The Lady of Maine Strikes Again

The Lady of Maine strikes again and will the ides of February doom Obama’s presidency. The stimulus debacle revisited and why its now too late for the president to reverse course.  

(Reposted from 2009 but still very appropriate).

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Maine’s two right wing darlings. There’s an old saying in politics: Be careful what you vote for; you might get it.

Obama signed the stimulus in February of 2009 and may have ended his chances for a second term on that very day. The package was designed to fail from the very beginning and leading the pack that doomed the bill to failure was none other than Olympia Snowe.

The lady of Maine did a remarkable job stonewalling Finance Committee members during negotiations on a stimulus package. She balked and hesitated and balked some more until she was able to engineer a bill so diluted that it was destined to fail.  She wielded her limited power so deftly that she became the central figure in helping to design a weakened stimulus package that Republicans knew beforehand would be inadequate and could not even begin to rouse a multi-trillion dollar economy out of its prolonged slumber.

If I were a Republican leader the task I would have assigned to Snowe was exactly the feat she performed:  To make damn sure any stimulus bill that came out of committee would be so enfeebled that Republicans could proclaim it a bust before the funds were even exhausted.  Then, if at all possible, massage the bill so any job creating potential would begin to peter out just before the elections.  On condition that she deliver this half baked artifice out of committee, the leadership would grant the lady of Maine permission to vote for the bill – which was an absolute necessity anyway if the plot had any chance of success because the strategem needed at least some Republican support to become law.

Snowe was successful beyond her leadership’s wildest dreams. She and the Republicans not only outfoxed Obama and the mental pygmies who advise him.  They crafted a bill that failed on cue.

Here is what Snowe crammed down the Democrats’ throats.  The final bill allotted one third of the funds to tax cuts; another third to the states to apply to unemployment benefits and to stem the flow of public servant layoffs; and last but not least one third was assigned to job creation.  The funds that remained after the worthless tax cuts and the aid to the states and that went into new job creation amounted to some 280 billion dollars – a grievously inadequate sum by all accounts.

So the stimulus that was designed to fail failed just as the Republicans anticipated it would and after which they loudly and proudly proclaimed its failure to a job hungry nation.  The bill, as planned, became an election issue as it began to fizzle on cue a few weeks before the polling date.

Olympia Snowe from the bucolic state of Maine revealed herself to be crafty enough to outwit the city slickers from Chicago and a handful of Ivy League snoots to boot.

The economic Einsteins who advised the president were not only duped by the lady of Maine.  The plan they thought they hatched fell apart at the seams before they even knew they had one. These giants of economic forecasting were full-of-themselves certain that the economy would cycle into recovery and the recession would end in two years like all recessions do; and that jobs would gush forth just in time for voters to go to the polls to elect Democrats; and that voters, now deliriously ecstatic, would do this by majorities so vast that these White House wizards were drooling to swallow anything Snowe shoved at them if only she would agree to something or anything so they could get a bill passed and then loll about for a couple of years waiting for the economy to blossom; and, as anybody with half a brain knows, the recession would end as recessions always do, like ya know, in just about two years.  They could then proclaim their ingenious policy a grand success and wallow in the praise the pundits would heap upon them for wizardry unsurpassed in the annals of economic prognostication.

As we all now know and what the economic Einsteins, now in a self induced stupor, belatedly discovered, they were wrong.

The nation continues to suffer under depression like conditions as the economy worsens, business under-performs and Congress, as always, has its hands tied by Republican obstruction.

Through it all, the lady of Maine can smile unctuously.  For her double-dealing did indeed engineer the perfect economic storm:  an inadequate stimulus package designed to fail on cue right before the election.

And as for Obama, who couldn’t have selected a worse group of economic advisers, he is now left with the shambles he was duped into. Having agreed to a woefully inadequate stimulus package, he must now shoulder the blame for its failure and suffer the consequences as duplicitous Republicans proclaim the president’s entire economic agenda a total bust and accuse him of having failed America.

Because of his grievous miscalculation early in the administration Obama has lost all credibility on the jobs issue. His speech before a joint session, now with John Boehner’s permission, will be of no avail.  The Republicans set the trap to years ago and the president remains firmly in its grasp. 

DEFICIT “CRISIS” A PHONY ISSUE

It’s not really about 4%. Raising the tax rate from 35 to 39% is small coin. It’s all about dismantlin­g the social safety net. Huge pools of money will become available to Wall Street in that event.

It appears as though both parties are focused on the same goal. The Democrats can’t get away with it without a correspond­ing increase in revenues.

We do have a revenue crisis. Revenue collections are at their lowest levels as a percentage of GDP since the 1950s.

Let’s raise taxes on the wealthy.


About Unemployment

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

DEFICIT MAVEN EXTRAORDINAIRE

Republican­s are responsibl­e for nearly 75% of the total debt. Granted Democratic Congresses were involved in the accumulati­on. But Republican presidents repeatedly signed off on the debt without so much as a whimper from fellow Republican­s.

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Deficit maven. He was so good at raising the deficit he set records. His record setting deficits were exceeded only by George W. Bush who now holds the record.

The current standoff is nothing more than an attack on the social safety net which Republican­s have long hoped to dismantle. The shock here is that Obama is revealing incredible ineptitude by accommodat­ing the GOP vendetta.

We are actually in the midst of a revenue crisis. Tax collection­s as a percent of GDP are at their lowest levels since the 1950s.

Let’s raise taxes on the wealthy.


Most of the 10 trillion was accumulate­d under Republican presidents­, in many cases supported by Republican majorities in one or both Houses of Congress and by right wing Democrats.

The debt has risen under Obama. But much of it has accumulate­d as a result of sharp revenue decline due to high unemployme­nt and the continuati­on of tax cuts for the wealthy. Also contributi­ng to the deficit are Obama’s continuati­on of the Bush wars; a huge and unnecessar­y war budget; and the Wall Street bailout.

An inadequate stimulus – that included worthless tax cuts; needed aid to the states; and some money for job creation – was also a factor.

The fact remains: There is no crisis. Problem yes. But it can be dealt with.

Here are some answers:


1. Let’s raise taxes on the wealthy. We do have a revenue crisis. Collection­s are at the lowest levels of GDP since the 1950s.

2. Let’s raise the cap on Social Security.

3. Let’s pass Medicare for All. Or at least a genuinely competitiv­e public option.

4. Let’s renegotiat­e all trade agreements

5. Let’s pass a genuine stimulus bill.

6. Let’s extend unemployme­nt benefits.

7. Let’s grant aid to states to halt pubic sector layoffs.


Any plan that does not address these issues is politicall­y driven and ideologica­lly fossilized­. Moreover, there is little doubt that none of these theatrics would have occurred had a Republican been in the White House.

The Republicans have proposed a piece of trash known as the Ryan Plan. The Corporate Media Propaganda Machine has called it courageous. In reality, it is sheer economic pornography.


We have a revenue crisis. The revenue to GDP ratio is lower than it has been since the 1950s. Tax cuts are redistributing wealth upwards. Reagan’s trickle down morphed almost immediately into gush up.


It is clear to anyone whose mind has not become hopelessly fossilized by ideology that excessive tax cuts are destroying the entire U S economy.

We have a revenue crisis.

Let’s raise taxes on the wealthy.

NEEDED: A BOLD DECISIVE MOVE

Does Obama have even one such move in his soul?

A courageous president would announce a dramatic address to the nation at one minute after midnight on August 2, invoke the 14th Amendment, proclaim a national emergency, vow to uphold his Constituti­onal duties as commander in chief and declare Republican­s guilty of derelictio­n of duty.  He would then charge Republicans with attempting to inflict grave harm upon the national security of the country solely to advance a radical political agenda and order the Justice Department to issue arrest warrants.

Such actions would set a precedent that would prevent a minority from bullying into law an extremist agenda, end forever unscrupulo­us hostage taking and expose to the world the attempted sabotage of the economy by right wing radicals – and do it all in one bold stroke.

The chances of his being removed from office by such an affair are somewhere between zero and nada.

An impeachment would certainly ensure from a partisan, right wing House committee. But it would stand exposed for the political agenda it is attempting to impose on the nation.

Just saying.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

COMMANDER IN CHIEF???

As commander in chief, it is time for Obama to declare a national emergency.

We are a nation at war and troops cannot be abandoned by an act of political sabotage by Republican­s.

Seniors cannot be allowed to go hungry for want of a Social Security check.

Medical care cannot be suspended for want of payments to doctors and hospitals.

Failure to raise the deficit would be an economic, social and medical calamity – a disaster that qualifies for national emergency status.

The president must declare a national emergency and order the Treasury to sell bonds. Perhaps a stalwart Republican like Ben Bernanke can put aside party loyalty, recognize the looming disaster and order the Fed to buy the bonds.

Why? Because there is no deficit “crisis.” It is a Republican construct and a nefarious myth conjured to achieve a decades old right wing vendetta against the social safety net.

This contrived crisis gives Obama yet another chance to show his Democratic stripes – if he has any.


Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

AN HONEST BUDGET PLAN

The only real and rational budget plan offered by Congress is ignored by the corporate media propaganda machine.

Heard of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget? No. There’s no reason why you should have. The corporate media propaganda machine has decided unilaterally and uniformly that a real budget doesn’t serve their devious purposes – the dismantling of the social safety net in particular Social Security and Medicare.

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), along with the 81 member House Congressional Progressive Caucus, proposed a plan that balances the budget in 2021 – a plan all but ignored by the corporate media propaganda machine.

Unlike Ryan’s Kill Medicare Plan and Pawlenty’s pandering foolishness that requires 5% annual growth each year of the plan, the CPC plan deals in realistic measures and delivers a balanced budget in 2021. You haven’t heard of it because it supports the social safety net and doesn’t kill Medicare or destroy Social Security.

The CPC plan:

  1. Ends the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
  2. Ends the wars.
  3. Reduces the War budget.
  4. Establishes new brackets for the super rich.
  5. Enacts a public option.
  6. Requires negotiation on prescription prices.
  7. Taxes capital gains as income.
  8. Imposes a financial transaction tax.

Did I mention that it balances the budget by 2021.

Any plan that doesn’t address the issues stated above is a deceitful hoax whose purpose is to advance a cruel, right wing vendetta against the middle class. 

DEFICIT CRISIS MYTH

There is no deficit crisis. There is a deficit, yes. But it has not reached crisis proportions and is unlikely to.

If you believe the hype you have been duped by the massive propaganda campaign launched by Republicans and a compliant corporate media, the purpose of which is to capture the White House and install a president who will represent the few rather than the many. Sorta like the current president.

An unholy alliance???

Here is the skinny on the deficit propaganda campaign. It was designed to offset any demand for an adequate stimulus and to forestall any future proposals to mitigate the true crisis that exists in the country today – the jobs crisis.

The only way to create jobs is through investment and only investment. Tax cuts just don’t cut it. Since businesses are not investing in new plant and equipment the burden falls to government to invest in the economy. We are all familiar with the government investment that occurred during World War II that finally ended the Great Republican Depression of the 30s.

Today, massive investment by government in infrastructure, green technology, fuel conversion technology, high speed rail, etc., will provide jobs that will stimulate demand and spur private investment.

Republicans have blocked all possibility of this type of investment largely because they are committed to an underhanded plan that will cause the current president to fail. That by the way is their admitted goal stated openly by the GOP leadership. Regardless of the pain and suffering the plan inflicts on millions of Americans they will pursue their devious ends.

How to implement the plan? That’s easy. They’ve read Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. If you haven’t done so it’s worth the time. In a nutshell the doctrine states that to impose an agenda on a nation exploit a crisis. If a real crisis does not exist, create one. That can be done by engineering a massive propaganda campaign which is exactly what Republicans and the right wing media are doing in the United States today.

Why is there no deficit crisis? A simple look at the debt to GDP ratio informs us of the truth. According to statistics by a number of economists the current ratio stands at 60/100. That is not a crisis number when compared to the ratio of 120/100 that existed after the war. And some economists claim a ratio of 150/100 is an acceptable number. Currently Japan’s debt to GDP ratio is 228/100. Yes, the Japanese economy has suffered stagnation but it is faring better than the US with an unemployment rate hovering around 5%. What has been the Japanese approach to its prolonged period of stagnation? Why austerity of course. And economists are now attributing Japan’s protracted struggle to its misguided policy of austere spending cuts.

As further evidence that a deficit “crisis” is a myth, US Treasuries are still considered the safest investment in the world and interest rates on bonds are remain near record lows. And this despite one of the most massive propaganda campaigns to besiege the country in recent history.

It is true that rating agencies are threatening to lower the grade of US credit. But that threat has less to do with the deficit and is more a function of Republican recklessness in pursuit of a default to achieve its dastardly goal of safety net destruction. Clearly Social Security and Medicare are in the GOP’s cross-hairs. And once the first step is taken, the floodgates will open and those programs will be dismantled forever.

If you are a wealthy American, million dollar plus portfolio, the GOP’s machinations will suit you well.

If you are a working American you are about to become the victim of the biggest flimflam in the history of mankind.