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Top Story: Why President Obama and Democrats Shouldn’t Be Trusted Anymore than Republicans

Everyone is confused about the Fiscal Cliffhanger. Obama is struggling to make a deal to prolong most of the Bush-era tax cuts. The Republicans are holding back. Yet if a deal is reached, the federal government and the long-term purpose of the Democratic Party are both likely to be ruined for years to come. If the deal fails, the Democratic Party can at long last return to what should be its core purpose: using government to promote the public wellbeing. – Jeffrey Sachs

IF YOU aren’t bored senseless with the non-stop national and new media drum beat to the (inevitable) fiscal scheme deal you’ve obviously been having one hell of a good time over the holidays! I know I have. Today David Gregory, who wasn’t supposed to be hosting this week, but will interrupt his holiday to interview President Obama on Meet the Press, will have the fearmongering austerity drum beat in full view; as if raising taxes is all this is about.

Even so-called progressive sites are trumpeting President Obama’s allegedly “tough” talk on taxes, while continuing to parrot the preposterous sky is falling narrative if the Democratic fiscal scheme isn’t adopted, as the predictable begins to emerge. As I’ve been writing since this fake drama began, some sort of deal will be done and when it happens is immaterial.

The System has failsafes.

This Huffington Post headline is a perfect example of the national media gullibility, as well as the reprehensibly complicit fearmongering by ignorant analysts caterwauling that it matters to the average American what happens come the clock clanging 12:01, January 1, 2013.

But progressive new media sites depend on the establishment to keep paying their people, so sucking up to Obama and the establishment Democratic Party is what they must do to keep their access and ad revenue up. Good business model, bad if you want someone to trust politically. This includes the progressive all stars and just about everyone on MSNBC, all of whom represent the upper echelons of the national media establishment and Wall Street interests through their bosses.

Jeffrey Sachs’s takes another tact, his points are correctly and clearly made, so make sure you read the whole piece. Abrupt cuts aren’t great, but it’s better than the Obama-Democratic-Republican fiscal scheme that our national media says must happen, with establishment progressives parroting the same malarkey.

The main point is this. If no deal is reached, the Bush tax cuts end. We would return roughly to the tax schedule of the end of the 1990s, when the macro-economy performed reasonably well and the budget was near balance. Federal government revenues would rise by around 2.5 percent of GDP per year compared with the current tax schedule. According to the CBO, the federal tax system would collect 20-21 percent of GDP in the second half of this decade. This is a bare minimum of what’s needed for effective government.

Let’s be clear. In an ideal world, there are better and more progressive ways to get to 21 percent of GDP in federal tax revenues than by personal income taxes alone. A partial list would include: a wealth tax on large fortunes (e.g. 1 percent on net worth above $5 million); an end to tolerating tax havens like the Cayman Islands; an end to the tax deferral of overseas corporate income; a crackdown on abusive transfer pricing; and a tax on carbon emissions). The problem is that neither the Administration nor the Congress is proposing these measures, and in the meantime, a deal now that extends the Bush tax cuts will be a severe loss of revenues for years to come without any offsetting gains.

If the deal is reached, therefore, the Republicans have won: they have locked in a federal tax system that collects so little total federal revenue that government can afford almost nothing aside from the military, interest payments, retirement programs and health care. Say goodbye to the rest: science, technology, education, job training, infrastructure, a functioning justice system, community development, renewable energy, environment, and more.

Very few of the people opining about the fiscal scheme can be trusted, because their interests aren’t moored in truth and transparency, with their own vested interest depending on hyping that the world will end if a deal isn’t reached by a deadline that’s set to protect everyone but you and strengthening the fibers that connect the American community.

And when it’s all said and done, President Obama and the Democrats are still going to come for entitlement “reform” instead of cutting Pentagon bloat first, which would require a strong offensive case to be made to the public to do so. Seeing what’s left that must be done after defense cuts would lead to a very different economic picture developing.

Anyone saying that entitlements should be “reformed” to be “strengthened” is not a friend of the middle class or the poor and likely is part of the establishment or a supporter of the fan politics that keeps it alive. Anyone saying that the U.S. financial world will end or some economic calamity will befall America if entitlements aren’t quickly cut is a liar or too ignorant to listen to. Whatever might or might not need to be done with Medicare and especially Medicaid will take long, painful discussions and planning, but may have more to do with streamlining and actual reform over financial cuts, especially with Obamacare due to kick in fully. Health care costs remain the biggest financial challenge of all.

Social Security is not part of any economic U.S. problem now or in the near future, so ignore anyone who tells you otherwise, because he or she is a charlatan or worse, part of the Democratic Party elite, an establishment that is ignoring the one issue that would solve it all: J.O.B.S. and growth. That’s right, jobs.

But come for entitlements Obama and Democrats will. The only thing left from there is how progressive activists react, but there aren’t enough of them to change this tide in the long run, because the Democratic establishment is behind it. As Matt Damon rightly put it, “the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.”

So, will progressives get their “Tea Party” on after the entitlement reckoning comes? The answer will determine whether the progressive coalition inside the Democratic Party lives or dies, which is a lot more important to America than the fiscal scheme everyone is squealing about.

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21 Responses to Top Story: Why President Obama and Democrats Shouldn’t Be Trusted Anymore than Republicans

  1. DocP December 30, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Well said, Taylor. Sadly, I would add to the category of “can’t be trusted” any number of so-called progressive organizations that are supporting the social safety net compromises Obama keeps including in his “grand” bargain offers.

    I find it increasingly difficult to express the disgust and anger I feel over this entire charade. The entire concept of “fiscal cliff” is false, and the continuing hype is appalling. What has disturbed me the most greatly are the rallies that Obama has put on to get the support of the public for his taking away their safety nets. Beyond cynical. Absolutely callous and cruel.

  2. jjamele December 30, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    1. Any More. Two words.

    2. Wow, really? Next thing you’ll be telling us is that the sun is hot!

    I have nothing but contempt for people who put their faith in Democrats, and now express outrage that Democrats are selling us down the river. There are too many people out there who act like battered spouses who keep begging their concerned neighbors and friends to just “give him another chance, he’s really great when he’s not drinking.” A favorite line of these abuse victims is “It’s my fault, I didn’t support him” and it fits with “Progressives” who think that Obama’s hands were tied by the 2010 results- which were “our fault.”

    Pretty soon, I’ll they’ll have left is “he’s better than the alternative.” It was weak before the election, it’s even weaker now.

  3. DocP December 30, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    I have to add something. Everyday, for the past several days, I have been receiving fundraising emails from the DCCC, urging me to “stand with” Obama and congressional Democrats in the phony “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Honestly. I should “stand with” these traitors??? Obama with his “chained CPI” and Pelosi saying that she’ll support the president in his efforts to “strengthen” Social Security??? Astonishing. How damned dumb do they think we are?

    To each email, I have taken the time to use the “contact us” page at the DCCC website to express my astonishment. This morning’ s message was:

    “Another email from this organization urging me to “Stand with President Obama” in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations. Yesterday, an email from Barney Frank urging me to stand with house democrats in the fiscal cliff negotiations.

    Once again, I have to ask you if you are all crazy. Why in God’s name would I stand with or support a president and representatives who want to attack Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid? Why would any sane person wish to participate in the destruction of the programs that form the bedrock of the Democratic Party, and which keep millions of people out of poverty? You appear to have lost your way and in so doing you have lost me forever.

    Yours truly,

    Former Democrat”

    I suppose this is a feeble gesture of protest, but if anyone else cares to respond to the emails they’re receiving, here’s a quick link to the contact DCCC page.

    • fangio December 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      ” How damn dumb do they think we are? ” That’s a joke, right?

      • think08 December 31, 2012 at 3:19 am #

        I know right? If you really want to see dumb go to HP – most of them have swallowed the Obama had to offer up SS because of the GOP. At least truthout has some decent coverage.

    • jjamele December 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      What they mean is “stand with the President no matter how many times he shifts positions, just because he’s the President, and he’s a Democrat, which means he’s on Our Team.”

      And “stand with the House Democrats even as they screw you over, because they are on Our Team, and Our Team is better than Their Team.” Actual positions? Irrelevant. It’s all about The Team.

  4. LiberalJoe December 30, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Spot on TM

    Lets go over the cliff. That’s the out come I want because the reality is it won’t be that bad if we do. the sky won’t cave in and the sun will rise the next day. It is all manufactured hype.

    The principle reason the Pres wants a deal now is because the next Congress is theoretically more progressive within the Dem Party and as such the quest to cut Soc Sec , Medicare , Medicaid and other Social programs becomes harder.

    I for one don’t have much hope that the progressives in Congress can become a Tea Party equivalent for the Dems. They are too big a bunch of weak and feckless politicians to put up a real fight the way the crazies in the Tea party do-as much as I disagree with their policies and I give them credit for their effectiveness of imposing there will on the Republican Party and leadership. Absent Bernie Sanders the bulk of progressives have been pretty quite in the face of everything that is going down. It doesn’t take much to roll them off their principles.

    A few early signs to look for to see if Dems have any fight in them is filibuster reform. If Levin and McCain succeed with their compromise – kiss the hope of any progressive legislation goodbye.

    A few folks to watch will be:

    Elizabeth Warren-can she,and will she hold true to her beliefs on fighting for the middle class. If she does not go quietly, or at all in the face of what Pres wants for chained CPI and other social program cuts,If she retains her fight, it may stiffen the normally wobbly Senate Dems to hold firm and not cave to the Pres worst instincts for compromise. At this moment she is the Dem base and progressives shining star and if she is successful her star will continue to rise.

    Jeff Merkley- Can he win the filibuster reform fight or will Reid capitulate to Levin -McCain. If he wins we could be looking at a future Senate Majority Leader(which is why Schumer is with Levin-MCain-god Schumer is a pitiful Democrat!)

    Pelosi- we already know she is starting to roll the House Progressives, we need to see how many of them can be rolled or will they start to push back once the new Congress is in place.

    This whole spectacle is disgraceful. A clown car has more gravitas than our leaders do.

  5. ladywalker68 December 30, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Another spot on post, Taylor. I totally agree about HP and other so-called progressive media hawking the hype.

    In a totally unrelated activity, I found this quote which I believe applies to you in this instance:
    ““A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.” It is attributed to Miguel de Unamuno.

    Please know that the word “fool” is intended as a total compliment in this context! ;)

  6. fangio December 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    There was an interesting piece a few weeks ago ( I forget where ) about people like Madeline Albright and Wesley K. Clarke forming companies to bid on former state enterprises in Kosovo. Most other companies believe the fix is in since the Kosovo government and people are so grateful to the Americans for what we did for them during the conflict with the Serbians. So here, for everyone to see, is a microcosm of what this country has become. We spend millions in taxpayer money to fight someone else’s battle and then the people who lobbied the most for interfering militarily in someone else’s dispute go back years later and try to make money from their supposed good graces. The incestuous revolving door has become a monster. From government to Wall street, from government to corporate America, from government to international financial player, from government to crony contractor. The system is so corrupt it cannot be salvaged. We need a clean sweep; it’s a new year, out with the old and in with the new. Working around the edges is bullshit, it’s too late for that. Voting third party is not throwing away your vote, it’s planting a seed. It may take a while for that seed to grow, but like anything good, it takes a while.

  7. jjamele December 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Anyone else catch the Diane Feinstein-Lindsay Graham lovefest on Fox Sunday this morning? SICKENING.

    And Diane Feinstein really does represent the modern Democratic Party. Which is even more Sickening.

  8. PeggySue December 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    If there’s anything remarkable about all this jawing on the ‘fiscal bunny-slope’ it’s the consistency of the discussion: how we have to ‘reform entitlement programs’ in order to ‘save’ them. I listened to Corker spin this morning. It’s a continuing mantra by Republicans and many so-called Democrats. All the pundits, the serious thinkers nod like bobble heads–oh yes, we need to poison the well to ensure sustainability.

    Why don’t we break granny’s legs while we’re at it?

    Things never discussed? American poverty. The word ‘poor’ has been edited from the dictionary. Out of sight, out of mind. When it is mentioned it’s in moral terms: there’s something wrong with you if you’re down and out in America. Another unmentionable? Our obscenely bloated and destructive defense/military structure. It’s as if perpetual war and war planning/dreaming is the natural state of affairs. Looking at our recent history, you could make a spirited argument for just that.

    I don’t know what it’s going to take to change things. Btw, I just heard there’s been a ‘major setback’ in the FC negotiations. You can’t make this stuff up. This on-going theater piece needs a new script writer! The GOP wants SS on the table even with a scaled-back plan. The Dems are pretending to hold fast.


    • angels81 December 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

      Word is after meetings today republicans have agreed to take SS off the table. they have come to the conclusion that at this time SS is a losing proposition for them.

      • think08 December 31, 2012 at 3:21 am #

        The weird thing is the GOP is saving us from the Dems at least for now.

    • DocP December 31, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      Poverty seems to have left the discussion several years ago, except in the moral degeneracy context you mention. During the 2008 campaign, I noticed the absence of any mention of the poor, replaced by a relentless emphasis on the middle class. That seemed to me to be quite a departure from the expected Democratic Party campaign rhetoric.

  9. Lake Lady December 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Hillary Clinton hospitalized with blood clot..

    Great piece Taylor….Jeff Saches does not get a big enough platform.

  10. Jane Austen December 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Taylor – one of your best yet. The fiscal cliff is a myth. As usual our elected pols want us to live in fear. I’m sick of the BS. And I stopped trusting a long time ago. Why the hell doesn’t the rest of the country see what’s happening like the people who comment here. I am absolutely amazed at the political intelligence of the people who comment on this site. I don’t always agree with everything that is said but the comments tonight are amazing and so truthful. I don’t want to believe as Matt Damon does that “the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.” There must be people out there who believe as we do and want to start the ball rolling. All I can do at this moment is to write and call my senators, congressman and the WH.

    • jjamele December 31, 2012 at 7:23 am #

      Check out “Morning Joe” this morning, if you can stomach it- you can almost see flames shooting out of Mika’s ears as she describes the End Of The World As We Know It, other wise known as the “Fiscal Cliff”– “New Recession! Unemployment 9.1%!! OH MY GOD THE SKY IS FALLING!!” Pathetic.

    • jjamele December 31, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      Mika to Robert Gibbs: “I don’t know what the President is offering in terms of cuts, but if it’s not enough, why doesn’t he offer MORE?? ANYTHING is better than going over the fiscal cliff!”

      And this is MSNBC, allegedly the “progressive” answer to Fox. God help us all.

  11. newdealdem1 December 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Brilliant post, Taylor! I am so sick of the fiscal cliff bullshit panderers and it’s not only on Fox that you can hear this BS.

    It reminds me of the crap that went on in 1999 when everything was going to hell fire as we turned to a new century, the Y2K BS which included so-called financial ruin just as this financial cliff is being pimped by every broadcast network and cable station including MSNBC (not everyone there but there is not one logical presentation of what will occur on January 1′st, 2013 if we go over the so-called cliff) as the superhighway to financial ruin.

    I and my colleagues worked on New Years Eve of 1999 and into the day of January 1st, of 2000 as the almost absolute fear of what was going to happen and nothing happened. Every financial and non-financial system worked as it was meant to work and only people who made out as bandits were charlatans who advertised their “expertise” in “saving” company’s from ruin by providing their “expert” services.

    The company I worked for at that time didn’t fall for that BS but nevertheless as a fail safe precaution, they had those of us who had a direct responsibility to make sure company systems and financials and internal controls were working as they were meant to work in the aftermath of Y2K “panic” kicked in and we were operationally and financially in sync. So much overkill was involved in this Y2K BS and many charlatans made out like the bandits they were. Just as the CEO charlatans have formed this group to screw the rest of us 99% (and Dems as well as GOP’ers belong to this crapfest including the former Dem Gov of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell), who was one of my hero’s during the 2008 Dem Primaries when he dissed the news media for their sexist and unfair treatment of Hillary Clinton. .

    Rendell earned Clinton supporters goodwill and respect for fighting the media machine in 2008. However, he is egregiously wrong now in his untenable position regarding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which mirrors the CEO’s position in these issues.

    FOX and CNN are even worse than MSNBC (no shock there) As I am more familiar with CNN I will say in their obsession to place blame on everyone equally, they have been so annoyingly histrionic: I’m looking at you Ali Velshi and Christine Romans: two of the worst on CNN and Romans was one of the women who said on CNN that there was no such thing as the war on women from the GOP. I am hoping with the hire of Jeff Zucker as the new boss, that he will get rid of Velshi and Romans. That will be a start.

    The world did not end on 12/21/12 as so many predicted it would and the world will not end with no agreement regarding the so-called fiscal cliff which is no more than a bunny hill that can be resolved on 1/1/13 midnight. And, imho, will be resolved because now the Tea Party nutzoids cannot be seen to not vote for a tax decrease for 99 percent of the American population.

  12. Cujo359 December 31, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    Even Jeffrey Sachs’ article sounds like nonsense to me. What difference does it make if we’re only collecting 18% of the GDP vs. 20%? What basis does he have for one being a tragic shortfall and the other somehow OK?

    We’re in a depression, which means the economy is working at far below capacity. As long as that’s true, the government should be running a deficit.

    Bill Black wrote a good summary the other day of the economic myths that progressive commentators continue to believe in. I wish more progressive commentators would read it.

    • DocP December 31, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      Black’s article is really excellent. It strikes me that so many commentators and politicians know very little about economics. That’s understandable, I guess, because it appears that many “schools” of economics seem to promote something more akin to religion than science. Each “school” has its theories and doctrines that have little to do with the real world, and the theories, if tested, fail the test of validity.

      The absence of scientific rigor allows powerful people to advance the theories that best serve their interests, as in the promotion of neo-liberalism that allows the “commons” to be appropriated by the powerful to be privatized for profit. Obama appears to belong to the neo-liberal cult, which is why he’s willing to begin the process of undermining Social Security so that it can eventually be transformed into a Wall Street “retirement investment” program.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong