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Even Larry Tribe Now Agrees: Fourteenth Amendment is a Viable Option. So Why Won’t Obama Use It?

1:16 pm in banality of evil, Financial Crisis by Phoenix Woman

Is the much-touted “Fourteenth Amendment option” a viable end run around the debt-ceiling nonsense that threatens to destroy the world?

Charles Grassley thinks so. Bruce Bartlett thinks so. Former president Bill Clinton definitely thinks so: He’s said he’d do it “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me”.

As for whether the courts or anyone else would or could try to stop Obama should he invoke the Fourteenth, even Laurence Tribe, who is known to be close to the Obama administration — close enough to carry its water, as he blatantly did with his pronouncement earlier this month that the Fourteenth Amendment didn’t trump the debt ceiling legislation — has admitted that this is highly unlikely: “This is not a circumstance in which the courts have any plausible point of entry.” Tribe even went so far as to dismiss the threat of impeachment as “not politically a very plausible scenario.”

So, knowing all of this, and with so much on the line — why, then, won’t President Obama admit that this is an option? Why, instead, is he pushing to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block — and getting various liberal “Veal Pen” groups to echo his call for cutting Social Security?

Could it be it’s because he’s been planning to attack Social Security and Medicare — and whatever else is left of the New Deal and the Great Society — all along?

It sure looks like it. As Glenn Greenwald says: Read the rest of this entry →

Government Beats Business: Pension and Health Plans Edition

9:17 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

For all the billions lavished over the decades on “government bad, business good” propaganda by obscenely rich men like Pete Peterson and their tame media flunkies like David Leonhardt, the facts show that in direct comparisons in similar fields, the Federal government — starved and beaten as it’s been over the past thirty-odd years — still bests private industry in terms of the quality of services provided.

Let’s look at pension plans like Social Security and the Federal Employee Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP. Executive compensation (or lack thereof) is a big reason why the Federal government kicks the private sector’s ass when it comes to old-age insurance.

See, aside from a few Barclays technical staff — who I wager don’t get a fraction what the Barclays CEOs do –the Thrift Savings Plan is largely run by Federal workers, whose pay, even when adjusted for high-buck locales like NYC, tops out at around $157,000 per annum. And the Barclays people don’t even run all of the TSP’s funds — the G fund is run by Feds. Social Security has to pay for the expenses incurred in analyzing disability claims, which requires the testimony of outside medical experts, but SSA is run from stem to stern by Federales whose pay tops out at $157K and not, say, $7.1 million a year as does the pay of Prudential’s CEO, John Strangfield. (Or the $3 million and change pulled down by Prudential’s CFO, Richard Carbone and its COO Edward Baird.) By the way, typical total Federal compensation is well under $30K, so even with health insurance and other benefits the top Feds will still get well under $200K a year. I know law clerks at white-shoe private law firms that pull down more than that.
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Meow! Pete Peterson’s NYT, WaPo Pawns Pushing Previously-Debunked Catfood Lies

11:39 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Ho-hum. Another day, another set of Peterson patsies explaining yet again why Grandma must starve so that their billionaire bosses and their buddies can keep their twenty-odd homes in the Hamptons and Hobe Sound:

Writing today on the op-ed page of The Washington Post, Robert Pozen makes the casethat liberals should support changes to Social Security. Mr. Pozen is a Democrat , though not necessarily a liberal one; he is a financial executive who served on President George W. Bush’s Social Security commission and in Mitt Romney’s administration in Massachusetts. But his argument is worth considering, whether you’re liberal or conservative.

So what’s the argument that the Pozen part of the Leonhardt-Pozen Legion of Doom tag team’s presenting? It’s their old favorite, the “Social Security is less progressive than it seems” bit of twaddle. How old is it? Why, it even comes pre-debunked, that’s how old it is.

Lookiee here at what I found from last December — a CEPR piece by Dean Baker that just shreds Pozen’s mythmaking (specifically, the iteration thereof that made it into the Boston Globe) into little tiny bits of bullshit confetti:

Pozen first told readers that Social Security is not progressive even though its payback structure is highly progressive. (A low-wage earner will get a payment equal to about 90 percent of their average wage income, while a maximum wage earner [$106,800 in 2010], will get a benefit equal to less than 30 percent of their taxable wage.) He argued that the differences in life expectancy (wealthy people live longer), offset the progressivity of the payback structure.

While this is partially true, the differences in life expectancy do not fully offset the progressivity of the payback structure. Also, Social Security includes survivor and disability benefits that disproportionately benefit low and moderate-income earners.

(more over the jump!)
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Big Government: Doing It Faster, Better and Cheaper than Oversubsidized Wall Street Hacks for the Better Part of a Century

8:02 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

One of the big myths promoted by movement conservatives — many if not most of whom owe their careers to heavy-duty financial support from rich right-wing sugar daddies, without whom they never would have made it in a genuinely free market — is that Big Government and Evil Bureaucracies are the enemies of all Americans because they are staffed with lazy, overpaid mokes seeking to subvert the very foundations of our democracy by doing things that private-sector entities can do much better, cheaper and faster. It turns out that, as with so much conservative spewage, this is a perfect example of projecting one’s own foibles onto your foes.

Let’s look at a favorite perennial target of the Cons: Social programs, in particular the government old-age insurance program known as Social Security, which privatizers have been greedily eyeing for years. Like its cousin for Federal employees, the Thrift Savings Program, it has vanishingly low overhead costs, in no small part because government salaries in even the high-expense area of Washington, D.C. top out at well under $200 thousand instead of $200 million (or much, much more) per annum. TSP’s overhead costs: 30 cents per each $1000 invested, or .03% Aside from the handful of Barclays people involved, most TSP employees are Feds and thus are limited to the $200k max cited above. As for Social Security, it checks in with less than 1% of invested money spent on overhead costs (about $7 per each $1000).

Compare this with the 15% overhead costs — or $150 per every $1000 — typically levied by the private sector on annuities. Similar percentages hold for overseas privatized pension/insurance plans, such as those in the UK. And in Chile’s plan, a plethora of hidden fees means that the bite taken out of each worker’s money approaches 34%!

I think I’ll keep my Social Security, thanks.