Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Eternal Bush Tax Cuts of the Barackian Mind?

Obama apologists are pointing to the planned expiration of the Bush tax cuts  in 2013 as reason to believe that the president will follow through on his much-vaunted balanced approach to match revenues with cuts.  By simply letting them expire as planned, he will not have to engage in another fight with the GOP, as conventional wisdom tells it.  But here's what he said in his radio address today:

We need to extend tax cuts for working and middle class families so you have more money in your paychecks next year.  That would help millions of people to make ends meet.  And that extra money for expenses means businesses will have more customers, and will be in a better position to hire.  
It looks to be shaping up into the same-ole same-ole ploy of the president being held hostage on the tax cuts.  Again, he will have to "cave" to Republicans' demands to extend the cuts for the millionaires and billionaires too, in order to "save the middle class".

And there are more hints of No New Taxes for corporations and his continuing nonsensical belief in the confidence fairy, despite the Wall Street plunge and the S&P downgrade:

So our job right now has to be doing whatever we can to help folks find work; to help create the climate where a business can put up that job listing; where incomes are rising again for people. We’ve got to rebuild this economy and the sense of security that middle class has felt slipping away for years.  And while deficit reduction has to be part of our economic strategy, it’s not the only thing we have to do.
Climate change the corporatist Obama way is to reduce pesky regulations, maybe repatriate those overseas profits for little to no taxation, and never, ever utter the anti-Norquistian "R" word -- Revenue: 
We’ve got to cut the red tape that stops too many inventors and entrepreneurs from quickly turning new ideas into thriving businesses – which holds back our whole economy.
On another, more realistic note, at least one Democrat is calling it as he sees it.  Of course, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is being redistricted out of a job, so he has nothing to lose by speaking truth to power. Thanks to Jay-Ottawa for this link to his radio interview with Truthdig.  From the transcript:

Dennis Kucinich: Well, I think you have to first of all define terms. I don’t know if you can define what it means to be a Democrat anymore—or, for that matter, Republican, or labels like liberal conservative. I think it’s an appropriate time for all of us to begin to question the utility of labels which seem to defy the performance of public officials. And what’s conservative, for example, about extending the Bush tax cuts—which by the way will cost, through 2020, $2.56 trillion—what’s conservative about blowing billions of dollars on wars? On the other hand, what does it mean to be a Democrat if you’re willing to put social programs on a chopping block—put the cornerstone of the Democratic Party’s social ethic, which includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, on a chopping block—not come up with a massive jobs program, knowing that signing this deal would limit your ability to create jobs—what does that mean? What does it mean to be a Democrat? What does that mean? So we have to define terms. We’re trapped in a system where we somehow believe that all we have to do is change the players and we’re going to get a different outcome. Maybe not. Because within the logic of this system, now supported or buttressed by Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, is a system of corporate governance which impresses itself upon the people of the United States for its own benefit, to the people’s detriment, and has helped to create in government very efficient mechanisms to accelerate the wealth of the nation upward.


Anonymous said...

Watch out. He is cutting the contributions to Social Security, now referred to as payroll tax. This will hasten the destruction of Social Security and the same people who may have short term benefit now, will lose in the future.

Jill said...

Anon is right. It is a Democratic president who will destroy Social Security. I hate to admit it, but the PUMA's were right about Barack Obama all along.

Denis Neville said...

“Why are we in this debt fix? It’s the elderly, stupid…Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, that’s what they’re about.” - Robert Samuelson at Fox on 15th Street (aka The Washington Post).

“Imagine the sort of person who could write such a sentence. Imagine the absence of a morality that comes with writing such a sentence, or with reading and being impressed by such a sentence. Nonetheless, there has been a concerted attack on our parents and grandparents by prominent analysts that is seemingly increasingly being accepted. Not older Americans, but our grandparents and parents are being attacked. Understand this, and the immorality is immediately clear.” – comment by Anne/Economist’s View

Samuelson reminds me of that smarmy Harvard Business School grad in “Faultlines.” The elites of this nation are completely blinded by their own greed and selfishness. “Why should I waste 10 percent of my income on entitlement programs, when that same 10 percent can be turned into a 100 percent return of even more wealth?”

Senior citizens with income of $30,000 a year are wealthy and Social Security and Medicare welfare for the middle class according to Samuelson.

“Robert Samuelson redefines "Wealthy," responded Dean Baker. “Let's see, we have retirees who have their Social Security checks, plus a stash of $207,000. If someone at age 62 were to take that $207,000 and buy an annuity this money would get them about $15,000 a year. Add in $14,000 from Social Security and they are living the good life on $29,000 a year. And remember, 75 percent of the elderly have less than this.”

Tim Duy’s Fed Watch comments, “I often hear complaints that older Americans are sucking resources from the rest of the nation. Consider what would happen in the absence of income protection for those older than 65 - many more would rely on their children for support. That group will then be less able to save for their own retirement and, perhaps more importantly, would not be able to transfer resources down to their own children. In other words, eliminating income protection for the 65 and older group places the next group in a position of choosing between supporting their parents or financing their kids college education. Or giving up a job to take an elderly parent into their home.”

Another coming chapter in the Great Shift - “Entitlement Reform.” They (Obama, his Catfood Commissions, and Congress) continue working to gut or eliminate the one effective insurance mechanism against old age that we have – Social Security and Medicare.

Have they no sense of decency? Have they completely lost their sense of decency? Have they no shame?

“When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don't see heaven, or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and human tragedy.” - Yossarian to Major Danby, Catch-22

Gerald Rubin said...

Obama's pollyanna hopeful scenario crap is such transparent garbage that I cannot take it anymore. I guess it would be like you are suffering your impending death and the nurse comes in and says don't worry everything will be OK. Please Obama come out of hiding and tell us you are George W. Bush II. How ironic that Paul Begala likened John McCain to George W. Bush in his book the Third Term? while his own candidate won and become Bush II in disguise. I wonder if Begala has ever been queried on this in an interview? If Begala has any true Progressivism in him, how embarrasing this would be.

Janet Camp said...

"We’re trapped in a system where we somehow believe that all we have to do is change the players and we’re going to get a different outcome. Maybe not. Because within the logic of this system, now supported or buttressed by Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, is a system of corporate governance..."

This is all now so systemic that I cannot see turning it around without some kind of major upheaval--which would bring untold suffering with it. It's great that DK gets it, but he (sadly) has a limited sphere of influence. Any news on what he'll do next?

Denis Neville said...

“What Happened to Obama?” asks Drew Westin in today’s NY Times

“When faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it… I have no idea what Barack Obama…believes on virtually any issue. The president tells us he prefers a ‘balanced’ approach to deficit reduction, one that weds ‘revenue enhancements’ (a weak way of describing popular taxes on the rich and big corporations that are evading them) with ‘entitlement cuts’ (an equally poor choice of words that implies that people who’ve worked their whole lives are looking for handouts)."

Since the Times comments were closed (before 7 a.m.!) and RealityChex Comments is still down) the following would have been my response

In 1970 Nebraska Senator Roman Hruska, defending President Nixon's nominee to the Supreme Court, asked why mediocrity should be a disqualification for high office. “Even if he were mediocre,” Mr. Hruska declared, "there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”

Hruska vision of mediocrity representation has come true. There were mediocre candidates and a lot of mediocre people out there. They were entitled to a little representation. In 2008 they got it. We have a mediocre president in Obama. We can’t have all Roosevelts, Trumans, and Lincolns.

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.” describing Major Major, with whom it had been all three, Catch-22, Joseph Heller

What's wrong with a little mediocrity?

Historian Howard Zinn once said, “I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president - which means, in our time, a dangerous president - unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”

As we now know, Obama was not pushed in a better direction, but just the opposite. It was, and continues to be, a march of folly down the path of austerity towards economic and social disaster.

Obama is leading the charge for entitlement cuts that will rip apart the social safety net, while pretending to care about the American people.

“The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22

“That's the way things go when you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority.”
- Colonel Cathcart on the latest unnecessary mission to bomb a small undefended village,

falken751 said...

Obama isn't just a mediocre president, he is a mediocre man. Real men do not have to lie to explain an action of theirs. In fact, real and honest men don't lie, only weasels have to lie to cover their butts for a dishonest action they are planning. Almost everything he has done since he lied his way into office is dishonest.

Napoleon said...

Progressive Democrats in the Senate will have a greater blocking ability, especially with filibustering prerogatives, on restoration of the any part of the Bush tax cuts, after they automatically expire, than Tea Party House members had on the debt ceiling negotiations.

I don't find it useful, or descriptive, to label people as mediocre or as silly. More helpful, I believe, is identifying mediocre, or silly, actions, performances, responses, behavior, tactics, strategies, and goals.

Obama has traits, tendencies, stated views, acts, responses, and stated aims. For example, his behavior is generally defensive, rigid, and secretive. His typical behavior is not to gather supporters into organized opposition to present a collective front at the beginning. Rather, his inclination, and practice, is to listen to contending forces (establishing thereby at the outset a level of equality amongst them), and then to gravitate to the center, without the guidance of unyielding principles or a need for apology for changing sub silento his direction.

His powers of rhetoric are overblown, except when comments are prepared in advance and are followed. When he deviates from what he prepared, the impact of the rhetoric dwindles, and strays into awkward territory, as when at the outset of his presidency he made a silly remark about Nancy Reagan, or ventures into homilies, parental lecturing, pauses, feints, or speech whose delivery is paced to provide time for assessing the content. His behavior is consistent with that of a person who doesn't believe he can stir the public on actions outside the center.

His actions typically are those of a loner. Whatever his mental makeup, the actions in foreign policy veer close to those of militarists. His actions are deferential towards foreign policy hawks like Clinton, Gates, Petraeus, Biden, and military leaders. His preferences for advisors are those who have received previous recognition for success as centralists.

His actions on domestic issues reflect liberalism for many gender and ethnic issues, centralism for many economic issues, intermittent silences for labor issues generally, and half-way measures or empty words for unemployment issues (other than those related to using tax cuts as a remedy).

Judging his performance, there are pluses and minuses. The minuses are many and the pluses are few. Whether the minuses outweigh the pluses or whether there are simply too few pluses or whether there are too many minuses, are the kinds of judgment calls all of us will have to make, from here to later.

Jay - Ottawa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay - Ottawa said...

Suicidal and murderous nihilists are busy in the world, on the ground and in the ether, more so than I can ever remember. The nihilists are even hacking away at the root of things between the covers of dictionaries, where words are being cut loose from their definitions. How can we reason with each other without words anchored in meaning?

After listening to the President’s statement above, we have to conclude that political words are coming back to us empty. What happens to facts if words are allowed to shift meaning for each speaker? Denis Neville’s quotes from Catch-22 provide more examples of the problem. And that’s what Kucinich is warning us about when he questions the utility of old labels. Either we need a new vocabulary or we must insist on the old one to understand the realignment of forces in Washington.

Until then, George Orwell’s concept of blackwhite must be embraced. Otherwise, we can’t hope to read the morning newspaper without tearing it to shreds in frustration. Our leaders’ radio and TV broadcasts sound more and more like those of Big Brother. I see no sledgehammers flying at the screen.

The old standards of measure in politics fail us, with wide swaths of the American political spectrum have been whittled away and sanded down to fit within the confines of a totalist politics far to the right. No? Well, that’s all I see the President, the Congress and the Court diddling around with. Everything to the left of far right is off the table.

This week Wisconsin may redress the political spectrum in favor of simply equity for majorities who are being increasingly excluded from the social contract. Consider signing a petition or donating $3 to the recall vote in that weathervane state (via Either we restore the social contract while there’s still time or we consign ourselves to the shrewd but limited consolations of Heller, Orwell and Huxley.

Denis Neville said...

Today’s New York Times headline – “S&P Downgrade is Seen as Adding Urgency to Debt Cutting Panel."

Alan Greenspan on Face the Nation yesterday and Quoted on NPR this morning

Fox on 15th Street (a.k.a. The Washington Post) tells its readers that smaller government and lower taxes, not explosive federal spending, is the route to growth and prosperity.

The fertile media culture for the growth and maintenance of collective public ignorance.

George Orwell talked about memory being about important knowledge like that being flushed down the memory hole and warned that the corrosion of language goes hand in hand with the corruption of democracy.

This kind of propaganda engenders a protective stupidity almost impossible for facts to penetrate.

The infiltration of our democracy is well nigh complete, as Karen so adroitly described in her comment to Paul Krugman in today’s NY Times. One does not find such information in the fertile corporate culture of our mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

Here is another point we all agree on you can't trust the "Mainstream" media. You need to check a number of sources additionally. We Conservatives have said this for decades. Welcome to the club Progressives.


Anne Lavoie said...

Obama just announced, in response to the S&P downgrade, that he will be pushing for continuation of payroll tax cuts, claiming they create jobs. 'Employers have more money to spend to create jobs and employees will have more money to spend which will stimulate demand and create jobs'.

That's his JOBS PLAN! Unbelievable. His strategies always strike me as being based on unspoken, backroom deals: He signals to Wall St. that he will not be raising taxes, and he counts on them winking back that they will try to get some jobs going for him, thank you very much.

And Obama may as well say 'to hell with Social Security'. After all, unemployed people don't pay in, and under his tax cuts, even employed people don't pay in, and tax cuts never end once instituted.

No need to cave to anyone! This is the second time he has offered payroll tax cuts without anything in exchange, or at least anything that he will make known to the rest of us. But then again, he prefers secret backroom deals to the messy process of a Democracy. That's his modus operandi because that's the only way he can be certain of a win for him.

The only people Obama consistently tries to fool are the Democrats, and he's succeeding. The loyalty of the voters and the Congress to that lying sackofshit is sickening. They actually put HIM before their country or their own best interests.

Valerie said...

Well, said Anne! Your words mirror my frustration.

If any of the Sardonicky readers have yet to read it, I would point you all to an excellent guest op ed in the NY Times entitled What Happened to Obama? Take a few moments to read the most popular reader responses as well.

Karen, I was wondering if there was any way I can find your comments in the NY Times other than scrolling through all the comments until I come across your name?

Also, if your comments wasn't published, would you be willing to print it for us here?

Valerie said...

After reading the Dennis Kucinich interview on Truthdig (again, highly recommended)where he posited that the terms "Democrat" and "Republican" mean little anymore, I have come to the conclusion that there are two political groups in America: the corporatists and the anti-corporatists. Obama, Hillary and the string Republican candidates hoping to be our next president are all corporatists.
Until we face that fact head-on and demand anti-corporatist representation, we will continue to get more and more of the corporatist agenda shoved down our throats and the downward spiral will continue.

Valerie said...

Just curious! How many people are going to DC on October 6? Chris Hedges gives a compelling argument for why we should be there.

Karen Garcia said...

I don't comment on every NY Times op-ed, but it had gotten to be a habit to post everything I submitted on Marie Burns's RealityChex site. She is having problems with that section right now, and until she gets it fixed, I will post (rejected) Times stuff here. Lately, though, I have been lucky and not had anything dumped or buried. The "Times People" thing is useless, by the way. They only publish recommendations, not comments.
As far as voting non-corporatist, my suggestion is to go Green or Socialist Equality if your own Democrats disappoint. We need a hard left movement, big time, and the Democrats for the most part don't fill that bill. Rule of thumb: the way to tell if your Democrat is a corporatist is if they utter the words "austerity" or "deficit" more than about twice. If so, run for your lives!

Anne Lavoie said...

@Valerie -

It was great timing for that Drew Westen masterpiece, appearing in the Sunday edition right after the S&P downgrade and before the Market plunged. It really pulled all the covers off Obama and left him naked for all the world to see. I also read almost all of the comments because they were so heartfelt. A national catharsis.

I even sent the link to 'What Happened to Obama' to the White House along with my request that he announce he will not run for re-election, suggesting that 'his family needs him', hint, hint.

In my opinion, Obama is Public Enemy #1 because he has the power of the Presidency and the bully pulpit, but he has no intention of using either to help The People. He is content to simply let us all circle the drain and it doesn't bother him one bit. The only job that matters is his own, and the only people who count are those with money.

He is #1 loyal friend and gutsy leader to Wall St., the Military-Industrial Complex, and the rest of the savvy corporate zombies he idolizes. I suspect he thinks the feelings are mutual. Right.

As far as I am concerned, he has declared a slick and silent war on We The People of this country on behalf of his powerful heroes, the corporate titans. I've recently heard it referred to as the Cold Civil War, and we know full well which side Obama is leader of, and it's not ours. But hey, we didn't buy him like they did, we just voted for him, so he doesn't owe us anything.

I think I will stand on a busy street corner with a sign: Honk once for Obama's resignation, Honk twice for impeachment, Honk three times or more if you've had it! I think there's going to be a whole lot of honking going on!!! It'll be my therapy - should be fun.

Ciara said...

I highly recommend this new piece by James K. Galbraith, on Obama-the-corporatist pawn --

Napoleon said...


On your question of how to find Karen's comments in the NY Times "other than scrolling through all the comments", there are 2 methods I have used.

The first, and preferred, method is to click on the "Readers' Recommendations" section. Karen and Marie Burns generally get a large number of recommended hits by readers. This often makes their comments show up in the first or second page of "Readers' Recommendations". If, on the other hand, you click on the section of comments entitled "Highlights"(which follows some unknown selection criteria), their comments might not appear, no matter how many "recommended" hits they received.

The second method is to click on "All Comment", click on the search function in your browser, write in the name "Karen" or "Garcia", and do a search for each page.

Denis Neville said...

When Obama and the super 12 Catfood Commission complete their capitulation, and our hospice Democratic leaders agree to it, the “Beers” (David Beers, head of Standard and Poor’s government debt rating unit) hall putsch by the rentier class is complete.

Disaster capitalism! Crisis works! Shock and awe economic warfare! Slamming the poor and middle class! Naomi Wolf has warned about the erosion of democracy and fascism creeping into America. She feared that Americans could not see the warning signs.

“The really dangerous American fascist... is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.” - Henry A. Wallace, New York Times, April 9, 1944

Despair and loss of hope and rage (look at London and Greece) are the kindling for dangerous mass movements.

In a letter to President Roosevelt in 1933, John Maynard Keynes wrote, “You have made yourself the trustee for those in every country who seek to mend the evils of our condition by reasoned experiment within the framework of the existing social system. If you fail, rational change will be gravely prejudiced throughout the world, leaving orthodoxy and revolution to fight it out.”

Obama, Our Incredible Folding President, Our Incredible Pivoting President, is no FDR.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link to Galbraith's article. Even the most obtuse Obamabot you know would have a tough time defending this wolf in sheep's clothing after reading this piece. When the smoke clears, I truly believe he will go down as one of the most reviled public figures in history. I know our Sociopath-in-Chief couldn't care less, but I often wonder how Michelle and the girls are going to feel about it.

Man, every single time I see your name on a post I know I'm about to read something insightful and brilliant. Just wanted to express my heartfelt appreciation for all your hard work. Thanks.

-- William

Jay - Ottawa said...

Karen & Napoleon,

I also wish, Karen, you would create a sidebar or special page on Sardonicky containing all (not merely the rejected or buried) comments you submit to the Times and elsewhere.

It's good to know the shortcuts to arrive at the worthwhile comments efficiently, but we still have to face that paywall. Although I try to ration my 20 freebie peeks at articles and comments in the Times, I always use them up before they can be renewed four weeks later.

Neil said...


re NYT paywall, try this. The base NYT article URL ends in .html. It seems that the extra URL code after .html tells the Times (among other things) to flag the viewer after 20 free stories a month. So when the paywall shows up, go to the URL or address bar in your browser, highlight the code after .html, and delete the extra code. Then hit enter after .html and the page should reload without the paywall.

I tried this a few times today and it worked for me, using the Windows browser Internet Explorer. I have not tried this with other browsers.

Valerie said...

Much appreciated advice, Neil and Napoleon! I know that Karen and Marie usually make the cut, but every once in a while the moderators at the Times get jealous of their popularity with the hoi polloi and assign them some high number like #124. I must admit to being one of those readers who only reads the first couple of pages of Reader Recommendations but I am always on the lookout for certain commenters. I know I can usually find both Marie and Karen’s comments on RC, but lately it has been down - hence my question. Also, not every article for example, Charles Blow’s pieces or guest editorials, is linked to the Commentariat.

Denis - You always contribute great quotes but the one from Henry A Wallace was especially sobering. Although I don't like to say it for sounding overly-melodramatic, I fear our country is headed for dictatorship. How else will the ultra-rich control the poor masses when they finally pull themselves out of their apathy and away from their T.V.s? It is not coincidence our civil liberties are being eroded at the same time the corporations and top 1% are getting more powerful and making no effort to hide their greed. We are only a servant class to them, to be exploited and controlled.

Anne – I agree with your assessment that Obama is Public Enemy #1 for the reasons you mentioned. But might I add one more point? He is a Corporate Republican taking up the space of a Populist Democrat blocking anyone else – who actually might care about the American people – from that position. - Which is why his resignation would be so perfect a solution. I hope it becomes a national movement. I hope all the Democrats who are going to vote for him because a Republican option is even worse, will jump on board.

But I get discouraged when I read the polls and O’Betrayer, despite all the damage he has done to our liberty and our economy, hasn’t slipped that much. It could be that the polls are doctored, but even in my own experience with my own circle of friends, many (especially those who are financially secure – not necessarily rich but not fearful either) don’t think Obama is REALLY ALL THAT BAD and can be tolerated for another four years until we can run a Progressive candidate in 2016. My worry is by 2016, corporate power will be even more entrenched and wresting power from the fat cats will be next to impossible.