Some time ago, in the pages of USA Today, Duncan Black, better known to some as Atrios voiced the immediate need for increased Social Security benefits of 20% or more even if it means raising taxes on high incomes, or removing the payroll tax cap on salaries.
Black is right about the need for increased benefits; but legislating that increase doesn't require increasing taxes. In fact, Congress should both increase benefits and remove the payroll tax entirely.
But how is that possible without greatly increasing “the national debt”? The answer to that one is easy. Don't tax or borrow to pay for it. Just mint a single one oz. platinum coin at the beginning of each fiscal year with a face value large enough to cover expected the cost of SS payments. Doing it that way will both take care of retirement needs and also provide a huge shot in the arm for employment, since the increase in Social Security benefit payments and the ending of the payroll tax won’t be offset by tax increases elsewhere that will depress aggregate demand. Read more about Yes We Can Pay for Increasing Social Security Benefits
The Peterson Foundation reacted to the President's budget document with a report repeating its usual whining about the debt problem, and the need to cut entitlements. Here are quotations from the report and my explanations of why they are ridiculous deficit/debt terrorist nonsense. Read more about Peterson Thinks We Need Austerity While He Lives It Up!
Why is it that Washington village “progressives,” and their associates in other parts of the country who are nevertheless part of the Washington village culture, often ask useful questions, but, almost always deliver, underwhelming answers? Here's an example from Richard Eskow, probably the best writer at Campaign for the American Future. Read more about How to Restore the Good Name Of Government
On Valentine's Day, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the President, authored by himself and signed by 15 other Senators, all Democrats. The letter was a response to the rumors that the President intends to include his Chained CPI proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the budget he will soon send to Congress. Read more about What that Letter Should Have Said
Not you, Corrente. You know who.
Well it seems this continuing debacle every 3 months has ceased, for now. However, I really can't get over this pathetic celebration over the really low bar involved with regard to avoiding what I call a political default on the public debt. This is the same embarrassing type of celebration that ensued in 2011. We need to get real. Despite the government being opened up again, there's nothing to celebrate. We've already lost. After all, the debt ceiling was a precious gift Obama bestowed onto John Boehner in the 2010 tax deal as he put his full faith in Speaker John Boehner hands, as he took the full faith and credit of the United States hostage.
Of course, it was a deal struck between both of them to put who they called the "extremists" of both their parties in check, for a grand bargain like in 1983 when Tip O'Neil and Ronald Reagan cut social security. President Obama and Speaker Boehner weren't fooling everyone, though. Just those involved in their hyper deluded, hyper partisan, claptrap. To some of us, this was entirely predictable and preventable. Now people are suffering because some people, blinded by their hyper-loyal partisan illusions, couldn't or didn't want to see what was there. Maybe their lack of sight reveals they don't really care? It doesn't matter though. This will continue to be what we go through when some of this crap continues again in 4 months in February, regardless.
This austerity government will reopen at sequester levels of funding; a sequester I predicted would be born out by the stupid Super Committee from the super austerity Budget Control Act of 2011, which I saw was inevitable since the 2010 tax deal led to the first, now ongoing, debt ceiling debacle; a miniature crisis to crisis government with no plans to invest in its citizens' future. Anything else is possible though, from government shutdowns over the false prospect of defunding Obamacare, to any austerian Senator or Congressman using the threat of default for whatever demands they want.
We, the so called professional left as the White House derisively called us, warned about this. Anyone who denied this can either apologize now or forever restrain from speaking about matters regarding politics, civics, political deals, and the debt ceiling. We told all of you back in 2011 around this same time when that debacle was coming to its end — until this one and the next one 4 months down the line — that this was no victory. Read more about Go Ahead, Celebrate — You're Celebrating Failure
Disclaimer: This forum rules like the moderator. I'm talking about a different one that tends to skew towards Obots in an orange way.
And here we are again! It started in 2010. The Bush tax cuts were about to expire. There was leverage to negotiate a debt ceiling raise or to just let them expire. How do I know there was leverage? I know Republicans like tax cuts for the rich, and there was a deal for the purpose of extending them with Republican votes. It passed with those Republican votes, which led to this whole thing because there was no debt ceiling raise included.
Maybe others are unaware of this? I don't know. It doesn't matter though; the uninformed shouldn't dictate fantasy as reality in a reality based community. This is the actual reality and why we are worried about a global financial calamity with regard to a possible political default on the public debt, which is a choice and otherwise impossible for a sovereign currency issuer.
Q Mr. President, thank you. How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit? Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in. Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?
THE PRESIDENT: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?
Q Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the — we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do. I mean, what leverage would you have –
THE PRESIDENT: [silence].... Look, here’s my expectation — and I’ll take John Boehner at his word — that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.
You know, we on the left knew what this would lead to. You don't trust John Boehner with the full faith in credit of the United States unless one is completely clueless or an economic nihilist. The resulting signs we are starting to see of a financial panic in response to the prospects of a default on top of the ongoing depression, the jobs crisis, the continuing climate and ecological crisis all converging into one huge Epochal crisis, point to a special kind of disdain for the public that all our elected leaders have for us. I mean, we have enough problems without adding to them through a self induced global financial then economic crisis caused by the President's pursuit of a deficit terrorist grand bargain whether through incompetence or outright corruption. Read more about President Obama Gave Speaker Boehner the Debt Ceiling to Play With in 2010
The LA Times editor says they are publishing this letter, so I'm posting it in case anyone else may want to send something like it to their paper. Feel free to rewrite, improve, expand, whatever you like. But as Ralphbon notes in the comments below, cut-and-paste copying is probably not the best idea. If it starts looking like a form letter, it'll be trashed.
The Times only accepts pieces under 150 words, so this one is short. It's in response to an editorial entitled "Debt and Taxes in DC."
And here's the letter:
RE: Debt & Taxes in DC (9 November, 2012)
We, the Enemies?
There are no operational or legislative constraints which prevent the Federal government from eliminating deficits and debt forever.
Cynical subversion triumphs in the national debate on tax policy. Ezra Klein's review of the Tax Policy Center's report further dissects Romney's Tax Plan so that the regular guy can appreciate just how much worse off he will be with Romney. But what none of these analyses of the Romney or the Obama Tax Plans question is the fundamental rationale for taxation and borrowing to generate revenue in the first place. Read more about I'm Jus' Sayin'
I originally wrote the following essay in late 2009, almost three years ago. I never got it published, though I did circulate it privately. At the time I theorized that debt was the common element of oppression in American life across ages, ethnic groups, geography, etc.. Debtors were the largest oppressed group in the US if only they would recognize it. Therefore teachingpeople to recognize that fact would be a way of organizing people against the current system. Read more about Chains of Debt
House leaders have agreed on a compromise continuing spending resolution at the same level as before from October 2012 through March 2013. It's likely now that the President(s?) will probably try to make the money available for deficit spending, as of today, last through the time period of the continuing resolution so that one deal including both the budget and raising the debt limit can be made by March of 2013. Read more about Things Will Get Worse Before They'll Get Better
It's hard to listen to the doomsday rhetoric of Austerians like Paul Ryan and intermittently the less hysterical, but equally mythical narratives of the President when he talks about deficit/debt reduction, when you know better; when you know that both are talking about a bogeyman that doesn't exist. Here's Ryan, the Republican wunderkind:
“We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.”
This one is a message intended for all progressive organizations, especially those who have worked so hard to derail the drive for cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, or are working hard to protect other valuable discretionary programs.
There's another hostage-taking coming in the next three months over the 2012 Budget legislation. You know it! I know it! Everyone knows it!
So ask yourselves these questions:
1. Would Congress and the President be trying to cut Federal spending if the Treasury General Account (TGA) at the Fed had more than $50 Trillion in it?
How can the President win a victory for the people in the coming hostage-taking over the budget? Here's a scenario!
1. Mint a platinum coin with face value big enough to cover pay-off of the national debt, and the gap between tax revenues and Government spending for many years to come. For example, $60 Trillion in face value would generate enough electronic credits in the Treasury General Account (TGA) at the Fed to last for about 20 years or through 2030. Result: $60 Trillion in the TGA, none of it spent, so no possibility of inflation. Read more about End the Austerity War Against the People: Mint the Platinum Coin!
Over the past year, in an attempt to head off the austerity program gaining steam in Washington, DC, I've blogged the truth about the deficit/debt problem on many occasions. That truth is that there is no deficit/debt problem, and that deficits and debts, no matter how large they may be, don't affect the ability of the United States to create more money.
So, there is not and cannot be a solvency problem, unless Congress refuses to do its duty and appropriate dollars to pay the Government's bills. Of course, if the Government spends beyond what's necessary to add enough aggregate demand for the US to get to full employment, then demand-pull inflation will result from the excess spending. But 1) we've got a long way to go until we reach that point; and 2) the inflation issue not a debt/deficit/solvency issue.
So, the solvency issue needs to be taken off the table for discussion, and certainly as a basis for action, and austerity programs and long-term deficit reduction plans like those of Paul Ryan and the Administration. In addition, our erstwhile leaders need to all get off their high horses about fiscal responsibility, fiscal sustainability, "biting bullets," "having adult conversations," and other such nonsense, and face up to their real responsibility which is spending enough, in the right way, to give every American who wants to work a job at a living wage with decent fringe benefits. Until they do that, they are the ones who are being fiscally as well as morally irresponsible. Read more about Tell Obama, everyone: there is #nodeficitproblem because we are #sovereign in our own currency