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letsgetitdone's picture

Real Fiscal Responsibility I: Preliminaries

This is the first in a lengthy blog series that will evaluate the US Government's record on Real Fiscal Responsibility, Administration period by Administration period, since the Administration of Jimmy Carter in 1977. In evaluating the US Government's record, it’s important to state clearly that I will be evaluating more than just each Administration and its activities.

The record of fiscal responsibility is not the product of the Executive Branch alone. It is the outcome of the interaction of the Executive with the two Houses of Congress and the Federal Reserve System, even on occasion the interaction of one or more of these with the Supreme Court. All bear joint, though not equal responsibility for the record of Government fiscal responsibility or fiscal irresponsibility, as the case may be, during each Administration period. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

The Real Fiscal Responsibility Today Pilot Project

This pilot project and the radio/video shows it will produce and place on the web is for everyone tired of hearing economic commentary from those who got everything wrong. For decades, the doctrine of "Fiscal Responsibility" interpreted as long-term deficit reduction and Government austerity has had a secure place in American politics. This doctrine is the economic equivalent of the medieval notion that patients must be bled to cure them of disease. And this truth is reflected in the economic history of the United States at least since 1976, when we first began to practice ideology-based austerity in its modern form by planning for deficit reduction and balanced budgets in order to decrease the debt-to-GDP ratio.

Yes, there were short periods of expansive GDP growth during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, but when one compares job creation and growth rates across the decades, one can see from Table One, that new job creation and GDP growth during the 70s, 80s, 90s, and the first 10 years of this century don't compare to the 40s, 50s, and 60s of the 20th century. By comparison we've been experiencing a stagnant economy in varying degrees for more than 40 years now. Read below the fold...

$ New Military Jet=$600,000 Home For EVERY U.S. Homeless Person

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Robbie Couch in an article on HuffPo recently asserted:

The $400 billion program to create a fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, which, as The Hill points out, is seven years behind schedule and chronically plagued with misfortunes and incompetencies, could have housed every homeless person in the U.S. with a $600,000 home.

Read below the fold...

HRC-Neutralizer of Left for Wall Street, Monsanto, NSA, etc.

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Jon Queally in “Amid Populist Surge, Hillary Clinton to Wall Street's Rescue?” discusses a Tuesday NYT's article that suggests that Hillary Clinton is viewed as a “solution” by Wall Street in relation to all the unsettling populist calls for “stronger economic reforms and regulations.”

It seems that Hillary Clinton’s upcoming presidential nomination by many progressive/Dem cronies is viewed as a sure thing, a veritable cakewalk, a heralded “coronation” exercise. Read below the fold...

Bill & Hillary’s 6-Figure Speeches NOT for Personality!

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Zaid Jilani for Al Jazeera America has written a very disturbing article entitled “The Clintons web of wealth/Where did Bill and Hillary get all their money?”

Hillary Clinton has been making noises lately that she knows what it is like to have money stress. That she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House and they were forced to give six figure a piece speeches. Read below the fold...

‘Reform’ of VA Means Privatization for Profits NOT Vets!

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Obama’s promise to “reform” the Veterans Affairs’ health care system hides a real agenda of privatization assert Kate Randall and Barry Grey in “The drive to privatize US veterans’ health care.” Read below the fold...

US OIL-igarchy Ravages Nigeria, Ukraine, US ...

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The apt “OILigarchy’”coinage belongs to Jacqueline Marcus in “When It Comes to Expanding the US Oil Empire, Expect Chaos in Ukraine and Nigeria.” She writes:

While climate change escalates to an emergency crisis, a growing national security concern, the US OILigarchy-government is on a "search and seize mission" for the very product that is obliterating our earth: Polluting Oil.

Read below the fold...

Ukraine Crisis Christmas for Corporate-Pimped Canadian Pols

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Matthew Behrens calls out -- big time -- Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, along with John Baird, Harper’s “foreign affairs pitbull” in “Ukraine and Canada’s Coup-Supporting Corporate Cowboy Diplomacy”.

Behrens writes of a “messianic” foreign policy of the present Canadian government, “making the world safe for Canadian corporate profits.” Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

Are We An Oligarchy Yet?

Matt Stoller believes that the recent pre-publication release of a study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page doesn't support the idea that the United States is an oligarchy yet. He says:

A lot of people are misreading this Princeton study on the political influence of the wealthy and business groups versus ordinary citizens. The study does not say that the US is an oligarchy, wherein the wealthy control politics with an iron fist. If it were, then things like Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, veterans programs, housing finance programs, etc wouldn’t exist.

What the study actually says is that American voters are disorganized and their individualized preferences don’t matter unless voters group themselves into mass membership organizations. Then, if people belong to mass membership organizations, their preferences do matter, but less so than business groups and the wealthy.

Well, it's true that Gilens and Page never say that United States is an oligarchy, and perhaps it's also true that they don't believe it. But they do say this: Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

Peterson/CBO Beat for Austerity Goes On!

Recently, I've been writing about oligarchs advocating for entitlement cuts and austerity. I've discussed attacks on entitlement benefits for the elderly from Abby Huntsman (of MSNBC's The Cycle) and Catherine Rampell (a Washington Post columnist), both the children of well-off individuals. These posts have come in the context of the English language release of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and the more recent pre-publication release of a study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page using quantitative methods and empirical data to explore the question of whether the US is an oligarchy or a majoritarian democracy. They conclude:

”What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

With this as a backdrop, today I want to de-construct a recent statement by Michael A. Peterson, President and COO, of one of the centers of American oligarchy, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF), and the son of the multi-billionaire Peter G. Peterson, commenting on the CBO's Report earlier this month, on its updated budget projections for 2014 - 2024. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

More Misdirection from Rampell in the Service of Generational War

In my last post, I took issue with a recent column by Catherine Rampell, who tries to make the case that seniors haven't paid for their Social Security and Medicare because they “generally receive” more in benefits out of these programs than they pay into them. Rampell relies on an Urban Institute study to make her case. Since that post, she's offered another that replies to some of the questions raised by commenters on her earlier effort. I'll reply to that new post shortly, but first I want to present key points emerging from my analysis of Federal monetary operations in my reply to her earlier post. See that post for the full argument.

First, once Congress mandates spending, there is no way that the Treasury can be forced into insolvency or an inability to pay its obligations as long as it is willing to make use of all the ways it can cause the Fed to create reserve credits in Treasury spending accounts which can then be used for its reserve keystroking into private sector account activities that today represent most of the reality of Federal spending. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

Misdirection: Rampell Views Entitlements Through the Generational War Lens

Some of the favored children of the economic elite who have a public presence, work hard in their writing and speaking to divert attention from inequality and oligarchy issues by raising the issue of competition between seniors and millennials for “scarce” Federal funds. That's understandable. If millennials develop full consciousness of who, exactly, has been flushing their prospects for a decent life down the toilet, their anger and activism might bring down the system of wealth and economic and social privilege that benefits both their families and the favored themselves in the new America of oligarchy and plutocracy.

Here and here, I evaluated Abby Huntsman's arguments for entitlement “reform,” and, of course, Pete Peterson's son, Michael fights a continuing generational war against seniors in pushing the austerian line of the Peterson Foundation. Now comes Catherine Rampell, who, in a recent column, sets forth the position that seniors haven't paid for their Social Security and Medicare because they “generally receive” more in benefits out of these programs than they pay into them.

I'll reply to all of the main points in Rampell's argument, by quoting liberally and then replying to the points she makes in each quote. She says: Read below the fold...

Corporate Exec ‘Psychopathic Groupthink’ Crashed Our Economy

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In a highly illuminating article entitled “The Global Money Matrix: The Forces behind America’s Economic Destruction” Dr. Gary Null cites psychologist Clive Boddy as maintaining that “the psychopathological behavior of financial executives was a major cause for the 2007 economic collapse.”

Boddy also has asserted that “individuals with the strongest psychopathic tendencies are those who tend to be promoted fastest.” Read below the fold...

Pachigordo99's picture

VICTORY LAP – I TOLD YOU SO

I’m generally not one to brag or tell others “I told you so” but after reading more and more articles by other bloggers, writers, pundits and commentators over the past 5 years, I should claim to be some sort of clairvoyant.

More and more people have felt over the past 10 years that the U.S. was not just becoming more oligarchical, but was already an outright Oligarchy. My pessimistic view of the nation was finally vindicated.

“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” was a report released this year that used extensive policy data collected between 1981 and 2002 to determine the oligarchic state of the US political system. The study stated “…the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

Is the MSM Blackout on Inequality, Plutocracy, and Oligarchy Ending?

All of a sudden MSNBC cable commentators are talking about plutocracy and oligarchy. Surprisingly, the first occurrence of this I'm aware of was Chuck Todd, reacting on his Daily Rundown show to the spectacle of Republican candidates traveling to Vegas to seek funding from Sheldon Adelson and his group of hugely wealthy Jewish Republican donors. Todd began to explore the implications of that event. He seemed exercised, and more than the slightest bit upset, about its meaning for Democracy and used the words plutocracy and oligarchy. Andrea Mitchell also discussed it later and she, too, registered apparent dismay, while using the “p” and “o” words.

Chris Hayes has been on leave during this period, so we haven't heard from him about this. But Chris Matthews, the “oh so very slightly left-of-center insider” has been making very unfriendly noises about Adelson, the Kochs, and the Supremes, culminating today (April 3rd) with nasty references to plutocrats, oligarchs, and candidates, kissing oligarchs somewhere or other, on both his program and Al Sharpton's. Read below the fold...

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