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“Austerity” Equals Fascism, Part I: The Republicans are Nazis

Russ Bellant's Book about the GOP and the Nazis

COMMENT: The title of this post may appear extreme to some.  A follow-up post will discuss “austerity” and its effects will be analyzed in some detail and against the background of the Nazi T-4 program and the theoretical principles of Carl von Clausewitz.

We could do no better to begin this long post than to reference a characteristically incisive post by “Pterrafractyl”–who’s work is now featured in its own section, highlighted on the front page of this website (“Pterrafractyl’s Nest”). Users of the website are emphatically encouraged to digest that post and consider it in the context of this entry. 

In Pterrafractyl’s detailed article, we observe the potential resolution of the global economic meltdown threatened by the failure of the Euro. That resolution is the kind of subjugation of European national sovereignty to German hegemony that was envisioned by the Third Reich in its plans for postwar victory and consequent control.

Failure to rescue the Euro threatens a global economic meltdown. In effect, Germany is in the position of blackmailing the U.S., as well as the rest of the world. “As goes Europe, so goes the world.”

The United States is, of course, in a Presidential election year, with 23 Senate seats held by Democrats up for grabs, as opposed to 10 seats currently held by Republicans.

In a follow-up post, we’ll look at the possible effects of European economic turmoil on the U.S. electoral scene, the Presidential contest in particular. In that context, we will also touch on the passive role of the Federal Reserve Bank and its chairman Ben Bernanke in this imbroglio. 

In order to see the current electoral horse race in perspective, it is important to review and understand the nature of the contemporary Republican Party.

As discussed in FTR #465 (among other programs), a core element of the post-World War II GOP is a direct offshoot of the Third Reich and its central European allies.

Following Dewey’s narrow defeat by Harry Truman in the 1948 election (blamed on the “Jewish vote”),  Allen Dulles and his protege Richard Nixon set about recruiting Axis veterans, many of them war criminals, to serve as political mobilizers in the Eastern European ethnic communities in the United States. 

This recruitment program was inextricably linked with an illegal domestic covert operation, the Crusade for Freedom. The CFF enlisted Rumanian Iron Guard veterans, members of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Bulgarian National Front, the Croatian Ustachi, the Slovakian Hlinka Party, Ukrainian fascists from the OUN/B of Stephan Bandera, Baltic fascists from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Byelorussian Nazis and others as combatants against the Soviet Bloc and as political cadre in the United States.

Significant for our purposes here, it is important to remember that Ronald Reagan was the chief spokesman for the CFF, the covert operation cemented to the formation and operation of the GOP “ethnics.” The State Department machinations used to bring the Nazis and fascists into the U.S. were overseen by William Casey, later Nixon’s head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and, later, Ronald Reagan’s head of the CIA.

Shepherded by Nixon, this Nazi GOP element was viewed as being able to deliver five key swing states in Presidential election years. During Nixon’s second term, the GOP “ethnics” were installed as a permanent element of the Republican Party, when George H.W. Bush was chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The 1980 election marked the triumphal ascension of the CFF/Nazi “ethnics” to the pinnacle of American political power. With CFF spokesperson Reagan as President, George H.W. Bush (who oversaw the installation of the Nazis as a permanent, standing element of the GOP) as Vice-President and William Casey (who handled the machinations to import the Nazis under State Department auspices) as CIA director, the Nazi machinery was in control of American political process.

The selection of personnel for the Reagan administration is worth noting as well. In charge of drawing up the list of individuals from which Reagan made his appointments was Helene Von Damm, a close associate/protege of Otto von Bolschwing, another “Dulles Nazi” imported into the United States. In the Third Reich, Von Bolschwing served as Adolf Eichmann’s superior in administering “Jewish matters” for Hitler.

(Yours Truly played a small role in the actual breaking of the Von Bolschwing story in 1981. Von Damm keeps the last name of her second husband, Christian Von Damm, who was managing Bank of America’s branch in La Paz, Bolivia in the early 1980’s. It would be a reasonable supposition that the bank was handling a fair amount of capital derived from the operations of the “Coca Fascisti” who ascended to power in the “Cocaine Coup” of 1980. Later, Von Damm became Reagan’s Ambassador to Austria. There, she married a hotelier named Goertler, who later died of an allegedly self-inflicted gun shot wound.

Exemplifying the people tabbed by Van Damm was Ykaterina Chumachenko, Deputy Director for Public Liaison for Reagan and, at the same time, head of the UCCA, the key front organization for the OUN/B! She went on to become first lady of the Ukraine under Victor Yuschenko.

The war crimes committed by the OUN/B on behalf of the Third Reich are a subject of contemporary political tension between Poland and the Ukraine.

Old Nazis, the New Right and the Republican Party by Russ Bellant; South End Press (HC); Copyright 1991 by Russ Bellant; pp. 76-77.

EXCERPT: . . . .On July 20, 1988, George Bush reaffirmed the ties between the Republican Party and the ABN by making a campaign stop at Fedorak’s Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren, Michigan. Bush delivered a hard-line foreign policy speech to those attending the annual Captive Nations banquet sponsored jointly by the Captive Nations Committee and the ABN. Sharing the dais with Fedorak and Bush was Katherine Chumachenko, formerly the director of the UCCA’s Captive Nations Committee and currently the Deputy Director for Public Liaison at the White House. [Emphasis added.] Ignatius M. Billinsky, President of UCCA, had already been named Honorary Chair of Ukrainians for Bush, and Bohdan Fedorak named National vice-chair of Ukrainians for Bush. . . .

COMMENT: In assessing the Nazified character of the GOP and the Reagan/Bush I administrations, one should remember that evidence suggests the Nazi hierarchy and chain of command remained intact, with the Bormann network in charge of an NSDAP gone underground. 

Furthermore, the Nazi emigre milieu is inextricably linked with the Gehlen organization. Even as Gehlen was cementing his deal with U.S. intelligence, he was clearing his activities with Admiral Karl von Doenitz (Hitler’s designated successor) and General Franz Halder.

“The Secret Treaty of Fort Hunt” by Carl Oglesby; Covert Action Information Bulletin #35 (Fall of 1990).

EXCERPT: . . . . As Gehlen was about to leave for the United States, he left a mes­sage for Baun with another of his top aides, Ger­hard Wes­sel: “I am to tell you from Gehlen that he has dis­cussed with [Hitler’s suc­ces­sor Admi­ral Karl] Doenitz and [Gehlen’s supe­rior and chief of staff Gen­eral Franz] Halder the ques­tion of con­tin­u­ing his work with the Amer­i­cans. Both were in agree­ment.” Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 61.

COMMENT: Returning to the subject of “austerity” and the elections, it is vital to remember the the Reagan/Bush I Nazified GOP administrations campaigned against big government and preached austerity. At the same time, Reagan/Bush drastically increased the military budget, increasing the national debt three and a half-fold under Reagan. By the time Bush I left office, the national debt had increased five-fold!

The Nazified GOP had created the very situation which they claimed to be able to solve! (It is worth noting that the U.S. had been a net creditor nation from the end of World War I through the Carter administration. By 1983, the U.S. was a net debtor nation. This is related to, but distinct from, the national debt per se.)

In eight years, Clinton, by contrast, had actually had budgetary surpluses in some years. 

When Bush II took office, he slashed taxes while waging two wars, dramatically increasing the debt once again. 

The actions of five administrations of Reagan and both Bushes have been utterly disastrous for this country’s fiscal situation, setting the stage for a roll-back of the New Deal under a prospective Romney administration (with a GOP-dominated Congress).

In passing, we should remember that the Bush II administration heavily overlapped a parallel network to the Nazi “ethnics.” Karl Rove–“Bush’s Brain”–and Grover Norquist created the Islamic Free Market Institute to counter the “Jewish vote” of the Democrats. That milieu, in turn, is inextricably linked with the Nazi-linked Bank Al-Taqwa and the funding apparatus that helped support Hamas, Al-Qaeda and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Also in this context, remember the thesis presented over and over on this website and in the broadcasts–that the Bush family is the point element of the Bormann capital network–what banker familiar with its operations termed “The greatest concentration of money power under a single control in all of world history.” We should also bear in mind the links of the GOP presidents, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush I to the assassination of President Kennedy.

Also in the context of GOP/Nazis, as set forth in FTR #652, Sarah Palin appears to be a cat’s paw for the Alaskan Independence Party, a seditious correspondent party for the Aryan Nations.

California’s “Governator”–Arnold Schwarzenegger manifested a Nazi political ancestry, Nazi cultural and behavioral affiliations, Nazi political connections and a possible Bormann network financial backer.

In the current campaign, Mitt Romney is joined at the hip with “alternative” candidate Ron Paul, whose Nazi/fascist links  are a matter of record.

In a follow-up post, we will examine the budgetary and austerity question at greater length–both in terms of the possible impact of matters European on the U.S. election and on the real nature of “austerity” itself, from an economic and social standpoint.

Discussion

47 comments for ““Austerity” Equals Fascism, Part I: The Republicans are Nazis”

  1. This is an important post. I’m emailing it to everyone I can.

    Posted by GrumpuRex | June 14, 2012, 7:32 am
  2. You mean the existential threat to liberty isn’t due to too many lazy teachers, police, and firefighters?! Me so confused:

    ABC News
    Jun 12, 2012 6:00am
    Would Romney Cut Firefighters?
    By Matt Negrin

    Mitt Romney appears to be denying that he would cut firefighters and teachers as president, though comments by his campaign and supporters haven’t fully resolved a statement the candidate made last week about public workers.

    Romney said on Fox News today that Democrats’ claim about him wanting to cut those workers is a “very strange accusation.”

    Later, as reporters briefly cornered him in Orlando, Romney refused to talk about his comment about firefighters and teachers. “Oh, I’m not going to talk about that,” he said.

    On Monday, though, his campaign did little to suggest that his recent comment about cutting back on firefighters, police officers and teachers had been taken out of context.

    At first it seemed as if Romney’s statement about President Obama – “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” – was an unfortunate phrasing or combination of thoughts.

    But the campaign didn’t provide any clarification on the record of what else Romney might have meant to say. Asked repeatedly for elaboration, Amanda Henneberg, a Romney spokeswoman, provided a statement about Obama being “out of touch.”

    Asked about his comment on Fox News, Romney replied: “Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that is completely absurd, but he’s got a new idea, though, and that is to have another stimulus and to have the federal government to try and bail out cities and states. It didn’t work the first time. It certainly wouldn’t work the second time.”

    John Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor who is one of Romney’s most visible supporters in the media, said in a TV interview on Monday that laying off teachers makes sense if fewer kids are in classrooms and new technology assists in learning.

    “I think this is a real issue, and people ought to stop jumping on it as a gaffe and understand there’s wisdom in the comment,” Sununu said.

    Brad Woodhouse, the communications director of the Democratic National Committee, responded on a conference call shortly afterward: “I thought John Sununu’s comments were a bunch of hooey.”

    If we don’t fire firefighters our freedom will burn to the ground. And it’s not like private citizens can’t purchase privatized fire protection. It would be fairer AND cheaper. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

    And you have to agree that John Sununu has a point. If there are fewer kids in school, do we really need more teachers. I hope you’re listening kids:

    February 11, 2009 7:22 PM

    Baby Boom ‘Echo’ Hits Schools

    Leave it to today’s school kids to trump their baby boomer parents.

    A total of 49.6 million children attended public and private school in 2003, beating the previous high mark of 48.7 million – set in 1970 when the baby boom generation was in school.

    The growth is largely due to all the children born in the late 1940s to early 1960s, who have since become parents themselves, the Census Bureau said Wednesday. Rising immigration played a part, too.

    “You could have predicted this back in 1970 when we had all those kids,” said Mark Mather, a demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, which assesses population trends. “We knew they were going to have kids of their own. We have this classic echo effect going on.”

    Even if it isn’t surprising, the record tally of students in the first 12 grades poses steep challenges for schools: recruiting teachers, helping children who don’t speak English, keeping class sizes manageable and coming up with enough financial aid for college students.

    In population rings outside urban areas and in Western states such as Nevada and California the growth has been concentrated, increasing demands on schools.

    “They just really don’t have the fiscal capacity to match this,” said Scott Young, senior policy specialist in education for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    “These kids are coming along at a time when – unlike the baby boomers – their chances of a middle-class life without college are almost nil,” Callan said. “It’s going to drive higher education policy over the next few years. This is a huge challenge.”

    The enrollment growth is likely to continue through this year, according to the Census Bureau report. Enrollment is expected to drop slightly through 2010 – due to a decline in births from 1991 to 1997 – but then pick up again, the Census figures show.

    All the estimates are based on survey responses from a sample of the population in 2003.

    Ok, well, there may be a record number of students, but that still doesn’t mean we need more teachers! As Mr. Sununu also pointed out, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of technological replacements for teachers. Isn’ that right Niel?

    And when all these kids decide to head off to college, let’s not fall into that trap of “oh, no, now we have to find a way to pay for all these co-eds”. Nonesense. What good is it to have all these billionaire sugar-daddy’s if you can’t tap into their infinite founts of wisdom AND checkbooks. Just don’t expect any handouts you lil’ moochers:

    Op-Ed Contributor
    The College Graduate as Collateral
    By LUIGI ZINGALES
    Published: June 13, 2012

    Chicago

    ACADEMIC economists like to make fun of businesspeople: they want competition when they enter a new market but are quick to lobby for subsidies and barriers to competitors once they get in. Yet scholars like me are no better. We work in the least competitive and most subsidized industry of all: higher education.

    We criticize predatory loans by mortgage brokers, when student loans can be just as abusive. To avoid the next credit bubble and debt crisis, we need to eliminate government subsidies and link tuition financing to the incomes of college graduates.

    Nearly eight million students received Pell grants in 2010, costing $28 billion. In addition, the federal direct loan program, which allows nonaffluent students to get government-guaranteed loans at low interest rates, cost taxpayers $13 billion in 2010-11. Total subsidies to university education amount to $43 billion a year, including around $2 billion in Congressional earmarks – and that does not even include tax subsidies (for college funds); tax breaks (for university endowments, for example); and subsidies dedicated to research.

    Just as subsidies for homeownership have increased the price of houses, so have education subsidies contributed to the soaring price of college. Between 1977 and 2009 the real average cost of university tuition more than doubled.

    These subsidies also distort the credit market. Since the government guarantees student loans, lenders have no incentive to lend wisely. All the burden of making the right decision falls on the borrowers. Unfortunately, 18-year-olds aren’t particularly good at judging the profitability of an investment without expert advice, and when they do get such advice, it generally counsels taking the largest possible loan. The stock of student loans has reached $1 trillion, while the percentage of borrowers in default jumped to 8.8 percent in 2009 from 6.7 percent in 2007.

    Last but not least, these subsidized loans keep afloat colleges that do not add much value for their students, preventing people from accumulating useful skills.

    I do not want to suggest that helping underprivileged students attend college is bad. A true free-market system equalizes opportunities, if not for fairness, at least for efficiency: talent should not be wasted.

    The best way to fix this inefficiency is to address the root of the problem: most bright students do not have any collateral and cannot easily pledge their future income. Yet the venture-capital industry has shown that the private sector can do a good job at financing new ventures with no collateral. So why can’t they finance bright students?

    Investors could finance students’ education with equity rather than debt. In exchange for their capital, the investors would receive a fraction of a student’s future income – or, even better, a fraction of the increase in her income that derives from college attendance. (This increase can be easily calculated as the difference between the actual income and the average income of high school graduates in the same area.)

    This is not a modern form of indentured servitude, but a voluntary form of taxation, one that would make only the beneficiaries of a college education – not all taxpayers – pay for the costs of it.

    Equity contracts would diversify the risk of failure, with highly compensated superstars helping to finance the educations of less successful college graduates. They will also avoid pushing graduates into lucrative jobs just to pay off debt. Most important, these contracts would provide financiers with an incentive to counsel students wisely, as financiers would profit from good educational investments and lose from bad ones. This would create more informed demand for the schools, exerting pressure on them to contain costs and improve quality.

    That’s right, if we to ensure that “talent isn’t wasted”, what we need to get is get all of our talented betters (i.e. folks with lots of money) to start directly “investing” in the next generation. For a profit, of course. So not only will we be able to pay for all those kiddies’ college educations, but those bright, aspiring students will get all that wisdom and guidance passed down to them from their “investors”. Granted, some areas of study might suffer as as result of this wise guidance. But think of all the valuable “School of Life”-lessons that would be passed down!

    Who says austerity can’t be expansionary. I feel my mind expanding already just thinking about this wiser AND cheaper world ahead of us.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2012, 10:54 am
  3. The possibilities are endless. I can envision a ‘penny stock’ segment for this market, where those who can’t afford to invest in, say, a medical student, can still subsidize a young woman’s beautician course or a young man’s carpentry instruction and then own a piece of their earnings for years out. There is income to be squeezed all around us if you have the eyes to see!

    Posted by Dwight | June 16, 2012, 3:31 am
  4. @Dwight:
    It looks like Louisiana might be showing us one of the future trends in the “squeezing profits in any way conceivable from education”-trend. I’m grimly fascinated to see what Bible-based math looks like. 1 + 1 = Liberals destroy global prosperity, apparently:

    Louisiana’s bold bid to privatize schools

    By Stephanie Simon

    June 1 | Fri Jun 1, 2012 6:04pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Louisiana is embarking on the nation’s boldest experiment in privatizing public education, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children.

    Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.

    The following year, students of any income will be eligible for mini-vouchers that they can use to pay a range of private-sector vendors for classes and apprenticeships not offered in traditional public schools. The money can go to industry trade groups, businesses, online schools and tutors, among others.

    Every time a student receives a voucher of either type, his local public school will lose a chunk of state funding.

    BIBLE-BASED MATH BOOKS

    The concept of opening public schools to competition from the private sector has been widely promoted in recent years by well-funded education reform groups.

    Of the plans so far put forward, Louisiana’s plan is by far the broadest. This month, eligible families, including those with incomes nearing $60,000 a year, are submitting applications for vouchers to state-approved private schools.

    That list includes some of the most prestigious schools in the state, which offer a rich menu of advanced placement courses, college-style seminars and lush grounds. The top schools, however, have just a handful of slots open. The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, for instance, has said it will accept just four voucher students, all kindergartners. As elsewhere, they will be picked in a lottery.

    Far more openings are available at smaller, less prestigious religious schools, including some that are just a few years old and others that have struggled to attract tuition-paying students.

    The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.

    The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.

    At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.

    “We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children,” Carrier said.

    Other schools approved for state-funded vouchers use social studies texts warning that liberals threaten global prosperity; Bible-based math books that don’t cover modern concepts such as set theory; and biology texts built around refuting evolution.

    NO FISCAL ANALYSIS

    Officials have not estimated the price tag of these programs but expect the state will save money in the long run, because they believe the private sector can educate kids more cheaply than public schools.

    Whether those savings will materialize is unclear.

    By law, the value of each voucher can’t exceed the sum the state would spend educating that child in public school — on average, $8,800 a year. Small private schools often charge as little as $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

    Yet at some private schools with low tuition, administrators contacted by Reuters said they would also ask the state to cover additional, unspecified fees, which would bring the cost to taxpayers close to the $8,800 cap. The law requires the state to cover both tuition and fees.

    Here’s an additional cost savings approach: why bother having separate text books for different subjects when you could just have one text book used for every class in every grade. I’m pretty sure you could get it past the state boards of education:

    NY Times
    Texas School Board Set to Vote Textbook Revisions

    By MICHAEL BRICK
    Published: May 20, 2010

    AUSTIN, Tex. – After facing months of protest, conservative members of the Texas Board of Education were expected Thursday night to vote to teach schoolchildren a version of American history that emphasizes the roles of capitalist enterprise, the military, Christianity and modern Republican political figures.

    The scheduled vote was a preliminary tally, with the final vote by the same group planned for Friday.

    The decision, expected to fall largely along the party lines – the board has 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats – followed tens of thousands of public comments, a protest rally and a daylong hearing where about 200 speakers addressed the board.

    By sheer force of its population size, Texas has long held outsize influence on national textbook publishers, some of whom sent curriculum writers to take notes in the boardroom.

    Last year, conservatives on the board changed the state science curriculum to undermine the teaching of evolution, cell formation and the Big Bang.

    While many of the changes to the science curriculum used coded language to advance conservative principles, some additions to the history standards were more overtly political. Board members planned to add language requiring high school students of the civil rights movement to “describe the role of individuals such as governors George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox and groups, including the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats, that sought to maintain the status quo.

    In another passage, the board would require students to explain the roles of “Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association.”

    By the time of the vote on Thursday, conservatives on the board had already outlined their intentions in broad strokes.

    Oh well, at least Louisiana’s legislators aren’t entirely clueless about the dangers of religion clouding educational curriculums. Concepts like blatant, overwhelming hypocrisy might still elude them, as well as the oxymoronic nature of fundamentalist religious “education”, but you can’t say the dangers of mixing religion and education are entirely lost on these folks.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 16, 2012, 9:10 pm
  5. Note the overwhelming support in the state legislature for Lousiana’s new education privatization scheme. Not enough votes? Eh, whatever:

    $3.4B school funding plan gets final passage
    Jun 4, 2012 1:23pm

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – The Louisiana House gave final legislative passage Monday to a $3.4 billion elementary and secondary school spending plan, without reaching the number of votes usually needed to approve a bill.

    House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, decided that since the multibillion-dollar spending plans were contained in a legislative resolution, they didn’t require the 53 votes needed to pass a bill. Instead, Kleckley said the measure required support of a majority of those House members present and voting.

    With that decision, the House’s 51-49 vote on the last day of the legislative session gave the funding formula a final OK. A day earlier, the Senate passed the measure in a 24-15 vote, above the number needed to pass a bill.

    The formula covers state spending for Louisiana’s 70 public school districts and for other educational programs involving nearly 700,000 students.

    The Jindal administration urged passage of the spending plans. They will fund the governor’s newly created statewide voucher program that funnels tax dollars toward private and parochial school tuition for students who otherwise would attend low-performing public schools.

    The voucher spending and a change to charter school funding in parishes under federal desegregation orders were expected to bring court challenges, possibly along with complaints about the vote threshold used for passage in the House.

    “Know that it’s going to be in court,” said Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Napoleonville, an opponent of the legislation.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 17, 2012, 5:51 pm
  6. The GOP isn’t shepherding us into facsism, they’re merely offering vaguely outlined “comprehensive systemic change”. And whether or not the US public embraces this bold new vision will be heavily dependent on the fate of the eurozone. And that will largely be a function of how the public inteprets and digests all the valuable lessons encapsulated in the collapse of the European welfare state. A vote for Romney is a vote for a radical response to the ever more evident lessons of the eurozone crisis that the welfare state is an unsustainable luxury during an era of necessary austerity. We neew a replacement of the New Deal social contract with a new New Deal that places favors risk over security, effort over comfort, and innovation over stability. Security, comfort, and stability are just not affordable in our hi-tech economy (curse you Science!). This Newer Deal that phases out the safety-net for upcoming generations and privatizes education is needed to save the children. Think of the children!

    Anyways, that’s a meme getting pushed right now:

    Op-Ed Columnist
    What Republicans Think
    By DAVID BROOKS
    Published: June 14, 2012

    Democrats frequently ask me why the Republicans have become so extreme. As they describe the situation, they usually fall back on some sort of illness metaphor. Republicans have a mania. President Obama has said that Republicans have a “fever” that he hopes will break if he is re-elected.

    I guess I’d say Republicans don’t have an illness; they have a viewpoint. Let me describe it this way: In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower reconciled Republicans to the 20th-century welfare state. Between Ike and George W. Bush, Republican leaders basically accepted that model. Sure, they wanted to cut taxes and devolve power, but, in practice, they sustained the system, often funding it more lavishly than the Democrats.

    But many Republicans have now come to the conclusion that the welfare-state model is in its death throes. Yuval Levin expressed the sentiment perfectly in a definitive essay for The Weekly Standard called “Our Age of Anxiety”:

    “We have a sense that the economic order we knew in the second half of the 20th century may not be coming back at all – that we have entered a new era for which we have not been well prepared. … We are, rather, on the cusp of the fiscal and institutional collapse of our welfare state, which threatens not only the future of government finances but also the future of American capitalism.”

    To Republican eyes, the first phase of that collapse is playing out right now in Greece, Spain and Italy – cosseted economies, unmanageable debt, rising unemployment, falling living standards.

    America’s economic stagnation is just more gradual. In the decades after World War II, the U.S. economy grew by well over 3 percent a year, on average. But, since then, it has failed to keep pace with changing realities. The average growth was a paltry 1.7 percent annually between 2000 and 2009. It averaged 0.6 percent growth between 2009 and 2011. Wages have failed to keep up with productivity. Family net worth is back at the same level it was at 20 years ago.

    In America as in Europe, Republicans argue, the welfare state is failing to provide either security or dynamism. The safety net is so expensive it won’t be there for future generations. Meanwhile, the current model shifts resources away from the innovative sectors of the economy and into the bloated state-supported ones, like health care and education. Successive presidents have layered on regulations and loopholes, creating a form of state capitalism in which big businesses thrive because they have political connections and small businesses struggle.

    The welfare model favors security over risk, comfort over effort, stability over innovation. Money that could go to schools and innovation must now go to pensions and health care. This model, which once offered insurance from the disasters inherent in capitalism, has now become a giant machine for redistributing money from the future to the elderly.

    This is the source of Republican extremism: the conviction that the governing model is obsolete. It needs replacing.

    Mitt Romney hasn’t put it this way. He wants to keep the focus on President Obama. But this worldview is implied in his (extremely vague) proposals. He would structurally reform the health care system, moving toward a more market-based system. He would simplify the tax code. He would reverse 30 years of education policy, decentralizing power and increasing parental choice. The intention is the same, to create a model that will spark an efficiency explosion, laying the groundwork for an economic revival.

    Obama championed targeted subsidies and tax credits. Republicans, meanwhile, envision comprehensive systemic change. The G.O.P. vision is of an entirely different magnitude: replace the tax code, replace the health care system and transform entitlements.

    This is what this election is about: Is the 20th-century model obsolete, or does it just need rebalancing? Is Obama oblivious to this historical moment or are Republicans overly radical, risky and impractical?

    Republicans and Democrats have different perceptions about how much change is needed. I suspect the likely collapse of the European project will profoundly influence which perception the country buys this November.

    Krugman has a post from early 2011 that has some particularly relevant observations related to this meme:

    NY Times
    January 10, 2011, 12:03 pm
    Economics and Morality

    Mark Thoma directs me to Eric Schoeneberg, who argues that the right is winning economic debates because people believe, wrongly, that there’s something inherently moral about free-market outcomes. My guess is that this is only part of the story; there’s more than a bit of Ayn Randism on the right, but there’s also the appeal of simplicity: goldbuggism is intellectually easy, Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it.

    Still, Schoeneberg is right about the tendency to ascribe moral value to market values, and the need for a counter-narrative. I’m going to think about that; but right now, let me describe how I see the US income distribution in terms of justice or the lack thereof.

    The first thing one should say is that our system does reward hard work, up to a point. Other things equal, those who put more in will earn more.

    But a lot of other things are, in fact, not remotely equal. These days, America is the advanced nation with the least social mobility (pdf), except possibly for Britain. Access to good schools, good health care, and job opportunities depends on lot on choosing the right parents.

    So when you hear conservatives talk about how our goal should be equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes, your first response should be that if they really believe in equality of opportunity, they must be in favor of radical changes in American society. For our society does not, in fact, produce anything like equal opportunity (in part because it produces such unequal outcomes). Tell me how you’re going to produce a huge improvement in the quality of public schools, how you’re going to provide universal health care (for parents as well as children, because parents in bad health affect childrens’ prospects), and then come back to me about the equal chances at the starting line thing.

    Now, inequality of opportunity is only one reason for the inequality in outcomes we actually see. But of what remains, how much reflects individual effort, how much reflects talent, and how much sheer luck? No reasonable person would deny that there’s a lot of luck involved. Wall Street titans are, no doubt, smart guys (although talking to some of them, you have to wonder…), but there are surely equally smart guys who for whatever reason never got a chance to grab the 9-figure brass ring.

    So economics is not a morality play; the social and economic order we have doesn’t represent the playing out of some kind of deep moral principles.

    That doesn’t mean the order we have should be overthrown: the pursuit of Utopia, of perfect economic justice, has proved to be the road to hell, while welfare-state capitalism – a market economy with its rough edges smoothed by a strong safety net – has produced the most decent societies ever known The point, though, is that anyone who claims that transferring some income from the most fortunate members of society to the least is a vile injustice is closing his eyes to the obvious reality of how the world works.

    Yep, the proposed new social contract that promises Freeeeedom! is also a system predicated on equal opportunity. It’s an ownership society. It’s so ownership-y that you own all the risk and consequences of your lot in life. Bad lot? Too bad. Safety-nets are so 20th century. This is the safety of voucher-nomics/Romney-nomics. There isn’t a committment by society to provide to provide a basic service. There’s a committment to provide a fixed payment per student per year to a “service-provider” so we can balance a ledger and declare our austere nature. That’s the grand plan to save the future.

    Oh wow, Look, the kids can’t add but at least we managed to cut state and local spending drastically

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    And this.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 17, 2012, 9:40 pm
  7. Continuing destabilization of Obama by Germans and Romney?

    “German finance minister publicly rebuffs US president”

    http://wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/scha-j27.shtml

    Posted by ironcloudz | June 27, 2012, 10:13 am
  8. Way to, uh, raise the bar Florida. This just might be the craziest story coming out of Rick Scott’s administration we’ve seen so far:

    Updated: 6:10 p.m. Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Posted: 10:52 a.m. Sunday, July 8, 2012
    Worst TB outbreak in 20 years kept secret
    State rushes closure of its only TB hospital in Lantana

    By Stacey Singer

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    JACKSONVILLE –

    The CDC officer had a serious warning for Florida health officials in April: A tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville was one of the worst his group had investigated in 20 years. Linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, including six children, it would require concerted action to stop.

    That report had been penned on April 5, exactly nine days after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that shrank the Department of Health and required the closure of the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, where tough tuberculosis cases have been treated for more than 60 years.

    As health officials in Tallahassee turned their focus to restructuring, Dr. Robert Luo’s 25-page report describing Jacksonville’s outbreak – and the measures needed to contain it – went unseen by key decision makers around the state. At the health agency, an order went out that the TB hospital must be closed six months ahead of schedule.

    Had they seen the letter, decision makers would have learned that 3,000 people in the past two years may have had close contact with contagious people at Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic and area jails. Yet only 253 people had been found and evaluated for TB infection, meaning Florida’s outbreak was, and is, far from contained.

    The public was not to learn anything until early June, even though the same strain was appearing in other parts of the state, including Miami.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2012, 11:23 am
  9. And here I always thought Skynet or some other man-made aritifical intelligence would destroy humanity. It turns simple numbers stored on computers will do the job. No intelligence is required:

    Financial Times
    July 11, 2012 12:02 pm
    Current debt crisis merely a warm-up act

    By Jamil Baz

    It is sometimes possible to believe that suffering is worthwhile, a way of paying for past sins. In this light, the age of austerity in which we supposedly live has a sort of redemptive quality. Grit our teeth and we’ll come out the other side, purified and ready for robust economic recovery.

    However, after five years, we are in a worse place than when we started. One would have thought that the recent deleveraging caused debt ratios to collapse. Yet, after the financial maelstrom of the past five years, debt ballooned to a weighted average of 417 per cent of gross domestic product from 381 per cent in June 2007 in the 11 economies most under the market microscope.

    Strikingly, in each of Canada, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Portugal, the UK and the US, the ratio of total (public and private) debt to gross domestic product is now higher than it was in 2007.

    There are variations, and it is notable that debt in the US has increased the least, from 332 per cent of GDP five years ago to 340 per cent today – although we shouldn’t draw too much consolation from that, as the statistics do not include social entitlements such as Medicare or Social Security. Add in these off-balance sheet items and the ratios would look much worse.

    Deleveraging is proving impossible to execute. The world is still staggering under a mountain of debt, the costs of which extinguish the “animal spirits” which ought by now to be coming to the rescue. Based on this analysis, we can make five predictions.

    First, as deleveraging has not even started yet, the crisis of the world economy has not begun either. All the perceived unpleasantness of the past few years is merely a warm-up act for the greater crisis still to come. The need to get debt levels down is as pronounced as ever in the eurozone, particularly in southern Europe, but also in the US and Japan.

    Second, it will take a minimum of 15 years or so for the economy to reach escape velocity and attain a level consistent with healthy growth scenarios. This is because debt levels need to come down by at least 150 per cent of GDP in most countries. History suggests you cannot reduce debt by more than 10 percentage points a year without unleashing major social and political dislocation.

    Third, when we do finally start cutting our debt, the economic impact will be massive. Countries such as Japan and the US need to increase their primary balance by more than 10 points of GDP, in order to stabilise the ratio of public debt to GDP to 2007 levels: considering negative feedback loops between deficit cuts and growth, each stands to lose more than 20 per cent of GDP against trend.

    The fifth point is that there is no magic bullet. In the past, policy makers had various instruments to cushion the impact of measures taken to stabilise debt levels: they could cut interest rates, for example, or allow their exchange rates to fall, leading to export-driven recovery. But in an era of low or zero interest rates, with most countries competing to devalue their?currencies,?such policy tools have lost effectiveness, hence the high multiplier.

    In the words of an old Austrian adage, the situation is hopeless, but not serious. It is not serious, as politicians simply fail to acknowledge the elephant in the room, namely leverage, introducing instead a succession of policy gimmicks. It is hopeless, in that virtue is not likely to be rewarded for a generation.

    Sorry kids, the world is going to suck even more than usual for the next generation or so. We’re doing this for your own good. We may have created money, but now it now rules us and we have no choice. Sorry about that. We can’t simply print more and give it away. There are these little magic digits sitting in computers somewhere and they need to be balanced and we’re told that the only way to possibly balance them is to drastically cut spending on things like your education and future. Otherwise the world will explode or something. We hope you understand.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2012, 10:59 am
  10. Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 3, 2012, 7:51 pm
  11. Romneynomics for the 100%: A preview in pictures. A preview in prose. A preview in preparations. And, last, but certainly not least, a preview in Paul.

    It’s mourning morning in America and it’s looking like it’s going to be a bright shiny day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 25, 2012, 8:04 am
  12. Wow: private prison companies using gangs like the Aryan Knights to keep the rest of the prisoners in control in order to achieve an ideological goal (of making more money no matter what the costs)…that kind of sounds a bit like terrorism. State-sanctioned privatized terrorism:

    APNewsBreak: Idaho inmates claim gangs run prison
    By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A gang war that appears to have taken over parts of an Idaho private prison is spilling into the federal courts, with some inmates contending prison officials are ceding control to gang leaders in an effort to save money on staffing.

    Eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center are suing the Corrections Corporation of America, contending the company is working with a few powerful prison gangs to control the facility south of Boise.

    The lawsuit, filed Friday in Boise’s U.S. District Court, paints the prison as a place where correctional officers work in fear of angering inmate gang members and where housing supervisors ask permission from gang leaders before moving anyone new into an empty cell. The inmates also contend that CCA officials use gang violence and the threat of gang violence as an “inexpensive device to gain control over the inmate population,” according to the lawsuit, and that housing gang members together allows the company to use fewer guards, reducing payroll costs.

    “The complaint alleges that CCA fosters and develops criminal gangs,” attorney Wyatt Johnson, who along with T.J. Angstman represents the inmates, said in a statement. “Ideally, the lawsuit should force this to come to an end.”

    The inmates point to investigative reports from the Idaho Department of Correction that suggest gangs like the Aryan Knights and the Severely Violent Criminals were able to wrest control from staff members after prison officials began housing members of the same gangs together in some cellblocks to reduce violent clashes.

    The power shift meant a prison staffer had to negotiate the placement of new inmates with gang leaders, according to the department reports, and that prison guards were afraid to enforce certain rules.

    Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison company, says its top priority is the safety and security of its prisons, employees and inmates.

    One wonders how this bold form of cost savings works when it’s applied outside of a prison setting. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 19, 2012, 11:05 am
  13. Something to consider while the US lawmakers engage in a discussion over what to do about expiring Bush tax-cuts on the wealthy and how many cuts should be made in the entitlements: The US Commerce Department just reported record profits for US corporations in the third quarter. How unexpected.

    And speaking of unexpected developments…this isn’t one of them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 4, 2012, 1:49 pm
  14. It’s sort of beating a dead horse at this point to note that the GOP is intent on destroying the economy for ideological reasons, but when you’re dealing with a dead horse of the ‘zombie’ variety, you don’t really have a choice:

    TPM
    Editor’s Blog
    Destroying The Village Just Because

    Brian Beutler January 4, 2013, 10:25 AM

    Basically good-if-not great news throughout today’s payroll report from the Department of Labor. My basic breakdown is here. But I also want to emphasize that it, and basically all recent economic data, underscores the folly of a new debt limit fight.

    Obviously I’m not saying that playing games with the debt ceiling would be legitimate way for Republicans to extract political concessions if the economy weren’t recovering, or if it were recovering more slowly. But at least they’d have a pretense to argue that the country required immediate policy changes to address an existing economic crisis.

    The fact that we’re actually recovering from an economic crisis gives the lie to the whole debt limit hostage-taking project. It’s not about rescuing the economy from policies that are inhibiting growth right now. It’s about a nihilistic willingness to destroy actual growth in order to make progress on longer-term ideological goals.

    Like their human zombie counterparts, zombie horses have an insatiable appetite for brains. The craving are thought to be related to their lack of a functioning one and, on some level, they realize this and it hurts their zombie sensibilities. Poor dears. Zombies, you see, have existential crises too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 4, 2013, 8:57 am
  15. It looks like the GOP is finally realizing that a party “rebranding” as a kinder, gentler GOP might be in order. Apparently, it no longer sells to be the socioeconomic suicide bombers for austerity-obsessed billionaires:

    Analysis: Even brief spending cuts could hit U.S. economy hard

    By Jason Lange

    WASHINGTON | Wed Feb 6, 2013 6:53pm EST

    (Reuters) – The U.S. economy could take a big hit from automatic government spending cuts even if Congress only leaves them in place for a month or two.

    The cuts were meant to be so painful that they would force Congress to find a more thoughtful way to tighten the budget.

    But many analysts assume they will take effect as scheduled, forcing federal offices to furlough some of their 2.8 million workers and trim spending on everything from paper clips to missiles.

    It is anyone’s guess, however, how long lawmakers will be able to stomach the economic pain. The duration of the austerity measures will determine the force of the blow to the economy. Some analysts think having the cuts in place for more than a few months could trigger a brief recession.

    Pentagon officials have said up to 800,000 of the military’s civilian employees would work one less day a week because of the cuts.

    The Air Force said it would have to curtail orders for Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter jet and delay a new version of the MQ-9 Reaper drone being built by privately held General Atomics.

    Congress has been scrambling to find a way to postpone the budget cuts, but has shown little sign of progress.

    Most Wall Street banks expect the cuts, known as the “sequester” in Washington parlance, to take effect at least briefly.

    Uh oh, the GOP’s insistence on deep spending cuts might tank the economy. Let’s see what type of new slogan the party might be pondering to counter this negative image:

    TPM
    Tom Cole: GOP Prefers Deep Defense Cuts To Any Revenue

    Sahil Kapur February 5, 2013, 4:48 PM

    There’s no way in the world House Republicans would agree to raise any new revenue in order to avoid the upcoming automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, a senior GOP lawmaker said Tuesday afternoon.

    I’m all against raising any additional revenue on this. Look, these are written into law,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a deputy majority whip, told TPM between votes. Cole said there are other, preferable ways to make the sequester cuts that he is open to, but new revenue will not be part of the equation.

    “We just had additional revenue for the federal government, so I don’t see any way in the world the sequester won’t happen either as written or renegotiated or reallocated cuts. But I don’t see any revenue coming in the picture.”

    His comments, which echo the hardline position articulated by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently, came shortly after President Obama’s televised remarks Tuesday afternoon calling on Congress to “delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months” if it cannot agree to a comprehensive solution by the March 1 deadline.

    The sequestration cuts, passed in the 2011 debt limit law, slash domestic and defense spending programs across the board by roughly $1 trillion over 10 years. Congress delayed them until March in the fiscal cliff agreement. Now Republicans, apparently having reached their limit on new revenues, are determined to stonewall Democrats’ efforts to replace the sequester cuts with a mix of revenue via closing tax loopholes and targeted spending cuts.

    The GOP’s negotiating stance is a dramatic shift from their position just months ago, when party leaders characterized the defense cuts as unacceptable and deeply damaging to the military. Back in October, Cole himself warned that “the military will face devastating spending cuts accompanied by massive lay-offs to the defense industry” if the sequester is not averted. The turnaround came last month as Republicans began folding on battles involving the fiscal cliff and debt limit, at which point Boehner told the Wall Street Journal that the sequester is “as much leverage as we’re going to get” in forcing Democrats to accept substantial domestic spending cuts.

    Cole said Republicans are concerned about the sequester and noted that the House passed a GOP bill last year to replace it – with deep cuts to domestic programs that largely benefit low-income Americans. He likened the situation to the fiscal cliff predicament, but with Republicans holding the leverage this time.

    Hmmm…so the new “kinder, gentler” GOP is going to demand on no tax likes for billionaires but they’d certainly be open to gutting defense spending or deep cuts in programs that help the poor. The Party of Peace and Poverty does kind of have a ring to it. Perhaps “The Party of Principled Flexibility” might resonate more. Yes, they’re still the party of, by, and for billionaires because, you know, a party’s got to have principals principles, but it’s not like they’re only into cutting programs for the poor. This might work, but they’re going to have to show a little more flexibility if they really want to win back wavering voters. Sometimes, successful rebrandings require a classic:

    Washington Post
    U.S. should sell assets like gold to get out of debt, conservative economists say

    By Joel Achenbach, Published: May 15, 2011

    With the United States poised to slam into its debt limit Monday, conservative economists are eyeballing all that gold in Fort Knox. There’s about 147 million ounces of gold parked in the legendary vault. Gold is selling at nearly $1,500 an ounce. That’s many billions of dollars in bullion.

    “It’s just sort of sitting there,” said Ron Utt, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “Given the high price it is now, and the tremendous debt problem we now have, by all means, sell at the peak.”

    But that’s cockamamie, declares the Obama administration. Mary J. Miller, Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial markets, said the U.S. should sell assets in an orderly, “well-telegraphed” manner, not in a “fire sale” atmosphere with a debt limit deadline accelerating the process.

    “It would be bad for the taxpayers. It would be bad for the markets,” Miller said.

    Another senior administration official, not authorized to speak for attribution, described the situation more bluntly: “Selling off the gold is just one level of crazy away from selling Mount Rushmore.”

    The United States may have run up a huge debt, but it is not a poor country by any stretch of the imagination. The federal government owns roughly 650 million acres of land, close to a third of the nation’s total land mass. Plus a million buildings. Plus electrical utilities like the Tennessee Valley Authority. And an interstate highway system.

    Economists of a conservative or libertarian bent have long argued that the federal government needs to get out of certain businesses, unload unneeded assets, and privatize such functions as passenger rail service and air traffic control. No one advocates selling Yellowstone, but why, some economists ask, should the federal government be in the electricity business?

    Economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute said the federal government should consider the sale of interstate highways. Motorists would have to pay tolls to the private owners, he said, but the roads would likely be in better shape. Federal, state and local governments could raise hundreds of billions of dollars through highway privatization, he said.

    “Many of the world’s roads were originally built as toll roads, so it would hardly be revolutionary to return to that model,” Hassett said. “If it can work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?”

    The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday released a plan for balancing the budget that did not include tax increases, but did include a proposal to sell $260 billion in federal assets over 15 years. The plan does not specify the assets. It refers to “partial sales of federal properties, real estate, mineral rights, the electromagnetic spectrum, and energy-generation facilities.”

    “We’re not going to say we’re going to sell off the Smithsonian and the Capitol. We would not propose that anyway. There’s no specific building that we would point to,” said Alison Fraser, head of the Economic Policy Studies department at Heritage.

    That’s right, the GOP could just roll out one of its ideas of yesteryear: turn the country into a giant fire sale! Everyone likes a sale, right? Especially if they’ve seen their incomes stagnate for decades. But one thing the GOP definitely doesn’t want to do if it pursues the privatization path: don’t hold our national fire sale in secret, otherwise what’s the point? In other words, don’t do what Florida does. That’s generally good advice:

    Mother Jones
    Florida Republicans’ Plan to Block Out the Sunshine

    —By Adam Weinstein
    | Sat Jan. 21, 2012 3:00 AM PST

    In their longstanding fight to privatize the state’s prison system—and a lot of other public services—Republican lawmakers in Florida are trying a new angle: doing it in secret.

    Proposed Committee Bill 7170, introduced Tuesday in the GOP-dominated state legislature, aims to prevent “information relating to the outsourcing or privatization of an agency function” from being reported to the voting public “until after the contract for such functions is executed.” In other words, taxpayers wouldn’t get to know about government work turned over to a contractor until after the contract has been signed. The bill is expected to come to a floor vote later in the recently convened spring session; with Republicans holding supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature and Rick Scott sitting in the governor’s office, it could become law by this summer.

    Actually, given that mass privatizations won’t really help average Americans avoid plunging further into personal debt, there is one instance where the GOP may want to follow the Florida example. Clearly, there are no easy answers. Good luck with your rebranding GOP!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2013, 8:48 pm
  16. Stupid? Evil? How about both?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 7, 2013, 10:51 am
  17. That Paul Ryan seems like such a nice young man:

    Slate
    Will Paul Ryan Cut Spending on the Elderly?

    By Matthew Yglesias

    Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 11:43 AM

    It looks like the Republican leadership is starting to wrestle with the problems inherent in their promise to find a way to balance the budget over ten years with all spending cuts. In particular, it turns out that they might need to cut spending on programs that benefit people who are old right now.

    Here’s the basic dilemma. Normally when Republicans want to cut spending they want to cut it right away. Sequestration reduces the amount of money available to provide healthy food to low-income pregnant women and their newborn children right now. And that’s the part of sequestration Republicans like. They want to replace the part that cuts spending on the military with immediate reductions in other spending designed to boost the living standards of poor people. But the government’s biggest domestic programs—Social Security and Medicare—are targeted at the elderly, and since older cohorts are whiter and more intolerant of gays and lesbians the core of the GOP electoral coalition is older Americans.

    Consequently their recent budgets have included important exceptions to the principle of spending cuts right away. Their promise is that if you’re getting Social Security or Medicare today, your benefits will never be reduced by one red cent. In fact, your benefits will never be cut as long as you’re lucky enough to have been born before 1958. The idea is that someone who’s 57 today can vote Republican, see Paul Ryan’s budget pass, and then be relaxing thirty years from now at the age of 87 still enjoying full Social Security and Medicare benefits.

    It’s a sweet deal, but it means that the cuts to the parts of the budget that aren’t Social Security and Medicare would have be really extreme to balance the budget within ten years. Looking it over, Ryan is reportedly coming to the conclusion that he might need to trim the scope of that exemption from cuts and make people born in the mid-fifties bear some pain. This is—rightly—making Republicans from more marginal House seats nervous. The politics of present-day conservative budgeting hinge entirely on persuading old people that draconian cuts to programs for old people can be implemented without taking anything away from the people who are already old. Anything that calls that into question is very dangerous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2013, 9:40 am
  18. LOL, Paul Ryan was rolling out the details for his ‘new‘ 10 year budget proposal this morning. He had a bit of a verbal accident, though. He accidentally told the truth:

    The Hill
    Ryan: ‘We are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system’
    By Adele Hampton – 03/12/13 01:36 PM ET

    During the unveiling of his new budget proposal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made a slip of the tongue while railing against President Obama’s healthcare law.

    “This is something we will not give up on because we are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system for the American people,” Ryan accidentally said.

    Some who were watching his speech were quick to pounce on the gaffe, taking to Twitter to point out Ryan’s “Freudian slip,” according to media reports.

    Ryan’s new budget proposal would cut spending by $5.7 trillion, reduce the top tax rate to 25 percent, and balance the budget within 10 years.

    The plan would make profound changes to government, bringing spending down from 22.2 percent of the economy to 19.1 percent by 2023. It doubles down on many of the proposals Ryan advanced as his party’s vice presidential candidate in 2012.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 12, 2013, 2:02 pm
  19. Fans of Russian Roulette will love the special “DC” rules. It’s WAY more deadly, but its deadly for other people so it’s fun. Here’s how you play:
    1. Replace the revolver with a howitzer.
    2. Point the howitzer at a large mass of people. It doesn’t matter what their age it, just lots and lots of people. The more the better.
    3. Now invite a crazed lunatic into the game. Make him an offer…he can either open fire on the crowd now OR he can come back later after you’ve replaced the howitzer with an even BIGGER gun. Nukes are acceptable, but it sort of ruins the game if you jump to them right away.
    4. If the crazed lunatic opens fire, well, game’s over. If the crazed lunatic takes a pass then find a bigger gun and repeat.
    5. The game ends when a bloody massacre occurs.
    6. Optional rule: Instead of ending the game when the bloody massacre occurs, just wait for new people to wander into the playing field and play again

    It’s so exciting! Look, we have this howitzer all set up and here comes a crazed lunatic…what’ll it be? “Fire” or “Bigger”?

    Woohoo, “Bigger” it is!

    Best. Game. Ever.

    Ok, it may not be the BEST game ever. THAT title goes to the “Starve a poor family and blame it on their kids” game. But it’s still pretty sweet.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 5, 2013, 11:32 am
  20. The forces of darkness will apparently never stop until we all the poor see the light. Well, at least a tunnel of light. Bye bye social safety-net. There be monsters afoot and they’re always hungry:

    Salon
    Monday, Jul 8, 2013 01:51 PM CST
    House GOP apparently wants to be even more unpopular
    Instead of immigration reform, they’re now making plans to … privatize Medicare and pass the Paul Ryan budget!
    By Joan Walsh

    With the July 4 holiday behind them, House members might be expected to take up work on the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. But they won’t. They’re looking at piecemeal reforms that will be heavier on border enforcement than the Senate bill – which doubled the number of border control agents, after the border control budget already doubled in size in the last decade — and even nuttier ideas.

    Instead the House GOP is apparently making big plans for another debt ceiling hostage-taking, and this time they’ve got a strategy to demand big budget cuts from President Obama and the Democrats. According to the National Journal, House leaders are working on a “menu” of budget-slashing offers to Obama in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling for a short, medium or long period of time. Their template is Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget – the budget so unjust and biased against the poor that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took time out from restricting women’s rights to criticize the Ryan plan.

    House members reluctantly voted to raise the debt ceiling in January promising to come back with a strengthened hand on behalf of budget cuts next time around (which will probably be the end of this year). So House Speaker John Boehner is reportedly meeting with Ryan and other conservatives like Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who boasted about their talks to the National Journal. The key points:

    For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three-and-a-half years, Obama would have to agree to premium support. The plan to privatize Medicare, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, is the holy grail for conservatives who say major deficit-reduction can only be achieved by making this type of cut to mandatory spending. “If the president wants to go big, there’s a big idea,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

    For a medium-sized increase in the debt-limit, Republicans want Obama to agree to cut spending in the SNAP food stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI.

    For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.

    …Even at the smallest end of the spectrum — another months-long extension of debt-limit — there is talk of pushing back the eligibility age for Social Security by an equal number of months.

    It’s somewhat curious that the “medium-sized” increase in the debt-limit include the options of cuts in the SNAP food stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI. The Ryan plan cuts to SNAP recently passed by the GOP in the House under, for instance, only cut around $20 billion in food aid to poor over the next five years. Whereas Ryan plan to block grant medicaid would cut over $800 billion in aid to the poor over the next decade. That’s $4 billion vs $80 billion per year! Using GOP-logic, shouldn’t $20 billion in food stamp cuts to the poor only be a “small” on the menu? This is a very disappointing “menu”. We should expect better from our monsters.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 8, 2013, 6:52 pm
  21. @Pterrafractyl–

    It is a safe bet that this would appeal to that little fascist “Fast Eddie Snowden,” who wants to eliminate Social Security, return to the gold standard and thinks high unemployment is just ducky.

    Keep a weather eye on the so-called progressive sector as they rag on Obama, part of the destabilization effort I predicted and which is in full swing.

    As always, they have completely missed that “Snowden’s Ride” is fascist. Peter Thiel/Palantir/Cato Institute, Nazi Ron Paul (capitalized by Thiel and an associate of KKK/American Nazi Party crony David Duke), Cato Institute-networked Glenn Greenwald, Nazi-linked Julian Assange (whose associate Joran Jermas is part of a milieu including David Duke, as is Carl Lundstrom, whose servers WikiLeaks uses).

    Great stuff.

    Yeah, the so-called progressive sector can’t be fooled.

    Not more than a half-dozen times before lunch on Friday.

    I noticed that the Egyptian army closed down some Al Jazeera facilities and arrested some of their personnel.

    I’ve discussed Al Jazeera’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood before–it is profound.

    Pacifica Radio features Al Jazeera as a fundamental part of their morning program.

    Yeah, the Muslim Brotherhood is sure a great news source for so-called progressives.

    Small wonder, then, that they wind up with their heads lodged securely between their buttocks.

    Again, keep up your great work!

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | July 8, 2013, 7:43 pm
  22. The GOP’s new social-contract: we’ll help the poor, but only when they’re visibly starving.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 10, 2013, 5:40 pm
  23. So will it be a zombie or vampire future Federal Reserve Chairman Milton Friedman in Rand Paul’s Libertarian Populist paradise?

    Businessweek
    Rand Paul on Republicans’ Voter Appeal and the Federal Reserve
    August 08, 2013

    How seriously are you thinking about the White House?
    At this point we’re thinking about ways to grow the Republican Party and won’t make any decision about whether that involves me running or not for about a year. But I am very serious about making the party more inclusive, making it a party where every ethnic group is welcome. That includes trying to grow our party within the working class. I am going to attempt over the next year or so to expand that appeal to people who I call the not-yet-haves—not the have-nots, but the not-yet-haves—to show them that we are the party of opportunity.

    And what’s going to be a part of that strategy?
    The origins of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement really had some commonality, and that commonality was that government shouldn’t bail out Big Business. It has been a part of the early message of the Tea Party, but the Republican Party hasn’t captured that message. The average guy who’s working class is not real excited about paying taxes and sending it out to bail out a guy who makes $100 million a year. And so I think the Republican message should be that we treat people the same whether you’re a small business person, a working-class guy, or a big bank on Wall Street.

    What are your big achievements in Washington?
    There’s an emergence of a new wing of the Republican Party that’s concerned not only with economic liberty but with personal liberty and with having a less aggressive foreign policy. So it’s providing people with an avenue to support a wing of the Republican Party that didn’t really, frankly, have much representation before 2010.

    You’re a big reader of Austrian economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who don’t believe in stimulus and say the economy can return to health only through austerity.
    You can stimulate prosperity by leaving more money in the hands of those who earn it. If you want to stimulate the economy in Louisville, leave more money in Louisville and send less to Washington. My plan has a 17 percent flat tax with very few deductions, and it would leave $600 billion in the economy. But it would work better than a government stimulus because of the Milton Friedman proposition that nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as they spend their own. I think you’d have a boom like you’ve never seen in this country.

    Who would your ideal Fed chairman be?
    Hayek would be good, but he’s deceased.

    Nondead Fed chairman.
    Friedman would probably be pretty good, too, and he’s not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have.

    Dead, too.
    Yeah. Let’s just go with dead, because then you probably really wouldn’t have much of a functioning Federal Reserve.

    It will be quite a coup for the far-right if the US has to spend to next couple of decades constantly oscillating between presidents and congresses that either want to appoint someone to run the Fed or end it. If Reagan’s Libertarian Revolution wasn’t pure enough to get the job done perhaps the Rand revolution will do.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2013, 10:41 pm
  24. The sooner you teach malnourished children that they have no value in society the sooner those children will spontaneously learn how to create value by pulling themselves up from their own bootstraps! It’s just the right thing to do:

    Politico
    House GOP seeks cuts in food stamps

    By DAVID ROGERS | 9/16/13 4:52 PM EDT Updated: 9/17/13 2:33 PM EDT

    New independent estimates Monday night show that as many as 3.8 million people would lose their food stamp benefits in 2014 under a House Republican plan to tighten eligibility and end state waivers for able-bodied adults who are unemployed.

    The Congressional Budget Office numbers paint a darker picture than the GOP has admitted to thus far. The contradictions – which continued to play out Monday afternoon — add to the tensions surrounding what is already a bitter fight over the nutrition title of the House farm bill.

    According to the CBO, 1.7 million people would be forced off the rolls in the coming year if the state waivers are repealed as proposed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Another 2.1 million would be dropped in 2014 as a result of the tighter eligibility rules backed by the GOP.

    In both cases, the impact would decline as the economy improves and more jobs become available. But on average, CBO estimates that a total of 2.8 million people would lose their benefits over the next decade, and another 850,000 households will see an average reduction of about $90 a month in benefits.

    The net 10-year savings for the government would be approximately $39 billion, nearly double what was first recommended by the House Agriculture Committee in June and far in excess of what the full Senate has approved.

    Nonetheless, Cantor has been the driving force behind the 109-page substitute nutrition tile — even at the risk of the larger farm bill. The whole legislative process is quite extraordinary with the Virginian operating as almost a committee of one.

    Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) retains jurisdiction and is listed as the sponsor on documents filed with the House Monday afternoon. But Cantor and his staff have dominated the preparation, and their work product will go to the House floor without ever being subject to any real legislative markup.

    Toward this end, the House Rules Committee announced it will meet on the nutrition bill Wednesday in anticipation of votes by the end of the week. Whip counts suggest it will be a closely-fought contest given the strength of the Democratic opposition. And the severity of the cuts is also causing concern among rank-and-file Republicans with low-income rural communities in their districts.

    Mothers with preschool children would face tougher work requirements. At the same time, the CBO score suggests that some of the most-contentious pilot programs in the package could end up adding to federal costs — not savings.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 18, 2013, 8:08 am
  25. Well here’s an uplifting sounding story: Kevin Cramer, North Dakota’s lone representative, recently had an interview with TheHill.com, where he took issue with the GOP’s negative messaging and suggested that the Tea Party rhetoric had hurt the party’s image by not being upbeat and compassionate enough on social issues and immigration:

    The Hill
    Rep. Cramer, a loyal Republican, is wary of Tea Party’s masterminds
    By Blake Neff – 09/06/13 06:00 AM ET

    Kevin Cramer finally made it to Washington through sheer perseverance. Politics is rarely kind to candidates who lose repeatedly, but Cramer is the exception to the rule.

    Cramer has been battling in the political arena for most of his adult life, but as a young man he had different aspirations. Raised in a mainline Lutheran church, Cramer attended Concordia College in Minnesota and planned to become a minister. That plan fell out of favor as he felt the church’s beliefs and his own diverging (he is now an evangelical), but Cramer still speaks much as a minister would. He refers to public service as a “vocation” rather than a career, and uses Martin Luther’s doctrine of a “priesthood of all believers” to describe it as just another form of ministry.

    “People cringe sometimes when I talk like this, but it’s just my heart,” Cramer said. “I really see the vocation of politics like I see every vocation, whether it’s being a reporter or serving in public life or being a plumber, as an extension of ministry.”

    The ongoing oil boom has boosted Cramer’s status in Washington, where he is eager to promote his state as a model for the rest of the nation.

    “Eric Sevareid, the famous CBS newsman of the Vietnam War era, once called North Dakota ‘the large, rectangular blank spot on the nation’s mind,’ ” Cramer says. “I always say now we’re the rectangular stage under the nation’s spotlight.”

    As North Dakota’s only representative, Cramer says he feels more like a “third senator,” which brings extra attention at home and extra responsibility in the capital. He serves on the Natural Resources and Science, Space, and Technology committees, where he is an avid proponent of energy development and the Keystone XL pipeline. During the August recess, he brought House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R- Va.) out to see the state’s oil fields in the Bakken formation.

    While he has spoken at Tea Party rallies, Cramer expressed mixed feelings about the movement as it currently stands, suggesting that organizations have “co-opted” the Tea Party mantra and have used it to hurt Republicans more than Democrats.

    “I love the movement … especially at the time [in 2009-10], it was truly spontaneous, it was truly grassroots. I think part of the problem today is that the Tea Party is less grassroots and more controlled by organizations who benefit from a fight more than they benefit from policy successes,” Cramer said.

    He said that while he appreciated the Tea Party groups’ contribution to keeping the party disciplined, such discipline could go too far and leave the party without any wiggle room for policy successes.

    Cramer also argues that conservatives must work to be a more upbeat and compassionate party, especially on social issues and immigration.

    “If you’re a person of faith that is conservative, that’s pro-life, as I am, that believes strongly in traditional family values, as I do … then how we talk about them matters. Sometimes, we find ourselves as conservatives being angry when we should be joyful, finding ourselves being negative when we should be positive, because we have a positive message to send … We ought to be the most compassionate people in the world.”

    Cramer says that having strong positions is not problematic if it is coupled with general goodwill and an openness to wildly different views. Along with fellow Republicans, he refers to Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) as good friends of his in the chamber.

    “While I have these very strong views, and I don’t shy away from them, I’m not afraid to talk about them. I love listening to other people’s views too. I enjoy the debate … I haven’t met a single person in Congress yet that I dislike,” he said. “It’s not about moderating your views, it’s about being able to talk about them and defending them in a way that’s uplifting to people.”

    Well that sounded pretty uplifting. Hopefully Rep. Cramer’s unmoderated views inspired by scripture include compassion for poor and hungry. Let’s see…:

    TPMLiveWire
    GOP Rep. Quotes Bible On Food Stamps: ‘If Anyone Is Not Willing To Work, Let Him Not Eat’
    Igor Bobic – September 20, 2013, 5:39 PM EDT

    Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on Friday responded to a constituent opposed to drastically cutting food stamps for the young, elderly and poor by citing a Biblical quote: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

    After House GOP leaders capitulated to conservative demands, Cramer on Thursday joined 216 other House Republicans in narrowly passing legislation to cut food stamp spending by nearly $40 billion over 10 years. A constituent, Kevin R Tengesdal, took to Cramer’s Facebook page to express his apparent displeasure by quoting some Biblical passages…

    That could have been a lot more uplifting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2013, 10:02 pm
  26. More “FamilyValues from the GOP:

    TPMLivewire
    House GOPer: Senate Will ‘Find Jesus’ And Defund Obamacare

    Dylan Scott – September 20, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT

    Most think it’s a long shot that Senate Democrats will vote to defund Obamacare, even after the House approved a defund measure Friday, but at least one congressional Republican is expecting some divine intervention.

    “I think there are senators who are going to find Jesus and do the right thing,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday. Jordan quickly clarified, at Tapper’s urging, that his metaphor was about the bill’s passage and not about finding religion.

    The House government spending bill passed 230-189. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that the defund bill is dead on arrival in that chamber, and no Senate Democrats have publicly supported it. A Senate vote is expected sometime next week.

    I think I found him!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2013, 5:22 pm
  27. With more and more of the US asking themselves in wake of the Great Shutdown Default Debacle of 2013 how it could be that one of the two major parties collectively went insane, it’s important to keep in mind that the GOP’s strategy of creating a fiscal emergency in order to force dramatic cuts in social spending wasn’t just some strategy that the GOP pulled out of thin air. Nor have they they been behaving in a bubble that’s entirely detached from reality. That’s because this is pretty much the strategy that Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann has been advocating for years and continues to advocate:

    Financial Times
    Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann sticks to Germany’s red light rule

    By Michael Steen in Frankfurt
    German central bank head warns against economic complacency
    October 9, 2013 7:18 pm

    There’s nothing quite like seeing your own name in the text of a central banker’s speech to make you break out into a slight sweat. This happened to me this week while reading Jens Weidmann’s latest thoughts on the eurozone.

    Touching on Germany’s Vorbildfunktion – exemplary role – the Bundesbank president warned against complacency, noting it would be a big mistake for the country to retreat from its labour market reforms. He then quoted from an analysis by this correspondent, published last month on Germany’s election day, to back up his point.

    So why the sweaty palms? Well, aside from a reporter’s natural diffidence, any neutral observer might pause at being embraced too wholeheartedly by the super orthodox Bundesbank. Mr Weidmann holds controversial views. His was the lone voice on the governing council of the European Central Bank a year ago, trying to stop the launch of outright monetary transactions, the bank’s bond-buying scheme.

    Since then OMT’s existence has been pretty much universally credited for the ensuing financial market calm.

    The upshot has been that a government crisis in Italy, Portugal or Greece can now blow past without eurozone bond markets going into meltdown.

    Has that done anything to dent the Weidmann doctrine? Not really.

    “I don’t share the view that the Eurosystem [the ECB and its 17 national central banks] was the only institution capable of acting during the crisis,” Mr Weidmann said in his speech in Berlin on Tuesday evening. “Had it not jumped into the breach, politicians would have been forced to act. And, as the democratically legitimate actors, I have no doubt they would have taken action.”

    Mr Weidmann’s prescription for the bloc is a “stability” union, founded on tough and rigorously enforced fiscal rules that do not get broken in the way that both France and Germany violated earlier ones in 2003.

    In future, state bankruptcies and above all bank insolvencies must be possible, without the stability of the financial system being put in danger, he said.

    To that end he backs a banking union, but the ECB should only act as bank supervisor until another body can be set up to prevent conflicts of interest with its monetary policy. And banks must be prevented “over the medium term” from treating sovereign debt as a risk-free asset.

    Like so much of the Weidmann doctrine, this is all logical and coherent. But as in the joke about the man asking directions to Dublin and being told: “I wouldn’t start from here”, it does little to take into account the reality.

    Just taking Mr Weidmann’s idea on risk weightings for sovereign debt: this would disproportionately affect the eurozone’s crisis-hit countries where sovereign bond yields are higher and local banks hold proportionately more of it. Making conditions harder for the weakest lenders in the weakest countries is at the very least provocative.

    While Mr Weidmann sees challenges for Germany – among them, a greying population, low labour participation among women and investment in education – there is not a flicker of a discussion about Germany’s permanent current account surpluses or stimulating German demand more to lift the eurozone as a whole.

    Similarly, when the GOP is clamoring about the profound evils of deficits while simultaneously demanding no new taxes, they aren’t doing this in an international vaccuum.

    So when we’re trying to figure out how it’s possible that so many in the GOP could suddenly take the position that not raising the debt ceiling wouldn’t be a problem because the US could still pay interest on its debts and would just have to dramatically and suddenly slash spending with no tax increases it’s important to recall Weidmann’s statement about desiring to see a future where “state bankruptcies and above all bank insolvencies must be possible, without the stability of the financial system being put in danger”. Normalizing the ability of the oligarchs to push a society into a debt-crisis trap – where the deconstruction of the social safety-net and labor standards can be demanded by the far-right in exchange for an agreement to extricate the nation from the trap – is a key goal of far-rightists on both sides of the pond. On the one hand we have the GOP saying “default? What default? Just slash spending” and on the other we have Bundesbank and its allies saying “Default? So what? Just slash spending and everything will be fine”. It’s the two sides of the same bathtub-murder-scene commemorative coin.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 19, 2013, 7:22 pm
  28. So long All Hallows’ Eve and hello All Saints’ Day! What a perfect day to penny-pinch on aid to the poor:

    Think Progress
    The Coming Food Stamp Cut Will Hit 900,000 Veterans

    By Bryce Covert on October 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, will automatically drop come Friday thanks to the loss of additional funds from the 2009 stimulus bill. That cut will hit about 900,000 of the country’s veterans, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    “Nationwide, in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011,” CBPP writes. The number varies state to state, with over 100,000 veterans in households that rely on the benefits in Florida and Texas each.

    The coming cut will range from $36 a month for a family of four to $11 a month for a single person. Food stamps will average less than $1.40 per person per meal next year with the cut. Benefits were already sparse, at just $133 a month on average.

    Veterans can face a lot of challenges finding work when they return from service. While overall the unemployment rate for veterans is 6.5 percent, those who have served since 2001 to the present have an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent. Nearly one in 10 veterans with disabilities were without employment in 2010. They are also disproportionately likely to live in poverty and to be homeless. In 2010, nearly a million veterans ages 18 to 64 had experienced poverty over the past year. As of 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults was a veteran and more than four in ten homeless veterans were without shelter. They are therefore heavily impacted by cuts to the social safety net.

    The automatic reduction in food stamps won’t likely be the last cut, however. House and Senate lawmakers are set to negotiate this week over a bill to continue funding the program, and House Republicans want to cut it by $40 billion, while Senate Democrats have proposed cutting it by $4 billion. If Republicans get their way, as many as 6 million people could be dropped from SNAP.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2013, 9:56 pm
  29. A look at what it takes to get the Tea Party’s endorsement:

    RightwingWatch.org
    Graham’s Tea Party Challenger: Able-Bodied Food Stamp Recipients ‘Shouldn’t Eat,’ Social Safety Net ‘Role Of The Church’
    Submitted by Miranda Blue on Thursday, 12/5/2013 4:00 pm

    South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright is currently leading the field of Tea Party primary challengers to Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, all of whom think the very conservative senator is not conservative enough.

    To give you an idea of what someone running to the right of Lindsey Graham looks like, Bright wants anyone enforcing health care reform in South Carolina to go to jail, wants the state to have its own currency and has even joked about secession.

    In Senator Bright’s defense, he only wants to jail anyone enforcing Obamacare in South Carolina for a year. It’s not like the people caught enforcing Obamacare get immediately death-paneled. He’s not crazy or anything.

    Continuing…


    At a fundraising event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, Bright elaborated even further on his far-right beliefs, calling for immigrants to “self-deport,” saying that all social services should be provided by the Church and that able-bodied people relying on food stamps “shouldn’t eat,” and comparing the IRS’s income-tax collection to Nazi Germany.

    Later in the talk, Bright alleged that immigration reform is just a “band-aid” because “a lot” of Americans “won’t work.”

    “It’s not politically correct to say this, but we’ve got a lot of people who won’t work,” he said. “And they won’t work because we’ll provide their food, and we’ll provide their housing, and we’ll provide some spending money. We’ve all seen it, the folks in line who are using [food stamps], yet they’ve got the nicest nails and the nicest pocketbook and they get the nicest car.”

    Bright acknowledged that there are some Americans who are physically unable to work, but said they should be the responsibility of the Church: There’s people that are mentally ill, there are people that are disabled. I understand that, though I still think that’s the role of the Church to take care of those folks.

    “But able-bodied people, if they don’t work, they shouldn’t eat,” he said.

    In fact, three-quarters of households receiving SNAP benefits include a child, an elderly person or a disabled person and a third of recipients do work, but don’t earn living incomes.

    Finally, Bright voiced his support for the Tea Party dream of abolishing the IRS and income taxes, saying that “there is no other institution in our government that people are more fearful of,” he said. Getting a letter from the IRS, he added, is something out of “Nazi Germany.”

    So under Senator Bright’s plans, the churches would get the privilege of caring for the mentally ill. That should be fun. But not as much fun as what Senator Bright has in mind: Civil War reenactments! Although it’s not so much a reenactment as it is a Civil War reimagined

    RightWingWatch.org
    South Carolina Senate Candidate Itching To Refight The Civil War
    Submitted by Miranda Blue on Friday, 12/6/2013 3:48 pm

    Yesterday, we took a look at South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s top-polling Tea Party primary challenger, state Sen. Lee Bright, who thinks the income tax is something out of Nazi Germany and is concerned about women with nice nails and pocketbooks getting food assistance.

    It turns out that Bright doesn’t just want to eliminate a host of core federal programs…he’s also itching to refight the Civil War.

    In a series of speeches to Republican and Tea Party gatherings this year, Bright has riled up crowds with the states-rights rallying cry, “If the Tenth Amendment won’t protect the Second, we might have to use the Second to protect the Tenth.”

    Bright is a proponent of nullification, the unconstitutional idea that states can “nullify” federal laws that they don’t like. This year, he sponsored a bill in the state senate to nullify the Affordable Care Act.

    At a gun-rights rally in front of the South Carolina statehouse in January, Bright stood before two confederate flags to offer his view that while he finds slavery “morally reprehensible,” President Lincoln’s Revenue Act of 1862 – which introduced a progressive income tax in order to fund the Union Army – “was when government started becoming God and taking over this country.”

    Later in the speech, Bright declared he was ready to “lay down my life” fighting the federal government: “We don’t want to have to use the Second Amendment, we’re a peaceful people. But we will not be the generation that lost our liberty. People ask me all the time, ‘I don’t know what I’ll tell my children, I don’t know what I’ll tell my grandchildren.’ Well, I’m not going to have that problem, because I’m not going to be here. I want to lay down my life for my liberty just like my forefathers did.”

    At a February “Day of Resistance Rally” in Greenville, Bright warned that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor might even want to dissolve the states, and expanded on his view of 19th century American history…adding that it is Americans today who are in fact under “the chains of slavery.”

    “I went to public school,” he said, “and I was taught about the Civil War, and then I learned it was the War Between the States, and then I learned it was the War of Nullification, and then finally I learned out it was Lincoln’s War.”

    He then accused President Obama of wanting to be a “king.” “I’ll say what my forefathers said,” he added. “No king but Jesus.”

    “We have got to be organized, we have got to participate in these elections,” he said. “Because I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t, we might have to use the Second Amendment to defend the Tenth. And let me tell you, I want peace. Listen, peace is sweet, but it’s not so sweet for the chains of slavery.”

    Our strange political reality is getting even stranger. Now you know why John Boehner and Paul Ryan have been feeling like this in recent daysalthough not after tonight’s vote:

    TPM DC
    No More Shutdowns! House Passes Bipartisan Budget Deal
    Sahil Kapur – December 12, 2013, 6:28 PM EST

    The Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bipartisan budget deal aimed at mitigating painful spending cuts and avoiding more government shutdowns.

    The vote was 332 to 94 with 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats voting for it.

    The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, and subsequently be signed into law by President Barack Obama. If the bill becomes law, it would mark a major turning point after three years of paralyzing partisan disputes which culminated in the 16-day government shutdown last October. It means Congress would return to the normal budget process, if only for two years, rather than funding the government in incremental steps.

    The modest deal, brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), boosts discretionary spending from $967 billion to $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015. It relieves $63 billion in across-the-board sequester cuts to defense and domestic programs, and is projected to lower the deficit over 10 years relative to current law.

    The deal is Ryan’s first major bipartisan breakthrough that stands a chance of becoming law. While modest, the higher spending levels have drawn rebukes from hard line conservatives who often praise Ryan as a conservative hero. The House budget chief has struck a conciliatory tone while selling the plan, describing it as imperfect but an important step in the right direction. It’s a marked change in tone from his no-compromise posturing in President Barack Obama’s first term, when he pushed to subvert large tax-and-spending deals and preserve hopes for enacting his budget that slashes taxes and privatizes Medicare.

    Democrats weren’t thrilled with the agreement but reluctantly accepted it as an improvement on the status quo. They’re angry that it doesn’t extend emergency unemployment benefits, which are set to expire on Dec. 28; they believe it serves special interests by failing to unwind any tax loopholes for corporations; they dislike the effective pension cuts for federal workers.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly urged Democrats to “embrace the suck” so that they could move forward. She told reporters that she while she doesn’t like the bill, it’s “an OK thing to vote for.”

    Today’s vote may not be good news for the long-term unemployed or federal workers. But for Paul Ryan and John Boehner it was a very good day.

    It was actually a really good day for the Tea Party too but…well…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 12, 2013, 10:16 pm
  30. If you’re a poor American, run!!!!! The Tea Party is looking for you. They want to help:

    Tea Party’s Mike Lee leads unlikely Republican push against poverty

    Utah senator has been on a quiet mission to rebrand his image and that of the radical Republican wing he represents

    Paul Lewis in Washington
    theguardian.com, Wednesday 19 February 2014 09.54 EST

    He’s the Tea Party darling with an impeccably conservative voting record, known in Washington as the right-hand man to Ted Cruz, the uncompromising Texas senator who infuriated mainstream Republicans by bringing the federal government to a halt last year.

    Yet in the months since senator Mike Lee helped Cruz orchestrate the shutdown, Lee has been on a quiet mission to rebrand his image and, by association, that of the radical Republican wing he represents.

    “Few have done more to burn ideological bridges within the GOP,” said Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for president George W Bush, who has noted the shift. “Yet no one from the Tea Party side is now doing more to construct them.”

    The cause Lee believes will help build bridges among Republicans? Combating poverty.

    “There is a natural tension that tends to exist between a party’s base and its elected political leaders,” Lee said in recent interview with the Guardian. “That tension has created what some have described as a hole within the Republican party.”

    “But I think that hole is exactly the size and shape of a conservative reform agenda – one that focuses on economic opportunity and upward mobility, one that focuses on fighting poverty and helping the middle class.”

    He added: “This is one of the things that can help bridge that gap, that can help fill that hole.”

    Tackling poverty may seem a counter-intuitive agenda for one of the most conservative figures in Congress, least of all one who claims to want to heal wounds in the Republican party.

    But he is not the only top Republican figure to lay out a manifesto for dealing with inequality, an issue many believe needs to be addressed to counter the populist Democratic campaigns expected in this year’s midterm elections.

    A host of other Republicans, including Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor in the House, and Marco Rubio in the Senate, have done the same.

    But arguably none have been as committed to the cause in recent months as Lee, who declared a “war on poverty” last November.

    Vanessa Williamson, a Harvard academic who co-wrote a book on the Tea Party, said the GOP may be realising it needs to moderate its message, even if the policies remains trenchantly conservative.

    “Many people in the Republican Party have noticed that extreme tactics haven’t been working very well for them lately,” she said. “They went to the mat on a number of government shutdown-type approaches – the absolute non-compromise tactical position. But I think there is less disagreement on the policy goals, which tend to remain relatively extreme.”

    Lee is arguably a case in point. While he may have adopted a traditionally liberal cause his prescriptions are rooted in firmly conservative ground. In his view, government causes poverty, and has little hope of alleviating the problem. Only the enabling power of a free-market economy, aided by a civic voluntary sector, higher rates of marriage, and more considered spending, will improve social mobility.

    His latest contribution was a bill, introduced last week, that would restore a work requirement for recipients of food stamps that was first introduced by president Bill Clinton in 1996.

    Joshua Smith, a senior policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal thinktank, described the measure as “completely backwards logic”, because it wrongly assumes there are swaths of unemployed people who would work if only they were given a nudge.

    “In fact, it pretty clear the problem is a lack of labor demand,” he said.

    Smith is even more scathing of another proposal contained in Lee’s bill: capping means-tested welfare spending at 2007 levels, a move the senator says will save $2.5tn. The reduction would be adjusted for inflation, phased in over three years, and only come into force when unemployment is below 6%.

    But it still constitutes a dramatic reduction on government money spent on the poor – distorting a budget that ordinarily rises and falls depending on the performance of the economy. “It doesn’t make sense,” Smith said. “It can only hurt the most vulnerable people.”

    Asked who would bear the burden of the massive welfare cut, Lee was non-committal. “It would have to be worked out between the various state programs, in figuring out how they are going to do more with less money,” he said.

    In his speech before the rightwing Heritage Foundation in November, Lee did not mention plans to suck such large sums out of the food stamps program.

    Instead, he acknowledge the US was “third from the bottom” among advanced countries in terms of upward social mobility, emphasizing the need to help underprivileged schools.

    Lee made no mention of deficit reduction or out-of-control government spending – a curious omission given his central role in the shutdown – and even went so far as to tell the audience: “Just as we cannot spend our way out of poverty, we cannot really cut our way out, either.

    All of which has some critics questioning whether Lee has merely been engaging in a rebranding exercise. “The senator is just talking the talk,” said one GOP insider. “He has an image problem he’s trying to fix.”

    So the states are going to have to figure out how “they are going to do more with less money” but “just as we cannot spend our way out of poverty, we cannot really cut our way out”? It’s not clear how exactly the Tea Party’s image problem is going to be helped by acknowledging that we can’t expect to cut our way out of poverty and then proposing a bunch of cuts to poor. It looks like the GOP has become so allergic to helping that even when it’s trying to help itself by helping others it just ends hurting everyone!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 20, 2014, 3:37 pm
  31. Inspired by events in Ukraine, this reads a little like a run-on sentence but makes some very good points:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/20/the-rise-of-fascism-in-the-west/

    March 20, 2014
    Ukraine as Stalking Horse

    The Rise of Fascism in the West
    by NORMAN POLLACK

    Fascism dribbles off the tongue too easily, yet it is possible to wrap one’s arms around the concept and practice with, allowing for historical variations, some degree of precision. Hitler’s Germany may be the gold standard by which to measure all else, but even there correction can be made for both underlying structural features and ideological themes applied to other and different settings. By that I mean, e.g., functional equivalents of Nazi societal organization, if you will, foundations or perhaps sub-foundations of the social order and political culture. If we return to Franz Neumann’s Behemoth, the now-neglected classic on the subject and Robert A. Brady’s Spirit and Structure of German Fascism, also near-forgotten, focused on the ideology of business organization, we can say that the primal factor in fascism’s internal composition is capitalism, not your everyday Smithian variety happily ensconced in Econ. 101 textbooks, but the real thing at an advanced form of development: monopolization, greater cohesion through trade associations, neutralization of labor as a collective-bargaining social force, above all, an hierarchical class system with commanding decisions at the top then filtered down through gradations of rank, integrated with and complemented by the political-structural framework of business-government interpenetration.

    This paradigm of centralized power embedded in the synthesis of corporatism and the State, the latter, itself the more powerful the better, in order to serve and protect the business system, its dominance over labor, its penetration of foreign markets, its further concentration through preventing internecine competition, is equally characteristic of 1930s Germany (already mostly evident under Weimar) and the US beginning in earnest still earlier but perhaps taking more protracted form. Diagrammatically, we are, circa 2014, more than superseding that German stage, our “cartels” disguised by other names, our rate of concentration the apogee of capitalist inner logic. From here it is readily apparent the appetitive and combative nature of capitalism, egged on or reinforced by the Statist dimension: America’s version of globalization to a tee.

    This underpinning, not the concentration camp or gas chamber, establishes the bedrock on which the fascist edifice rests, makes them possible, embodied in militaristic aggression in Germany, but, for the US, and as Barrington Moore pointed out, in Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, for Japan as well, what is critical to fascism is not only business-government interpenetration (Masao Maruyama years ago termed this, for Japan, the “close-embrace” system), but also the regimentation of the people, glimpses of which appear in the NSA wholesale surveillance of the public, and a prepackaged ideology of permanent-war readiness buttressed by a saturated climate of counterterrorism.

    I think you get the picture. America is not all Innocence and Milk-and-Honey, the hegemonic demiurge in full throttle under Obama, now poised for the much anticipated (and, I believe, welcomed) conflict with Russia, having carefully arranged the chess board, the rooks, IMF and NATO, the queen, all-purpose privatization, the pawns, “friends and allies” persuaded to do America’s bidding, finally, the king, not the innocuous piece, nor here, a single individual, but Obama’s collective national-security advisors, taking in CIA, NSA, Pentagon officials, even then, the tip of the iceberg of war-making, war-striving apparatus, Washington up to its neck from every quarter, bipartisan all the way, in sharpening the killer instinct. Kerry and Biden are the cheerleaders for imperialism and, increasingly, militarism, for they, and Obama, recognize the two are inseparable, to which they seem especially dedicated. Ukraine has found its soul mates.

    More at link

    Posted by Swamp | March 22, 2014, 9:36 am
  32. What lies at the heart of a black hole? That’s one of those questions that might remain a mystery forever. The contents of black hole hearts, on the other hand, is much easier to understand: It’s mostly lies:

    Los Angeles Times
    Paul Ryan rehashes an old Social Security lie–at your expense

    By Michael Hiltzik

    April 1, 2014, 12:27 p.m.

    There should be a rule–or even a law–that politicians who propose “fixes” to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk.

    What’s worse, his misunderstandings–heck, let’s go ahead and call them misrepresentations–are aimed at taking your money.

    What’s at issue is a passage in the budget resolution Ryan released today, the fourth annual version of his “Path to Prosperity” budget. Like the others, this budget calls for large cuts in government programs for the poor, in order to preserve tax breaks for the rich and finance lavish defense spending.

    But what concerns us here is his description of the Social Security trust fund, which currently holds close to $3 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, all purchased with payroll tax income paid by working men and women since 1983.

    The idea of building up this trust fund was to bank excess tax revenues against the looming wave of baby boomer retirements, which has now begun. But the trust fund is still growing, because Social Security’s income streams–the payroll tax, interest on its bonds, and revenues from income taxation of benefits–still are sufficient to cover current benefits, and then some.

    Ryan wants you to think different. Here’s the passage in question, from page 66 of his plan.

    “Any value in the balances in the Social Security Trust Fund is derived from dubious government accounting. The trust fund is not a real savings account. From 1983 to 2010, it collected more Social Security taxes than it paid out in Social Security benefits. But the government borrowed all of these surpluses and spent them on other government programs unrelated to Social Security. The Trust Fund holds Treasury securities, but the ability to redeem these securities is completely dependent on the Treasury’s ability to raise money through taxes or borrowing.”

    The same language appeared in Ryan’s 2012 budget resolution, but not in his 2013 and 2014 versions (as far as we could tell). It’s back now, and no more accurate or honest than it was three years ago.

    Let’s examine the misrepresentations embedded in these 90 words by explaining exactly how the trust fund works.

    From 1983 on, the payroll tax was increased to produce more revenue than was needed to pay benefits each year. The idea was to build up a reserve to cover the coming wave of baby boomer retirements; in effect, the baby boomers have been pre-funding their own old-age benefits.

    The natural question was: what should be done with the money in the meantime? It wouldn’t make sense to just place it under a national mattress, for inflation would have reduced the value of the holdings by as much as half over the last three decades.

    The answer was to place the money in an interest-bearing account–that is, invest it for a yield above inflation. (This is the folly of Al Gore’s old line about keeping the money in a “lockbox.” That can’t be done, because the lockboxed funds would turn to dust.)

    That’s what’s been done. The money has been invested in U.S. Treasury securities, just as you might do by purchasing Series EE savings bonds, or TIPS. Why do people invest in T-bonds? Because they’re the safest securities in the world. The U.S. has never, ever defaulted on them (although the Tea Party wing of the GOP seems to think that would be a good idea). The money isn’t invested in corporate securities or anything else, because Congress hasn’t allowed that.

    The Social Security trust fund’s bonds are backed by exactly the same commitment of the U.S.’s “full faith and credit” as any other Treasury security. Keep your eye on that ball, because Ryan is going to try to palm it.

    When one buys a T-bond, one is effectively lending the money to the government, which then uses it to do things. So, yes, Ryan is correct in stating that “the government borrowed all of these surpluses and spent them on other government programs unrelated to Social Security.”

    Right. On national defense. Two wars. Construction of roads, school buildings, courthouses. On the salaries of Congressmen like Rep. Ryan. What of it?

    Was this money wasted? Hardly. The US economy has more than doubled in size (adjusted for inflation) over that time, in significant part because of the infrastructure and services provided by government–including with that borrowed money.

    It’s worth noting, however, that under George W. Bush, the government also used those surpluses to preserve tax breaks for the wealthy, by spending the borrowed funds on those wars without having to raise the income tax, which is predominantly paid by the wealthy. The payroll tax is predominantly paid by the middle class and the working class, so in effect the latter has made an interest bearing loan to the former.

    As I’ve written before, when you hear people like Paul Ryan talk as though the country can’t afford to pay back the money by redeeming the bonds in the trust fund, what you’re hearing is the sound of the wealthy preparing to stiff the working class. If the income tax has to be raised to turn those T-bonds into cash for payment of benefits over the next couple of decades, that’s how the rich will be made to repay the people who lent them the money. Some people love to claim that the government has “stolen” the trust fund. The correct reply to that is: “Not yet.”

    But if Ryan has his way, yes, the money will be stolen. It’s up to you and me to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    So, to put all these pieces together, there’s no “dubious government accounting” involved here–the dubious accounting is all Ryan’s. The trust fund is indeed a real savings account, involving deposits and interest. Yes, the government borrowed the money, and it has paid interest on it every year (duly recorded and published, down to the last dollar, in the annual reports of the Social Security trustees).

    And yes, “the ability to redeem these securities is completely dependent on the Treasury’s ability to raise money through taxes or borrowing.” What Ryan doesn’t say is that the Treasury’s ability to raise taxes and borrowing is effectively unlimited.

    Remember folks, if non-US government entities buy US bonds, it’s one of the safest investments in the world. But if those bonds are held in, say, a government trust fund for the elderly and poor, the bonds are suddenly flimflam money that we should assume isn’t really there. Yes, according to Paul Ryan, the US’s full faith and credit has a Black Hole Heart Loophole. Where the money goes no one knows

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 1, 2014, 1:11 pm
  33. This is precious: How does Paul Ryan’s new GOP budget save $5 trillion by 2024? Well, in part, by cutting the Obamacare benefits but keeping the extra taxes:

    National Journal
    Ryan’s Budget Spells Out a GOP Manifesto
    The plan might be going nowhere, but it provides plenty of fodder for campaigns in 2014 and beyond.

    By Billy House

    April 1, 2014

    Rep. Paul Ryan’s Republican budget provides plenty of lines of partisan engagement this election year, including its call for a “full” repeal of the Affordable Care Act, its embrace of a form of “dynamic” fiscal scoring, and its revival of the battle over turning the Medicare system into a voucher-like program.

    This austere plan is to be formally adopted by Ryan’s Budget Committee on Wednesday. But to achieve its envisioned cut of about $5.1 trillion in spending and a balanced budget by 2024, the document includes what appear to be a number of merely philosophical, aspirational, and even fantastical underpinnings.

    The reality is that no one expects this budget document that pushes higher defense spending—and cuts and changes to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other social safety-net programs—really has any chance of becoming law. The Senate won’t take it up; Democrats who control the chamber aren’t even doing a budget of their own.

    Even Ryan admits that the proposal has no practical impact right now, as appropriators from both parties aren’t focusing beyond fiscal 2015. And spending levels for the next fiscal year starting in October have already been set under the two-year deal the Wisconsin Republican worked out in December with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

    But all of that is not necessarily the point.

    Rather, this longer-term spending proposal is more an exercise by Republicans to provide voters a road map, of sorts, of what they would do if they were totally in charge. Or, as Ryan said on Tuesday: “We also think it’s important to show our vision as a party for the future.”

    Perhaps the budget that Ryan’s committee will mark up is really an accurate depiction of that GOP vision. Who knows?

    Some 40 percent of the $5.1 trillion in savings envisioned in Ryan’s “bigger picture” of the next 10 years is depicted as coming through a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In all, his plan would spend about $42.6 trillion over 10 years, compared with about $47.8 trillion under existing policies.

    At the same time, Ryan’s budget does not say precisely what he would replace Obamacare with, only offering the expectation that it will be replaced. And Democrats, like Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, complain that Ryan’s proposal, even while scrapping the health care law, keeps all of its more than $700 billion in Medicare savings, as well as $1 trillion in revenues from Obamacare.

    Ryan and the second-ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, Tom Price of Georgia, say that what they are really doing is stopping a “raid” on Medicare funding under the Affordable Care Act, and keeping the money inside the program. And comprehensive tax reform, they say, would replace some of the related taxes.

    But on that point—a tax-code overhaul—Ryan’s budget does not lay out a detailed plan or even embrace a recent one proposed by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan. Rather, it simply calls for reducing taxes on the wealthy—individuals would have just two rates, 25 and 10 percent—and cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

    Ryan’s plan would abide by the split agreed upon with Murray in spending levels between defense and nondefense programs for fiscal 2014 and 2015. But his longer-range military spending would blow past that deal. Military spending through 2024 would actually be increased by $483 billion over a cap established in 2011, and to pre-sequester levels—$274 billion more than requested by the president. Meanwhile, nondefense spending would be cut by $791 billion.

    To reach balance in 10 years, Ryan’s plan embraces a controversial “dynamic scoring” notion that there would be some positive impact on the nation’s economic growth simply by reducing the deficit and cutting spending—although some economists disagree with this and even suggest that it could slow the economy. Ryan had not included such a calculation in his previous budget proposals.

    Ryan proposes turning more control of Medicaid and food stamps over to states—an annual proposal that some say would save money but has been a popular election-year target for Democrats.

    The plan also retains Ryan’s idea for each Medicare recipient to choose from a list of coverage options and payments that would “best suit his or her needs,” and then payments would be made directly to that plan. Longer term, the proposal discusses giving seniors who first become eligible when turning 65 on or after Jan. 1, 2024, a choice of selecting private plans alongside the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program.

    Ryan insists that this is not a “voucher system,” a phrase that some Democrats see as potential attack ammunition on the campaign trail. Van Hollen told reporters: “The voucher plan is back!”

    Well, at least now we know how to get the GOP to agree to a tax-hike: you have to pretend the money is going to those in need. Pretend. That’s what makes it worth it to them. The additional tax cuts for the rich and ‘dynamic scoring‘ scheme too presumably sweeten the deal too but that healthcare switcheroo, all the build up of hope only to have it snatched away…wow, that has to be priceless.

    So is a Three Card Monte strategy one the US can use in the future? Promising tax hikes to help out some group in need only to hank away the benefits while keeping the taxes? Maybe, but that assumes even pretending to help those in need is still something the US does in the future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 2, 2014, 9:11 am
  34. Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 29, 2014, 7:29 pm
  35. What does a Subaru have in common with Paul Ryan’s plans to address poverty? It’s the same thing that can make a brown paper bag so much more than just a brown paper bag. And it’s the same thing Paul Ryan can’t stop talking about whenever the topic of poverty comes up (to the exclusion of any meaningful policy solutions): Love:

    TPM News
    Bush, Ryan Focus On Poverty While Courting Donors

    STEVE PEOPLES – May 13, 2014, 7:09 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan courted some of Wall Street’s most powerful political benefactors on Monday, insisting that love, friendship and “traditional marriage” can combat poverty better than government programs.

    The prospective Republican presidential contenders were featured guests at an award ceremony hosted by the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think tank led by high-profile Republican donor Paul Singer. Like others gathered in the midtown Manhattan ballroom Monday night, Singer already has begun sizing up the evolving 2016 field after helping to pump millions of dollars into the last presidential race.

    Bush and Ryan offered a decidedly softer tone on the nation’s problems than some of their more conservative Republican colleagues.

    Having toured the country in recent months focusing on the nation’s poor, Ryan declared that “the best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned hopelessness to a virtuous cycle of hope and flourishing is by embracing the attributes of friendship, accountability and love.”

    “That’s how you fight poverty,” Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee, told a crowd of roughly 750 dressed in tuxedos and gowns.

    Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, called for more welcoming immigration policies, while offering his own poverty prescription: “A loving family taking care of their children in a traditional marriage will create the chance to break out of poverty far better, far better than any of the government programs that we can create.”

    They were largely cheered by the donors who mainly represent the pragmatic wing of the Republican Party, a group that includes many Wall Street executives frustrated by Washington gridlock driven, in part, by the GOP’s more ideological members.

    Well, ok, the Paper Bag of Love comparison wasn’t really fair to Subaru.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 13, 2014, 2:45 pm
  36. Here’s a little peak into the mind of Arizona’s state school superintendent:

    TPM Livewire
    Arizona GOPer Went Birther, Compared Poor To ‘Lazy Pigs’ In Anonymous Blog Comments

    Tom Kludt – June 19, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    A Republican official in Arizona on Wednesday confirmed something that’s long been suspected.

    State schools superintendent John Huppenthal has been a prolific and often incendiary anonymous commenter on local political blogs.

    Under various pseudonyms, including Falcon9, Thucky and Thucydides, Huppenthal has authored hundreds of comments at the progressive Blog for Arizona since at least 2011.

    He engaged in self-promotion, writing in February that he’s “sure” Huppenthal, who’s up for re-election this year, “will be our next superintendent.”

    He once decried Barack Obama for “rewarding the lazy pigs with food stamps (44 million people), air-conditioning, free health care, flat-screen TV’s (typical of ‘poor’ families).” and even went birther, claiming that the president wrote in his memoir that “he was born in Kenya!!!”

    In one comment, he compared Margaret Sanger to Adolf Hitler, writing that the Planned Parenthood founder “fed 16 million African-Americans into the abortion mills. He also argued that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “disastrous economic policies drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Germany’s economy went into the tank.”

    Attorney Bob Lord, who writes at the Blog for Arizona, has long believed that Huppenthal was behind the comments. He told TPM last week, before the superintendent’s admission, that he’d traced the IP address linked to one of the comments to a computer inside the Department of Education Building.

    Lord also said Huppenthal frequented several local political sites and had earned a reputation in the commenting communities.

    “He’s posting, as far as I can tell, on every conservative or liberal blog out there in Arizona,” Lord said. “If you go to the conservative sites, they’ll say like, ‘Oh, it’s just Huppenthal doing this again.’ It’s sort of common knowledge with them.”

    Lord said Huppenthal once “absent-mindedly signed his name” to a comment on another blog.

    On Wednesday, Huppenthal owned up to the comments in a statement to the Arizona Republic. Although he said he has “occasionally dipped into the morass of incivility,” Huppenthal, who’s held his statewide post since 2011 and served in the Arizona legislature before that, mostly defended his comments.

    “I believe in rigorous public discourse, in furthering ideas and reforming ideologies that don’t always work,” Huppenthal said in the statement.

    “Anonymity has its value as our founding fathers believed when they developed the Federalist Papers,” he added. “It is not a new concept, our history reflects that.”

    He said that some of his anonymous comments have been taken “completely out of context, or perhaps misunderstood.”

    “Specifically, my reference to a phrase in a nursery fable, the Little Red Hen, in which a fat lazy pig refuses to help the little red hen sow her seeds was inaccurately presented to characterize my views regarding those on welfare,” he said in the statement. “I have never been insensitive to issues around poverty and have fought for public policy that provides opportunities for jobs for all our citizens who want to work and support for those who are vulnerable.

    “I have never been insensitive to issues around poverty and have fought for public policy that provides opportunities for jobs for all our citizens who want to work and support for those who are vulnerable.” Wow, that sure sounds like Mr. Huppenthal supports something like FDR’s policies that make the government the employer of last resort. But, as we also saw, Mr. Huppenthal is rather critical of FDR’s “disastrous economic policies” that “drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Germany’s economy went into the tank.” Hmmm, that’s a little confusing. Maybe he’s just trying to have some fun.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 19, 2014, 2:19 pm
  37. Paul Ryan is still out there pushing his new “life coaches for the poor (instead of actual help)” anti-poverty plan and, shocker, his anti-poverty plans include a lot of anti-poverty lies:

    The Huffington Post

    Paul Ryan Recycles Weak Talking Point On Welfare Reform

    Arthur Delaney

    Posted: 08/20/2014 12:42 pm EDT

    WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday praised welfare reform for reducing child poverty, even though child poverty is higher today than it was before welfare reform.

    Speaking to former GOP congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, Ryan said, “You voted for a bipartisan bill in 1996, welfare reform, that did more to reduce child poverty than any reform in the modern era.”

    The child poverty rate in 1996 was 20.5 percent, according to the government’s numbers. The rate declined each year after Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act until 2000, when it fell to 16.2 percent. But then something sad happened: The rate started going back up. It reached 21.8 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available.

    “You cannot base your assessment on the first four years and stop,” LaDonna Pavetti, a welfare expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said in an interview.

    But it seems Ryan can. The House Budget Committee boss has used the talking point many times over the years, including in a January speech at the Brookings Institution and in a budget blueprint for fiscal year 2013.

    Ryan’s recent budget documents have presented more nuanced arguments for the success of welfare reform, which instituted time limits and work requirements for poor parents receiving benefits, especially single moms. One section of Ryan’s latest proposal for a broad overhaul of federal programs focused on poverty in households most affected by welfare reform.

    “Combined with a strong economy, work-first programs reduced child poverty in female-headed households to the lowest levels on record,” Ryan’s July discussion draft said.

    And his office cited a 2011 Congressional Research Service report noting that child poverty in female-headed households fell from 55.4 percent in 1991 to 39.3 percent in 2001. Unfortunately, the rate rose to 47.6 percent in 2011, though the CRS report said “progress appears to have been largely sustained in both reducing welfare dependency and poverty among children in female-headed families, in spite of the recent recession.”

    Ryan, who went on MSNBC Wednesday to promote both his new book and his new anti-poverty proposals, said the lessons of welfare reform should be applied to other programs, especially food stamps. He has suggested poor people seeking government assistance should get a “life plan” instead of just cash.

    “Let’s take the other welfare programs that have not been reformed and customize them to a person’s individual, specific needs so that we can work on fighting poverty soul to soul, eye to eye, and back up the community,” Ryan said.

    Well, at least if the plan “life coaches” ends up being a giant scam the recipients of will have all learned an important lesson in success: lying and scamming works, just ask the guy that came up with the ‘life coach’ plan you’re all experiencing! He almost became vice president!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 21, 2014, 12:19 pm
  38. Old zombies can learn new tricks:

    Washington Post
    GOP has learned not to shut down the government

    By Jennifer Rubin August 29 at 2:25 PM

    As we predicted, GOP leadership in the House and Senate are squelching any talk of a government shutdown. The Hill reports:

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who’s facing a tough reelection challenge this fall, said turning the lights out in Washington is a “failed policy.”

    “Remember me? I am the guy that gets us out of shutdowns,” he quipped to CNN.

    And Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are ruling out a repeat of October, when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz led a conservative rebellion and forced the government to close for two weeks in a bid to defund ObamaCare.

    It is now conventional wisdom for all but a tiny sliver of the GOP that the shutdown was a disaster,. And even now while cranks such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) are suggesting the party jump off the cliff again, you don’t see the rabble rousers like Jim DeMint or Heritage Action pushing the idea. The only one of the shutdown leaders who was hinting he’d do it over immigration is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who seems to be reinforcing his reputation for flightiness and lack of gravitas.

    Plainly before the recent kerfuffle, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote for his new book that the shutdown was a grievous error. (“No core principles were advanced. And the reputation of the GOP dropped to new lows.”) He writes tersely, “It was a suicide mission.”

    Since so many Republicans have reached the same conclusion and will oppose a repeat, how did the feeding frenzy over a potential shutdown begin? The exact same way the impeachment talk ramped up: A very few cranks pop off and the media run with it, delighted to portray the GOP as irresponsible and delusional. Rather than acting as the Democratic National Committee’s transcription service to fan rumors designed to skewer the GOP, the mainstream media might report accurately: While one or two people are trying to whip up enthusiasm for the shutdown, the vast majority of Republicans have learned their lesson and want no part of it. That would be true, but not a very juicy story.

    Ah, ok, according to Jennifer Rubin it’s just one or two people in the GOP “trying to whip up enthusiasm for the shutdown”. So nothing to worry about. It’s probably just a couple of back benchers:

    Think Progress
    McConnell Promises Billionaire Donors He Won’t Waste Time On ‘Gosh Darn’ Minimum Wage Increases

    by Josh Israel Posted on August 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

    At a Koch Brothers-hosted secret strategy conference of right-wing millionaire and billionaire political activists in June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that if his party wins control of the United States Senate this November, the Senate will not waste time on things like increasing the minimum wage for people making only about $15,000 annually. Instead, audio of his remarks obtained by The Nation reveals, his Senate will focus on repealing Wall Street reforms, environmental protections, and affordable healthcare.

    McConnell spoke at an annual event hosted by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in Dana Point, CA. The conference, titled “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” reportedly attracted hundreds of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and aimed to raise $500 million toward making McConnell the Senate majority leader next year and another $500 million to defeat a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

    McConnell, who has been attacked by his opponent for voting 17 times against minimum wage increases, made it clear that under his leadership there would not be any increase in the current $7.25 federal minimum wage. “And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage,” he told the billionaires in attendance.

    In the same speech, McConnell lamented the signing of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (“McCain-Feingold”) as “the worst day of my political life,” and praised the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 Citizens United ruling for “[leveling] the playing field for corporate speech” and creating “the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times.” Thanks largely to that ruling, outside groups have already spent more than $8.5 million in support of McConnell’s own re-election and against his Democratic opponent.

    As he did last week, McConnell told the wealthy activists that a Republican majority would insert language into government spending bills that would require President Obama to repeal his administration’s principal accomplishments or risk another government shutdown.

    McCONNELL: So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called ‘placing riders in the bill.’ No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board.

    This comment seems to contradict his own pledge last October that “there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.”

    Well, here we go again. Again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2014, 6:13 pm
  39. Here’s a bit of good news: It turns out only four states are carrying through with the big food stamp cuts legislated into the 2014 farm bill. How? Well, before, the federal law allowed for states to give more assistance to families that also receive federal heating assistance, so some states would give individuals as little as $1 in heating assistance in order to qualify them for the higher food stamp benefits. So the GOP’s new food stamp bill upped that cutoff to $20 in heating assistance in order to qualify for the additional food stamps, in the hopes that this would force states to cut back on food stamps by making the heating assistance too expensive. But now 12 out of the 16 states that have this loophole are finding the additional money to pay people the higher minimum heating assistance anyways resulting in food stamp cuts in only Wisconsin, New Jersey, Michigan, and New Hampshire. As austerians everywhere must be asking themselves, where’s a Troika when you need one:

    Food stamps cuts will only hit four states, review finds

    BY Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press September 17, 2014 at 9:52 AM EDT

    WASHINGTON — Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting four states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found.

    As a result, it’s unclear whether the law will realize the estimated $8.6 billion in savings over 10 years that the GOP had advertised.

    A farm bill signed by President Barack Obama in February attempted to save money by scaling back what lawmakers called a loophole in the food stamp program that entitles low-income families to more food aid if they participate in a federal heating assistance program. States were giving some people as little as $1 a year in heating assistance so they could get more food aid. It’s called “heat and eat.”

    Among the 16 states that allow the practice or some form of it, 12 governors have taken steps to avoid the food stamp cuts.

    “Government’s role is to help people help themselves, and these steps are necessary to help our most vulnerable residents and families meet their most basic needs,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said when he announced his state’s move earlier this year.

    The farm bill was held up for more than two years as conservatives insisted on cutting the nation’s food stamp program, which now serves 1 in 7 Americans at a cost of around $80 billion a year. The roughly 1 percent cut was a compromise between Republicans who had hoped for far larger cuts and Democrats who didn’t want to see any cuts at all.

    The states’ workaround — mostly by Democratic governors — has infuriated Republicans who pushed the cuts. In March, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the states’ moves “fraud.” House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., have asked the Obama administration to “hold states accountable” for dodging the cuts.

    The governors say they are following the law while preserving crucial benefits for their neediest citizens.

    The new law says that people can’t get the higher food benefits unless they receive more than $20 a year in heating assistance, which lawmakers hoped would be too expensive for states to pay. But the governors in 12 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia have said they will find a way. Most will use federal heating assistance dollars. At least one state, California, will use its own money.

    As of now, the cuts will only affect Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Hampshire. All but New Hampshire have Republican governors.

    There are about 1.8 million households that receive food stamps in those four states, out of almost 23 million households nationwide.

    It’s unclear how many people will be affected. Officials in Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Hampshire said they don’t track that number. Michigan officials say around 20 percent of the state’s recipients, or around 170,000 households, participated in the “heat and eat” program and will see cuts.

    LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and it is paid to states as federal grants each year. New Hampshire did not give recipients $1 payments but did allow a LIHEAP application to qualify them for higher food benefits. The farm bill’s change in policy will discontinue that practice.

    The states that are using that federal heating assistance money to avoid the food stamp cuts say they believe they can do it without significantly reducing heating aid to others who need it, even without more money from the federal government. Peter Merrill, the deputy director of MaineHousing, says he estimates that maintaining the food stamp benefits will only reduce federal heating assistance payments to Maine residents by about $4 a year on average.

    In Washington state, residents will see food stamp benefits reduced briefly, in November and December, due to a backlog in getting their computer systems running. A spokeswoman for the governor said the state will reinstate the higher heating assistance payments in January, once the backlog clears, and 200,000 households will see their benefits go back up.

    On Capitol Hill, Republicans say the states’ decisions don’t mean the farm bill cuts are obliterated. A GOP memo from the House Agriculture Committee staff notes that some states may reverse their decisions to avoid the cuts, especially as current recipients move off the rolls. And the Congressional Budget Office, which figures out how much bills cost, accounted for some states bowing out when coming up with its $8.6 billion estimate over 10 years. But the CBO hasn’t said whether it accounted for high-population states like California, New York and Pennsylvania maintaining the higher food stamp benefits.

    Other states that have dodged the cuts are Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

    Pat Baker of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, an advocacy group that focuses on poverty issues, says the “heat and eat” recipients are often elderly or disabled, sometimes living in apartments where utilities are included but the rent is higher. “This would be a significant loss in nutrition benefits to the lowest-income and neediest residents,” she says.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 17, 2014, 1:23 pm
  40. Well, that’s one way for the GOP to live down its “47%” taint of 2012: wait for working poor to forget it Just up the ante:

    Think Progress
    John Boehner Says Unemployed People ‘Just Sit Around,’ Don’t Think They Have To Work

    by Igor Volsky Posted on September 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) seemed to echo Mitt Romney’s infamous claim that 47 percent of Americans are “takers” who suck up government benefits during a speech at a conservative Washington D.C. think tank on Thursday. Addressing the American Enterprise Institute, Boehner suggested that President Barack Obama’s economy has lulled many unemployed people into a sense of dependence on government.

    “This idea that has been born, maybe out of the economy over the last couple years, that you know, I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our country,” he said.

    “If you wanted something you worked for it,” Boehner said, adding, “Trust me, I did it all.”

    But the unemployed aren’t jobless because they’re lazy or receive government benefits. Most face huge obstacles to finding good paying jobs in a slow economic recovery.

    Currently, there are more than two job seekers for every job opening in the country and the severity of the recession has created a long-term unemployment problem that has made many job seekers almost unemployable. Research shows that being unemployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of getting hired as losing four full years of experience from a résumé. As a result, many people who lost their jobs have gone back to school, retired early, or continue to look for work without success.

    In fact, millions of unemployed people are having a harder time finding a job since Congressional Republicans allowed the long-term unemployment benefits program to lapse. Research — and real world experience — has found that the program’s job search requirements encourage people to spend more time job hunting and helps cover essentials like internet service for job applications or gas money for interviews.

    Boehner’s remarks are similar to comments made by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in March. During an appearance on a conservative radio show, Ryan claimed, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

    Come on, we all know why those lazy unemployed people ‘choose‘ to stay unemployed. They just want all the awesome luxuries that come with unemployment in America. Like sleep:

    The Atlantic
    When You Can’t Afford Sleep
    Many low-income workers get just four or five hours of rest each day. Research shows their bodies might never recover.
    Olga Khazan Sep 15 2014, 8:00 AM ET

    NEW YORK—If it’s a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, Sam McCalman wakes up in his tiny one-bedroom apartment in Flatbush well before the nearest Starbucks opens for business. He catches the 5 a.m. bus to the John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., he works there as a wheelchair attendant, gently rolling disabled and elderly travelers from gate to gate. Between clients, he is not permitted to sit down.

    After a 30-minute break, he starts his second job wrangling luggage carts for Smart Carte. At 10 p.m., his shift is over, and he takes the B15 or B35 back to Brooklyn. He often falls asleep on the bus—so much so he frequently misses his stop and has to walk the last few blocks back home. By the time he crawls into bed, it’s nearly midnight. Four and a half hours later, it’s time to do it all over again.

    McCalman immigrated from Guyana, a small country that borders Venezuela and Brazil, in 2010. His mother was already here, and he describes himself as the kind of guy who always wanted to come to America. It presented “a better opportunity to do something,” he said.

    He got the wheelchair job a few months later, and picked up the second in 2013 when he realized he needed some extra cash. A series of exes bore him four children—two of whom still live in Guyana—and he sends them a total of $400 each month. He also owes $900 a month for the packed, non-airconditioned apartment, which is decked out with religious iconography and vinyl-covered white furniture.

    We met on a Monday, his only day off. By Tuesday afternoon, he can hardly wait for Wednesday, when he only works one job. Between the two jobs, he brings home $500 a week.

    The tight schedule lends McCalman a heightened awareness of how seemingly minor changes—a missed stop here, a traffic jam there—shave precious minutes off his sleep. “If the buses are messed up, I’m not getting that four hours,” he said. “If I had my own transportation, I might only need an hour to get to work.”

    By 2 p.m. each day, McCalman finds himself “literally falling asleep. I’m with a chair, and I’m waiting at the checkpoint, and because I’m waiting, my eyes start closing.”

    McCalman’s life reveals a particularly sorry side of America’s sleep-deprived culture. Though we often praise white-collar “superwomen” who “never sleep” and juggle legendary careers with busy families, it’s actually people who have the least money who get the least sleep.

    Though Americans across the economic spectrum are sleeping less these days, people in the lowest income quintile, and people who never finished high school, are far more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night. About half of people in households making less than 30,000 sleep six or fewer hours per night, while only a third of those making $75,000 or more do.

    “We all have sleep problems,” McCalman says, speaking of his fellow airport workers. “Everyone who is doing two jobs has a sleep problem.”

    * * *

    For most of the 1800s, a 12 to 16-hour workday was common. “Coal heavers” in Philadelphia protested in 1835 for the right to work just 10 hours per day. The labor movement, along with paternalistic industrialists like Henry Ford, were essential in normalizing the idea that people should work only eight hours. The chorus of one of the most popular labor songs from the 19th century went like this:

    We want to feel the sunshine and we want to smell the flowers

    We are sure that God has willed it and we mean to have eight hours;

    Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest,

    Eight hours for what we will.

    But many low-income workers don’t even get an hour for “what they will,” and the eight hours of rest are increasingly hard to come by, too. Working minimum wage for eight hours per day would earn a worker $1,386 per month, less than half of the current median average rent in Brooklyn.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2014, 6:39 pm
  41. Well, that’s one way for the GOP to live down its “47%” taint of 2012: wait for working poor to forget about it Just up the ante:

    Think Progress
    John Boehner Says Unemployed People ‘Just Sit Around,’ Don’t Think They Have To Work

    by Igor Volsky Posted on September 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) seemed to echo Mitt Romney’s infamous claim that 47 percent of Americans are “takers” who suck up government benefits during a speech at a conservative Washington D.C. think tank on Thursday. Addressing the American Enterprise Institute, Boehner suggested that President Barack Obama’s economy has lulled many unemployed people into a sense of dependence on government.

    “This idea that has been born, maybe out of the economy over the last couple years, that you know, I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our country,” he said.

    “If you wanted something you worked for it,” Boehner said, adding, “Trust me, I did it all.”

    But the unemployed aren’t jobless because they’re lazy or receive government benefits. Most face huge obstacles to finding good paying jobs in a slow economic recovery.

    Currently, there are more than two job seekers for every job opening in the country and the severity of the recession has created a long-term unemployment problem that has made many job seekers almost unemployable. Research shows that being unemployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of getting hired as losing four full years of experience from a résumé. As a result, many people who lost their jobs have gone back to school, retired early, or continue to look for work without success.

    In fact, millions of unemployed people are having a harder time finding a job since Congressional Republicans allowed the long-term unemployment benefits program to lapse. Research — and real world experience — has found that the program’s job search requirements encourage people to spend more time job hunting and helps cover essentials like internet service for job applications or gas money for interviews.

    Boehner’s remarks are similar to comments made by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in March. During an appearance on a conservative radio show, Ryan claimed, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

    Come on, we all know why those lazy unemployed people ‘choose‘ to stay unemployed. They just want all the awesome luxuries that come with unemployment in America. Like sleep:

    The Atlantic
    When You Can’t Afford Sleep
    Many low-income workers get just four or five hours of rest each day. Research shows their bodies might never recover.
    Olga Khazan Sep 15 2014, 8:00 AM ET

    NEW YORK—If it’s a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, Sam McCalman wakes up in his tiny one-bedroom apartment in Flatbush well before the nearest Starbucks opens for business. He catches the 5 a.m. bus to the John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., he works there as a wheelchair attendant, gently rolling disabled and elderly travelers from gate to gate. Between clients, he is not permitted to sit down.

    After a 30-minute break, he starts his second job wrangling luggage carts for Smart Carte. At 10 p.m., his shift is over, and he takes the B15 or B35 back to Brooklyn. He often falls asleep on the bus—so much so he frequently misses his stop and has to walk the last few blocks back home. By the time he crawls into bed, it’s nearly midnight. Four and a half hours later, it’s time to do it all over again.

    McCalman immigrated from Guyana, a small country that borders Venezuela and Brazil, in 2010. His mother was already here, and he describes himself as the kind of guy who always wanted to come to America. It presented “a better opportunity to do something,” he said.

    He got the wheelchair job a few months later, and picked up the second in 2013 when he realized he needed some extra cash. A series of exes bore him four children—two of whom still live in Guyana—and he sends them a total of $400 each month. He also owes $900 a month for the packed, non-airconditioned apartment, which is decked out with religious iconography and vinyl-covered white furniture.

    We met on a Monday, his only day off. By Tuesday afternoon, he can hardly wait for Wednesday, when he only works one job. Between the two jobs, he brings home $500 a week.

    The tight schedule lends McCalman a heightened awareness of how seemingly minor changes—a missed stop here, a traffic jam there—shave precious minutes off his sleep. “If the buses are messed up, I’m not getting that four hours,” he said. “If I had my own transportation, I might only need an hour to get to work.”

    By 2 p.m. each day, McCalman finds himself “literally falling asleep. I’m with a chair, and I’m waiting at the checkpoint, and because I’m waiting, my eyes start closing.”

    McCalman’s life reveals a particularly sorry side of America’s sleep-deprived culture. Though we often praise white-collar “superwomen” who “never sleep” and juggle legendary careers with busy families, it’s actually people who have the least money who get the least sleep.

    Though Americans across the economic spectrum are sleeping less these days, people in the lowest income quintile, and people who never finished high school, are far more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night. About half of people in households making less than 30,000 sleep six or fewer hours per night, while only a third of those making $75,000 or more do.

    “We all have sleep problems,” McCalman says, speaking of his fellow airport workers. “Everyone who is doing two jobs has a sleep problem.”

    * * *

    For most of the 1800s, a 12 to 16-hour workday was common. “Coal heavers” in Philadelphia protested in 1835 for the right to work just 10 hours per day. The labor movement, along with paternalistic industrialists like Henry Ford, were essential in normalizing the idea that people should work only eight hours. The chorus of one of the most popular labor songs from the 19th century went like this:

    We want to feel the sunshine and we want to smell the flowers

    We are sure that God has willed it and we mean to have eight hours;

    Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest,

    Eight hours for what we will.

    But many low-income workers don’t even get an hour for “what they will,” and the eight hours of rest are increasingly hard to come by, too. Working minimum wage for eight hours per day would earn a worker $1,386 per month, less than half of the current median average rent in Brooklyn.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2014, 6:40 pm
  42. While most zombie apocalypses involve an ever growing horde of zombies consuming society it’s worth keeping in mind that when it’s a zombie ideas apocalypse, a single zombie is all you need:

    TPM Livewire
    Report: New Congress Dumping CBO Chief To Clear Way For Special GOP Budget Math

    By Daniel Strauss
    Published December 22, 2014, 5:45 PM EST

    The incoming leaders of the new Republican-controlled Congress have opted against reappointing Doug Elmendorf as head of the Congressional Budget Office, Bloomberg News reported Monday citing an “aide briefed on the decision.” The move helps clear the way for so-called “dynamic scoring” — a Holy Grail of conservative GOP budget wonks who don’t like the way the costs of tax cuts are currently calculated.

    Elmendorf previously served as an economist with the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. He was appointed to lead the CBO in 2009 after Peter Orszag, the previous director, was nominated to run the White House Office of Management and Budget. After that, in 2011, Elmendorf was confirmed for a four-year term after Republicans took over the House of Representatives.

    Over the past few months Republicans have renewed their focus on changing the way CBO scores budgets if they were to take control of the Senate and keep control of the House of Representatives. Dynamic scoring calculates budgets through a controversial view that tax cuts both create economic growth and counter lost revenue. Currently the CBO does not use dynamic scoring.

    Both Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have argued in favor of dynamic scoring.

    …*braaaiiiinnns*…*groan*…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2014, 4:44 pm
  43. Trickle-down economics: One of the many “controversial” ecnomic dreams (of billionaires) that never dies. Ever:

    Reuters

    Republicans To Push Controversial Fiscal Policy In 2015
    Posted: 12/31/2014 4:39 pm EST Updated: 5 hours ago

    By Kevin Drawbaugh

    WASHINGTON, Dec 31 (Reuters) – As Republicans assume control of the entire U.S. Congress in the new year, they are expected to push a controversial change to use more macroeconomic projections in determining the impact of tax and budget legislation on the federal deficit.

    Critics say wider use of “dynamic scoring,” as the Republican-favored approach is known, would introduce new uncertainties into fiscal policy and degrade the value of present analysis now done by Capitol Hill staff experts.

    Republican advocates argue it would make fiscal analysis better reflect what they call economic realities. Dynamic scoring, as they envision it, would assumes that lower tax rates boost growth, offsetting some lost revenue.

    The “scoring” of tax and budget bills matters because it can influence whether a bill becomes law. Lawmakers shy from measures that would balloon the deficit. So any math that makes scores look less worrisome has political appeal.

    House Republicans were scheduled to meet on Monday to consider rules for the new Congress that convenes in January. One proposed rule, quietly unveiled two days before Christmas, is to require more dynamic scoring.

    The top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee has been sharply critical of this approach.

    “In the guise of dynamic scoring, Republicans are trying to rig the system in ways that can be very destructive,” said Michigan Democrat Sander Levin in a recent statement.

    “The proposed change would undermine fiscal responsibility and further embrace Republican trickle-down economics,” he said.

    At the moment, when a U.S. lawmaker wants to raise or lower a tax or change the budget, the proposal has to be “scored” by the non-partisan staff experts of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) or the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

    JCT and CBO scores estimate how much a proposal will raise or lower projected government revenues and spending, a crucial factor when considering such measures because of the large federal budget deficit.

    Scores currently are based on projected alterations in behavior due to changes in tax law and the budget, but not on changes in the broad economy. For instance, standard JCT scores hold gross domestic product (GDP) constant. GDP measures the economy’s total output.

    Dynamic scoring, as Republicans urge, would include more projected macroeconomic impacts.

    Well, it could be worse. The GOP could still be pushing for ‘expansionary austerity’ too. Of course, once the ‘dynamic scoring’-driven tax cuts fail to increase revenues, ‘expansionary austerity’ schemes are really just a matter of time…assuming they bother waiting…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 1, 2015, 3:52 pm
  44. Wisconsin Governor, and current GOP heartthrob, Scott Walker just gave a major boost to his presidential ambition: he worked a miracle. Specifically, Scott Walker managed to make Texas Governor Rick Perry sound like the adult in the room. Granted, this room in question happened to be the CPAC convention hall, so it’s a pretty low bar. But still, this is Rick Perry we’re talking about here. Sounding sane and somewhat wise. It’s clearly a miracle:

    MSNBC
    Rick Perry calls Scott Walker’s ISIS-labor comparison ‘inappropriate’
    02/27/15 12:19 AM—Updated 02/27/15 08:37 AM

    By Kasie Hunt

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s comparison of his fight with labor unions to the U.S. struggle against the Islamic State was “inappropriate” and a “mistake,” likely Republican presidential competitor and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday.

    These are Americans,” Perry said in an interview after Walker made the comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference early Thursday evening. “You are talking about, in the case of ISIS, people who are beheading individuals and committing heinous crimes, who are the face of evil. To try to make the relationship between them and the unions is inappropriate.”

    In a question-and-answer session at CPAC, Walker was asked how he would fight the terror group that’s been beheading Westerners and seizing territory across Iraq and Syria. He concluded a lengthy answer by referring to his own political fights with labor unions in his home state: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said.

    When asked if he thought Walker’s comments went too far, Perry said, “yes.”

    Yes, Scott Walker’s battle with evil unions makes him the perfect leader for ridding the world of evil-doers like ISIS. But don’t assume Walker was being boastful here. He wouldn’t do it himself. He has an entire army at his command! Meet Scott Walker’s Pentagon…it’s where he gets his marching orders:

    PRWatch
    Wisconsin Introduces Word-for-Word ALEC Right to Work Bill
    Posted by Brendan Fischer on February 20, 2015

    Wisconsin Republicans have called a special session to take up a “right to work” measure attacking private sector unions–and the text of the bill, the Center for Media and Democracy has discovered, is taken word-for-word from American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation.

    See the side-by-side of the Wisconsin legislation and the ALEC bill here.

    Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a former ALEC state chairman, says that the legislature has the votes to enact the measure, which undermines collective bargaining by allowing workers to opt-out of paying the costs of union representation. Right to work laws are associated with lower wages for both union and non-union workers.

    Fitzgerald has long supported right to work, and in the past hasn’t been shy about describing the ALEC connection. In December 2010, after Republicans took control of the legislature, he was asked by Jeff Mayers of WisPolitics about making Wisconsin a right to work state.

    Fitzgerald replied: “I just attended an American Legislative Exchange Council meeting and I was surprised about how much momentum there was in and around that discussion, nothing like I have seen before.” See the video here.

    Walker worked to promote many ALEC bills during his time as a state legislator (1993-2002) and first co-sponsored a right to work bill as a freshman legislator (SB 459). Just days after Walker was first sworn-in as governor in January 2011, he spoke frankly about his plans to "divide and conquer" Wisconsin unions in conversation with billionaire GOP financier Diane Hendricks for a documentary which only became public more than a year later. Hendricks gave Walker $500,000 for his 2012 recall effort, and gave $1 million to the Republican Party of Wisconsin in 2014.

    “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?,” Hendricks asks in the January 2011 video.

    “Oh, yeah!” says Walker.

    “And become a right-to-work [state]?,” Hendricks asks.

    Walker replies: “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.… That opens the door once we do that.”

    Scott Walker, as we can see, has been honing his divide and conquer skills for years. Could he apply this same tactic to ISIS? Well, maybe. But keep in mind that dividing and conquering is what ISIS to climb to power in the first place, so it may not be the cakewalk Walker is expecting:

    Financial Times
    Isis uses humility as tactic for conquest

    By Erika Solomon in Beirut
    July 27, 2014 1:00 pm

    The black and white flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) now flutters over much of Syria’s eastern city of Deir Ezzor but few of its fighters have a presence on the ground, say other rebels.

    The group controls the city at arm’s length, using local forces to impose order. “They came and said: ‘No one will bother you. But if you need anything, we are here’,” said Mundhir Saffan of Deir Ezzor’s Hamza Brigade.

    Like many rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Mr Saffan’s unit has kept working even as Isis, an al-Qaeda breakaway, claims to control 90 per cent of its province. “They let our battalions run the area just like before,” he said.

    An important element of Isis’s lightning expansion across much of Syria and Iraq is how little military force it employs to maintain its hold on the territory it has captured. Isis appears to be perfecting a model mixing fear, divisiveness and soft power tactics to slowly seize control from under the feet of other rebel groups.

    Activists and residents of Isis-controlled areas say the group begins planning for governance before it even starts a military attack. Sleeper cells of combatants and activists prepare not just for the initial strike but for administrative and social projects to gradually cement their hold.

    To soften resistance, Isis first shares control of territory with nonaligned but unthreatening local groups, like Mr Saffan’s Hamza Brigade, and the thousands of rebels who pledged their loyalty to the group as it advanced.

    “It’s like the Arabic expression, ‘be humble to conquer’. They make allies as they spread and firm their hold. After that, they can impose full control,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Now calling itself the “Islamic State”, Isis claims to be building a caliphate. It has become one of the wealthiest and most powerful jihadi groups in history by capturing oilfields, banks and military sites. In areas under its full control, Isis implements strict interpretations of Islamic law that impose amputations for theft, face and hair coverings for women, and enforce a subjugated status on religious minorities.

    With these tactics the group has managed to advance on four different fronts – Syria’s north and oil-rich east, and northern and western Iraq.

    Isis’s progress has been helped by its ability to keep other Sunni insurgents engaged in fighting their shared opponents – Mr Assad in Syria and the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq.

    Accepting the group’s arrangement is a mistake, say residents in Syria’s northern Raqqa province. Raqqa was the first province to fall completely to opposition forces but Isis forced its rivals out in January.

    “At first, everyone ignored their strict religious rulings?.?.?.?Isis played nice while they tested the water. They worked slowly to divide and conquer. Eventually, the rebels collapsed and withdrew,” said Saleh, a shopkeeper in Raqqa who asked not to be named in full.

    “Days after the rebels left, Isis began beating women who weren’t wearing the niqab (face veil).”

    Initially, it was unclear who was in control in Mosul. Rules based on Isis’s strict interpretations of Islamic law were announced, but largely ignored. Many insurgent groups appeared to be patrolling the streets.

    A month later, there are signs that Isis has consolidated power. The first public lashings were reported in the past week and the remaining members of Mosul’s historic Christian community have fled – reportedly after they were given a choice to convert or leave.

    With Isis’s limited numbers, psychological tools are critical to maintaining power.

    Pictures posted on its social media sites show fighters handing out food and cuddling kittens but also shooting prisoners in mass graves and posing with beheaded corpses – sending a message that those who accept its rule are safe but those who do not face a brutal end.

    Despite its excesses, Isis has been accepted and even welcomed by many Syrian civilians exhausted by war.

    “Under the rebels, the kidnappings and looting were out of control,” said Saleh in Raqqa. “Isis crucifies and beheads criminals – and its opponents. But it leaves the rest of us alone.”

    Unlike other groups, Isis has allowed medical and humanitarian aid to pass into opponents’ areas, activists say. And this week, after Isis seized every oil well in Deir Ezzor, worth millions of dollars in monthly revenue, it forced salesmen to refine and sell fuel at affordable prices.

    “To a civilian, Isis seems more humane than the rebels,” Karam said. “They work and think like an army, not like gangs the way rebels did.”

    Well, it clearly isn’t going to be easy for Scott Walker to work any dividing and conquering miracles. ISIS is working from the same play book!


    Pictures posted on its social media sites show fighters handing out food and cuddling kittens but also shooting prisoners in mass graves and posing with beheaded corpses – sending a message that those who accept its rule are safe but those who do not face a brutal end.

    Despite its excesses, Isis has been accepted and even welcomed by many Syrian civilians exhausted by war.

    “Under the rebels, the kidnappings and looting were out of control,” said Saleh in Raqqa. “Isis crucifies and beheads criminals – and its opponents. But it leaves the rest of us alone.”

    Unlike other groups, Isis has allowed medical and humanitarian aid to pass into opponents’ areas, activists say. And this week, after Isis seized every oil well in Deir Ezzor, worth millions of dollars in monthly revenue, it forced salesmen to refine and sell fuel at affordable prices.

    Kitten pics plus beheadings?! How on earth is Scott Walker going to counter that when all his divide and conquer plans involve union busting and crushing healthcare and education? That form of dividing and conquering might work in Wisconsin, but does Walker really have what it takes to divide and conquer ISIS when ISIS has clearly already mastered Walker’s tactic of choice? This doesn’t feel right…

    Oh wait, did this analysis just equate Scott Walker to ISIS? Uh oh. As a somewhat wise man once said, oops. He’s not like ISIS at all. Well, ok, there are similarities.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 27, 2015, 9:17 am
  45. Here’s a great example of what keeps Wisconsin governor Scott Walker either near the top of list for 2016 GOP presidential nomination: Scott knows what billionaires want. Intimately. And that means he knows that what billionaires want is someone that knows which asses need kicking and which asses need kissing. On top of that, he’s a fabulous kisser:

    The Huffington Post
    Scott Walker: Abolishing Federal Income Tax ‘Sounds Pretty Tempting’
    Posted: 03/14/2015 2:12 pm EDT Updated: 03/14/2015 2:59 pm EDT

    Igor Bobic

    WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Saturday that eliminating the federal income tax sounded like a pretty appealing idea.

    “I haven’t proposed that, although it sounds pretty tempting right now. Particularly in this state, I’d love that,” Walker said, speaking to a group of Republicans in New Hampshire.

    But the likely 2016 presidential contender did not outright endorse the idea, which remains popular among fringe, libertarian voters in the Granite State. (New Hampshire is one of only nine states in the country that does not have a state income tax.) Instead, Walker ably pivoted to a discussion of lowering income tax rates, an alternative more consistent with mainstream views in the Republican Party.

    “Certainly I think lower rates, we’ve talked about that. We’ve looked at that,” Walker said, adding, “should I get in this race, that’s something we’ll take on in that growth category out there.”

    “I think putting more money back in the hands of the hardworking taxpayers, which is your money to begin with, is a much better way to grow the economy than through government so-called stimulus, which has a much lower rate of return than it does if you and other job creators have that money out there,” he said.

    In 2014, Walker drew criticism from Mary Burke, who unsuccessfully challenged him for the governorship, after he expressed interest in eliminating Wisconsin’s state income tax.

    *smmmmmmoooooooch*
    Well that probably went over well with the base. Although at this point doesn’t pretty much every GOP candidate basically support eliminating the income tax? Heck, even Jeb Bush recently refused to deny that he would consider abolishing the IRS and replacing it with a flat tax.

    But that’s all part of what gives Scott Walker the 2016 edge: any candidate can pledge to do the billionaires’ bidding once they get elected. But Scott Walker, as governor, has already done their bidding. Over and over. And it’s exactly the kind of bidding that the GOP’s billionaires have just got to love. Scott knows how to please his clients, and while pleasing clients isn’t something unique to Scott Walker, it’s also not exactly a simple task to position yourself for a presidential run while simultaneously bending over backwards to satisfy the every whim of a client base that happens to be the heirs to this legacy:

    Pando Daily
    As “Right To Work” becomes law in Wisconsin, a reminder of its inventor’s racist past

    By Mark Ames
    On March 13, 2015

    On Monday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed into law the controversial anti-union “Right To Work” bill, following weeks of protests in Madison. Right To Work laws are designed to kill unions by mandating “open shop” workplaces, allowing workers to work in unionized workplaces, without paying union dues.

    Wisconsin is historically one of the most pro-union, progressive states, home to the legendary “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, and the only community-owned nonprofit NFL football team— so gutting unions in labor’s historical heartland is like what Russian homicide detectives call a “control shot” — the point-blank bullet to the head that makes sure the bleeding target on the ground never breathes again.

    It’s also gratuitous, like doing donuts on road kill, when you consider how close to extinction labor unions have fallen over the years. Only 6.6% of private sector workers are in unions today, down from a peak of 35% in the mid-1950s. It’s only thanks to public sector unions—which Scott Walker destroyed in Wisconsin in 2011—that the overall percentage of the workforce that’s unionized is 11.1%. California, which has rejected “Right To Work” laws in the past, has the largest number of union members in the country — 2.5 million workers — though as a percentage, California ranks sixth highest.

    Which reminds me of two things: First, Scott Walker proves that pranks don’t work. Four years ago, when Walker first waged right-wing jihad on Wisconsin’s public sector workers, an old comrade of mine, “Buffalo” Ian Murphy, pulled off the single greatest phone prank ever. Posing as billionaire David Koch’s voice, Murphy managed to swagger his way past Gov. Walker’s aides and into the governor’s handset for a long 20 minute call, which revealed Walker as a grotesquely slavish Koch towelboy. Four years later: Walker is a top presidential contender, the Kochs are worth over $100 billion, Koch-backed groups passed “Right To Work” in Wisconsin…and “Buffalo” Murphy is an ex-con, jailed in 2013 for brandishing an unconcealed, fully loaded dildo at a mob of homophobic religious fanatics. As the saying goes, “The Koch is mightier than the prank.”

    The other thing Walker’s RTW law reminds me of is some unfinished business I have with the number one national organization behind the law: The National Right To Work Committee.

    A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for NSFWCORP (since acquired by Pando) exposing the ugly, racist roots of the whole “Right To Work” movement, tracing it back to the brains behind “Right To Work”: Vance Muse, the loonie anti-Semitic, anti-black Texan who coined “Right To Work” in the early 1940s, and worked Karl Rove-like to push through the first “Right To Work” laws in the South in the 40s and early 50s. Since a lot of people these days are not in tune with labor union struggles and what “right to work” laws even mean, my article exposing the KKK racist who started “Right To Work” created a bit of a PR headache for the union-busting movement.

    In the weeks and months that followed the publication of my article, people I know started forwarding me emails from a certain Stan Greer of the Washington, DC-based “National Right To Work Committee”. Greer avoided me personally, but trolled anyone who quoted my article, falsely claiming that my article misquoted Vance Muse, inventor of “Right To Work”. A great labor reporter, Moshe Marvit, forwarded me one of Greer’s trolling emails he sent to Mavrit’s co-author of their book “Why Labor Organizing Should Be A Civil Right”:

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Stanley T. Greer
    Date: Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM
    Subject: Submitted to Snopes.com today
    To: XXX

    Richard Kahlenberg, for your information, I submitted the following note to Snopes.com this morning. Perhaps your coauthor Moshe Marvit would also be interested, but I do not have an email address for him.

    Stan Greer

    National Right to Work Committee

    Recently, a number of commentators on the Internet who oppose state Right to Work laws have alleged such laws have “racist roots.” As proof, they cite an alleged 1937 quote from one Vance Muse, who became a Right to Work activist in the early 1940’s.

    The earliest source I can find for the quote dates from more than 40 years after the words were allegedly said. I think it’s bogus, but it’s hard to prove that.

    Here is the quote and a link to a new Internet blog post citing it:

    A key driver of the right-to-work movement beginning in the 1930s was Texas businessman and white supremacist Vance Muse, who hated unions in part because they promoted the brotherhood of workers across racial lines. As author Mark Ames notes, Muse bluntly outlined the thinking behind “right to work,” declaring, “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”

    http://peoplesworld.org/the-ugly-racial-history-of-right-to-work/

    Stan Greer

    After I got that email from Greer, others I know started asking me for hard copy proof of my quotes. I had a librarian from the University of Nevada Las Vegas help me scan and send original page copies of the book “Southern Exposure” by the legendary undercover journalist Stetson Kennedy, in which the quotes were printed. For the rest of you—here is a photo from my own marked-up book of the Vance Muse quote Greer denies ever existed, published in 1946, in the heat of Muse’s “Right To Work” campaign:

    [see excerpt]

    That Vance Muse invented “Right To Work” is not in dispute: If you don’t have time to read Kennedy’s book [available here for free], you can read a more recent history of “Right To Work” by Dartmouth professor Marc Dixon in the “Journal of Policy History”.

    In the 1920s and 30s, before Muse invented “Right To Work,” he was notorious for lobbying against women’s suffrage, against outlawing child labor, against the 8-hour workday, and for “Americanization of the Supreme Court” to remove Austrian-born Jewish Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Muse and his groups were investigated by numerous committees and the FBI, but he always landed on his feet thanks to his wealthy sponsors, ranging from Texas oil and cotton magnates, to northern petrochemicals titans like the DuPonts and the Pews.

    To get a sense of this strange beast Vance Muse, I’ll quote Kennedy’s description circa-1946:

    The man Muse is quite a character. He is six four, wears a ten-gallon hat, but generally reserves his cowboy boots for trips Nawth. Now over fifty, Muse has been professionally engaged in reactionary enterprises for more than a quarter of a century.

    Anyway, as part of my belated response to the National Right To Work Committee’s trolling of my article, here again are some career highlights and quotes from Vance Muse, the Founding Father of the Right To Work movement:

    * In 1936, Vance Muse planted photos of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt walking with two African-American professors at Howard University in newspapers in the South, in the hopes of turning racist southern Democrats against the New Deal, or what Muse called “the Black New Deal.” This followed revelations in 1929 of Muse’s plan to “Blacken” the Democrats in the South and help Republicans by running African-American Democrats in the North and publicizing that in the South;
    * Vance Muse incorporated “Christian American Association Inc.,” the original “Right To Work” lobby front, in 1936, and appointed an anti-Semitic Hitler apologist, Lewis Ulrey, as chairman of Christian American. In the late 1930s, Ulrey wrote pro-Hitler columns for a magazine run by Gerald Winrod, a notorious anti-Semite was arrested during World War Two for pro-Nazi sedition;

    Note that you can read more about Vance Muse and his “Christian American Association” on page 126 of The Nazis Go Underground.

    Continuing…


    * Vance Muse quote: “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”;
    * During the war, Vance Muse smeared Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Eleanor Clubs” as a “RED RADICAL scheme to organize negro maids, cooks and nurses in order to have a Communist informer in every Southern home”; Muse’s sister, who served as treasurer of his anti-union Christian American group, told a reporter for the Antioch Review she opposed “Eleanor Clubs” because they stood for “$15 a week salary for all nigger house help, Sundays off, no washing, and no cleaning upstairs. . . . My nigger maid wouldn’t dare sit down in the same room with me unless she sat on the floor at my feet!” As for Christian American’s ties to pro-Nazis like Gerald Winrod, Muse’s sister told the reporter, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right. . . . You’d be surprised how many important corporations support our work”;
    * In 1943, Muse wrote a letter to the chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party about his efforts to divide the Democratic Party vote and remake Texas’ Republican Party: “The negro question plus incapable leadership has prevented many citizens from openly affiliating with the Republican party in Texas in the past but since the Democratic party has largely been transformed into the Black New Deal party this question should no longer be an issue.”

    All of this is documented in Kennedy’s book and backed by newsclips from the period.

    Today most of us, including liberals and progressives, couldn’t tell you what Right To Work is or why it’s bad. But Silicon Valley’s favorite politician, Rand Paul, is the Right To Work candidate for president. Rand Paul’s senate staff is led by people from Stan Greer’s National Right To Work Committee — including the Doug Stafford, executive director of RAND PAC and Paul’s former chief of staff, previously vice president of the National Right To Work Committee.

    No surprise then that Senator Rand Paul has been pushing for a federal “Right To Work” law covering all states, whether they like it or not. With all the Silicon Valley money pouring into his 2016 campaign coffers, a President Paul may just get his Right To Work wish.

    That’s the proud tradition Scott Walker is helping to uphold: a tradition of cynical oligarchs manipulating racist imbeciles for political gain. And as we can see, Scott Walker is more than up to the task for carrying on the tradition.

    At the same time, we can’t ignore the above warning:


    Today most of us, including liberals and progressives, couldn’t tell you what Right To Work is or why it’s bad. But Silicon Valley’s favorite politician, Rand Paul, is the Right To Work candidate for president. Rand Paul’s senate staff is led by people from Stan Greer’s National Right To Work Committee — including the Doug Stafford, executive director of RAND PAC and Paul’s former chief of staff, previously vice president of the National Right To Work Committee.

    No surprise then that Senator Rand Paul has been pushing for a federal “Right To Work” law covering all states, whether they like it or not. With all the Silicon Valley money pouring into his 2016 campaign coffers, a President Paul may just get his Right To Work wish.

    Yep, Scott Walker may be a billionaire ass-kisser extraordinaire, but he’s going to have plenty of competition if he wants to get the top job in the White House.

    How he goes about obtaining that job is going to be something to watch, but at this point it’s hard to dismiss the governor of Wisconsin and his national ambitions. If anyone knows how to bust a union, it’s Scott Walker, and let’s just say that, while union-busting may not be a transferable skill in the way that Walker describes it, what Scott Walker has gained from his union-busting is still very transferable.

    He’s clearly ready.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2015, 6:50 pm
  46. Now that the US is seriously flirting with electing an aggressive and unhinged demagogue to the White House who promises to be all things to all people (except for the ever-growing list bad people who he will vanquish), something to keep in mind is that if Trump wins and we see the GOP in full control of Congress, we’re almost certain to see massive cuts to the kinds of public spending that a large number of Trump/GOP voters rely on to basically live. And the more the Trump/GOP budget policies gut the programs Trump’s supporters rely on, the more Trump is going to be compelled to pick a scapegoat (Mexicans, etc) in order to shore up the very base his policies are harming.

    In other words, the bigger the inevitable Trump/GOP policy and budget debacle becomes and the more entitlements and helpful social programs get cut, the bigger a demagogue Trump needs to become in order to distract from (or compensate) his supporters who just voted Trump into office with the hopes of seeing their lives improve and instead end up watching Trump and the GOP carry out a liquidation of any government policies that actually help the rabble. That’s a pretty important dynamic to keep in mind because Trump is going to need a lot of distracting scapegoats:

    Think Progress

    So much for that ‘new direction’ on poverty: Paul Ryan’s tax plan is a massive handout for the rich

    Bryce Covert
    9/20/2016

    Paul Ryan (WI), Republican Speaker of the House, has lately fashioned himself as a crusader for the poor, apologizing for saying those on government assistance are “takers” and rolling out policy planks that he says offer “a new direction.” But the tax plan that he unveiled in June would give so much to the richest Americans that barely anything would be left over for the poorest.

    According to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, after a decade of being in place Ryan’s tax plan would hand 99.6 percent of its benefits to the richest 1 percent of Americans.

    That leaves just 0.4 percent to be doled out to everyone in the bottom 99 percent. While the poorest Americans would see an extra $100 in their pockets after a decade of Ryan’s tax cuts, the top fifth would get $10,710 more and the 1 percent would benefit from nearly a quarter million dollars.

    Ryan and the House Republicans claimed that their plan wouldn’t raise the deficit, but that’s not what the analysis finds. The Tax Policy Center found that it would cost the government $3.1 trillion over a decade, raising the federal debt by $6.6 trillion.

    If Ryan wanted to keep all of his policies deficit-neutral, that would require deep cuts elsewhere, which could fall on the poorest who rely on various government services to get by.

    “Ryan and the House Republicans claimed that their plan wouldn’t raise the deficit, but that’s not what the analysis finds. The Tax Policy Center found that it would cost the government $3.1 trillion over a decade, raising the federal debt by $6.6 trillion.”

    A $6.6 trillion fiscal gap (the amount of additional debt after you factor in all of the Ryan plan’s social spending cuts) that can only realistically be filled with massive social spending cuts. So what kind of scapegoat is going to adequately distract from that? Invading Mexico? Nuclear war with Russia and China simultaneously? At a minimum, if Trump wins, Donald Trump Jr. going to be very busy retweeting neo-Nazi memes about Mexicans and Muslims over the next four years, not just because he wants to because he’ll have to. A successful Trump presidency – if success is defined as Trump’s ability to implement a classic GOP pro-oligarch agenda while keeping the rubes in line while the GOP slashes the programs they depend on – is going to depends on it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2016, 6:39 pm
  47. Remember all those reports about how Walmart was holding employee food drives for its low-wage employees and how McDonalds would gives its employees directions on how to receive government services like food stamps? Well, it looks like the likely next Labor Secretary, fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder, is a big fan of that socioeconomic model. At least the “pay your employees so little they require welfare to live” part of the model. The actually welfare programs? Yeah, it turns out he’s against those:

    The Huffington Post

    Donald Trump Chooses Fast-Food CEO To Be His Labor Secretary
    The man who’s helmed Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. could become the nation’s top workplace watchdog. Best of luck, Fight for $15.

    Dave Jamieson Labor Reporter
    12/08/2016 11:55 am ET | Updated

    In a rebuke to President Barack Obama’s work on the labor front, President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday chose a fast-food executive to be the nation’s next labor secretary, tasked with enforcing workplace safety and wage laws on behalf of U.S. workers.

    Andrew Puzder, who advised Trump during his presidential campaign, is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which includes the burger chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. among its brands. He’s largely credited with turning around Hardee’s after taking over the company in 1997.

    The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported the Puzder pick on Thursday, citing anonymous transition officials. Trump’s transition team later confirmed Puzder’s appointment in a statement, with Trump lauding “his extensive record of fighting for workers.”

    Just as with his Cabinet picks for health and education, Trump’s choice of Puzder for the labor post suggests an eagerness to dismantle much of Obama’s legacy and govern as a firm conservative.

    Puzder was a sharp critic of Obama’s labor policies, lambasting him for expanding overtime pay for workers and for trying to raise the minimum wage. While Obama aligned himself with fast-food workers who’ve gone on strike to raise wages, Trump is instead naming one of their bosses to be the country’s top workplace watchdog.

    Puzder has made his philosophy of governing fairly clear through his op-eds, television appearances and personal blog. Like Trump, he argues that the federal government has made regulations too burdensome on businesses, stifling job growth. Two of the major regulations he has criticized – the minimum wage and overtime – are ones he would be tasked with enforcing.

    Earlier this year, the Obama administration overhauled the nation’s overtime rules, trying to make them more generous to workers. Under the changes, which are now blocked in court and may never see the light of day, 4.2 million more salaried workers would be guaranteed time-and-a-half pay when they work over 40 hours in a week. The overtime changes would be the most significant labor reform of the Obama era.

    Puzder is not a fan of them. Writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2014, he said the rules would hurt the workers they were intended to help, like the fast-food managers who work for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Many of those managers would be newly entitled to overtime. “Overtime pay has to come from somewhere, most likely from reduced hours, reduced salaries or reduced bonuses,” Puzder wrote.

    In an interview earlier this year, Puzder also made clear that he didn’t want to see a major hike in the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour and was last raised in 2009. Raising the wage floor significantly, he said, would compel businesses to look into replacing workers with machines. “With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he said. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

    Puzder told the Los Angeles Times that he isn’t opposed to a minimum wage in principle, and doesn’t mind an occasional bump. He also told the paper he’d be open to indexing the wage floor so that it rises gradually over time.

    In the same interview, Puzder didn’t seem to show much empathy for workers. He laid out all the reasons a company might prefer to use machines rather than humans for its labor force: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

    In an op-ed he wrote for The Hill, Puzder argued that safety net programs like food stamps discourage poor people from working and need to be reined in. Acknowledging that some employees in his own chains would earn wages low enough to qualify for public assistance, Puzder said some workers don’t want to earn more money because they would lose their benefits. “Consider that some of our crew members are declining promotions to shift leader positions because the increase in income would disqualify them for food, housing, medical or other government benefits,” he wrote.

    Puzder helmed Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. at a time the chains became famous for their controversial TV ads. They showed the likes of Paris Hilton and Kate Upton, scantily clad, eating cheeseburgers in a surprisingly sexualized manner. Puzder defended the spots, saying they worked well for the young male demographic his company targets. He even said women eating burgers in bikinis is “very American.”

    In addition to advising Trump, Puzder was also an adviser to the 2012 campaign of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. This election cycle, Puzder and his wife gave $150,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, Trump and the Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising committee, according to campaign finance records. Puzder himself gave another $10,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a political action committee supporting Trump.

    No one can say Puzder is unfamiliar with the Labor Department’s work. Like other fast-food chains, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants are often investigated for possible minimum wage and overtime infractions. A recent analysis from Bloomberg BNA found that officials discovered violations in roughly 60 percent of their investigations of those chain’s locations. Most Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations are operated by franchisees, rather than by CKE Restaurants itself, meaning the company itself is typically not considered responsible under the law.

    Obama used the power of the executive pen to institute many labor reforms, particularly in the last three years of his tenure, and Trump’s nomination of Puzder does not bode well for them. Aside from the overtime changes, Obama signed executive orders raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and guaranteeing them paid sick days, as well as an order that would take contracts away from firms that break labor laws.

    It’s ultimately up to Trump whether he wants to reverse those executive orders, or write new rules that completely undo the ones instituted by Obama. A good example would be the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which basically cracks down on 401(k) fees and is tied up in court. In Puzder, Trump would have a Cabinet official who’s advocated for loosening the very types of regulations that the Obama administration championed.

    One area where Puzder appears moderate is immigration. In an interview with The Hill last year, Puzder said the party needs to have empathy for undocumented immigrants. (Fast-food restaurants employ a disproportionate amount of immigrant workers, including many who are undocumented.) “People vote with their hearts … Our values indicate we should be the party of immigration reform,” Puzder said. “[Many undocumented immigrants] live in fear of being deported, losing what they’ve built and being separated from their families.”

    The pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute hailed Trump’s decision to choose Puzder, saying he “understands that the key to economic growth and rising wages is empowering business to increase productivity, not artificial, government-imposed wage and hour mandates.”

    “In an op-ed he wrote for The Hill, Puzder argued that safety net programs like food stamps discourage poor people from working and need to be reined in. Acknowledging that some employees in his own chains would earn wages low enough to qualify for public assistance, Puzder said some workers don’t want to earn more money because they would lose their benefits. “Consider that some of our crew members are declining promotions to shift leader positions because the increase in income would disqualify them for food, housing, medical or other government benefits,” he wrote.”

    So is Mr. Puzder’s plan to instill low-wage employees with a hunger for better pay actual hunger? Well, not quite. As Puzder lays out in his op-ed in The Hill last year, what he would prefer to see is all those welfare programs he feels should be “reined in” instead rolled into an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit:

    The Hill

    More work, less welfare

    By Andy Puzder – 06/22/15 06:31 PM EDT

    After six years of a recovery that has failed to meaningfully help working-class Americans, our nation is facing a crisis of entrenched poverty and declining opportunity.

    Not surprisingly, the number of people dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), federal housing assistance and Medicaid continues to grow. The number of people receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) alone has doubled since 2008, to 74.7 million; in troubled cities like Baltimore, more than 1 in 3 residents receives them.

    These important programs genuinely help people in need, and we are a nation rich enough to assist the economically disadvantaged. But these programs have the unintended consequence of discouraging work rather than encouraging independence, self-reliance and pride.

    At quick-service restaurant brands Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, we’ve seen these policies’ unintended consequences firsthand.

    Consider that some of our crew members are declining promotions to shift leader positions because the increase in income would disqualify them for food, housing, medical or other government benefits.

    These promotions are the first step on the ladder to becoming a general manager, potentially making up to $80,000 a year. It’s a shame they’re unable to take a promotion for fear of losing public assistance. Following local minimum wage increases, other employees have refused additional hours or requested fewer hours to keep their incomes below the cutoff for receiving benefits.

    Called the “welfare cliff” by policy wonks, this growing trend is little more than people responding to incentives. Simply, people get trapped into working less and keeping valuable benefits over working more and losing them.

    For example, eligibility for food stamps ends when annual income exceeds 130 percent of the poverty line, or a little more than $15,000 a year, for an individual. At $8.25 an hour or less, employees can work a full-time schedule of 35 hours a week and still qualify for these benefits. But when the minimum wage increases above this level, as it has recently in many cities and states, employees must reduce their hours to keep their benefits.

    Similarly, in most states, Medicaid eligibility ends when annual income exceeds 138 percent of the poverty line. Understandably, some employees choose to work less and keep the thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits instead of working a little more and losing them.

    The impact a loss of government benefits has on financial security for people living in poverty can be draconian. It can lock them into poverty by making the chasm between government dependence and independence too broad to cross.

    As a result, people forgo opportunity for safety, which prevents them from realizing the independence and self-reliance that come with personal success and a job.

    There is a solution that fulfills society’s obligation to help the poor without reducing opportunity: the earned income tax credit (EITC).

    The EITC supplements incomes of the working poor through the tax code. Rather than access to myriad and complex government programs, people receive a government check supplementing their paycheck.

    As their income from work increases, their government supplement declines. The decline, though, is never so steep that it results in a decline in total income. You make more when you work more, thus rewarding work, without the perverse incentives and massive government bureaucracy that characterize existing social programs.

    The IRS recently estimated that nearly 28 million Americans received more than $66 billion in EITC payments in 2013, lifting an estimated 6.5 million people out of poverty, including 3.3 million children. While programs that provide food, housing and medical benefits are certainly important, the EITC is more effective in helping people rise out of poverty. These existing programs should be rolled into an expanded EITC.

    “The IRS recently estimated that nearly 28 million Americans received more than $66 billion in EITC payments in 2013, lifting an estimated 6.5 million people out of poverty, including 3.3 million children. While programs that provide food, housing and medical benefits are certainly important, the EITC is more effective in helping people rise out of poverty. These existing programs should be rolled into an expanded EITC.

    And right there is probably what we should expect from any sort of “welfare reform” from the GOP-controlled federal government: gut all the safety-net programs like like food stamps or Medicaid and replace them with an expanded EITC program.

    Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the EITC has bipartisan support. Both Democrats and Republicans generally back the program. The main difference is that the Democrats view the EITC as a companion to traditional safety-net programs whereas Republicans view the EITC as a vehicle for dismantling existing welfare programs. And since the House Ways and Means Committee recently propose replacing it with a payroll-roll tax exemption, it’s not like we can take any sort of ‘EITC instead of welfare’ GOP proposals very seriously.

    But here’s a big catch with Andrew Puzder’s proposed scheme: The EITC does nothing for the unemployed. Or keep people out of deep poverty (half the poverty line). Or get healthcare (where costs can vary wildly depending on your health issues). Or provide help on monthly basis (the EITC is an annual check). Or serve as an automatic economic stabilizer during a recession. In other words, the big catch is all the little catches:

    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    Commentary: The EITC Works Very Well – But It’s Not a Safety Net by Itself

    March 26, 2014
    by Sharon Parrott

    House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s recent report on safety net programs rightly praised the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for reducing poverty and promoting work. But, Ryan’s report criticizes much of the rest of the safety net. And, over the past several years, Chairman Ryan’s budget plans have targeted low-income programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Medicaid for extremely deep cuts. While it’s heartening to hear Chairman Ryan trumpet the EITC’s success, policymakers need to understand that the EITC alone can’t do what’s needed to ameliorate poverty and hardship.

    The EITC serves a specific role in our safety net: easing the taxes and supplementing the wages of low-income working families. It promotes work by providing the most help to families with significant earnings. A single parent with two children, for example, must earn between $13,650 and $17,850 in 2014 to qualify for the maximum credit. Those earnings are modest, to be sure, but most people in this earnings range work most of the year and work at least 30 hours per week when they have a job. In short, they have significant attachment to the labor force.

    Here’s what the EITC (and its sibling the Child Tax Credit or CTC, which helps offset the cost of raising children) are not designed to do — and cannot do without other safety net programs:

    * Help people who are out of work or can’t work. The EITC and CTC are designed to help families with at least modest earnings. But, some people don’t have jobs, particularly in a weak economy, or have long periods of unemployment during a year. Others can’t work due to illness or disability or the need to care for an ill or disabled child. Still others can’t work because they have young children and can’t earn enough to afford child care.

    Without programs such as SNAP, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid, people in these families, including millions of children, couldn’t put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, and get needed health care. Helping them isn’t only the right thing to do — it’s also an investment in children. Research shows that basic assistance to children not only reduces short-term hardship but also improves their academic performance and long-term prospects. And, Medicaid coverage enables children to receive preventive care as well as treatment for everything from ear infections to cancer.

    * Keep people out of “deep poverty.” Because the EITC and CTC aren’t targeted to the very poorest families, they don’t do much to keep people out of deep poverty, or above half the poverty line. Overall, the EITC and CTC plus other programs targeted on low-income individuals — such as SNAP, SSI, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — kept an estimated 15 to 20 million people above halfthe poverty line (about $11,000 for a family of three) in 2010. (That estimate is based on the federal Supplemental Poverty Measure, which most analysts favor. The upper end of the range reflects estimates based on Urban Institute data that correct for the underreporting of government benefits.) Roughly 70 to 80 percent of these people would have remained in deep poverty if the EITC and CTC were the only forms of income-tested assistance for very poor families (see Figure 1).

    * Help families get health care. The average EITC benefit for families with children was $2,254 in 2011 — not enough to buy health insurance for a family or pay health care bills when someone gets sick or needs expensive medications. The programs designed to help low-income people get decent health care are Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and subsidies to buy private coverage through health reform’s new marketplaces, not the EITC.

    * Help families on a monthly basis. Recipients get their EITC and CTC for the year in one lump sum when they file their income tax return. That works fine for many working families, helping them save for larger expenses and budget for the coming year, but poorer families and families whose incomes drop sharply due to a mid-year job loss need help during the year. And, for families that need significant help with large monthly expenses — such as putting groceries on the table and paying high rent or child care costs — monthly assistance programs are often a better fit. If a new mother needs help paying for child care to go back to work, for example, a tax credit that she needs earnings to qualify for and doesn’t arrive until she files her tax return the following winter or spring isn’t going to help her get back to work.

    * Serve as an automatic stabilizer for the economy in recessions. Programs like unemployment insurance, SNAP, and Medicaid automatically expand during recessions when more people lose their jobs and need help. Since the EITC only goes to people who work, in contrast, it doesn’t help those who are out of work throughout the year. And, for people who still have earnings but whose earnings shrink during a downturn, the EITC rises for some, but falls for others. A recent study found that the EITC is only weakly counter-cyclical — that is, it expands only a small amount overall when unemployment rises.[1] For single-parent families, the largest group of EITC recipients, the study found “no evidence that the EITC stabilizes income” overall as unemployment rises. By contrast, other programs such as unemployment insurance and SNAP are far more responsive to increases in unemployment, according to the study.

    The bottom line? The EITC is a critically important and highly effective part of the safety net, but it can’t — and wasn’t meant to — stand alone as our answer to poverty.

    * Serve as an automatic stabilizer for the economy in recessions. Programs like unemployment insurance, SNAP, and Medicaid automatically expand during recessions when more people lose their jobs and need help. Since the EITC only goes to people who work, in contrast, it doesn’t help those who are out of work throughout the year. And, for people who still have earnings but whose earnings shrink during a downturn, the EITC rises for some, but falls for others. A recent study found that the EITC is only weakly counter-cyclical — that is, it expands only a small amount overall when unemployment rises.[1] For single-parent families, the largest group of EITC recipients, the study found “no evidence that the EITC stabilizes income” overall as unemployment rises. By contrast, other programs such as unemployment insurance and SNAP are far more responsive to increases in unemployment, according to the study.”

    Yep, a shift to an EITC-only safety-net is basically replacing a safety-net with a voucher (like the GOP’s Medicare phase-out proposals). A voucher that doesn’t go to the unemployed and doesn’t expand during recessions. And if you have a major illness, you better hope your expanding EITC check will cover the healthcare bills once Medicaid is “rolled into” an expanding EITC.

    And here’s the other catch: Puzder wants to replace low-wage employees with robots. Recall his fond feelings about robots:


    In the same interview, Puzder didn’t seem to show much empathy for workers. He laid out all the reasons a company might prefer to use machines rather than humans for its labor force: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

    Yep, the next Labor Secretary’s solution to the growing issue of advanced automation doesn’t involve expanding the safety-net. No, instead it’s a plan to force virtually all adults in need of assistance to compete with robots and each other in the labor market that increasingly doesn’t value their labor – presumably competing by getting paid less than a robot and also less than the other guy competing with the robot – in order to qualify for an “expanded EITC” that won’t even cover the existing safety-net.

    And if you’re not currently in the ‘working poor’ category and are smugly assuming that all these schemes will never impact you because your job isn’t easily automated, keep in mind that flooding the labor market with people are basically forced to work for nearly free in order to get their EITC pittance probably isn’t going to do great things for people in those non-automatable occupations. Sure, you might have more experience and expertise at this point than the unemployed people looking for work, but, again, your desperate out of work neighbors will be forced to work for almost nothing. Or die in a ditch. And don’t forget Trump’s suggestion that we eliminate the federal minimum wage. In other words, you know that desperate super-cheap and exploitable foreign labor that America’s manufacturing workforce has been competing with for years along with the robots? Yeah, that desperate super-cheap and exploitable workforce is going to be your poor American friends and neighbors. More so.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 9, 2016, 4:42 pm

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