otherwords.org — In these difficult financial times our government should perform two basic tasks: (1) Stimulate the economy to create jobs; (2) Ensure that everyone pays their fair share including the wealthiest Americans. The budget deal Obama struck primarily with Republican lawmakers does neither. Instead, "the very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways," Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said. "Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost."
truthdig.com — The deal struck Sunday to free the U.S. economy from its Republican hostage-takers is impossible for progressives to love. It gets all the big things wrong, starting with the most fundamental: Obama never should have acquiesced in linking a routine hike in the debt ceiling—necessary to pay bills Congress has already incurred—with all the difficult spending questions that should be dealt with in the budget process. Republicans insisted on budget cuts only, with not a cent of new revenue—and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what they got. There’s no way to spin it: Boehner and the GOP won. Obama and the Democrats lost. This isn’t a rout, however. It’s a retreat, in relatively good order, that leaves Democrats provisioned for the battles to come.
washingtonpost.com — I suffer from Tea Party envy. There is little about the actual party I like and there are some members I abhor, but I am jealous of its sense of purpose, its determination and its bracing conviction that it is absolutely right. In its own way, it waves a crimson battle flag while President Obama’s is a sickly taupe — the limp banner of an ideological muddle. The Tea Party has recklessly diminished the power and reach of the United States. It has shrunk the government and will, if it can, further deprive it of revenue. The domestic economy will suffer and the gap between rich and poor, the educated and the indolently schooled, will continue to widen. International relations will lack a dominant power able to enforce the rule of law, and the bad guys will be freer to be as bad as they want. Maybe the deficit will be brought under control, but nothing else will. I worry — and I envy (but will not forgive) those who don’t.
There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending. Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor. Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich. So the rich, in a nominal democracy, have a struggle on their hands. Somehow they must persuade the other 99% to vote against their own interests: to shrink the state, supporting spending cuts rather than tax rises. In the U.S. they appear to be succeeding. more »
Help us spread the word about these important stories...
alternet.org — On Monday, the House finally passed a deal to raise the debt limit after weeks of wrangling with a cadre of reactionary, Tea Party-endorsed lawmakers. The measure, which will force some serious cuts to public spending, is expected to easily pass in the Senate. When it does, a painful second "dip" into recession becomes far more likely -- all the conditions are there. The American economy is heading into dark waters, but the coming "austerity recession" won't only be a result of the tireless efforts of a small band of conservative ideologues bent on dismantling the social safety net that emerged during the last century. It will also be a consequence of a crippling intellectual crisis among our elites.
consortiumnews.com — As the nation’s attention remains riveted on the Republican attempt to downsize government by refusing to raise the national debt limit, the GOP is working through the backdoor to destroy protections for the environment. In a study that reveals the Republican pledge to protect business interests at all costs, the Center for Media and Democracy recently analyzed 800 bills supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This secretive group consists of big businesses and conservatives who influence state legislatures around the country to lower wages and taxes on business, and weaken environmental protection that could crimp profits. Undoing efforts to address climate change is a major priority of ALEC sponsors such as Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, AT&T and Peabody Energy
The debt ceiling deal hammered out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders and passed in the House on Monday afternoon makes deep, painful, and lasting cuts throughout the federal government's budget. What's on the chopping block? The numbers tell the tale. The Obama-GOP plan cuts $917 billion in government spending over the next decade. Nearly $570 billion of that would come from what's called "non-defense discretionary spending." That's budget-speak for the pile of money the government invests in the nation's safety and future—education and job training, air traffic control, health research, border security, physical infrastructure, environmental and consumer protection, child care, nutrition, law enforcement, and more. more »
Help us spread the word about these important stories...
motherjones.com — You may remember the moment when Barack Obama declared war on the Republican game plan—or so it seemed. Five days after negotiating a budget-cutting deal that averted a government shutdown in April, Obama gave a speech at George Washington University, slamming the GOP over the slash-and-burn budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Republicans, he declared, were pushing a "deeply pessimistic" vision of America's future. Fighting words—and liberals were elated. Then came…nothing. Or not much. And this week, Obama cut a controversial deal with hostage-taking tea party Republicans, who insisted on severe spending cuts before they would consent to the previously routine action of raising the debt ceiling. For many progressives, it was, once again, a face-palm moment.
huffingtonpost.com — The debt deal is bad economics, dishonest government, and surrender to blackmail. The alternative is not default, but government under the Constitution. On the economics: by slowly choking off public services, public investment and regulation, the deal sets the economy on a path to strangulation. On dishonesty: the proposed cuts would reduce discretionary public spending as a share of GDP to what it was before the government had any major role in transportation, housing, education, safety, health, medical research or environmental protection. On blackmail: This deal validates the making of real policy under the appearance of extreme threats. That process will not end here. And the alternative? Is it economic disaster? No. The alternative is not default. No crisis need ensue. The Constitution forbids default -- not only on debt but also on pensions and on every public obligation of the United States.
tomdispatch.com — By now, it seems as if everybody and his brother has joined the debt-ceiling imbroglio in Washington, perhaps the strangest homespun drama of our time. It’s as if Washington’s leading political players, aided and abetted by the media’s love of the horserace, had eaten LSD-laced brownies, then gone on stage before an audience of millions to enact a psychotic spectacle of American decline. And yet, among the dramatis personae we’ve been watching, there are clearly missing actors. They happen to be out of town, part of a traveling roadshow. When it comes to their production, however, there has, of late, been little publicity, few reviewers, and only the most modest media attention. Moreover, unlike the scenery-chewing divas in Washington, these actors have simply been going about their business as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening.