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"Shared sacrifice"

2012-11-17 I guess it's time to sticky this post again.

Because when you've got Socialist stalwart Bernie Sanders buying into the "shared sacrfice" meme, you know the Big Wienie is on its way. Bernie's heartfelt plea:

Everyone [in official Washington] understands that over the long-term we have got to reduce the deficit - a deficit that was caused mainly by Wall Street greed, tax breaks for the rich, two wars, and a prescription drug program written by the drug and insurance companies [unlike ObamaCare. Not]. It is absolutely imperative, however, that as we go forward [in the midst of a never-ending recession?] with deficit reduction we completely reject the Republican approach that demands savage cuts [so mild cuts are OK?] in desperately-needed programs [but other program are fair game?] for working families, the elderly, the sick, our children and the poor, while not asking the wealthiest among us to contribute one penny [so cuts are OK if taxes on the wealthiest are raised?].

Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe [they do?] that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share. [100%]. At least 50 percent [why not 100?] of any deficit reduction package must come from revenue raised by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit large, profitable corporations and Wall Street financial institutions. A sensible deficit reduction package must also include significant cuts [yeah, lets start by scuttling some aircraft carriers] to unnecessary and wasteful Pentagon spending [there's some other kind?].

Do you hear Bernie Sanders, the second coming of Eugene V. Debs, calling for "Not one penny of cuts?" No, me neither. In practice, in the world of sausage making, the position crypto-Democrat Sanders has staked out is indistinguishable from Obama's: The wealthy are to pay more in taxes and the rest of us will get even worse social insurance. But all parties know this is bogus; no matter that the wealthy are supposed to pay "a little more" (Obama) or some "pennies" (Saunders), the only real cost to the rich will be the accountants they hire to avoid or evade what isn't even real money to them; but the costs will be very real to us, and will come out of our hides in the form of food, or shelter, or health.

Here is what the baseline should be: "Not one penny of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or any other social insurance program, and any savings to be paid out as benefits." Hear that from Bernie? Any Dems? Didn't think so.

We have already had ample sacrifice shared with us, whether through the loss of our jobs, our health, or our homes, or from real wages being flattened for the last forty years, or from paying some well-fed smiling weasel a percentage every time we turn around.

The proper percentage of additional sacrifice for us is, precisely and exactly, zero. So whenever you hear the words "shared sacrifice" ask yourself who's doing the sharing, and how, and how much.

So fuck you, Bernie.

2011-04-13. And I guess it's time to sticky this again, in time for Obama's speech this afternoon at not-yet-occupied George Washington University. After all, when you're getting ready to justify killing off old people* so the banksters can keep charging us interest on our own money -- and all to no purpose, as MMT shows -- it's important to do so on a thoroughly bipartisan basis.

As for "shared sacrifice," I've already done that, and so have the rest of us. Paying for my parent's retirement, as well as my own, and real wages flat for thirty years while the rich got richer and richer -- that's our sacrifice. The sacrifice that the banksters should be making is jail time in orange jumpsuits. But no, they're "savvy businessmen."

* * *

2011-04-11 Guess it's time to sticky this again. Says Susie Madrak, who attended "a conference call with Congressional Budget Office spokesman Ken Baer and White House adviser David Plouffe. Baer’s opening remarks focused on “shared sacrifice.” Alrighty, then.

* * *

SOTU PROPHYLACTIC: Got yer "shared sacrifice" right here:

One question:

Who do you think's going to be doing the "sharing"? Hilariously, the WSJ says this:

The president is expected to call for "shared sacrifice" from both parties, and to reach out to the GOP with a nod to possibly lowering the nation's corporate income-tax rate as part of an overhaul of the corporate-tax code, according to people familiar with speech preparations....

C'mon. The parties are going to sacrifice anything at all? Pull the other one, it's got bells on!

The president will try to keep the deficit conversation in broad terms, fearing that detailed proposals would put Republicans, Democrats and Washington interest groups into a defensive crouch before real negotiations can take place, according to those officials. White House officials, for instance, have assured Democratic lawmakers that the president will not explicitly call for cuts in Social Security benefits, though he will say changes are needed to put the program on a solid fiscal footing.

Kabuki. Lying. Social Security is already on solid fiscal footing.

At the same time, Mr. Obama will call on both parties to be prepared to put everything on the table. [Our Beloved Leader's constant theme since IA 2008.] That means Democrats have to be ready to look at changes to Social Security, and Republicans to consider tax-code changes to increase revenue

Ah, changes. Classic Obama, even if you're crazy enough to think that he's playing honestly: Give up something that doesn't need to be conceded as your opening move. In fact, the trade is Social Security cuts, where the recipients have no power, for tax code changes, which those with power will simply game.

Obama is so full of shit.

NOTE * Because, statistically, that is exactly what is going to happen. All so the neo-liberals can take a swipe at a program that actually works....

UPDATE Apparently, Obama has courageously pulled back from Social Security cuts, though of course he could still be lying about that, and cut programs that prevent the poor from freezing to death, and other such. Well done, that man.

UPDATE We're #3! We're #3!

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lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

My outrage-o-meter is just pegged today. The global megacorp I work for posted record profits for last year and highest stock price ever.

So of course that means I'm told this morning about another large layoff and an additional massive offshoring initiative which have just started.

One of my mealy-mouthed coworkers started in about well, this is what we have to do to meet the bottom line. Another suggestion was that the company's only loyalty is to money/profit.

As the recipient of huge tax breaks and other government incentives and handouts, however, I think that maybe this company needs to show some loyalty to the country making their obscene profits possible? Sabotaging the US by offshoring our jobs - does this really show that global megacorp doesn't give a shit about serving the US market anymore? In reality, it's more profitable to have your HQ in the US and soak up tax dollars, while moving all your business global and bailing out of the failing US economy/market altogether.

That's what it looks like to me. In other words, get rid of most US employees because they don't want to do business in the US anymore. Right now, I can't staff all the RFPs we've got and it looks to me like the company doesn't want the business. That will be the ultimate effect of US downsizing. Not only are corporations skimming off our tax dollars, they're preparing to bail out as well.

Gee, Democrats, how's that pro-corporate bi-partisanship working out for ya? Not so well for the rest of us.

Submitted by Hugh on

David Addington, Cheney's old enforcer, defined the essence of both the Bush and Obama Presidencies when he said:

We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop

Obama is never going to stop going after Social Security until he is forced to. It is that simple.

As for further reduction of the corporate tax rate again this is not about economics but looting. Corps are sitting on a ton of money. They just posted their largest profits ever and even with all that they haven't been hiring. How will giving them even more money change that? How will cutting corporate tax rates help deficit reduction? It won't. As I said, this is about looting. Our elites are going to loot and loot and loot until some larger force makes them stop.

propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on

They have been hiring - just not in the United States. It's all just Human Resource Arbitrage - that's the name of the games these days.

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

of cutting corporate taxes (as is happening in my state also) is that no corporation is going to hire anyone they don't need just because their taxes are cut. That added bonus will simply be used to buy up another corporation of for investment overseas.

We're being governed by morons who are regularly, systematically insulting our intelligence.

The arrogance level inside the beltway is such that even 2 million pitchfork bearing citizens surrounding the Capitol and the White House wouldn't make any difference.

Hell, the media wouldn't even bother to cover it.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

That gave me chance to lodge a comment over there.

Submitted by jawbone on

Thanks. I've looked, but not sure what I found is what you're referring to.

Came across a Selise comment which links to Galbraith article, Why Progressives Shouldn't Fall For the Deficit Reduction Trap, from Jan. 26, 2010.

Last two paragraphs:

Financial reform and debt relief are therefore the only paths to public deficit reduction.; It would be nice to have them, for the economy works better and people are happier when they can borrow and invest privately. But if we don't get them, the alternative isn't a "return to fiscal responsibility." It's a choice between large public budget deficits that fund important and useful activities and tax relief, or large deficits because the recession, housing slump and high unemployment drag on and on, all made worse by cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other public spending.

Yes, we must defend Social Security and Medicare from Wall Street and its political agents -- which now, sadly, include the Obama White House. But we'll lose on that -- and everything else -- if we start by giving up the fight for an aggressive, effective, sustained and long-range economic recovery program, deficits and all.

Hardly new to readers here, but bears repeating.


Stephanie's picture
Submitted by Stephanie on

I've been hearing you call for shared sacrifice, regarding the economy of the u.s.a.,mostly to reduce the federal deficit. Saying that democrats and republicans should share in that sacrifice.

And you repeatedly liken the government's budget problems to those of American families, talking about how Americans have been having conversations at their kitchen tables of how to balance their personal budgets, and that the u.s.a. government must have the same conversation.

Have you and your family needed to have such a conversation these past few years. Of course, with your book deals, and now the presidency, your income has jumped considerably. But still...

Even before you became president, did you and Michelle need to sit at the kitchen table to discuss how your income has stagnated and prices of everything have gone up, so it's time to cut something out of the budget?

Have you had to sacrifice any of the following in your budget?:
Any vacations
Summer camp for the girls
Music lessons for the girls
Private school for the girls
Allowance for the girls (maybe they could get babysitting jobs)
Cable tv
Manicures/pedicures -- maybe a cheaper hair salon for the family
Turned the thermostat further down in winter, up in summer (seeing that you're cutting federal money for LIHIEAP in half)
Needed household repairs and upkeep
Replacement/repair of broken household appliances
Taking your meds every other day instead of every day
Postponing or canceling doctor appointments until you have to go for the prescription renewal
Eliminated the argula on the shopping list in favor of cheaper iceberg lettuce
Cut the grocery bill at all (while you cut food stamps for poor people)
Stopped saving for your old age in some 401k or IRA, because you need the money NOW
Thought about selling the house because you can't afford the real estate taxes
Even though you have child care via mother in law, was Michelle ever looking for a second job to help ends meet? How about you?

Okay, you probably think it's pretty ridiculous that the prez of the usa should have these concerns.

What about any of your cabinet members? Or even ONE of the Chamber of Commerce members you spoke to last week. How about those savvy businessmen you admire?

Even a senator or a congressperson? Anybody you know?

If the bankers hadn't gotten those big bonuses, do you think they'd have had to cut back on any necessities, or even luxuries?

In a speech today you talked about how a special ed teacher is looking for a second job so she can afford college for one of her children. Do you know anyone like that? Did you know that about 35 years ago (before Reagan, who you so admire), state college tuition was relatively nil, that any kid with grades good enough to get in could get a college education at their state college for just the cost of fees, books and housing?

Mr. President, what exactly is your sacrifice?

I've read that you need to "raise" a billion dollars for your re-election campaign. Do you think you'll have any problem "raising" that amount of money -- like the school teacher has a problem finding a second job?

Do you worry that you won't be able to raise $1 billion, squashing your hopes of re-election, like the hopes of college will be squashed for the daughter of that schoolteacher?

Probably not.

And, you say that you have lowered federal income taxes. Which is true. But while you were lowering federal income taxes, states and local governments were raising taxes, making tax rates the same or higher for the lower classes. Did you know that? Local sales, real estate, income taxes have been going up. Not to mention all the state and local fees -- which are equal to a tax -- like license plates, parking/traffic tickets, city stickers, building permits, on and on.

So maybe you lowered federal taxes, and the states got back less from the federal government, so the states/local governments had to find more money. Do you see the bigger picture beyond what you yourself has done, and the effect? It doesn't seem that you understand that taxes have gone up under Obama.

So, Mr. President, where exactly is YOUR skin in the game?

Stephanie's picture
Submitted by Stephanie on

It was late and I forgot a few complaints:

In regard to the teacher and her daughter going to college, I forgot to add that the prez wants to cut pell grants for students, after spending weeks promoting the virtues of education and calling on people to become teachers (so you can have a job that doesn't help pay for your kid's college ed?).

And that would have also led to the question of pensions, which state governments are looking for a way to avoid financing for state employees -- Like Teachers!! -- Now that they've spent the money on other things -- just like Soc. Sec., which mr prez decided should take in less revenue for the next year -- he weakens Soc Sec while he claims Soc Sec should be "strengthened."

Which would have led to the question of pensions (and life long health care / insurance benefits for retired state and federal congress people. Is anyone at the (MY) table looking to limit or cut those benefits for the congress people? Nope, just cuts for the wage earners, whose benefits are much lower. I bet it would save a lot more money to cut all the congressional perks than pay freezes for federal wage earners and all the state and local layoffs (which add to the unemployment insurance/benefits costs).

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

Interesting that 'common sacrifice' is framed in an entirely political context as though the real sacrificees don't exist except maybe in the abstract.

With Obama everything is simply a goddamn academic exercise. There's no understanding of real life consequences.

Submitted by jawbone on

been part of the conversation about their "sacrifice" planned for them by the Powers That Be? To negotiate the planning, not to just scream in agony?

Looking at the graphic...what percentage are volunteers or power brokers to be killed? Well, our armed forces are now all volunteer...but many of the volunteers enter to simply have a job or get aid toward their education.

Jobs? What did the Dem Congress and this president do in any way which even slowed the offshoring of jobs? I do believe Obama had programs to actually speed it up.

I'm sure someone here has that example down pat, so input would be appreciated.

I'll be "borrowing" that line, if you don't mind....

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

Obama finished the Korean Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA like) which he claims will support 70,000 American jobs. Now just what does he mean by 'support.'

Maybe support for stevedores on the west coast to unload those crates stamped Made in Korea and the truck drivers who'll transport the goods around the country.

Submitted by jawbone on

On why we will not have "shared" sacrifice, only sacrifice by the little people. Immediately, bcz Obama has to raise that $1B to run for reelection, which will only come from the wealthy; in the long run, bcz there is only the Money Party with its two sides labeled R and D and their money comes from the wealthy.

Also, that's why US power is waning, competitiveness is fading, etc. It's the tax policy, stupid.
WOW video from Bloomberg (which will not permit embedding) -- Sounds like a Correntian! Speaking like a Correntian on the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media)!

Via Commenter Klynn at FDL linking to Naked Capitalism.

There is no fix for our budget problems but higher taxes and there will be no higher taxes on the wealthy as they control both parties.

GO, listen (about 8:15 minutes).

Submitted by jm on

See part of the last question asked in this morning's press conference for a simple truth revealed in a slip of the tongue:

You've said many times that you'd rather be a one-party -- one-term President if it means you've done the hard things that need to be done.

And the president confirms the de facto one party approach to fiscal affairs in a portion of his answer:

And all of us agree that we have to cut spending, and all of us agree that we have to get our deficits under control and our debt under control. And all of us agree that part of it has to be entitlements.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

but... LOL

We need to keep it simple, imho. We have so little influence.. it's seems we should focus on the neo-budgetary jugular.

1) As "progressives" shouldn't we attack Defense spending above all else.. as a matter of where massive cuts should be made?

2) And shouldn't we be constantly pointing out what single payer or tri-care would do for the entire country/people/most business/government at large?

3) As well as progressively TAX THE RICH! (toss in prosecute criminal banksters instead of bailing them out for good measure)

It's seems to me these are the three elephants in the proverbial budget room.... all of which are being ignored at best by the entire D party.

Submitted by lambert on

1. Medicare for all

2. End the wars

3. Soak the rich

Points 2 and 3 speak directly to what you're saying.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

Say thanks for the Sachs video... imho, he still gives D's entirely too muck slack... but hits many nails on the head in one segment.

Submitted by gob on

"Apparently, Obama has courageously pulled back from Social Security cuts, though of course he could still be lying about that" -- yeah, and when I saw that, I thought, pretty slick: make a lot of noises about going after Social Security, then when you don't do it everyone is so relieved they barely notice how bad your proposals actually are.

Or in terms of the Aztec metaphor, "ooh, looks like they're not going to cut my heart out after all! Maybe they'll just slice off my hands and feet."

michaelwb's picture
Submitted by michaelwb on

Shared Sacrifice Redefined: We (the elite) increase our share and you (the common folks) increase your sacrifice.

Submitted by Hugh on

We used to make fun of Bush because his idea of dealing with a problem was to make a speech about it. This is just another instance of Obama following in the Chimp's footsteps.

Submitted by hipparchia on

this is a great post, glad you brought it out of retirement.

i'm also glad to see you used "social insurance" instead of "safety net." medicare and social security for sure, and probably some other programs, should be seen as somethiing that we do collectively to make life better for all of us, not something that's just there to plug a few cracks for catching a few hapless people.

also, i get a kick out of "the econd coming of eugene v debs" every time i read it. thanks.

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

Partial privatization of Social Security has to be in the cards, because financial services folks stand to make millions off of fees. Just like the individual mandate, it's a way of capturing a revenue stream.

athena1's picture
Submitted by athena1 on

Sad, but spot on.
We really are in "begging for death panels" territory now.

Submitted by lambert on

.... for the suggestion!

I don't think we're quite in that territory. I know I'm not, I have things to do.

athena1's picture
Submitted by athena1 on

Yes, they're sociopaths, but still. There are no free shelters in my city.
My FIL died a slow, painful senseless death because of insurance companies.
I think we are in that territory, for real. Depends on who "we" are, I guess.
(If that comes across snarky, I'm sorry. It's not my intention.)