Posts tagged ‘budget’

WTF Friday

As we normalized President DFF, it is also how we normalize WTF moments. In fact they just become news tidbits among all the news tidbits. But still we have them. The biggest one is those fiscal conservative Republicans just passed a massive spending bill that raises our debt massively. If you are not confused by the propaganda machine you will note that that has been their modus operandi since Ronald Reagan. It is kind of hard to be the party of big military spending, tax cuts, and the magical supply side economics and do anything but blow up the budget. Not sure how they got the reputation of fiscal hawks other than they cried loudest about deficit spending but did the most to ensure it.

The next WTF moment will come when we hit the debt ceiling, the amount we have agreed is the debt we will pay for (we already spent it, see above). We will see if the hypocrisy reins supreme if they start pounding their chests on this one. This is one of those things we should have changed a long time ago, if you authorized the spending then you authorized the raising of the debt ceiling to pay our bills. I have argued before that Republican’s fixation on debt and trying to make the micro economy the same as the macroeconomy of our economy equal is disingenuous, but there is an element of truth to it in the details:

As we learned from John Maynard Keynes, deficit spending should be countercyclical. When economic growth goes down, deficits should go up, and vice versa. The idea is that the government can pick up the slack when private demand lags (as was the case back in 2009).”

But they are doing just the opposite here. Here is the thing. In a economy we should be raising taxes right now if we really need all this spending. Now I am all for a strong military, but President DFF and his cohorts confuse a strong military with a strong country as if bullying is the only tactic of power. We are becoming weakened in the world, not because we got the biggest baddest weapons, but because we are becoming economically and ethically weak under President DFF and his boys. Note he now wants a military parade to show off our shiny weapons while we withdraw from the stage of economic deals to strengthen our power and influence in the rest of the world.

And here is really a WTF moment for conservatives if they want to admit it. Here in California under the leadership of a very pragmatic liberal, Jerry Brown, we are putting money away for a rainy day.  Yes there are Californians who don’t like the gas tax or the higher taxes, but they are the next wave of fools that vote Republican, and they are a minority.  When things got better we did not “give the money back to all those hard working rich people,” we started putting it away for when the economy turns south as it may be doing now. It is because Democrats have always been the party of more careful budgeting. The best way to talk about debt is a percentage of GDP and here are the facts:

Republican presidents after Eisenhower have increased the federal debt as a percentage of gross domestic product by a total of 60%. Democratic presidents have reduced the debt as a percentage of GDP by a total of 9%.

President Obama is the only Democratic President during whose time in office the debt has risen relative to GDP. The data extends to the end of FY2014 (September 2014). President Obama’s bar will almost certainly drop by the end of his presidency, as GDP growth is relatively high and the deficit is relatively low. 2/5ths of the increase during President Obama’s presidency occurred during the first year while the country was still in the midst of the Great Recession.

Of course President Obama inherited a failed economy in 2009 and safety net, stimulus, and war spending (from the Bush War) did not help. But the bottom line when you look at numbers and you care about debt and deficits, you are better off under Democrats.

We need to be raising taxes right now, not cutting them. Gas tax should go up to pay for improvements to our transportation systems. The recent tax cut should be repealed so that the wealthy pay their fair share, and we should be investing in infrastructure improvements. In fact, there is a bigger picture here if we are willing to look at it. Economic inequality. We need to more fairly share our gains so our citizens have the buying power to keep our economy self sustaining. But I am spitting into the wind. People who believe in sounder budgets vote for Republicans because they make the most noise about it, but never deliver. WTF.

Well we will have another disaster like the Bush years and then Democrats will regain power. Hopefully this time they won’t think the answer is to reach across the aisle to find middle ground solutions that fail and put the fools back in power. They should just turn away from that approach and leave them in the dust of history’s failed lessons. I can hope.

The Coming Fall

The lesson from the healthcare repeal and replace is very simple.  You can’t base a policy on fantasy and lies.  First, Obamacare was not terrible, it brought millions into insurance, fix problems like pre-existing conditions and junk plans, capped costs, not to mention bent the cost curve down. Republicans refuse to recognize that. Second, you can’t promise better plans when you have no policy that is based upon the real world and how insurance works.

The market place solutions promised and scored by the CBO were disasters.  Even the insurance agencies did not want them.  I have said it over and over and over again, the only way you make healthcare more affordable is with government regulation and expansion of the risk pools.  Republicans had no solutions that included any of that, and instead made the pools smaller for the sick and poor so that their premium costs would soar.  Sure the healthy would have cheaper plans, but when shit happened they would be up shit creek because there would have been many things not covered, and no cap on out-of-pocket expenses.  That is the choice they keep crooning about.  Some choice.

Now that healthcare with Republicans at the helm has failed, what is next.  THE ECONOMY! There are three things here, the budget, the debt ceiling extension, that of course all those jobs the VIC promised to restore that are never coming back.  This is when the honeymoon is over.  Yeah, even with Russiagate, this was basically a honeymoon where the VIC told us everything was going to be really really good without any plan or details to do that, and now the chickens will come home to roast.

The budget will be a giant game the Republicans will play called hide the tax cuts to the wealthy.  And they do that by decimating the safety net, along with EPA, National Institute of Health, the State Department, the Office of Education, Energy, R&D, ect.  Now all of that spending they are trying to decimate for tax cuts creates spending in the economy.  But they are going to take that money and give it to the rich where it does not create jobs because, and pay attention here Rick Perry, the rest of us will never buy anything if we don’t have money, no matter how much of it you make (Supply does not drive the market, demand does).  The lie here is that there is flow down.  A high tide lifts all ships, except it does not and has not ever. Not in this economy, not in George Bushes economy, not ever.  So in a word, the budget will not only hurt the economy, but damage our R&D, and competitiveness in the world.  And all this is based upon a lie that government spending just gets wasted and if we give it to the rich, they will create jobs.

Then there is the debt ceiling extension.  Now let me remind you that this is not saying we will spend more money we don’t have, it is about welshing on the debts already incurred.  We already spent it. This, if the Republicans decide to not to extend the debt which they have threatened to do, and remember that the VIC indicated we could just default on our debts (something he has done in his business world), could send shock waves around the world and tank the stock market, maybe the world stock market.  Add to that, all those jobs that the VIC keeps promising coming back, aren’t.  The economy has moved on and so too must the jobs.  We need to be looking forward for the new types of jobs and then make sure the workforce is ready to fill those jobs, oh, and help those left behind.  See any of that in a Republican Plan?  Their lie is they can recreate our past.  The past is gone.  Instead of trying to kill the new job markets like solar, we should embrace them.

Then, and I almost forgot, tax reform.  It won’t happen because they cannot use reconciliation unless they can get major cuts in the budget bill.  They did not get all that money from robbing money from healthcare to pay for tax cuts (mostly for the wealthy).  Sure we need tax reform, but most of it would be to make the tax code simpler and tax more fairly.  That would mean that a lot of special interests, like investment capital gains, would get taxed like normal earnings.  If you still buy the argument these earnings create jobs, you have been in a cave since 2000.  So if they are successful, they will once again hurt the economy, and if they aren’t, nothing changes because Republicans will never go for a fair tax code not favoring the wealthy.

Are you getting the drift here?  Everything they believe is mostly built on lies, fantasy, and wishful thinking.  If they got their way, it would it would decimate the economy.  If they don’t get their way, we continue on a downward trend because we can’t address the problems we have.  People are already starting to see it.  They have the majority in all branches of government and they have nothing.  The VIC actually said we need more Republicans elected.  Yep more people without a clue how to govern or real solutions to real problems. So what I am saying is the fall is coming. Wait till Russiagate hits.  Did you hear there is now an 8th participant in the Trump Jr meeting?  When the reality sinks in, we will fall hard.  Are you ready for that?  Are Democrats ready to step up?  I got my home garden in, lots of wine and beer.  If you think I am kidding, watch as fantasy and lies hits a brick wall.  It won’t be pretty.  The Honeymoon is over.  By September we should be in chaos.

More Random Thoughts – Potpourri

I watched most of the hearings in the House Intelligence Committee and it is clear to the casual observer that there is clearly fire where there is smoke and while they were all dancing around it, invoking privileged conversations, it was obvious that was has been reported is true. It is clear there is something rotten in the Trump administration.  Not that the Republicans did not try to produce more smoke so you could not see if there was a fire.  It was almost shameful.  One Republican knuckle head actually tried to say that when Obama conferred with Medvedev, President of Russia back in the day (two heads of state), it was the same thing.  Nothing here folks, look away, or Obama is the bigger traitor.  I wonder when this kind of moronic spinning will finally start to hurt them?

The VIIC (Village Idiot in Charge) and his village idiot minions (VIMs) released his budget yesterday and it is a horror show unless you are a very rich person.  Of course all the cuts and give aways to the rich will be paid for by amazing economic growth that no one has seen since Eisenhower.  In other words it is a pack of lies and really smoke and mirrors to cut everything that we do to help our fellow citizens survive so that rich people can have further tax cuts.  Did you get the name of it?  The New Foundations for American Greatness. George Orwell be still your beating heart.  Ayn Rand would be orgasmic. I thought we learned austerity does not really help the economy? Oh well.

The Budget Office also scored the Trumpcare Plan and it was as expected.  There is no Republican solution to healthcare with a market based system if you want to cover as many people as possible and make it affordable while keeping the good stuff from Obamacare.  It really is that simple.

Thomas Friedman served up an interesting view of degenerating middle America with this conclusion:

The big divide in America is not between the coasts and the interior. It’s between strong communities and weak communities. You can find weak ones along the coast and thriving ones in Appalachia, and vice versa. It’s community, stupid — not geography.

The story was of communities that from local advocacy, learned how to thrive and innovate their economic base and those that did not.  I am not sure it is as simple as that, but my thoughts went elsewhere here.  The picture of those failing communities were of lost jobs and then stagnation, turning to a drug epidemic.  This is kind of foreign to my being, the idea that communities are so stagnate.  I was a military brat when I grew up moving about every three years.  College was expected, and when I graduated, the nation was my plaything.  Now granted I went into the Air Force and left Maryland to go to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, but had I not been in the Vietnam era and a military career been my choice, I still would have looked at the country as the job market.

When things go south at home, I did not have a home.  Time to move on.  So with that kind of mentality, it is hard for me to understand the desperation of the young at least.  But I fear the story is more complicated than Tom paints it.  What about the old or the young who do not want to move and new industries do not come in to reinvigorate their communities?  Local community action might not be enough.  I think another story might be told that people on the coast are more mobile and maybe educated.

I also think about my experience getting she who must not be mentioned here a new car.  Now she has had her old car for 11 years so we were amazed at the technology changes.  And then it dawned on us, lease a car for 3 years because the technology changes are accelerating.  In other words just finance 3 years of use instead of the life of the car and upgrade again.  So how does that transfer to jobs?  My answer is that the job market will also change in the same fashion and what is technological savvy today, will be obsolete tomorrow.  While service industries might be static or stable in one area (teachers, nurses, hospitals, police, fire, etc.), there has to be a driving business community to which they serve the workers.  So what does that tell us?

I think two things.  First, jobs are going to come and go and government will have to play a role, counter to Republican inhumanness, where the community is not close to a university that can leverage a changing job market.  Second, the world of secure jobs for most of us, except service industries is over.  The work force will have to be a learning community as technology changes the whole environment of work.  So once again, what about those that are not capable? The Republican solution is leave them to die in the ditch.  Government has a role to play here providing easy and affordable access to education and a safety net for those who get left behind.  Think truck drivers when we go to driverless trucks and that is just scratching the surface.

One final thing this morning as I am on a train to SF and a visit to the Legion of Honor to see the Monet exhibit.  The Russia thing:  I have said it before and apparently they are finally catching on.  Follow the Money.  It has always been about the money and how the VIIC got his financing over the years as Russia was sinking their claws into him.  I see him gone by late summer.  The media has finally figured this out and it is only a matter of time.  Republican equivocating and obstruction is just disgusting.  I am hoping that they can also show Pious Pence lied about what he knew about Flynn.  Then does it go to Paul Ryan or will the nation finally realize we need a do over, a special election for President?  Maybe a two month thing (and please don’t run Hillary again).  I dream.

Note:  I have not mentioned the bombing in Manchester because I am not sure what to say.  I almost ignore it because there is nothing to say.  It is sad, tragic, and mindless.  It is also a police issue because this is the kind of threat we will be facing in the future.  It is just nut jobs and rooting them out is everyone’s responsibility. Reading about it is just too sad and I think we learn nothing when we hover on the nut job who thought taking innocent children had any meaning.

DWI

I guess it should be VWI, Voting While Intoxicated.  It still just amazes me that there are Trump supporters who still think this guy is anything but a wrecking ball.  I watched the Boeing South Carolina speech and the cheering crowd and wondered what they had to cheer about.  They had just done a number on themselves voting down a union and are now at the mercy of Boeing and world competition.  If they wanted a raise, and their productivity increases justified it (or a comparison of profit shares), who is their spokesman?  They are at the mercy of what Boeing executives want to give them.  But I get distracted.

What policies does Cheeto-Head have that is going to bring back jobs?  The real issue is how the economy operates and the rules have not changed.  Jobs are going to migrate to the lowest common denominator until we change the rules.  Changing the rules requires policies.  Seen any?  And that is why he really got elected.  People want good jobs and they saw the same old same old from the Democrats and the traditional Republican candidates, so intoxicated with their fury, they voted for Cheeto-Head.  Because his base is reality challenged (see the comments after his deranged press conference on Thursday) and really do not trust anything except what comes out of his mouth, it may be a while for they see the only reality they know, their paychecks and the economy in general start to suffer.  Only then will there be a come to Jesus moment.

There can be no good outcome here. Employment is actually in good shape or as good as it is going to get considering the economic inequality in the market.  Wall Street right now is DWI and careening higher and higher on hoped for tax cuts and regulation cuts.  I wonder what happens when, once again, they are faced with the failure of supply side economics, and all these cuts don’t create good jobs?  Meanwhile, in the world economic arena, he is sowing chaos and distrust.  See the Muslim ban and comments on Nato. I wonder how that is going to help the world economy, much less our own?  See the revolving door at National Security?  Now they are down to John Bolton, a true hawk and nut job.  You think more chaos in the world is going to be good for trade? No, this is not going to work out well.

But he has been busy with executive orders.  He has caused chaos in the immigrant population and that will soon be reflected in jobs not being filled, crops not being picked, lawns not being mowed, meals not being cooked, and it goes on and on.  They are a vibrant part of our economy, not to mention a part of our legacy.  We are after all, all immigrants. But not to worry, Republicans voted to give crazy people guns.  That ought to help with jobs.  If enough people kill each other, there should be openings. Then there is the rule that the Senate just voted to kill to keep coal companies from dumping wastes into valley’s and streams.  Again no real real jobs here, just a distraction and mirage of jobs in an industry that has mechanized while destroying the Environment.  Of course there may be some real jobs down the road when we get rid of this bunch and have to clean it up, at tax payer cost.

Then of course, is repeal and replace.  The latest forray is giving everyone tax credits and no mandate.  If you don’t make much, what good does a tax credit do, and how can you share the costs if you can bail on health insurance till you need it?  I mean this makes absolutely no sense at all when all people really want is affordable health insurance without all the “free market” complications that really gives you nothing.  Of course it won’t work, but the reality challenged will have to be facing the bills before they say, “Say what!”

Finally we see Trump vilifying all news that doesn’t agree with him (sound like Russia?) and the Trumpets just nodding like morons while real news exposes his snake oil.  In the background, Republicans who have sold their souls to power, are proposing budgets that will kill anything that will help the 90%.  And here is just the beginning:

WASHINGTON — The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

These don’t even register as a blip in our budget, but they do help us critically think, and give weight to empathy and the human experience.  Can’t have that, just reforms which are disguised tax cuts to the wealthy and economic inequality, the root cause of all this malaise, will be put on steroids.  Let’s just hope in four years when all this becomes quite obvious to the rubes and morons that voted for and support Cheeto-Head, we can undo the damage, if it is not too bad.  But one thing I will promise you, I will not forget who legitimized and elected this disaster.  You are the opposite of civilization, but an ignorant mob and right now, like most Republicans, I find little empathy for your plight.

 

The Budget Bill

In other news, Congress (who controls the House again?) has an agreement on the spending for next year and you can bet no one has read it. It is full of pork and cuts to critical programs. This is the government our enlightened electorate voted for in November. We won’t even know what is in there until after it has been passed. No, I don’t think democracy, at least with Republicans in charge, works anymore.

Anybody Surprised?

The shutdown continues and the Republicans are claiming the Democrats won’t negotiate. Okay, the Democrats won’t negotiate. Wasn’t that the deal? Open up government and take the threat of meltdown, i.e., not extending the debt limit, off the table and we will talk. Did they not hear that? The President agreed to talk about anything if they did that even short term, but they still want concessions up front, and as one Republican put it, the crazies still want Obamacare on the table. Or as my hero Paul Krugman put it:

Still no resolution on the debt ceiling, and I think people are still too optimistic here. Republicans still aren’t willing to walk away from this without some kind of trophy, so they can claim victory; the whole point of Obama’s position is that you don’t get anything, not even something trivial, as a reward for threatening disaster.

Now I want you to think about this “just get government open again” thing. What is the point in a temporary opening/debt ceiling extension? If just kicks the can down the road and legitimizes further hostage taking negotiations (if you don’t agree to my demands I will just close/default government again). We need to end this, and we need to end this once and for all. Those of you that think this is just crafty politics, let me remind you of how it is suppose to work. You remember, that constitutional thingy.

Continue reading ‘Anybody Surprised?’ »

So You Think I Am Biased?

Well those of you who might happen upon this site and think, oh no, another raving progressive, think again. Here is Peter King, New York Republican Congressman, a sometimes (if it does not have to do with Muslims) rational Republican, describing what just happened with the budget stalemate as he tried to rally moderate Republicans in the House to vote on the Senate budget bill (that would pass if they could force a vote). From the Daily Beast:

King felt sure that if Boehner had just told everybody to vote their conscience, then the measure that threatened to trigger a government shutdown would have been resoundingly defeated. But Boehner apparently did not want to risk a revolt by the extremists who are ideologically aligned with Sen. Ted Cruz, the ones who King says live in “echo chambers” where they hear only their own voices. Boehner would rather risk this challenge by King, who was not an imminent threat to the speaker’s rule and had been consistently loyal in all the big recent votes.

… Boehner had figured on sending legislation to the Senate that would allow it to fund the government even as it refused to pass an essentially symbolic measure defunding Obamacare…The whole idea had been for the Republicans to make a statement without hurting anybody. That was not good enough for the Cruz wing, which was bent on undoing a law that had been passed by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and essentially reaffirmed by the electorate in a presidential election.

“It goes against the whole spirit of the Constitution,” King says of the effort to undo Obamacare.

…He spoke passionately against the course the crazies had now set them on. “It’s going nowhere, there’s no endgame,” he recalls saying. “It’s bad for the Congress. It’s bad for the government, bad for the country.”

For him, it was not a matter of politics, but of conscience. He could not facilitate what he had termed “government terrorism” on the part of the crazies.

“I can’t be party to this anymore.”

Well there you have it from a Republican. Here is what is really driving the train: Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation. The Republicans gerrymandered themselves into “safe” Republican districts by disenfranchising Democratic voters moving them into already Democratic areas and empowering Republican voters by concentrating them in others. But they created a Frankenstein because they are now controlled by their most out of touch voters who will primary them from the right if they don’t support the most mindless and radical of ideas.

That is where the Heritage Foundation comes in. Raising oodles of cash from the crazies, they will step in and primary any wayward Republican. It is kind of funny in a way. The Tea Party was afraid of Big Government control and they created this mind control big policing party. Even more hypocritical is that they are undermining the very Constitution they purport to love and revere as they attempt to defund Obamacare that has nothing to do with the budget.

So where this will end I have no idea. I just know that the Democrats cannot give an inch here because to do so, would in Peter KIngs words,  “goes against the whole spirit of the Constitution.” But what do I know as some crazy progressive?

House Votes To Conference on Budget!

Really? The Senate passed a budget back in May and the House refused to appoint members to the conference, and now they want to conference? The Senate tried 18 times to conference and the House blocked it. Your kidding right? Pass the clean resolution for two months and then conference with the Democratic goal to pass a clean budget and cut the sequester, not the budget. Sanity would be nice and a budget that reflects economic reality would also be a plus for a change. We have a budget deficit that is coming down way too fast and hurting the economy, jobs are non-existent, and an infrastructure we are not repairing, replacing, or maintaining. This is not hard unless your brain has been eaten by Tea Party zombies.

Democrats Compromise?

They already did. The bill before the House was a continuing resolution for two months without reducing the sequester. It would pass if the House would let that bill be voted on. The Republicans move the country further and further to the right by taking far right positions and then demanding the Democrats compromise, moving the government more and more to the right and destroying our economy (unless you are the 1%). It is time to end this. No more compromises. It is time to hold the line or simply turn the country over to the American Taliban (Tea Party Republicans).  This time it really is about principle and that principle is majority rule or hostage taking.  Democrats?  You up for this?  It is your last stand.

The next battle will be the debt limit and there can be no negotiations there.  What the Democrats need to do is to fight this on the issue of the economy.  In other words sell an economic plan that shows how this cutting is hurting our economy and present a plan forward.  Then the blame-game is over and we are talking about the appropriate policy.  I know, I dream.  Sadly I live in a fact based reality which has no hope of breaking into the Republican fantasy bubble held together by gerrymandered districts and fear of a challenge from the right.

Or as Michael Tomasky wrote today:

…What they’re doing here is not hostage taking, the most commonly used metaphor in the media. It’s political terrorism. When hostage takers see that their demands are met, they release the hostage. But what makes anyone think today’s Republicans will ever release the hostage? No—if the Democrats agree to negotiate, the demands will never stop. Every pivot point on the legislative calendar will be an opportunity to make demands without precedent in our system.

Or as I asked yesterday, whatever happened to the edict, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists”?

Flawed Strategy?

The Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, is setting up procedural votes to remove language from the House spending bill that would strip funding from the Affordable Care Act and then to pass a spending measure to keep the government operating through mid-December. It would be up to House Republican leaders to accept that Senate bill or precipitate a shutdown.

“We will not bow to Tea Party anarchists,” Mr. Reid said Monday, denouncing what he called “extremist Republicans” and “fanatics.”

What this effectively does is maintain the sequester that is hurting our economy and give the House Republicans an out if they so choose. It in my mind legitimizes the sequester and just pushes us further right and economically off the cliff. Here is the choice I think you have: Do what they are doing, or propose the same as the above with the sequester cut in half and giving the Executive Branch of government the option of picking where they will make the cuts. This starts the big debate on the sequester and heads off the debt ceiling debate.

The downside is that, assuming you could get this through the Senate, the House could balk (not negotiate) and blame the shutdown on the sequester cuts. I think they are going to shut down the government anyway and now is the time to get this on the table and start making the case for a more progressive economy away from austerity. Note this CR (Continuing Resolution) just kicks the can down the road till December 15th. So what exactly is the Democratic strategic plan to move the country back to the middle and create some jobs? Harry Reid seems to be an expert on holding firm on positions that continually moves us further toward the right.