fair.org — In a June 8 piece about a liberal summit in D.C. this week, the New York Times notes that the left's support for programs like Medicare and Social Security are out of touch with fiscal reality, and that budget cuts elsewhere aren't going to matter much:
In truth, none of the cuts in annual appropriations will significantly reduce the long-term deficit projections. Those are driven mostly by escalating costs for the benefit programs that liberals most aggressively protect--Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security--and by insufficient tax revenues to support them.
As has been noted many times, Social Security has amassed a surplus of over $2 trillion; that plus the expected revenue from Social Security taxes will keep the program solid for the next 25 years. Medicare is in much worse shape; why the two should be talked about together as if they are comparable drains on the federal government is unclear, unless one wants to associate Social Security with Medicare's more severe problems.
Like tea party activists and some of their fellow conservatives, Congress' reckless inattention to the deficit makes me concerned for my children's future and the kind of economy they will inherit if indifference continues. It's not because Congress is spending too much. It's because Congress is investing far too little where it's needed most, to do what the private sector can't right now — create jobs. The alternative is long-term unemployment, for a long, long time — and all its attendant consequences.
When I look at the current reality of long-term unemployment and the appalling failure of our elected officials to do anything about it — despite having ready options that might begin to offer some relief — I fear I'm looking at my children's' future, and that of millions of our children. As parent who's already doing all I can, I'm asking: Why doesn't somebody do something?
nytimes.com — If a bank is too big to fail, it’s way too big to exist. If an oil well is too far beneath the sea to be plugged when something goes wrong, it’s too deep to be drilled in the first place. When are we going to stop behaving so stupidly? We nearly wrecked the economy and we’re all but buried in debt. But we can’t break up the biggest banks, and we can’t raise taxes. Now we’re fouling the magnificent Gulf of Mexico and ruining entire communities along the southern Louisiana Coast. For a nation that can’t stop bragging about how great and powerful it is, we’ve become shockingly helpless in the face of the many challenges confronting us.
nytimes.com — To: Wall Street chief executives From: Your man in Washington Re: Embracing the status quo
Our earnings are robust, our compensation has returned to its naturally high levels and, as a result, we have very nearly regained our grip on the imaginations of the most ambitious students at the finest universities — and from that single fact many desirable outcomes follow.
Thus, we have almost fully recovered from what we have agreed to call The Great Misfortune. In the next few weeks, however, ill-informed senators will meet with ill-paid representatives to reconcile their ill-conceived financial reform bills. This process cannot and should not be stopped. The American people require at least the illusion of change. But it can be rendered harmless to our interests.
As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And if the link between job creation and economic growth has been weakened in the past three decadeds, then right now it is stressed to the breaking point.
And if that link is broken?
Well, we won't have to worry about building a new economy. Because we won't have anyone capable of building it or a workforce capable of sustaining it.
With the deficit hawks in high gear, people are prepared to say anything in pursuit of the goal of deficit reduction. Remarkably, the NYT is apparently willing to print almost anything. Today the deficit cutting crusade is led by hedge fund manager David Einhorn. In a lengthy column Einhorn bemoans the fact that at least some people in the Obama administration are more concerned about getting people back to work than reducing the deficit.
Einhorn is a bit more knowledgeable about basic economics than many of those who worry that the United States will be unable to find investors to buy its debt. Since he has heard of the Federal Reserve Board, he recognizes that the actual concern should be inflation, not insolvency, since the Fed can always buy up government debt.
However, since one would have to struggle to find any evidence of inflationary pressures in recent economic data, Einhorn chooses to invent his own evidence:
Congress is about to pass an additional $32 billion to pay for the war In Afghanistan. It will have overwhelming bipartisan support, with legislators eager to display their fealty to the troops in an election year.
At the same time, the Congress is struggling with a $23 billion bill to forestall the layoff of nearly 300,000 teachers next year, championed by Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller. This faces a Republican filibuster and the opposition of many blue Dog Democrats, who argue that it shouldn't be considered emergency spending. (Harkin has now given up on passing it in the Senate directly. The only hope is that the House will pass it as part of the military supplemental and perhaps then the Senators will swallow it.)
What kind of country are we? In the worst economic recession in 70 years, competitive industrial nations must choose their priorities—what gets saved, what must be sacrificed. No sensible leadership would choose to make children—particularly the children of working and poor families—pay the cost of the downturn.
fdlaction.firedoglake.com — Money from the medical industrial complex efficiently flowed through the foundation world to lay the intellectual framework of the health care bill. The foundations are fulfilling a similar function in order to justify both cutting and privatizing Social Security, and the checkbook of Blackstone hedge fund billionaire Pete Peterson is the source of much of the funding.
BP, Massey Energy and Tesoro all have hauled out plaques celebrating safety achievements to deflect allegations of corporate recklessness in the aftermath of explosions in April that killed 47 of their workers.
Though each of these corporations accepted awards for safety statistics, not one has taken responsibility for workplace deaths. more »
nytimes.com — It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good, and the crisis in Greece is making some people — people who opposed health care reform and are itching for an excuse to dismantle Social Security — very, very happy. Everywhere you look there are editorials and commentaries, some posing as objective reporting, asserting that Greece today will be America tomorrow unless we abandon all that nonsense about taking care of those in need. The truth, however, is that America isn’t Greece — and, in any case, the message from Greece isn’t what these people would have you believe. So, how do America and Greece compare?