One of the most irritating things about the deficit hawk/austerity literature, is that it uses the ideas of “fiscal sustainability” and “fiscal responsibility” in an ideological way, without ever really analyzing or explaining these labels. It's almost as if the austerians know that if they clearly and directly stated what they meant by these terms, and how their meanings were actually related to the ideas of “sustainability” and “responsibility”, then flaws in their whole ideological and policy framework would be very clear to everyone else.
Of course, if you read any of the austerian literature you soon learn that they think fiscal sustainability and responsibility both relate to the impact of government spending on the federal deficit, the public debt subject to the limit, and the debt-to-GDP ratio, and to no other impacts of fiscal policy.” But the austerians never really explain why these three numbers are relevant for fiscal sustainability and responsibility. Instead, they take the relationship as obvious to all, and start evaluating fiscal policies on the basis of past and projected deficit, debt, and debt-to-GDP ratios. Invariably, regardless of the nation in which you find them, they end up advocating for lower taxes for the wealthy, less regulation for corporations, and sacrifices of Government programs and the social safety net; all this based on the ideas of fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility that they've never even explained to an incurious and uncritical media, but very bought media, or to the public.
Because of the very great importance of the fiscal sustainability/fiscal responsibility/fiscal crisis/solvency rhetoric, the first session of the Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter-Conference covered the topic “What Is Fiscal Sustainability?” and the primary speaker was Professor Bill Mitchell of the University of Newcastle. Audios, videos, presentation slides, and transcripts for the presentation are available at selise's site and a slightly different version of the transcripts is available from Corrente as well. Read more about The Fiscal Summit Counter-Narrative: Part Two, Defining Fiscal Sustainability
[I'm leaving this sticky because our enemies don't sleep. If you end up eating Grand Bargain™ cat food because Robama concocts some sleazy deal in the lame duck session due to a Shock Doctrine-style manufactured crisis, the people who engineered the crisis will be the same people who organized this shindig. Know them, and know their lies! --lambert]
Well, it's Springtime in DC. Time for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's annual event. The Fiscal Summit, to be held on May 15, better named the Fiscal Cesspool of distortions, half-truths and lies, is a propaganda extravaganza designed to maintain and strengthen the Washington and national elite consensuses on the existence of a debt crisis, the long-term ravages of entitlement spending on America's fiscal well-being, and the need for long-term deficit reductions plans to combat this truly phantom menace. The purpose of maintaining that consensus is to keep an impenetrable screen of fantasy intact in order to justify policies of economic austerity. that have been impoverishing people and transferring financial and real wealth to the globalizing elite comprised of the 1% or far less of the population, depending on which nation one is talking about.
The 2010 Fiscal Summit
The first “Fiscal Summit” was held in Washington, DC on April 28, 2010. It was lavishly funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and included many “big names” associated with “fiscal sustainability” and “fiscal responsibility,” including Bill Clinton, who appeared along with personalities from Peterson's stable of deficit hawks such as David Walker, Alice Rivlin. Robert Rubin, Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, and Paul Ryan. Its purpose was to spread the deficit hawk message of Peter G. Peterson, including various myths of the world-wide austerity movement: Read more about The Fiscal Summit Counter-Narrative: Part One
Obama Slides On Progressive Mask for 2012 As “Bargaining Phase” Dems Prove Stuck Still in 5 Stages of Grief
(572 Obama-dumping days until 2012 election-Hugh's Obama's Scandals List)
My Green Party friend, Daniel, encouraged me to write a blog about Obama’s budget speech for his website. I gulped. Just as with W, sustained Obama viewing makes me nauseous.
Except for a few enraging excerpts of the speech I glimpsed, provided by gaga MSNBC anchors, I thought I had escaped having to endure this particular pile of Obama say-anything bullshit. But I made myself sit down and listen to it on youtube last night. Every last, saccharine, mendacious word of it. Read more about Obama Slides On Progressive Mask for 2012 As “Bargaining Phase” Dems Prove Stuck Still in 5 Stages of Grief
Self-styled “progressive organizations” and commentators have been releasing their own deficit reduction plans in reply to the plans released by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici, and The Peterson-Pew Commission. These new plans, were released by the Institute for America's Future, Citizens Commission on Jobs, Deficits, and America's Economic Future and Our Fiscal Security, a collaboration of Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, and The Century Foundation (TCF). The first, “Report and Recommendations of Citizens Commission on Jobs, Deficits, and America's Economic Future” was written by Jeff Madrick with contributions from Roger Hickey, R. J. Eskow, Robert Borosage, Dean Baker, Robert Kuttner, Robert Pollin, and other unnamed Commission members. The second, “Investing in America's Economy: A Budget Blueprint for Economic Recovery and Fiscal Responsibility” was written by Becky Thiess and Andrew Fieldhouse, both of EPI, with contributions from Heather McGhee (Demos, Defense Spending), Maggie Mahar (TCF, Health Care), and Josh Bivens (EPI and relating public investments to economic growth). The report was also written under the guidance of Greg Anrig (TCF), Tamara Draut (Demos), and John Irons (EPI). Read more about The “Progressive” Give-Up Formula Is Alive and Well In the Latest Deficit Reduction Plans
Froomkin today tags the encouraging news that deficit-whiner and Catfood Commission architect Peterson's continuing attempts to convince us that we need to gut “entitlements” and slash taxes under the rubric of a deficit crisis backfired. Lambert promised me a sticky-post if I posted on one of the highlights (my first ever! Yaay!) of the rebellion, on single payer, so here goes: Read more about AmericaSpeaks But It's Not What Pete Peterson and Crowd Want to Hear
In a recent post I wrote about “The Real Solution to the Fiscal Sustainability Problem.” But I was just kidding, folks. That was a solution only for people who think that Fiscal Sustainability means controlling the growth of the national debt, and stabilizing and reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio. That view of Fiscal Sustainability, however, doesn't trace the connection from a coherent idea of fiscal sustainability to the national debt and the debt-to-GDP ratio. So, let's start from such a view and see where it leads us. Fiscal Sustainability is: Read more about The Real Solution to the REAL Fiscal Sustainability/Fiscal Responsibility Problem
As I've blogged many times before, I don't think there is a “fiscal sustainability problem” as the people who are presently deluging us with exhortations to bring the national debt and the debt-to-GDP ratio define it. That's because I define “fiscal sustainability” in a different way than they do, as I've explained in another post. In this one, however, for the sake of argument, I'll accept the deficit hawk/dove notion of “fiscal sustainability” and offer a different and, I think, much better solution to that problem than any of the deficit-reduction Commissions, groups, and individual members of these bodies are proposing to us now. Read more about The Real Solution to the “Fiscal Sustainability Problem”
This week and last we've seen the appearance of four plans for “deficit and debt reduction.” Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson started things off by releasing their Co-Chair's plan. Read more about The Very Idea of A Long-term Deficit Reduction Plan
In a beautifully simple post that should crystallize everything for you, Professor Stephanie Kelton of the University of Missouri at Kansas City crystallizes the logic of the Sectoral Financial Balance Model for President, Obama, the Catfood Commission, the deficit hawks and doves and you and me. She says:
In a 'closed economy' (one without foreign trade), the government's budget position is, by accounting logic -- the negative of the private sector's (firms and households combined) position. Thus, a public sector DEFICIT is equal to the private sector's SURPLUS. To the penny.
So, in a closed economy, a Federal Government budget deficit adds to private sector financial assets, while a Government surplus represents a leakage and subtracts financial assets from the private sector. Or more briefly, Government deficits make private individuals richer; Government surpluses make private individuals poorer. Read more about Stephanie Kelton and the Catfood Commission: “I know which scenario benefits me. Do you?”
A few days ago I began a critique of the Catfood Commission Co-Chair Proposals draft, by focusing on a single slide of their presentation stating “our guiding principles and values.” There was enough objectionable material on that slide to justify a post. But there's much more worth commenting on in the succeeding slides on the same subject. Slide 2 says:
2. The Problem Is Real –the Solution Is Painful –There’s No Easy Way Out –Everything Must Be On the Table –and Washington Must Lead
On April 28, 2010, The Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter-Conference was held at The Marvin Center of The George Washington University In Washington, DC. The Conference was first proposed in a post I blogged on April 7th at a number of sites including this one. Read more about Fiscal Sustainability Conference Videos and Transcripts Now Available
This is the first of a number of posts on the Catfood Commission's latest travesty: the Co-Chair's Proposal. The proposal begins with statements about “Our Guiding Principles and Values.” I'll analyze the first page in this statement of principles in this post.
1.We have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make America better off tomorrow than it is today
-- America cannot be great if we go broke. Our economy will not grow and our country will not be able to compete without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our back.
So the Catfood Commission wants to:
1) raise the Social Security retirement age to 69 - when we are near 10% unemployment (and more like 22% real unemployment when you count people who have given up looking) - this will just make unemployment WORSE as it forces older workers to cling to their jobs instead of freeing up jobs to younger workers.
2) ignore the fact that Social Security is solvent and wants to blame Social Security (money that belongs to us and is earmarked for us) for the federal governments blowing all it's tax revenues on Wall Street bail outs. Social Security is not the federal government's money and should not be used to pay for anything other than Social Security. It is a public trust that they were entrusted to administer. Read more about Catfood Commission lacks logic
On November 10, 2010November 10, 2010, the co-chairs of Obama's Cat Food Commission (the Deficit Reduction Commission), Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, specifically chosen for their corporatist outlook and hatred for Social Security and Medicare released their own draft proposals to the rest of the Commission. Call it a pre-emptive strike. Read more about The Catfood Commission Draft Recommendations --In Depth