Yet even the phony deficit hawks who insist the country is broke have no problem recklessly spending billions of dollars of borrowed money on one acknowledged war that nobody supports, and more billions on secret narco-wars and drone strikes. And nobody knows the true cost of the bloated Homeland Security boondoggle in which everybody and his brother are considered potential enemies of the state. It has to have been trillions since 9/11 changed everything -- including the Constitution.
Epic crisis, right? Not if you listen to what passes for political discourse in this country, in which bickering and vague platitudes and bellicosity abound, and junior-size bandaids are being prescribed for gaping economic wounds. Take the presidential campaign. Instead of forging ahead with bold plans to fix things, President Obama's strategy is comprised of a weak two-pronged plastic fork attack: shoot (er -- jab) the Mittfish in the barrel, and double-dog-dare Congress to work with him on niblet corn initiatives.
|(graphic by Kat Garcia)|
Barry was in Albany yesterday, nano-campaigning at a "nano-scale" college. He sounded like an inept hand-wringing parent whose only solution is to complain about the misbehaving brats instead of exerting authority. Here's one line that got a lot of laughs from the audience:
"The only time Government employment has gone down under a recession has been under me." Hysterical, right?
And the Republicans have the nerve to call him a big-spending socialist, right? Well, he'll show them how small he can be!
So today I’m announcing a handy little “To-Do” list that we’ve put together for Congress. (Laughter.) You can see it for yourselves at whitehouse.gov. It’s about the size of a Post-It note, so every member of Congress should have time to read it — (laughter) — and they can glance at it every so often. And hopefully we’ll just be checking off the list — just like when Michelle gives me a list, I check it off. (Laughter.) Each of the ideas on this list will help accelerate our economy and put people back to work — not in November, not in next year, but right now.Oh my God, my sides are just splitting. (Just a little aside: Albany is one hell of a depressing place, so cornball presidential speeches must be laugh riots.) But let The Nibbler continue:
First, Congress needs to help the millions of Americans who have worked hard, made their mortgage payments on time, but still have been unable to refinance their mortgages with these historically low rates. This would make a huge difference for the economy. (Applause.)(Umm... here we go again with separating the hardworking Americans who pay their bills from those dreaded greedy homeowning slackers who are totally to blame for their own foreclosures. No mention of that vaunted financial fraud task force, no mention that banks are balking at refinancing and still foreclosing illegally, or that the president has the power to enforce the rules and actually tell Justice to indict some of these bastards).
Second, if Congress fails to act soon, clean energy companies will see their taxes go up and they could be forced to lay off employees. In fact, we’re already hearing from folks who produce wind turbines and solar panels and a lot of this green energy that they’re getting worried because there’s uncertainty out there. Congress hasn’t renewed some of the tax breaks that are so important to this industry. And since I know that the other side in Congress have promised they’ll never raise taxes as long as they live, this is a good time to keep that promise when it comes to businesses that are putting Americans to work and helping break our dependence on foreign oil. (Applause.) So we should extend these tax credits. That’s on the “To-Do” list. That’s number two.(I have nothing against green energy and tax breaks for the worthy small business owner, but wouldn't you rather hear him call for scrapping or at least raising the FICA cap on Social Security contributions above the first $106,000? Congress isn't even going to do small shit, so why not just go for it and demand they do big shit? Maybe because he doesn't really want to, either?)
Number three, Congress should help small business owners by giving them a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages. (Applause.) We believe small businesses are the engine of economic growth in this country. We should not hold them to a situation where they may end up having to pay higher taxes just by hiring more workers. We should make it easier for them to succeed. So that’s on our “To-Do” list. That’s number three.(Actually, in a Depression, government is the only proven driver of economic growth. Obama obviously pays more attention to David Brooks than to Paul Krugman. He is more Herbert Hoover than FDR. Instead of making it easier for "small businesses" to succeed, he should ensure that ordinary people succeed. How about supporting the Living Wage Bill? How about that 2008 campaign promises for a federal minimum wage? But first, he should promise that regular people will just freaking survive this shitstorm. Where is his outrage over the GOP plan to cut food stamps, unemployment benefits, health care?)
Number four, Congress should help our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan find a good job once they come home. (Applause.) Our men and women in uniform have served this country with such honor and distinction — a lot of them come from upstate New York. Now it’s our turn to serve them. So we should create a Veterans Job Corps that helps them find work as cops and firefighters, employees at our national parks. That’s on our “To-Do” list.(Homeland Security is already inventing tens of thousands of jobs for returning vets, many of whom suffer from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other physical and mental problems. Their suicide rate is astronomical. How about we just bring them all home right now and get them the medical help they need before they are forced into even more stressful jobs as cops and firefighters? And yeah, upstate New York is indeed prime real estate for plucking up impoverished young people and convincing them that a military life of endless soul-destroying deployments is a cool career choice.)
Then the last item, the fifth item, which bears especially on what’s going on here — the last item on our congressional “To-Do” list is something that will help a lot of you in particular. You know better than anybody that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last few decades. And that’s a great thing. Businesses are more productive; consumers are getting better products for less. But technology has also made a lot of jobs obsolete. (shades of David Brooks's structural unemployment canard) Factories where people once thought they’d retire suddenly left town. Jobs that provided a decent living got shipped overseas. And the result has been a lot of pain for a lot of communities and a lot of families.(People are working longer hours and getting paid less. Skilled factory workers are paid only about half the going rate, adjusted for inflation, of a decade ago. Unions are being destroyed like crazy, but that's OK. Obama's got Big Labor in the bag. Of course, companies are more competitive when they can get away with cutting benefits and hoarding profits. CEOs pocket about 1000 times what their employees earn through honest labor.)
There is a silver lining to all of this, though. After years of undercutting the competition, now it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Wages are going up. (the horror!) Shipping costs are going up. And meanwhile, American workers are getting more and more efficient. Companies located here are becoming more and more competitive. So for a lot of businesses, it’s now starting to make sense to bring jobs back home. (Applause.)
So that’s the fifth item. That’s all on our “To-Do” list. I’m not trying to overload Congress here. (Laughter.)
So over the next few weeks, I’m going to be talking about this “To-Do” list when I’m on the road. I’m going to be talking about all the things that Congress can do right now to boost our economy and accelerate even more job growth. Of course, it’s not enough just to give them the list — we’ve also got to get them to start crossing things off the list. And that’s where all of you come in.
I’m going to need you to pick up the phone, write an email, tweet, remind your member of Congress we can’t afford to wait until November to get things done.So there you have it, folks. That is the answer to the Second Great Depression. Speak loudly and carry a small plastic fork. Make corny jokes and be amazed that audiences still exist who can laugh at and applaud this crap. Don't expect Barry to go all LBJ and go to Congress himself and twist some arms. That is not his cool cerebral style, and besides, he's got a lot of canoodling with rich donors on his plate. So Tweet your member of Congress and if you're lucky, your message will not be caught up by the Homeland Security dragnet. Just make sure you don't bring up how nauseated you feel about the bipartisan funding of war, the spy state, corporate welfare, and Citizens United.