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Stop Using “Obama for America” Against the People!

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Yves here. Team Obama is fast out of the box with its plan to redeploy its campaign ops to sell Americans on why they should lie back and think of England why they should embrace a future with more income disparity and more catfood for old people. The media got wind of the plan the evening before the messaging barrage started. Joe Firestone does a able job of taking it apart. He treats Obama as “caving” as opposed to being fully and enthusiastically in favor of deficit cutting and Social Security and Medicare “reform” but I trust NC readers will forgive him for being unduly charitable.

The best way to stop this garbage might indeed, to forward the Obama messages with the headlines altered (many people don’t get past the headline!) and a short debunking at the top. Mutilating (or cleverly editing) Obama PR and then circulating it as requested might be the best way to undermine this campaign. Maybe we can have an NC reader competition for the best “improvements” of these missives (as in achieving maximum intended course change with the fewest word changes).

By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives

Obama for America, the campaign apparatus with the very large e-mailing list and great segmentation techniques that exploited Romney’s weaknesses to help the President to eke out (yes, I know the electoral vote involved no “eking out,” but the popular vote was something else again) his re-election victory, is now trying to mobilize people who voted for the President to work against their own interests by supporting his deficit/debt cutting activities. So, I couldn’t resist the following commentary on their mobilization e-mail.

From the graphic:

Right now, President Obama is working with leaders of both parties in Washington to reduce the deficit in a balanced way so we can lay the foundation for long-term middle-class job growth and prevent your taxes from going up.

This is just one sentence. But it has more errors in it than a whole book written by some economists. First, it assumes that we should “reduce the deficit.” But:

– It’s fiscally irresponsible to frame and follow a long – term deficit reduction plan (limited austerity) when, as now, both a trade deficit and an output gap between the economy’s potential and its actual results exist. Such a plan is one that must remove more net financial assets, specifically reserves, from the private sector than would otherwise be the case, every year the plan is pursued. Banks can compensate for these reserves by creating new ones when they make loans. But, loans create both assets and liabilities in equal measure and no new net financial assets.

So eventually, if deficit reduction is pursued for long enough, a declining rate of addition to private net financial assets will exacerbate the output gap by lowering aggregate demand and causing both labor and capital to deteriorate. This will eventually dig the US’s economic grave by reducing the productive capacity of the economy, and the Government’s ability to sustain greater levels of deficit spending, producing outputs of real social value, without triggering inflation. Oh, well, President Obama, Timothy Geithner, Jack Lew, Erksine Bowles, Alan Simpson, Alice Rivlin, Pete Peterson, and the rest of us will be able to find consolation by reminding ourselves that our collective trip to the poorhouse was in the service of the neoliberal notion that fiscal responsibility is all about containing the rise of the debt-to-GDP ratio.

– REAL fiscal responsibility is a pattern of fiscal policy intended to achieve public purposes (such as full employment, price stability, a first class educational system, Medicare for All, etc.), while also maintaining or increasing fiscal sustainability, viewed as the extent to which patterns of Government spending do not undermine the capability of the Government to continue to spend to achieve our public purposes.

– REAL fiscally responsible policy, if it works generally as expected, creates greater real benefits than real costs for people! It has nothing to do with conforming to some standard simple measure like an acceptable debt-to-GDP ratio that has only a questionable theoretical connection to the actual well-being of people. It is political malpractice to give, as the President is now doing with his drive towards a “Grand Bargain,” greater priority to that kind of abstraction, and to the opinions in the bond markets, than to full employment, price stability, a strong social safety net, and Government programs that will help us solve the many outstanding problems of our nation. Who would have predicted that this “pragmatic,” “realistic” president would have such a strong belief in “the confidence fairy”?

The President should put an end to the domination of Washington by that kind of malpractice. We, the members of Obama for America, need to call upon HIM to stop serving the bond markets, and put an end to the current misguided fiscally irresponsible campaign to promote a “Grand Bargain” that is sure to do nothing but destroy more private sector net financial assets and jobs, than would be the case if we either did nothing or increased the deficit, and created and maintained a full employment budget.

Second, what does it mean to reduce the deficit “in a balanced way”? We know what it means. It means that any “grand bargain” should be “fair” in that it takes something out of everyone’s hide. “Shared sacrifice,” you know.

So, what’s that about? Maybe a few points increase in marginal tax rates for the rich, the impact of which they will be able to substantially get around with tax loopholes and deductions anyway. Some reductions in spending on defense including cuts for defense contractors. And for the middle class and the poor the expiration of the payroll tax cuts, perhaps cuts for the long-term unemployed, certainly cuts for discretionary spending programs that benefit working and middle class people, and probably cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security entitlements, since the President has so kindly put these on the table again and again over the past years.

But that doesn’t begin to be fair. The 1% have fully recovered from the crash of 2008, largely because of the policies of the Obama Administration and the Federal Reserve in saving the big banks, and the system that allows them to make profits in the derivatives casino, which in turn have also helped the stock exchanges to erase the losses caused by the crash. In addition, the big banks have never been brought to account for their execrable and astonishingly numerous and blatant mortgage frauds that have made a hash of property rights for the middle class in the United States.

However, working people haven’t shared in that recovery, as employment, housing, and inequality statistics amply indicate. The rich are getting richer, while everyone else is getting poorer, because of an economy and an associated financial system that has been politically rigged to benefit them and grievously harm everyone else.

So, even if deficit reduction was a REAL problem, which it is NOT, the President’s call for balanced reduction is UNBALANCED and UNFAIR, because you can’t forget about history and create balance. We’ve had 40 years of UNBALANCED economics, now fairness and justice demand REDRESS. We need UNBALANCE to create a NEW BALANCE.

Once again, we do not need, and should not have deficit reduction, but if the President must have “balance,” then let us have REAL balance. Let us quit mucking around, and go back to the marginal tax rates of the 1940s and 1950s, when the great American Middle Class was consolidated and full employment was often a result of economic policies that prioritized it higher than avoiding inflation. Let us have a social safety net that is not the least, but the most generous among modern nations.

Let us have no cuts for the middle class and the poor, and let us have policies that require sacrifice from those who have benefited so much from the rigged political system of the past decades. Doing things in “a balanced way” is a fine slogan. But real “balance” isn’t a “Grand Bargain” that Wall Street-serving elites in both parties happen to arrive at. Real “balance” is justice and fairness and that kind of balance requires a settlement that gets sacrifice from those who have NEVER sacrificed anything, and gives benefits to those who have received little during the time of neoliberal economic distortion of our lives.

Third, the kind of bargain that will get sacrifices in the safety net and discretionary programs for Wall Street is not the kind that will create a foundation for long-term job growth. Only increased aggregate demand manifested in increased sales can do that, and only another credit bubble for the middle class, or INCREASED deficits from the Federal Government can supply that demand. Since the last thing most of us want is another credit bubble, the most preferable alternative is for the Government to use fiscal policy to end the human sacrifice of the middle class and the poor to the Gods of neoliberalism, and bring prosperity back to all Americans rather than only the economic elites.

And fourth, It is just WRONG to imply that if we don’t have “balanced deficit reduction,” then we must have higher taxes. That is a false choice. We need neither deficit reduction nor higher taxes to ensure continued solvency. What we need is public deficits high enough to compensate for our capability to import more than we export, and our desire to save 6-7% of GDP per year. We are not getting deficits high enough for that now, and that is what Obama for America should be mobilizing people to support.

From the e-mail:

Your voice and action helped re-elect President Obama, and hundreds of thousands of you have already responded to our survey, which will help shape our next steps. Thanks to your feedback, we’re taking immediate action on one of your suggestions: keeping you informed about how the President is fighting for you so you can continue to talk to your friends, family, and neighbors. So here’s the deal:

President Obama, do the results of your survey show that a majority of OFA members 1) want long-term deficit reduction and are willing to cut the social safety net and discretionary Federal spending to get it, or 2) do they want you to leave these areas alone and just raise taxes on the wealthy, raise or eliminate the salary cap on FICA payments, and cut defense spending? I think you know the answer to this question as well as I.

OFA members favor deficit reduction, because they don’t know that the deficit/debt isn’t a problem for America. But they don’t favor “balanced deficit reduction.” They favor 2) above instead. So, if you’re really listening to their feedback, then why don’t you stop “spinning” it, and just listen.

No “Grand Bargain.” No cuts to the safety net. No cuts to discretionary spending. If the Republicans don’t like it, then just “go over the fiscal cliff!” And keep pushing in January to restore the middle class tax cuts and fixing other parts of the sequestration that damage the middle class and the poor. If the Republicans won’t act reasonably in the new Congress, then they’ll pay the price in 2014!

From the graphic:

Reducing the deficit in a balanced way. The President’s plan extends tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans Eliminates tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans Cuts spending by more than $3 trillion

The Results

More than $4 Trillion in balanced deficit reduction that keeps your taxes low and preserves investments we need to grow the economy like Education and Infrastructure.

President Obama, you’re asking OFA members to support $3 Trillion in spending cuts and only $1 Trillion in tax increases, or an average of $400 B in deficit spending cuts over the next 10 years. That $400 B is about the same size as the annual deficit spending on the American Re-investment and Recovery Act (the stimulus bill). But this annual anti-stimulus lasts for 10 years, whereas the stimulus lasted for about 2 years.

Now please explain to me why you think the stimulus bill was necessary and good for the economy and saved 3 million jobs, yet at the same time you think an anti-stimulus of the same order of magnitude lasting 5 times as long and made up mainly of high multiplier spending cuts will provide a foundation for long-term job growth, rather than simply cost the economy 15 million jobs? Do you think OFA members are dumb or something?

Why do you think OFA members will buy a pig in a poke? You haven’t given any details about the spending cuts you are willing to accept, and which ones are off the table, yet you ask for our support? You say trust me, after you’ve put entitlement cuts on the table repeatedly in deficit negotiations and after you were the person primarily responsible for the creation of the notorious Catfood Commission; who has repeatedly made favorable comments about the Bowles-Simpson (B-S) report authored by these Captains of Catfood, when they were unable to get the approval of the Catfood Commission you created?

Sorry, Mr. President, but I doubt that OFA members are that gullible. If you really want their support and the support of OFA members generally, try telling people that deficit reduction isn’t necessary but jobs programs are, and that you plan to go over the fiscal cliff and then fight hard for the Republican House to restore the tax cuts for the 98%, unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed and a Federal Job Guarantee program that will create full employment at a living wage? That’ll get all OFA members behind you quicker than you can say Green New Deal!

From the letter:

That’s the President’s plan, but he’s not wedded to every detail. He is determined to work with Congress to find compromise and common ground. His guiding principle throughout this debate will be what’s best for the middle class. He’ll be fighting for you.

Well, the President’s $4 Trillion deficit reduction plan is bad enough, guaranteeing a stagnant economy for a decade. But, in addition, to be told that he’s willing to make it even worse, to maybe agree to even greater cutbacks in spending that people need, and to even less in tax cuts for the rich that they don’t need? No, OFA, I don’t think members are going to support that kind of flexibility for a guy who seems determined to give away the crown jewels of the New Deal, in return for minor concessions from the knuckle-draggers. I’d rather see him resign his office first and leave it to Joe Biden, who may, at least be a REAL Democrat (though these days that’s probably a vain hope)!

There’s a lot at stake. With your help we’ll continue to move this country forward.

Please forward this email and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter:

You bet I’ll spread the word, I’ll tell the world that support for this deficit reduction trope (‘er so sorry, “plan”) is something we shouldn’t give, and that, instead, we should shout very loudly for the President to begin acting like a Democrat, start trying to get full employment and extend the social safety net, and quit trying to play footsie with the Republicans and blue dogs.

There are plenty of things the President can do unilaterally to improve the economic situation. We voted for him to get started – not to cave to the Republicans and blue dogs again!

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79 comments

  1. psychohistorian

    Nice Posting!!!

    The selling of the American Shock Doctrine event 1, 2, 3 will get the best propaganda global inherited rich money can buy just like the EU one is.

    I think that 2013 is a good year to Nationalize the Fed. 100 years with a private central banking system is long enough. It is time for the banking system to work for the public instead of the global inherited rich.

    1. R Foreman

      Americans never imagined their government as a for-profit institution.. it’s a brave new world.

      Those funny brown-skinned people won’t be the only ones sacrificing everything.

    2. jake chase

      My only quarrel with this post is that it is too long, too complicated, too boring to make any impact. Our social calamity can be reversed only by rejecting the central premise of neoliberal finance: that government should be compelled borrow to finance spending for public purposes. This is simply idiotic. Why permit banks to create money from thin air to finance speculation, but force elected goverment to borrow(and beg) from banks supported by an unlimited balance sheet called the Federal Reserve? Failure to understand the absurdity of this dichotomy creates the intellectual basis for one hundred years of economic stupidity and evasion.

      1. diptherio

        This is a real problem we need to overcome if wide-spread anti-austerity messaging is going to be effective

        I tried explaining to my father (a recently retired oil & gas pipelines engineer for the DOT; no dummy and no conservative) why the Federal Gov’t can’t go broke and why the deficit/debt doesn’t mean what the fear-mongers tell us it does. It was a difficult slog.

        The brainwashing has gone on for so long and the political messaging from both sides has been so uniform, that convincing your typical educated liberal that the gov’t doesn’t need to balance it’s checkbook like you and I is a conversation that has to start way back at the beginning, with things like the difference between fiscal and monetary policy.

        I’m working on a video right now, trying to wrap the main argument up into a 5-7 minute presentation. It’s tough, especially when trying to make it grok-able to the general public. I think Stephanie Kelton does an admirable job of making the points concisely. Her and Yves need to start making the morning talk-show rounds, as well as the Oprah, et al, daytime shows, imho.

        1. Mark P.

          ‘I tried explaining to my father (a recently retired oil & gas pipelines engineer for the DOT; no dummy and no conservative) why the Federal Gov’t can’t go broke …It was a difficult slog.’

          Sure. And yet there before us all is the very real spectacle of what began in 2008 and continues with infinite QE to this day, which is the Federal government very simply creating however much money as is needed to maintain the existing wealth structure of the U.S. banks and kleptocracy.

          Start people like your dad with that reality, though it’s unpleasant to contemplate. It is reality, nevertheless, while the rest is a lie.

      2. John

        Agree.

        While I appreciate learning new things about the way the corrupt system tries to screw all but the top the main thrust by now should be what actions to take to fight back.

        We are all well versed in the screwing by now.

        1. wbgonne

          I’m with you, John. Less talk, more action. We know what the problem is. Now let’s fix it. Ironically, the initial phase of the solution is probably even more talk. But talk this time directed at those who don’t yet recognize the problem. The American People know something is very wrong but — due to corporate-media, a thoroughly corrupt political system and an upper class lacking all noblesse oblige — the American People remain largely clueless as to identifying the source of the problem. The American People suffer from induced ignorance. Just look at the results from the last election. Few realize that the American political system has ceased functioning and the desires of the American People are now largely irrelevant to the major political parties. That must be our role: to educate until we can achieve some level of critical mass. Hopefully, we can outpace the calamities on the ground and sooner rather than later begin to act proactively. Hopefully . . .

  2. Paul Tioxon

    Unions are in front of the president and in the face of his advisers who would cave into fabricated fiscal problems that become tax reduction opportunities for the richest of the rich.

    http://act.aflcio.org/c/18/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=5062

    It is clear to many observers that an Obama victory does not guarantee overt republican goals can be stopped, just because there is a strengthening of democrats with a few key victories and pressure from the public to stop obstructionist tactics masquerading as profoundly principled stands with non-existent wide spread and deep public support.

    FROM IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN’S MONTHlY COMMENTS:

    http://www.iwallerstein.com/obama-won-happen/

    “Obama is almost as helpless regarding the economy – the U.S. economy and the world-economy. I doubt that he can seriously reduce U.S. unemployment, and in 2014 and 2016, this will help the Republicans rebound. The crucial issue at the moment is the so-called (and misnamed) fiscal cliff. The real issue here is who is going to bear the largest burden of U.S. economic decline.

    On these issues, Obama was elected on populist promises but actually is pursuing a right-of-center position. He is offering the Republicans a deal: higher taxes for the wealthy along with significant cuts in health and maybe pension expenditures for the majority of the population. This is the U.S. version of austerity.

    This is a bad deal for the vast majority of Americans, but Obama will pursue it vigorously. The deal may nonetheless fall through, if the Republican right wing stupidly refuses to go along with it. The business elites of the United States are putting pressure on the Republicans to accept the deal. The trade-unions and the liberals (inside and outside the Democratic Party) are pushing against the deal. But thus far, the liberal anti-deal push has been far weaker than the business elite pro-deal push. This is essentially a class struggle of a very traditional kind, and the 99% do not always win these struggles.”

    The environmental/labor/feminist/civil right coalition can breath a little easier. We shouldn’t have to fight Obama to stop political compromises that should never be offered in the first place. They shouldn’t be offered because the immediate problem of unemployment is so much worse than what may come down the pike. There might not be any pike for a problem to come down if unemployment stays where it is for much longer.

    But now the task in hand is extracting as much new progress as possible. This would mean taxing the rich more and spending more money in A 2nd round of federal stimulus coupled with on going revenue sharing aimed at full employment. The immensely useful CETA grants, which could be applied for at the community level and helped to fund the building of the passive solar retro fit to Ecology Food Coop, in Powelton Village, Phila. PA during the 1970′s would be a good start.

    CETA grants were Comprehensive Employment Training Act money for the direct employment of people:

    “What is good about the grants under Titles II and VI is that, according to one regulation, at least 85 per cent of the money must be spent directly in wages. What is not so good is that the jobs, even those under the sustaining programs, are not guaranteed to last beyond September 1978. These public service jobs are not intended to offer long-range employment, Murray stressed. But, he added, the projects tend to incorporate skill building and training which enhances the chance for employment elsewhere. And, as a staff member for the “balance of state” CETA administration pointed out, hopefully the tab for some public service jobs will be picked up by the private sector or other community sponsors after CETA grants have initiated a project.”

    http://www.lib.niu.edu/1977/ii771224.html

    We don’t have to go back to WPA or have a war. Policy makers and planners know what to do. So does Obama. Some of these very ideas were a part of the inadequate to the task stimulus money. So now, he needs to push through the balance on his down payment. He does not need to go looking for a problem where austerity is the solution. Unemployment is not a ticking time bomb, it’s a smoldering fire from the explosion that already happened and we are living through now. Worrying about the future of our children due to a non existent fiscal cliff ignores our present devastated populace sitting around doing nothing but waiting for things to get worse and more unaffordable.

    1. psychohistorian

      I was a junior woodchuck administrator for the Public Service Employment PSE portion of the CETA legislation for 32 of the 39 counties in Washington State. I helped set up the job proposal application and review/approval process by the local county commissioners. I wrote a poem anonymously that was turned into a skit performed in front of the state Employment Service Division office about the shortcomings of the PSE program. With hindsight, I would have to say that the PSE program was a HELL OF A LOT better than what is being done today…..nothing.

      Yes it has been done since the WPA and CCC but not to that scope and focus. Given our current government their proposal would be some sort of privatized rip off of public social infrastructure.

      I believe in as much government as we need to make us humans behave as humanistic social animals but the government we have now is focused on making us behave as compliant slaves to the global inherited rich as they use US military might to cower the rest of the world as they execute their Shock Doctrine events on the American and EU public.

  3. Propertius

    Why do you think OFA members will buy a pig in a poke?

    Because they’ve bought all the rest of his BS for the last 4 years, of course.

  4. Gerard Pierce

    Good article, but if we are making demands or “requests” we need a little more exactness.

    Based on past history, we should be demanding that Timothy Geithner, Jack Lew, Erksine Bowles, Alan Simpson, Alice Rivlin, Pete Peterson, and the rest of them be “encouraged” to move on to their new homes at Goldman Sachs or whatever “think-tank” or law firm will give them a place to hide after they’ve screwed it up for the rest of us.

    If he absolutely insists on keeping these clowns around, at a minimum he should make a place for a few people like Krugman or Gailbraith.

    We the “People for Obama” need some kind of a clue that Obama is more than a GOP wanna-be.

    1. diptherio

      Here, here. Throw the bum’s back (to Wall Street) and let’s insist on some actual progressives to fill their positions. Course, that’s gotta a snowball’s chance in hell of actually happening, considering that all and sundry, from Obama on down, are under-the-table employees of the financial sector, but it sounds like a fine excuse for a protest

      “If he absolutely insists on keeping these clowns around, at a minimum he should make a place for a few people like Krugman or Gailbraith.”–Gerard Pierce

      Why does it always have to be dudes, dude? What’s with this grim insistence of maintaining a penile plurality in the halls of power? Personally, I would like to see a little more vag behind the wheel of governance in our country. I’m serious, too many penises ruin the policy. Rationality is a myth, we are all driven by our hormones; our problem is not a lack of rationality, it’s an excess of testosterone. More Estrogen=More Equality, that’s what my picket sign is going to read.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That’s very kind, but I assume you know the idea is silly:

          1. I am not an economist

          2. I demonstrate on a daily basis that I am feral

          3. (Related to but nevertheless distinct from 2) I hate meetings

      1. citalopram

        And what exactly has Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer done? Nothing. The problem isn’t which sex is in power, it’s class.

    2. Crazy Horse

      Why send them to Goldman Sachs to commit further financial crimes when we have perfectly good cell blocks at Guantanamo and a staff well trained in waterboarding to keep them honest?

  5. docg

    “No “Grand Bargain.” No cuts to the safety net. No cuts to discretionary spending. If the Republicans don’t like it, then just “go over the fiscal cliff!” And keep pushing in January to restore the middle class tax cuts and fixing other parts of the sequestration that damage the middle class and the poor.”

    This says it all. I totally agree. In a way, this is all that needs to be said. I can’t read Obama’s mind and I doubt you can either. So I won’t comment on his motivation. As I see it, it’s beside the point. If he wants to be an effective leader, then he has to toughen up.

    That said, I find the rest of this article to be misleading and even dangerous, as you make no attempt to acknowledge the depth and extent of the problem facing both our nation and the world at large. You seem to be implying there is an easy fix, and that is simply NOT the case. No matter what Obama wants to do or chooses to do, the economy is in very deep trouble and will remain in trouble for some time to come — until the inevitable collapse.

    1. psychohistorian

      I guess I want to make clear that the collapse of society is because of the way it is currently organized and the incentives controlled.

      It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact if is way past stupid to do so but here we type our textual white noise to the fact of it happening before our eyes.

      We have a cabal of global inherited rich and so inheritance and accumulated private ownership of property needs to be dealt with to put most of the public in control of its own destiny rather than as wage/debt slaves.

    2. R Foreman

      There’s a new safety net.. it’s called the prison system. If you find you can’t afford food and heat, then just get yourself arrested and you’ll get a hot meal and warm place to sleep.

      Congratulations America on your victory.

      1. John

        Not so fast.

        Many meals are now cold. No AC in many states anymore for the prisoners in the summer (I’m sure all the wardens have it).

        As to heat, doubt it is that warm in prison these days in the winter. Energy costs a lot more then it used to.

        More like prison, the new safety net, where you hopefully will be dry.

        1. different clue

          And where chaingangs of you will be sent to clean up Superfund Sites . . . without any hazmat suits.

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      hahaha.

      Jane’s question at end of 22 point questionaire:

      If you answered “yes” to three or more questions, you are experiencing signs of relationship abuse. And what should people do when they find themselves in abusive relationships?

      dunno. find a dildo?

  6. Mary Bess

    1. Forget Obama.

    2. Add “4. Restore civil liberties” to the 12 word platform.

    3. Occupy Congress. Pack their local and Washington DC offices and don’t leave
    until he/she signs a pledge not to cut SS, Medicare, Medicaid or unemployment insurance for the long term unemployed.

    4. Use this citizen base to organize a third party for the next election.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Perhaps “5. Restore the rule of law” would subsume “restore civil liberties” and have broader application.

      * * *

      I’d say “5. Restore Constitutional government” except that broad swaths of the populace seem to think we’re governed by the Confederate Constitution. Still, that might be a conversation that should be had….

      1. just me

        Disagree. Holder calls what we have now “rule of law,” and says “due process” doesn’t even need a court and jury anymore. The meaning has been defined away but the words remain like convenient flycatchers.

        “Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.” ~ Honore de Balzac

        “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” ~ Eric Holder

        When words are so ruined, then what? Serious question.

        1. lambert strether

          I don’t think that infection has spread beyond the Beltway so far.

          The rule of law means that there is one law for everybody, and no get out of jail free card for the rich, say. I think that basic Civics 101 concept is still in force.

  7. Mary Bess

    The 1% will wrap up their austerity plan for the 99% before year’s end unless they see fierce resistance now.

    Things can change on a dime–either way.

    1. citalopram

      History will just have to repeat itself for a whole new generation or two. It is the price of not being class conscious, and not caring.

  8. SomnambulanceForAll

    Let the permanent recession begin! Safety net cuts will reduce demand even further, whereupon the GOP (and lately the dems too) will call for tax cuts for the wealthy, which will balloon the deficit even further, whereupon more cuts will be called for, etc. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam. Of course in 2016 no rational human will possibly support a faux-dem candidate again after 8 years of crappy economic performance, so we’ll get a “real” faux-populist conservative candidate who will prescribe the “strong medicine the economy needs,” which is to say a lethal cocktail of austerity measures meant to put an end to the poor and their suffering for good. And many will gladly swallow it at that point, just to be released from the drama.

    This all reads as high political comedy, which from a higher perspective it certainly is. While you’re living through it however, not so much. Such are the fruits of a thorough indoctrination in the inherent moral rightness of a winner take all debt-based economy. Debts were incurred and represent a moral covenant between the parties, and as such, they simply MUST BE paid. Failure to pay is a mortal sin and there can be no forgiveness for those who do not. Our capitalist system produces winners and losers by design, just as our lord [fill in the deity] does as well in the natural world. For winners there is a pot of gold (literally, in this world) and the riches of heaven, for the losers there is austerity and penance in the form of debt slavery until such time as they get their shit together. And safety nets? There’s always hell. That’s what it was created for in the first place.

    1. docg

      I agree, Somn. Especially regarding the entertainment value of this fascinating farce. Excellent comment, which says a lot in a few well chosen words.

      However, I don’t agree when it comes to the reason why debt must be paid. We hear a lot lately about the so-called “moral issue” as though all our problems could be solved if only those big bad bankers would loosen up a little, Scrooge-style, and get off their moral high horses. That might have meant something in Dickens’ day, but I don’t think it means much anymore.

      Debt must be paid very simply because if it isn’t paid, then our debtors are not going to want to lend us any more money. And if, like Greece, Spain, Italy — and the USA — we have become totally dependent on our ability to borrow, then we had better pay our debts or face a future without any debts at all. I.e., a future without enough money to live on.

      The real problem has nothing to do with the moral “superiority” of lenders, real or feigned. It has to do with a system that’s become totally dependent on a Ponzi-like scheme based on endless borrowing ad infinitum. To understand how this nutty scheme works, we need to understand a basic fact of life: bankers can make a whole lot of money by “playing” the banking system, regardless of whether or not the banks themselves actually come out ahead. They actually don’t care if the system runs dry, because by that time they will already have accumulated oodles of wealth. This is what happened in 2008.

      So what the bankers care about is not whether you pay back your debts to their banks, but that you show your willingness to play the game. By defaulting, you are NOT playing the game, you have violated the rules, and will thus not get any more loans, sorry. They could care less about morality. Obviously.

      1. diptherio

        “Debt must be paid very simply because if it isn’t paid, then our debtors are not going to want to lend us any more money. And if, like Greece, Spain, Italy — and the USA — we have become totally dependent on our ability to borrow, then we had better pay our debts or face a future without any debts at all. I.e., a future without enough money to live on.”–docg

        Pop Quiz: What is the major difference between the monetary systems of Greece, Spain and Italy, on the one hand, and the US, on the other?

        Answer: Greece, Spain and Italy rely on external sources of funds for all of their government spending, while the United States creates it own currency in whatever amount it chooses (through the Federal Reserve, specifically). For this reason, the US, unlike the EU countries, can always pay it’s debt because they are denominated in a currency of which it is the sole legitimate issuer. The Federal Reserve itself, through several of it’s publications, as well as the statements, most recently, of Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, has been very clear on this point. Most people, sadly, just refuse to listen.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egiT_g06L4Q

        1. Crazy Horse

          Paying debts is no problem due to the foresight of great leaders like Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke. If the FED creates unlimited zero interest loans for its member banks, and they use the funds to purchase unlimited US Treasury Bonds that yield 3% interest the system is self perpetuating.

          What could possibly go wrong?

  9. Mr. Jack M. Hoff

    My question for Mr. Firestone would be; Joe,Wtf are you involved with OFA for in the first place? If you’re able to see all of Obama’s lies and deception now, How did you manage to overlook more of the same during the last four years of the Obama regime. My God man, he had a democratic house and congress for the first two years and did exactly what???? More of the same, that’s what. His first utterance was to the effect that we will move forward, and not look back, no prosecutions for anyone in the Bush administration. Wasn’t that a good enough statement as to his true intent? After all, you cannot build upon a rotted foundation and expect anything good to come from it. The old faulty foundation has to be completely removed and totally destroyed. Obama had no intentions then, nor does he now, of changing a damned thing to help this country or its citizens. The only change he pursues is better faster means of wealth redistribution upwards. He is pure evil, and you, by supporting him in any way become the same.

  10. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

    I don’t think I can do one easy e-mail on how to fix America, if at all, but I’ll take a stab at the SS aspect.

    Important E-Mail from the Desk of the President of the United States

    It is of the utmost importance that Americans everywhere inform their 5 year old kids that although we regrettably endured the Bush recession, and have recovered from the Bush recession, the unfortunate consequence is that your 5 year old’s social security benefits are in danger.

    We are have promptly mobilized the considerable resources of the United States Government and intend to surge towards a solution which we have code named “The Grand Bargain”.

    Please enlist your 5 year old’s support in this noble effort to secure your 5 year old’s future in this – no, our – Great Country.

  11. scraping_by

    As far as calling the “caving” fib goes: it’s a good thing among family, but let’s not make it the centerpiece of the debate.

    As satisfying as it would be to demand a price for going along with Barry and his crypto-Tea Party Administration, it would keep away a lot of potential supporters. And they’ll count the silent ones for their side.

    So in public, let’s bite our tongues, lose the arrest file, kill the fatted calf. Doesn’t matter if they should have known better, they’ve grown up now.

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    As Jack Chase says above, it needs to be shorter. Much shorter! Also, Grand Bargain should be changed to Grand Betrayal from the first sentence on, as in, “The Grand Bargain is nothing more than a Grand Betrayal…Washington is attacking Medicare and Social Security on behalf of Wall Street…Make no mistake, every penny of Medicare and Social Security is hard earned by years of payroll taxes and it is being stolen out from under all your effort and your parents efforts, weakened by unnecessary cuts, while politicians in Washington have the gall to call it equal sacrifice. The rich are sacrificing nothing; pennies they’ll get back with loop-holes and lawyers. It doesn’t matter who is responsible, this is not a red betrayal or a blue betrayal, it’s a betrayal by the American elite of the American people! It’s an attack on the well being of each and every one of us and it has to stop! Forward this to your friends; Don’t fall for the Grand Betrayal Copy it, talk about it, make sure every one of your friends knows about it, and let Obama know you are not falling for it, or your future will be part of Wall Street’s portfolio before you know it.”

  13. Eureka Springs

    Since the GOP stopped the last O attempt at the grand betrayal… Why, oh why are people still suggesting this fight should be waged exclusively with those least likely to listen (Obamacrats)?

    First of all we need a small bullet list of DEMANDS.

    I would suggest we pen demands which move the overton window… Stop bargaining from such a compromised starting point.

    Tax the rich like it’s 1959!
    Restore SS retirement eligibility to 62. Or make it 60!
    Make SS pay a living rate.
    Medicare for all!
    Triple the minimum wage with a job guarantee.
    Cut defense in half now… with specific targets of 80 percent reduction in ten years. Always note this would still leave us with by far the largest defense budget in the world.

    We need to wage this battle on all fronts/ with both parties.

  14. mk

    OCCUPY OFA!

    Join Obama For America and give them hell at their meetings. That’s what I intend to do.

    barackobama.com

  15. cripes

    But we got the Lilly letter fair pay act! And he signed the end of don’t ask don’t tell! And arrested more potheads than any president since…oh, well, be reasonable. Look, there’s a wepublican!

  16. LeeAnne

    ’tis time we cut through the BS and start referring to the current ‘troubles’ as the ‘Bush Obama Administration.’ Its been one continuous agenda comprised of CIA/Banksters/NATO from Reagan/Bush, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama to screw 99% of the people of the world. Killer Drones and nagging seniors to death in the process.

    Thanks to OWS for that short cut, the 99%, and all their accomplishments, including putting themselves on the front lines in the streets of New York City that revealed to a naive public and the world what NYPD and police militarized by BANKSTERS with UNIVERSITIES all over the world look like.

  17. Lambert Strether

    Hopefully, this will turn out to be Obama’s “I have political capital and I intend to use it” moment.

    No doubt Obama can scare up a few paid operatives to say whatever he wants said. And no doubt our famously free press will allow that to be spun as “grass roots.” But I’m not seeing anybody asking for this that isn’t part of the machine….

  18. Jimmy

    Maybe there’s a little gold at the end of the rainbow here and we have to view thing a bit differently. What if the problem is that there are too many jobs and people are working too much ? Maybe this “more jobs” thing is misguided ? Maybe we should place less value on this “work ethic” and encourage people to relax more in healthier ways. The “jobs” push seems to be based on the idea that, more jobs (work) = a better life for all..I’m not so sure. More jobs, means less time at home with the family, more time commuting and burning fossil fuels, less time to “fix” our old stuff or make our own stuff. The 50′s looked pretty good and we had a whole lot more people (mostly women) running households, most families only had 1 car, kids bussed or biked or walked to school, etc. Ok – maybe that’s a little myopic. Bottom line is it just occurred to me that Obama’s reduction of the full-time work week to 30 hours may in fact be a very good thing – it may impact the financial projections for Obamacare, but it actually might be going in a good direction…??

    1. Jimmy

      It also just occurred to me that the focus on “more jobs” could also be a pretty strong incentive for maintaining a full-time “War” economy.. If our “war” industries didn’t have a market for weapons, people would lose jobs. If our fighting forces were brought home, many would have no jobs. Maybe if we weren’t so focused on doing stuff, Cities wouldn’t be buying military drones to surveil citizens? Maybe “less is really more”..Maybe we should just figure out a way to “do” less?

  19. Barmitt O'Bamney

    He wouldn’t use his mailing list to push for the Public Option, but he will use it to push Catfood down America’s throat. What a traitor.

    1. Jimmy

      Public Option – Obama care was a disappointment to me around the public option (and my premiums have doubled). I proposed many years ago the the VA system be “cloned” and made available to the public for cost (paid for by govt., insurance, credit card or cash.
      Wall Street (insurance companies and providers) would hate this idea and not because it would fail, but becasue it might succeed. I proposed an “experimental” deployment. Make VA level care available for “cash” and see if anyone comes ? Such an option could provide a benchmark so private providers could quickly provide better care at lower cost. No regulation..just competition. My estimate was that VA care costs about 30% of private care.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I appreciate the impulse, and good call, but the “public option” was a roach motel for progressive energy, designed to distract from single payer (a proven solution), which it successfully did. See Kip Sullivan of PNHP here and here.

      The persistence of “the public option” in discourse — as opposed to laughter and shame directed at its career “progressive” advocates — is a sign, I think, of the deep appeal that evolving neo-liberal notions of “the market state” possess. Dangerous. When will Social Security become a “public option” on the “retirement exchanges”?

      1. wbgonne

        The “public option” was supposed to be the final compromised position. It was sold to Progressives as an experiment that would allow a government plan to compete with private providers. As we were all confident that the public plan would emerge victorious in short order, we therefore accepted this camel’s nose as the final compromise. Evidently, the conservative and neoliberal ideologues )really one and the same at this point) saw it the same way, which is why they made damn sure there would be no public option. In retrospect, Lambert, you are absolutely correct that the PO was a complete waste of time. But I submit that no one — absolutely nobody — could have predicted the level of duplicity that Obama has demonstrated. That is what made the entire fiasco a farce: Obama was killing the PO while he publicly pretended to support it. In any case, I do agree it makes little sense at this point to revisit the PO experiment. Now we must demand single payer and stop screwing around with tricks and halfway measures.

        1. Klassy!

          I think a “public option” would have been disaster. There is no way it would have been set up for anything but failure.

          1. different clue

            Free-choice personal Medicare Buy-In for anyone of any age at cost for anyone who wanted would have worked quite well. They knew it, that’s why they prevented it.

    3. Lee A. Arnold

      People haven’t noticed that the “public option” may be a natural outcome of the state exchanges that are in Obamacare. This is because all the insurers are required to list their prices on the same page, for standardized coverage packages (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, etc.). But as a rule, business competitors don’t WANT to be listed all on the same page. This prevents price-gouging and small print — and drives everyone down to the same prices. At that point, health insurance becomes less of a profit-making business, and more of a public utility. After a few years of this, public opinion may change to accept, simply and cleanly, a public option or even a single-payer. Basic long-term psychology.

  20. wbgonne

    Last time Obama immediately dismantled his campaign apparatus because he feared the political repercussions that would follow from his policy betrayals. Having betrayed Progressive and Democratic principles for 4 years only to be heartily embraced by Progressives and Democrats anyway, Obama now figures that he can actually use Progressives and Democrats to attack Progressivism. I guess this is the audacity we’ve been waiting for from Obama. Hope is still nowhere is sight.

  21. digbys doggy

    Pete Peterson has a puppy in his windowless commercial van stocked with handcuffs and duct tape. Arf arf! goes furry puppy Barack Obama. See, little girl, the puppy likes you!

  22. Hugh

    The first rule of the con is never to admit the con. So Obama is never going to admit that his sole role is to be the face that sells the kleptocracy to the rubes, or as here reaching out to one group of rubes to help him sell the con to the others.

    I like Joe’s shredding the myth of balance. It will take imbalance in favor of the middle class to redress 40 years of imbalances favoring the rich.

    I agree with other commenters though that not even a hint of good faith or legitimacy should be accorded to Obama or any of the rest of our political classes. They are not there to fix anything. They are there to loot us, period. As the country is its people, they are traitors to us all.

  23. LeonovaBalletRusse

    The re-writing is an exercise in vain, as if the “other side” would be susceptible to any alternative to All Grifter Propaganda All the Time. The “mindless herd” is just that: in “fear” or just “lemming-like” they receive relentless GrifterProp and forward it relentlessly, like Pavlovian dogs at the sound of the bell. The Tavistock Institute has succeeded, believe it.

  24. rotter

    “Who would have predicted that this “pragmatic,” “realistic” president would have such a strong belief in “the confidence fairy”?

    Well how could he not, and still remain a credible true believer? The confidence fairy is one of the major deities of the freemarket cult..the confidence fairy, the invisible hand, and the animal spirits are the Father Son and Holy Ghost trinity of voodoo economics…

  25. Jim

    Are we so out of imagination and creativity that the best vision of the future we can offer the American people is the managerial promise of producing a new set of supposedly enlightened and uncorruptable public servants ( this time MMT experts in fiscal and monetary policy) who, by some miracle, will be able to guarantee that our now totally corrupt and increasingly powerful surveillance state is still capable of administratively instituting specific fiscal and monetary policies in our interest!

    1. JTFaraday

      “Are we so out of imagination and creativity that the best vision of the future we can offer the American people is the managerial promise of…”

      You know, I think I fired this guy already. We need to move on to the next one.

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