Posts tagged ‘Way forward’

The Fantasy is Over

That fantasy is the one where some of our citizens believe the Republicans, or in this case, traditional conservatives have anything to offer this country. Specifically, that we get a free ride by just cutting taxes for the wealthy. When Paul Ryan, who, make no mistake, was one of the biggest con men of all times, decided to step down, it was obvious that conservative ideology was dead. That ideology was self-discipline taken to fantasy levels. Nothing wrong with self-discipline until you get into the blame game. It was the view from Ayn Rand that as E.J. Dione put it this morning:

She identified with society’s winners and regarded ordinary citizens as moochers and burdens on the creative and the entrepreneurial.

Although Ryan gave warm speeches about compassion, his biggest fear was not that the poor might go without food or health care but, as he once said, that the “safety net” might “become a hammock that lulls able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency.”

…If the wealthy did best when given positive incentives in the form of more money, the less fortunate needed to be prodded by less generous social policies into taking responsibility for their own fate.

Ryan was always about two things, tax cuts for the wealthy and slashing the safety net to pay for them. Oh, and he complained bitterly about the deficit. But note he just worked hard to get that tax cut for the wealthy, while crashing the budget. His budgets, which the press corps used to swoon over (“wonky conservatism”) because he used big words, charts, and graphs, never added up without massive cuts to social programs, always with the magic asterisk for growth from tax cuts that never ever happen.

The self-discipline thing is what is at the bottom of every Republican’s little brain, you too would be rich if you just worked hard you lazy scum, which anecdotally you can find examples, but in the broader society is false. Their total approach has always been to make that proposition, just exercise self-discipline, almost impossible for the disadvantaged through tax cuts for the wealth and cutting government programs that actually might help level the playing field.

Now with Ryan claiming he accomplished what he could and leaving the House, we are left with this from WaPo writer Karen Tumulty:

Ryan’s announcement Wednesday that he will not run for reelection represents a bright distress flare illuminating the seriousness of the predicament into which President Trump has plunged his party.

No Karen, President DFF just shined a light on the hollowness of their ideas. Make no mistake, Republicans did this to themselves. It is becoming clear that there is not a conservative intelligencia that has anything to offer anyone today. Ryan shot his wad, said he could not also gut the safety net because of those immoral Democrats (and many of his fellow Republicans who got an earful when they tried to end Obamacare), and there was nothing left to do. I have argued before and I will argue again, they have no economic strategy except cut taxes, cut government, and cut regulations. In todays complex world and growing economic inequality, these ideas are a disaster for most of us.

What Ryan’s withdrawal signifies is that the fantasy at the core of Republican ideology that tac cuts for the rich works for all Americans is finally dead, and we are left with the crazies, conspiracy theorists, nativists, and racists. My what a Grand Old Party. Make no mistake, Trump was simply the final destination that the Republicans have been on for a long, long time. Once you eschew facts, science, and data to inform your ideological beliefs, reality bites back. If you are not growing and changing with new insights, you are losing ground*. To see Ryan, Republicans, and Evangelicals fall all over Trump is to see the hypocrisy and degeneracy of their beliefs.  They have no morals.

For the Democrats sake, and I think a lot of young New Democrats (Progressives) get it, the strategy is to take into account how past policies have increased economic inequality while leaving too many people behind. You don’t throw off capitalism, you harness it for all of us (just the opposite of what Ryan believes, you throw off harnesses). We have data from the Northern European countries that shows that a strong safety net (and paying taxes to support it) actually increases social mobility and innovation because people are willing to take more chances and change. It also brings more people into the competitive mix.

In that vein we can’t just blow off the survivors of the rust belt as stupid and foolish as they are for voting for President DFF. We have to have a plan to help them transition. Most people can’t or won’t move and it is government’s job to help them find their economic way forward, to become self-sufficient again. President DFF did just that with a giant con, that their jobs would be coming back. With the looming collapse of the Republicans, who have nothing to offer anyone but a fantasy about coal and re-industrializing the rust belt, it is becoming clear, Democrats and especially Progressives have to offer a new way forward. That includes responsible taxes to pay for what we need.

All that is assuming President DFF doesn’t do something really stupid to end democracy as we know it. That may be coming as Republicans show they have no stomach for impeachment and will take no action to restrain him. Like I said, they got nothing.

*This applies to many religions too. It turns out that like economic ideology, the law of god has to be updated from time to time as we find out how wrong the sand people were.

The Democrats Rejoicing, Maybe Too Soon

I would like to think that the election wins for the Democrats are the sign of things to come. I would like to think that maybe I was right saying the silver lining in President DFF’s win putting the Republicans in control was that America would finally see that they had nothing, and after a couple years of suffering, we could finally get rid of them. But I know better. I know that in 2008 we thought the Republicans were finally put to rest, and then they came back with a vengeance. I know that Democrats have not fixed their problems yet and this could embolden the establishment to do the same stupid things they have done before. I also know that all elections are local and Virginia and New Jersey had special circumstances. If you looked at the voting, rural America still does not have a clue.

Now I am not trying to rain on the parade. But I also know the work has just begun. It gets harder not easier because the Republicans just got a big wake up call. They are masters of obfuscation, but the thing that will trip them up this time is that they, and they alone own government, and they have no clue how to fix anything. Their ideology on tax cuts, healthcare, global warming, jobs, infrastructure, you name it, serves only one master, the wealthy. That is what Democrats need to hammer home. Many people in Virginia were truly concerned about healthcare.

Here is the real clincher for Democrats. They have to be for something and they have to stop listening to the pundits who tell them American does not want to lurch left. It is all in how you describe it. Universal healthcare is now a no-brainer. It will lower costs and ensure people are protected. Probably expanded Medicare is the way to go. That is not an argument to lurch left, it is an argument for practicality. Same with infrastructure. If the Republicans want to go $1.5 trillion more in debt for tax cuts to the wealthy, counter with a plan to spend two-thirds of that on infrastructure projects that will create jobs and pay dividends on improving the basis for our economy.

I could go on and on. The Republicans have opened the door by exposing their policies for what they are. Now it is time for Democrats to stand up with their own policies and show America they stand for them. Facebook and Twitter are the tip of the iceberg on corporate greed and corruption. They knew they were selling to Russians, but it helped their bottom line, thus their share price. And that is the way it goes with all business. Government has to take them on and Democrats have to show they have the spine to go after their big donors.

So let’s knock off the victory dances. To win the country back Democrats need a plan forward and a convincing way to sell it.  Republicans and pundits will shriek left-wing zany when we suggest a livable minimum wage, fixing Obamacare by expanding Medicare, making college more affordable, doing something about student debt, making college education affordable, real tax reform, fighting global warming, and investing in jobs and infrastructure. And most important of all, standing up to corporations and breaking the ties with Wall Street.  You simply have to show the utility of it, not let the other side label it.

People in America may not be any smarter, but they have seen the whites of the eyes of the other side and now know how important it is to vote.  Young Democrats are running for office, and as much as this drives establishment Democrats crazy, they were energized by Bernie* and they are much more liberal than the establishment.  That is the future.  Democrats are starting to stand for something besides being anti-Trump.  They are starting to, but we have a long way to go and getting giddy does not help focusing on the hard work going forward.  The lessons learn still apply and we have only moved the needle a little.  It needs to be moved a lot between now and 2018/2020.

*Like it or not, Bernie was believable, Hillary was distrusted on the really big issue, taking on the establishment.  And Bernie also provided a vision for the future, not a jumble of wonk policies.  Our vision is Progressive, but the reality is that is where reality leads us.  You don’t sell them as Progressive or liberal, but a way to once again reinvigorate the middle class and get America back on track.  The facts speak for themselves.

The Press, The Press, The Press

I just don’t think they have learned anything nor do they accept their responsiblity for the dumbing down of America.  Here is a NYT story on the front page:

Trump Promises a Revelation on Hacking:  President-elect Donald J. Trump, expressing lingering skepticism about intelligence assessments of Russian interference in the election, said on Saturday evening that he knew “things that other people don’t know” about the hacking, and that the information would be revealed “on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

So where is the news?  He doesn’t listen to our government’s intelligence briefers and he demonstrates his own ignorance every time he opens his mouth:

“And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

Mr. Trump, who does not use email, also advised people to avoid computers when dealing with delicate material. “It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way, because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe,” Mr. Trump said.

“I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe,” he added. “I have a boy who’s 10 years old; he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”

Maybe the headline should have been:  “President-Elect Trump Continues to Deny Reality and Demonstrates His Ignorance on Cyber Security”.  He probably got his information from the web or maybe his 10-year old son.  Newspapers continue to assume that their readers are intelligent and see that is exactly what the article is actually telling us.  But for most, all they read is the headline. Trump knows better, right?

Nicholas Kristof weighed in on the Media’s Failures and some of it is jaw dropping:

In 2008, the three broadcast networks, in their nightly news programs, devoted over the entire year a total of three hours and 40 minutes to issues reporting (defined as independent coverage of election issues, not arising from candidate statements or debates). In 2016, that plummeted to a grand total of just 36 minutes.

ABC and NBC had just nine minutes of issues coverage each; CBS had 18 minutes. So ABC and NBC each had less than one minute of issues coverage per month in 2016.

Those figures come from Andrew Tyndall, whose Tyndall Report monitors the news programs. By Tyndall’s measures, there was zero independent coverage in 2016 on those nightly programs about poverty, climate change or drug addiction.

…In addition, Trump was masterly at diverting us from substance. As Tom Rosenstiel, a veteran press critic, noted: “We need journalists to cover what is important, not bark at every car.”

…We’ll have to avoid the perils of false equivalence, quoting a person on each side as if there’s a genuine debate when we know there isn’t. And this may sound odd for a columnist to say, but we need more reporting, less pontificating.

That is what that story above about Trump knowing things we don’t was about.  It was barking at every car when there is no substance there.  The media thinks if they just report his craziness we will see it.  Not anymore.  You have to call it out. This is probably the most important thing to learn for 2016.  We have dumbed ourselves down and our media has become infotainment.  Covering Trump is ratings gold, but bad for America when covering him means spreading his lies and ignorance like a plague.  One place where I think Nick got it right and wrong is this:

It didn’t help that the national media isn’t very diverse — not just in racial or ethnic terms, but also socioeconomically and geographically. We don’t have many national journalists with working-class or evangelical roots, so our coverage of Trump voters was often shallow or condescending, and we largely missed the fury and despair that Trump rode to victory.

Democrats, except Bernie, missed that too, but let’s not lose our way and not ask the other question, what kind of ignorant rubes no matter how despairing and furious thinks Trump was going to help them and not put the country in great peril?  And that goes back to Nick’s comments on how much the media really covered issues, you know, that boring stuff that really changes lives.

Last year was a wake up moment for America, if we are going to survive as the model for democracy going forward.  What we have lost and must regain is the one thing that democracy absolutely depends upon, an informed electorate.  Yes they are rubes, but they got that way because our news media pandered to their base instincts for ratings.  We have as future President , as Nick called him, “the most evasive, ignorant and puerile national politician I’ve ever met...”, and I would add racist, misogynistic, pathological liar and narcissist to that list. There is a lot of blame to go around, but we badly need a news media that informs us, and while as Nick pointed out, there was instances of really good reporting, apparently only he and I were reading it.

There is one other factor here and it goes back to the fury and despair and how the Democratic Party missed it.  Actually, they didn’t miss it, they thought it no longer mattered.  In the past I have called this Establishment Democrats, thinking they were so well insulated and part of the system that they did not see the pain in the country or really understand economic inequality.  But I am reading a very painful book (in challenging my assumptions here) by Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal: Or what Ever Happened to the Party of the People, that really chronicles how the democratic party embraced economic inequality just as the Republicans did when they bought into meritocracy solves everything if everyone has access to education.  It is just another form of blaming the victim and ignoring reality.

But more on that later.  The point is, we have real problems, but we also have real solutions if only we would implement them.  But instead we got a snake oil salesman selling snake oil and the uniformed furious bought it.  It might just kill us all.  Thank you talking heads who never did your homework, but sure look good with your coffered hair and white teeth.  Oh and I learned so much as you treated your guests politely and with respect while they were spouting absolute nonsense and lies.  Maybe it must be true.

Signs for Tomorrow

The Press and the President keep trying to exact some form of normalcy out of Donald Trump.  He doesn’t rant for a twenty minute interview (60 minutes), and he is safe for America.  See we were all panicking.  Then we get Steve Bannon, head of Brietbart, to be a Chief Strategist and Senior Counsel in the White House.  This is the king of racism, anti-Semitic attacks (or hosting of them on his web site), and  conspiracy theories.  And note, nobody is challenging Trump yet or pointing out he is a lying sack of shit, so he seems normal.  What happens when he gets push back?

President Obama was trying to paint a hopeful picture yesterday in his role as president, hoping beyond hope that when Trump is faced with the facts and reality of the office, he may change positions.  Ha! These are not normal times.  This is not a normal candidate.  It won’t be long before we see “the whites of his eyes” like we did on the campaign trail.  We should not try to normalize what is going on, or that we are not transferring power to an unstable, racist, and ignorant misogynist autocrat.  

Can we re-right the ship when he and his minions are done, they are exposed, and the people throw then out? Some yes and some no.  In four years we may irreparably damage the climate and the environment.  As he drives us away from alternate energy and and authorizes drill baby drill, we may once again see gas go out of site and stymie our gains in alternate energy making us more dependent on others. If he is able to deny women the right to health care and a right to choose, many will die which is on him.  You can’t walk back death.  Same with repealing Obamacare. Without thoughtful re-engineering of our trade agreements, we will be turning over trade to other countries and empowering China.  He just might get us in a war, or the opposite side of the coin, allow others to advance their agression (Read Putin and China).  And the deficit?  Once again when the ruins are turned back over to Democrats it will he a hell of a crater to climb out of like it was last time.

So what do Democrats do to try to salvage the country and regain the reins?  That is the existential question.  Bernie tells us we need to be a more grass roots party.  I am not sure what that means in an action plan.  One thing is certain, establishment Democrats need to go.  Their track record is horrendous.  You hear the narrative that Democrats should have listened more to Middle America.  I am not sure what that means either.  You also hear that we need to be the party of the working man again.  That one I get.  Democrats have always been “reasonable”.  They have tried to negotiate where they could for what they thought was best.  And bit by bit they lost what they stood for.  They also, starting with Bill Clinton, started courting Wall Street and buying into what is good for business is good for America.  They filled the territory left vacant by moderate Republicans.

If you want to argue that Democrats did their best in hard times, look at the other team that broached no compromise and just said no.  They won, and they won big time.  Those compromises got the country nowhere and the blame was put squarely on Democrats.  While Democrats swung back to the left this election, it was too late and not enough to be believable. Nobody believed establishment Democrats had seen the light.  And listening to some of them, they still don’t.  So I think I know what they need to do and that may tie into the Bernie thing of being a grass roots party.

We know what Republicans stand for, small government, low taxes, little regulation.  What do Democrats stand for?  Well they are all over the map.  What Bernie brought to the table was a real ideology based around Progressive ideas, that the media labeled impractical.  Yep, so impractical he almost beat Hillary and the guy with a totally impractical agenda based on lies is going to be our next president.  I think the Democratic party has to go back to its Progressive roots.  People who don’t want to play, like coal state politicians can be shown the door.  Once the Party has defined what they stand for, and what they won’t compromise on, we might actually have a party that the fools that voted for Trump might just support.  And it has to be a fifty state approach starting in local and state legislatures.  But until the party coalesces around some basic principles that won’t be compromised away, local recruiting cannot begin.

We are going to be handed a wonderful opportunity to define ourselves against the ignorance and racism of the Trump Administration.  Their economic ideas will bankrupt the country. The first line of attack is going to be in the House and Senate where we can expose what they are doing and start drawing lines.  If they couple things that would help with things that will hurt, as of course they will, Democrats have to finally decide what they stand for.  Sometimes there might be room for compromise, but most times there will not.  They have to get united and stand for something that defines them.  Republicans did and they have taken over most governments.  Isn’t it time Democrats learned those lessons?



Hillary’s Preceived Problem

This is from Roger Cohen:

A lot of Americans want change; Trump is the political upstart and Clinton the political establishment. Nothing that transpired in the debate will have altered the fact that millions of Americans want rupture not continuity, and they see in Trump the potential for a radical break from politics as usual.

This from Thomas Friedman:

I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job, and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator.

Trump promises change, but change that comes from someone who thinks people who pay taxes are suckers and who thinks he can show up before an audience of 100 million without preparation or real plans and talk about serious issues with no more sophistication than your crazy uncle — and expect to get away with it — is change the country can’t afford.

Electing such a man would be insanity.

There is a narrative fed by the media that Americans are tired of the status quo and demand change.  That runs through both these analyses.  Hillary does not represent change, she represents the status quo.  That is why there is no real enthusiasm with younger voters.  There is a truth and there are a couple of problems with this analysis, but perception is critical.  The truth is we need change and Hillary does represent the establishment Democratic Party that has been too willing to compromise the country further and further right.  The lie is that the dysfunction is from politics as usual.

Actually, the dysfunction has nothing to do with politics as usual, but the new politics implemented by the Republicans of obstructionism.  The Tea Party simply took this tactic and radicalized it.  Americans in general have been mislead by our media into believing both sides do it, not because the media is evil, but because they confused partisanship with facts and created a false equivalency between the two parties for infotainment.  If Hillary could implement her ideas, we actually would see real change.  And as Tom pointed out, “she can grow in the job”.  As things work, there will be acceleration.

But she hasn’t pushed change yet, only scratched the surface.  She made a grand mistake in the debate last Monday when she did not own up to her statement of the TPP being the Gold Standard of trade agreements.  It makes her look like both sides do it.  She did make a rational point about trade agreements, but it was lost in the Trump attack.  This was a great opportunity to start pushing change.  She could have explained that the TPP is more than just a trade agreement, but a foreign policy instrument to balance Chinese incursion in the Pacific.  While she made that Gold Standard statement before it was negotiated, now she sees how it favors economic inequality and it must be renegotiated in that light.  She should not pander to the no trade agreements crowd, but take it head on.

Her way forward in the last month is to show, as she started to do in the debate, that Trump isn’t change at all.  It is failed economics all over again, that they have been the problem, that her way is actually the new way forward, and if we want real change, it is a Republican Congress that has to be changed.  That should be the talking points from now till the election.  Donald has shown himself to unfit as a leader.  You can ride that pony for about another week, and then go after Republican policy.  That would make Hillary the change candidate.  She has to show she will fight them and their obstructionism because it is that obstructionism that has made government dysfunctional.

Who Said It Best Today: Kevin Baker

I have been trying to make the point that the Democrats lost because they did not offer a vision of what we could be, and then go bold with policies to get us there. Instead, they represent some watered down Republican from the 1980s. They excite no one and offered nothing but the status quo. Well Kevin Baker did me one better today in the NYT when he described how this loss is really nothing new, and waiting for demographics to change the electoral landscape is a false hope. He ended his op-ed with this:

Today’s Democratic Party, with its finely calibrated, top-down fixes, does not offer anything so transformative. It seems scared of its own shadow, which is probably why it keeps reassuring itself that its triumph is inevitable. It needs instead to fully acknowledge just how devastating the recession was for working people everywhere in America, and what a generation of largely flat wages did to their aspirations even before that. It needs to take on hard fights, even against powerful forces, like pharmaceutical and insurance companies that presume to tell us the limits of what our health care can be or energy companies that would tell us what the world’s climate can endure. It means carving out a place of respect for working men and women in our globalized, finance-driven world.
Invite us to dream a little. You don’t build an enduring coalition out of who Americans are. You do it out of what we can be.

Thanks Kevin. Hopefully you have a bigger audience than I do.

A Way Forward

Here is the thing that should worry anyone who is paying attention. The budget numbers in the CR are basically the Ryan Budget numbers which severely restricts government and further slows down our economy. In a sense, Republicans have already won as they move the economy further and further to the right and dismantle the middle class. And one has to ask, what does this get us, another 6 weeks before a new fight and another demand?

We are bombarded with what is the end game of Republicans if they can’t dismantle Obamacare (besides dismantling government in general), but we are not asking what is the Democratic end game? We seem to be fighting this battle and forgetting about the war. The budget we seem to be getting to, assuming we can get there, is contrary to every thing we have learned in the last 13 years about what will and what will not help the economy. Again we are ignoring the lessons of the Depression and this recession.  We seem to be settling for an austerity program similar to the European one which will have a similar outcome.

Once again we (Democrats) seem to be bereft of a vision of our way forward (other than defunded Obamacare is off the table) or that the Democrats are really offering an alternative to the Republican vision. Instead we see them involved in damage control instead of fighting and standing firm on a way forward. President Obama has said he will not negotiate either the CR (which is a an austerity budget level) or the debt ceiling, but once we get past those, he is willing to sit down and work with Republicans. So what does that mean? Does that mean more cutting or will he fight for an expanded budget that allows us to restore our government and maybe help our economy?

Republicans, at least the Know-Nothings who control the party, are gleeful for the shutdown. But they live in a bubble and so do their consitutents. Marsha Blackburn (R) of Tennessee best expressed that bubble mentality when she said, “…people are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government than what they thought they needed.” Actually they are going to learn just the opposite if the shutdown goes on for an extended period. They are going to find out all the things government does they never thought about, and like the sequester, haven’t felt it yet, but it is coming. All of us that are being affected are tightening our belts and that is the last thing the economy needs, and it will penetrate those red gerrymandered districts.

This analysis suggests a way forward, but that would require real discipline and an understanding of what they stand for from Democrats and that may be a stretch. A book I am reading by a Republican, Mike Lofgren, kind of tells us where we are and he sums up the problem in his title: The Party is Over: How Republicans went Crazy, Democrats became Useless, and the Middle Class got Shafted . While he knows the details of the craziness of the Republicans, he spares no kindness on the Democrats and I found his analysis refreshingly direct and on the mark. They stand for little, are like Republicans, mostly bought and paid for, and their goal is to be re-elected. So drawing a line in the sand may be almost impossible. But having said that, if we want to reinvigorate America, there is a way forward.

It is really quite simple. First the Democrats have to agree on an economic plan forward. Seeing Evan Bayh and Joe Mechin still argue that debt is the problem and austerity is the way forward gives one pause they can get there. But let’s assume the majority can. This plan would have reasonable debt and government spending, tax fairness, investment in infrastructure and a jobs program, and a real look at policies that have created our problems with economic inequality. So for the short term goal let’s just say we want to cut the sequester in half and reallocate where those savings come from.

Then step one is to not negotiate. Let the government close down and possible have default become a reality. Force those gerrymandered districts to feel the pain of what they are causing. Wake up the business community to the reality of the Frankenstein they helped create. Get the debt ceiling resolved and CR passed and then enter into negotiations with the new targets for spending described above. If they won’t settle, shut it down and hold firm. The nation is going to have to go through a considerable period of pain before gerrymandered districts are going to stop enabling the crazies. The Democrats are going to have to hold firm in what will be a very painful period. But to continue to relent to relieve near term suffering, they have been simply moving the country further right and enabling the crazies. The crazies and their constituents are living in a fantasy bubble and it has to be broken and this is the only way.

Can Democrats rise to the task? I doubt it, but at least they are showing a modicum of courage right now and it is working. Note that Obamacare is a line in the sand and as it kicks in, Republicans will be further weakened by its success. Could they possibly learn anything from this? Then there is the issue of getting money out of politics and a fairer tax code. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but could things be getting any worse by not doing something?

The Economy – It is Not That Hard

Do we really have such a bad problem? Well yes and no. Let me ask you a few questions:

  1. What is President Obama’s plan to rejuvenate the economy?
  2. What is the conservatives plan to rejuvenate the economy?

Okay now you are scared.  As far as I know President Obama doesn’t have a plan.  This whole idea about pivoting to jobs approaches lunacy.  The problem was jobs, the deficit was coming from a faltering economy and the lack of jobs and we attacked the symptom, not the problem.  Now he doesn’t have any tools except maybe a payroll tax holiday and patent reform.  That will jump start the economy.  I can see the jobs coming.  Actually, I think they just thought this was cyclic and things would improve.  It was a gross failure of foresight and understanding.  But the good news is these guys would be willing to try something different if the other side would let them.

On the conservative side, it gets even scarier.  They want to cut taxes, gut government (read dismantle entitlements), and reduce government regulation.  And just when has that ever worked?  It is basically what we have been doing which is one of the reasons our deficit is so out of control through nonproductive tax cuts.  (See quote from banker in John Ford’s movie Stagecoach made in 1939 if you don’t believe me (Stagecoach Economics)).  Oh, I know.  Some of the true believer will tell you about the Reagan miracle or the Bush tax cuts and the growth of GDP.  But I actually read and Reagan raised taxes after he saw the giant deficits he was creating (he was no fool and flow down didn’t happen then either) and there was essentially no job creation during the Bush tax cut years.  But the finance guys did really well.  Now we are cooking.  The bad news is these guys will definitely not try anything different.  It’s a faith based thing.

Bottom line here is that neither side is offering anything to get excited about and when the Dems do get a good idea (like a real balanced approach to dealing with the deficit), the Republicans throw up the no tax increase road block.  It is totally mindless and if we stay on this path, well then we really do deserve our downgrade in credit rating.  We need some bold (and old) ideas, but the current political climate demands little minds and small thinking. Quick everybody, hunker down.  It has worked so well so far.  Which reminds me, President Obama is on a listening tour this next week.  Suppose he will do any real listening or just explain it to us so we get it this time?  One of us doesn’t get it.

Look at the argument about “entitlements”.  Ask yourself what entitlements?  Name them.  Is that Medicare and the care we give our elderly?  We can’t afford not to afford it.  Is that Medicaid?  Should we just let poor people suffer and die?  Is that food stamps?  We already have more hungry kids than any other industrialized nation.  So when they say we can’t afford it, make them tell exactly what they would cut.  Then you will understand why you can’t cut it, unless you are one of the “let them eat cake” people.  And the French Revolution worked out so well for them.

Now comes the good news.  The fix is easy.  First you have to just throw the ideologues out of the room.  That would be mostly Tea Party types, but then again, maybe all Republicans since they have drifted so far right .  Wait! what about those crazy Keynesian types?  Um.  That actually worked back in the 30s.  Based on the last negotiations, it is pretty obvious who will compromise and who won’t.  Next  you quickly repeal the Bush Tax Cuts, all of them.  No more pandering to the under $250K crowd.  We all have to play.  That almost doubles the savings from the recent debt extension cuts you got.  Redo our trade laws so we have a level playing field, and remember, at this point we have nothing to lose. Make a few people unhappy and make it hurt to offshore jobs or profits

Then you take a real whack at the tax code.  No more 15% for capital gains.  Set reasonable rates for everyone that pays our bills.  Don’t listen to morons who tell if we just get rid of the waste in government everything will be fine.  One person waste is another person’s lifeline.  Now we don’t need the highest corporate tax rate in the world and that could be slashed since most aren’t paying any anyway.  But it would be set at a reasonable level without all the loopholes resulting in a net inflow of cash, and actually lower rates for small businesses.  Do it with accountants so that we can see the bottom line and not be tricked with smoke and mirrors.

But what about jobs?  Well about half of the deficit right now is coming from the depressed economy, loss of income and safety net programs, and the only way to get that going is through government spending.  What we have to do is agree that this is the only way forward and then build a plan for a short term (5 year) spending and infrastructure investment with a path to pay it off.  Forget the stupid tax breaks and put real money in the people’s hands who will really spend it.  We did it for WWII and we could do it now.  Put people back to work building our infrastructure for the future.  You know, leave something for our kids.  As the economy starts to come alive, slowly, very slowly throttle back.  We have to start putting money in the hands of our middle class and out of the financial side of the stock market.  Start leveling the playing field.

There is not one new idea here.  It has all been done successfully.  Our debt to GDP after WWII was actually higher.  Why aren’t we doing it?  We did it then.  Well because a lot of very selfish people who have got theirs, want to make sure they don’t have to share any of it.  They are all not in this together.  But the way forward for this country is where we all sacrifice.  We really are in this all together.  It is just too bad President Obama can’t see the simplicity of this solution and champion it with no compromises that undercut it.  It would save his presidency.  Oh well, you can’t say I haven’t  tried to warn him.

Oh, I hear you.  What planet are you from Lightner?  The lobbyist and all the vested interests just won’t let that happen.  Well, it is the only way forward and if we don’t start electing people who see that, we are soon going to be in the middle of the swamp and up to ass with the proverbial alligators.  The reality is that the country is going to have to crash further before we see what is right before our eyes and do it.  You know, what we did before, before the conservatives convinced everyone it wouldn’t work, and you just have to look out for number one.

Failure of the Bailout Plan and Recriminations

Well I would guess you are starting to get it.  The conservative Republican idea of compromise and country first only applies to their proposals and their ideas.  The economic bailout went down to defeat because the Republicans decided not to support it even with John McCain’s “leadership” (who most of them don’t like).  Speaker Pelosi made no secret that the bill would require 50% participation from the Republicans to make this thing work.  Then the Democratic leadership worked hand in hand with the Republican leadership and the White House to produce a comprised bill that was accepted by all parties.  After the leadership had agreed, they froze it, put it out for all to read, so that the vote would be a clean and quick process.  Then the Republicans leadership did not deliver their votes and somehow this is the Democrat’s fault.  I find this rather interesting thinking.  John McCain called its failure due to partisanship by the Democrats and then called for bipartisanship.  See any irony in this statement?  In plain terms, “You guys are stupid, ignorant jerks!  Now let’s stop calling each other names and work together.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner tells us that Speaker Pelosi gave a partisan speech prior to the vote that turned off the Republican Caucus and they responded by voting “no”.  Now lets think about this:  Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats recognized that something must be done and were willing to work with both the White House and the Republicans for a bill.  They gave and gave and gave in the negotiations and this bill is not what they wanted and they gave up their most important priority for a bill that would pass (mortgage rate relief).  So with a bill that is unpopular with the rabble in the country that just wants to lynch someone, she felt the need not to give those voting “no” cover by pointing out that this bill was the result of eight years of Republican economic policy, nobody liked taking this bitter medicine, but for the good of the country here it is.  The Republicans were offended and decided to screw the country.

Now it is true that 40% of Democrats did not support the bill.  Most didn’t support it, it would appear, because they were angry over the removal of the ability of the government to own the mortgages and negotiate new rates that would keep many in their houses or do enough for Main Street.  But two-thirds of Republicans were against it.  Most were standing behind the mantra that we should not reward the evil doers on Wall Street and the government should not be in the business of controlling the marketplace.  It is a faith-based belief that has served us poorly in the past and will continue to fail us until we finally grow up and quit believing in a magical invisible hand.  Most of us don’t know or understand the complexities of this market meltdown and the credit crunch we are facing, and neither do most in Congress; but most respected experts have said we are facing a calamity if no action is taken.  Apparently that is true since the market lost over $1 trillion dollars on Monday and that does not reflect the pain to come as credit freezes up.  That loss reflects the loss of real people’s retirement planning, education planning, hopes and dreams.  Meanwhile the Republicans sunk the whole deal because it wasn’t their perfect deal, didn’t reflect their religious belief in the marketplace, or their feelings were hurt by Speaker Pelosi.  So much for compromise, political courage, and country first.

Here is what I think really happened:  Like the Democrats, the Republicans have about 40% of their members who on basic philosophical terms (in the Republican’s case government has no place in the marketplace), disagreed with the bill.  But what about the other 26% of the Republicans that could have passed this bill?  They were gaming the system for political advantage.

According to Chuck Todd of MSNBC, those Republicans who voted “no” almost to the man/woman are in or have been in very tough re-election campaigns.  They wanted to go back home and convince their voters that they are not the lap dog of the Bush Administration (which of course they have been), and they have protected their constituents from rewarding the evil doer Wall Street financiers.  Even better, they wanted to make the case that they prevented the spending Democrat’s attempt to waste all that money and turn us into a socialist state.  People in the country have yet to really understand this problem and they are still in lynch mob mode.  They want to lash out instead of looking at solving the problem that will be much worse if they don’t reign in their need for revenge.  These Republicans were showing a total lack of moral courage by pandering to these constituents instead of supporting their country.  They were looking for a way to cover their political asses and they found one.

So where do we go from here?  If you believe like I do that we have to do something, then I would strongly recommend that the Democrats blow off the Republicans (except for the moderates) and write a bill that they really could whole heartedly support and then pass it.  That probably won’t happen and, after reality sets in, the Republicans will come back to the table.  I would give them nothing.  The bill is already bad so don’t make it worse.  Either pass the existing bill you worked so hard to build in a bipartisan way, or pass the bill you really think will not only help the market, but main street and let the Republicans flounder behind their leader, John McCain, who led them to nowhere.