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So the country won't go into receivership today because the Congress happened to finish a bill that would raise the debt ceiling and the Senate approved it. Was anyone surprised? The only part that surprised me was that they somehow managed to create a 12-person crew to guide cuts and so forth that's half Dem and half Repub. Perhaps it's less surprising when we step back and ask what those party definitions mean today, and if there's any real practical difference anymore.

I really like this piece by Republican commentator Robert Frum about how radical conservatives have not only ruined the Republican party but are on track to ruin our nation. At last, a sensible Republican speaks out.

A few simple things:

1) Reducing government spending eliminates jobs and reduces support for the unemployed and poor, infrastructure repairs, education, military adventures, research, science, and so forth. I think everyone of all party affiliations can agree that people losing jobs is not a good thing for anyone, nor is it good for the economy. I think everyone with any education at all knows that cutting across the board like this, eliminating science research and educational support will result in a nation of declining value.

2) When fewer people have jobs, tax revenue declines because of several factors: a) the unemployed don't pay as much tax (though they lost their tax break in 2009), b) the unemployed collect unemployment benefits, c) the unemployed don't buy stuff the way employed do, and d) this cascades across the entire economy. Fix unemployment and you fix almost everything.

3) We're suffered a decade's worth of hugely expensive wars - unfunded wars. You don't need to be highly educated to recognize that spending $trillion$ without adding any income sources is just idiotic. If America were truly based on fairness, the radical neocon-wingnuts who demanded war but refused to pay for it would be sued to cover our debt.

4) Many or most of the tax loopholes for the ultra-rich and mega-corporations must be eliminated. Billionaire Warren Buffett is disgusted that he pays lower taxes than his secretary. The tax rate paid by ultra-rich Americans declined from 26% in 1992 to just 17% in 2007. Meanwhile, the tax break for unemployed workers ended in 2009, so as tax breaks for the poor evaporate, the ultra-wealthy pay less. This, while the Census finds a record income gap between the rich and the poor.

5) Why do corporations that ship jobs overseas get tax breaks? Why do we give more subsidies to corn and other grain crops when even the heavily ag-lobby-influenced USDA's "food plate" has revised way down how much grain we should consume? And why do we still give more tax breaks for oil than anything else ("for wealthy or sophisticated investors, one investment class continues to stand alone above all others: oil")? Worst of all, though, is how American corporations pay almost no taxes. The best example is General Electric: Not only did they pay absolutely no taxes in 2010 or 2009, but they actually pocketed more than $3 billion in government tax credits. Yes, you and I paid GE billions for being GE.

6) Which leads me to my primary point: Eliminating tax subsidies for the ultra-rich and mega-corporations is not the same as increasing taxes. It is cutting spending. Tune out the radical screams about "tax increases" and consider: We, the taxpayers, spend a lot of our nation's wealth on tax-code-based spending designed to encourage some things and discourage others. I guess if you're a staunch Ayn Randian and place your self-interest above the well-being of others, including your nation (which, I would argue, is short-term thinking: Wreck your country and you wreck yourself), you're okay with all this.

So was it good or bad that Congress passed this bill to allow the debt ceiling to rise? Yes. No.

Yes in that it likely allows our credit rating to remain tip-top, though some argue that the credit agencies had also required that we find more revenue and cut more. But did anyone believe that the 2-year thinkers driving our country toward oblivion would really let their political posturing overcome their desire to keep their jobs at the next election? Feh.

No in that it doesn't address any of the real problems outlined in my six points above. Cutting spending willy nilly leads to nothing but bad things, short-term and long. Not paying for what we spend is childish. Our current tax code gives gifts to mega-corporations and the ultra-rich - why? As rewards for their richness. Then the radical neocons cut spending, which mostly benefits the poor and middle class, in order to maintain this reward-the-rich scenario.

This bill is meaningless, really. Except for how it helps display the disease that is radical neoconism that's killing our nation, and how almost every politician is okay with letting them do so.

EDIT: I must share Keith Olbermann's take on this. He's on the money:



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Excellent, calm post.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I don't feel so calm about it. What can we possibly do, though? I don't think people will go out and protest as Keith Olbermann demands precisely because of the things he points out: Life is too comfortable here, even for those most affected by the economic disasters.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
I've been getting into some great discussions on Facebook on Tim Heulskamp's page about how rich people don't create jobs, and how corporations don't hire unless they have to; that the government is the only source for jobs to kick-start our economy again, and that money going into any other (richer) pockets was a waste.
He's got a LOT of tea partiers that worship the ground he walks on.
On the other hand, for once, he sent out a poll that was strictly straight questions, not slanted so that you could only answer the way he wanted you to! So he is learning, or at least his staff is.
I'm really hoping SOMEONE runs against him next year, though. He's the source of about half of the anti-gay, anti-choice bills in the state, and I want him out.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Sure the rich create jobs - for other rich. They're called CEOs. The Tea Party is mostly full of financial Dadaists who wouldn't want to live in the country they'd create. And how "conservatives" today get away with messing with personal liberty I do not understand.
Aug. 4th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
So true!
I sometimes (ok, a LOT) wonder just what they are all thinking, and when the hell they are going to wake up!
A Repub friend of mine says the current "normal" Repubs went to sleep for a few years, and woke up to their party being taken over by the religious right and the libertarians. And now they are going to have to get "normal" Repubs re-elected, after the voters have had all this radicalism spoon-fed to them for years-which is going to be a tall order.
Aug. 4th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
You said it. I feel sorry for the Repubs... no, wait, I don't. They let this happen.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
I was surprised
that Obama didn't offer the Tea Party folks their own personal slaves and panama hats.

Because anything else I'd say would be censored.

Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
Re: I was surprised
I think that was in the Signing Statement.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Great post. It's soooo sobering & depressing, the way things in this country are going. I saw a program last night about the CCC and how it helped us recover from the Great Depression. The Tea Partyers of today would be screaming "omg! Wasteful government spending!"
Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)

Heck, the Tea Party is right. Who needs the poor and middle class? The rich will take care of everything... they care about. Which is themselves.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
Great post, thanks for the links and info. One correction though: Unemployed do pay taxes, sort of. As long as you are receiving benefits, you're still responsible for taxes on it.

I've been unemployed since April (my position was eliminated), and I have to put away 20% of my benefits for taxes. I'm probably putting away more than I need to, but I'd rather put away too much than get bit in the patootie next April. Don't know if this is true for all states, but that's what I have to do in WI.
Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks, and thanks for the correction (I edited to reflect that). Used to be unemployment meant you didn't have to pay taxes on part of your income. Then along came the Repugnican majority, and bye-bye to helping people who need a hand.

Sorry to hear you're still unemployed. Good luck finding something decent!
Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
Remember when the Tea-Party was just a bunch of lunatics that were disconnected from reality enough to keep calling themselves "Teabaggers" for several months? I miss those days.

Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
It's a sad state of affairs where people like that can determine the mainstream of conservative politics. Holy crap, this is like a dream or creepy gameworld. Remember Oddworld? Like that.
Aug. 3rd, 2011 09:05 am (UTC)
You are assuming politicians care what happens to the unemployed and poor. I have seen regrettably little evidence of that lately.
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
They do care about getting re-elected....
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
They're working as hard as they can to disenfranchise the unemployed, poor, and disproportionately brown people, don't you worry; getting re-elected and fucking the poor go hand-in-glove for these yobs.
Aug. 4th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
In the interest of carrying the metaphor out into a conceit: Sure, they may be fucking the poor, but hell if they want to pay child support for the results.
Aug. 3rd, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
Chris, thanks for posting. I need my "Chris fix" (and Keith fix, and Jay fix when he's feeling up to it) to keep my head on straight. Living in Nebraska, I'm surrounded by folks who think everything's just fine. Sigh.
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks, Gary! Not everyone in Kansas is a crazy person; in fact, most people I know here are progressive-thinking, but of course I live in Lawrence, the "oasis of progressive thought in a desert of conservatism" according to Jim Gunn.

The CSSF Intensive SF program during the summer pretty much keeps me offline for a month each year.
Aug. 3rd, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC)
I see that this is a public post, but I prefer to ask... may I please promote it throughout my wider social network?
Aug. 3rd, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
Sure, you can do that with any of my public posts. Thanks!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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