Rep. Heath Shuler has no sense of irony. Joe Scarborough, who I expected would at least register the moment, didn’t get it either. On “Morning Joe” Shuler said, without a trace of self-awareness, that Blue Dog Democrats got creamed in the midterms while progressives did not. The message flew over Scarborough’s head faster than Jon Stewart’s criticisms of cable news shows.
If you listen to the right-wing ideologues on the cable chatter circuit you can quickly discern the conventional Washington wisdom, which is anything but smart. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. Tax cuts, especially for the top 2%, which these Republicans, whether they admit to the political label or not, think will spur job growth (that link the most important article you’ll read on fixing our economy this year). It’s preposterous if you look at history or listen to Reagan’s former budget director David Stockman, though his other prescriptions for the economy are nuts, or Warren Buffet who also doesn’t believe in a tax cut for the upper tier. The simple math should warn people off, but there is an inbred, almost Pavlovian response to tax cuts, because the Right is unapologetic about their delusions, while Democratic self-loathing in the face of Republican self-righteousness makes them cower.
Pres. Obama has led the cower contingent since he came into office, evidently thinking that sucking up to Republicans will make them compromise. All it’s done is reveal to them that he won’t stand on a line for anything. Whatever the Democrats were under Harry S Truman they represent the exact opposite under Barack Obama, particularly on economics. But considering who Obama chose to be his econ team we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s all about Wall Street at the expense of the middle class and main street.
People are talking a lot about Reagan and Clinton’s comeback after a dismal midterm. However, neither of these two presidents saw an exodus of working-class whites, which is particularly true in Clinton’s case. People want to rant racism, with even Michael Moore on Bill Maher’s show last Friday claiming the turn off to Obama is because whites don’t want a black man as president.
This is not only lazy analysis and insulting, but ignorant.
Pres. Obama had an opportunity to institute a foreclosure moratorium before the midterms, as well as take a stand on middle class tax cuts. As usual, he ducked the fight. The midterms turned over the entire rust belt and the industrial Midwest to Republicans, with the former confederacy going further Right, as the political climate became even more inhospitable to Blue Dog Dems simply because a so called Democrat can never out right-wing a Republican. Democratic voters like their candidates, um… well… to be DEMOCRATS.
Rep. Schakowsky, a progressive, has come up with her own Simpson-Bowles-esque proposal. It doesn’t touch Social Security. That’s because Social Security doesn’t have squat to do with the debt.
The Schakowsky plan is based on five key elements:
1) Increased economic stimulus to spur growth in the immediate term
Â· Provide $200 billion to invest over the next two years in measures to create jobs and spur economic growth, including passing the Local Jobs for America Act; and funding for education and law enforcement; Unemployment Insurance, Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program extensions; and infrastructure.
Â· Adopt the President’s proposals to eliminate overseas tax havens and incentives for outsourcing
2) Smart, targeted spending cuts
Â· Non-Defense Discretionary — $7.55 billion in savings through increased efficiency and cuts to programs that benefit large corporations that don’t need assistance.
Â· Defense Discretionary — $110.7 billion in cuts from the 2015 defense budget, including efficiency savings, reducing our troop levels, cutting weapons systems we don’t need, and scaling back the wartime increases in the size of the military.
4) Reductions in tax expenditures
* Raise $132.2 billion by closing tax subsidies for companies that ship American jobs overseas.
5) Increases in revenues
* Raise $144.6 billion in revenue through progressive reforms to the estate tax, treating capital gains and dividends as regular income, and enacting a cap and trade proposal that includes protections for lower-income people.
* Enact President Obama’s budget proposal to let the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 brackets expire and return to 2009 estate tax levels.
* Non-tax revenue — raise $7 billion by addressing places where the private sector is currently under-paying.
On Social Security
“There is a better way than the Simpson-Bowles proposal — which relies heavily on benefit cuts instead of revenue increases.
“Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Addressing the Social Security issue as part of the deficit question is like attacking Iraq to retaliate for the 9/11 attacks — there is simply no relationship between the two and attempting to conflate them does a grave disservice to America’s seniors.
“Taking money from Social Security retirees whose average total income is $18,000 per year and average benefit is $14,000 ($12,000 for women) is simply wrong. It places them at fiscal risk and hurts the economy because they will be unable to purchase the goods they need. Americans in poll after poll have indicated their opposition to benefit cuts — particularly at a time when Wall Street bankers are making record bonuses.
The Schakowsky alternative does not contain any cuts to Social Security.
* It ensures long-term solvency to Social Security by eliminating the wage cap on the employer side and raising it to 90% on the employee side, applying FICA to all wage income below the cap, and establishing a modest legacy tax on wealthier Americans.
* Surplus funding that can be used to improve the extremely-modest benefits that are now provided.
The tax cut nonsense, along with the idiocy of believing that the upper 2% cuts will do anything to spur job growth is a right-wing mantra that is as stupid as the austerity kick and “balanced budget” fantasy, which could never have been done during Obama’s tenure. Bush made that impossible. At a time of American shrinkage when our trade policy only makes matters worse, the conventional right-wing wisdom being spouted on cable TV right now is part of the reason we’re in this mess. Unlike during Reagan and Clinton, along with new media, but most especially Fox News channel, the people are being berated far more with the Right’s prescriptions than with the Left’s.
The cacophony of ideological right-wingers, some of whom claim to be Democrats, represent the degree to which Democrats got their asses handed to them in the midterms, while progressives won. That’s because most of the cable talking heads are Blue Dog Dems at best or ignorant shills for Wall Street at worst.
So, people continue to swallow the malarkey that tax cuts are the way and the Debt Commission has to be followed, with entitlement adjustments the only way to get there.
Pres. Obama has aided this debilitating cycle of anti Democratic political insanity. In fact, it was the Democratic president who set his own side up.