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More Proof That Obama is Herbert Hoover

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Not only is Obama assuring that he will go down as one of the worst Presidents in history, but for those who have any doubts, he is also making it clear that his only allegiance is to the capitalist classes and their knowledge worker arms and legs.

You don’t need to go further than the first page of today’s New York Times for proof. The Grey Lady has realized rather late in the game that automatic stabliizers and emergency programs have been propping up the economy, and the fact that they are soon to disappear will be more than a bit of a downer. Apparently it is now OK for Pravda to make that shocking revelation from Moody’s (the source of the key data in the article) because the budget debate is so far advanced that the executioner has already started the downward swing of his axe; the only question is whether he will get a clean kill of the average citizen’s economic wellbeing or whether it will be a protracted, messy death. From the New York Times:

An extraordinary amount of personal income is coming directly from the government.

Close to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security and disability, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics. In states hit hard by the downturn, like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, residents derived even more of their income from the government.

By the end of this year, however, many of those dollars are going to disappear, with the expiration of extended benefits intended to help people cope with the lingering effects of the recession. Moody’s Analytics estimates $37 billion will be drained from the nation’s pocketbooks this year.

The article also points out that people who are on the verge of being broke typically need to spend the money they get from the government as quickly as they receive it, which leads to a high multiplier effect, estimated at 2:1. Duh!

Other self inflicted wounds are just as bad, however:

In terms of economic impact, that is slightly less than the spending cuts Congress enacted to keep the government financed through September, averting a shutdown.

The other front page article, appallingly, shows Obama, rather than the Republicans, pushing for $4 trillion in deficit cuts:

Mr. Obama, meeting with leaders from both parties at the White House, bluntly challenged Republicans a day after Speaker John A. Boehner pulled back from a far-reaching agreement aimed at saving as much as $4 trillion over 10 years, officials briefed on the negotiations said. The meeting ended after an hour and 15 minutes with little progress, but the two sides agreed to resume talking Monday, and every day after that, until a deal is done.

White House officials said Mr. Obama was still determined to pursue the boldest package possible — one that would require new tax revenue as well as cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs — but he faces steadfast opposition from Republicans and growing qualms among Democrats.

And per Politico, suddenly the Republicans are looking comparatively sane:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is likening the current battle over whether to raise the debt ceiling to the 2008 bailout of Wall Street.

Though he conceded that it may be a “bad analogy,” the No. 2 House Democrat said the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program under President George W. Bush was an instance where Congress came together to act amid an economic crisis.

“It was a Republican president, a Republican secretary of the Treasury, and a Republican-appointed head of the Federal Reserve asked a Democratically led Congress to act because the administration said we had a crisis and the alternative of not acting would be catastrophic,” Hoyer said Wednesday to reporters.

“My suggestion to my Republican friends is that they do the same,” he added…

Congress needs to act with that same urgency now, he said, to raise the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling.

“If Congress has the will to do so, we could pass a debt limit extension within 24 hours,” he said. “We need to come to an agreement … Republicans need to put everything on the table.”

Even knowing how dedicated to bad ends Obama is, I still feel like I’ve walked into a parallel universe. He’s now determined to make these horrific entitlement cuts a sign of his manhood. This is “Change” for sure, to a more brutal, grasping, dog eat dog society, all administered by self serving elites. They will in the end reap the whirlwind they are creating, but not before it mows a path of destruction through our social order.

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152 comments

  1. ambrit

    Mz Smith;
    AAARGH! After I jump over here from the Links 7/10/11 site I run into Gotterdamerrung II. It makes me reconsider my decision to eschew mind bending meds to face reality straight up. Considering how this situation is shaping up, now would be a good time to invest in those Big Pharma names that produce the anti-depresants. They’re going to sell a lot of them in the future.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, we established on that thread that pretty much any effect that anti depressants have besides killing your sex drive is all placebo effect.

      If you want to numb your emotions out big time, you want the anti-psychotics.

      1. Salviati

        I recommend instead smoking the good green stuff. It’s a hell of an anti-depressant and it has no side effects. If you own a home you could probably grow it in the basement; with LED grow lamps its virtually undetectable.

        1. Commiemaniac

          Right on Salviati. The good green stuff is good for my libido too I find. Laughing uncontrollably and getting laid a lot does take the edge of economic collapse.

        2. Yearning To Learn

          Salviati,
          Don’t be ridiculous. Every drug and supplement on the planet has side effects. Although I am pro legalization of thc, AND I am a doc who refuses to prescribe any antidepressant except Prozac,, I also know marijuana has unwanted effects. We ALL know and joke about the two most common such as paranoia on pot as well as “the munchies”. others are confusion, panic, increased heart rate and respiratory rate, sand tremor. There are others such as tremor and seizure although they are rare. I know of these firstly as a doc who has sedated patients after freaking out on pot (drug screen negative except pot) and as a person who thought I was going to die of a heart attack when I was stoned.

          1. CaitlinO

            Then some good old Kentucky bourbon ought to do. Plus, it has the added benefit of allowing us to buy American. God help us when the Chinese start importing that.

          2. Jim Haygood

            Dr. YTL is right about cannabis side effects — I’ve seen these myself. But let’s put this in perspective.

            Mostly such effects occur when relatively inexperienced cannabis users accidentally take extreme doses, such as by ingesting brownies or smoking high potency exotic strains.

            A nonsmoker who ingests a whole pack of cigarettes, or a teetotaler who downs a quart of gin are likely to become quite ill too.

            Moderate, customary cannabis users are unlikely to experience unpleasant side effects when they stick to their usual regimen.

            A minority of people find themselves mentally destabilized by psychotropic substances, and of course should avoid them. The majority seem to find a safe equilibrium of moderate use.

          3. Salviati

            You are quite right about the side effects. Over the years I have experienced some of them myself on occasion. Its been over a year since I have been acquainted with the sticky-icky so that’s the reason for my nostalgia.

          4. justanobserver

            I thought that the particular strain has a large effect on deleterious side effects, in particular high THC strains were much more likely to cause such effects.

          5. jonboinAR

            I’m a lifetime expert of the weed. It does, absolutely, make a person just slightly stupider than they were unstoned, also more scatter-brained. Some, like myself (I said I was a lifetime “expert”, not user. Several of my friends are life-long pot-heads.), it causes temporary near psychosis. It also saps motivation, somewhat, in nearly all who smoke it.

          6. jh

            Not exactly true. If a casual user than yes, you can get paranoid and have the munchies. However, these side effects do not seem prevalent among regular users.

          7. Optimader

            Clarify effect vs side effect from a clinical perspective…. Isn’t the ” munchies ” an effect a chemo patient seeks? Isn’t “paranoia” perhaps a healthy concern that would be ameliorated by legalization???
            Frankly, too much water has side effects. As for me, it got me through the duller moments of an engineering degree, and certainly gives some assistance mulling over technical solution alternatives to this day. To qoute dan ackroyd ” I can’t recommend it to anyone, but it sure works for me”
            Excuse any iPhone spelling oddities , cheers

          8. peter de haan

            Yes, I’ve stopped to consume the green stuff habitually years ago. Growing up in Holland it was very common to do it amongst friends. The problem was, they geo-engineered it to such an extent in the Dutch Universities and elsewhere, that the levels of THC just became downright scary. It may be recommendable if you’re very strong physically and psycologically, and I still know plenty of people who enjoy it and can find the right balance with work and social live. However, I’ve also known folks to whom the habit became a miserable one. I, for one, consider it as highly destabalizing to me. I’m hyper sensitive to it, unlike in my youth. I may now try it out once a year with my wife, planning it such that I don’t have any obligations the next few days. Once I do, I go into an anti-social introspection mode. I shake the wheels loose, so to speak. I can hardly face people then, alhough I’m quite a social guy otherwise. My body starts reacting in weird ways. I visit the toilet non-stop as if to cleanse the body. I become feverish. I do a lot of thinking, and it’s a truly crazy experience. I know the paranoid moments too.
            It’s all very easy to ‘recommend’ things out there. I’m all for it if you can handle it, but to just brush it off as an almost non-affair without side effects is taking it a bit too far.

      2. the.Duke.of.URL

        Yves, the only caveat I would make to your suggestion is to pay attention to the contraindications, for instance, if you are seriously depressed, don’t take haloperidol.

      3. Anonymous Jones

        “No, we established on that thread that pretty much any effect that anti depressants have besides killing your sex drive is all placebo effect.”

        Oh, please.

        I kept my mouth shut yesterday because it was too depressing (no pun intended) to see you involved in this poor analysis, but this is just too much.

        “We” didn’t “establish” anything. As if you could ever establish anything having a few obviously non-experts with little real world experience breaking down a few junk studies (who obviously do not even understand the bias of the null hypothesis).

        First of all, almost all these larger studies are bunk. Humans are more variable than they first appear, and having a study crafted around the idea that we are homogenous inputs is preposterous. Obviously, we are all different — we are different ages, have different genes, have different gut flora ruling our digestive system, and have different levels of “depression.”

        And second, retreating to the null hypothesis of “no placebo effect” tells you less than it thinks it does. It doesn’t tell you there is no effect. It tells you that you didn’t have enough evidence to reject your initial assumption. Initial “assumption”, got it???

        But to suggest that SSRIs can *never* work is equally preposterous. Just because some junk study based on faulty assumptions and over-prescription shows no more than a placebo effect? Surely you jest.

        Yes, Big Pharma is an absolute scourge on this country, but I know many people who *seemed* to have been rescued from deep, sharp depressions in exactly the time (around 4-6 weeks) after prescription of an SSRI that one would expect based on the theory of the drug interaction. Yes, there is always a possibility that all of my long experience in this matter *could* be explained by either a placebo effect (4-6 weeks, seriously? OK, whatever, I’ll let it go) or the effect of “time” on healing (much more plausible IMO). But listen, as long as I can admit I don’t know all the answers and haven’t established anything, you all can too.

        You all seem blinded by a hatred of Big Pharma. As much as I hate them as well, and as much as I think they probably do have an active campaign to lie to us about the efficacy of their products, I refuse to stop thinking critically about this matter and I refuse to let their duplicity cloud my ability to admit that some of their products might in fact be beneficial to *certain* people with *highly specific* conditions, despite the terrible intentions of the marketing departing.

        1. ambrit

          Mr Jones;
          Your point is taken, but my, at least, primary objection is that Big Pharmas actions tend to stifle independant and scientifically rigourous research. When the profit motive trumps all others, all you are left with are profitable drugs, irregardless of effectiveness. This is a massive waste of resources, and leads to equally massive degradation of society. The ill effects of this process are too numerous to go into here in any detail, but do exist, and are signifigant. As an example; if we were to take the ‘excess’ money per person spent on medicine here in the US in relation to the rest of the developed world, and invest it in productive social tasks, any tasks you like, how much better off would the average American be? I’d suggest quite a bit better.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          The research has been massively cherry picked by Big Pharma (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa065779#t=article). If studies using placebos that have side effects show the same efficacy rate as the drug, pray tell what is one to conclude?

          And they are doing real harm, this is not a benign activity. I got this from a doctor yesterday:

          I general antidepressants work for a while, after which things get worse. There is no science behind psyciatry, and theories such as “chemical imbalance” are just a marketing slogans, as they were not developed scientifically and are not supported by real understanding of the brain (there is only negligeable understanding of the brain to begin with). But, as this guy claims, there are thousands and thousanss of such articles, all bullshit. They are trying to blind people with “science”. It’s not even worth picking an argument with them because they will outshout you. The universities are all financed by drug companies too, so it’s hopeless. Their doctors are brainwashed to think they’re “doing God’s work” so it’s futile.

          The basic formula (Thorazine) was discovered accidentally 70 years ago or more, and hasn’t changed much since. The drug companies tweak the same old formula every now and then (such as when they came up with the SSRIs), get a new patent, and run commercials on television and wine, dine, and bribe people like this guy. That’s the extent of the science behind psychotropic medication. I would also remind him that there are no biochemical tests or imaging techniques that indicate any difference between the brain of a normal and that of a mentally ill individual. None whatsoever! These are psychological problems, not biochemical. If we took care of the families in this country, if we paid women a few years maternity leave so young kids developed some security and healthy attachment abilities, if our schools were not the hell they became, we would not have so many people with mental problems.

          Also, the drug companies don’t do long term studies. But these drugs are prescribed long term, and cause a tremendous amount of damage. For example, if you look at the Social Security Administration data, since 1987 (when Prozac, the first mass marketed antidepressant was introduced) until 2007, the disability rates from mental illness for adults grew by over 400%. During the same period the mental illness disability rates for children grew 35 fold (from about 16,000 children in 1987 to 561,000 in 2007!). This is mostly because of psychiatric drug use This is SSA data you can check out for yourself. These drugs are destroying people’s brains, turning what would normally be a temporary problem into a life-long irreversible chronic major illness. Also, there are studies showing that people who take these drugs die decades earlier than people who don’t. It is going to get much worse, because the new DSM diagnostic manual is coming out in 2 years, and it will pathologize just about every human emotion, and push drugs (especially on kids) with a vengeance. Really bad time to be a kid.

          1. aletheia33

            i agree with everything in this post from yves and the doctor quoted, and so would my partner, who has practiced psychotherapy for 40 years.

            however, and since i mention in another post below that i depend on cymbalta, i feel i have to offer the fact that my personal experience with this drug, since beginning it in my early 50s, has been remarkable and rescuing. having tried absolutely everything, except drugs, to cope with depression, including years of psychotherapy with excellent practitioners, this drug brought me a level of well-being i had been able to reach in brief moments but never ongoing, despite my extensive labors to achieve same.

            whether this means it might really be serving as a mind-altering “opiate” (as in opiate of the masses) more than as a targeted “treatment”–and perhaps opiates are the only thing that can enable most human beings to function at all in our dysfunctional society with its stress and overwork and alienation–i’ve been willing, so far, to make the tradeoff of whatever down side may yet come (earlier death, the drug stops working, etc.) in exchange for the wonderful quality of life i have now.

            i’d be interested to hear whether the doctor yves quotes would recommend that someone like me should try to do without this drug, and what alternatives he or she thinks would have an equally desirable effect. i wouldn’t be surprised if i’m currently doing them or have already given them a thorough try.

          2. bill

            I agree with this doctor on every point but one. Yves quotes the doctor as saying that no biochemical or imaging test can differentiate between those with mental illness and those without. I dont know about biochemical differences, but I know for certian that on most brain imaging tests, a person experiencing mania has a brain that is lit up like a christmas tree. This same person when “normal” has a brain that looks like 99% of those sampled.

          3. Clark

            Beautifully expressed Yves. I read “the continuum concept” by Jean Liedloff (RIP) many years ago. We brought up our two boys in that fashion- hunter gatherer style- like our distant forebears.
            http://www.continuum-concept.org/home.html

            My two boys never ever had nightmares. They used to have laughing dreams- they would be sound asleep, dreaming and laughing!

            As in most things- the answers are so simple and straightforward- but their is no “profit” in simplicity

        3. aletheia33

          i recommend dosing oneself with this entire interview:

          followed by a new (i.e. if not already undertaken) enthusiastic engagement in helping one’s local community or state prepare to weather armageddon.
          any activity that helps build community and is fun will have the desired effect.
          what we have always imagined as the center will turn out to be not the now dysfunctional powers that be but ourselves working together with our neighbors to support each other. we do not need TPTB to keep us alive or mentally, spiritually, physically whole. we know how.

          i speak as one who is completely dependent on cymbalta for adequate energy, relief from pain, and a treatment of probably congenital depressive illness. i have found the above prescriptions to have the unexpected side effect of reviving my cymbalta-repressed libido.
          love is action is eros.
          (placebo effect? not in my view/experience. but then again, what can’t the imagination bring about?)

        4. Citalopram

          I think you need to stick with banking and finance rather than this subject that you don’t know much about, Yves my dear. That article about psych drugs being no better than placebo was pure bunk, as I or anyone else can tell you after years of suicidal depression.

          You’re damaging your credibility when you go out on limbs like this and buy into anti-pharma nonsense. I totally agree with you that Big Pharma can corrupt, but that doesn’t mean that every single drug out there is trash and therefore worthless.

          1. scraping_by

            Thank you for an entire group of straw men.

            What’s the venery for straw men? A stack of straw men? A bale? Interesting question.

            It all comes down to the simple one factor study. Two groups of depression patients. Normalize all factors between the two groups. Half with any anti-depressant. Half with sugar pills. The improvement rate for both groups is 50%. Can’t get around that.

            The current attempt to get around that is to vary other factors between the two groups until you get one that is equal in both, then start yelling and pointing at it. And there are even physicians who look at the flames and don’t look behind the mirror.

            Trying to make it more complicated is like added on more and more terms to a financial derivative. As a customer, you know it’s just there as dust in the eyes, but the salesman will swear up and down it’s necessary for a profitable investment.

            http://www.rinkworks.com/words/collective.shtml

  2. Jojo

    There is no sane explanation for how bad a president he has been other than he is a Manchurian Candidate wrapped in his fake “hope and change” mantra. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Obama switched to the Republican party if he gets reelected.

    The country is ripe for a real 3rd political party. Ross Perot was 20 years to early.

    Is there anyone who has the will to rise to the occasion? To grasp the bull by the tail and look the situation in the eye?

    1. Glenn Condell

      Oh there’s plenty of them, but they’d need more than will. They’d need hangars full of money, which would probably come from the same people that own the DemGOPS.

      And if it didn’t, the saviour would be starved of media coverage when he/she wasn’t being set up or lied about, they’d have MI/NatSec, Lobby, Wall St offside as well as the government and bureaucracy.

      They’d probably get the Assange treatment if the Spitzer method wasn’t possible. Let’s hope the Kelly option is ‘off the table’.

    2. Rex

      “To grasp the bull by the tail and look the situation in the eye?”

      Eewww! Bad metaphor alert. Even if that repugnant visual image is apropos for our current ass end situation, it isn’t exactly an inspirational catchphrase.

      1. lollard

        Personally, I’d rather stick my head up the butcher’s ass than take the bull’s word for it.

      2. Jojo

        Sorry you didn’t like the metaphor. I use it often and think it gets right to the point!

    3. wunsacon

      “Joanna” on hoocoodanode once wrote:

      Judas horse:

      “There are strict guidelines for techniques used to round up Mustangs. One method uses a tamed horse, called a “Judas horse,” which has been trained to lead wild horses into a pen or corral. Once the Mustangs are herded into an area near the holding pen, the Judas horse is released. Its job is then to move to the head of the herd and lead them into a confined area.”

      The wild horses see what they think is one of their own, and follow, assuming it must be safe to do so. I think much of the American populace saw Obama in this light.

      1. Jojo

        After 8 years of GWB and Cheney, ANY seemed like we should follow it. We were desperate for some “hope & change” and Obama’s team was smart enough to construct their media message around that. Plus add in the fact that the candidate was black and hey – how could we go wrong voting for this guy? Plus the Republicans ran the awful combo of McCain/Palin, making Obama the ONLY alternate mainstream choice we had.

        Sigh. All of us who voted for Obama got snookered…

    4. Francois T

      In the good news department, please take note that Alan Grayson will be back in 2012.

      He! He!

  3. Glenn Condell

    ‘Not only is Obama assuring that he will go down as one of the worst Presidents in history’

    and surely it’s greatest disappointment. Never have so many, etc.

    ‘Mr. Obama, meeting with leaders from both parties at the White House, bluntly challenged Republicans a day after Speaker John A. Boehner pulled back from a far-reaching agreement aimed at saving as much as $4 trillion over 10 years’

    I love that ‘bluntly’, nice touch.

  4. Z

    obama is looking for an out. He doesn’t want to run again … why would he want to be in power when his deplorable policies play out? … but he doesn’t want to make it obvious that he only used the oval office as a personal platform and now wants to cash out on his celebrity-hood and move on to the more lucrative and less stressful post-presidency opportunities that will be sponsored by the plutocracy that he has so dutifully served. He wants to make his candidacy untenable and then drop out for “the good of the party” … which he obviously could care less about … and then posture as if he was the adult of adults … instead of the vacuous narcissistic lowlife he is … who made the tough decisions that needed to be made for the best long-term interests of the country and will leave the oval office an under-appreciated hero … a victim of dc’s partisanship.

    The ss cuts that he is proposing … and pushing … are just what he needs to set the table for his departure. They’ll piss off the base to the point that he’ll lose significant support there, but it also serves his interests in other ways: he’d go down fighting for what his plutocrat sponsors want more than anything else; which is to raid the ss cookie jar and not have to pay back those IOUs.

    If he wanted to run again … and win … he’d wait until after the elections to go after ss just like bush did. He damn well knows how unpopular medicare and ss cuts are … every damn poll shows a majority of americans of both political parties don’t want cuts to these programs. And we’re supposed to believe that he believes that there is some huge sweet spot of independent voters that are going to go apeshit happy that the deficit is being taken care of? And they’re going to value that over the ss cuts … which are going to effect a huge swath of people … and the economy that is going to certainly be negatively affected by his austerity fetish?

    Bullshit. No way. He’s not stupid … he’s just a narcissio-path that only cares about himself and doesn’t give a shit about how many people he has to hurt to get his way. He wants out.

    Z

    1. Ignim Brites

      He may want out. But he will have to come up with a line to get out because no one will, no one could, challenge him. He is the only Dem who could possibly win next year. Trouble is he might lose badly and take the entire Party down with him. Then NorEast and CA Dems will have to decide whether or not they want to stay in the Union.

    2. doom

      That would be very consistent with his above-it-all posturing and his tendency to withdraw from conflict. But his masters aren’t done with him yet. He’s not going anywhere.

  5. Blissex

    Somewhat surprisingly I haven’t found yet someone who has noticed this unsurprising pattern where Republicans:

    * Want tax cuts when a Republican is president.
    * Want spending cuts when a Democrat is president.

    That seems to me a simple and clever “seesaw” strategy, to associate “good” things with Republican presidents and “bad” things with Democrat ones.

    1. Foppe

      You forgot ‘want deficit-spending while GOP presidents are in office’, as that spending goes directly into business coffers.

    2. eric anderson

      Silly, the Republicans want both spending and tax cuts. Haven’t you been paying attention? Actually, neither party seems to have a good grasp of mathematics. The Democrats want to tax, of course. But they’ll spend even more than they tax.

      What I find amusing is the notion that some combination of “wise policies” will help us avoid a depression. Austerity is coming. You can complain about it, or you can prepare for it.

  6. Blissex

    «to a more brutal, grasping, dog eat dog society, all administered by self serving elites.»

    But this goal is very much endorsed by the majority of voters, who are or about to become middle aged and older rentiers.

    There are so many Usians who are on good pensions and have real estate assets, and look forward or are into their retirement, and their fondest desires are asset price bubbles and very low or no taxes on capital income, and lower salaries and widespread unemployment with low spending on social insurance and high taxes on earned income.

    These people are those who used to support progressive policies via the Democrats and the unions when they were workers, or their parents were workers, in factories. Now that they have moved to being or about to be rentiers they have moved to a completely different point of view.

    My usual quotes from Grover Norquist:

    http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11699
    «The 1930s rhetoric was bash business — only a handful of bankers thought that meant them. Now if you say we’re going to smash the big corporations, 60-plus percent of voters say “That’s my retirement you’re messing with. I don’t appreciate that”. And the Democrats have spent 50 years explaining that Republicans will pollute the earth and kill baby seals to get market caps higher. And in 2002, voters said, “We’re sorry about the seals and everything but we really got to get the stock market up.»

    http://www.thevanguard.org/thevanguard/other_writers/norquist_grover/060803.shtml
    http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0903/0903norquistinterview.htm
    «The growth of the investor class–those 70 per cent of voters who own stock and are more opposed to taxes and regulations on business as a result — is strengthening the conservative movement. More gun owners, fewer labor union members, more homeschoolers, more property owners and a dwindling number of FDR-era Democrats all strengthen the conservative movement versus the Democrats.»

    Clinton and Obama style “triangulation” are just the recognition that even a majority of Democrats are now fully behind a «brutal, grasping, dog eat dog society» because they think of themselves as being part of the elites administering it. Of course they are deluded as to the latter, but as long as the game lasts…

    1. ambrit

      Dear Blissex;
      What do you think all those ‘Baby Boomer’ proto-rentiers are going to do when they discover that their ‘comfortable retirements’ have been stolen from them by financial elites?
      As the recent debacle over ‘privatising’ Social Security showed, you don’t fool with Grandmother Nature.

      1. Brian Donnelly

        What the geriatrics will be taking to the streets? Hardly. Pissing off the baby boomers is a no-lose situation at this point. All noise, no effect anymore. That generations influence on politics other than as a noise generation machine is now sealed. They’ll bitch and moan but elections don’t matter anymore. The fix is solidly in now.

  7. Max424

    “I recommend instead smoking the good green stuff.”

    If one partakes in moderation, and listens strictly to sleep inducing Bach cantatas when doing so, then I hesitantly agree.

    We must remember, the ingestion of weed smoke can often lead to deep and radical thinking, and we certainly don’t need any of that shit we want to remain listless, counter-revolutionaries.

    1. DP

      Bach cantatas as sleep inducing? They are among the glories of Western music and civilization. I’m listening to a CD of them right now, cantatas 22, 23 and 75 with Sazuki conducting the Bach Collegium Japan. Classical music is my alternative to anti-depressants or smoking pot.

  8. LRT

    These posts are increasingly disappointing, because so free of content and so full of rhetoric. “his only allegiance is to the capitalist classes”.

    There is an account here of what America is now, and what should be done now. But its completely inexplicit. It looks like the view is that America is stratified into one set of individuals who form a capitalist class in traditional Marxist terms. That is, they own the bulk of the assets and get the returns from those assets and from the labor of the others.

    This grouping is probably thought of a long lived, tribal. It must be characterised by intermarriage, inheritance, and the governing bodies of the state are drawn from it. It is Federal, but its also local. It has at its service a group which is called ‘knowledge workers’. Don’t know who they are.

    This grouping has in mind something called ‘austerity’. It proposes to cut a substantial deficit by cutting entitlement benefits. This is wrong and should not be done.

    The solution to this problem is…? Not sure. It seems like the solution is the traditional Democratic one, that is, we will leave everything alone, but we will increase entitlement spending, and if that means an increased deficit, that’s fine.

    Quite how we are going to persuade the ‘capitalist class’ do agree to that, its not clear.

    What is needed to make this into a useful debate is to get clear and to get specific. Above all, get specific. At the moment its arm waving – a great disappointment, coming from the author of the second half of E-conned.

    1. Rex

      “These posts are increasingly disappointing, because so free of content and so full of rhetoric. “his only allegiance is to the capitalist classes”.”

      I think there is plenty of content but I agree on the rhetoric. Rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively.

      Having skimmed your reply, might I suggest you look up the word bombast.

      “These posts” are mining the surface of the myriad ways Obama is a self-serving, disingenuous tool. (Plus a lot of other good stuff too.)

      You covered a lot of ground and I think I disagree with much of it, but I’ll spare us the detailed arguments.

      You said, “What is needed to make this into a useful debate is to get clear and to get specific. Above all, get specific.”

      But I didn’t detect any particular proposed solutions coming from you. Disappointing.

      I’m looking for the Deus Ex Machina too, but there’s a good chance that plot line won’t happen.

    2. Yearning To Learn

      LRT
      Your posts are illogical. Not every topic must be a treatise on the entire problem and the exact methodology of fixing it. That is appropriate for a book, not blog. Read all the posts these last 3 years and econned. Yves has put forth clear recommendations.
      Break up tbtf banks
      Nationalize if needed
      Wind down CDS monster, slowly if needed
      Reinstitute version of Glass Steagal
      Enforce and convict white collar criminals
      Consider banking as utility model with vanilla products
      There are more but you can research them.

    3. doom

      Where you been? The procedure for doing this is completely standarized, and it’s been put into practice in countries around the world. The complete requirements are already set out in black and white. The US is a signatory of the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Ratify it. Then it overrides domestic law as needed, forcing the state to accept its universally-acknowledged duties to respect, protect, and promote fundamental protection of its peoples’ means of life. How to do it, that’s the easy part. The more developed countries on ECOSOC will show you how.

    4. Tao Jonesing

      These posts are increasingly disappointing, because so free of content and so full of rhetoric. “his only allegiance is to the capitalist classes”.

      Yves should have said “the financialist class.” Obama is not committed to capitalists, i.e., the people who invest in productive capital and employ labor to products, but to the rentiers, i.e., the free lunch crowd, the people who privately tax the public sector through ownership of monopolies, natural and otherwise.

      And “austerity” here is just a euphemism for “mugging” in this case. Remember that what ultimately gave rise to the calls for austerity is debt taken on to bail out the FIRE sector. “Austerity” is itself an entitlement program for the FIRE sector, much of which would have and should have gone bankrupt but got bailed out. The reason the FIRE sector is demanding “austerity” is so that it can ensure the Federal government can keep borrowing money for things that benefit the FIRE sector. But none dare call that an entitlement.

      1. Elizabeth

        That sounds like the most clear-thinking response to this post I’ve seen yet. Indeed — “Austerity” is just code for sending the entitlements up the food chain instead of down.

      2. run75441

        Tao:

        A man after my own heart.

        Changing the paradigm from making profits solely on capital appreciation to one of productive capitl plus labor should have been goal one. How do we do it?

        1. Francois T

          “How do we do it?”

          To paraphrase a well-known author: “First, let’s kill all the banksters!”

          Then, chase all the lobbyists, give 500 kicks in the gluteus to all the congresscritters until they can sit for 2 weeks.

          And that is for starters… :-)

  9. Middle Seaman

    The green stuff that will help is the buck and Obama is taking all the green bucks he can suck out of the non-rich. These greens end up at the rich through the pumps they constructed with Obama to suck Obama’s loot.

    That’s old news. What is shocking, however, are my friends who still believe in the low life that is the president.

  10. Bruce Krasting

    Yves points to all those cuts in social programs. She sites Moodys. How about the big magilla of ‘social programs’ Social Security?

    In 2011 SS will spend $730 billion (up $30b). The receipts will be about $170 billion shy of that amount. ($50b operating deficit and $120b FICA holiday) So ~23% has to be borrowed from the public.

    We can’t keep that up. If we try, it will end up hurting the people who are in desperate need of this program.

    I don’t get the thinking of those who believe we face a bottomless (debt) well. That is not the case. I guess “they” will just have to get hit over the head to wake up. When they do wake up, they’re going to hate it.

    1. Rex

      Yep, let’s kill SS. Lots of money spilling there.

      The focus on that is because the current puppet master talking points focus is there. What about everything else in the budget? Stupid wars, for instance. How did taxes for the top get dropped so fast. Health care is sucking huge sums but we couldn’t buck the business interests to get a reasonable system. How this kind of cuts will hurt an already bad economy. Why our government doesn’t need to balance it’s check book like you and I do.

      You are just regurgitating talking point bullet items. Maybe you are here to do that. If not, then you should go on a learning quest and come back when you have a broader perspective.

      1. ScottW

        One of the many ironies is how Geithner justified the 100% payout (taxpayer bailout) to AIG on the premise contracts on credit default swaps had to be honored, yet this same Administration has no problem in breaking its contractual promise to the American workers who paid into the funds for decades by reducing benefits. And all the while Obama will try and sell the cuts as “strengthening” social security in the future, and the Democrats getting screwed will cheer him on. This issue clearly demonstrates how dangerous Obama is and how his supporters are actually facilitating the destruction of our meager safety net. He is pulling off something no Republican President could never get away with.

          1. Peter T

            That sums it about up, only that Nixon’s visit was something positive while Obama’s sell-out of his voters is not. I hope Obama gets his own Eugen McCarthy who shows him the door in 2012.

        1. Abelenkpe

          “One of the many ironies is how Geithner justified the 100% payout (taxpayer bailout) to AIG on the premise contracts on credit default swaps had to be honored, yet this same Administration has no problem in breaking its contractual promise to the American workers who paid into the funds for decades by reducing benefits.”

          Why don’t more people recognize this?

        2. Jim Haygood

          ‘breaking its contractual promise to the American workers’

          Sorry, Soc Sec is a political promise, but it is NOT a ‘contractual promise.’ This issue was litigated in 1960 (Flemming v. Nestor). The Supreme Court determined that there is no ‘contractual right’ to Social Security benefits.

          Before you call me a right-wing troll, let me stipulate that I think Soc Sec benefits should be contractual; that the Trust Fund should be subject to Erisa protections; and that the Soc Sec trustees should have a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries, not to politicians.

          Politicians refuse to pass these protections, because they want to keep the system the way Frank Roosevelt set it up: as a political slush fund, which (as the Supreme Court confirmed in 1960) can be amended or canceled at will.

          Obviously, there IS no security in noncontractual benefits; especially not when the government’s financial condition is parlous.

      2. Mark

        Since 1985 SS disability payments have gone from 10% to 17% of outlays. In 1985 2.2% of the population was on SDI now it is 4.1%. It is the new welfare for those who know how to work the system.

    2. ScottW

      Historically, social security has run a huge surplus accumulating a trust fund of $2.6 trillion. Of course, anti-social security crusaders choose to act as if the trust fund does not really exist since their goal is to turn social security into a welfare program funded out of general revenues. Once that is accomplished, additional cuts can be imposed under the rhetoric that the program is bankrupting the government. The rich and corporations who can live on their savings are spared an increase in the FICA cap, while the retired folks who faithfully paid in each year are told to tighten their belts.

      The sad fact of the matter is this program actually works, and can be fully funded with a modest tax adjustment. The real question this society needs to answer is why the super wealthy resent the middle class and lower class receiving payments that would barely cover their monthly gardening service?

      1. alex

        “The sad fact of the matter is this program actually works”

        I think that’s what really drives its opponents nuts. It’s one of the most successful and best run government programs there is. It actually helps non-plutocrats. If more people realized this, can you imagine what the rabble would want next.

      2. Jim Haygood

        It appears to work, but meanwhile has built up an unfunded liability of nearly $8 trillion.

        Same way that buying a mini-mansion in Las Vegas with a zero down mortgage and refinancing every year used to work.

        It works till the music (cash flow) stops. Then it doesn’t.

        1. ScottW

          Unfunded liability of $8 trillion through 2084 sounds pretty reasonable in light of the unfunded liability for the same period of time for defense related spending–currently about $1 trillion a year and rising. It is a matter of priorities and the decision to loot the trust fund to pay for defense is a sad commentary on those priorities.

          1. Cedric Regula

            here! here!

            We have the battle of priorities going on in Washington, and whomever is not well represented in these meetings, loses.

          2. Mark

            End the wars and cut the defense budget in half. 20 years= $8 billion. Also in 1980 90% of income was subject to payroll taxes. Today it 83%. It seems with a few tweaks we could actually lower the retirement age so young workers could get into the job market.

        2. F. Beard

          It works till the music (cash flow) stops. Then it doesn’t. Jim Haygood

          The US Treasury/Fed combo is the source of new cash. Buyers of US debt forget that they are the fleas and not the dog.

    3. Justicia

      “So ~23% has to be borrowed from the public.”

      No it doesn’t. There are two simple solutions:
      1) remove the cap on FICA wages (now at $106,000) so that everyone pays SS taxes on the full amount of salary income;
      2) tax the fees earned by hedge fund bandits at income (35%) and not capital gains (15%) tax rate.

      1. rps

        1) remove the cap on FICA wages (now at $106,000) so that everyone pays SS taxes on the full amount of salary income

        I call this the No-Brainer Adjustment. Takes all the hot air out of the anti-social security discussion.

        1. Jersey Girl

          Have a doughnut hole and start collecting again at 500k. This way the knuckle-draggers who work the trading floor and watch Fox Business all day won’t start clutching their pearls. Those at the half million mark won’t even miss it.

    4. alex

      Bruce Krasting: “In 2011 SS will spend $730 billion (up $30b). The receipts will be about $170 billion shy of that amount. ($50b operating deficit and $120b FICA holiday) So ~23% has to be borrowed from the public.”

      Borrowed from the public? No, taken from the Trust Fund (exactly what it was designed for in 1983). Social Security is in the dire condition of loaning out a bit less money than it has in the past, it’s not borrowing anything. Can you imagine if the rest of the government was in such good shape?

      While I think any FICA holiday is a bad idea, another reason Social Security isn’t in better shape right now is because of unemployment, which reduces FICA collected. So now Obummer wants to play austerity and not fix that? Brilliant.

      Worrying about Social Security now is like mowing the lawn while the house burns down.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The Trust Fund consists of nonmarketable bonds. When it redeems these bonds, the Treasury has to issue a like amount of marketable bonds in order to generate the cash to pay Social Security.

        Bruce Krasting is correct. Your criticism of his statement is uninformed.

        1. alex

          “When it redeems these bonds, the Treasury has to issue a like amount of marketable bonds in order to generate the cash to pay Social Security.”

          Or collect the funds in tax revenues. Yup, same two mechanisms it can use when marketable bonds mature (or it has to pay for expenses charged to the general fund). What’s your point, that general fund borrowings from Social Security have to be paid back the same way as any other borrowings?

          1. citizendave

            Right on. The trust fund bonds are treated the same as open market bonds for redemption. The funds can come from general revenue.

            The funding for the wars has been extra-budgetary. They looted, I mean borrowed, the funds from the SSTF, and now they don’t want to repay the loans.

            There is no need to do anything with Social Security any time soon. If the President actually offers to cut SS, he is either ignorant, or craven for cavin’.

      2. Cedric Regula

        Bruce K is worried that the USG borrowed all the money in the trust fund already, as specified by SS law, and now needs to slowly pay back the loan till 2037 or so.

        This means the USG doesn’t have the withholding surplus to spend on general fund items anymore, and will need to borrow to fund both the general fund deficit and pay a little to the trust fund too.

        But they did cut the employee part of withholding this year to give everyone a little mad money to buy gasoline and walmart stuff. Probably a few extra burgers at McDs too. That part was good, because it is stimulus.

        But if you don’t get invited to wherever they have these meetings, seems you always get screwed.

        1. alex

          “This means the USG doesn’t have the withholding surplus to spend on general fund items anymore, and will need to borrow to fund both the general fund deficit and pay a little to the trust fund too.”

          Gasp! The US government will actually have to meet its debt obligations. Of course it’s been doing it since Al Hamilton was SecTreas, so I see no reason for it to stop. The Social Security doomsayers don’t seem to understand this simple logic.

          If they’re concerned about the general fund, then maybe they should look at a serious expense/revenue plan: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70

          Instead we have clowns like Obama and Boehner jerking off, and “Serious People” pretending they’re serious.

          1. Cedric Regula

            The Social Security doomsayers aren’t serious about logic at all. They are making projections out 75 YEARS to play up a projected shortfall towards the end of that time frame.

            And we know how accurate economic projections are. Why, just a few weeks ago we found out what the 1Q 2011 revision to GDP was.

            And they want to scare the kiddies and tell them SS won’t be there for them, same as I heard incessantly when I entered the workforce. Then in 1984 Greenspan saved the program and increased our withholding to get that big surplus we have “saved” up in the trust fund.

            Now, entering the workforce for newbies may be the problem nowadays, but they may need to figure out why that isn’t happening anymore.

    5. EricT

      No, the 23% or 170 billion will be credited from the federal budget. The government already owes approximately 2.3 trillion to social security, we’ll just add it to the bill. If SS benefits are reduced the overall result will be a retroactive regressive tax system( reaching back to the Reagen years ) that burdened those who have the least amongst us for 30 years. Remember, they reduced the tax burden by borrowing from the general SS fund. Effectively, almost giving the rentiers the flat tax they have been seeking, thanks to Obama.

    6. run75441

      Yep Mr. Keating:

      Paying back the SS TF from the GF certainly is not one of your goals because it requires an increase in taxes. But as Bruce Webb and Coberly pointed out, the increase in Taxes is rather minute. Norquist follower???

  11. pj

    This is Randism run amok.

    It is one thing to be selfish, it is another to be an oppressive, lying, cheating, thieving, predatory a-hole.
    It appears our elites have become confused – and have convinced themselves they must be right in their criminal actions due to their out-sized “winnings” and continued unquestioned authority.

    Time to fight fire with fire?

    I’m beginning to feel a little selfish about following their laws and paying those taxes they think I owe them for those “entitlements” I’ll never see . . .

    1. Citalopram

      I’m to the point now where we might as well cheer the end of social security and medicare. We know what happens when the pendulum swings too far; it seems our so-called representatives don’t care or aren’t worried about worsening conditions of the general populace.

      It just seems like a simple fact in my mind that America is a decadent nation, and people are too soft and lazy to care about what is going on. Making people destitute and poorer may result in some massive protests and other viable political movements to challenge the status quo.

    1. Johnny Clamboat

      Indeed the New Deal started under one Herbert Hoover. He spent more on public works projects than the previous 30 years. He was no budget-cutter, the numbers do not lie.

      The idea of an austere Hoover is a public school lie that will not die.

      1. HTML Reader

        “The idea of an austere Hoover is a public school lie that will not die.”

        If by “austere,” it is meant that he would cut spending in order to balance the budget, then here is that lie told by that liar, Herbert Hoover:

        http://www.ssa.gov/history/hooverletter.html

        Hoover: “The third period began in April and continued through July. This was a period of sharp debacle which was brought about by the Democratic House by the same character of proposals we now see again, that is by the original failure of the revenue bill, the failure to reduce expenditures recommended by the Executive with consequent fear that the movement toward balancing the budget would not be successful; the passage of a group of inflationary measures including the Patman Bill, the Goldsborough Bill, etc. The passage of a series of projects which would have required greater issues of government securities than the Treasury could support including the Garner Bills for gigantic public works and unlimited loans by the Reconstruction Corporation, etc. Public confidence was destroyed; hoarding, withdrawal of foreign gold, decrease in employment; falling prices and general economic demoralization took place.”

        1. Johnny Clamboat

          It’s great that he said that he would cut spending. I wonder if he ran on engineering a “net spending cut.”

          As noted, the numbers do not lie. Spending was up 50% during Hoover’s term.

          The comparison to Hoover is appropriate but not the way Yves intended. The parallel is that they were unprecedented spendthrifts.

          1. HTML Reader

            It’s great for whom? Not for getting the unemployed back to work. Not for the people who would have benefited from the government programs that the Democratic House passed, and Hoover opposed.

            Both Hoover and Obama argue that balancing the federal budget is the best method for getting the unemployed back to work. Hoover had the excuse that he did not have the past 80 years of economic history and thinking to use.

            As noted, the numbers do not lie. Spending was up 50% during Hoover’s term.

            “The comparison to Hoover is appropriate but not the way Yves intended.”

            Yves Smith cited an article that detailed the problems that faced people who were going to lose help from government programs as a result of cuts that Obama favors. Hoover detailed a list of government programs that he opposed that would help people who were unemployed during the recession. Both Obama and Hoover make the case that balancing the federal budget is the means to use to increase unemployment.

            “The parallel is that they were unprecedented spendthrifts.”

            Obama, like Bush, has been perfectly willing to borrow in order to spend on programs that help his supporters, without regard to the increase in the federal debt.

  12. ambrit

    Friends;
    In the night I awoke with the horrible realization that we’re not being broad minded enough in our analysis of Obama.
    He’s not Herbert Hoover. He’s emulating another politician from that period: Benito Mussolini.

  13. Christopher Harlos

    Actually, it’s an invidious comparison, since Hoover was a far more accomplished and intelligent person than the Creature from Chicago (there’s a good piece comparing the two in Harpers magazine a couple years back). Yes, it’s clear Obama is hellbent on reversing what limited social democracy exists here. Even then, the approval he craves from those of high privilege and wealth will not come. Of course, he will be comfortable, like the fucktard Clinton. Pathetic.

  14. yes right wingers, you were right about obama. (though things would probably be the same under McCain)

    “, I still feel like I’ve walked into a parallel universe. He’s now determined to make these horrific entitlement cuts a sign of his manhood”

    Obama has some pathological need to be liked (especially by his enemies) at all costs—probably an outgrowth of his Emo/messed-up childhood.

    The “liberals” have to wake up and realize that Obama is worse than any right-wing nut. Obama has the potential to taint the Democratic Party for the next twenty years just like LBJ.

  15. Timothy Gawne

    Unfair to Herbert Hoover!

    By all accounts, Herbert Hoover was a decent man who meant well but was in the wrong place the wrong time, and shackled to economic theories that were inappropriate to the circumstances.

    Barack Obama is a corporate shill, a grifter, a con artist. That should by now be obvious.

    Anybody who didn’t see this and have the courage to vote for Nader is complicit.

    “lesser of two evilism” is a great strategy if you want to win 50% of the battles and lost the war.

    1. alex

      Hear, hear!

      Herb wasn’t even as “shackled to economic theories that were inappropriate to the circumstances” as is often thought. FDR officials in later years admitted that many of their programs were originally Hoover’s ideas. Little known is that Truman successfully tapped Hoover himself for various tasks.

      Nor can I compare Obummer to Andrew Mellon, who wanted to liquidate everything including the banks. He may have been horribly wrong, but at least he was honest and consistent, and didn’t believe in socialism for the rich.

      Who to compare him to. Boss Tweed? Mayor Daley? Nominations are open.

    2. Citalopram

      Nader is a start but Congress would shut his agenda down fast and hard. We really need to massively purge the whole kit and kaboodle; the rot is that entrenched.

  16. philonius

    I think this is nothing but pure political posturing for Obama’s 2012 run. (And yes, he is going to run. He doesn’t want out. Why else is he setting up his campaign committees again with an ambitious goal of raising $1B.)

    He puts cuts to entitlement programs on the table because he knows the GOP won’t ever agree to anything he proposes even if it represents their supposed core values of smaller govt. The GOP m.o. is simple — if Obama proposes it, they’re against it. So Obama won’t have to really cut SS and Medicare, but he can play this card to put the GOP in a box — which is, they’re really not for smaller govt or deficit reduction or protecting the middle class. The GOP is going to the mat to lower taxes on high wage earners. That’s it.

    Let’s see how Obama continues to play this out before calling him the next Herbert Hoover.

    1. alex

      If Obummer is playing 11th dimensional chess then I’ll be all too happy, but I’m not holding my breath.

    2. Z

      Being on record as the one that proposed ss cuts is not going to help him with the dems or the hardcore republicans (nothing will with them) and it’s very difficult to see why it would with the independents. Actually, if obama does not succeed in cutting ss and medicare this time … and I fully expect him to keep trying to in these debt ceiling talks … the dems ought to be alarmed that he’d do it in his next term. Only a democrat president would be able to pull it off … bush couldn’t privatize ss with a 10 seat advantage in the senate and 30 in the house, but obama has a much better chance becoz he is in effect giving the dems cover to betray their party’s core achievement.

      It doesn’t make any political sense to take ryan’s plan, that was albatross for the republicans due to the unpopularity of the medicare cuts, and instead propose to do it yourself plus ss cuts thrown in. And for what? To point out the republicans don’t want to raise taxes? How illuminating.

      Z

      1. alex

        Obummer is the ultimate fifth columnist. Maybe that’s his secret re-election strategy. Once Republicans realize what he’s doing, they’ll vote for him.

    3. scraping_by

      “Why else is he setting up his campaign committees again with an ambitious goal of raising $1B.”

      Uniformed speculation: It’s possible he’s taken a page from Sen Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. Alexander hired himself as a “consultant” to his own campaign, paying himself 10% to 25% of all campaign contributions. Perfectly legal.

  17. alex

    If people were serious about reducing the deficit then they’d take a look at the People’s Budget:

    http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70

    It closes the deficit years earlier than anything that Obama or Boehner have proposed. It might even help a few non-plutocrats. But we all know how fiscally irresponsible those progressives are, right? Serious People won’t even deign to acknowledge the existence of this proposal.

    BTW, anyone even see any mention of this in the MSM? It’s like a stealth proposal. Can’t expect anyone to take notice of something as wacky as a proposal from a major congressional caucus, can you?

  18. Paul Handover

    “Even knowing how dedicated to bad ends Obama is, I still feel like I’ve walked into a parallel universe. He’s now determined to make these horrific entitlement cuts a sign of his manhood. This is “Change” for sure, to a more brutal, grasping, dog eat dog society, all administered by self serving elites. They will in the end reap the whirlwind they are creating, but not before it mows a path of destruction through our social order.”

    Well one can’t accuse Yves of not sharing her feelings! ;-)

  19. kares

    A random thought: Can people work for a constitutional amendment to convert this misbegotten system of governance into a parliamentary democracy.

    I realize that it is well nigh impossible; however, if just one state were to convert to a parliamentary system, say California, Oregon, Vermont or even Washington state, and people could see the difference, and perhaps rethink their allegiance to this nonsensical farce. I, of course, realize that Greece, Italy, etc. are also parliamentary democracies.

    1. alex

      There’s nothing fundamentally superior about a parliamentary system. You can bribe a member of parliament as easily as you can bribe a congressman. Make bribery illegal and we may see some progress.

      1. Peter T

        There are no shutdowns in a parliamentary democracy. The party in government has the power and responsibility, and the other party criticizes it in public but can’t delay it. The government party owns the actions of government since the last election period, and at the next election, the voters can decide if the want a continuation or rather trust the opposition. The move to a parliamentary democracy in the British style would correspond the actual movement away from bipartisanship in the US today. I like the idea that some “failed states” (California comes to mind) should try it out.

  20. Victor Berry

    Spending cuts and tax increases should really do a job on the GDP! I hope just another Great Depression is as bad as it gets. Of course, small businesses may boom with the privatization of bread lines and homeless shelters, not to mention the owner/operators of carts as in “bring out your dead.”

  21. Justicia

    Obama, alas, is a symptom of the disease. Our republican form of government is no longer a democracy but a kleptocracy.

    So, we ditch Obummer and what will we get — the more extreme wing of the Money Party. Romney would probably be a saner incarnation of Republican Crazy but he sure ain’t no friend of the working class.

  22. kaj

    YS: you do injustice to Herbert Hoover by saying that Obama is as bad as Herbert Hoover. Hoover was a trained engineer with some surprisingly good instincts and work behind him before becoming President. Pig-O is just an actor who fabricates political theater as a diversion so that people can be robbed blind by the mega banks and the mega-church of monetary expansion called the Fed. Sorry to see Paul Krugman implicated in this ideological enterprise.

  23. sharonsj

    Obama is not as bad as Bush and Cheney. The latter got us into two wars and made sure Halliburton would continue to scam us for billions.

    Obama, however, has not delivered hope or change. He turned out to be Republican Lite.

    On the other hand, the only legislator I have any respect for is Bernie Sanders, but he can’t get the government to do the right thing by himself.

    1. Hugh

      Obama is much worse than Bush. Bush’s crimes and excesses would be aberrations if Obama had not validated, codified, institutionalized, ratified, and expanded them.

      The wars? He started a new one in Libya and going further than Bush has not even sought any minimal Constitutionally-mandated Congressional approval for it. He has expanded operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. He is trying to keep American troops in Iraq past the Bush-negotiated deadline of the end of this year.

      Bush famously failed in his attempt to cut entitlements at the beginning of his second term. Obama has made such cuts a legitimate target and a bipartisan goal.

      Bush needed candidate Obama’s help to pass the TARP. Since then not only has Obama not investigated and prosecuted the banksters of Wall Street, he has lavished trillions upon them.

      Unlike Bush, Obama did get bin Laden but it was an assassination not an arrest, and rather than being a signal to wind up the War on Terror, Obama has used it to indefinitely extend it.

      Bush was lousy at job creation even before the recession hit in December 2007. Obama has been even worse and he is starting from a much higher baseline. Neither has done anything for homeowners. On the other hand, Obama has tried to protect banksters from the consequences of all their frauds from originations to foreclosures.

      Obama never did close Guantanamo. He just moved operations to Bagram or in a new wrinkle holds prisoners on ships. He is trying to undo Miranda, fighting even the most well-founded habeas petitions from prisoners at Guantanamo, and, like Bush, invokes the state secrets defense to avoid accountability. He is expanding Bush’s surveillance state.

      The Bush Administration was criticized for its secretivenss, but it has nothing on the Obama Administration. Obama has added to the Bush agenda his own war on whistleblowers.

      As for Bernie Sanders, what a cowardly gasbag. He portrays himself as a progressive but whenever the Democrats need his vote for whatever new atrocity they have concocted, they know they have his. See his vote on Obamacare as an example. He only votes against them when his vote doesn’t matter. He only stages one of his filibernies when it is sure to inconvenience no one.

      It is a form of denialism to continue to believe in good Republicans or good Democrats or good independents. Our political system is completely corrupt. No one who has achieved significant advancement in it has done so without the loss of their integrity. No one currently in office or waiting in the wings is exempt from this. You have to remember this has been building for 35 years. We have a whole generation of kleptocratic stooges ruling us. We need new leaders and new leadership but we will not find it going back to the same poisoned and tainted sources.

    2. Richard

      Interesting that over on Marketwatch, home of the gentleman investor, people are deriding Obama as unfailing leftist. They blame him for espousing universal health care and easy money policies that have made the USD weak internationally.

      Perhaps the true sign of a centrist is when the left (NC) and right (MW) both hate you.

      1. HTML Reader

        “Perhaps the true sign of a centrist is when the left (NC) and right (MW) both hate you.”

        Perhaps it is a sign that the left is describing reality and the right is nuts.

  24. Hugh

    I used to say that the Democrats and the Republicans were both driving the economy over the cliff. The sole difference was how fast they wanted to do it. The Republicans wanted to go 80 mph and the Democrats 50. Now it looks like those figures are reversed.

    Does anyone think that this taken with everything else doesn’t have crash and burn written all over it? I’ve been saying for a couple of years now I expect another meltdown this year, September and October being the most likely months, but even if we make it through this year somehow, 2012 is shaping up as really, really ugly.

    I would also point out, again, how wedded the two parties are to our destruction. They are not foolish or mistaken. They are sincerely, and criminally, dedicated to it. How many crashes is it going to take before the American people realize what is happening to them and who is doing it to them? I am reminded how everyone thought that Russian and Chinese peasants would be the last in line to ever rebel. Yet they produced the 20th century’s biggest revolutionary upheavals. No one thought it could happen, until it did. The same could be true for us.

  25. Doug Terpstra

    Thank you for an excellent post, Yves. But you’re being unfair to Herbert Hoover. Hoover was not a war criminal, and for negligence on the economy, he at least he had ignorance and a dearth of precedence as excuses. Nor did Hoover campaign on a well-crafted message on the audacity of hope and change. Obama has no excuse. None.

    The conclusion is spot on: “parallel universe” indeed captures the bewilderment this president’s 180-degree about-face has achieved. His is the perfect psychops for effecting the Shock Doctrine, leaving the black caucus, the professional left, and general population paralyzed and incapable of effective resistance. The “lesser” evil proved to be the most dangerous predator, the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      I think Obama deserves credit for saving the american automobile industry. No republican would have done that.

      1. lots of parts suppliers in red states

        Had McCain been president, I bet Sen. Lugar (Ind.) or Corker (Tenn.) would’ve been lobbying hard for a bailout.

        I doubt a president would want to be known as the one that let the Big Three and its supply chain become liquidated with the tooling shipped off to build new BYD and SAIC cars in China.

        1. BondsOfSteel

          Maybe… but I don’t think anyone could have succeeded without the concessions and involment of the unions. I don’t see any Republican succeeding (or even trying without angering their base).

    2. Glenn Condell

      ‘The “lesser” evil proved to be the most dangerous predator, the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.’

      I initially thought he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a hard-headed warrior for ‘change’ wrapped in a plausible vesture of meek and mildness, ready to reveal himself as saviour once safely in the top job.

      Immediately after his ascension I changed to ‘sheep in sheep’s clothing’ as the Rahms and Larrys entered the building and the yes we cans turned into no we can’ts.

      Then it morphed into ‘sheep in wolf’s clothing’ with the stirring but ultimately empty rhetoric on the Middle East, BP and Wall St, before coming back round to ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ again, but this time an elite Chicago/Wall St/MI/Lobby wolf who charmed and deceived his way into office wearing the raiment and carrying the standard of the ‘little guy’.

      Foolishness, knavery or weakness, it’s inexcusable all the same.

  26. Paul Tioxon

    I am not sure what will come about after this morning press conferences. Obama and Boehner are not getting what they need to get a compromise, 218 votes in the lower house, and I am not sure if there will be any support in the Senate for watering down Social Security.

    The strategic use of scorched earth politics may not ever be justifiable on the part of Obama, depending on just how much is being sold out. There is no reasonable need for increasing the age of retirement or using a means test while the loophole that allows the rich to escape paying into FICA by constraining the contribution to middle of the middle class income levels not exceeding approx $107k. Closing this loophole and including all income, not just industrial era W-2 wages, but capital gains, rents, deferred partnership distributions, stock options etc will solve the problem. Why does Social Security revenue get blocked at certain income level when income taxes tax all income? It does not make any sense. This loophole has got to go. Medicare part D, for prescription drugs should be purchased through a joint Federal agent, including the VA and any other programs that offers prescriptions via the Federal Government. If the government is constrained from running itself like a business, and internalizing the purchasing processes that would reduce costs to a minimum, what is the point of modern management practices being allowed in the private sector but constrained by fiat in the public sector. There is a $500BB give away to big Pharma for prescriptions that can not be purchased in a consolidated way in a free market. That loophole has to go.

    Other than removing those to entitlement loopholes, Obama needs to keep this off of the table. Not that it now has any chance of going forward, but it need not be used as a chip in bargaining until other loopholes are exhausted first.

  27. MLS

    What’s interesting (to me, at least) is that large swaths of both Republicans and Democrats generally are unhappy with Obama and think he’s been a pretty terrible president. Yet each side thinks this way for different reasons. Perhaps Obama was trying to please everyone and show a sense of compromise? I do agree that he is somewhat held captive by the banking class, as well.

  28. Because

    Sorry, but the capitalists control the bankers. People just don’t get it. The reason why the banks were “bailed out” and left intact was because of the severity of contraction it would have caused. It would have uncovered the real goal of capital, confiscation of the rest of the middle classes meager wealth. The people would have revolted.

    Banks failed in the 30′s and were allowed to fail. It was a disaster. Historic contraction, anti-capitalist uprising and destroyed business confidence which allowed for a generation of government control of capital markets. So lets stop the contraction in its place through the “bailout” and continue the stealth confiscation of the middle class’s wealth. Which it did. Free market intellectuals and libertarians are mad for only one basic reason: they want all the wealth now in one massive transfer. Literally. Their “anger” toward the bailouts is a farce. The truth, is, they are part of the problem and represent the confiscation to the nth degree. Instead of a slow liquidation, they want a fast and painfull one.

    1. rps

      We are still fighting the battle of 1774; the exaltation of empire kings; the rulers of global corporations and banking comglomerations and the exploitation and impoverishment of labour. And the hereditary succession of property and ill gotten wealth to the few. It’s the same gig of fleecing the masses wealth by the illegitimate profiteers.

      “but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind…..the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature……”Thomas Paine Common Sense

  29. rps

    Let’s have a dialogue on what are the consequences of “The US government defaults on its debt,” and says “it sucks to be you” and what’s the upside.

    1. China stops importation? yes or no
    2. Europe stops importation? yes or no
    3. Saudia Arabia stops importation? yes or no
    4. Japan stops importation? yes or no
    5. USA removes military support of said (except China) nations? yes or no
    6. USA tells foreign investors it sucks to be you? yes or no
    7. America returns to innovation and manufacturing? yes or no

  30. /L

    David Plouffe, the president’s political czar, said on the eve of the release of Friday’s dismal jobs numbers that he does not believe that the high unemployment rate poses a threat to President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
    Speaking to reporters this week, Plouffe said, “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers. People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’ 

    the nation.com

    Can it become more cynical than so? How was it Obama used to blather the last election, we are not unemployed or employed we are all Americans.

    As a foreigner I suspect that Obama will loose not least to declining turnout, people will see on tea party lunatic and the guy that short-changed big time them the last time they voted. Probably not least all those young people that was enthusiastic about Change We can Believe in and got short-changed by Wall Street’s protégé.

  31. TC

    It seems those bankrupt fee junkies euphemistically called banks have no choice but extort entire nations to make up for fee revenue no longer forthcoming in this, the collapse phase of the leveraged Ponzi scheme Alan Greenspan, as front man, is best known for rationalizing. Vulnerabilities like these making for blood in the streets seem unlikely to stop short of political arenas.

    The Republican majority in the House appears determined to bring the other side of the aisle to its knees. Yet, with House Democrats on their knees and backs turned to the President, how will House Republicans be able to suck their dicks as the banking system collapses under the pressure of an insolvent backstop?

    Seriously. Team Fraud could be making a huge miscalculation thinking the United States must lead the way in austerity being demanded of the rest of the tran-Atlantic. A growing current backing restoration of Glass-Steagall is in the drivers seat here. I’ll give it two weeks before the President is made to get behind this, or face impeachment for illegal actions he has taken in Libya.

  32. michael hudson

    Actually, Hoover started many good macroeconomic policies.
    Perhaps an analogy with Calvin Coolidge or even Warren Harding would be more appropriate.

  33. Sam

    Where is George W Bush? Obama should give Bush one hour to get his dry drunk butt in front of a microphone and remind Americans that the Iraq war was supposed to pay for itself in oil revenues.
    Then Obama should gather every piece of Bush legislation in 8 years, that McConnell and Boehner voted yes on. Find a damned ghetto oil drum. Dump Bush’s eight years into the drum, set a match to it, and then tell McConnell, Boehner, and the Republicans to sit down and shut up.

    1. citizendave

      Michael Hudson says (at the 7:35 mark) “…they [Treasury] could technically sell Treasury bonds to themselves…” as an end run around the debt ceiling. I didn’t know that is possible.

  34. Abe, NYC

    I think Obama’s chance of reelection has just fallen below even. This may be a good thing for America.

    Welcome President Palin! The country needs you. The country really needs someone worse than Obama and worse than Bush, because the sooner it goes over the brink the sooner it will have a chance for a real change. Nothing less will suffice.

    Although there’s a non-trivial (and growing) chance of a successful primary challenge, that wouldn’t change much. If Bernie Sanders got the White House, he’d be powerless against the corrupt legislature, which would now uniformly oppose him. The country needs a clean sweep, and for that things have to get much worse than they already are.

  35. john

    you people are getting all worked up over nothing.

    repubs: we are going to destroy medicare
    people: grumble grumble
    repubs: uh, we’re not gonna destroy medicare
    obama: you wanna cut the deficit, how ’bout we cut social security
    people: grumble grumble
    repubs: er, nah, we just need the debt ceiling thing to come up every year for posture sake.
    obama: you sure? ‘cuz…i’ll do it.
    repubs: (kicks at the dust)

  36. MRW

    The cynic in me remembers the story I heard from a NYT journalist years ago.

    When Mayor Robert Wagner (1954-1965) was in union negotiations at Gracie Mansion, they sometimes went on for two weeks. The press would stand around at 2 AM with photographers and every once in a while a union guy would come out without a jacket, sleeves rolled up, unshaven, tie askew, looking tired, and he gave a few words to the press. Usually something along the lines of how hard the negotiations were going, they were so close so many times, the Mayor was refusing to budge, but the union guy promised they were going to FIGHT for what was due all the good hard-workin’ people of New York…and they hoped to avoid a strike. Which they did. Wagner never had strikes. Wagner would also come out and say he wasn’t going to give a dime to these people, they’re being unreasonable. And so it went. Until it was over, strike averted.

    Wagner was succeeded by Lindsay (1966-1973) who had famous strikes. The transit strike his first year. The teacher’s strike two years later. But the worse was the sanitation strike. Garbage all over Manhattan for nearly two weeks.

    So why Lindsay and not Wagner?

    First, the union guys didn’t like him. Thought he was too blue-blood.

    Second, Wagner didn’t clue Lindsay in to what the real deal was, which the union guys were expecting him to know.

    And here it is: the Mayor sent his wife to the country, gave the regular servants time off, and met with the union guys the first day. Ten minutes tops they had the deal ironed out. Badda-bing, badda-bang. Then the union bosses and Mayor partied on the city’s dime for two weeks–or week, depending–with cartons of booze the Mayor brought in, catered food, and all the hookers they could stand. Gracie Mansion rock n’ rolled.

    That union guy coming out to talk to the press had just put his pants on and he was bleary-eyed because he hadn’t slept for days at this frat party. Ditto the Mayor and his hookers.

    [If I remember correctly, the reporter who told me this story was high enough up the totem pole that he got to party too.]

    When I see Boehner and Obama golfing over the debt crisis, that’s what I’m thinking. The fix is in, and they’re playing it for show, and the voters back home.

  37. beni

    The disaffection for our two party system seems a tad piqued right now. Educating the public as to the nature of this massively bi-partisan charade seems paramount, so we can get going with national boycotts (pacts to vote Green, Lib etc). Perhaps the only thing that can bring this country “together” is mutual disgust. How else are we going to cut through 500 years of divide and conquer politics? Maybe turn it in on itself. National Democrats and Republicans have to be become America’s Next “Other”. Before the next blowback of course. Dems will eat it first, as designed. But the left wing will continue to hang on by a thread as long as it’s co opted by the Democrat hologram. AstroTurf like the Tea Party exists because there’s a hologram. There’s so much virtual room for it to breath.

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