Feel Krugman's outrage:
One answer you sometimes hear is that what Republicans really believe is that tax cuts for the rich would generate a huge boom and a surge in revenue, but they’re afraid that the public won’t find such claims credible. So magic asterisks are really stand-ins for their belief in the magic of supply-side economics, a belief that remains intact even though proponents in that doctrine have been wrong about everything for decades.But I’m partial to a more cynical explanation. Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements. What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts. And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.
But this is, of course, not a policy direction the public would support if it were clearly explained. So the budgets must be sold as courageous efforts to eliminate deficits and pay down debt — which means that they must include trillions in imaginary, unexplained savings.
Does this mean that all those politicians declaiming about the evils of budget deficits and their determination to end the scourge of debt were never sincere? Yes, it does.
Krugman is so mad that he forgot to mention that there is even an alternative. So I mentioned it in my response to his column:Look, I know that it’s hard to keep up the outrage after so many years of fiscal fraudulence. But please try. We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.
The GOP budgets are the usual dystopian manifestos we've come to know and despise, immiserating regular people as they leave the departments of surveillance and military aggression largely intact.Of course, with a name like "People's Budget," the corporate media crowd will automatically assume that it's a commie socialist plot. (And the Times moderators immediately buried my comment under their Golden Times Picks, all seemingly of the male persuasion* which variously cast aspersions on the evil GOP, the weak Democrats, the stupid voters, and, to show how fair and balanced they are, upon the "radical" Krugman himself. None of the comments mentioning the People's Budget was highlighted, lest The People discover its existence.)
These Ayn Rand potboilers not only cause an annual shock-and-awe media frenzy--they allow the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party to move further to the right, as they trade more bliss for the rich for less drastic cuts to social programs. The military and Homeland Security budgets are always left largely intact, even increased, because Permawar has become essential to this financialized economy.
In the end, thanks to Citizen United, the interests of the oligarchs and the war-mongers will be served, because they own the place.
You might not know it, but there's also a progressive congressional People's Budget out there. It hardly gets covered at all, because cruelty and terror and outright fraud make for better copy. This humane budget contains a government jobs program, expansion of Social Security and other safety net programs like SNAP, a minimum wage increase, a debt-free ollege education, a transition to single payer health care and a tax on carbon pollution.
It allocates $820 billion for infrastructure, taxes investments at the same rate as work, creates a new tax bracket for incomes over $1 million and terminates the carried interest deduction.
We need a lot more than outrage at the GOP. We need the People's Budget. We need a revolution.
And the sad part of it is, the People's Budget isn't even all that radical. As they did last year, our progressive congressional leaders deemed it necessary to immediately placate the phony plutocratic austerians by boasting that their budget reduces the deficit and balances the budget. It only offers a "pathway" for individual states to adopt Single Payer health insurance rather than calling for an immediate implementation of Medicare for All. Check out the neoliberal buzzwords in the intro:
The People's Budget fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead. Despite their skills and work ethic, most American workers and families are so financially strapped from increasing income inequality that their paychecks barely cover basic necessities. They earn less and less as corporations and the wealthy continue amassing record profits. It has become clear to American workers that the system is rigged.But I quibble. The document does go on to call for public financing of elections and admits that our real unemployment rate is well over 11 percent. So were we still living in a functioning democracy, I would rate the "progressive" proposal as just left of center. It passive-aggressively emphasizes aid to states to finance their own programs, rather than federally mandate reforms. It doesn't call for a free college education -- it only espouses a restructuring of onerous student debt and "investment" in pre-school education. Using the term "investment" when it comes to people is one of my biggest pet peeves. Stop referring to kids as though they were pork belly futures that might someday provide a huge return to speculators!
The People’s Budget levels the playing field and creates economic opportunity by increasing the pay of middle- and low-income Americans. More customers and higher consumer spending advance American businesses, not tax cuts and relaxed regulations. The People’s Budget drives a full economic recovery by creating high-quality jobs and reducing family expenses, restoring the buying power of working Americans.
The People’s Budget closes tax loopholes that companies use to ship jobs overseas. It creates fair tax rates for millionaires and provides needed relief to low- and middle-income families. It invests in debt-free college, workforce training and small businesses within our communities, helping return our economy to full employment and giving a raise to Americans who need it most. Investments in The People’s Budget boost employment and wages by addressing some of the biggest challenges of our time: repairing America’s rapidly aging roads and bridges, upgrading our energy systems to address climate change, keeping our communities safe, and preparing our young people to thrive as citizens and workers.
A fair wage is more than the size of a paycheck. It’s having enough hours, paid overtime, sick and parental leave, and affordable health and childcare. It’s being able to afford a good education for your kids and never living in fear that your job will be sent overseas. It’s knowing you can make ends meet at the end of the month. The People’s Budget helps achieve that with a raise for American workers, a raise for struggling families and a boost to America’s long-term global competitiveness.
And then the alleged progressives use the weasel-worded phrase "modifies our defense postures to create sustainable baseline defense spending." What the hell does that even mean? I looked and I looked, but saw nothing in the "progressive" budget that would demilitarize the economy, defund or dismantle the NSA and other totalitarian Homeland Security behemoths. But, to their credit, the progressives do call for an end to the nefarious and open-ended war mongering slush fund euphemized as "Overseas Contingency Operations."
Meanwhile, President Obama is ignoring even these modest proposals and, like Krugman and other liberal pundits, is limiting his remarks to lambasting Republican cruelty and math deficiency. He has vowed to veto any cuts to military spending (and should this veto be overridden, that's where the OCO will come into play) while continuing to tout plutocrat-friendly small bore public-private initiatives like My Brother's Keeper and enterprise zones. So far, anyway, he hasn't threatened to veto any of the proposed cuts to the safety net. Those slashes will be modified in Congressional back rooms, as they have been in every other year, when such various manufactured crises as the Debt Ceiling and the Fiscal Cliff are dragged out of the Kabuki prop department for our terrorized delectation.
Oh, and the troops will now be staying in Afghanistan indefinitely. It's Permawar, remember?
* There has been an actual scientific study conducted on the New York Times reader commentariat. It turns out that only 25% of the comments are written by women. Of course, of the dozen or so regular op-ed writers that the newspaper employs, only three are women (Maureen Dowd, Gail Collins and Linda Greenhouse.) So it figures, much in the same way that the nihilistic GOP budget figures.