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Bain Attacks Working Despite Corporate Democrat Opposition

5:45 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

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Interesting write up today by Guardian columnist Michael Wolff regarding Obama’s message campaign, Mitt Romney’s Bain capitalism pays dividends to Obama:

The transformational issue in this campaign might not be healthcare, or the economy, or immigration, but Bain Capital, says the New York Times – in a surprised acknowledgment that the private equity firm that Mitt Romney helped found is proving to be a powerful weapon against him.

The Bain attacks are, so far, the most controversial Obama campaign strategy, derided by many Democratic pros and insiders. Theirs is a simple analysis: populist attacks seldom work for the Democrats (curiously, they tend to work well for the Republicans); private equity is an issue too complicated to gain lasting attention; it’s silly to offend the financial community, which provides so much support to the Democrats, over a low-return issue.

This last point is causing the most head-shaking within the party. Particularly in the wake of the eruption by Obama partisan, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, in which he characterized the anti-Bain campaign as nauseating: why bite the hand that feeds you?

The New York Times piece Wolff is referencing reported Bain Attacks Make Inroads For President:
Read the rest of this entry →

Bush-Obama Economics Is Failing

3:03 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

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Today’s unemployment numbers are just the latest in a series of reports indicating that President Obama’s continuation of Bush economics was a mistake.

It is time for Obama to offer a real alternative to trickle down economics and get America working again.

For some comparing Presidents Bush and Obama is surprising but that is probably from a lack of understanding how similar their actual policies are. For example, did you know/remember that Bush signed a stimulus package? It’s true! And like the stimulus Obama signed it was mostly made up of tax cuts. The theory in both cases being that tax cuts stimulate growth and create jobs – which isn’t true.

In fact, despite tax cuts and a stimulus package the Bush Administration’s job record, according to the Wall Street Journal, was the Worst Track Record On Record:

The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton‘s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.

OK, so one of the worst job creation records in Presidential history despite a stimulus and multiple tax cuts. And what is Obama’s plan for creating jobs? Here are the six major points from Obama’s program to create manufacturing jobs:

1. Removing tax deductions for shipping jobs overseas and providing new incentives for bringing them back home

2. Targeting the domestic production incentive on manufacturers who create jobs here at home and doubling the deduction for advanced manufacturing

3. Introducing a new Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit to encourage investments in communities affected by job loss

4. Providing temporary tax credits to drive nearly $20 billion in domestic clean energy manufacturing

5. Reauthorizing 100% expensing of investment in plants and equipment

6. Closing a loophole that allows companies to shift profits overseas

Two modest changes on removing incentives to offshore jobs and dodge taxes while the rest of the program involves tax cuts. No repudiation of race to the bottom trade policies that support worker exploitation and environmental degradation – the actual cause of the loss of manufacturing jobs. Multinational Corporations are outsourcing jobs to cut costs that come from labor standards and environmental regulations but that incentive or outsourcing stimulus is untouched.

The Bush tax cuts are still in effect and with the financial institutions that created the 2008 financial crisis are bigger than ever. Not to mention the incentives to recklessly speculate despite being under taxpayer protection as JP Morgan just proved.

The policies on trade, taxes, finance, and Corporate Power in general have remained constant under both administrations.

In substance, President Obama is continuing the policies of President Bush with some tweaks on the margins.

And that’s the issue, because people did not vote for a third term for Bush in really any area of government policy let alone Bush’s economic agenda. They voted for change because the voters properly understood that the economic system as fundamentally broken. But Obama did not change that system, in fact he protected it and is now working to perpetuate it. That is unacceptable.

Is this critique too harsh? Is Obama just powerless to get legislation through a tough Congress (at one point in his administration controlled by Democrats in both houses with 60 votes in the Senate)? Consider this: in the midst of another corporate crime wave President Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. The act was a clear indication if not admission that without regulation corporate officers would commit fraud – a resounding refutation of the conservative principle of “self-regulation.” Cut to 2012 and the ridiculously titled JOBS Act which according to Professor William Black, a major regulator during the Savings and Loan Crisis, is a recipe for fraud as it rolls back the Bush era regulation on corporate accounting and governance. More conservative than Bush?

If President Obama wants to be taken seriously as a change agent on economic issues he is going to have to move past his substantive embrace of Bush economics. In truth, Obama is not even rhetorically past Bush economics with a constant focus on the magic of tax cuts and trickle down economics. Obama must provide a bolder vision for the future and then fight for it, not dodge tough fights (see Wisconsin) and expect to inspire loyalty. It’s time to lead.

Not being Mitt Romney is not good enough.

Where are the JOBS Obama? Here, I’ll Show You

5:36 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

I know many people are in election mode which narrows vision considerably, so let me just say upfront Mitt Romney may be the embodiment of all that is wrong with America: a self-absorbed Corporate Gangster that hides in esoteric dogma to rationalize his transgressive lifestyle. He won’t be getting my vote, it would be like electing Gordon Gekko president. By the way Mittens, if your plan was to fire everyone and sell the country for parts… too late.

That being said, what the hell is Obama’s plan to turn this economy around? Is there one?

Yes there is, and it’s really stupid.

From President Obama’s website:

When President Obama took office, the economy was losing more than 700,000 jobs per month. President Obama acted quickly to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which cut taxes for small businesses and 95 percent of working families. It also included emergency funding to support about 300,000 educator jobs, more than 4,600 law enforcement positions, and investments in the clean energy sector that supported 224,500 jobs through 2010. Through April 2012, the economy has added more than 4.2 million private sector jobs over 26 consecutive months of job growth.

President Obama knows we still have more work to do. That’s why, in his State of the Union address, the President laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last—an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

OK… so let’s see what that entails, from Whitehouse.Gov:

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a Blueprint for an America Built to Last, encouraging companies to create manufacturing jobs in the United States while removing deductions for shipping jobs overseas and encouraging insourcing. During the past two years, we have begun to see positive signs in American manufacturing – with the manufacturing sector adding more than 300,000 jobs since December 2009, with companies engaging in the emerging trend of “insourcing” by bringing jobs back and making additional investments in the United States. Manufacturing jobs are growing for the first time since the late 1990s.

The proposals the President is describing today are designed to build on this progress. They include six proposals that Congress should act on immediately to encourage job growth in the United States and that are fully paid for by closing tax loopholes that encourage the shifting of jobs and shielding of profits overseas.

OK… what are the six proposals?

1. Removing tax deductions for shipping jobs overseas and providing new incentives for bringing them back home

2. Targeting the domestic production incentive on manufacturers who create jobs here at home and doubling the deduction for advanced manufacturing

3. Introducing a new Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit to encourage investments in communities affected by job loss

4. Providing temporary tax credits to drive nearly $20 billion in domestic clean energy manufacturing

5. Reauthorizing 100% expensing of investment in plants and equipment

6. Closing a loophole that allows companies to shift profits overseas

The Blueprint includes other provisions like enforcing trade agreements, making Wall Street “play by the rules” and keeping tuition costs from going “too high.”

In other words… Obama’s economic strategy is lame bullshit. No change, no vision, nothing.

This isn’t change you can believe in, it’s not even change at all.

If doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insane then Obama needs a straightjacket. Neoliberalism doesn’t work, has never worked, and will never work in creating broad prosperity. You would think after 30 years of watching the overwhelming majority of the gains going to the Top 1% and an epic crash to rival the Great Depression we would have learned something. Nope.

“Enforce Trade Agreements”
– The agreements were written by multi-national corporations for their benefit not America’s.

“Make Wall Street Play By The Rules” – They literally write the rules: OCC, SEC, CFTC, Federal Reserve.. totally stacked with Wall Street cronies. Sometimes the firms get so greedy they break their own rules. But otherwise Wall Street has captured the regulators. They are the regulators.

“Keep tuition from spiraling ‘too high’”
– If higher education is an investment in the future why are people walking out of it with any debt?

What may be the saddest fact of all is Obama can’t even get the lame bullshit he is proposing through a Republican congress. That’s how far stupid Right America has moved. Even defeatist, weak, mostly ineffectual reforms are unpalatable to the reactionaries in Congress.

 

How About A Real Jobs Program?

Allow me to offer six proposals that would actually improve the lives of the 99%.

1. Wipe Out The Debt. The Too Big To Fail Banks should be nationalized, wound down, and destroyed with a total wipe out of the debts they hold. Free enslaved Americans so they can reset and begin to grow again.

2. Nationalize the Fed. The Federal Reserve is the third iteration of a corrupting institution two other Democratic Presidents destroyed – Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Allowing private money interests to have a strangle hold on the nation’s money supply is a recipe for the kind of crony capitalism and subsequent inequality America now faces. The Fed is not “independent” at all. It is independent of democratic control but it is not independent of Wall Street. Nationalize America’s Central Bank and have it absorbed by the Treasury Department under democratic control.

3. Withdraw from the World Trade Organization. Neoliberal globalization is an economic, political, social, and environmental disaster. It has lead to unstable markets, democratic deficits, racial/ethnic/religious hatreds, and environmental degradation. It is time to restore bi-lateral trade agreements that value fair labor standards and protect the environment.

4. Protect and Invest in New American Industries. Even Ronald Reagan knew that new industries needed protection – that’s why he protected through anti-Free Trade measures the burgeoning Semiconductor Chip industry. One of the reasons Silicon Valley exists (besides the Pentagon creating it) is America protected its semiconductor industry when it counted.

China is now surpassing America in clean technology particularly solar energy – guess what? No. A 100% tariff on all foreign imports of clean energy technology including solar tech. We make it, we buy it, we put our people to work to make it happen. We are going to win the future by not playing a rigged game against slave drivers and reckless polluters.

5. Tax FIRE to build TECI. The Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE) economy often euphemistically referred to as “Wall Street” creates no value – at best it is a utility that helps the REAL economy function, at worst it’s a parasitic gang of plutocrats who wreck markets and corrupt politics.

The next evolution within the REAL economy should be Transportation, Energy, and Communication Infrastructure (TECI). Investing in roads and public transportation, alternative energy, a reliable and robust broadband and phone tower network creates jobs while rebuilding the country. Production instead of finance means a reindustrialization program. Real jobs for a Real economy.

How do we pay for it? Taxing the FIRE with a Financial Transaction Tax. Take from the useless to fund the productive.

6. A War On Corporate Politics. To secure the jobs program corporations simply must be removed from the political process. Right now the Supreme Court is firmly pushing corporate interests and Congress is bought by corporate powers. Before legislation can be put forward to politically disenfranchise corporations an all out assault from the White House should be launched. Any corporation giving money or lobbying against the jobs agenda should be hit from all sides from federal lawsuits and continuous investigations utilizing new federal powers granted by Anti-Terrorism legislation.

The Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and other security services should begin infiltrating Corporate America and provoking them into engaging in securities fraud or regulatory abuses then arresting executives. Agent provocateurs could help shut down a possible Corporate response to the jobs program. Strangling a political movement in the cradle is the best strategy.

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While #6 may or may not have some satire interlaced within it (see if you can find it) this Six Point Proposal would create jobs, now. It would also build a better society so America could no only win the future but in so doing have a victory worth having.

New York Times: The Banks Win, Again

3:44 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

(image: dd392, photobucket)

(image: dd392, photobucket)

Despite some initial boasting and misdirection the Mortgage Fraud settlement by the Too Big To Jail Banks is actually… total bullshit. From the New York Times:

 

Under the terms of the settlement, the banks will provide $26 billion worth of relief to borrowers and aid to states for antiforeclosure efforts. In exchange, they will get immunity from government civil lawsuits for a litany of alleged abuses, including wrongful denial of loan modifications and wrongful foreclosures. That $26 billion is paltry compared with the scale of wrongdoing and ensuing damage, including 4 million homeowners who have lost their homes, 3.3 million others who are in or near foreclosure, and more than 11 million borrowers who are underwater by $700 billion.

The settlement could also end up doing more to clean up the banks’ books than to help homeowners…

This is actually another bailout under the guise of law enforcement.

When it comes to helping homeowners, banks are treated as if they still need to be protected from drains on their capital. But when it comes to rewarding executives and other bank shareholders, paying out capital is the name of the game. And at a time of economic weakness, using bank capital for investor payouts leaves the banks more exposed to shocks. So homeowners are still bearing the brunt of the mortgage debacle. Taxpayers are still supporting too-big-to-fail banks. And banks are still not being held accountable.

But it gets even better according to two policy experts in this Bloomberg Law discussion. Read the rest of this entry →

Record Military Suicides: The Price of A Daydreaming Empire

2:06 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

Baseball was once America’s favorite cultural pastime. Today, in politics at least, nothing is more fashionable than praising and celebrating “the troops.” I Support the Troops serves as continual shibboleth that the ever scrambling political class recites and riffs on in the pathetic attempt to convince the public that they take public service seriously. Those in power, in what could only be described as a tragic paradox, are constantly callously searching for ways to be authentic, or at least to appear to be authentic. This has lead to ever increasing heights of hair-pulling, clothes-tearing, and histrionics when praising the troops and their sacrifices. As the horrors of war become increasingly difficult to justify “the troops” become ever more celestial and divine as if praise is a substitute for care and passionate veneration a substitute for actual living.

President Obama even went so far as to make troops the role model for Americans in his State Of The Union, though he was shrilly attacked for it by the Right, Obama was merely taking the game to its next logical step.

But do Americans really Support The Troops? Do they really even care? No, not really.

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I am sorry if that is an upsetting message, but it is none the less true. A truth not gleaned from public statements or opinion polls or sound bites on the news but from actions and the easily understood consequences of those actions.

Politifact, somewhat discredited by recent rulings, recently decided to “fact check” a public statement Congressman Rush Holt made on military suicides:

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12th) cites a grim statistic relating to military service: 18 veterans commit suicide daily across the country.

That would mean 126 veterans a week or more than 6,000 a year — and Holt isn’t wrong, a PolitiFact New Jersey investigation found.

A number of organizations — including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — say that statistic is the best estimate available.

No, it is not wrong. Nor is it just veterans, as according the New York Times Active-Duty Soldiers are committing suicide at record levels:

Suicides among active-duty soldiers hit another record high in 2011, Army officials said on Thursday, although there was a slight decrease if nonmobilized Reserve and National Guard troops were included in the calculation…

Active-duty Army suicide rates have been higher than civilian rates since 2008, when there were nearly 20 suicides per 100,000 in the Army, compared with close to 18 suicides per 100,000 in a civilian population that was adjusted to be comparable to Army demographics. The Army projects that final 2011 numbers will be more than 24 suicides among active-duty soldiers per 100,000, another record high.

It is also worth noting that given the stigma of suicide many service-members, their families, commanders and others often try to make suicides seem like accidental deaths – the real numbers may be even higher.

Is it so hard to understand why men and women involved in some of the most horrifying, nakedly imperialistic, and wasteful wars might want to leave this world sooner rather than later?

But wait, America has a way out, a loophole in the social contract. We all get to praise the troops and their service which means what they were ordered to do in our name, under our authority, and with our money is irrelevant. It is a rather nice arrangement if you do not want to deal with the issue. Unfortunately “the troops” lived it and can not say a few benign words and walk out into the sun for another day of self-glorification.

What have we ordered “the troops” to do, and what were the consequences?

In the Iraq War alone their were over 100,000 civilian deaths according to one study, and according to leaked Pentagon records:

According to official figures, 3,884 US soldiers died between 2004 and 2009, an additional 224 soldiers from allied nations, well over 8,000 members of the Iraqi security forces (reasonably reliable figures are missing for 2004) and 92,003 Iraqi civilians whose deaths are documented by at least one source. Together, this makes more than 104,111 deaths, a figure that approximates the number of victims reported dead in these documents, namely 109,032

Getting killed, maimed or killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people by mistake or purposely – that must do wonders for mental health.

Afghanistan, now America’s longest war, has seen 2,800 Americans killed, 27,000 Americans maimed, and over 30,000 civilian deaths.

While we aimlessly deploy “the troops” to far away lands to perform grizzly tasks to maintain our ruthless empire – where is the American people’s focus? What, in our attention economy, have we deployed our own resources towards? Ourselves of course!

While other (usually poorer) Americans fight and die for “freedom” other (usually richer) Americans are busy pursuing fantasy. Movies, TV, Video Games, Novels, Social Media Aps, Role-Playing games, or just the all consuming narcissism of moi … as one of the co-creators of the internet Robert Cailliau noted, if these trends continue the future is likely to be like the Matrix but worse. A people daydreaming their lives away while the cruel realities necessary for their position and place are borne but others – others whose only reward is posthumous praise.

 

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Is this a system worth killing so many innocent people for? Is this a system worth dying for?

There is no simple answer to those questions or to other questions I have raised, but there is one thing that seems crystal clear regarding the tragic state of our military service members – if you really want to Support the Troops Bring Them Home.

Donald Rumsfeld Uhhh Tim Geithner May Not Serve In Obama 2nd Term

12:24 pm in Uncategorized by DSWright

 

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(Timothy Geithner by J Wohland)

 

Sometimes Presidents make horrible cabinet choices.

Bad cabinet choices can wound a good administration or damage one already spiraling down. It is easy to see how it could happen – someone comes highly recommended, with an impressive resume and lots of other credentials. They do well in the interview process and have a good rapport with the President-elect and his trusted aides or maybe he or she is a trusted aid. Given that dynamic, it’s not hard to see why George W. Bush chose Donald Rumsfeld and its not that hard to see why Barack Obama chose Tim Geithner. But in both instances Presidents made tragic errors.

Though I’m sure Bush was warned by people about Rumsfeld, it is well known Obama had a warning almost immediately from Senator Byron Dorgan that Summers, Geithner and crew were the wrong choices for his economic team, from New York Magazine:

There’s a poignant moment of sorts in December 2008 when the North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan implores the president-elect not to go with his economic team. “I don’t understand how you could do this,” he tells him. “You’ve picked the wrong people!” As indeed Obama did, under the tutelage of Robert Rubin, who also tried to finagle a White House guru role for himself, not unlike the perch from which he helped wreak havoc at Citigroup during its subprime orgy

Indeed, possibly the worst mistake of the Obama presidency. Larry Summers and his former Deputy Tim Geithner were the embodiment of the economic establishment that lead to the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, Summers and Geithner lead the campaign to oust Brooksley Born from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission – why? Because Mrs. Born wanted to regulate derivatives thinking they were dangerous and would lead to a financial meltdown. Summers, Geithner, Greenspan and Rubin destroyed Born then supported legislation that further deregulated derivatives. Woops.

Presidents also don’t like to admit they made a horrible mistake (who does really?) and so the most tacit admission is found when they dump people in the second term. This is what happened with Rumsfeld and why Tim Geithner is now, surely with White House consent, hinting he won’t be back:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said he doesn’t expect President Barack Obama to ask him to stay in office if he’s re-elected, and dismissed Wall Street’s concerns about financial regulations.

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”

I’m confident if Obama isn’t re-elected Geithner will be one of the reasons why.

There are many good reasons to dump Tim Geithner like him being a blatant Wall Street puppet, not paying his taxes and being in charge of the IRS, having his fingerprints all over the Bankster give away that has people in the streets…but an even more compelling reason for Geithner to go is this -

 

What if Elizabeth Warren Becomes a Senator?

 

No one did more in the Obama Administration to undermine Elizabeth Warren than Tim Geithner.

From HuffPo:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed opposition to the possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a source with knowledge of Geithner’s views.

The financial reform bill passed by the Senate on Thursday mandates the creation of a new federal entity charged with protecting consumers from predatory lenders.

But if Geithner has his way, the most prominent advocate for creating the agency may not be picked to lead it.

Simon Johnson:

And having Ms. Warren on the scene — providing an alternative, pro-consumer perspective — may not be to his liking.

President Obama missed his best opportunity to reform the financial system when advisers — including Mr. Geithner – recommended in March 2009 that he defer to top bankers

But forget the backroom, the contention became clear as day during the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission when Warren grilled Geithner on his role in the bailouts and why AIG received 100 cents on the dollar and why banks are now MORE concentrated not less.

 

Needless to say relations would be much better between the White House and Massachusetts’ newest Senator if Tim Geithner was not the Treasury Secretary.

The tragedy of time or at least humans existence within it is the inability to go back and fix mistakes. Summers, Geithner and crew were bad choices that not only secured the power of Wall Street to keep putting the country at risk but deeply damaged the public’s trust in the Obama Administration and government generally.

Kicking Geithner to the curb after re-election will not undo what has been unfortunately done, but it will be a good start. What needs to happen for America to heal is not just a repudiation of certain individuals like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers but a repudiation of the philosophy they brought to government – that a Wall Street Elite should ruthlessly operate America for their own interests only stopping to confer with society through its representatives in DC with a check and a message “We own you.”