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The False Debate on the Debt

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Posted on Apr 13, 2011
AP / Charles Dharapak

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, and House Speaker John Boehner speak to reporters after their meeting at the White House with President Obama regarding the budget and possible government shutdown on April 6.

By Robert Scheer

In the ever-so-smug company of the rich and powerful, it is a given that there is never to be any expression of remorse or other acknowledgment of the pain they have inflicted on the lesser mortals they so cavalierly plunder. It’s convenient for them that the media and the politicians, which they happen to own, rarely connect the dots between the scams that made the rich so rich and the alarming rise in the federal debt that is crushing this nation.

The result of this purchased public myopia is that we are left with an absurd debate over how deeply to cut teachers’ pensions and seniors’ medical benefits while preserving tax breaks for the superrich and their large corporations. At a time when 10 million American families will have lost their homes by year’s end, when $5.6 trillion in home equity has been wiped out, when most Americans face steep unemployment rates and stagnant wages, a Democratic president is likely to compromise with Republican ideologues who insist that further cuts in taxes for the rich is the way to bring back jobs.

Let’s deal right off with that canard. There is currently no shortage of corporate profits or excessive executive compensation to explain away the failure of the private sector to create jobs. On the contrary, as The New York Times reports, “In the fourth quarter, profits at American businesses were up an astounding 29.2 percent, the fastest growth in more than 60 years. Collectively, American corporations logged profits at an annual rate of $1.678 trillion.” And to add insult to injury, the top executives, who seem unable or unwilling to create jobs or adequately reward their workers, have increased their own compensation by a whopping 12 percent over the previous year, setting the median pay at $9.6 million per year for those in control of the leading 200 companies. The Times adds that “C.E.O. pay is also on the rise again at companies like Capital One and Goldman Sachs, which survived the economic storm with the help of all of those taxpayer-financed bailouts.” 

Lost in this faux debate is the reality that our debt now looms so large because the government had to bail out many of those same corporations, quite a few of which, like General Electric and AIG, pay no taxes and have no problem paying truly obscene amounts to their top executives. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, whom President Barack Obama named chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, is making as much as he did before the recession hit, a recession that his GE Capital division did much to cause with its reckless loans. AIG, saved with a government infusion of $170 billion, has just lavishly rewarded its top executives but has provided no relief for the homeowners ripped off by its phony credit default swaps.

The AIG deal was engineered by then-President of the New York Fed Timothy Geithner, who was rewarded for his efforts to save the bankers by being named Obama’s treasury secretary. Geithner, an energetic member of the team of Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers that ran Treasury when the Bill Clinton administration cooperated with congressional Republicans in gutting regulation of the financial community, is proud of saving the banks from the wreckage that they and the Clinton policies caused. Last October he proclaimed the TARP banker bailout program “the most effective government program in recent memory.” 

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What he is referring to is that in order to escape the federal restrictions on executive compensation, the banks have been eager to pay back the TARP funds. What he and other apologists for the Obama and George W. Bush administrations’ Bankers First program choose to ignore—as Paul Atkins and two other members of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program revealed in a damning Wall Street Journal column titled “TARP Was No Win for the Taxpayers”—is that the banks are not paying back the trillions of dollars in non-TARP governmental assistance that saved them from bankruptcy. “ … It hides the full story of the government’s financial crisis effort, of which TARP is but a minor part,” the Op-Ed column said of the maneuvering. The major part is the $1.1 trillion in toxic-mortgage-based securities that the Fed purchased, relieving the banks of their obligations, and the $380 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, organizations that backed those securities, along with “other Fed and FDIC programs [that] added another $2 trillion of taxpayer money at risk to the 19 stress-tested banks alone. …”

What Geithner celebrates is a shell game of his own construction in which far more costly federal programs, with no serious restrictions on banker greed, were used by the banks to “repay” the TARP funds. Nothing was obtained in return from those banks in the way of mortgage cramdowns to keep people in their homes or any restrictions on the interest rates that banks charge on credit cards: Clearly usurious rates of more than 25 percent are now the norm for those struggling to keep their families above water. No wonder consumer confidence is down, the housing market is expected to decline an additional 10 percent over the next year, and the job market is predicted by most of the experts to stagnate for years to come. Continued tax breaks for the 1 percent of the population that controls 40 percent of the nation’s wealth will do nothing to restore the confidence of the other 99 percent of consumers who are suffering so.

This at least Obama seems to understand, but count on him to betray his own better instincts by once again following the advice of his treasury secretary and the Wall Street crowd that contributed so lavishly to his first presidential campaign and whose support he seeks once again.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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RedwoodGuy's avatar

By RedwoodGuy, April 14, 2011 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

It has been asked many times lately, “How to get the word out?” Let’s assume the word is “revolution.” The media - and I think we have to conclude it means all media - are committed 100% to the left/right political paradigm. Even massive demonstrations are barely covered, if covered at all.

Look EVEN at the so-called alternate news sites - even ones like this. What do you see? Literally every insignificant blathering by a DC Pol or Official Establishment Mouthpiece, is covered in depth as though it was a category 5 hurricane. The investment and dedication to blowing that massive NY-DC bullhorn keeps the masses moving in that rhythm. Blame the Liberals - Blame the Conservatives. This is the pinnacle of the Edward Bernays system of mass communication.

Revolutions wither trying to crawl out from under the weight of this Publicity Machinery. Obama’s recent speech was insignificant jabbering. Meaningless political drivel to be funnelled into this PR machine that would keep everyone occupied for a couple news cycles - and of course, it did exactly that.

If a spark starts a small fire - - who is going to report on it to give encouragement to others? Not the NYT. Not the WaPo, or Katie “I make 15 million a year reading a teleprompter” Couric, surely not the BuffingtonHost, and very doubtfully this site either, which is dedicated to the left half of the Left/Right paradigm. For crying out loud, this site features “Gene Robinson” on the front page nearly every day! Can you get any more establishment than that?

Until and unless a site like this begins to give significant coverage to a rebellion (of any kind) it’s going to be mighty hard to get a blaze burning.

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By jim Cryderman, April 14, 2011 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would like to comment on the current debt crisis and provide a solution to the problem.  It is clear that we pay our debts and the debts of the big corporations.  So given that the public debt is our mortgage on our country and we always make payment.  Let us make a condition on that payment that our money be restricted to being reinvested in our country.  It would seem to be the most serious way to pay the debt down and restore jobs for ordinary Americans. So let me be clear we pay the debt costs but the money we pay must be reinvested in our Country not China.  How about that for a solution…Problem solved.  For sure a better idea then credit default swaps…Thanks

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By ZenBowman, April 14, 2011 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

I’m a bit disappointed Bob, as I distinctly recall you endorsing the Libyan intervention on Left, Right and Center, which, in all honesty, will not achieve much and will only de-legitimize the anti-war movement.

Yes, Gaddafi would have massacred Benghazi were it not for the intervention, but that excuse can be used in several other countries as well. To take a principled stance on the issue, we’ll just have to leave countries alone, regardless of how shocking the actions of dictators may be.

Even Rwanda has recovered from its atrocities, Libya too would have recovered. On the other hand, Iraq has not recovered from foreign intervention.

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CJ's avatar

By CJ, April 14, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Scheer alludes to it: media, partner in pathology. (Is there another word for
media doings?) Not that I agree with Scheer, and many others, that TARP was
the wrong thing to do, short of revolution, of course. Without TARP, we’d be a
whole lot worse off. The issue wasn’t TARP per se but Congress’ failure to place
restrictions or lay down rules. (Yeah, that wasn’t surprising when TARP
recipients own the government.) But I agree with Doug Henwood about TARP
and not with Robert Scheer. And, far as I know, Goldman Sachs never needed
funds as Sachs was a big winner, especially after purchasing insurance in the
event AIG failed. Wasn’t is Paulson who told ‘em they were all going to take the
money whether they liked it or not?

But there were no restrictions, homeowners were not spared, loans not made
and jobs not created. To paraphrase Steve Miller, the banks took the money and
ran, CEOs in particular, as Scheer reports on their meager earnings and failure
to pay their share, fair or not. They ought, if out of no more than shame, pay far
more than their “fair” share. (I was kidding about shame, which none have ever
known.)

Bear in mind, millions of IRA and 401(k) holders, some of whom never owned
homes, were also ruined by Wall Street and its partner in crime, government.

But back to media, where the mantra is, “They MUST do something about
entitlements!,” or so all newsreaders seem to think and then—stupidly-
ignorantly, as usual—speak in Chicken Little fashion. (Newsreaders too never
pay their fair share as they rake in only somewhat less than top executives. Or
more in some cases, Mr. Olbermann, and probably Mssrs. Blitzer and O’Reilly.)

Paul Ryan is being regarded as the Second Coming by reactionary media, by
which I mean ALL mainstream media. (But what’s reactionary in the case of a
country so far right it’s a wonder it doesn’t upend and slide into the Atlantic
Ocean?)

The economy isn’t so bad as generally believed, while the rate of unemployment
is only the new “structural unemployment.” No, Americans can’t compete with a
a woman in Indonesia paid a buck a day if that much. Yet even leftists,
especially liberals, talk like there really is such as thing as a loving and generous
capitalism. There isn’t, never was and never will be. Capitalism is ruthless and
not prone to suicide. Just like the Catholic Church, among other organized
religions promising damnation and hell if one doesn’t toe a line.

But it’s FREE isn’t it? No, it was never that either, while Adam Smith was just
wrong, in the same way, say, Ptolemy was wrong about the heavens. It happens
—often, and economics really is a dismal science. Mainly, capitalism is simply
wrong in its underlying premises concerning human psychology and sociology.

It promotes not freedom but selfishness with attendant greed, which are never
constructive not even when at times slightly creative—when there might be
some money in it. Destructive is the norm, however. (Looked at the planet
lately?)

The solution is indeed revolution, this time something more than merely
political revolution. True even if revolution goes bad, which most have done.
Properly, we’d begin with taking over media, just like it says in every manual on
revolution.

Otherwise, more of the same, one Reagan-Clinton-Bush-Obama after another
talking of “shared sacrifice,” blah, blah, blah. Like any of ‘em, let alone their
big-business bosses and toadies, ever made a serious sacrifice of any kind.

It seems finally to have dawned on Obama that taxes might have to be
increased, but apparently only across the board. I guess lest the uberrich have
to dig too deep as to have to sell off one of 12 summer houses, or otherwise
have to downsize from 40,000 square feet to a paltry 20,000 square feet.

And other otherwise, you younger among us prepare to work unto death by the
time reactionary Big Business Party gets done trying to salvage fascist empire.

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Lori F's avatar

By Lori F, April 14, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

@Arouete:  Yes, I know cliches.  But just a note of caution:  If you treat “the mass of under-employed semi-literates” as trash, when the riots you want begin, those “semi-illiterates” will be on the other side.  Wouldn’t it be better if we were all on the same side against the empire?

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By DigThis, April 14, 2011 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

From the title I thought this was going to be a piece on the fake debate itself.  This topic could reveal much insight into our government.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, April 14, 2011 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

I for one am deathly tired of hearing the deficit being used as a vehicle for driving the middle class off the cliff.
It’s such a stupid one-sided canard for anybody who knows anything about the economy.
It’s not that entitlements suddenly broke the bank stopping the wheels of industry, but that Wall Street malfeasance caused a deficit in capital - a credit crunch that threatened to bring the capitalist system to a grinding halt.
The public deficit increased as a result of government bailing out its corrupt bosses, not to mention the stupid immoral wars.
It all sounds righteous to drone on about paying our debts and being fiscally responsible, but that focuses on only one part of the problem to divert attention from the real cause ( a classic right wing tactic).
There IS a revenue problem , not just a spending problem - it’s basic accounting -
Net Profit = revenue - expenses.
The salivating greedy oligarchists want to take revenue out of the equation, and stupidly Oblahma has not pushed back. Of course, the right doesn’t see it as a revenue problem, since they would be perfectly happy to cut all social services. But that has nothing to do with the recession - just their greedy self-centered view of government.

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By GPaul, April 14, 2011 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Currently, the policy of the government is to expand the economy and end the recession. Now, there are also plans afoot to reduce the budget deficit $4 T. Both plans will shrink the economy between $200 B - $400 B
each year over 10 - 12 years. In other words, the budget will be a tool to shrink the economy at the same time we are trying to grow it.

Aren’t these are opposing goals? How is it possible “to have it both ways”? The House ‘Publican budget in particular is puzzling since it postulates
reduced taxes will be an incentive to expand business in the face of the shrinking economy. A shrinking economy means fewer buyers. Where is the incentive to invest? Why would banks make loans in a shrinking economy?

Finally, the record clearly shows that past attempts to reduce the deficit during a recession results in worsening the recession. This a win-win for the ‘Publicans and lose-lose for the Democrats. When the economy tanks again, the ‘Publicans will have a ready made issue that the Democrats haven’t and can’t fix the economy.

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By Arouete, April 13, 2011 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

Lori F:

Leave no cliche unturned. I have no interest in catching flies.

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By emaho1944, April 13, 2011 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment

The repubs hold all the cards.  This issue isn’t even worth debating any longer.  Unless we take it to the streets, there isn’t anything worth talking about.  Obama’s speech today was just so much bullshit!  How long can we abide this shit???

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Lori F's avatar

By Lori F, April 13, 2011 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

@ RedwoodGuy and Aourete:  I agree with both of you.  I’m looking for as many ways as possible to try to change the system.  I already buy my clothes at thrift shops and my last car was 18 years old and had been “totaled” twice before I finally had to get rid of it.  I’ve been a credit union member for 30 years.  I push “only people are people” amendments and impeaching Justice Roberts and Gov. Snyder (I live in Michigan) on blogsites.  I also push the concept of state banks, such as the publicly owned banking system that farmers and small businesses pushed the North Dakota state legislature to develop in 1919, during the age of the Robber Barons (just like our situation now!!).  The ND banking system works for the little guy and local business, not the big multinational corporations.  (Virg Bernaro, the Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor also pushed this idea, but didn’t have the money to get out the message…)  See:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/path-to-a-new-economy/bank-on-it-how-cash-starved-states-can-create-their-own-credit

But we also need to figure out constructive ways to raise the consciousness of many more people than just the commenters on blogsites, e.g. my relatives and their kids and friends, who are very consumer-driven and “the mass of under-employed semi-literates who can’t reason their way out of a paper bag and who get their ‘education’ from prescription drug-addicted, vodka bloated, talk show blowhards peddling balderdash and claptrap.”  (@ Arouete:  You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar…)  Any ideas??

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By Morpheus, April 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

Memo to America: Stop waiting for Democrats and Republicans to save you.

“WAKE UP!”  -  JOIN THE REVOLUTION
Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )

We don’t have to live like this anymore. “Spread the News”

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By Litl Bludot, April 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

“Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or the permanent
consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is
content to be (one could even say eager to be) guardian of the status quo. And
the forces of the status quo want tax cuts for the rich, serious cuts in
government spending that don’t benefit them (social programs and progressive
regulatory schemes), and entitlement “reform”—so that’s what Obama will do.
He won’t advocate, and will actually oppose, steps as extreme as the ones Paul
Ryan is proposing: that’s how he will retain his “centrist” political identity and
keep the fear levels high among his voting base. He’ll pay lip service to some
Democratic economic dogma and defend some financially inconsequential
culture war positions: that’s how he will signal to the base that he’s still on
their side. But the direction will be the same as the GOP desires and, most
importantly, how the most powerful economic factions demand: not because he
can’t figure out how to change that dynamic, but because that’s what benefits
him and thus what he wants.Ironically, Obama is turning out to be
“transformational” in his own way—by taking what was once the defining GOP
approach to numerous policy areas and converting them into Democratic ones,
and thus ensconcing them in the invulnerable protective shield of “bipartisan
consensus.” As Digby put it: “Reagan was a hard-core ideologue who didn’t just
tweak some processes but radically changed the prevailing conventional
wisdom. Unfortunately, Obama is actually extending the Reagan consensus,
even as he pursues his own agenda of creating a Grand Bargain that will bring
peace among the dueling parties (a dubious goal in itself.)” That has been one
of the most consequential outcomes of the first two years of his presidency in
terms of Terrorism and civil liberties, and is now being consecrated in the realm
of economic policy as well.
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/

Obama is a “frenemy” to progressives.  And he is deadly.  The word is in the
OED, look it up, or wikipedia.  My term for Obama , like Clinton, and Bush, is
POWERPIMP.  I know how distasteful this is to the gutless Obama voters who
may criticize him here, but will no doubt vote for him for Republican policies,
which are obviously now fascist policies.  So, I have no respect for them. None.
Supporters of Obama are appeasers to torture and fascism.  They deserve no
respect.

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By barbatus, April 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment

This country needs a revolution. Bankers (together with CEOs and the rest of their ilk) to the lamp-post!

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By http://MoneyedPoliticians.net, April 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Absolutely *NOTHING* will fix our system without getting to the root: political corruption. Politicians sharing in the booty by taking campaign bribes, and then rolling over to the industry that wants in the taxpayer’s pockets. The recent “crisis commission” blamed everyone except the nation’s board of directors—our CONGRESS—even when the politicians are 100% to blame.

The key problem is the way we finance elections. There are only two kinds of money: public and private. Private money got us here and nothing will change until we get these legal bribes out of politics. But a fix is vigorously opposed by the political elite that benefit from the existing corruption.

Nothing else matters, regardless of your issue. Nothing is going to change until we have public funding of campaigns. Politicians spend taxpayer dollars because they ARE PAID to spend taxpayer dollars, and robbing the SSI fund and Medicare (as just two examples) gives them the cash needed to attract campaign dollars.

Our problem is NOT government, and it is not R’s or D’s. It *IS* that government is owned by CEOs and corporate interests that want in the taxpayer’s pockets. The 2010 elections were funded by just 1% of Americans, when they should be financed by 100% of taxpayers. And at $5 per taxpayer it would be a bargain. Even at 100 times that.

CEOs want short-term profits to increase their already massive salaries, and are willing to share those profits with the politicians that made it all happen. Thus NAFTA and other laws are passed that enable outsourcing to countries with wage scales one-tenth ours. Or are repealed (like Glass-Seagall) to enable the Fat Cat bankers to rip off the public. And all while deregulation crashes our country, China and India flourish.

In addition to public funding of campaigns, politicians must also (a) be put on a pay-for-performance basis, where if deficits or pork barrel and special interest spending go up, their pay goes down, and (b) they must put their own wealth in a blind trust that blocks political insider trading (which today is rampant and legal). They must also get their health care from Medicare and their retirement from Social Security, and receive it only when they reach 67 or 69 or whatever age the rest of us qualify. (Though I argue that keeping us geezers in the workforce taking jobs is stupid.)

As a former CEO my company would not have survived if I had an employee or board of directors who took money on the side and gave away company assets in return. Our country can’t survive this corruption either.

So the voters change nothing. We elect a new group of politicians and the Fat Cats simply re-direct their bribes as we continue down our spiral. But the problem is that all of these changes must be made by the foxes themselves (congress), and they won’t do it without great pressure.

The public’s choices are simple: a 100% turnover of politicians until the above fixes are made, or a national revolution is inevitable. And all because our politicians refuse to stop the bribery they benefit from, and the public refused to stop it.

If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. We MUST demand that our senators and representative pass the bill at: http://fairelectionsnow.org/about-bill

Jack Lohman …
http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

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RedwoodGuy's avatar

By RedwoodGuy, April 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment

Glenn Greenwald’s blog today on Salon has nailed the diagnosis perfectly. It is must reading for the die-hard faithful who keep insisting Obama is making a mistake, or doing something wrong, or using bad strategy. As Greenwald explains clearly, he is doing exactly what he wants to accomplish HIS goals. He is executing HIS plan with perfection. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/

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By GoyToy, April 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

Scheer blew it with this last graph: “This at least Obama seems to understand, but count on him to betray his own better instincts by once again following the advice of his treasury secretary and the Wall Street crowd that contributed so lavishly to his first presidential campaign and whose support he seeks once again.”

If Obama has “better instincts,” he ought to follow them. Does he not know that he’s the POTUS and that wunderkind Geithner works for him—and not the other way around?

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By Arouete, April 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

Too superbly written to warrant any criticism. Powerful stuff. But really, I mean REALLY, what did you expect? That Obama actually would or could bring us “change we can believe in”? Really? Did you all *actually* believe that?  Really?  A new chapter in the Annals of Gullibility! Well then, I have some ocean front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you all.  Here is your change chumps!  And it’s chump change!  Really. What held the Nation hostage? A battle over virtual chump change. WHO held Congress hostage” One Freaking percent!

Even if Obama wanted to deliver on his vapid promises what could any man do when he heads the pathetic Democratic party of counterfeit Liberal courtiers that lord over an unbelievably dumbed-down electorate of malleable sheep who verge on illiteracy and whose human dignity is never even considered beyond their usefulness as sheep to be fleeced and made into mutton.

This is politics in America. Obama is and was the great American hustle. That’s what America is and always been about - hustle, hustle, hustle. It’s what we do best.  And this last election proves it. The ill-informed dumbed-down lobotomized sheep took to the bait and swallowed it hook line and sinker.  The voters who matter, who make a difference, are not the wonderful writers at Truthdig or even its informed readership but the mass of under-employed semi-literates who can’t reason their way out of a paper bag and who get their ‘education’ from prescription drug-addicted, vodka bloated, talk show blowhards peddling balderdash and claptrap. 

Get it! The war is over. We the People lost! The corporations and America’s infamous and nefarious 1% won! These lapel-pin patriots owe no fealty to the Nation. They can pick up and leave to any cheap labor or tax haven they wish and lock themselves behind Gucci gates guarded by Blackwater. They own Congress, they own the Supreme Court, they own the media, they own state legislatures, they own the press, and that have made all into brothels where the We the Voters are their Johns.

This is your change chumps and all the brouhaha is just wind. Until the streets of D.C., Chicago and New York resemble the streets of Cairo nothing, absolutely nothing, is gong to change.  Everything that matters has already been compromised away, sold cheap, and there is nothing left to steel in America except the few New Deal entitlements left standing in the rubble.

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RedwoodGuy's avatar

By RedwoodGuy, April 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

@ajintx

Bravo - yes I agree they “own” those things too. But, it’s all on paper. It’s nothing they can really use to defend themselves with. A gang-banger in Chicago that owns a water company in Ecuador only owns it “intellectually.” He can’t defend it. He can’t occupy it. He can’t use it as a weapon or a defense.

Look - this is the whole meaning of “intellectual property rights.” The gang-bangers want to use a legal concept (made of smoke) to commoditize the world for ownership. But this only works if YOU LET IT WORK. A piece of paper saying you own songs, or water companies, or words is…....ta da - - - just paper! For that paper to have value, you must log in to the same dream world and agree that the paper is a song or a water company. Don’t do it! How simple is that? Copy that movie, copy that song, do what you would do with any property you own.

Ok, I am making it sound too easy on purpose, just so you get the idea. It is hard, because they can hurt you. But remember - we lost this war. We are now the underdog rebels scratching back, and there will be much pain and suffering to get the chains off. Us old geezers probably can’t do it. We are too weak. But the young can do it.

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RedwoodGuy's avatar

By RedwoodGuy, April 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

Redwoodguy is always the same! Nothing new. This is just a different angle about “doing what you can do.” I would never vote, as you know, but “not buying” or “not acting” as a consumer, is a valuable weapon we all have but don’t always see.

The question is always being asked, “What can we do?” (With much wringing of hands.) I am trying to point out - “do nothing” is a marvelous way to “do something.”

Apple and Google and Facebook and Microsoft and Verizon and the other gang-bangers are absolutely depending on you to “do something” with your few dollars. New iPAD, more texting, more ads seen on FB, more Googlging is all in the consumption economy. If you flatten the sales of those gang bangers for one year, a whole bunch of millionaires will go down the toilet! Make their sales go DOWN instead of UP, and you might even tank a billioniare or two! I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. They have it all riding on the come!

Getting the word out? Well, all I do is make a point of visiting as many of these free posting sites as I can with one simple, polite message. Nope - it’s not like a bullhorn of TV or movies, but it IS something, and it is easy, and let’s face it - you are already doing it.

I may add more to my repetoire like stuffing a cheap flyer into the freebie newspapers at the grocery store. You know, simple things. Right now, not too many people really grasp this economic control they have. I see too many poor people walking in and buying new cars, new iPODS, and blowing money on McBooger’s Burgers instead of going home and cooking some real food.

The gang-bangers, like GE and BP, want you to believe the answer is at the ballot box. Well sure, since the Supreme Court gave them the ability to buy that, why wouldn’t they want you to go there to unload your frustration? But if Obama proves anything, it is certainly that the ballot box is a pointless exercise in rubber handle pulling! You don’t need to fall for that one ever again. The CASH REGISTER is where all the action is, and they are not going to let that secret out! Burn the cash register and they are T-O-A-S-T!

Shop at the thrift store. You don’t have a job that needs fancy clothes anyway, do you? There’s enough cars on the planet already to serve our needs for 10 years without ever making another one. Stop buying the damn things.

Now let’s be clear - - we can’t stop spending 100%. We would die. But, as I said, a few percentage points downward can bust these turkeys, who have ALL BET ON THE UPSWING.

And if you have the cajones, just stop paying on student loans, mortgages, credit cards. Don’t feel one bit of remorse or guilt about it. This is war, and war hurts people. It’s either you or them.

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By ajintx, April 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

Redwood Guy is incorrect about the elites owning just money.  They own Congress, and they have bought up all the choice arable farm land around the world, and the water rights to go with it.  Some lesser viewed outlets have photos of Southern Amerinidans being marched off the land they were allowed to rent after it was bought up, until the powers that owned it wanted to do corporate farming on it.  We are nothing but replaceable useless eaters to them.  So I actually like the idea of eating the rich.  Just read Trinity, a good object lesson in what the Anglo-style (USA too) elites do with the peasant renters.

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By starfish, April 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

Apparently, Obama gave a good speech about the budget (I never listen to him, because it’s a waste of time), but the PROBLEM is always that his good speeches are swiftly followed by total capitulation once he gets in a room with the Republicans and a few bad Democrats.

So, this was Stage One: The Good Speech

But look out for Stage Two: Obama’s Complete Surrender

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By c.d.embrey, April 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama and DLC Democrats are the problem. They are as conservative
as any non-socia;-issue Republicans. Between Obama/DLC Democrats
and many Republicans there is little difference, both want to serve the
rich.

Anytime I here Democrats talking about Republicans who vote against
their best interests, I think about that old saying about pots and kettles.

If the Democrats run Obama in 2012, I won’t vote against my best
interest. I’ll vote third party.

It’s time for progressives to abandon the Democrats, they abandoned
use a long time ago.

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By Leefeller, April 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

Redwood Guy not sure if I like the new Redwood Guy, instead of the old one? In the past, Redwood Guy sounded like; ‘do what you do best and screw the rest”. (I sort of do that anyway?)

Taking advantage of opportunists weaknesses seems sane advice to me,....so don’t buy junk from China or should I say Wall Mart?  Grow your own pot,.....for me if I could make my own Tequila I would be well on my way to self sufficiency.

A group of people are protesting at the local corporate Bank on Friday, I may join them….... We don’t need no stinking regulations to protest!

Screw the oil companies,.... I walk more often and ride a bicycle when I can, well they already stopped the bus services around here anyway!

How can the corporate revolving door in Washington and at State levels be stopped, awareness seems a great starting point?

Stocks should make a come back, hell….stocks building could be new local cottage industry maybe followed up with guillotine construction? Hell, I see an increased demand for rotten tomatoes!  For now stocks in effigy will do….  damn I would build one to stick in front of the bank tomorrow, but I need more time.  For now I am going to build a stock and place a Republican blowup dummy in it, not much difference from the real Republican dummies anyway. Hang a sign around the dummies neck saying “GOP”!

After all what other choice do the little people have to show their disgust, maybe for a warm up starter, we could give the Republicans a well deserved wedgie, even hire folks like Hulk Hogan or Jessie Ventura?

Good article Sheer and interesting posts!

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By Shenonymous, April 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

RedwoodGuy, thank you for taking the time to courteously reply and
explain your thesis. 

I understand and agree that wealth creates wealth.  It seems an old
axiom.  Money begats money.  The rich get richer and the poor get
poorer.  Even my Grandma fromma da Ol’ Countarrie knew that one. 
I was not consciously aware that the U.S. economy is 70% consumer
driven.  But wouldn’t any consumer economy would be driven by a
large percentage of the population that can consume?  Also as
Michael Mandel of Bloomberg Businessweek said August 14, 2010,
“personal consumption expenditures” includes almost all of the $2.5
trillion healthcare spending, and about half that comes by way of the
governmetn.  Medicare payments get counted as consumer spending in
the GDP statistics.

So the reality is, to say that consumer spending is 70% of GDP, means
consumer spending plus government health care spending is 70% of
GDP.

The gross domestic product (GDP) means domestic production, into
personal consumption expenditures, government consumption
expenditures, that is, categories.  The way the Bureau of Economic
Analysis, Mandel says, gives GDP stats, directs the public debate in the
“wrong direction” by speaking in terms of spending.  Instead he thinks
it should report in terms of production to shift from the consumer to
the producer as the main unit of analysis in order to cease being
obsessed with consumer spending.  This makes sense to this economics
lay person. But would the change in focus from spending to production
be of any significant benefit?

I don’t think you are wrong at all in what you’ve presented.  But you
can see that.  It is easy to see that an unsour investment would mean a
continuous and immense flow of consumption or the value of stocks,
bonds, and all their close relatives, would drastically fall.  And that this
dynamic mines the wealth out of working people, mostly of the middle
class.  I have heard horror stories of companies who do not exceed the
previous years sales. 

Though I am not a miser and I do spend what little extra I have not on
essentials, as a personal fiat, I have always been thrifty and looked for
bargains for just about everything, if not everything.  I do believe in
quality but I don’t believe in buying without some research for the best
prices.  I have an impressive library of both non-fiction and fiction texts
nearly 2000 books and almost all of them were bought through used
book searches.  I do comparative cost analysis even at a brief or tiny
level say for food, clothing, anything.  It just has become a habit.  I
think I stretch my dollars significantly that way.  It affords me a much
wider field of purchase power.  I’ve never felt the need so I don’t tweet
or facebook and do not need the lastest of electronic equipment, my
wonderful iMac is 5 years old.  And my cell is over three years old.  My
truck is 2003 and the other one is 1997.  Both work fine.  I always
thought the product manufacturers create an artificial fleetingr market
place so that there is an incredible turnover for their products with the
demand for new and ever newer versions are a constant flow into the
market place and cause consumers to think they must have the latest or
face obsolescence.  This attitude feeds the faux life which feeds the
faux debate.

So I think your defensive buying is a crystal keen observation.  Nothing
new if you can help it, (except for groceries!) I wouldn’t buy a used
tomato.)  But yes then watch how the world changes.  Yes, individuals
do have the power of their own pocketbook, so thank you for reminding
me.

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By Gary Mont, April 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

OK, let’s just pretend that a plan of action is actually formulated by somebody, that has a good chance of successfully wresting America out of the hands of the domestic terrorists now holding office and dismantling the society from within.

(Personally I like the idea of not buying anything new for three years, stopping all payments on all debts and not voting for POTUS.)

How does that person communicate such a plan of action to the nation at large?

Television, newspaper and radio are absolutely out of the question, as they’re properties of the fascist overlords and cannot be used by the public for such things as disseminating truth or forming a public resistance. There aint no such thing as a Free Press in America.

Appealing to any level of government is absurd as even the members of local governments are integrally compromised and dependant on money coming from above to fulfill their personal dreams of wealth. Even were there a few honest souls amonst that crowd, they could do nothing without being immediately removed from office - the press would be alerted to the inevitable discovery of a dead underage hooker in the bedrooms and car trunks all of such turncoats.

The Church - sorry, they’re busy trying to become the government - their leaders are lusting after the mega-buck taxpayer-treasury and military control available only to a government, to fulfill their dreams of a religiously correct civilization - a reality even more repressive and evil than the current tycoon/banker/mobster crony paradise now in full swing nationwide.

The only thing I can see being available to almost every American today is the brain-cell melting cell phone, but these can be so easily monitored and turned off as the need arises.

How does the ‘word’ - if there is ever a ‘word’ created - get spread across the american public who currently get all their news from the propaganda machine of the domestic terrorists in control of America?

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By bill janes, April 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s see if we can do a little prognosticating about the current ‘debate’ results,
when President Obama ‘leads the fight’.

To help us with our fortune telling, let’s look back at Obama’s track record with
respect to honoring the public’s wishes, i.e. the desires of those who voted for
him.

Health Care: 72% of Americans supported “a government-administered
insurance plan—something like Medicare for those under 65—that would
compete for customers with private insurers.” Obama-led ‘non-reform’ gives
private insurers a 20% overhead for all government-mandated - i.e. ALL -
customers.

TARP & Financial Bailout: Over 70% of the American people opposed the bailout.
Three years later, un- and under-employment exceed 18%; record profits for
financial institutions.

Afghanistan: 64% of the American people opposed expanding the war in
Afghanistan and wanted to disentangle from Bush-era ‘War on Terror’ and
‘preventive war’ policies. Today, over 60% of Americans oppose the war. The
war continues.

Now, let’s take a look at Obama’s track record with respect to “debates” with
Republicans on “significant issues”:

McConnnell/Obama compromise on taxes (end of 2010) - $10,000 for every
millionaire; $1 for each working family (and unemployment for which they will
be taxed)
AND
“Historical” deal to avoid a manufactured crisis - Loss of $40,000,000,000 in
government services.

Are you ready to predict the future?

The ‘health care debate’ is the model for what’s happening now.

Here’s how Obama handled the ‘health care debate’. Obama wanted to avoid
single payer and favored the Bob Dole/Mitt Romney (Republican) approach - i.e.
giving tax payer dollars to private insurers at an overhead rate of 20% and
mandating people to buy or be fined. To make sure that’s what happened,
Obama simply took the original people’s mandate and the Democrats’ 60-year
policy goal - i.e. single payer - and let it become the victim of gun-toting Town
Halls and Tea Party mau-mauing. These activities were allowed to move
forward without rebuttal by the White House during the summer prior to
Congressional debates.

Those activities effectively set-up the Max Baucus silent ‘hearings’ in which no
single payer advocates could be heard.

Toward the culmination of the process, Obama made some lame remark (“I dont
know what’s wrong with looking at a single payer”), attempting to show
‘support’, but knowingly and effectively putting a final spike in the heart of
sixty years of Democratic policy.

Today’s budget ‘debates’ are a re-play of the health care scenario: Obama
remains silent, allowing the Republicans to frame the debate; then Obama folds
his hands and asks everyone to act like grown-ups; then Obama makes some
lame remark to ‘appease the liberal base’; then Obama folds and supports the
Republican position.

Pity the American people for whom there are no advocates in DC.

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By frecklefever, April 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

REDWOODGUY..IS RIGHT ON…HAVING LIVED IN THE REDWOODS ..I KNOW
THEY GIVE SPIRIT AID TO THE DESERVING…THE SUIT AND TIE DENIZENS OF
MONEYLAND ARE UNAWARE OF THEIR INSANITY…BECAUSE THEY BOUGHT
INTO THE DREAM OF FINANCIAL SECURITY…AND THE COSMIC JOKE IS IT
DOESN’T EXIST…ASK MADOFF..

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By RedwoodGuy, April 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

Whether the wealthy are good or bad is irrelevant. They are the force in charge, and that force is hurting everyone else, and therefore must be stopped.

It’s important to remember that when they are gone, nothing that is real will change. Niagara Falls will still be there, and so will the good soils of the Central Valley, and so on. What will be gone is their GRIP on the policies of life. The chains they have placed upon the people will be gone.

Everyone knows that Bernie Madoff ran a Ponzie scheme, but few realize that the entire concept of the stock market is a Ponzi scheme too. But it’s one with rules that legitimize it. The brainiacs of finance have succeeded in commoditizing money. Making simple money into something with intrinsic value when in fact, it has no intrinsic value. This is the essence of the Giant Ponzi Scheme we call our economy.

Instead of being based on real commodities, like corn and pork bellies, and computer chips, it is based on “financial commodities” like CDOs and MBO’s and derivative contracts, and insurance policies on the derived contracts, and futures on those insurance policies.

When you hear it said that the economy has been “financialised” - that is what it means. Real goods have been discounted out, and replaced by financial products. Do you control any of those? Do you sit and make CDOs and insurance at a workbench? Do you create MBSs? No, you don’t. And, that’s why you are being screwed out of any productivity and wealth gains. You are only CONSUMING. All the real commodities that you might participate in making were moved offshore.

The ironic thing is - - the new wealthy have left themselves really, REALLY vulnerable to the idea that anyone can see it’s all based on illusionary funny money! In the old days, a guy was rich by owning a million head of cattle, or a million man army, or tons of gold in vaults, or castles and fortresses, or palaces. That’s hard to take away from someone. But seeing that all a guy is holding is a piece of paper? A junk bond? An IOU? An insurance policy? That’s easy! Talk about a chink in the armor!

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By OzarkMichael, April 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

What to do when the rich soak every penny up? What to do when the rich refuse to release your money from their grubby hands?

“Eat the Rich!” video below:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/03/31/bill_whittle_on_eating_the_rich.html

that video was a simplification from from the great blogger Iowahawk:

iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/feed-your-family-on-10-billion-a-day.html

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By RedwoodGuy, April 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

@Shenonymous—

Their strength is wealth - and therefore their weakness is wealth. It may not be intuitive, but maybe I can explain.

Everything the wealthy have is generally invested in creating more wealth. “Money at work” is the idea. But where does new wealth come from? Fact: The US economy is 70% consumer driven. SEVENTY PERCENT! And you thought you didn’t have a voice in all this?

Without a continuous and massive flow of consumption, all that “money at work” mentioned above, becomes a sour investment, and disappears by the simple means of falling values on stocks, bonds, loan portfolios, debt instruments and all the funny-money tools used to mine wealth out of working people. If you think I am wrong on this, pay attention to what happens on CNBC at the end of each quarter. Companies who miss their forecasted sales by as little as 2% - TWO STINKING PERCENT - might see their stock prices tumble by several percent.

Wall Street has devised a momentum rule. It isn’t good enough for companies to sell what they did last year, they MUST GROW by significant amounts, else be wickedly punished. THAT is the momentum to be used against them. That is how you crash them into a wall.

But first - - - you must take the defensive. You must become recession proof and bullet-proof yourself. To use the martial arts metaphor, you must be in balance with life. Eliminate debt, work in the cash economy, or have multiple incomes, be independent of the whims of employers.

Then - don’t buy a new anything. Why are you buying a new cell phone every year? A new car every three years? A new computer every two years? Stupid Chinese toys for kids? Stupid Chinese plastic lawn chairs? Stop buying it, and just watch what happens to all these over-leveraged, over invested, funny-money billioniares. BOOM! They will explode in front of your very eyes.

They are enriched and sustained by our foolishness, our inability to see the chains, our preoccupation with nonsense like the new car smell. They absolutely can not maintain this control without a GROWING (not static, but growing) consumption!

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By Rixar13, April 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

Something is very wrong when CEO incomes have sky-rocketed while working poor wages have stagnated… smile grin

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By Rixar13, April 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

The wealthy are sociopaths… smile grin

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By ProfBob, April 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some pluses send some minuses. The tax code is inefficient. There are too many loopholes. But at the same time the average ’ taxpayer’ is not paying his share. There needs to be of value added tax on everything, including food, about 5%. In Europe they are paying 20 to 25% VAT. We have been running deficits for so many years and I’ve seldom, since Truman, had a yearly budget surplus. The other option of course is to reduce entitlements and the military. They’re just so many lobbyists working that it is hard to see whether we can get honest legislation.

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By Caro, April 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment

>>his own better instincts

Evidence, please.

I’ve never seen any evidence at all of Obama having any
better instincts. He’s an elitist, who thinks that the
elite deserve their status simply because they have
that status, and the rest of us can suck eggs.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

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By Shenonymous, April 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

An elderly Jordanian friend gave me similar advice, ”In the ancient
Eastern martial arts the first thing you learn is using your opponents
own weight and momentum to your advantage. These 1%’ers have a
lot of weight and a lot of momentum, and can be tripped far easier
than you imagine! Use their weight and momentum to drive them
headlong into a concrete block!”
  Learning to use adversaries
ferocities reciprocally most often defangs them and allows one to
triumph over them.  They are so involved in the bile of their own
hubris they can’t see you are using their own tactics to overcome
them.  I am listening right now to Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor
speak their bullshit to prejudge and put words in Obama’s address. 
They are blatantly wrong as many have already mentioned on this
forum.  The Republicans are scrambling to set up a public countenance
before Obama even speaks today of his “plan.”  It is hysterical. They try
to bully their self-absorbed for-the-rich agenda.  It is absolute that
raising taxes on the 1% will go to solve a great deal of the budget
crises. It was the removal of those taxes and the unbalanced bailouts
that contributed to the devastation that has nearly put this country into
the ground.  So all that is left is to figure out what are their weaknesses
and use them against them.  Great advice but have any ideas?

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By drbhelthi, April 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

“Insanity trumps all.”  By kalpal, April 13 at 1:17 pm (Unregistered
commenter)

Wrong-O.
No longer.

The cake is now taken by 1. ignoramuses and 2. hired pimps who sit in cubicles and can work computer keyboards.

Which are you?
Perhaps both?

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By 2PartySys=MidClassHammered, April 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

History repeats. Only part missing is the beheading of
bilking bluebloods.

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By RedwoodGuy, April 13, 2011 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Take heart - this acceleration of the middle class destruction is a sign that it is coming to its climactic spasm before collapse. And collapse is the best thing to hope for now. Everything short of collapse is impoverishment and slavery.

What the rich actually own is primarily just “money.” And I don’t mean real money, but simply ledger entries, like CDOs, and MBSs, and stock shares, and the like. Watch it go up in smoke at the collapse! Poof!

The infamous 1% can’t hold the land. They can’t hold the property. They can’t hold you in debt. They can’t hold you responsible. They can’t hold you in slavery. At best, they can get in their Gulfstream’s with a suitcase full of worthless cash, and fly away - - Godspeed!

In the ancient Eastern martial arts the first thing you learn is using your opponents own weight and momentum to your advantage. These 1%‘ers have a lot of weight and a lot of momentum, and can be tripped far easier than you imagine! Use their weight and momentum to drive them headlong into a concrete block!

See the actual playing field. Adjust your strategies. Stop using strategies from battles lost long ago. They can’t possibly prevail against the right strategy, but they are counting on you NOT SEEING IT. Stop, look, think, act!

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By felicity, April 13, 2011 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

If I hear one more politician blame SS,
‘entitlements’ (a pejorative sounding, newly coined
word for what is basically insurance) as the culprit,
the apparently only culprit, responsible for the
deficit/debt crisis, I’ll throw up.

Two years ago the SS trust fund was $2 1/2 trillion
to the good.  Today, it’s $4 trillion.  Of course,
whatever trillions the trust fund is to the good has
been quickly replaced with T Bonds, which are
government debts. 

By way of deception, dissembling and dissimulation
politicians have managed to blame us for EXPECTING
that the hard-earned money that we have contributed
to our government retirement fund (SS) is ours to
collect on retirement. Our expectation is unfounded? 

Like if I take out an insurance policy in my 20’s
expecting it, when it matures, to partially support
me when I retire, I should simply accept that when I
cash it in I’m told that my expectation was unreal
and accept the fact that my policy is actually
worthless?

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By question, April 13, 2011 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tragically true, but IMO you’ve been way too kind to Obama.  He has no better instincts than to keep himself in office & fantasize about his presidential library & historical legacy.  When I last watched Tweety (which I can’t stomach too often), Richard Wolfe was blathering on with glowing admiration about how “shrewd” Obama was being - demanding tax increases for the rich while offering the bait of Soc. Sec. & Medicare cuts.  Shrewd?  In other words, in typical weenie form, he is starting from a position of compromise in order to complete his nearly insane vision of himself as a new Solomon.  Those tax increases are vitally necessary not least of all because the GOP has driven the US into many-fronted wars, as well as for the reasons you’ve listed.  So Obama’s “shrewd” compromise will be to orate & polish his halo while the last vestige of social safety net is ripped from the citizens who’ve already been criminally exploited.  I’m sure when we have the nerve to object, he’ll lambaste us again as ignorant ingrates.  Voting for the man is the single biggest regret of my adult political life - seriously.  I wish that more than a handful of Democrats would challenge his insane compromises strongly & publicly.  But I know better.

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By Bushfatigue, April 13, 2011 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

Some “debate” over the deficit, where scarcely a word is said about the $333,000,000 a DAY the US is spending in Afghanistan, while our schools and roads and bridges rot, teaches and police officers let go, or the $170,000,000 a DAY spent in Iraq, or a defense budget that has grown about 80% since 2001.

Obscene, all grossly obscene.

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By Shenonymous, April 13, 2011 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

It is next to impossible to call your Congressman/woman unless you
have unlimited time to sit at the phone.  There must be a better way
of capturing their attention.  Email their public email address.  All
politicians allegedly has one.  Possibly a group of protestors who can
get the attention of the news media can do something thundering or
ear-splitting? 

Many do have a clue, many, as the posters on TD demonstrate. 
However, it seems to me that counterspeech against the self-serving
likes of Michelle Bachmann and Eric Cantor and their bosom buddies
needs to be spoken loud and clear and everywhere.  Posters pasted on
walls or stuck under windshields, whatever way the word can be
distributed.  Ask all your family and friends to pay attention to what is
going on.  If they don’t know, tell them!  It is also understood that it is
not always propitious to speak out if one’s job could be at stake
because of where one lives and one could be damaged for any public
opinion expressed.  So then try to join a local group that belongs to a
larger group where political activistism can get traction.  More
suggestions are needed to take action.  Yes Democrats ought to railing
to high heaven but also rallying to the high heavens too.  Speaking to
the choir is not going to get the protest anywhere.  It has to reach
those who are not in the choir and get them to sing as well.

”at some point we will have a new monetary policy and structure,
because the one we’ve got now leads only to degradation of the human
soul along with the living standards of the masses.”
  Most likely true,
but glacially slow.  Do we have the time it will take for this to happen? 
Or are we helpless before the beast of time?

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By starfish, April 13, 2011 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Obama was the biggest bait and switch of all times.

Once you understand that Obama cares about NO one but himself and nothing but his own re-election, all will become clear.

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By bpawk, April 13, 2011 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

As long as Americans keep volleying from Democrat to Republican (who both only represent the elites despite progressive rhetoric from Dems)you will always have trouble. Should have had Ralph Nader et al back in the 70s form a left-leaning party - I guess you wish you did now but most of you were too cowardly. Now you’re paying for it.

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By ron hansing, April 13, 2011 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The problem with the article is that it is the samo rehash of stealth Marxism… I recently read if you tax everybody over 500K at 100%, there would still be a deficit this year.

1% of the rich pay 40% of the taxes. 50% pay nothing.

The reality is that the poor and the middle class will always lose if we default… Will lose if we increase taxes of the rich, Well lose if with the Marxist agenda.

Marxism has never progressed beyond the dictatorship of the masses. So, they keep changing the name of it, today, it is called stealth Marxism.

The hard core reality is that the dollar always seeks the greatest bargain. If I have a dollar and I go to the grocery store, I will buy the cheapest like-product.

If I have ten million dollars to invest, should I invest in Illinois or Texas?  Or overseas, more likely since I would get more value for my dollar.

Corporations have trillions of dollars in overseas accounts. But they will not bring that money back to invest in the United States, since they have to pay a 35% tax on it.

Get real, the foreign trillions will invest outside the USA. Not in the USA providing American Jobs.

It’s really all simple logic… It’s a waste of time clamoring about the rich… They are the ones who provide the jobs. I never worked for anyone who made less money than me.

Ron Hansing 4.13.11

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By ajintx, April 13, 2011 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

Seems to me that Scheer and all the commenters here are well enough informed; this would belie that we have media-induced myopia.  But the Truth is relegated to the small press, and the mass of the populace is reactive rather than responsive.  Read Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt; at some point we will have a new monetary policy and structure, because the one we’ve got now leads only to degradation of the human soul along with the living standards of the masses.  Any system that has artificial scarcity as it’s hallmark, thus the creation of a plutocracy as it foundation, is doomed to end badly.  Unfortunately, such ends have mostly innocent victims; as evinced by our do-nothing ‘Justice’ Department.  Where are the places the elites will have their walled-off Shangri-Las?  Do they really think the hordes will be kept out forever?

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By Bushfatigue, April 13, 2011 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

The top 1% income earners take home almost 25% of the nation’s income, and control about 40% of its assets, according to Stiglitz. 

So what do the Republicans propose?  Cutting social security and Medicare, to fund even more tax cuts for the super wealthy!

When will we ever get a clue?  When will the media and the Democrats, who should be railing to high heaven over this outrage, wake up, but prefer to stay silent, because, unfortunately, they are owned, literally and figuratively by this group, as the Dems need the campaign contributions as much as the Repubs do.

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By starfish, April 13, 2011 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Obama is willing—and, apparently, eager—to sell out seniors, women and the poor all on the altar of his re-election.

No self-respecting Democratic president would have let the debate go this far without making many speeches to the American public explaining WHY the Republicans’ budget proposals are a travesty: At the same time the Republicans are cutting programs that protect the poor and middle class., they are demanding MORE TAX CUTS for this nation’s wealthiest.

Yet, our president acts as if his tongue has been cut off.

Jake Tapper of ABC News said, a few nights ago, on the Brian Lehrer WNYC radio program that if the Clinton tax rates had remained in place—and had NOT been replaced by the Bush tax cuts,  which rewarded the Very Rich the most—- the deficit would be FOUR trillion dollars less and the country would NOT be in the fiscal mess it is.


Look in your wallet, you have more money in YOUR wallet than the combined income tax liability of GE, ExxonMobil, Citibank, and the Bank of America.

And WE—America’s decent taxpaying citizens— have to make up for what the corporations do NOT pay in taxes.

RAISE taxes on the top 2% of Americans, raise taxes on the corporations, close their tax loop-holes, and all will be well, economically speaking.

The top marginal tax rate during President Eisenhower’s tenure was 92%—and he was a Republican!  http://tinyurl.com/2csxp5

The Very Rich are getting away with murder, tax-wise, and many people will die because of their greed and the Republicans’ plans to tax the middle class MORE so the Very Rich can be taxed even LESS than they are now—when their tax rates are at historical lows.

If you want to understand marginal tax rates, here’s the place:  http://www.truthandpolitics.org/top-rates.php

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By starfish, April 13, 2011 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

If you care that Obama and the Republicans plan to inflict great harm on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, all the while helping the Truly Rich to get even richer, then you MUST call your Congressmen and/or Congresswomen and your senators and make sure they understand how you feel.

They need to hear from us, OR they will go along with Obama and the Republicans in their plan to hurt the poor and middle class while helping the millionaires and billionaires get richer.

Incidentally, almost the worst part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan is that it will NOT cure the deficit or debt problem.

By giving more tax cuts to the rich and, thus, DECREASING revenues, the Ryan plan will leave the deficit and debt in the same bad place they are now.

What WILL change will be the lives of 98% of the American people—and that change will be for the WORSE.

  CALL the U.S. Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121 Then, ask for your senator or House member’s office.


Obama is going to help the nation’s richest people so that they will help him get re-elected.  When it comes time to win your votes, he will LIE about everything and tell you that “next” time he “will” fight for you.  DO NOT BELIEVE HIM, ever.

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By jerry48, April 13, 2011 at 9:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Where is the outrage?  Let the people revolt to save their country from the govt.

Need to read a new book out who finally take a stand against this tyranny.  Must read & I recommend it.

http://www.booksbyoliver.com

The RINOs & democrats just had another stage play with lots of drama, but ultimately just cut $38b off the $14 trillion debt.  It’s all an act for our entertainment.  We need to take a stand agains corrupt politicians who are destroying our country.

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By altara, April 13, 2011 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Deficit Speech

President Obama is scheduled to address deficit issues today, presumably outlining its causes and the dangers. And his plans for attacking the problem.

But let’s hope that he does not continue to praise the recent compromise. He should acknowledge that now is not the time for major reduction in government spending. The economy needs the government to spend (wisely) to preserve jobs and increase economic activity and employment.

However, long term, much needs to be done. Taxes must be raised, particularly on those who have benefited unequally in recent years. Defense spending must be drastically reduced, Social Security must be preserved for the long run, and, above all, our costly health care system must be fixed. Medicare -for-all is the ultimate solution to rid ourselves of the private insurance middlemen, but we still somehow need to find a way to reduce the core costs of health care in the U.S.

homer   http://www.altara.blogspot.com

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By kalpal, April 13, 2011 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

drbhelthi???

Is that what they ordered you to become at the inane asylum?

“The United States of WWII NAZI CIA/zionism?” - Insanity trumps all.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, April 13, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Then there’s this story of $220 Million dollar give away of Federal Bail out money to Two wives of Wall Street Executives..

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-real-housewives-of-wall-street-look-whos-cashing-in-on-the-bailout-20110411?print=trueChanged:10:09

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By thebeerdoctor, April 13, 2011 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

It is difficult to grasp that POTUS has become courtier of the 1% ownership elite. All the lofty rhetoric does not change this fact. It is deeds not words that point out the obvious that so many pretend doesn’t exist. President Obama stated he does not begrudge those CEO’s bonuses. Does that prevent one from begrudging such venal stupidity?

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By Inherit The Wind, April 13, 2011 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

Let us not forget the extension of the tax cut to the richest 5% for two years but only one year’s extension of unemployment benefits.

It’s simple arithmetic: remove one year of the extension of the tax cut for the richest and we can EASILY fund the unemployment extension for 2 1/2 years.
Assumptions based on published figures:

1) Avg tax rebate to the wealthiest 5%: $85,000
2) Avg annual UI payment to unemployed persons: $16,000 (rounded up).
3) Number of unemployed: now 8.9%.  I used 10% in my estimate, since that’s exactly double the 5% richest.

So, if there are two people unemployed for each person getting that $85,000, that means there’s $42,500 going to the rich person, but we are scrimping for the $16,000 for UI—a $26,500 gap.  IOW, we are not only giving the rich person the $16,000 we need for the unemployed person we are giving him/her AN ADDITIONAL $26,500!!!!!

It’s just fucking insane, corrupt and indicative of how spineless and gutless Obama, Reid and Pelosi are, and how fundamentally immoral the GOP is.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, April 13, 2011 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

The political system in the United States has become little more than a system of Organized crime.

Led by the Criminal Class of the Republican Party, whose larcenies, have gutted this country for the last 30 years, it continues, to pillage this country much like a plague of Locusts.

Expecting them, to do anything except more of the same, is like expecting a crack dealer, to have remorse over his victims.

Go ahead, sell your furniture, turn over the title to your car, sell youself into bondage, sell your babies into prositution, your money is still good. The crack dealer doesn’t care where it came from, and he will keep selling you crack, to your very last breath.

In the Casino economy that they have created,  remember, the price of gasoline is determined, by the numbers that come up on the Roulette Wheel on Wall Street.

Yet each day, we all make choices. Those choices are in some ways votes, that all add up.

We can choose to feed the criminal class, or not. By paying cash for everything - billions are made in bounced checks by banks every year, refusing to take out loans, refusing to carry credit cards, refusing to invest in any Wall street stock, Refusing to buy bonds, refusing to invest in any financial product, refusing to buy from large chains, refusing to have a bank account in a national bank.

Refusing to donate to either the Democratic or Republican Party.

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By Shenonymous, April 13, 2011 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

Faux debate is the key term to remember.  While we do not have
the wherewithal nor access to find out the truth, we have to surmise
what is the reality.  That is what from all appearances is what
everyone is doing outside of the Insiders in Washington.  But we
can hear the words that come out of the Republican deputies
mouths and come to the real conclusions of what their plan is. 
Their plan is to skin the middle class alive, put seniors deeper in
debt and give more of the middle class resources to the rich and
corporate powerful.  It is plain and simple.

Michael Moore still sounds right that there is no real debt crisis
that cannot be fixed by taxing the wealthy and stop the bloody
tax reductions for the wealthy and corporate world.  It is blatantly
incredulous that Paul Ryan and Republican parasites want to cut
entitlements while cutting more taxes for the rich and powerful. 
Are we really going to let that happen?

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Billy Pilgrim's avatar

By Billy Pilgrim, April 13, 2011 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

Clearly, Obama is nothing more than an empty suit who
is more concerned with winning a second term and who
will do anything to accomplish that goal.

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By ardee, April 13, 2011 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

They have the money but we have the numbers.

This current campaign of deception and the casting of blame upon unions, teachers, workers is designed to deflect us from the real causes of the economic ruin being inflicted upon the majority of us in order to benefit the very few.

It is rather sad that so many believe the lies about pensions wrecking the economy when that is simply class warfare at work. Why folks are so quick to work against their own best interests is a puzzle to me yet that is what so many of us do.

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By Jaded Prole, April 13, 2011 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Excellent analysis as usual and spot on comments thus far. If I have any hope at this point—and a bleak hope it is, its that the creeps that run the corrupt scam that is America will create enough pain to make the mythology of the right look as ridiculous as it is to all and spark real class conscious rebellion.  We need a massive national strike that shuts the country down and the consciousness to demand an end to corporate influence, and end to imperialism, a strong, European style safety net and a multi-party system with public electoral funding.

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By wardad, April 13, 2011 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

Thanks for making me sick to my stomach, Bob. 

Honestly, I have no clue how you and Taibbi can keep
putting your head back into this mess knowing full
well the futility of all this strum and drang.  Bill Maher
called for a real class war, the only just war in my
opinion, last Friday.  Chris Hedges is constantly calling
for “action” against the establishment and for the
people.  You my friend, are a faithful servant of the
truth.  And there are countless heralds of the “raw
deal,” this “Great Undoing” being done to us by the
alliance of capital and the state.

Yet, going to work everyday in order to try and sustain
the obviously unsustainable, knowing that the
Trumpeters of Justice are buried and ignored under
the mountain of sycophantic corporate media, and
that the best one can do under this assault by the
super rich and their Orcs (Tony, Matt, et al.) is to
withdraw into a cocoon of patient forbearance all
because my fellow man and citizen has embraced the
beast and is seduced by its lies.  It isn’t very noble but
I find it exceedingly depressing.

I mean the people that run things in this oligopoly
believe just the same as Alan Greenspan, ” Justice is
unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating
purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment.
Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or
reason perish as they should.”  You are either the elect
or the damned - deal with it.  This is the morality of
neo-liberalism, the sweat-shop, and a slow painful
death at the hands of power.

So, so sad.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, April 13, 2011 at 5:02 am Link to this comment

How very accurate.

How very sad.

WWII NAZIS, Operation Paper Clip, NAZI reorganization of the OSS into CIA, GHWBUshSr entourage, New World Order, CIA destruction of the “third world”,
consistent NASA fraud, Zionist Federal Reserve, secretive war with seven other-world races since 1950s, majority of U.S. Congress bribed by industry, a Kenyan in the office of U.S. President, trillions pilfered via zionist Fed. Reserve and banking system, The Department of Homeland Security. 
Elements of the U.S. Army guarding poppy fields for cocaine export to the U.S.
The United States of WWII NAZI CIA/zionism?

“Fear not him who can take your life; rather, fear Him who has the power to cast both body and soul into Hell.”

The Keeper of Souls will have the last word.

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