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Rosenberg writes: "That the United States is centre-right and Obama must needs compromise on slashing the welfare state is a myth."

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina 10/19/08. (photo: Jim Young/Reuters)
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina 10/19/08. (photo: Jim Young/Reuters)


A Grand Bargain is a Grand Betrayal

By Paul Rosenberg, Al Jazeera English

26 November 12

 

That the United States is centre-right and Obama must needs compromise on slashing the welfare state is a myth.

acts are stupid things," Ronald Reagan once said, hilariously misquoting Founding Father John Adams, your typical elitist Enlightenment intellectual, who actually said, "Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." But in the contest between the real world of John Adams and the fantasy world bequeathed to us by Ronald Reagan, stupid and stubborn are on both on the side of the latter... and the latter is winning, hands down, as can be seen in President Obama's pursuit of a so-called "grand bargain" that would cut far more in spending than it would raise in taxes. In the Reaganite fantasy world of Washington DC, Obama represents the left. In the real world? Well, take a look for yourself.

There is a political party in the United States whose presidential candidate got over 60 million votes, and whose members - according to the General Social Survey - overwhelmingly think we're spending too little on Social Security, rather than spending too much, by a lopsided margin of 52-12. The party, of course, is the Republican Party.

There is as an ideological label claimed by over 100 million Americans, who collectively think we're spending too little on "improving and protecting the nation's health", rather than spending too much, by a 2-1 margin: 48-24. The labelled ideology, of course, is conservative.

Combine the two categories and the two spending questions, and you find that a 51.4 percent of conservative Republicans think we're spending too little on either Social Security, health care or both. Only 28.7 percent think we're spending too much, and just 7.3 percent think we're spending too much on both.

That's 7.3 percent of conservative Republicans in support of the position taken by leaders of both political parties - Republicans, who want to slash the welfare state drastically while making permanent tax cuts for the rich, and Democrats, led by President Obama, who wants a more "balanced" approach, with $2.50 cut from spending for every $1 added in taxes. Other Democrats, particularly in Congress, are trying to push back against Obama, without letting their slips show, and Obama is doing his best to hide what he's up to, but there is simply no way to get $4 trillion in cuts - almost $1 trillion already agreed to and another $3 trillion in his current proposal - without deep spending cuts that even a majority of conservative Republicans oppose.

Yet, as the Guardian reports, Obama's grassroots campaign organisation is being kept alive after the campaign, and pushing this far right agenda is their first emailed call to action. "It's now clear that ordinary citizens will also be subjected to a full bore messaging campaign to persuade them that they should regard this counterproductive sacrifice as good for them," notes leading econoblogger Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism. She also notes, correctly, that "most Americans have a simple response to the notion of 'reforming' these popular programmes: Cut military budgets and raise taxes on upper income groups".

Something we can all agree on

The figures cited above come from the General Social Survey of 2010. The GSS is the gold standard of public opinion research in the United States. Social scientists reference it more often than any other data source except for the US Census. The GSS has been asking these same questions since the 1970s, with similar ones added to its list over time. The responses to those questions reveal a much broader truth - the American people like the various different functions of the welfare state, regardless of their political ideology or affiliation. They like spending on highways, roads and bridges, mass transportation, education, child care, urban problems, alternative energy, you name it.

For example, in 2010, if we combine six questions - adding education, mass transit, highways and bridges, and urban problems to Social Security and health care - then the percentage of conservative Republicans saying we spend too much on all of them drops to a minuscule 0.4 percent, while two-thirds (66.5 percent) say we are spending too little on at least one of them. They may philosophically subscribe to the idea of shrinking government, but pragmatically they know what works and they want more of it, not less. Americans are famously described as being pragmatic, rather than ideological, and in this respect, at least, that political cliche is absolutely right.

Indeed, 2010 was only remarkable as a year in which anti-welfare state hysteria had been whipped up to a fever pitch. If one looked instead at the combined surveys for 2006, 2008 and 2010, then two-thirds of conservative Republicans (66.6 percent) thought we were spending too little on one or both of health care and Social Security, compared to just under one in seven (14 percent) who thought we were spending too much on at least one. A mere 5.1 percent thought we were spending too much on both.

In the world of stubborn and stupid, America is a centre-right nation, and it really does make no sense that Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney. He's trying to compromise with the Republicans because he has to: Their insistence on slashing the welfare state represents the overwhelming consensus of American political opinion, regardless of the last election's results. But in the forgotten, lonely world of facts, none of that is true.

The need for a restatement

While GSS data since 1973 repeatedly confirms this pattern of welfare state support even from self-identified conservatives, the pattern was actually first described and discussed in the 1967 book The Political Beliefs of Americans by Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril, two towering pioneers of public opinion research. Their book was based on surveys conducted in 1964, almost a full decade before the GSS data begins. The disjunction between what they called "operational" liberalism and ideological conservatism was one of the dominant themes of their book (they identified ideological conservatism by agreement with a set of five questions about government interference versus individual initiative). In the final section of the final chapter of the book, titled, "The Need for a Restatement of American Ideology", they wrote:

"The paradox of a large majority of Americans qualifying as operational liberals while at the same time a majority hold to a conservative ideology has been repeatedly emphasised in this study. We have described this state of affairs as mildly schizoid, with people believing in one set of principles abstractly while acting according to another set of principles in their political behaviour. But the principles according to which the majority of Americans actually behave politically have not yet been adequately formulated in modern terms...

"There is little doubt that the time has come for a restatement of American ideology to bring it in line with what the great majority of people want and approve. Such a statement, with the right symbols incorporated, would focus people's wants, hopes, and beliefs, and provide a guide and platform to enable the American people to implement their political desires in a more intelligent, direct, and consistent manner."

This, of course, never took place. Two major political figures who might have helped foster such a restatement - Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert F Kennedy - were assassinated the next year. Philosopher John Rawls' Theory of Justice actually embodied that restatement in a brilliantly simple abstract metaphor, the veil of ignorance, but his ideas never found the sort of symbolic amplification that Free and Cantril rightly recognised as crucial.

Instead, American politics took a much darker turn, one led by the indulgence of racist animosity, whose influence only became more deeply embedded over time, even as its initial expression was formally abandoned, and condemned. This turn can even be seen implicitly there in Free and Cantril's data. It's not just the case that Americans as a whole are schizoid - operationally liberal (65 percent according to their data) while ideologically conservative (50 percent). It's particularly true of a crucial subset: 23 percent of the population is both operationally liberal and ideologically conservative. And here's the kicker: The proportion of people fitting this description was double that in the five Southern states that Barry Goldwater carried in 1964 - the only states in the nation he carried aside from his home state of Arizona.

What this clearly implied, we can now see with hindsight, is that this population could be tipped either way, and was particularly vulnerable by tipping on the issue of race. Even though Goldwater himself abhorred making racist appeals, activists and even party organisations working for him had no such qualms, and the states he carried reflected that. Indeed, we can even see this today in GSS data, by looking at differences within the broad spectrum of support for government spending.

If, for example, we consider two different spending questions which bear on dealing with the problem of global warming - support for spending on the environment and for developing alternative energy (a new question just added in 2010) - we find a difference between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, but the difference is entirely within the realm of overwhelming support. Democrats say we're spending too little versus too much on both by 57.8 percent to 0.3 percent - a factor of almost 200-to-1 - while Republicans agree by "only" 29.8 percent to 6.6 percent - a factor of more than 4-to-1. For liberals, its more than 80-to-1 (65.2 percent to 0.8 percent), while for conservatives its better than 5-to-1 (29.6 percent to 5.7 percent). So the differences are stark - but they're all in the realm of overwhelming support for more spending. It's like comparing a rabid football fan to another rabid football fan with season tickets for his extended family.

When we look at spending on poor people and blacks, however, the picture is starkly different. Liberals once again say we're spending too little rather than too much on both by an overwhelming margin, 25-to-1 (39.8 percent to 1.6 percent), but Republicans are evenly split (10.5 percent to 10.4 percent). For liberals the ratio is roughly 20-to-1 (35.3 percent to 1.8 percent), while for conservatives it's 3-to-2 (15.6 percent to 10.0 percent). But when you combine the categories, that's when the depth of the difference really stands out. For liberal Democrats, the ratio is 200-to-1 (40.8 percent to 0.2 percent), while for conservative Republicans it's more than 2-to-1 in the other direction (6.4 percent to 13.8 percent). In short, the one way to get conservative Republicans to be operationally conservative is to talk about poor people and blacks - in 19th century terms "the undeserving poor". And yes, since you asked, they really do still think that way. If you want to know where Mitt Romney's talk of the 47 percent came from, you need look no farther than this.

Just the facts

But America rejected Romney's vision, didn't they? As the last few million votes are still being totalled, his percentage of the vote has dwindled down... to 47 percent, ironically. And yet, Obama's reasoning, even his "progressive" argument to his base is articulated within a conservative framework, one that highlights the deficit as the focus of hysterical concern, even when it tries to sound sensible and sober. Thus, the email call to his volunteers mentioned above said that Obama was "working with leaders of both parties in Washington to reduce the deficit in a balanced way so we can lay the foundation for long-term middle-class job growth and prevent your taxes from going up".

The idea of a bipartisan plan to grow the economy by balanced deficit reduction is understandably quite popular. It ranks right up there with the pizza-beer-and-ice-cream-heart-healthy-weight-loss-diet plan: The perfect solution for a fact-free world. But, as a recent letter from 350 economists points out, "[T]oo many in Washington are fixated on cutting public spending to balance the budget, not on how to put people back to work and get our economy going", but "there is no theory of economics that explains how we can deflate our way to recovery". To the contrary, as they pointed out, the opposite is true: "As Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and Greece have shown, inflicting austerity on a weak economy leads to deeper recession, rising unemployment and increasing misery."

But it's not just this popular proposal is a fantasy. It's also not really that popular if you ask folks about specifics. Which is just what Democracy Corps and Campaign for America's Future did with an election eve poll. In particular, they asked about all the major components of the Simpson-Bowles Plan, the informal background for Obama's "balanced deficit reduction plan". Every single component they asked about was deemed unacceptable by landslide majorities.

    "Capping Medicare payments, forcing seniors to pay more" was rejected 79-18.
  • "Requiring deep cuts in domestic programmes without protecting programmes for infants, poor children, schools and college aid" was rejected 75-21
  • "Cutting discretionary spending, like education, child nutrition, worker training, and disease control" was rejected 72-25.
  • "Not raising taxes on the rich" was rejected 68-28.
  • "Continuing to tax investors' income at lower rates than workers' pay" was rejected 63-26.
  • "Reducing Social Security benefits over time by having them rise more slowly than the cost of living" was rejected 62-31.
  • Turning to the subject of preserving Medicare:

  • "Capping Medicare payments, forcing seniors to pay more" was rejected 79-18.
  • But - taking a very different approach, "Save Medicare costs by negotiating lower drug prices from drug companies" was supported 89-8.

Robert L Borosage warned in a cover story for the Nation magazine, which cites some of these same strong views opposing what the fantasy rhetoric hides. "The grand bargain not only offers the wrong answer; it poses the wrong question," Borosage writes. The right question, of course, is what to do about the stranglehold of wealth and income inequality that has developed over the past 30+ years, and how to secure the future of the 99 percent that have been left behind. "The call for shared sacrifice makes no sense," Borosage argues, "given that in recent decades, the rewards have not been shared."

A truly progressive vision, stubbornly rooted in the world of facts would focus like a laser beam on the right question. This is what FDR's New Deal was all about at bottom - rebuilding the nation's prosperity from the bottom up. The economic soundness of his approach can be seen in the decades of broadly shared prosperity that followed in his wake. The political soundness can be seen in the polling data cited above - particularly the measures of conservative support. Those are the stubborn facts that President Obama ought to be attending to. And leave the stubborn fantasies behind. It's time he set aside his love affair with Ronald Reagan. John Adams is waiting in the wings.


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+8 # CAMUS1111 2012-11-26 19:12
Obama--obviousl y the grand betrayer and the destroyer of what otherwise could be a generation or more of democratic party successes. Pathetic.
 
 
+9 # GDC707 2012-11-27 01:18
Thank you, Camus1111. Never was a party more ready to have a stake driven through it's heart than the Republicans in early 2009. Barack Obama personally resuscitated the Gop with his ridiculous and destructive 'bipartisanship " and foolish negotiatiating positions which were really a reflection of his neloiberalism. The 1% did well when they found and maneuvered Obama into the Oval office. They had their lapdog and he served them well.
 
 
+9 # grouchy 2012-11-27 01:35
The neat thing about starting out by asking the WRONG question, is the fact that such an action can divert discussion and action from a target you DON'T want to be focused on!
 
 
+8 # MidwestTom 2012-11-27 08:22
Obama saved the bankers with basically free money When a company is in trouble the bankers charge 30% and more for rescue money, but Obama charged them 0.5%, to save them from a crisis that they created. Then he doubled the Too Big to Fail list. Obama has never worked in a private job, yet his tax return indicates that he si now worth over $12 million. Not bad for a champion of the poor.
 
 
+10 # Texas Aggie 2012-11-27 09:50
Remember that Obama is associated with the Univ of Chicago, the home of Milton Friedman and Leo Strauss. At U of C the same zeitgeist that those two represented is alive and well, so it stands to reason that Obama will accept their BS without too much question. It is up to us to reeducate the man.
 
 
-6 # Martintfre 2012-11-27 11:40
Texas -- by your faulty logic I could make this false claim:: Since there are mass murders in Texas you must be one as well.

Obama understands socialism to get elected - promise to give away other peoples goods and services.

Friedman understands the consequences of socialism, as Milton Friedman said "The problem with the welfare state is it is never productive enough to support the welfare state"
 
 
+2 # balconesfalk 2012-11-27 22:06
Right, TX Aggie, It was the Chicago Boys who brought such misery to the people of Chile, South America, by spreading their mean spirited, anti-economics philosophy. I had forgotten that Obama spent his most formative years in Chicago, more so than Hawaii or any of the other place he lived as a child. This is the first place where the neo-con political philosophy invaded and tainted academia.
 
 
-9 # SickOfSocialism 2012-11-27 10:18
I am so tired of hearing how Romney didn't care about 47% of the population. What he meant was he couldn't buy the black (93%) or hispanic (no real figure) vote so why worry about it. He needed to focus on people that were actually out making the money to pay for all of the 'programs'. Democrats can say what they want about the Republicans but it is funny that I know very few Republicans on welfare! Maybe when you figure out where your bread is buttered you will understand how these programs exist. As a small business owner that works 70-80 hours per week and pays additional taxes due to the unemployment benefits increasing from 13 weeks to 99 weeks, just to name one tax the general population is not aware of, I ask what my incentive is to create any jobs. Why do the unemployed need 99 weeks to find a job? Because Obama's job creation plan is the same now as the first 4 years. This country was built on capitalism. If you want to be the next East Berlin, keep it up. Remember what happened to East Berlin when they embraced Socialism vs West Berlin who embraced a more capitalistic approach. And, yes, investors should have a lower tax rate because they are taking the risks. Without risks there is no progress (or slow progress). All ills will most assuredly be blamed on the Republicans because we will stop spending, stop contributing and rise up against the continued theft of our time and money. BTW, I was an Independent until this election!
 
 
-4 # Martintfre 2012-11-27 11:35
What happens when the producers decide to stop exploiting the consumers with their goods and services and they go on strike?


Who is John Galt.
 
 
0 # engelbach 2012-11-28 16:02
They stop making profits. Never happen.
 
 
0 # Martintfre 2012-11-30 15:02
Quoting engelbach:
They stop making profits. Never happen.


Keep your eyes open
- It is happening around the country. And when it cost 3K more per employee starting January a lot of marginal employees (typically unskilled beginning low wage) will suddenly be out of work because the government made them into losers.
 
 
+4 # tbcrawford 2012-11-27 11:51
Romney is responsible for the 47% quote.

Why would Republicans be on welfare? They pay less taxes from income on investment returns and don't have hourly jobs to lose.

You think a parent working 2 or 3 jobs doesn't work 70-80 hours a week?

East Berlin was taken over by a Stalinist regime and later choose Socialism...and the Euro Zone. They're doing pretty well, don't you think!

This post was about FACTS..l.I suggest you stick to them.
 
 
-2 # SickOfSocialism 2012-11-27 13:22
Oh, please, just what I would expect. Why would Republicans be on welfare? They pay less taxes from income on investment returns and don't have hourly jobs to lose.

Let me tell you something, I had hourly jobs for years. Saved up money (nobody ever gave me anything including the government or my family) and now that I pay less taxes on the ROI capital gains, you want to take it from me. Please remember that I, too, also pay income taxes, unemployment insurance, health insurance, etc. And now your answer the country's woes are to increase my taxes on capital gains from investments and pay for healthcare for others, too. Unfortunately for you and all of the other 'believers' it doesn't matter what your facts say, the truth is jobs will be lost instead of gained with your socialist direction. Yes, there can be improvements but you cannot continue to take from those that have succeeded and expect growth and innovation.

By the way, East Berlin was rebuilt in large part by West Berlin.

Sorry, I didn't mean to be so argumentative and will not continue even after a potential reply (replies). Only time will tell which of us may be correct. Hopefully you are. Four more years of this (if it doesn't work) and we may be too far gone.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-11-28 08:34
Again, you're right, why would republicans be on "welfare"...it' s not like any republicans had their homes damaged or detroyed by "Sandy" and are now applying for federal assistance right? And, is not Medicare or the Mortgage tax deduction "welfare" but of course here too no republicans take advantage of these programs right?

And, if this country was really moving in a "socialist direction" we would have gotten a real new New Deal type jobs program (the old one having created at least 8 million jobs) not to mention support for family farmers (as was also done during the depression/dust bowl) rather than just to big agribusiness. And, what about a new GI bill that helped bring millions into the middle class for the first time and which according to some economists paid for itself 7 times over in terms of the return on investment to the gov't?

Your definition of "socialism" is highly selective and you only seem to criticize "welfare" that goes to folks at the bottome but not at all to the far greater "welfare" sums that go to those at the top.
 
 
0 # engelbach 2012-11-28 19:09
Your income from investments, like mine, is unearned. It comes from profits earned by other working people.

Neither of us has invested to build a new business or anything else productive, so why should we get a special tax break on our investments?

I'm not happy that my capital gains tax will be going up, but I think it's only fair that neither I nor the multi-millionai res who depend on capital gains get a special break for nothing.
 
 
-3 # Martintfre 2012-11-27 16:21
Democracy = two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch.

50.001 percent majority promising to pick the the minorities pockets -- well I am about to give up and get me my Obama dollars -- screw working that is for other fools!
 
 
+1 # mdhome 2012-11-27 19:53
Quoting Martintfre:
Democracy = two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch.

50.001 percent majority promising to pick the the minorities pockets -- well I am about to give up and get me my Obama dollars -- screw working that is for other fools!

well I am about to give up and get me my Obama dollars -- screw working that is for other fools!
Go ahead and try, sounds easier than it is I bet.
 
 
+2 # engelbach 2012-11-27 12:34
The GOP voted down Obama's American Jobs Act. Thank your own party for prolonging unemployment.

Most investment is in the secondary securities market, which has nothing to do with building businesses and carries very little risk.
 
 
-3 # Martintfre 2012-11-27 16:16
It is not the prevue of government to create jobs.

Both Republicans and democrats fail to acknowledge that. They are arguing over the position of deck chairs on the titanic forgetting the function of not steaming blindly in the dark taking every one with them.


Show me where it says in the constitution that government's function is to create jobs.
 
 
+2 # engelbach 2012-11-28 04:54
The economy is in tatters, with massive unemployment, and you revive that tired and invalid argument?

The government can do whatever it needs to do to restore a healthy economy. It's not unconstitutiona l to pass a national jobs act, and it's the only way to get dollars flowing again in the working class.

I also remind you that the GOP ran in 2010 on a platform of creating jobs. And where are they?
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-11-28 08:38
Quoting Martintfre:
It is not the prevue of government to create jobs.

Both Republicans and democrats fail to acknowledge that. They are arguing over the position of deck chairs on the titanic forgetting the function of not steaming blindly in the dark taking every one with them.


Show me where it says in the constitution that government's function is to create jobs.


Tell this to the more than 8 million people that got jobs as a result of FDR's New Deal programs. Tell it also the the millions of World War II vets that recieved assistance via the GI Bill that also helped to bring millions into the middle class for the first time.

And, while you are right that there is nothing in the Constitution that says it is the gov'ts function to create jobs there is also nothing in the Constitution that says it is the gov'ts function to provide huge subsidies and financial incentives to every major nerw industry in the country from the railraods in the 19th century to Silicon Valley in the 20th. But, i don't see you being critical of gov't support to those at the top.
 
 
0 # Martintfre 2012-11-30 15:04
//a result of FDR's New Deal programs. //

A result of FDRs expansion of spending and regulation was to take a recession and turn it into a depression.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2012-11-28 08:28
Right SoS, there are no republicans (or in your words "very few") on "Welfare"...So, i suppose there are no republican seniors on medicare or republicans that send their kids to public schools or use public transportation or roads and bridges built by public tax dollars?

And, yes, this country was built on capitalism a system that provided huge financial incentives and tax breaks to virtually all new major industries in this country starting with the railroads in the 19th century (free or very cheap land as well as large financial subsidies) to Silicon Valley (which didn't start with whiz kids working in their parents garages but rather with large defense contracts).

so, in fact, you are on "sick" of a "socialism" that distributes public funds on a more equitable basis as opposed to the "socialism of the rich" the socializes risk while privatizing the costs and provides "welfare" only to those at the top whether they be individuals or corporations.
 
 
-4 # Martintfre 2012-11-27 11:34
"That the United States is centre-right and Obama must needs compromise on slashing the welfare state is a myth."


Yea -- lets take the argument from those guys who want to see us collapse -- Brilliant.

When the US goes Greek , the end of the road for endless politicians promises with other peoples money -- there will be no one to bail us out.
I'd bet my $50,000,000,000 ,000 Zambi on it.
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2012-11-28 08:41
Quoting Martintfre:
"That the United States is centre-right and Obama must needs compromise on slashing the welfare state is a myth."


Yea -- lets take the argument from those guys who want to see us collapse -- Brilliant.

When the US goes Greek , the end of the road for endless politicians promises with other peoples money -- there will be no one to bail us out.
I'd bet my $50,000,000,000,000 Zambi on it.


You cannot compare the US to Greece since the US is a country that controls its own currency while the Greeks (and all those in the Euro for that matter) do not.

If Greece either left the Euro or went to a dual currency system (or better yet threaten to default on their debt as Iceland and Argentina did and as those US states that were screwed by the banksters and swindled into buying "insuarance" swaps that when they went bad led them into bankruptcy) they would be able to get themselves out of their economic mess without the kind of austerity being demanded by the banksters at Goldman Sachs (and others).

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12996-goldman-sachs-global-coup-de-tat
 
 
+4 # chicagoflygirls 2012-11-27 11:50
"there is no theory of economics that explains how we can deflate our way to recovery". To the contrary, as they pointed out, the opposite is true: "As Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and Greece have shown, inflicting austerity on a weak economy leads to deeper recession, rising unemployment and increasing misery." Yet the Repubs keep pushing their wrongheaded ideas. And much of Greece's woes were based on the fact that they could not collect tax revenues effectively because many people thought that if the rich could evade, why not me too? We also have this mind set... with the business loop holes, etc. I say that real Americans must PAY THEIR TAXES... and the government hire enough collectors and accountants to chase down the corporate tax cheats starting now.
 
 
-4 # Martintfre 2012-11-27 16:18
Lol chicagofly --

Greece to EU -- can we borrow enough to get out of debt?

I want all politicians to grasp this simple concept
"ITs the spending stupid"
 
 
+1 # mdhome 2012-11-27 19:57
If you want to build a business you have to borrow money to build the business and you then repay the loan with the profits from a booming business.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2012-11-28 08:43
Quoting Martintfre:
Lol chicagofly --

Greece to EU -- can we borrow enough to get out of debt?

I want all politicians to grasp this simple concept
"ITs the spending stupid"


No, it should be Greece to EU -- FU either renegotiate the terms of the debt while we create a dueal currency system or we will default on our debt.

And, if you look at Greece and compare it with other Euro contries it was not "the spending stupid" as the level of spending in greece as a % of GDP was lower than other Euro countries...the problem with Greece was not spending but revenues (kind of like here in the US).
 
 
0 # engelbach 2012-11-28 15:59
That's exactly right.

The Greek government was criminally lax in collecting taxes and dishonest in its financial reports to the EU.

Poof, comes the worldwide economic crisis and the coffers are empty, with devastating unemployment and crushing debt in a currency in which it is overextended and over which it has no control.

The U.S. has the strongest currency in the world and unlimited borrowing power. It ain't Greece.
 
 
0 # Martintfre 2012-11-28 21:18
"The U.S. has the strongest currency in the world and unlimited borrowing power"

LOL Confidence backed by .... what.

I bet one of my $50,000,000,000 ,000 notes that no country has an unlimited borrowing limit -- history is littered with the failures of those who actually believed that.
 
 
0 # mdhome 2012-11-27 19:55
The result of underfunding the IRS.
 
 
+3 # balconesfalk 2012-11-27 11:59
I became aware that Obama had too much admiration for Ronald Reagan in him when an interviewer asked asked him about what previous presidents stood out for him.
Obama could only bring himself to mention Ronald Reagan. That was right before the CA primary in 2008. I hoped he was just pandering to conservative CA voters, but I'm afraid he merely demonstrated his awe towards the "transformative " RR.
I missed hearing Obama intone the list of past Democratic greats during any of his campaigns--a standard litany for every past Democratic president campaigning in my lifetime. Perhaps he does not share the same party philosophy of FDR, JFK, LBJ and WJC.
It is time for Obama to take a long look at his place in history, whether he can aspire to greatness as a Democratic president for doing what is best for most of the people, most of the time.
Or will his legacy molder, enshrined only as a First, as if qualified by accident of birth alone. Indeed, why would so much objection to him be couched in controversy about his birth certificate?
I certainly would hope that he does not go down in history as the presidential version of Clarence Thomas whose SCOTUS legacy is to "ask no questions, hold dear no opinions, go along, get along."
Continuing the policies of the Bush years certainly does not shed a favorable light on his administration. There are no excuses for it. Things that were bad policy then are still bad policy.
 
 
0 # Michael_K 2012-11-27 12:19
Grand, overt, in-your-face betrayals are this President's specialty.

And why not, since you always let him get away with it?
 
 
0 # GravityWave 2012-11-27 19:32
Many of you missed the whole point of this article.A majority of Republicans and Democrats alike have said they agree with the components of President Obama's deficit reduction plan. They want to spend more on education, infrastructure, children, the environment, etc. That means that way more of us disagree with some people writing here than we do with Obama. Get it?

I know you are trying to deflect attention from the point in this article but the facts remain.

No matter how hard you have tried and are trying as you write here, Americans still believe we are each others' keepers. They want higher standards of education. Listen up. They are talking about you. They like social programs you call socialism and want them to continue unabated. And they want us to spend our way out of our economy difficulties.

Some of the people commenting here are of the small percentage who have believed the guano flushed out the mouths of the minority who have tried to confuse and lie to Americans in an attempt to divide and conquer.

Well, lizard brains, it hasn't worked. You have been shown up for what you are--a bunch of greedy, damaged people. Read the article again and do some soul searching.You are not the patriot Americans you want us to think you are. You are little people who never grew out of being bullies.

You have not irradiated the goodness out of Americans Hell, it may be that you can't even read effectively.You 've failed miserably. Sit down and shut up.
 
 
+1 # engelbach 2012-11-28 05:00
A majority of Republicans and Democrats alike have said they agree with the components of President Obama's deficit reduction plan.

==============

People want the things you list, but they're not in Obama's deficit reduction plan.

He may say them in his rhetoric, but attacking the deficit as if it is the problem and not a symptom is a not the way to rebuild the economy.

We need a program to create jobs, lift the real wages of those already working, and regulate against offshoring. I don't hear any of this coming from either party.
 
 
+1 # chrisconnolly 2012-11-28 13:51
Why is it so easily forgotten that the deficit came from the republican policies of cut taxes for the rich and throw two unprovoked wars on borrowed dollars. (remember none of the 9/11 terrorists came from Afghanistan or Iraq). And now budget talks never seem to mention corporate welfare as an entitlement spending cut. Make the corporates and their CEOs pay taxes. After all, how many meals will a billionaire have to miss if he has to pay $500,000 more in taxes?
 
 
-2 # Martintfre 2012-11-28 21:23
"Why is it so easily forgotten that the deficit came from the republican policies of cut taxes for the rich and throw two unprovoked wars on borrowed dollars."
Half a truth is not a whole truth.

Clinton started his presidency with a $4 trillion debt and left office with a $5.8 trillion debt adding $1.8 trillion in debt over 8 years.
Obama entered office with 10.4 trillion and soo far has jacked it to 16.3 trillion - adding 6 trillion in 4 years.
 
 
-2 # Martintfre 2012-11-28 19:52
"Perfect example of liberal math:
2012 budget deficit = $1.1 trillion.
Obama's "tax the rich" plan = $82 billion.
Plus, the
democrats don't want to cut spending of any kind.
So where does the other $1 tillion come from?

Liberals are also this good at economics, by the way. Forward!"
P Ferranti
 
 
0 # engelbach 2012-11-29 12:18
The Democrats don't represent everyone on the left.

Trying to fix the deficit in one shot is ridiculous. We need a federal jobs program to help get us back to full employment. That will cut spending on unemployment and welfare and widen the tax base.

We also need to end the war and cut subsidies to oil and big agra. And eliminate the cap on FICA.

A thriving economy will gradually pay down the deficit. So far I see little movement from the Democrats to institute any programs to achieve this. And of course, none at all from the GOP.
 

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