Obama saved the economy — and the GOP

Obama gave a priceless gift to the GOP: immunity from prosecution for war crimes, torture,  disastrous wars, politically motivated prosecutions by the Justice Department, widespread corruption, and other criminality.

In 2008, it appeared that the GOP was destined for many years of repudiation. They’d proven themselves corrupt, incompetent, and imperialistic.

But Obama nursed the GOP back to life by refusing to prosecute criminality, thereby hiding the wrongdoing from the American people.   Obama tried to be bipartisan. He compromised early and often. The GOP almost never compromised and often voted unanimously against the Democrats’ bills.

Obama had a chance to reorient America to a new paradigm of Democratic progressivism. Instead, he hid Bush-era criminality from the populace; surrounded himself with Bush holdovers and Wall Street cronies;  prosecuted the whistle blowers; expanded the power of the military, and governed as a centrist.  Obama didn’t fight.  As a result, in 2010 and 2014 the GOP roared back to life.   Americans were confused about who was to blame for the mess we’re in.

Indeed, Obama is a Wall Street Dem and a great friend of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

In 2008 we needed an FDR or at least an LBJ.  Instead we got a centrist Dem who said of himself, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

No wonder people didn’t turn out to vote in 2014.

From 2009 onwards I tried to submit resolutions to local Democratic organizations critical of Obama’s sellouts.  As you can imagine, those resolutions didn’t go over very well. “Are you crazy? Are you trying to help the GOP?”

There are those who would say that impeachment of Bush, Cheney and others would have been too divisive and would have led to a backlash against Democrats similar to what happened in 1999 when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton. The analogy doesn’t hold. Clinton was impeached for (lying about) sex. Bush and Cheney could have been impeached for torture, deception about the grounds for invading Iraq, and other crimes. See Kucinich Introduces 35 Articles of Impeachment.

In 2007,   members of the Washington State legislature were working on bills calling for the impeachment of President Bush.  Senator Patty Murray ordered them to stop.  See D.C. Dems want to stop legislative impeachment talk.

During the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, there were women aside from Anita Hill who were willing to testify that Thomas had sexually harassed them.  Then Senator Joe Biden did not allow the women to testify. See The Injustice Of Clarence Thomas.

Well, the Democratic leadership got the shellacking they deserved.  They don’t fight the good fight.  Unfortunately, millions of grassroots Dems are truly progressive but repeatedly get sold out by the leadership.

It all makes me sick.

European Socialist Germany kicks US ass

Political Pundit · 5,047 Fans

Funny: Germany is one of those European-Style Socialist countries that the Republicans are always warning us about.

Germany’s population is one quarter the US, yet they have a more productive economy, they export more goods, their citizens don’t work as hard, they get free college and health care, they have lower poverty rate and they have less crime.

1. EXPORT SALES:

Germany: $1.3-trillion
US: $1.1-trillion

2. BALANCE OF TRADE RANK.

Germany: #3
US: #191

3. BALANCE OF TRADE IN DOLLARS:

Germany: +$162.3-billion per year
US: -$561-billion per year (That’s Minus!)

4. AVERAGE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DURING RECESSION:

Germany: 5.5%
US: 8.2%

5. AVERAGE HOURS WORKED PER YEAR

Germany: 1,436 hours
US: 1,804 hours

6. COST OF EDUCATION, AVERAGE DEBT ON GRADUATION

Germany: $0 (College is free.)
US. $26,966

7 CRIME RATE, MURDERS PER MILLION PEOPLE

Germany: 11
US: 43

8.People Living In Poverty

Germany: 11%
US: 15%

9. INCOME INEQUALITY (Smaller numbers are better.)

Germany: 27.0
US: 45.0

10. UNION MEMBERSHIP

Germany: 26%
US: 13%

11. SAVINGS RATE

Germany: 10.5%
US: 0.4%

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_exp-economy-…
http://www.bls.gov/ilc/intl_unemployment_rates_mon…
http://www.alternet.org/economy/148501/why_germany…
http://projectonstudentdebt.org/files/File/Debt_Fa…
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0934556.html
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world…
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lab_tra_uni_mem-…
http://econ365.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/gross-s…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_of_trade

Cathy McMorris Rodgers lied about her upbringing

Cathy McMorris Rodgers sure gave a feel-good speech in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. But it turns out she lied about her upbringing.

As HuffPost is reporting in Mrs. Rodgers Neighborhood, Rogers said in her speech

I grew up working at my family’s orchard and fruit stand in Kettle Falls, a small town in Eastern Washington — getting up before dawn with my brother to pick apples.

But the truth is: she grew up in Canada. “Cathy McMorris did have a rough-and-tumble childhood growing up. It just wasn’t in Kettle Falls — or almost any of it in America….  When she was still in kindergarten, the family moved from Salem, Washington to British Columbia. And they lived there for 10 years. (That’s more than twice as long as Ted Cruz lived in Canada.) It wasn’t until she was a junior in high school, two years from leaving for college, that she moved back to the United States and the family settle in Kettle Falls.”

There’s nothing wrong with her growing up in another country. But there is something wrong with lying about it.

Rep, McMorris Rodgers' dishonest claim about Obamacare

Washington State Congresswoman Cathy Mcmorris Rodgers claimed that her constituent Bette faced a $700-a-month premium hike after her policy was canceled. But Paul Krugman points out:

Bette’s tale had policy wonks scratching their heads; it was hard to see, given what we know about premiums and how the health law works, how anyone could face that large a rate increase. Sure enough, when a local newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, contacted Bette Grenier, it discovered that the real story was very different from the image Ms. McMorris Rodgers conveyed. First of all, she was comparing her previous policy with one of the pricier alternatives her insurance company was offering — and she refused to look for cheaper alternatives on the Washington insurance exchange, declaring, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website.”

Even more important, all Ms. Grenier and her husband had before was a minimalist insurance plan, with a $10,000 deductible, offering very little financial protection. So yes, the new law requires that they spend more, but they would get far better coverage in return.

Arguing with conservatives about fair taxes

Some conservative-leaning coworkers were saying yesterday that the problem with America is that 47% of people don’t pay taxes. Echoing Mitt Romney, my coworkers said democracy leads to a situation in which people vote for candidates who promise them public money.

I replied: I agree we have too much socialism and redistribution of wealth: socialism for the rich.  I mentioned the increasing concentration of wealth and the bailouts of banks like Goldman Sachs.  Then I walked away, not wanting to continue the discussion. Usually I avoid talking politics at work, because it can lead to trouble.

Later I couldn’t resist following up with an email.  Quoting Fact-checking Romney’s “47 percent” comment, I wrote: “According to 2008 data from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, eight of the top 10 states with the lowest income tax liability are Republican-leaning states. The other two are Florida, a battleground state, and New Mexico, which CBS News rates as likely Obama territory.” And “The same data shows, however, that nearly two-thirds of households that paid no income tax did pay payroll taxes. And most people also pay some combination of state, local, sales, gas and property taxes.”

They said, “You are mixing two things. We’re talking about income taxes.” I said, it’s important to mix all the facts and not exclude the whole picture.

I also sent them these links:

They replied, quoting The rich do not pay the most taxes, they pay ALL the taxes. “Buried inside a Congressional Budget Office report this week was this nugget: when it comes to individual income taxes, the top 40 percent of wage earners in America pay 106 percent of the taxes. The bottom 40 percent…pay negative 9 percent.”

Christopher Follmer pointed me to the article No, The Rich Do Not Pay ‘All The Taxes’ which says:

But “taxes” are not the same thing as “federal personal income taxes.” The federal personal income tax only made up 28% of all U.S. government tax collections in 2012. Federal, state and local governments collected $4 trillion in taxes last year; just $1.1 trillion of that was federal personal income tax. . .. Here’s a chart I made earlier this year showing the distribution of the tax burden when you add all the taxes together. Earners in the top 1% pay about 43% of their incomes in tax. People in the middle quintile pay 25%. The poorest fifth pays 13%.

Importantly, the article also points out, “that top 40% group includes single people with incomes as low as $51,100 and couples with incomes of $72,300. Those people aren’t poor but it’s a real stretch to say they’re rich.”

Bernie Sanders and Warren Buffet have spoken on this: the obscenity that hedge fund managers pay a lower percent of their income in taxes than do many middle class people, due to low capital gains taxes. As Chad Lupkes said, “People making obscene amounts of money can get away with paying 15% or lower, giving them billions of dollars that they DO NOTHING WITH while their fellow citizens are starving on the streets.”

Anyway, it seems that conservatives have their facts and liberals have their facts.  They say that facts rarely sway peoples’ opinions anyway.

Letter-to-the-editor in the conservative Bellevue Reporter

The Bellevue Reporter is the local freebie weekly newspaper.  It has some real reporting, as well as editorials and letters-to-the-editor.   In the past the Bellevue Reporter has been quite conservative: they ridicule taxes and government, and they’ve written articles in favor of Rodney Tom and Tim Eyman. But recently, I’ve sensed some moderation.

This week they published my letter-to-the-editor under the title Republicans Don’t Deserve Their Power. Here’s an expanded version, below.


Republicans Don’t Deserve Their Power

I applaud the Bellevue Reporter for editorializing on Oct 4: “Blame some House Republicans for using the shutdown tactic in order to delay – or, what they really want, to kill – the Affordable Health Care Act. Their actions are a disservice to the American public.”

But your Oct 10 editorial was wishy-washy about who’s to blame for the budget standoff. The editorial quoted Tea Party hero Congressman Paul Ryan, making him sound like a reasonable statesman: “Let’s negotiate an agreement to make modest reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code.”

Social Security is not an “entitlement.” It’s a government pension plan that Americans paid for with Social Security taxes. Social Security hasn’t contributed a penny to the deficits; in fact, it’s solvent for decades ahead.

Furthermore, Republicans’ ideas for “reforming” the tax code invariably involve more tax cuts for the rich, who are already enjoying historic low tax rates, loopholes, and concentration of wealth and power.

What drove up the deficits wasn’t Democratic spending – there was a huge surplus when Clinton was president, and even President Obama has cut spending significantly, despite Republican talking points to the contrary -–it was the trillions wasted on disastrous, ill-conceived wars, reckless deregulation, Socialist bailouts for Wall Street, off-shoring of jobs and profits, and job-killing tax breaks for rich people.  (Republicans like to claim that tax cuts discourage the “job makers” from hiring people, but in fact corporations and rich people are sitting on loads of cash; what the country needs to snap out of the recession and get corporations hiring again is more spending. Unemployed, penniless people don’t buy goods and stimulate production and hiring.)

The Bellevue Reporter editorial asked: “Where are the leaders in Congress when we need them?”

Answer: they’ve been gerrymandered out of power. Republicans have a 33-seat majority in the House despite losing the overall popular congressional vote by 1.4 million votes.

Fool’s gold: corporate media reports GOP spin as real news

When it comes to hypocrisy, the GOP (Grand Obstruction Party) has set a new gold standard. Rather, a new fool’s gold standard.

The Republican Party, led on a very short leash by well-monied pro-oligarchy business moguls and pro-apocalypse crazies, keeps on churning out pyrite from its thunderous right-wing sound machine, while corporate media reports on their bombast as if it were pure gold.

Passing this fool’s gold off as real media currency, the Republican shutdown of America is reported as though the Democratic Party were somehow at fault, too. When Republicans refuse bring up jobs, education, fair taxation and workers’ rights legislation for a vote in the House of Representatives, what do you hear on the evening news? “Congress” failed to act. As if the Democrats in the House and Senate were somehow co-conspiring to defeat the very job-producing, education-enhancing, revenue-increasing, labor-empowering legislation they themselves proposed!

So the GOP (Garrulous Obsequious Prevaricators) goes unchallenged in the mainstream media. Is it any wonder the voting public feels mislead, angry, confused?

Pro-corporate, anti-government bootlickers like the Tea Party skip along their merry way, spewing lies about the failure of government (which they’re doing their darndest to rid us of) and singing the praises of big-business “job creators” (who, while raking in obscene profits here in America, only appear capable of creating jobs overseas).

God forbid any media pundit on the Sunday talk shows should challenge any of the endless stream of GOP (Gerrymandering Obfuscating Pharisees) blowhards regarding their actual plans for improving the economy, proposing a real foreign policy, and (gasp!) actually governing the country.

No, the fool’s gold fantasy that the Republican Party has the best interests of farmers, workers, women, minorities, and, no doubt, star-spangled unicorns at heart continues unabated. None dare challenge to Holy Trinity of Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and evangelical Christendom.

Meanwhile, Main Street, Middle America, and minorities of all stripes continue to be savagely gored by those cuddly-wuddly Wepublican unicorns.

It’s a media-made fiction that’s murdering America.

Exit Eisenhower and the traditional Republican Party. Enter Mussolini.

Originally published at examiner.com.

Gen Wesley Clark Reveals 2001 US Plan To Invade Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, And Iran

Revelations from someone who was there.

General Wesley Clark:
Because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

Bad math: Corporate lobbyists, conservative think tanks hawk snake-oil economics for WA

Economist Arthur Laffer is touted as a go-to source of wisdom by conservative think tanks and corporate lobby groups in Washington state like the Washington Policy Center, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Association of Washington Business. But a recent report shows Laffer’s economic prescriptions are more likely to hurt than heal our economy. selling-snake-oil-cover large

Report: Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity – from Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project [PDF]

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. Written by Arthur Laffer and others and published by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Rich States, Poor States embodies the policy agenda that ALEC pushes to state legislators: reduction or abolition of progressive taxes, fewer investments in education and other public services, a smaller social safety net, and weaker or non-existent unions. These are the policies, ALEC claims, that promote economic growth.

But a hard look at the actual data finds that the ALEC-Laffer recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies – the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. That is, states that were rated higher on ALEC’s Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, based on 15 “fiscal and regulatory policy variables,” have actually been doing worse economically in the years since, while the less a state conformed with ALEC policies the better off it was.

That is true whether the outcome is growth in jobs or growth in per capita or median income. There is virtually no relationship between the ALEC ranking and state Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Further examination of the predictive power of other key components of ALEC’s rankings (income tax rates, existence of an estate tax, overall tax levels, right-towork status) shows that none had a statistically significant effect on growth in state GDP, non-farm employment, or per capita income.

Further analysis finds that key ALEC-Laffer claims contradict longstanding peer-reviewed academic research on how state economies grow:

  • ALEC-Laffer claim that lowering state and local taxes produces much greater job growth; in actuality, such taxes are such a tiny cost factor for businesses, and come with higher taxes on others or lower quality public services, that such a strategy fails (see Chapter 3).
  • ALEC-Laffer claim that a low top personal income tax rate is a key to small business success; in actuality, property and sales taxes – ignored by ALEC-Laffer – are far more important issues (see Chapter 1).
  • ALEC-Laffer claim that high top personal income tax rates and the presence of estate and inheritance taxes cause large-scale out-migration of high-income individuals; in reality, migration has little to do with taxes, and there is no plausible case for state estate taxes affecting job-creating investment (see Chapters 3 and 4).
  • The ALEC report asserts that state tax rates in many instances approach “Laffer Curve” territory, where tax cuts would actually increase tax revenue; in reality, tax cuts reduce revenue and result in the defunding of public goods such as education and infrastructure, which really do matter for economic development (see Chapter 5).
  • ALEC-Laffer claim that wage suppression policies (anti-union “right-to- work” laws and the lack of a state minimum wage law) lead to greater job creation and prosperity; in actuality, such laws reduce wages and benefits but have little to no effect on job growth (see Chapter 6).

Overall, Rich States, Poor States consistently ignores decades of published research, making broad, unsubstantiated claims and often using anecdotes or spurious two-factor correlations that fail to control for obviously relevant factors. Indeed, the report repeatedly engages in methodologically primitive analysis that any college student taking Statistics 101 would be taught to avoid.

Consensus academic research derives far more plausible explanations for recent differences in state results. For example, instead of ALEC’s extreme policy recommendations, the composition of a state’s economy – whether it has large or small shares of the nation’s fastest-growing industries – is a far better predictor of job and income growth.

The evidence cited to support Rich States, Poor States’ policy menu ranges from deeply flawed to nonexistent. Subjected to scrutiny, these policies are revealed to explain nothing about why some states have created more jobs or enjoyed higher income growth than others over the past five years.

In actuality, Rich States, Poor States provides a recipe for economic inequality, wage suppression, and stagnant incomes, and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain the public infrastructure and education systems that are the true foundations of long term economic growth and shared prosperity.

Click here to read the full reportSelling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity” from Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project.

Originally published at Washington Policy Watch