers in the Central Valley ("Dreams die in drought"). I was moved by the plight of these families struggling to get by, and chagrined at the number of children they bring into the world and the stress that this adds.

If someone ever wondered about the differences between the haves and the have-nots, one need only read this story and the adjacent one about the obscene price Ballmer might pay for the Clippers ("NBA record $2 billion offered for Clippers," May 29) .

The fat cats sit game-side doodling on their cellphones while field laborers eke out an existence, or don't. Just think what Ballmer's play money could do to help these farmers and their children.

I only hope the Mormon missionaries in the moving Column One learn from the example of Jesus to not only feed the poor but also to fight for justice for the least of those among us.

Philip Spradling

Pasadena

***

Economist Brad Schiller cautions that President Obama's proposal to boost the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. He doesn't mention the multiplier effect of a wage increase. ("A higher minimum wage -- at what cost?," Opinion, May 27)

The multiplier effect is the single most powerful factor in growing an economy. It is to macroeconomics what compounding is to investing.

Schiller mentions the 500,000 jobs that "might" be lost (according to the Congressional Budget Officer report), but he conveniently omits the fact that the CBO also states that the wages of 16.1 million workers would go up. The positive multiplier effect on the 16.1 million workers would more than make up for the negative multiplier effect of the 500,000 who "might" lose their jobs by creating new jobs due to added demand.

In 1992, James Carville famously coined the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid." It's time for an update: "It's the multiplier effect, stupid."

Eric Geisterfer

San Pedro

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European leaders begin to realize austerity is crippling nations. Gee, ya think?

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stimulus austerity

Drastic cuts, sequestration, firing public workers by the hundreds of thousands, slashing programs that keep people healthy and alive, closing schools, suppressing stimulus plans when we need them most, and ignoring the opportunity to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure are all wrongheaded policies that progressives have been trying our best to reverse.

Europe is rethinking their own approach to cutting and starving their way out of their economic problems and ending up on "a dead-end street." It's about time.

The Los Angeles Times has an article on that very thing:

Prodded by Germany and its insistence on fiscal virtue, governments elsewhere have fired workers, chopped welfare benefits and shelved big-ticket projects, turning the continent into what some call one giant "Austerity-land."...The punishing spending cuts have stifled consumer demand and economic growth, not spurred it. [...]

Public patience with continued belt-tightening is wearing thin as misery increases and as officials repeatedly push their predictions of economic recovery further into the future. [...]

The pressure may finally be starting to tell. Recently there have been signs that the region's leaders, most notably in Berlin and at European Union headquarters in Brussels, are rethinking their dogmatic pursuit of spending cutbacks and balanced budgets. [...]

Advocates of a more nuanced policy note that U.S. economic performance has easily outpaced Europe's and that Japan is witnessing a comeback. [...]

[S]o many countries cutting so much so fast, they contend, has turned out to be an act of collective kneecapping that has crippled the entire region. [...]

More pro-growth policies — investment in big infrastructure projects, for example — could jump-start faltering economies and help countries make the revenue they need to pay down their debts, analysts say...

That, however, would require a farsightedness and cooperative policymaking that critics say has been sorely lacking.

Take note, Republicans. Or is that asking too much? As I wrote in a 2011 post, GOP jackasses, foresight is not exactly their strong suit.

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"Like NRA who scares the Bejesus out of elected officials when we talk gun control, rich do same with loop holes"

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gutting

Another guest post is by our pal and regular TPC contributor, David Garber:

 WHO'S GUTTING WHO?

Here's the headline currently on Huffington post: "Obama: 'We're Probably Not Gonna Get A Deal' If GOP Insists On 'Gutting' Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid"

Okay, on the surface, that sounded reasonable until I focused on the word, Obama's word, 'Gutting'. Wait a minute -- that should be touching, not gutting. Stop way before gutting. The holy trinity cannot be touched. Period.

Why are we even discussing this? Has Obama lost sight of his victory from last November? Here we are, just beginning his second term, and he's out trying to strike a grand bargain. Why? Is America clamoring for one? Maybe, but not the one Obama or the Republicans are talking about.

What we the people are looking for is a deal on immigration reform and gun control. And jobs.

But do you know what we need even more? An overhaul to the tax system. We want a fair and efficient system -- with more revenue for the Dems and less government for the Repubs. And you want to know how easy that is to accomplish? Very.

Don't let the liars in Washington fool you. Or the shortsighted news readers on the TV and radio. Overhaul is as simple as a stroke of the pen.

How? Simply slash the outrageous tax breaks for the super rich. Before you tune me out, just consider this:

  • No more yacht write-offs (how many people do you know that have a yacht? You pay taxes to cover their write-off).
  • No more private jet write-offs (again, how many people do you know that have private jets? You're paying for their write off with your taxes).
  • No more corporate off shore stashing of profits to avoid taxes (you have to pay taxes, why shouldn't they?).
  • No more subsidies to oil companies thus giving them billions in profits with unfair write-offs like off-shore banking. (You're paying for it with your taxes).
  • No more tax breaks to companies for outsourcing jobs. (Yes, we give a break if a company hires workers in a foreign land as opposed to a legal worker here in the states.)
  • No more giving free money to banks (too large to fail or jail) thus giving them even larger corporate writeoffs for managing the money they've been loaned).

Do you realize we give big banks interest-free money and let them keep it and call it profits? Yup, and they're not even encouraged to use it for customer loans or service. It's OUR TAX MONEY. Yet go in and try to get a loan. Good luck.

If a big bank needs cash to stay afloat, force them to use that money for loans to individuals and small businesses, or else the bank must return the money within two years WITH a punitive interest payment for the use of the money. If you borrowed money, whether you used it or not, you'd have to pay the piper. Why not JP Morgan/Chase or Citibank?

Implement these suggestions and watch how quickly financial institutions start giving out home mortgages to those who qualify or start up capital for small businesses to get launched. Need new equipment to modernize your small company? The banks will loan it because if they don't, they will have to pay interest. Watch the economy jump then. Big banks will become smaller and new banks will start up and carry those who leave the big established financial institutions for those who care about their customers. No depositor will be losing money. Nor will the banks unless they're unscrupulous, in which case, leave them. There will be options.

What's holding us back are loopholes that should never have been in existence in the first place. Their purpose has long since retired -- along with the crooks who wrote them into the tax codes.

And just like the NRA who scares the Bejesus out of our elected officials when we talk any sort of gun control, the rich do the same if you threaten their loop holes.

Politicians think only the rich put money into their campaigns so the poor and middle class don't matter. Ask Karl Rove how that went. Our vote is what they need even more than money. And our vote counts just as much as the millionaires' or business tycoons'.

So demand what's important -- our elected representatives start representing us -- the poor and middle class. The rich don't need our help. Obama and Congress should be talking about gutting -- but gutting the tax system, not our security nets.

The Holy Trinity, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid cannot be tampered with. They're not the problem. We can even improve them and cut our taxes at the same time -- hear that, Republicans, tax cut -- if you stop protecting your rich cronies and do your job.

Congress, we can remove you -- and we will. We'll gut you (with our votes) like Jack the Ripper -- a sacrifice that's more important than gutting 99% of the public. Dump the Chump!

For the past 25 years, David Garber has been serving as the show runner and or writer on some of television’s biggest hits… Saved By The Bell, Power Rangers, 227, Bill Cosby Show and many other network series. His writing and producing have also netted David two very prestigious awards:the PRISM AWARD and the TV CRITICS AWARD – TV SPECIAL OF THE YEAR. Currently he’s authoring a short story series called “A Few Minutes With…”

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"The Republicans and Democrats bet they can make each other blink first."

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you blinked

Another guest post is by our pal and regular TPC contributor, David Garber:

Wanna Bet?

From time to time, on this very site, Laffy and Paddy post very interesting bar bets. Sure ways you'll win a free drink if you can find a sucker to take them. I love those as there's always a catch. A gimmick. A "trick" either with words or with actions. Some of these simply amaze me. Others cause you to slap your forehead and make you ask, why didn't I see that?

But once in a while, you do "see that" or you amend the challenge so it goes in your favor. The sequester is just such a bar bet.

Here's how. The Republicans and Democrats bet they can make each other blink first. That's the misdirect. They have you thinking about blinking, when really what this is all about is getting some budget cuts -- with or without increased revenue -- depending on your point of view.

So the gauntlet is tossed. It's called sequestration. The Democrats make a go of it by playing Chicken Little. They say the sky's falling. The Republicans counter playing Rope-A-Dope. They say we need even deeper cuts and no revenue increase. We don't want to touch taxing yachts, private jets, or cutting write-offs for third and fourth houses. (Some might call this the 2% rule as it affects only the top 2% of the country) -- and while we're at the cutting stage, let's drop a bunch of  our social safety nets, just to be on the "safe" side and get the Dems to blink. (That's called sticking it to the 98%)

The cocky Congress accepts the bet. Sequestration, the challenge, begins. But neither side blinks. So who wins? The Republicans say they do. "Look at all those cuts we got in sequestration " The Democrats are saying, "Not so fast. Look at all the jeopardy you're causing by weakening our defense, gumming up our air travel and putting our health and food safety at risk!"

The payoff is about to come. And just like hearing an old joke, you know the punchline before it comes -- but also like an joke, it's only old if you're heard it before. And we have. The Republicans say we're not weak on defense, we're strong. And they pull out the old, "Let's create a new spending bill and only address those things we want put back in the budget and even increase defense spending to show our steel balls. We have the majority in the House. We can pass it and save the day." The Republicans to the rescue.

They'll force Obama and the Democrats to look weak on defense and border protection if they don't go along. They calculate that the Democrats will blink. The House is in Boehner's pocket on this one. And the Senate won't have enough Democrats who are strong enough to vote against national security to stop the new spending bill to make it to Obama's desk.

Blink.

But wait! It's a bar bet after all. And there's always a gimmick.

The Democrats counter, taken directly from the Republican play book -- load the bill down with totally unrelated additions. Tack on teaching, research, first-responders, air traffic controllers, airport security, FDA funding, et al -- maybe even a new bridge to nowhere-- everything else that has been cut under sequestration, forcing the spotlight on the Republicans as they try to pare those additions from the bill.

The spotlight moves off of the Dems and onto the Repubs, making them look like obstructionist weaklings -- and who can argue with that description -- Bobby Jindal? Newt Gingrich? Maybe call in Jeb Bush? It's called the double end around play. Reconciliation between House and Senate bills.

The point of this lesson is that the trick is in the details -- and by trying to make the Democrats look weak, they can turn the table and make the Republicans look even weaker by having passed these cuts to begin with. Sure some Dems voted for it -- with a gun put to their head to get an increased debt ceiling so we didn't default on our obligations. Not going into sequestration to start would have been the smart move. But who can accuse these cronies of being smart?

Fortunately, there's still time before irreparable damage has been done to pass a simple bill rescinding the sequestration portion of the 2011 budget bill -- called the 2013 Budget Adjustment Bill. It may take a week or so -- right now Congress has no skin in this fight. Their salaries are guaranteed not to be touched. So they're not in any hurry. We Americans are, but we'll have to wait it out for the bar bet to be called a draw, and then we go right back to where we were. Both sides blinking at the same time.

So let's patiently watch this bet play out. If done right, the status quo will return. If done wrong, the Democrats lose and we along with them. So grab a bar stool and let's see if I'm right. Wanna bet?

For the past 25 years, David Garber has been serving as the show runner and or writer on some of television’s biggest hits… Saved By The Bell, Power Rangers, 227, Bill Cosby Show and many other network series. His writing and producing have also netted David two very prestigious awards:the PRISM AWARD and the TV CRITICS AWARD – TV SPECIAL OF THE YEAR. Currently he’s authoring a short story series called “A Few Minutes With…”

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