Based on what you know now, do you anticipate supporting President Obama’s re-election in 2012?
Meanwhile, instead of focusing on what it takes to get us out of this recession, conservatives in Congress are fixated on giving us a puny government. And too many liberals, including the president, are going along. They want to do only what they think they need to do to win the next election. Their politics trumps patriotism.
Indeed, while the president and the Republicans have stared each other into a total impasse about the debt ceiling, the forces undermining our economy have already won. The real question is just how much damage they will succeed in doing.
When the consensus is that a federal deficit is bad, and we have to cut government, then we know that the debate about lifting the debt ceiling is just cover for more fundamental damage to the American quality of life.
The unemployment rate in January 2009 in Snohomish County was 8.8 percent, in January 2010 it was 11 percent, in January 2011 it was 10.2 percent, in May it was 9.2 percent. Thirty-four thousand workers are officially unemployed in Snohomish County. In our state, that number tops 316,000.
We can only expect this to get worse, whether the president prevails with a lot of cuts to services and very few tax increases, or if the Republicans prevail with bigger cuts to services and a robe of protection around the very wealthy.
The United Kingdom provides a timely lesson. When the Conservative government was voted into office, it slashed government services in an “austerity to prosperity” approach to the economy. The result: zero growth for six months, dropping tax revenues, and no end to stagnation.
Turns out the problem isn’t government spending, it is household spending. That dropped by more than half a percent in the first three months of 2011. People don’t have jobs, those with jobs see their wages fall, and so consumption drops. With investors taking money overseas for new plants and production, the only thing to prime the economic pump is government services. When these get cut, the economy swoons.
State budget cuts are creating similar impacts here. When we lay off teachers, we are taking away their disposable income, and their consumption drops off. Not only are our children worse off in crowded classrooms, the local economy suffers another blow.
So what is it about the federal debt? In 1946 the federal debt equaled more than 120 percent of the gross domestic product. But, you say, we just fought the Second World War. And indeed we did, piling up huge deficits, and then proceeding to incredible economic growth for the next 30 years. That debt didn’t create a barrier for growth, it enabled us to grow.
Today our debt is about 92 percent of the gross domestic product, one quarter less than what it was in 1946. We can live with that. In fact, we can’t live very well without it. Increased government spending on services to the public (think education and health care, Social Security and Medicare), and increased investment in infrastructure (trains that actually go places quickly and on time, buildings for a new WSU campus in Everett) are the expenditures that will put our economy back on its feet. These expenditures deliver the things we should expect and demand in a democracy, like good teachers, good education, good transportation and good health care, while backing up consumer spending so that Main Street businesses will prosper.
The Republicans created this fake problem and the president catered to them. Every other Congress has signed off on a bill to increase the debt ceiling when this was needed, including six times between 1996 and 2006 when the Republican-controlled Congress added more than $4 trillion to the debt ceiling.
This Congress doesn’t need to cut government services as a quid pro quo to lifting the debt ceiling. That would just put our economy into reverse. The patriotic act would be to simply increase the debt ceiling. Then they can get back to the business of actually providing the services Americans need to get our economy back on its feet.
Localize This! August 14-21, 2011 – Register TODAY!
Attend all or part, but register TODAY at LocalizeThis.org
This Summer on Vashon Island, WA, the Backbone Campaign is hosting the third annual Localize This! Artful Activism Camp, an intensive training in nonviolent creative tactics, art for social change and community organizing.
Localize This! is a space to skill share and to train, strategize and design actions, build imagery and prepare for the upcoming campaigns and actions.
Join effective organizers and activists from Chicago, Biloxi, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Austin, Alaska and BEYOND!.
If you are a “freelance” activist, there is NO BETTER WAY to build your ability, confidence, and meet future collaborators. If you are part of a progressive organization, then send a delegation!
If you would like to sponsor an emerging activist, contribute to the travel fund please donate HERE. If you can loan Backbone a sea kayak, volunteer at camp, or donate food, then please call the office number above.
From Bill Moyer (Backbone Campaign)
In an earlier post, Questions about Progressive Congress’s Speakout event on July 23 in Seattle, I expressed confusion and perplexity about the purpose of a Speakout (“Congressional Listening Tour”) event in Seattle. But today I got email that explained what’s going on. Rep Jim McDermott (D), a progressive hero, and other unspecified lawmakers will be attending the event on July 23 at South Seattle Community College’s Brockey Center, at 6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, 98106.
“Pro-worker Members of Congress are coming to town to hear from us about the need for good jobs in our community…. Tell your story to members of Congress who are working to create good jobs and opportunity for every American.”
The email said the event is sponsored by ProgressiveCongress.org, the advocacy group led by Washington State’s own Darcy Burner.
Robert Sargent says that he expects to see Dennis Kucinich at the event, since Kucinich will be at an event in Kent later in the evening.
Come Celebrate Medicare’s 46th Birthday — Remarkably Successful!
No Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security!
Profit-Driven Health Care is the Problem — Improved Medicare for All is the Solution!
Give Medicare a Birthday Present — Improved Medicare for ALL!
When: Saturday, July 30, Noon-2pm
Where: Safeco Field (1st & S Atlantic), to Pioneer Square, Federal Bldg and Victor Steinbrueck Park
What: Medicare Birthday Party — March/Parade/Music/Street Theatre
Who: Physicians for National Health Plan-Western Wash, United for Single Payer,
Healthcare for All-WA and the WA State Alliance for Retired Americans