Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dems need a strong progressive platform--and must prevent the GOP from driving lib/con wedges to divide and splinter it. It can do this be keeping up a relentless focus on economic and security issues.
ECONOMIC and SECURITY ISSUES:
1. TERRORISM DEFENSE PLAN. Iraq was a lie from the start, designed to benefit the war, oil and gas industries at the expense of the American middle class. It has done nothing to protect us from terror. Neither has the spike in non-Iraq conventional military spending at home.
While it is true that we do have a moral responsibility not to make conditions in Iraq any worse, we also have a moral responsibility to acknowledge that the President has seriously and immorally abused his office by lying to Congress and the American People to lead us into an unnecessary war for reasons that boil down to the avarice of the few; and in so doing has destroyed respect for our nation abroad, weakened our diplomatic credibility, undermined international law, damaged the UN, increased terror threats worldwide, volatilized world energy markets, weakened our ability to respond militarily to real and necessary global crises, weakened our ability to respond to terror and natural disasters at home by putting our National Guard and its equipment in Iraq, subjected our troops to unnecessary attacks, and pushed Islamic states towards more extremist regimes (as in Iran and Palestine).
We need to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible in an orderly manner, seriously considering Senator Biden's Partition Plan as an appropriate and realistic solution for a Balkanized Iraq.
We need to abandon "neocon" policies of unilateral action, preemptive strikes, lying to the UN, abusing human rights and scoffing at international law by authorizing torture, the holding of prisoners without charge, the imprisoning of people without evidence, and denying due process of law.
We need to reaffirm our former policy of cooperative and diplomatic engagement of other nations, including promoting--rather than obstructing--important international treaties such as Kyoto that are necessary to secure the peace and prosperity of the community of nations and the evironmental integrity of the planet.
And finally, we need put into place real protection against terror at home. That means better policing our borders; securing our nuclear facilities, transportation infrastructure, government targets, and other high-profile targets; and adopting an approach that recognizes that terror is not war but international crime, and that it cannot be defeated by conventional military spending or "war".
That includes supporting and promoting religious tolerance through the encouragement and fostering of secular governments that recognize a policy of division of church and state.
It also includes subsidization of tolerance-teaching public education programs in nations with terror problems--and favored trade status and other incentives for nations that develop such programs and foster such policies.
It further includes programs to spur economic development in communities that are now hotbeds of new terror recruits.
Think Marshall Plan, not Iraq II.
2. A single-payer national health insurance program (HIP) with comprehensive coverage and freedom of choice as to provider.
HIP would save hundreds of billions of dollars in costs and restore market efficiency to the health care industry by eliminating zero-value-added private insurers whose every dollar in expenses or profit is a dollar taken away from healthcare Americans need; by eliminating the redundant bureaucracies of Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA; by leveraging single-payer status to negotiate fair prices with drug companies; by cutting providers' overhead costs (billing and float); and by regulating excessive awards to lower malpractice rates.
HIP would represent a huge economic benefit to consumers--46 million workers and children would be insured, and would not have to pay for healthcare out-of-pocket; millions more would be freed of burdensome co-pays and deductibles and paying dental and/or eyecare out of pocket.
Employers would see substantial, and possibly even total reductions in their health benefits costs. In one version, employers could be required to pay into the national Health Insurance Fund at a modest rate for each employye-hour worked (without regard to F/T or P/T status); in the other, employer-subsidized insurance could be eliminated entirely.
Either choice means a huge shot in the arm to businesses' bottom lines, and a big help to industries struggling to compete in the global market. HIP would therefore help reduce outsourcing, while creating great new jobs as providers expand to administer care to more Americans than ever before.
HIP is a huge economic issue--one could pass it on market efficiency alone, without even getting to the right to health insurance.
3. ENERGY SECURITY: this includes not just "energy independence" (domestic production of most of our energy needs) but also "economic security". We are currently experiencing persistent, energy (oil&gas)-fueled inflation and chronic interest rate increases. This drag on our economy will not stop as long as we remain open to gaming and gouging by foreign oil producers and disruptive acts of war. If we don't change course, we'll send the American middle class into serious recession.
We need to set the most aggressive clean and renewable energy standards, fuel efficiency standards, green building standards, appliance and electrical efficiency standards, and green government standards in the world.
This is partly economic self defense. We need to be ahead of the curve in clean tech, which is the future--we need to be selling this stuff overseas. It is also as part of a desperately-needed NATURAL DISASTER AND GLOBAL WARMING DEFENSE PLAN. Permitting global warming and pollution to threaten our agriculture, our cities and our coastlines spells economic disaster.
Energy security is an economic issue of staggering importance.
4. A Natural Disaster and Global Warming Defense Plan includes CUTTING SUBSIDIES FOR OIL and natural gas and coal, and putting the money into R&D for clean and renewable energy. WE have to be proactive. Global warming is real, and threatens our physical and economic security.
5. Completely PUBLICLY-FUNDED ELECTIONS and a NATIONAL TELEVISION STATION (NTV) allowing ample and equal time to all candidates, national and local, to present their positions and participate in debates.
Our current system of rampant corporate lobbying has resulted in the above-mentioned energy-fueled chronic inflation and interest-rate hikes and probable recession; it has put impossible burdens on American business and consumers by artificially driving up health benefits and healthcare costs; it has permitted the war industry and military contractors in combination with the energy industry to conspire to mislead America into war in Iraq--with devastating impact on our debt burden, creating a squeeze on social spending now, threatening to choke Social Security in the future.
These anti-middle-class, anti-consumer policies are just a few of those brought about by government by and for the rich. They constitute a drag on our economy by forcing consumers to submit to cash grabs by the supply-side plutocratic ascendancy.
Publicly-funded elections might be the single most important economic issue facing America.
6. Saving Social Security.
7. We need to BALANCE THE BUDGET to prevent the squeezing of social programs, and to stop supply-side sowing of Debt to choke Social Security in the future.
8. Balancing the budget entails progressive tax reform reversing tax cuts for the rich and eliminating loopholes and dodges.
That means creating a simple, progressive, consumer-friendly federal income tax code. One in in which the federal government does not act as a drag on consumption in a regressive system in which 31% of our revenues are raised through payroll taxes and 35% in federal income tax.
The poor should not pay federal income tax at all; the middle class should pay less; and the rich should pay their fair share. The rich should also be taxed progressively, like the rest of the populace. That means additional tax brackets.
9. Balancing the budget also entails cutting war pork. That means no more preemptive wars and no-bid contracts. It means getting out of Iraq as soon as possible, possibly through a partitioned Iraq stabilized with UN forces.
It also means erasing the GOP's absurd non-Iraq increases in conventional military spending that do nothing to protect us against terror. We need a smarter, smaller, more efficient army. It's not our job to permanently occupy nations. It was bad business for the British in their day, and it's still bad business now.
All of the above ought to be planks in a progressive platform designed to unite the middle class.
LIB/CON WEDGE ISSUES
The following issues are divisive WEDGES that splinter the middle class and should NOT be emphasized in democratic campaigns. That does not mean that candidates shouldn't say where they stand on these issues. It means they should say it quickly, say it's an issue the American People have to decide, and then get back immediately to the unifying, progressive issue they were talking about.
1. Abortion. Big divider, big wedge. State your position and quickly get back on the progressive platform. If dems as a party run nationwide as progressives and they'll win big and find themselves able to appoint liberal judges. If they run as liberals on wedge issues nation-wide, just watch what happens.
2. STEM CELLS are part of the abortion wedge. State your position and move on.
3. Gay marriage. State your position--point out that an anti-gay-marriage amendment is essentially silly--and move on.
A national platform that embraces Economic and Security Issues and minimizes wedge differences will get farther in our Utahs and win more elections than a platform that deliberately focuses attention on wedge issues.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Since its inception, Social Security was running a surplus, and promises of "lock boxes" and "trust funds" were made by politicians claiming that the program was flush with money and that we have many years of solvency.
We all knew this was bogus, of course, as I laid it out here last year. But now the Social Security program no longer will artificially lower our federal deficit, it will add to it. From today on, we will have to "borrow" money from the trust fund that we already spent.
Washington is broken and needs an honest analysis and serious belt tightening...
But here is the link to this groundbreaking story that no one will really cover...
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This story talks about the real number of unemployed. The actual number, he claims is closer to 16%, not the public number of 9%.
No wonder people have a hard time believing politicians.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
But as I have learned over the last several months, nothing is ever simple, rarely definitive, and one has to look closely for an agenda in every written word. Krugman makes a simple correlation to a policy pushed by Reagan (with overwhelming bipartisan support) to 1. address different lending practices of savings and loans and traditional banks, 2. create new accounting standards for capital investment in savings and loans, and 3. to address failing savings and loans due to extreme volatility and transitions from high interest rates to lower interest rates.
One of the minor changes in a complex law allowed savings and loans to alter the debt to income ratio lending standards, a move designed to free up and encourage capital investment through tinkering with the availability of the money supply.
Krugman boldly and singularly blames this last effort for causing the 1988 savings and loan bailout (Reagan's fault) and the housing bubble last year.
Reagan's policy may have some relevance to today's economic crisis, but Krugman's tome is a purely partisan attack, for several reasons. First, an obvious and very relevant cause of the real estate failure in the late eighties was due to a Democrat effort to close loopholes for real estate investments in the 1986 tax bill. For several years, there was an incentive to invest in real estate written in the tax code. One can debate the validity of this tax incentive, but the removal of the tax incentives immediately dried up investments in real estate and billions of dollars of investment became worthless. This was a large contributing factor to the failure of savings and loans, which was completely ignored in Krugman's definitive case against Reagan.
You can read a fair analysis of the savings and loan crisis here.
More interesting, and pertinent to todays discussion are the following topics.
First, many of our legislators today failed to learn from the savings and loan crisis. If Krugman is correct that lowered lending standards caused the savings and loan crisis, you would think Washington politicians would have been opposed and appalled at the creation of artificially low interest rates (Federal Reserve), lowered lending standards to encourage home ownership (President Clinton, President Bush, Congress, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac), and the securitization of debt (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Wall Street).
Second, you would think voters would start to second guess the economic estimates from our politicians as to the severity of our economic crisis. If you read the fair analysis of the crisis, you will be intrigued by the terrible estimates of the severity of the problem. Initial estimates of the savings and loan crisis began at $30-50 billion. In the end, the cost of the crisis approached $200 billion.
The real lesson is this. Government intervention always has unintended consequences and government predictions are always wrong. Today, the Obama Administration is predicting 3.5% annual growth for this year. My previous posts have clearly discredited that number. Just 3 months ago, White House projections said the worst case scenario for unemployment was 9.5% (the basis for the banking stress tests). Today, we are already at that number. Finally, losses due to the economic crisis are estimated to be $1.2 trillion. If history is our guide, each of these estimates will be significantly low. My previous posts indicate unemployment may reach 12-15%, and total projected losses due to the real estate bubble will be around $3 trillion.
For Krugman to offer a fair analysis, he should admit the economic problems can not be attributed to any political party, but to the entire Washington political culture. As long as politicians and the Federal Reserve believe the economy can be managed through monetary and tax policy, there will be uncontrolled bubbles because there is never political will to put the brakes on credit, and a recognition that government can not change common sense economic principles because the laws of unintended consequences are always present.
The actual reason for the economic bubble is a Keynesian theory that government can manage an economy--the very heart of Krugmans liberal ideology.
May Ronald Reagan rest in peace.
Update. It looks like I am not the only one pointing out Krugman's bias. Here is a link to an MSNBC economic report that has a different take on the same Krugman column.