An unelected and unrepresentative group they call the 'Super Committee' has been given extraordinary power over our own economic destiny. Think if it as a political Justice League of America, except that its mission is to rescue Treasury bonds, not people.
Problem is, the bonds don't need to be rescued. People do. more »
huffingtonpost.com — This week's deal to raise the debt ceiling should remove any doubt about the power corporate interests have over our government. The deal, hammered out by the president and Republican congressional leaders, places the burden of reducing our long-term budget problems squarely on average Americans, while the wealthiest individuals and corporations are given a free pass. But the deal poses a larger threat. A provision in the agreement creates an appointed "Super Committee" in Congress that could circumvent normal rules and slash cherished programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In short, unless congressional leaders appoint progressives willing to stand up to moneyed interests, the Super Committee will be nothing less than a chopping block for Social Security.
huffingtonpost.com — The debate we have just witnessed has shown Washington, D.C. not just to be broken, but corrupt. The American people are disgusted watching politicians play political chicken with the nation's economy and future. In such a bitter and unprincipled atmosphere, whoever has the political clout to enforce their self-interest and retain their privileges wins the battles. But there are two casualties in such political warfare: the common good and the most vulnerable. So how will vulnerable people fair under this deal?
thenation.com — Most of the endless rehashing of the debt deal has correctly focused on the fact that corporate interests and Tea Party politics have prevailed again, at the expense of the middle class, children in poverty, students and the elderly. But in understanding the long-term impact of this drawn-out debate, too little attention has been paid to the blow it has dealt to the foundational principles of our democracy. When all is said and done, the process that created the deal may end up being as destructive as the deal’s effects. While the country watched helplessly, each new turn and every talking head in the seemingly endless saga demonstrated that ordinary people had no real part to play. Unless we employ an army of lobbyists or have a key to the Congressional washroom, it seemed there was no reconciling the debate on the Hill with the needs and desires of those most affected by the final deal.
washingtonmonthly.com — We knew that the Great Recession was bad. We didn't appreciate just how bad. When Obama administration's economists put together its Recovery Act, it was working with a certain set of data and expectations, and envisioned what a worst-case scenario might look like. They were right about the need for action, but wrong about the scope of the disaster they'd inherited -- the worst-case scenario was far too rosy and the stimulus response was overwhelmed by conditions that were more severe than officials even imagined. Part of this was the result of faulty expectations. The notion of the U.S. unemployment rate going from under 5% to over 10% in just two years was so absurd, many just didn't consider it possible. But it was -- the mess the Bush administration left for Democrats to clean up really was that mind-boggling bad. But part of this was also the result of faulty statistics.
huffingtonpost.com — The debt ceiling fracas was an insanity-inducing syllabus of everything that's wrong with the American political system. Everything. Simply put: deficit reduction during a slow-growth recovery from an historically deep recession, with continued high unemployment and a housing market still in crisis, is just phenomenally stupid. When has deficit reduction ever stimulated economic growth during a difficult recovery, and especially considering the disturbing economic indicators we're experiencing today? Never. So regardless of the deal's content, this shouldn't have been an issue in the first place and we're all going to pay the price irrespective of political party or ideological affiliation. Here's how.
nytimes.com — The Budget Control Act of 2011, which President Obama signed on Tuesday after Congress passed it by wide margins, is as contrived as the artificial crisis that spawned it. The bill, like a tired opera production, is full of clumsy staging and failed gimmicks left over from previous decades. It is not only bad policy in its goals of cutting spending too much, but it is bad procedure. It allows members of Congress to avoid responsibility for their actions through a cutout committee, a spending limit and the pretense that this Congress can tell the next one what to do.
truth-out.org — The ongoing debate over the national deficit and the much fraught over debt default is staggering in how it has catered to conservative dogmas, in opposition to any progressive solution to the current impasse. Propagandists in the Democratic and Republican Party should be congratulated for their stunning achievement in these talks. They've managed to stand reality on its head, successfully framing the issue of corporate wealth as one of unfair and crippling "taxation," while portraying massive "cuts" in Social Security, Medicare, and other programs as a needed and shared "sacrifice." News flash to the American public: benefit cuts to Medicare and Social Security ARE a tax hike, even if Republicans and Democrats refuse to admit it. Any legislation that imposes increased costs on the public effectively amounts to a tax increase against the American people. We should reject the Orwellian "distinction" between "harmful tax hikes" and "necessary shared sacrifices" on the other.
guardian.co.uk — After the midterm elections of 2010 put many Tea Partiers into high office, they then set about dragging the system rightwards. Ably assisted by a president who has fetishised compromise in the same way the Marquis De Sade liked a good spanking, they made positions that used to be considered rightwing into the middle ground. The only way for the left to fight back is to do the same to the Democratic party. Constantly rowing for the middle isn't working anymore. Not when the middle sits so far to the right. If liberals want to be relevant in the Democratic party, they need to start ousting traditional Democratic candidates in the primaries. Just as the Tea Party has done with the Republicans. They need to create a loud and clear voice that makes unreasonable demands and fights for them. In short, the president needs to be afraid of his left, not just of the right.
huffingtonpost.com — The most terrifying result of the debt ceiling crisis is not the deal itself -- with its tight discretionary caps, its special joint committee that Republicans already are saying they won't allow to raise any revenues, and its potential for arbitrary across-the-board cuts. Instead, it's the precedent that Republican congressional leaders say the crisis has established. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on the Senate floor today that this "creates an entirely new template for raising the national debt limit." As he explained on CNBC last night, "In the future, any president, this one or another one, when they request us to raise the debt ceiling, it will not be clean anymore."