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Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein issues Obama his orders

12:57 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Lloyd Blankfein a few hours ago:

“Broadening the personal income-tax base by closing loopholes will generate substantial additional revenue while minimizing increases in marginal rates that could stifle risk-taking and robust growth.”

Republican Senator Boehner talked the loopholes scam a week ago and I assumed “his side’s” initial negotiating position would be President Obama’s final one, but now the money has spoken and said the same as Boehner.

So, we can be certain — markets, are you listening? — here’s how it will go down:

In the end Obama will enthusiastically extol ‘closing loopholes’ — which will take the rich and their tax attorneys five minutes to figure out how to get around — and that will be what ‘our side’ gets. No change in tax rates on the 1%. On the other hand, the 1% Democrats and Republicans will get definite and painful cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, and a perhaps smaller cut in Social Security that won’t be called a cut (it’ll be called ‘a change in the way cost of living adjustments are calculated’), but that will amount to a 3% slash after ten years, 6% after twenty, and so on.

If Romney were President I don’t think he would be able to get away with this … but he was worser evil-wise, apparently.

Black Hoover & The Austerity Crusade

10:50 am in Uncategorized by fairleft


Black Hoover

Who cares where John Wayne was born?

It’s the economy, stupid.

It’s 9% unemployment.

Who cares if that baby killer goes free?

It’s 50% no jobs for the young this summer.

Who cares if Romney misspoke or un-remembered?

It’s 17% underemployment and unemployment.

It’s the Democratic Party and no alternative to Wall Street Barry.

This black Hoover acting like Keynes was never born.

De-housing millions but you bail out the banks?

It’s the economy, stupid.

It’s 30% underemployment or unemployment for African-Americans.

Who cares where John Wayne was born?

The poem and my frustration is related to a headline – Obama faces no Democratic challenger – and the following by Dean Baker yesterday, stating the obvious:

Keynes in the 1930s … explained how the government could provide the boost necessary to get an economy back to normal levels of employment and output. There, of course, has been much work subsequent to Keynes that built on his basic insights. In principle, this work implies that there is no reason that economies should ever again be forced to endure long periods of high unemployment, just as there is no reason for us to expect 16th-century mortality rates for our children.

However, many in the media and policy circles insist 0n telling us that we are doomed – we just have to accept that it may be close to a decade before we get back to normal levels of unemployment. In the meantime, tens of millions of people around the world will be condemned to unemployment or underemployment, because the folks responsible for managing the economy messed up.

It is worth asking what this view tells us about the economy and economists. …

So, Barry Hoover triangulates and takes care of Wall Street again, echoing instead of rejecting the Republicans, who say that what matters _right_ _now_ is the deficit. That uniparty inside the Beltway political/media world — created by the rich and their money — deciding how to cut the deficit while we have 9% plus unemployment. Similar madness in Europe, their Austerity Crusade, all major parties deficit-cutting united during their deeper-than-ours recession, twice as deep in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

Where is the mainstream, Keynesian alternative that could destroy the anti-prosperity bloc, that could end The Austerity Crusade? Surely a majority of the electorate is not so easily fooled into thinking that we _need_ unemployment, homelessness, and hard times, that those are somehow (classical economics) ‘good for us’? Or has the mainstream media sell job worked and brought about an era of pre-Keynesian masochism?

P.S. I’m sure others here have noted the following from today’s Ezra Klein (emphasis added):

With Republicans saying no tax increases, or even revenue increases, and Obama resisting the word “revenue” and the term “tax increase,” you can be pretty sure that the final deal is going to tilt extremely heavily towards spending cuts.

And that seems to be the tradeoff the White House is going to make on this issue. Occupying the political center means accepting a deal that’s substantively very far to the right.

Who ‘they’ are; where they’re taking us

4:41 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Thanks to the Daily Howler for pointing out the perfect portrait of the U.S. media/political elite, i.e., the ‘they’ that is the enemy of the rest of us:

NYT’s Mark Leibovich: On a recent Friday night, a couple hundred influentials gathered for a Mardi Gras-themed birthday party for Betsy Fischer, the executive producer of “Meet the Press.” Held at the Washington home of the lobbyist Jack Quinn, the party was a classic Suck-Up City affair in which everyone seemed to be congratulating one another on some recent story, book deal, show or haircut (and, by the way, your boss is doing a swell job, and maybe we could do an interview).

McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, arrived after the former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie left. Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren had David Axelrod pinned into a corner near a tower of cupcakes. In the basement, a very white, bipartisan Soul Train was getting down to hip-hop. David Gregory, the “Meet the Press” host, and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham gave speeches about Fischer. Over by the jambalaya, Alan Greenspan picked up some Mardi Gras beads and placed them around the neck of his wife, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who bristled and quickly removed them. . . .

Yes, that was former Fed Chief Alan Greespan, Ayn Randian most responsible for the deregulated crap storm we’re doomed to experience forever (i.e., until us average working people overthrow the neoliberal corporate-globalized market fundamentalists). And his wife, insider neo-journalist Andrea Mitchell.

And what are ‘they’ in an uproar about right now? No, not 10% official (near 17% unofficial) unemployment in the U.S. Nope, deficits; government deficits during a very deep recession when we desperately need economic stimulus have got elite knickers all in a twist:

NPR’s Mara Liasson: Washington is gearing up for a big debate: What to do about the exploding national debt, the unsustainable annual budget deficits and what to do about the Bush tax cuts that expire at the end of the year. . . .

"The arithmetic is, unfortunately, quite clear," [Greenspan's successor, Ben] Bernanke said. "To avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above.

The Miami Herald: . . . the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform faces no easy task when it holds its first meeting on Tuesday, searching for a bipartisan consensus on ways to reduce the deficit to within 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product [yeah, the same stupid goal the European Union demands of its members; where do they come up with this crap?] by 2015.

Under Obama’s proposed budget, this year’s deficit is projected to reach $1.5 trillion, or 10.3 percent of the GDP, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It’s expected to decrease slightly to $1.3 trillion next year, or 8.9 percent of the GDP, and to 4 percent of the GDP by 2014. The CBO says it will resume rising again after that, however.

This kind of thinking followed through on is potentially catastrophic, both for recovery from the recession and for the last strongholds of the welfare state in the U.S., health care for the aged and Social Security. And yet, how can we resist St. Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Bipartisan-in-Chief?

Marshall Auerback: President Obama has long decried our “out of control” government spending. He clearly gets this nonsense from the manic deficit terrorists who do not understand these accounting relationships that we’ve sketched out. As a result he continues to advocate that the government leads the charge by introducing austerity packages – just when the state of private demand is still stagnant or fragile. By perpetuating these myths, then, the President himself becomes part of the problem. . . .

Governments that issue debt in their own currency and do not promise to convert their currency into anything else can always “afford” to run deficits. Indeed, in this context government spending financially helps the private sector by injecting cash flows, providing liquid assets and raising the net worth of some or all private economic agents.

Unfortunately for Greece, Spain, and the other EU countries now and forever (or until us average working people yada yada . . .) victimized by global financial wealth suckers, they can’t issue debt in their own currency, having ceded that sovereignty for the borderless, deregulated, neoliberal dream.

So, okay, on the flip side what are the media/political elite celebrating now? That would be the recovery/’recovery’ of GM, which, responding to St. Obama demands that it cut wages and benefits and fire people in exchange for a government bailout – GM Bailout: Billions to Put People Out of Work – fired people and cut wages and benefits.

GM had 217,000 employees at the end of 2009, down 11 percent from the prior year.

Industry dropping wages and benefits and increasing unemployment, governments cutting deficits and the welfare state – the media elite celebrating the former and urging on or shouting TINA about the latter – how does all this produce anything except an ever-worsening spiral of economic misery?

I don’t know and they don’t care.

P.S.A good read, from the Irish front:

Who is shouldering the burden of the recession? The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has this month released a report which seeks to answer this question.

The report argues that at the heart of government policy is a ‘determination to load the full cost of the collapse onto working people and the poor.’

The consequence of this strategy, argues ICTU, ‘could turn Ireland into a social and economic wasteland for a decade or more.’

In support of their argument ICTU examine the impact of recent budgets on wages, social welfare and pensions. The report outlines the loss of real income experienced by workers and the unemployed while highlighting those sectors of society who are gaining from the recession.

In 2009 300 individuals held a person wealth of €50 billion. Despite this, the total tax take from these millionaires was just €73 million. In the same year the budget took €760 million from social welfare claimants in cuts.

In 2009 the share of national wealth going to wages fell by €5billion while profits from trade, farming and rents are expected to rise by €3 billion.

These figures, and the disparities they highlight argue ICTU, are the consequence of a government policy that is determined to lower the cost of labour. And there is more to come. . . .

Oh yeah, they have much more in store for us. Unless the average working people yada yada yada.

[ Photo-enhanced version of above at and ]