Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post D.C. Circuit Reaches Absurd Conclusion Against Obamacare Subsidies
Honestly I have a hard time believing that the ACA wasn’t intended to be chipped away in a piecemeal fashion. What I mean to say is that the whole point was to push through a politically unpalatable mandate to buy private health insurance that would lead to further health care industry consolidations and boost the profits of the largest entities in that business- and that once this feat was accomplished all the fig leaves, sweeteners or what-have-you would be steadily yanked away.
This is certainly how it is unraveling so far. The Medicaid expansion struck down. Now the federal subsidies for people buying insurance in states without their own exchanges. But the mandate and all the other poisonous provisions still remain. In my own area I have seen one hospital and multiple general practitioners absorbed into larger health care networks just in the past 2 years. If the ACA is ever repealed, the individual mandate and the worst aspects of the employer mandate will likely be the last provisions standing. And almost certainly by then the already high levels of corporate consolidation in the health care industry will have further degraded into a de facto monopoly or duopoly.
I am inclined to agree. I am opposed to fixed, ossified hierarchies- especially those based on heredity or personal connections- and I am no proponent of serious social difference but for practical reasons there needs to be a chain of command and organizational structure of some kind. You cannot defeat such a well-funded, well-oiled, highly coordinated enemy as capitalism without an equally tightly coordinated opposition.
That said, I think that once you have a socialist state/society, trimming down the hierarchy should be a long-term goal. I think workers’ self-management along the lines of socialist Yugoslavia is a good model to follow. Other areas, however, either require firm decisions to be made too quickly or long term-planning which depends upon compiling and processing significant amounts of data. I do not thing these lend themselves as well to a horizontal structure. However, a long-lived socialist society should seek in the long term to develop an educated and actively engaged populace which reduces the need for formal hierarchies. Is that to I say I see a point anytime soon where nobody is given even the most nominal authority over another person or group of people? No, but I think we can even benefit more from our ‘superiors’ if they are brought down to a level that is a bit closer to Earth.
Hurriedly formulated, but I think the gist is there…
Bandiera Rossa commented on the diary post Super Bowl Friday Trash Dump: State Dept Releases KXL Final Environmental Review by Steve Horn.
While I certainly don’t approve of what’s going on in the tar sands, I’m inclined to agree with you that if they’re so hell bent on doing it- at least they ought back down from the absolutely ludicrous pipeline proposals. Though Lac Megantic showed that transporting oil by rail is also not without its perils, [...]
Bandiera Rossa commented on the diary post Alan Grayson: The Congressman with Guts is Now Also the Congressman with Results by Phoenix Woman.
What would you call the Israelis that believe their right to rule over all the present-day territory of Israel is conferred on them by God? The Jewish settlers who arrived to Palestine during Ottoman rule and the British mandate with the intention of establishing a Jewish sectarian state called themselves Zionists. Zionism makes up part [...]
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Republicans’ Polling Recovers from the Government Shutdown
I think you hit the nail on the head here.
Last month’s shutdown wasn’t the first time during the Obama presidency that the Republicans threatened to let the government go unfunded: they had already extracted huge ‘concessions’ (whether they can be properly called that when the president seems to be philosophically of a kind with supply-siders, I don’t know) even when the Republican positions didn’t have all that much popular support. This time, he actually let the government shutdown proceed even after the Congressional GOP backed down from their efforts to totally defund the ACA and instead offered to make funding the government conditional upon a one year extension to the individual mandate. In other words, while Obama couldn’t be bothered to advocate for very popular measures he claimed to support, he was more than willing to stick his neck out for a health care law that is reviled by about half the country and that most people don’t understand in its entirety. A law that, as it turns out, wasn’t even ready to be implemented as its key provisions began to go into effect.
I don’t think whether the Republicans were right or wrong to engage in brinksmanship on this issue is the main issue here, especially given that this president has demonstrated an alacrity to give in to their demands when push comes to shove. I think the real problem here is that the one time the Democrats choose to fight back against this was in defense of a law that fares poorly in the court of public opinion and is riddled with teething troubles- not to mention that after all that hemming and hawing, almost the entire House Democratic caucus wound up voting for a continuing resolution that funded the government entirely along lines drawn by the House Republicans!
Of course Obama and the Congressional Democrats quietly killed the public option themselves. The right wing served only as the useful idiots which gave them cover to do that while not having any blame stick to the rightful culprits. Right wing Republican hysterics acting as an excuse for Democrats with a super-majority to produce a neo-liberal bill is what the ACA has always been all about.
I am really torn at what to do in this election, though it must be said that staying home looks as good as any other option!
On one hand you have Cory Booker- the highly groomed, media whoring, style over substance friend to hedge funds and financiers who makes some vaguely agreeable noises but is transparently lacking in conviction and has few concrete policy proposals which anyone would accuse of being fresh or visionary. In fact, he’s got very specific policy prescriptions at all! For instance, his campaign website rightfully points out that most of the jobs lost in the recession were middle income jobs while most of the new jobs created during the ‘recovery’ (his word) are low paying but then goes on to offer nothing but “smart investment coupled with long term deficit reduction”, “ensuring everyone pays their fair share” and a non-specific, open-ended commitment to ‘protecting SS & Medicare benefits’. He calls the scope of the NSA surveillance “troubling” but doesn’t say what he plans to do about it other than ‘trying to find a balance between privacy and security’.
On the other hand- you have Steve Lonegan: the dour, often inflammatory Tea Party true believer. There are positions he takes which I agree on: that the ACA is an abominable law, his more unequivocal condemnation of the NSA spying program which he says “needs to be stopped”, his non-interventionist foreign policy stance and his opposition to TARP. On all of these issues I would say he is much more trustworthy and sensible than Cory Booker. Unfortunately they’re part and parcel of one big package of crazy. The man is ferociously anti-labor, rabidly opposed to clean energy, wants to cut social spending to the bone, would have let GM & Chrysler go belly-up, is openly in favor of school vouchers (though I suspect Booker supports them privately anyway), thinks we need more Supreme Court justices like Scalia and Thomas and speaks in apocalyptic tones regarding federal recognition of gay marriage.
So the victor of this election will either be a corporate Democrat who’s running on a milquetoast platform but is completely insincere or a reactionary free market & religious fundamentalist who means what he says. Not exactly heartening. To tell the truth, elections like these- and Obama and the Congressional Democrat’s performance over the past few years- make me want to give my vote to the Tea Party wrecker because at this point the healthiest thing for American civil society seems to be the speedy downfall of the Republic!
Excellent post, though I don’t know why this point is not raised even more often. I have pointed out repeatedly to unabashed Obama supporters arguing that the GOP is the sole enemy in the shutdown debacle that he isn’t even advocating for his own budget- much less the budgetary principles which he said separated him from Romney & Ryan! This is usually met with deafening silence, unsurprisingly.
I do have a question, though, if whoever has the answer could excuse my ignorance. The library of Congress website says that the House appropriations bill was intended to provide appropriations from the beginning of the fiscal year to December 15, 2013. That’s 2.5 months or about 1/5 of the fiscal year. The president’s budget proposal for 2014 was $1.235 trillion in discretionary spending. Working on the assumption that levels of funding will remain more or less consistent through the year, 20.8% (2.5 divided by 12) of $1.235 is only $257.3 billion: nowhere near the $986 billion total of the CR mentioned in the post. Am I missing something: is the CR actually meant to fund the government for the bulk of the fiscal year this time around? My next assumption was that $986 billion would be the most that Congress could appropriate for the year under the budgetary caps attached to the resolution, but the cap on Congress’ budgetary authority is $2.769 trillion. I figured that this probably included mandatory spending but mandatory spending alone is over $2 trillion and I’m under the impression that there’s little that the House GOP can do the change that without specific legislation to that effect. So needless to say I cannot make sense of the numbers! So here’s my question: How much does the ‘clean CR’ which Obama has repeatedly called for reduce spending relative to his own budget proposal?
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post President Hollande Has Signed France’s Marriage Bill Into Law
This is welcome news. Don’t know if it makes up for Hollande’s milquetoast/ totally inadequate economic policies though.
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Nearly Half Of Republicans Believe “Armed Revolution Might Be Necessary in Next Few Years”
I’m inclined to agree with them: it might be necessary for things to reach such a point. It is not the course we should seek to take. Indeed we should do everything we can to affect drastic change by peaceful means. But let’s not fool ourselves. The powers that be have tremendous interests at stake and they have demonstrated a proclivity for unfettered sociopathy. It would be naive to think that they would not employ violence & terror to maintain the present order. And then what?
That being said, I do believe that: A) revolutions which employ violent and ruthless means tend to take on a violent and ruthless character which corrupts the resulting governments and B) If the people are largely unified, a credible threat of violence would probably suffice- given our vast numerical superiority!
Well I think you’re absolutely right to say that it was the wartime spending and not the war per se which bolstered the economy and that equally ambitious investments during peacetime could do as much-likely more- if the political will existed. I’ve always found it baffling that the fact the war expanded the economy more than the New Deal is often used as an argument against Keynesian theory: to me this says more about how much the New Deal could have done if it was larger in scope. It’s government spending either way- and I have no doubt that military expenditure is far less stimulative dollar for dollar than the civilian, domestic variety. It’s got to be doubly true these days with the fat profit margins of the military contractors: if homeland security spending has helped to prop up the economy in the past 10-12 years, imagine if that money had been directed somewhere where we actually tend to get our money’s worth!
While the numbers you quote are accurate, I am not sure they provide the clearest picture either. IIRC the dollar experienced significant deflation during the early years of the Depression. In constant 2005 dollars, the GDP of the United States was back to its 1929 levels by 1936: even remaining at or above this point during the ‘Roosevelt Recession’ which followed as policymakers gave into Conservative criticisms and began to wind down the New Deal. There may be flaws with this approach to looking at the data as well but I think it gives a slightly better idea of what was going on.
In any case, your point about World War 2 being a bigger driver of economic growth and prosperity still stands.
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Obama Signs Law Gutting Insider Trading Regulations For Congress
I hate to give Congress any credit, but perhaps they know they jig will soon be up. They certainly seem to be acting like it: they don’t do much else these days but protect the power and privilege of themselves and their friends or to grab more in the general chaos. Nothing new, of course, but at least in the past they made an effort to appear as though they were engaged in the business of running the country! The past few Congresses could barely be bothered to put up any window dressing.
A brief summary of the major legislation of the 113th Congress so far:
- Hurricane Sandy relief bill, after months of asinine quarrel
- Renewal of the Violence Against Women act
- Renewal of Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act
- Continuing resolution with Monsanto immunity rider
- Quietly rendering the STOCK Act worse than useless
So in 3.5 months they’ve managed to pass what should have been an uncontroversial relief bill, renewed a handful of old laws, funded the government for half of one year and showered themselves and their corporate benefactors with outrageous favors. Now maybe this is naive of me but if they want to maintain their hold on power and convince the public that our present system works, shouldn’t they at least try to give the impression that they are trying to address the pressing problems of our day?
I hardly think that the worst is over yet but I can’t help but feel that they’re running out of plausible moves. Of course they’re pathological but even a sociopath would recognize the need to throw the masses a bone or two if one wanted to hang onto power, wouldn’t he/she?
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Larry Summers: It is Good That America Didn’t Adopt Single-Payer in the 70′s
Not only does he fail to mention which ‘experts’ share his view (and to be fair to Mr. Summers, I am sure academia is overloaded with such hacks) but he doesn’t even bother to offer an explanation for his claim! Single-payer health care and a guaranteed minimum income would have been bad for what reason, exactly?
I suppose it doesn’t much matter. Even if Summers had bothered to puke out a rationale, it wouldn’t have meant much to me. The man is a pro-growth cornacopian who believes the Earth has an unlimited carrying capacity, has spent the past 2 decades floating from one useless elite institution to another, helped to deregulate the derivatives market, could scarcely find a bad thing to say about Milton Friedman and whose stint in the Obama administration helped to produce a stimulus that included more regressive tax cuts & less infrastructure development. His opinion is worth significantly less than nothing. I do wish there was a giant dive bar toilet big enough to flush him and all others like him down.
Let’s hope that by 2016 either the American public completely sours on all of our reprehensible political dynasties or former secretary of state Clinton has a massive aneurysm.
There are few moves that the Democratic Party could pull that would be much more inflammatory and insulting than the way they hyped up their ostensible base to line up behind Barack Obama as the officially sanctioned alternative to the arch neo-liberal war hawk Clinton when in fact the two are entirely of a kind. Nominating Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 after 8 years of having the same policies she unsuccessfully tried to sell to the public crammed down our throats by a fresher face (initially, at least!) is definitely one of them.
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Barrett Brown’s Mother Targeted, Faces Year In Jail
Unfortunately this is the standard response even to “incidents” much pettier than this. Your typical functionary/ police state goon is largely incompetent, thin-skinned and inclined to think him or herself above reproach. If you so much as contradict them you best believe they will do whatever is in their power to squash you just for having the nerve to do so! Of course most onlookers will give this their tacit or explicit approval: by now most of them have been conditioned for the better part of their lives to defer to any authority no matter how outwardly ridiculous and unworthy of respect- and to expect that anyone who does not do so will be greeted with massive reprisals greatly disproportionate to the “crime” which has been committed. Of course they would never be so candid as to admit that last bit: that it’s more about a statist desire to squash those who buck the system than it is about what’s just or appropriate!
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Sequester May End Not With a Bang but With a Series of Whimpers
Unbelievable! When was the last time our federal government was funded through an entire fiscal year?!
This pathetic lot of obviously paid for politicians and media personalities who are so blinded by their own avarice and resistance to loosening their hold on even the smallest bit of power and privilege to the point that it is self-destructive ought not to be fooling anybody. Yet just four and a half years after the Wall Street implosion they have managed to steer most of the political discussion away from the need for systemic reform and accountability for criminal conduct in the financial sector and toward further deregulations, privatizations, tax breaks for profitable industries and a wholesale assault on even the most universally supported trappings of the welfare state!
What I want to know is who has watched this deliberately orchestrated protracted foundering of the country and, upon seeing the latest moronic band-aid applied by Congress onto a problem of its own creation, comes to the conclusion that any of the parties involved are giving their best crack at honest & good governance?! This series of sad sack contrivances that have been foisted upon us in the past few years should be enough to permanently erode faith in every last one of them and their most vaunted institutions and yet we are still talking about whether each specific debacle will benefit the Democrats or the Republicans going into the next mid-term or presidential elections!! There’s neither a word nor noise to properly express my frustration and contempt! Ugh!
Bandiera Rossa commented on the blog post Chris Christie Calls Black Man “Boy” During Argument At Town Hall
I have to agree with those who say the racial element of the story is perhaps being overplayed a bit here. Living in New Jersey, I feel safe in saying Christie is a dirty-dealing loud mouthed louse but probably one of the least racist and homophobic people inside the GOP mainstream. Is his behavior at town pugnacious, patronizing, demagogic and largely unacceptable? Yes. But to me this man, who will coast to re-election as he is an uncanny human manifestation of so much of what is wrong with this state, is smarter than to blow what will likely be a catastrophically successful push for public school privatizations in what has long been one of the most pro-union states in the country on a racist slip-up at a town hall.
To me more the fact that both Republicans and some Democrats here are advocating more wholesale privatizations of even what used to be firmly the domain of local government- public schools, mass transit, basic infrastructure and water- and that most members of the public are either receptive to these ideas or altogether comatose!
Bandiera Rossa commented on the diary post Republicans planning to change Electoral College rules to rig future elections. by Broke and Unemployed.
I would be a lot more upset about this but I really believe that these days the best weapon we have in the fight against economic royalists and authoritarians of all stripes is their own overreach. They’ve had the whole system rigged so well for the past 30-35 years that vast sections of the population [...]
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