Monthly Archives: October 2012


Romney Versus the Automakers

The New York Times has the editorial Romney Versus the Automakers.  The editorial finishes with the following words:

 What Mr. Romney cannot admit is that all this is a direct result of the government investment he would have rejected. It’s bad enough to be wrong on the policy. It takes an especially dishonest candidate to simply turn up the volume on a lie and keep repeating it.

By doing that in a flailing, last-minute grab for Ohio, Mr. Romney is providing a grim preview of what kind of president he would be.

I wonder what The New York Times would say if they weren’t trying to be so diplomatic.

 


Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law

The Nation Of Change has the devastating piece Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law.  The sub-heading is “Has integration really ever been attempted? ”

The article starts out describing efforts by George Romney, then head of HUD.

Romney ordered HUD officials to reject applications for water, sewer and highway projects from cities and states where local policies fostered segregated housing.

Romney would eventually resign from HUD because his efforts angered President Richard Nixon who tried every thing he could think of to block him.

The story ends with:

At a private fundraising event in Florida in April, Mitt Romney said he would consider closing down HUD if he wins the election.

“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them,” he said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later.”

What happened in between these two points will stun you.

I remember that as a Bolton, MA resident, a state mandate to locate affordable housing in every Massachusetts town was a very hot topic.  I’ll have to do some research to find out why this effort in Massachusetts was not mentioned in the article.  I cannot even remember who was governor at the time.


I have begun the above promised research with a Google search of “affordable housing act ma”.

This has led me to the WikiPedia article Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Act: Chapter 40B. The article starts with the following:

The Comprehensive Permit Act is a Massachusetts law which allows developers of affordable housing to override certain aspects of municipal zoning bylaws and other requirements. It consists of Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 40B, Sections 20 through 23, along with associated regulations issued and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Chapter 40B was enacted in 1969 to address the shortage of affordable housing statewide by reducing barriers created by local municipal building permit approval processes, local zoning, and other restrictions. Its goal is to encourage the production of affordable housing in all communities throughout the Commonwealth.

This just barely scratches the surface of the issue.


Fix the Debt, Destroy the Recovery

The American Prospect article Fix the Debt, Destroy the Recovery by Robert Kuttner is another cry for economic sanity.

The Fix the Debt campaign, much like the Bowles-Simpson Commission and the propaganda of the Peterson Foundation generally, contends that the projected national debt is depressing business willingness to invest now. Presumably, businesses are worried about inflation and uncertainty. But the government can fund ten-year bonds at less than 2 percent interest and thirty-year bonds at less than 3 percent. So investors don’t seem worried about inflation. It’s not lack of confidence in deficit reduction that’s depressing business investment but lack of confidence in consumer purchasing power. [ssg note: no freaking customers]

If anything, the economy needs more public spending to get us out of a deep slump brought to you by the very people behind this campaign. Cutting the deficit prematurely will only depress purchasing power and deepen the slump. That’s the real lesson of Greece, Spain, Portugal, et al.
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According to a very helpful analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness, 13 of the corporations whose CEOs are behind this lobby paid zero taxes in recent years. Here is their chart drawn from an analysis of IRS data by Citizens for Tax Justice:

Corporation

Federal Income Taxes 2008-2011

Profit? 2008-2011?$ Billions

Tax Subsidies 2008-2011?$ Billions

Boeing

$0

$14.8

$6.0

Corning

$0

$2.9

$1.0

General Electric

$0

$19.6

$10.6

Honeywell International

*$0

*$4.9

$1.7

Verizon Communications

$0

$19.8

$7.7

TOTAL

$0

$62 billion

$27 billion

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This stuff would be comical if it weren’t so influential. And if President Obama is re-elected, the corporate CEOs add up to one more pressure group pushing him to agree to a budget-cutting deal that will be suicidal for the economy and for his legacy in a second term.

Deficit reduction in a deep slump is not a path to recovery but to a deeper slump.

The fact that corporate CEOs are behind this latest push should not give the campaign greater credibility, but rather should signal “buyer beware.”

Despite the bipartisan camouflage, this campaign was always deeply conservative—hostile to social outlay, activist government, and a decent income distribution. Shame on any Democrat who doesn’t see through it.

How is lowering the tax rate on corporations who pay zero taxes anyway going to do anything for the economy?


Higher Taxes Hurt Job Creators? That’s Malarkey.

The American Prospect is carrying the Robert Reich article Higher Taxes Hurt Job Creators? That’s Malarkey.  The following quote explains some of Reich’s reasoning:

The economy did just fine during the three decades after World War II, when the top tax rate never fell below 70 percent. Average yearly economic growth was higher in those years than it’s been since, when taxes on the rich have been far lower.

Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich and the economy did wonderfully well. George W. Bush cut them and the economy slowed.

The real job creators are America’s vast middle class, whose spending encourages businesses to expand and hire—and whose lack of spending has the opposite effect.

The argument for tax increases for the wealthy is strengthened if you can explain the mechanism by which such tax increases help the economy.

If we only argue that historically, during high taxes the economy has done fine, then people could dismiss this as just a coincidence.  If you can explain why it is true that the economy does well with higher taxes, then it is harder to dismiss the argument.

It might also be pointed out that most of the liquidity that the Fed is trying to pour into the economy to stimulate the economy is sucked right up by the wealthy who put it to use in non-productive financial chicanery.

If we taxed this money away and put it into the economy as a fiscal stimulus, then the economy would recover faster and the deficit would be eliminated.


Chrysler ITSELF has refuted Romney’s lie

I can only hope that Romney has overplayed his hand. If enough people doubt his veracity on this issue, maybe they will come to doubt other things he said.


I do have to wonder if Obama is really trying, though.

Obama failed to say in the debate or any time before or after the debate, that if we just follow Obama’s current policies 12 million jobs will be created. So Romney’s claim to this number is a foregone conclusion if he just follows Obama’s “failed” policies. If Obama gets a Congress that will work with him, then we can do much better.

I first found the link to this ad in The Los Angeles Times story Obama ad calls out Romney ‘lie’ on flight of Jeep jobs.

The article adds the following bit of information:

As to selling Chrysler “to the Italians,” industry expert David Kiley of AOL Autos gave the missing context: “Italian automaker Fiat was the only company that stepped up to make an offer for Chrysler, which badly needed another car company with which to partner. Fiat’s intervention has kept the company in one piece, saved Chrysler from dissolution, increased the quality ratings of the company’s products, raised its market share and profit, and resulted in a huge recovery of jobs in Michigan and Ohio.”


Koch Brothers and the Road to “Citizens United”

Just in case you didn’t know who Greg Palast was or thought that he might be just out to get Mitt Romney when you read my previous post Romney Made Multi-Millions in Detroit Bailout, here comes the second part of The Real News Network interview Koch Brothers and the Road to “Citizens United”.


The bio that The Real News Network provided stated the following:

Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures’ Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. government’s largest racketeering case in history – winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.

And the proof that Greg Palast is an equal opportunity muckraker, I give you the following quote from the interview:

And he—apparently, money went into the Clinton campaign and other favors were done by the Riadys, big favors for the Clintons. That’s a real impeachable offense. Forget the stains-on-dresses stuff. This was really impeachable. And Trent Lott told Senator Thompson, we don’t do the Riadys and Clinton, and they don’t do the Kochs. So it was a billionaire trade. And that’s how the game’s played.


This story gives us some hints at why Bill Clinton had some amazing political successes despite the Republicans adamant opposition to him. He had enough dirt on them to cancel out the dirt they had on him. So why such a big failure from Obama? Is it that he just doesn’t play dirty enough? Or do the Republican’s have something they are holding over his head that is so bad, that he dares not fight back?

There may be other explanations for the timidity of the Obama Justice Department. If you have any, please feel free to forward them to me.


In Senate, Warren would lead where Brown has fallen short

I think The Boston Globe has really nailed it in  In Senate, Warren would lead where Brown has fallen short their endorsement of Elizabeth Warren for Senate.  The subhead also captures what I have strongly felt about her candidacy, “The real promise in Warren’s candidacy lies deeper in her character.”

On the campaign trail, Warren warns incessantly of a coming crisis in student-loan debt and the challenge it would present both for students and universities. This is a matter of no small concern in the higher-ed capital of the United States, and it’s easy to envision Warren becoming the Senate’s leading policymaker on higher education.

She also speaks passionately about medical research, a once-bipartisan priority that’s diminished under the Republican party’s ideological clampdown on government spending. Two years ago, for the first time in memory, the National Institutes of Health budget was reduced by 1 percent — this in a federal account that Kennedy twice succeeded in doubling over five-year periods. One of every five of those dollars goes to Massachusetts. Kennedy, for one, would never have let such a reduction happen. Brown voted in favor of the cut.

Where Scott Brown is content to see his job as only deciding which side of any legislative initiative he will support, Elizabeth Warren is much more likely to become a leader in the resolution of very important national issues of major concern to Massachusetts.

But on the biggest issue of the moment, the looming “fiscal cliff” of automatic budget cuts and expiration of multiple tax cuts, Brown foolishly tied his hands by signing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.

One thing Scott Brown seems adamant about is not raising taxes at this time.  This is one issue that he is dead wrong about.  Any extra liquidity that the Fed tries to inject into the economy to get it moving again is instantly sucked up by the wealthy to invest in non-productive financial chicanery.  The only way to prevent this is to tax some of this money out of the hands to the super wealthy and put it back to work in the economy.  The one remedy that is sorely needed to get us out of the economic doldrums, is the one remedy that Scott Brown is sure he will not let happen.  This alone is enough of a reason to get Scott Brown out of the Senate so he can no longer do more harm to our economy.


Both Candidates Misleading on Iran and Afghanistan

The Real News Network has the report Both Candidates Misleading on Iran and Afghanistan. You have to see the interview below to understand the closing following closing remarks:

And this is another cost, I’m afraid, of this two-party system, that a policy that is very clearly adversely affecting the security of the United States is not being adequately debated, it is not being given the consideration that it deserves, because—as I said at the outset: that the two parties have gotten used to lying to the American people to a degree that makes it impossible for debates to take place, even in a presidential year, when it’s so important that we understand what the real positions are of the candidates who are running for president and what their implications are for the American people. And I think that is a problem that now has to be given an extremely high priority by people who care about the future of this country. It’s time to really think much more seriously about what is wrong with the two-party system, what needs to be done about it. And I think, you know, obviously the need for other parties, at least a third party, must be high on the political agenda in this country.

When there is an important choice to be made between the candidates of the two major parties, I do not favor siphoning off votes to a third party.  However, a valuable service that a third party could perform is to make the debates more honest.  There is no guarantee that any random third party would actually perform this service.


I think that the underlying cause for the disfunction of our political system is the increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few. Whether or not a viable third party could form and be helpful is a chicken and egg issue with solving what I have identified as the main problem. Perhaps it is not a question of which comes first. The process needs to begin in a way where both dispersing power and wealth more widely and the rise of a viable third party must proceed hand-in-hand.

I think that the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few is a major issue for all governments. Whether they be democratic or totalitarian, capitalist, communist, or socialist this issue is a threat to the success of said country. Despite the economic rise of China, you can see that the concentration of wealth there is going to severely hinder their chances at ultimate success. Russia is also suffering from this problem.


Voluntary Austerity: All Pain, No Gain

Truth-Out is carrying the piece Voluntary Austerity: All Pain, No Gain by Paul Krugman.

But the point is that even cheap-money countries facing no pressure either from the market or from external forces to engage in immediate austerity are nonetheless engaged in sharp fiscal contraction.

This is taking place in an environment in which the private sector is still deleveraging ferociously from the debt binge of the previous decade, so we’re creating a situation in which both the private sector and the public sector are trying to slash spending relative to income. And, whaddya know, the world economy is sputtering.

The truly amazing thing is that this calamitous error is not, for the most part, the result of special interests or an unwillingness to make hard choices. On the contrary, it’s being driven by Very Serious People who pride themselves on their willingness to make hard choices (which, naturally, involve inflicting pain on other people). In fact, I’d argue that the desire to make hard choices, or at least to be seen as doing so, is the reason these Very Serious People chose to ignore the extensive and, we now know, completely accurate warnings from some economists about what would happen if they gave in to their austerity obsession.

Do you consider yourself to be a very serious person?  Well, cut that out. You are wrecking the economy.

Part of the problem is that President Obama ceded control of the economics debate, so that even if he knows better, he cannot propose what needs to be done to get the economy going again.  Perhaps only Mitt Romney can screw things up badly enough so that people will finally wake up.