"The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

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HoustonDavid
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"The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by HoustonDavid » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:01 am

Get Ready for a G.O.P. Rerun

By Bob Herbert
Published: January 3, 2011
New York Times

You just can’t close the door on this crowd. The party that brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression, that led us into Iraq and the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that would like to take a hammer to Social Security and a chisel to Medicare, is back in control of the House of Representatives with the expressed mission of undermining all things Obama.
Damon Winter/The New York Times

Once we had Dick Cheney telling us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and belligerently asserting that deficits don’t matter. We had Phil Gramm, Enron’s favorite senator and John McCain’s economic guru, blithely assuring us in 2008 that we were suffering from a “mental recession.”

(Mr. Gramm was some piece of work. A champion of deregulation, he was disdainful of ordinary people. “We’re the only nation in the world,” he once said, “where all of our poor people are fat.”)

Maybe the voters missed the entertainment value of the hard-hearted, compulsively destructive G.O.P. headliners. Maybe they viewed them the way audiences saw the larger-than-life villains in old-time melodramas. It must be something like that because it’s awfully hard to miss the actual policies of a gang that almost wrecked the country.

In any event, the G.O.P. has taken its place once again as the House majority and is vowing to do what it does best, which is make somebody miserable — in this case, President Obama. Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is now chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said recently on the Rush Limbaugh program that Mr. Obama was “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” He backed off a little on Sunday, saying that what he really thinks is that Mr. Obama is presiding over “one of the most corrupt administrations.”

This is the attitude of a man who has the power of subpoena and plans to conduct hundreds of hearings into the administration’s activities.

The mantra for Mr. Issa and the rest of the newly empowered Republicans in the House, including the new Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, is to cut spending and shrink government. But what’s really coming are patented G.O.P. efforts to spread misery beyond Mr. Obama and the Democrats to ordinary Americans struggling in what are still very difficult times.

It was ever thus. The fundamental mission of the G.O.P. is to shovel ever more money to those who are already rich. That’s why you got all that disgracefully phony rhetoric from Republicans about attacking budget deficits and embracing austerity while at the same time they were fighting like mad people to pile up the better part of a trillion dollars in new debt by extending the Bush tax cuts.

This is a party that has mastered the art of taking from the poor and the middle class and giving to the rich. We should at least be clear about this and stop being repeatedly hoodwinked — like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football — by G.O.P. claims of fiscal responsibility.

There’s a reason the G.O.P. reveres Ronald Reagan and it’s not because of his fiscal probity. As Garry Wills wrote in “Reagan’s America”:

“Reagan nearly tripled the deficit in his eight years, and never made a realistic proposal for cutting it. As the biographer Lou Cannon noted, it was unfair for critics to say that Reagan was trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, since ‘he never seriously attempted to balance the budget at all.’ ”

We’ll see and hear a lot of populist foolishness from the Republicans as 2011 and 2012 unfold, but their underlying motivation is always the same. They are about making the rich richer. Thus it was not at all surprising to read on Politico that the new head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton of Michigan, had hired a former big-time lobbyist for the hospital and pharmaceuticals industries to oversee health care issues.

I remember President Bush going on television in September 2008, looking almost dazed as he said to the American people, “Our entire economy is in danger.”

Have we forgotten already who put us in such grave peril? Republicans benefit from the fact that memories are short and statutes of limitations shorter. It was the Republican leader in the House, Tom DeLay, who insisted against all reason and all the evidence of history that “nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes.”

But that’s all water under the bridge. The Republicans are back in control of the House, ready to run interference for the rich as recklessly and belligerently as ever.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

Barry
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by Barry » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:04 am

HoustonDavid wrote:
“Reagan nearly tripled the deficit in his eight years, and never made a realistic proposal for cutting it. As the biographer Lou Cannon noted, it was unfair for critics to say that Reagan was trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, since ‘he never seriously attempted to balance the budget at all.’ ”
David,
Who passes balanced budgets? Congress or the President?

And which party controlled Congress during the 80s and rejected the President's call for reduced domestic spending? Which party controlled Congress during most of the 90s, when the budget was balanced?

(actually, the Dems controlled the House throughout the entire 80s; the Senate bounced back and forth)

I am not excusing Reagan for his role in the deficit going up during the 80s, but the notion that it was him and ALL him is false because that's simply not the way our system works. On top of that, there was an obvious factor beyond the deficit that came into play. Part of the reason the deficit went up is because Reagan felt that the best way to help hasten the fall of the Soviet system without actually going to war with them was to spend them under the table in terms of the military. I'd say history has shown he had it right on that count. It was up to his successors to deal with the negative side effects of that success (deficit; stability in Afghanistan, etc.).

It's obviously also a fallacy (albeit not an unexpected one given who wrote that piece) that one of the two major parties has been entirely responsible for the deficit/debt situation all along. Are you going to tell me that the Democrats have been the party of cost-cutting for the past 30 years? To the contrary, the Democratic philosophy is to spend, spend, and spend some more because we can always tax the rich more to pay for it.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Cosima___J
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by Cosima___J » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:43 pm

Well all I can say about the extremely partisan and naive article is this: belt tightening by one and all should be Congress's next order of business. And yes, that means Social Security and Medicare! Both parties had a hand in bringing about our staggering deficits. Now both parties and all Americans must share the burden of bringing that debt down. Rather than continuing to wage partisan warfare, we must face the facts of the current situation and move forward to correct it rather than look backward trying to blame everybody else but ourselves. If you (not just you, David, who is my friend) want to know who is responsible for the mess, look in the mirror!

HoustonDavid
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:01 am

Barry, I didn't write the Op-Ed piece, Herbert did; I simply posted it. I tend to
agree with some of his arguments and agree with you on several of your points.
Cosi's point about looking in the mirror is certainly justified because, in large
part, we allowed both parties to overspend for nearly 40 years, the single
exception was Bill Clinton, of course, but he was followed by "W" who spent
us into the ground we are currently trying to dig out of while waging two wars
overseas.

Personally, I think the big problem facing the Congress and the White House
is having the guts to enact at least a minimum austerity program lacking the
ability to raise taxes, at least for two more years. It has become something of
a mantra that the debt ceiling must be raised or we will appear to our debtors
to be insolvent and our credit will be severely impaired, to the ruination of the
world economy. I'm not sure I agree things will be that drastic, but most people
who are credible on the subject agree we must minimally raise the debt ceiling
by a conservative amount to allow us to pass a workable budget.

The other huge, probably bigger problem, is lowering unemployment by at least
one or two points without more huge government austerity and rescue programs.
Again, without adequate taxation (my emphasis), how can the government fund
programs that might create significantly more jobs and reduce the number of
un- and underemployed? There is no indication that the private sector is able or
willing to do so, especially without the financial sector willing to capitalize and
loan the necessary funding.

It is going to be complicated by Congressional Representatives anxious to please
their constituents, anxious to get re-elected, and anxious to follow their party's
mantra, come hell or high water, and a President with the bully pulpit and the veto
pen.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

living_stradivarius
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by living_stradivarius » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:48 am

HoustonDavid wrote: The other huge, probably bigger problem, is lowering unemployment by at least
one or two points without more huge government austerity and rescue programs.
Again, without adequate taxation (my emphasis), how can the government fund
programs that might create significantly more jobs and reduce the number of
un- and underemployed?
Cut the pork and Congress has $ to dedicate to unemployment. 'Til they do, any tax hikes will just result in more pork.
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HoustonDavid
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:24 am

living_stradivarius wrote:'Til they (cut the pork) any tax hikes will just result in more pork
Henry, on that I completely concur. Why do we continue to elect such idiots and
expect things to change? It reminds me of the old axiom: "The definition of
insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expect a different
outcome."
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

JackC
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by JackC » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:44 am

HoustonDavid wrote:
Again, without adequate taxation (my emphasis), how can the government fund
programs that might create significantly more jobs and reduce the number of
un- and underemployed? There is no indication that the private sector is able or
willing to do so, especially without the financial sector willing to capitalize and
loan the necessary funding.
I don't think there is any chance to reduce jobs and unemployment by having the "government fund more programs". You stand a much better chance of creating jobs by giving incentives to businesses, especially small businesses, to expand.

One of my favorite economic stories was about the time that the great economist, Milton Friedman, visited some country, I forget which one, and saw a massive construction project. He saw thousands of workers moving earth with shovels, and asked the government officials why they didn't bring in heavy machinery to move the earth. The officials responded -- Mr. Friedman, you don't understand, this is a JOBS program. Friedman responded -- well if it's a JOBS program, why don't you give them SPOONS instead of shovels!

HoustonDavid
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:17 pm

Jack (see above) on that I completely concur also. We've had a very painful example
of government "spending" programs to decrease unemployment for the last two years
and you can see how much that rate has decreased. It is the private sector and the
financial "wizards" who must ultimately be the driving engines to increase employment;
unhappily, the banks are too busy "inventing" new ways to make money without investing
it and the feds are loaning them the money to do it at near zero rates, so why should
they change what works for them? :mrgreen:
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

Cosima___J
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by Cosima___J » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:31 pm

This is hilarious. I'm sure we'll all want to charge up our credit cards to help bring down the government debt:

by April Girouard | January 05, 2011

The national debt is growing at a rate of some $4 billion a day. But the United States Treasury has a simple solution for how you can help: spend more. Just put the federal debt on your personal credit card. You can pay for it later.

With as little effort as a few mouse clicks, private citizens can give Uncle Sam their spare change -- or their bank account numbers. Since 1961, the Treasury's Bureau of the Public Debt has accepted public donations. Donors can send the bureau cash or make out a check and include it with their tax returns. Direct deposits from checking or savings accounts are also accepted.

And though many Americans are struggling to keep up with their own bills under a slumping economy, potential donors need not worry. In January 2010, the Bureau of the Public Debt added an online credit card payment option that accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards.

As the national debt threatens to bust through the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the fiscally watchful on both sides of the aisle are making the case for substantially cutting spending.

"We've maxed out our credit card - the U.S. taxpayer has - and so I think we're asking the public to make a credit card contribution to max out their credit card," quips Steve Ellis, vice president of the nonpartisan budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.

But a spokesperson for the Bureau of the Public Debt told Fox News that the government isn't encouraging the public to take on personal debt to pay off the federal debt. It's simply trying to streamline the donation process for people who want to contribute.

"Over the years, I think that the interest of wanting to pay back the debt came from the public. And so now, with the option of the Internet, it just gives you another medium to reduce the public debt. I mean obviously, people are using that route," the spokesperson said of the credit card option. "It's clearly ... voluntary."

Ellis agreed that a new avenue for people to contribute to the national debt isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"If taxpayers want to step up and make a greater contribution, and they are able to, it's important that we allow that," Ellis said. "Credit cards are a tool people use for all sorts of things ... Just because someone makes a credit card contribution, it doesn't mean they're not paying it down that month."

Josh Gordon, policy director for the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for fiscal responsibility, said the Treasury isn't doing anything that private charities don't.

"They're in a tough position," he said. "The federal government doesn't want to be in a position where they're turning away taxpayer dollars, and I can see how citizenry would get upset if they want to pay more and aren't able to do that."

Figures on how much money the bureau has received via credit card payments were not immediately available. According to records posted on Treasury's website, the Bureau of the Public Debt received just over $2.8 million in donations in fiscal year 2010, the first year it has accepted credit card payments. That's just under the $3,063,057.05 donated in 2009. Public donations in the past 10 years have ranged between a total of around $600,000 to just over $3 million.

But even $3 million in donations amounts to about 2/100,000ths of 1 percent of the national debt.

"For the average person, I do not think it's very effective," Gordon said when asked whether direct donations are the best way for the public to help pay off federal debt.

"You can put that to other charities, either related to fiscal or political advocacy, or do something for your community. I think you probably get a bigger bang for your buck doing that."

The national debt passed the $14 trillion mark on Dec. 31.

living_stradivarius
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by living_stradivarius » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:59 pm

HoustonDavid wrote:Jack (see above) on that I completely concur also. We've had a very painful example
of government "spending" programs to decrease unemployment for the last two years
and you can see how much that rate has decreased. It is the private sector and the
financial "wizards" who must ultimately be the driving engines to increase employment;
unhappily, the banks are too busy "inventing" new ways to make money without investing
it and the feds are loaning them the money to do it at near zero rates, so why should
they change what works for them? :mrgreen:
And the latest is Goldman effectively taking low interest gov't loans to buy shares in overvalued Facebook and getting kickbacks from allocating some shares to its clients and managing FB's IPO. The finance industry has a chokehold on everything for doing squat... that's just how our current system's incentives are structured.
Robert Rubin went from Goldman Sachs to becoming Bill Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury. He granted Citibank a one-year deferment from existing anti-trust legislation in 1998 when then Citicorp merged with Traveler's Group to form the world's largest financial services company. He then helped end the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, allowing the resulting Citigroup to mix investment banking with traditional financial services and bring us the September 2008 financial meltdown. For his pains Citigroup named him Chairman and accorded him $126 million (Rubin Leaving Citigroup; Smith Barney for Sale - NYTimes.com.)

Hank Paulson led his friends to relax rules intended to prevent the over-leveraging of investment banks - and then became George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary. The Reckoning - Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt - Series - NYTimes.com
Last edited by living_stradivarius on Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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living_stradivarius
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by living_stradivarius » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:43 pm

Cosima___J wrote:This is hilarious. I'm sure we'll all want to charge up our credit cards to help bring down the government debt:
It would surely be the first time stupidity saved us from more stupidity :D
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rwetmore
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Re: "The Rich Get Rich" with Yet Another GOP Rerun

Post by rwetmore » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:23 pm

This guy (Herbert) sounds like he's about 7 years old.
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- Aldous Huxley

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened."
-Winston Churchill

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”
–Charles Mackay

"It doesn't matter how smart you are - if you don't stop and think."
-Thomas Sowell

"It's one of the functions of the mainstream news media to fact-check political speech and where there are lies, to reveal them to the voters."
-John F. (of CMG)

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