By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posted from Benzinga
Greetings from the Third Annual Kilkenomics Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland. The Irish bubble (as a percentage of GDP) was twice as large as the U.S. bubble. I’m returning to the U.S. to provide economic commentary for al Jazeera’s election night coverage. (Yes, I voted via absentee ballot.)
The Safety Net is the Glory of America and the Unending Wall Street Nightmare
Wall Street’s leading “false flag” group, the Third Way, has responded to the warnings that Robert Kuttner, AFL-CIO President Trumka, and I have made that if President Obama is re-elected our immediate task will be to prevent the Great Betrayal – the adoption of self-destructive austerity programs and the opening wedge of the effort to unravel the safety net (including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid).
Romney favors the same betrayal, but it would be political suicide for a Republican national leader to lead the attack on the nation’s most popular programs. Huge majorities of Americans oppose cuts in the safety nets. A majority of Republicans oppose such cuts and Democrats overwhelmingly oppose the cuts.
The American people love the safety net because they know it is essential to a humane America. They know that it has transformed the nation. Before Social Security, older Americans were frequently reduced to poverty and dangerously inadequate health care that made the remainder of their lives dangerous and miserable. The safety net does not cover only the elderly and the sick. My father, for example, died when I (the eldest of three children) was 19 and a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Even though in-state tuition was inexpensive in those days I would have had to drop out of school. Survivors’ benefits allowed me to obtain a superb education and pay back the nation with service and decades of greater taxes because education increased y income. Food stamps and unemployment insurance frequently provide the temporary support that prevent tragedy and allow Americans to obtain useful education and jobs. The safety net has made America a nation we are proud of and a nation that makes it possible for Americans to recover from hard times and tragedy and to on to lead lives that are vastly more productive and enjoyable.
One of the most important reasons that more Americans support the Democratic Party than the Republican Party is that the Democratic Party is viewed as the Party that created and guards the safety net. The elements of the safety net are the crown jewels of Democratic Party policy successes.
Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it (a process that would occur over a number of years) by legitimizing the claim that the safety net must be cut. Obama may not intend to unravel the safety net. He may have been convinced by Wall Street that it is necessary to begin to unravel the safety net in order to save it. But the result would be to declare open season on the safety net by legitimizing the false Republican memes that the safety net is unsustainable and harms the nation. The Republican Party’s and Wall Street’s greatest frustration is that they have been unable to unravel or discredit the safety net. The Democratic Party has its Wall Street wing, but the Republican Party has been Wall Street’s principal representative for decades. The Republican Party has been unable to deliver Wall Street’s unholy grail – privatizing Social Security.
Wall Street salivates at the prospect of any privatization of social security. This would lead to them being able to charge tens of billions of dollars in fees annually and the banks that administered the privatized program would be systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) because the consequences of allowing bank failures to cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their retirement savings would require either that all such deposits be federally insured or that the failing banks be bailed out by the federal government. Privatization, therefore, is a convenient fiction. The banks’ profits will be private; any catastrophic losses will be borne by the public. The SDIs’ already massive political power, often exerted through front groups like Third Way,” will burgeon.
This article is the first of a two piece series. It shows how Third Way lobbies for Wall Street and is used to discredit Democratic polices. The other piece discusses some of the key flaws in Third Way’s studies.
The Wall Street response (via Third Way) to our warning of the Great Betrayal repeats its central assertion that there is no alternative – the safety net must be cut. The Wall Street Wing of the Democratic Party alleges that if Obama wields the knife he will do less damage to the safety net than would Romney. That, of course, does not respond to our point. Once Obama endorses Wall Street’s false claim that the safety net is unsustainable and a grave danger to our economy he legitimizes future Republican assaults on the safety net. Third Way admits that these assaults would wield a chainsaw. Indeed, if Wall Street (via Third Way) is correct that the safety net is destroying our nation’s ability to make productive investments then Republicans should take a chainsaw to the safety net. Third Way, therefore, has implicitly admitted and even supported our analysis.
The Wall Street response to our warnings of the coming Great Betrayal did not attempt to rebut the point I (and many others before me) made about Wall Street’s quest for the riches it would obtain when Social Security privatization began. Third Way cannot rebut the point because it proposes that we should begin to privatize Social Security. The Third Way is faithful to the interests of Wall Street.
The Wall Street response makes three additional points. First, it argues that austerity “could” be implemented after the economy recovered. Except that that is not what would happen and it is not what Third Way has proposed when it put forward Wall Street’s views on the need for immediate austerity. Indeed, it has been demanding immediate austerity for years – even when the U.S. was struggling to eke out a recovery from the depths of the recession. In October 2011, in a position paper urging Congress’ “Super Committee” to cut the safety net, Third Way made plain its support for “immediate” austerity, when it bemoaned the prospect that: “Super committee failure would not only be a setback for immediate deficit reduction, but future efforts as well.”
Similarly, in February 2011, Third Way applauded Obama’s proposed budget’s embrace of “austerity” and then pushed for cutting the safety net.
Third Way applauds President’s “tough but necessary” Budget (February 14, 2011)
Budget Blueprint Balances Growth Investments with ‘new era of austerity;’ Third Way says Congress and White House must tackle entitlements next to “win the future, not cede it.’
Third Way Statement on Congressional Passage of Economic Package & Payroll Tax Extension (February 17, 2012)
Today, both parties bucked the trend in Washington to come together behind a deal that’s the right thing for the American economy. This agreement will help prevent a stall in the still fragile recovery. We applaud the conferees for their willingness to work through contentious issues and make appropriate adjustments to reach a principled, bi-partisan compromise. We are glad a deal was reached, though we continue to believe that the package should have been fully paid for given growing national debt.
Third Way wanted the “package … [to be] fully paid for given growing national debt.” It wanted austerity now even though it new that was a self-destructive policy. Third Way doesn’t simply want austerity now – it wants austerity now through big cuts in the safety net.
STATEMENT: On Standard & Poor’s Downgrading U.S. Credit to AA+ (August 06, 2011)
The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.
America’s credit rating is at a crossroads. We can choose to heed this message by finishing the deficit reduction job with a balanced plan that is composed mainly of entitlement cuts, closing tax loopholes and defense cuts, or we can squabble while our global standing continues to sink. The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.
The reality is that the ratings cut had no effect on federal interest rates because the financial markets, correctly, view the U.S. as posing no risk of failing to pay its debts. Third Way’s trustees know this because their Wall Street firms engage in billions of dollars of Treasury bond trades on a daily basis and demonstrate their real view that Treasury bonds pose no credit risk.
Third Way’s insistence on austerity now is particularly bizarre because it knows that austerity would be self-destructive.
How’s that austerity thing workin’ for ya?
Since the 2009 depths of financial crisis devastation, President Obama’s stimulus programs have produced modest-but-steady U.S. job growth, while Eurozone adopted austerity-only measures—favored by many U.S. conservatives—have faltered.
The data cited in the Third Way report show that austerity has not “faltered” – it has failed abjectly and forced the Eurozone back into a gratuitous recession. It has helped push Greece and Spain into great depression levels of unemployment.
Second, Third Way implies that I wrote near the “election eve” to try to defeat Obama. I voted for him in this and the prior election. Obama has told us he will try to commit the Great Betrayal as soon as possible. We have to organize now to be able to act immediately to prevent it. Again, the point we made in our warnings is not that Obama wants to unravel the safety net or that the initial concessions to the Republicans will destroy the safety net. The point we made is that by accepting the false Wall Street (via Third Way) and Republican claims about the safety net Obama would be legitimizing continued assaults on the safety net by Republicans and Democrats that would eviscerate it.
Third, Third Way warns that if Obama does not commit the Great Betrayal the Republicans will destroy the economy.
The alternative to a grand bargain is a grand throwdown, one like the debt ceiling debacle of 2011. Only this time, the threat of default would be joined by the double threat of sequestration and tax hikes on the middle class.
Giving in to Republican extortion would only prompt repeated Republican extortion. President Clinton followed the correct strategy against similar attempts at extortion by refusing to give in to it. The extortion strategy blew up in the Republican’s faces. They remember what happened. Third Way’s proposed appeasement strategy would encourage relentless Republican extortion.
THE THIRD WAY: WALL STREET’S TOOL FOR DISCREDITING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Third Way “lauds” criminal immunity for Wall Street Frauds
Pete Peterson, a Republican Wall Street billionaire, has long led an unholy war to eviscerate the safety net. He has pledged a billion dollars to the effort and funded many groups. The “Third Way” was founded and run by Jonathan Cowan, one of his “acolytes.” Third Way’s Board of Trustees is dominated by Wall Street executives. Third Way refuses to disclose its donors.
Third Way represents the Wall Street. The Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party has pushed successfully for the worst domestic failures of the Obama administration, including continuing the Bush administration policy of granting the elite banksters whose frauds drove the crisis de facto immunity from criminal prosecution. Third Way has been conspicuously silent in pushing either administration to prosecute these elite financial frauds. Its Board of Trustees is peppered with senior executives of SDIs that the federal government has charged – but only in civil cases – engaged in fraud. Third Way’s applauded the administration’s grant of immunity from criminal prosecution for the massive foreclosure frauds (hundreds of thousands of frauds) committed by several major banks in a November 9, 2012 press release entitled: “Third Way Lauds Landmark Foreclosure Deal.”
Third Way is also useful to Wall Street’s pursuit of other major priorities, including austerity, unraveling the safety net, and gaining access to tens of billions of dollars in freebie profits from beginning to privatize social security. Here is a sampling of how Wall Street and Republican use Third Way to try to discredit the Democratic Party, candidates, and policies. The repeated motif is that critics of the Democratic Party’s policies cite pro-Wall Street statements by Third Way officials to “prove” that even Democrats admit that the policies endanger the nation. Third Way’s specialty is spreading the faux “moral panic” that the safety net is the great threat to America.
Count the Republican Memes that Keller and the Third Way Endorse
The NYT’s Bill Keller authored a column (“The Entitled Generation”) on July 29, 2012. He excoriated baby boomers based on a study specially given to him in advance by Third Way. Here is how he described this organization run by Wall Street for Wall Street. “This brings me to a soon-to-be released study by the incorrigible pragmatists at Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank.”
Keller proceeds to accept, with no demonstration of even the feeblest effort at critical analysis, Wall Street’s position as gospel. Remember, he is doing this in 2012, during an epidemic of fraud and failed models when every week brings the disclosure of a new scandal by our most elite financial institutions, including those that direct the Third Way. Keller implies that he has to accept Wall Street’s numbers because they are “arithmetic.” Keller must have amnesia about the entire financial crisis, which demonstrated that Wall Street’s “arithmetic” consisted of maximizing fictional accounting income through the famous four-ingredient fraud “recipe.” That recipe produces massively inflated asset values, fictional income, real bonuses, and catastrophic losses. Each of these results is a “sure thing.” Nobody does arithmetic worse than Wall Street.
Third Way is “centrist” on matters that involve Wall Street’s compensation only if Keller subscribes to the view that “what’s good for Goldman Sachs is good for America.” Keller fails to inform his readers that the Third Way is a creature of Wall Street and that the anti-safety net policies it is lobbying for would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in increased profits (plus SDI status and even greater political dominance) to the Wall Street firms that dictate Third Way’s policies. Third Way is also a “think tank” only if one views Goldman Sachs’ reports as coming from a “think tank.” Keller then demonstrated why he didn’t believe his readers should learn that Third Way was a creature of Wall Street. He was already afraid that his readers would reject his swallowing the Third Way report’s claims hook, line, and sinker.
Indignant readers are already revving up to tell me that Social Security and Medicare are sacred promises, that cutting them would be stone-hearted Republicanism. A.A.R.P., the lobby for people we used to call senior citizens until we realized that meant us, got hammered by the left earlier this year when its C.E.O. dared to convene a meeting of Washington insiders to even discuss the subject. No wonder A.A.R.P. shies away from supporting any entitlement reform.
But the traditional liberal alternatives — raise taxes on the well-to-do, cut military spending — are not nearly enough by themselves. The arithmetic simply doesn’t work, unless we face the fact that entitlements are a bargain we can’t afford to keep, not in full.
The quoted passages are revealing in several areas. Wall Street lobbyists like Third Way fear the public. AARP was not simply hammered by “the left.” It was hammered by its members, who overwhelmingly opposed AARP management’s trial balloon in favor of beginning to unravel the safety net. Bloomberg interpreted the management’s effort as supporting a reduction in the safety net.
As I explained, the “center,” including a majority of Republicans, opposes such a betrayal of the safety net by the U.S. and by the AARP. We can prevent the Great Betrayal.
I will respond in more detail to Keller’s claims about arithmetic in my second piece. Spoiler alert: we do not need to unravel the safety net and doing so would harm our nation. The Third Way’s “arithmetic” is wrong, but Keller simply accepted it on faith. When has Wall Street ever got its models and arithmetic wrong?
Keller’s lead-in to the conclusion of his article returns to the claim that beginning the unraveling of the safety net is the “centrist” position. Note how ultra-right his “center” moves in the process.
Centrists like those at Third Way and the bipartisan authors of the Simpson-Bowles report endorse a menu of incremental cuts and reforms that would bring down costs without hitting the needy or snatching away the security blanket from those nearing retirement.
Erskine Bowles is a member of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. Alan Simpson is a former Republican Senator known for raging at anyone who defends the safety net, including bizarre personal verbal assaults on individual elderly citizens who oppose his proposals. Keller defines Simpson as a “centrist” and “liberals” as non-centrists. Keller needs a cartographer or some introduction to the political science literature on how vastly far to the right the Republican Party has moved over the last decade because his view of the “center” is warped. Eric Laursen has just published a book on this marginalization of the vast majority of Democrats who oppose unraveling Social Security. (“The People’s Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan” (AK Press).) Laursen explains how the right has created the bizarre state of being that the administration and most of the media treats groups that defend the safety net as extremists – within the Democratic Party – and defines people and groups like Peterson, Third Way, and Simpson as “centrists” despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans support the safety nets. The supposed non-centrists include the Democratic base – the labor unions, nationally famous leaders like Warren, and other groups that are the most likely to vote for Democratic Party candidates.
Obama appointed Bowles and Simpson as co-chairs of the commission to recommend budget cuts knowing that both were Pete Peterson allies eager to impose austerity, begin to unravel the safety net, and begin to privatize Social Security. The Bowles/Simpson (BS) co-chairs pushed each of these three policies (though even they warned that what former President Clinton terms “austerity now” must be avoided because it would throw the nation back into recession). The BS co-chairs, however, were unable to convince the required number of members of their commission to support their recommendations. The co-chairs, therefore, simply went ahead and published a report making their recommendations.
Note that Keller admits, but only elliptically, that Wall Street’s (Third Way and BS) proposals are “snatching away the security blanket from those [not yet] nearing retirement.” That is a massive, destructive assault on the safety net and Keller’s readers deserve to be told so directly. Keller’s readers deserve to be told what Third Way and BS want to replace the safety net – privatized savings accounts – the holy grail of Wall Street and its false flag operation known as the Third Way.
But these passages from Keller do not represent the most extreme and destructive attack on the safety net, the American people, and the Democratic Party by Keller and the Third Way. Keller adopts Wall Street’s memes for destroying the safety net. Gutting the safety net becomes not a sad necessity, but the essential act necessary to save the nation. The great threat to our nation becomes the safety net. That means that the people who guard the safety net (like me) endanger the nation.
[The Third Way study] examined two categories of federal spending over the past 50 years, representing two of government’s fundamental missions. One was “investments,” … helping assure that our work force is educated to a high standard…. The other category was “entitlements,” a catchall word for the safety-net programs….
Keller adopts wholesale Third Way’s asserted dichotomy and Third Way’s warning that the increase in safety net payments relative to “investments” harms our nation.
By 2030, when the last of us boomers have surged onto the Social Security rolls, entitlements will consume 61 cents of every federal dollar, starving our already neglected investment and leaving us, in the words of the study, with ‘a less-skilled work force, lower rates of job creation, and an infrastructure unfit for a 21st-century economy.’
While the numbers in the Third Way report are not accurate, note that Keller adopts the Wall Street (and Republican Party) assertion in the Third Way report that safety net expenditures “crowd out” “productive” “investments” in the public and private sectors. The asserted dichotomy between “productive” “investments” and “unproductive” “safety-net” expenditures is false. I explained why the safety net often produces some of the most economically productive results of any private or public sector expenditure, as George Romney’s career showed. Health care expenditures often extend lives and “productive” work lives. More fundamentally, the entire dichotomy and claimed “crowding out effect” is false. Indeed, when we are below full employment (our most common condition), the safety net expenditures increase economic growth. What Keller and Wall Street (via their Third Way mouthpiece) are pushing in these passages is a variant of Romney’s “47 percent” claim that people who receive payments under the safety net are drones who harm the productive class.
Keller ends with this proposal: “We should make a sensible reform of entitlements our generation’s cause.” As a nation, we have immense needs because of how our working class and the poor have been hammered over the last three decades. Keller, and Wall Street (via the Third Way), however, urge us to make “our generation’s cause” the reduction of the safety net that has reduced massively the agony of the suffering of the poor and the working class and was essential to the economic recovery we have experienced. Keller and Wall Street claim that the “centrist” position is that the Democratic Party’s central mission is to lead an assault on the poor and the working class.
As extreme as Keller’s position is, Wall Street’s position (as expressed in the Third Way study) was more extreme. The report claims that: “Entitlements are a critical part of economic security, but without change, investments will all but dry up….”
Here is the Third Way’s summary of the report.
Public investments and entitlements are on a collision course.
Since the 1960s, LBJ’s Great Society and JFK’s New Frontier have competed for federal dollars. And as the cost of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security has skyrocketed, we’ve spent less and less of our budget educating kids, building roads, and curing disease.
In this report, we argue that the only way for Democrats to save progressive priorities like NASA, highway funding, and clean energy research is to reform entitlements. The lame duck offers Congress a “Now or Never” chance to set the terms of a budget deal that saves money on entitlements, raises revenue, and protects investments. And the heart of the Democratic brand is depending on it.
Third Way has provided another proof of our family rule that it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody. Only Wall Street could argue that preserving the Democrats’ “heart” depends on cutting benefits to the poor and working class so that they could burnish their “brand” by spending the money instead on building roads or rockets. Some heart! Wall Street is describing its heartless “brand.”
Third Way Slimes Elizabeth Warren for Criticizing Wall Street Frauds
A second example of how proponents of unraveling the safety net use Third Way as a false flag scheme was illustrated by the Chamber of Commerce. They ran a huge ad campaign in mid-October designed to defeat Elizabeth Warren in her run for the Senate. The Chamber’s goal is to achieve Republican control of the Senate. The title of the ABC article about the Chamber’s ad campaign was: “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Calls Elizabeth Warren ‘Catastrophically Antibusiness’.”
The centerpiece of the ad and the title was the quotation that Warren was “Catastrophically antibusiness.” The person who made the statement that the Chamber quoted was one the Third Way’s founders and a principal spokesmen.
“If you listened only to Elizabeth Warren [at the Democratic Party’s national convention], the message was catastrophically antibusiness,” said Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. That “further drives a wedge between business and Democrats that may not be fair but is the way business perceives things,’ he said. ‘And making voters into victims is not a winning strategy.
“As Bill Clinton used to say, you can’t love the jobs and hate the job creators,” said Mr. Bennett, who worked in the Clinton administration.”
Warren outraged the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party by speaking truth to power about Wall Street:
Wall Street C.E.O.’s — the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs — still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them.
The same article noted that “moderates” were upset that Warren was allowed to speak to the convention during prime time, but the Democratic Party felt supporting her candidacy was one of the vital steps in preventing the Republicans from controlling the Senate.
To the chagrin of moderate Democrats, a prime-time speaker was Elizabeth Warren, the liberal scourge of Wall Street who is running in Massachusetts to unseat Senator Scott P. Brown, a Republican. Her scheduling slot reflected Democrats’ zeal to capture that seat and protect their slim Senate majority.
The Chamber ad attacking Warren identified Bennett, the Third Way’s co-founder, as the author of the quotation and described him as working for an organization of moderate Democrats. Note that Bennett also adopted the false Republican meme that only CEOs are “job creators.” The reality is that each of us, by creating private sector demand and by creating wealth through our labor we create jobs.
The Third Way willingness to attack one of the most praised public servants in the nation, in a Senate race vital to the Democratic Party, because she had the temerity to criticize the Wall Street CEOs who caused the crisis (often through frauds that made them wealthy), were bailed out by the government, and responded with insolence. Third Way not only applauds the administration’s refusal to prosecute the Wall Street frauds who drove the crisis – the Wall Street Wing demands that the Democratic Party not criticize the SDIs’ CEOs and claims that calling for the senior executives to be held accountable for their crimes and misconduct is impermissible because it will enrage business people and because any discussion of elite frauds would have to address the fact that they victimized the public. Wall Street demands that we do nothing that would cause the public to consider their victimization by elite frauds. The Third Way claims that discussing elite frauds and abuses runs afoul of the Third Way’s mantra that “making voters into victims is not a winning strategy.” The reality is that the elite frauds victimized voters. Warren didn’t make the voters into fraud victims – the banksters did. She did not attack business – she attacked a rigged system that produces what economics and white-collar criminology calls a “Gresham’s dynamic” in which bad ethics drives good ethics out of the marketplace. George Akerlof was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001. His most famous article to date discusses markets for “lemons” (bad quality cars). Akerlof asked what happens if fraudulent sellers of goods are able to deceive their customers and secure a competitive advantage over honest businesses. He found that honest businesses and the customer were both victims of fraudulent CEOs.
[D]ishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market. The cost of dishonesty, therefore, lies not only in the amount by which the purchaser is cheated; the cost also must include the loss incurred from driving legitimate business out of existence. George Akerlof (1970).
It is a pro (honest) business policy to enforce the law vigorously against such frauds. Warren did not advise voters to feel like helpless “victims.” She urged them to insist that government hold accountable the fraudulent CEOs who pose a lethal risk to honest firms. Third Way insists that we not reveal, prosecute, or even criticize the banksters’ frauds. The Third Way’s “don’t ask; don’t tell” position on elite financial fraud is beyond the pale on many dimensions, but it is revealing that its board of trustees, drawn overwhelmingly from big finance, does not believe that it would be in their firms’ interests to prosecute the elite financial frauds and break the Gresham’s dynamic that dooms honest firms. That position only makes sense if their firms believe that they would be prosecuted if the Obama and Bush administrations had enforced the criminal laws. The Third Way and the Chamber of Commerce are the entities pushing a “catastrophically antibusiness” campaign against (honest) businesses by championing the view that it is illegitimate to even criticize the banksters much less prosecute them. Their view is ultra-extreme, not “moderate” or “centrist.”
Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum
In case it is not obvious, the issue is not whether covering up the elite financial frauds is “a winning [political] strategy.” I don’t care whether it will cost the Democratic Party the loss of all financial donations from finance if we investigate and prosecute their frauds. I don’t care whether losing those donations from finance cause Obama to lose. The fact that the Third Way’s co-founder makes clear that he would prefer to cover up the elite banksters’ frauds that drove the crisis because he believes it is “a winning [electoral] strategy” tells me that the Financial Wing of the Democratic Party lacks the integrity necessary to run a financial institution or guide governmental policy.
Samuelson: Third Way “liberals” prove we need austerity and safety net cuts
The third way in which the Third Way was used by proponents of austerity and unraveling the safety net was the subject of one of my prior columns.
Samuelson, however, makes bizarre odes to Irish austerity, emphasizing the necessity of “persuading ordinary citizens to tolerate austerity (higher unemployment, lower social benefits, [and] heavier taxes) without resorting to paralyzing street protests or ineffectual parliamentary coalitions.” I love the fact that Samuelson not only wants to increase unemployment and taxes while cutting benefits – he demands that Americans become masochists and embrace the pain of hurling America into a gratuitous second recession. Why should we mimic Europe’s failed austerity strategy? Because Third Way has proven that even liberal Democrats know there is no alternative to self-mutilation of our economy.
Can’t we just tax the rich even more? Unfortunately, this won’t work either. Third Way — a liberal group, mind you — estimated the effects of top income tax rates of 49.6 percent and 41 percent and a top capital gains rate of 38.8 percent. The budget still doesn’t balance….
Samuelson misses the more basic point. Raising (net) taxes during a fragile recovery from the Great Recession will further cut already inadequate private sector demand and poses a grave risk of forcing the economy back into a self-inflicted recession. Calling a lobbying force controlled by Wall Street executives that is pushing to begin privatizing Social Security “liberal” is farcical.
The fact that Wall Street (via Third Way) is worried by our opposition to Obama engaging in the Great Betrayal by adopting austerity and cutting the safety net is good news. Wall Street knows that the public wants the President to protect the safety net from Wall Street’s depredations. If Obama is re-elected we will soon face the struggle to save the security net. If Romney is elected the effort may be delayed, but Republicans will recruit Congressional Democrats to co-lead a bipartisan effort against the safety net. In either case, we need to organize now to save the safety net.
Don’t forget that one of Third Way’s biggest contributors is the Tyrant known as Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg — the “CAN’T DO MAYOR” while tens of thousands of his subjects remain un-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed.
yeah bloombers is NYC’s own minature Eurozone Technocra. Its working for New York as well as it works for Europe. As for third way, didnt they make Harold For Jr its president or “CEO” or something??? LOL ….speaking of “CEO”s Prepare to be subjectesd to the great wisdom of something called “the CEO’s” …YEAH THAT SOUNDS LIKE A WINNING PIECE OF ADVICE…turn of governance of the country to a special comittee of magical “CEO’s” …thats the creepiest thing ive heard yet and it reminds me of “the veterans” and “the Gernerals” of the Weimar republic -just-prior-to-fascism period of German societal collapse…lets all hand over moral authority to a group of magical mystical experts called “the CEO’s”…who (like “the officers” of the Freikorp) are mostly notable for their many recent, massive and catastrophic failures..ie, they lost the whole thing big time
Is anyone else creeped out by the “Third Way”? That is what Mussolini called Fascism – the Third Way, supposedly between communism and free-market capitalism. Every time I see this group referenced I think of uniformed, arm-banded goose-steppers.
Third Way Document Proves Democratic Party Supports Institutionalized Looting by Banks
Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/07/third-way-document-proves-democratic-party-supports-institutionalized-looting-by-banks.html#jCUU4sbs720GTCQP.99
I voted for Elizabeth Warren and I think she will win. But I also think she will be little more than a Progressive hood ornament for Obama and the neolibs, who would much prefer Scott Brown.
Ha! Watch her morph into the next Diane Feinstein.
Also a risk. You take your chances or you pack it in.
then Feistein will have to become Lieberman…
Not “become”; “became.”
It is DiFi, ya know.
I voted for Warren too, and yes she may indeed become the next Feinstein. Look at her web site on the immanent “nuclear threat” Iran poses and her shameless proclamations of love for Israel.
But I felt like voting for at least one Democrat and she does a great imitation of someone angry at the 1%.
As always, Black writes beautifully clear articles. Excellent post, though I can’t imagine what you can possibly do to thwart Obama’s plans. This would be like trying to intervene just as the rapist is about to penetrate. There are a lot of very nasty very powerful people who are in a virtual rutting frenzy at this stage for cut and gut.
Greetings! We are blessed where we live I say. Hard times are coming and there are a lot of states I wouldn’t want to be living in. Things aren’t perfect here but we aren’t governed by insane people at least (for the most part). Sad but so. Keep the faith!
We are not only not blessed but are the forrunners for the sellout. MA, Kennedy etc. We have been fooled to put it nicely. The State of MA is as I type ruled by technocrats. At the local, regional and state level. There are more unelected “officials” in all 3 levels of Gov than you might imagine. Just take a simple look at your own area. Town Planners, Town Managers, to name but a few. Massachusetts is no fertile ground of Democratic ideals. It is a place where corrupt gov is accepted so long as I, We, can get a perceived advantage. There is no we the people, only WE YOUR RULERS.
She’s already been caught denying her previous -in a book- support for single payer health care. She looks like this year’s version of hope and change or -maybe- Mr. Smith goes to Washington.
danb, got a link on that?
BTW: Obama wil likely win and, if the AP is correct, he will immediately move to slash the social safety net. That’s what all the rumors and rumblings about the GOP’s post-election partisan fever breaking mean. A Democratic president savaging the Middle Class and the Poor in service to Wall Street and bondholders. The Grand Betrayal. Obama may succeed but I will never stop fighting him. Never.
Welcome to Austerity Airlines. Next stop: Pinochet.
All hail the Banana-In-Chief
The source of our national grief
A slippery fool
A Kleptocrat tool
And Romney provides no relief
The Limerick King
Probably not. The Democrats didn’t stop W. from mucking around with Social Security. The Republicans went running for the hills when seniors saw what they were up to and threatened to hammer Senators in 2006. Without Obama on the ballot, the 2014 class of Senators which I believe is Democratic will find their liberal backbone fairly quickly.
With the real state of the economy and climate change, Obama will find his lesser evil defenders slinking away.
Good point. Bush’s “Let’s Privatize SS” tour was a horrible bust. So, Obama will no doubt hire the execrable B. Clinton to “sell” the plan to American low information consumption units.
It would be nice if you were right, but I don’t think so. Times have changed. I think now, their calculus is that they can get away with this betrayal regardless of what the public thinks or does. No one will like it, but so what. Obama and his thugs will use heavy doses of propaganda (just turn on the TV) and other methods to help obfuscate the heist, but the owners and the politicians and the media are all committed now. Practically as one, they are presenting the cat food cuts as an absolute fait accompli which they never did before. It’s going down.
Its not that they can’t get away fool the rubes. The issue is the Federal elections in 2014 less rubes vote. Rubes vote in Presidential elections. The mid-term electorate on both sides even the GOP is just a better quality of voter. There will be push back, and they won’t be able to rely on the rubes voting. The rubes might love them, but rubes only vote in Presidential elections.
African-American and other minority activists who stayed silent with a decent reason won’t stay silent against anyone. The first African-American President was a special case, but Obama’s big strength is no one has called him to the mat from the left. People won’t hold back for other Democrats.
This isn’t to say we should ignore the plan to destroy Social Security. We need to be active in the response, but as long as people call and are clear about what is happening including pushing back against “good Democrats,” this thing will go the same as W.’s 2005 proposal especially when they are countless other issues more pressing than the national debt.
I’m wondering why there wasn’t more effort to organize voters around extracting pledges from their House & Senate candidates re “resisting cuts to social security and Medicare.” Granted, they’d all just spout the usual platitudes, but I think a fair number of them are unaware of what Obama’s got up his sleeve. It would have been nice to have them on record as opposing cuts WHOEVER MIGHT PROPOSE THEM, and would give Progressives a leg to stand on when reminding these Dems of their campaign promises.
Granted, nearly all of these folks would lie, deny and break any “promises,” but having them on the record as pledging to oppose cuts might make it a little harder for them.
I predict there are going to be a LOT of unhappy Democratic House members who, when 2014 rolls around, are challenged over their vote to support Obama’s cuts. Obama’s not on the ticket in 2014; why should he care [and he’s never shown an ounce of caring for House & Senate candidates]?
But these folks will be, and they will have given their vote to Obama and now will get crucified for it.
Too many people won’t believe it until its happening. Back in 2008, Hillary supporters argued she possessed some kind of experience Obama didn’t despite voting to give a cokehead with severe daddy issues the power to launch a 21st century crusade.
This kind of campaign would only embarrass “our friends.” Many political supporters are no different than the people who gave Vick/Rothlesberger/Kobe/insert Asshole X here standing ovations upon their return from their troubles because they seem to help the team win, well not Vick.
Excuse me, perhaps I got this wrong – you voted for Obama, even though you knew he would betray us? I mean, if Obama is going to stab us in the back, why are we handing him a knife?
Reward your friends. Punish your enemies. That wins. “Tactical Voting” fails.
that’s what i said at his other website (neweconomicperspectives.org).
Simply it was the only real chance for the middle class; this is what the DINO’s have run on for the past 40 plus years. We are not as bad as the GOP. Unfortunately its true.
But its not true enough and its not good enough. Or shouldn’t be.
28 Senators supposedly signed a “Don’t touch Social Security” letter recently. We could tell them thankyou for that and we will never vote for another D Senator or PrezCandidate ever again ever if Social Security ends up being touched.
Dunno about urging, but Obama already promised it in his interview to Des Moines register last week and now has aides further leaking to the press
Also, Mike-I have my own army-Bloomberg hearts Obama now.
The reason part of Social Security should be privatized is so that real assets can back any cash funding shortfalls.
The assets now backing the shortfalls since 2010 are general revenues. Unfortunately, we do not have a budget surplus, so there are no general revenues to make up the cash shortfall. This, we increase the debt held by the public to do so.
The federal government does not know how to preserve a reserve fund for such contingencies. They do what they know how to do – borrow the trust fund surplus and spend it.
I can understand the discomfort with involving wWll Street. I have zero confidence in Wall Street, and have zero money in the stock market.
Instead, let’s invest the trust fund surplus (if we ever do get a trust fund surplus again) in gold, or a combination of various metals.
That will provide the nreutarlity and the proper return for a trust fund. And, at least know the Congress can’t loan gold to the Treasury, so the surplus will be kept intact.
Seems like you don’t understand the concept that every financial asset has a corresponding liability.
Well, of course, there is a liability to gold in that the money would be owed to the SS participants.
What many people seem to overlook is the liability part of the asset of Treasury bonds in the SS trust fund. The asset part has been spent over the years, loaning it to the Treasury to pay for current expenses. All that remains is the liability part. That is why when the Treasury interest has been redeemed since 2010 to make up for the cash shortfall, it took general revenues, which morphed into increased debt held by the public. It could not simply be liquidated like most bonds, for the asset part was long gone.
“I have zero confidence in Wall Street, and have zero money in the stock market.”
Let me guess–you have it invested in precious metals?
One constant in the privatize-SS arguments is that everyone seems to want the funds invested in whatever asset class they happen to be holding. Sometimes it’s not even cynical–the same line of argument that leads someone to believe asset X is the safest place for their own money leads them to also believe X is the place to put social security funds. But in general it would be the ultimate dumb-money backstop to any potentially-failing asset bubble.
It is literally impossible for the US to run out of dollars. No matter what the SS liability, checks can be mailed.
You can be sure Obama will proclaim this election sends a mandate, loud and clear, to cut and gut the safety net, in order to save it of course.
After all, he has announced loudly and often that that’s what he wants to do. And if we’re dumb enough to re-elect him…
Mr Black, why on Earth did you vote for Obama in this election? WHY?!?
Why is that? No matter how much anyone excoriates Obama, if they have any public persona at all, they end up voting for him. Take that you cad, and if you really gut and cut then we’ll just change the constitution so you have to serve for a third term. So there!
Maybe Black’s worried about winning an all expenses paid trip to sunny Guantanamo Bay to join in the Water Boarding championships.
It also sends the message to his readers, OK everyone, CHARGE! I’m right behind you…
Everyone I know who has a PhD votes for Obama. Getting a PhD, at some level, is an establishment profession. Just because a prof questions the establishment they are part of (a good thing), doesn’t mean they are willing to stray too far from their cultural norms.
Good luck, Mr. Black. In a contest between Big Money and social justice in the USA, the outcome is not in doubt. As the philosopher and social critic G. Carlin reasoned:
“And now, they’re coming for your Social Security money – they want your fucking retirement money – they want it back – so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It’s a Big Club: and you’re not in it.”
Why are we in such a helpless position? If the “Third Way” is sufficiently determined to privatize SS money there should be a guarantee of better value, better returns, and better services. Can Wall Street bargain for these? Not. Duh. They’d be bargaining against themselves. Their conflict of interest is legion. And why is Pete Peterson using the name Third Way. That conjures up Europe in 1970 (Germany) when they were pulling to the left and reaching out to the USSR. What Willy Brandt called Ostpolitik. Right? This is pretty cynical stuff. And to claim that SS entitlements use up all our money so we cannot make investments in education, medical research and infrastructure. Huh? Wall Street howls if the government intrudes on the free market. I hope what we are looking at are Wall Street’s death throes. If they continue to push this nonsense and prevent job creation by demanding austerity there will be no demand, there will be no money, there will be no Wall Street. Yay!
They should call themselves Third World.
That’s what they call us, and what we’ll be calling ourselves.
Too bad the middl class doesn’t travel, out the country that is, very much. I hear puzzled American tourists ask ‘but why doesn’t the government do something?’ on their thirty minute Cruise Line stroll through thrd world poverty. Well, if the government had any money, it might, or might not, do something. Probably not, since the urge of self preservation runs so deep in the poor world.
“The fascists opposed both international socialism and liberal capitalism, arguing that their views represented a third way.”
Instead of calling them “Third World” or “Susan” or whatever, let’s call them what they are – Fascists. We’ll probably be fighting them just like our (great) grandparents did.
Thank you Bill. This article was very informative for me, as I only knew about the Third Way in a superficial way as “something insidious” that is generously supported by the man (Michael R. Bloomberg) who has enthusiastically given free rein to Wall Street and the Privatization Movement to destroy New York City and to use this city as a model laboratory for the Third Way Austerity Agenda.
I look forward to reading your next article on this subject.
To Mr. Bloomberg and Third Way, I have this to say: it sounds as though you have all but picked a date to distribute fake soap bars to Americans and then to herd us into those privately-made “shower stalls.” When did the Final Solution become the animating concept for your Agenda?
yes, Obama will make a deal come Fiscal Cliff time to show what a good “bipartisan” leader he is. A Democrat can stick the knife where no Republican can. and People were upset that Rmoney would be evil and do “bad” things to the American people.
only Obama can do it to the Democratic poor better. that what amazes me. to see all this “save America by voting Obama” hysteria. good Madison Ave. marketing by the Elites. the evil that is Rmoney and the evil that is Obama.
we get to choose which Savvy Businessman sticks it to us in the Grand Bargain. who will do away with Social Security and medicare? the suave polished Neo Liberal/Obama or the Harsh scary Jackbooter Rmoney.
who wants to bet it is going to be Mr. O? But, but, but i’ve got to fix teh deficit, i’ve got to be “bipartisan”. the only thing we have to fear is a Democrat selling the poor out. right and that would never happen with O, would it? i’ve got some wetlands in West Texas for sale if you believe that, too.
choices, choices Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum
“Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”
I currently live in a country where the equivalent of medicare, medicaid and social security is 100% in the form of saving accounts. Yet, I don’t contribute a single cent to wall street revenues as I invest it all in government debentures (I could invest it into my own property and some stocks if I wanted, but I am not forced to). I therefore don’t understand the author’s assumption that entitlement reform should necessarily be a gift to the financial sector. It can, and the scandalous state of pensions in the US and the UK demonstrates it very convincingly, but it ain’t necessary to be so.
As an aside, by the time the author reached 19, his father should already have saved the cost of his education or contracted an insurance policy at market prices. No need for a Big Nanny government here (except of course for the regulation of the insurance sector).
I think the author makes that assumption because Wall Street financial firms, the likely stewards of any social security/medicare privatization scheme, have given no indication that they can be trusted with anyone’s money. They steadfastly maintain that their untrustworthiness is exactly as it should be. You’re right, it isn’t necessary to be so, but given Wall Street’s impressive track record of outright thievery and failure, it is practically a foregone conclusion.
Why do we think of government as a “Big Nanny” and not of corporations as an “Evil Nanny”?
Because you are supposed to be free to use, or not, the products or services of said corporations. As long as one is a taxpayer of a country, this choice doesn’t exist as far as government services are concerned. Evil corporations know that, and therefore try to subvert the government so that,
A) it doesn’t enforce competition policies, or even better,
B) force the consumer to buy their products.
For instance, UK pension providers grab 20 to 40% of saved capital across al the years of savings. This ludicrous share is possible only if people are forced to use the “regulated” providers and let them collude to charge high fees.
So, we get four more years of Barack Obama’s austerity for the 99% and free money for the 1%.
I give up. Apparently, the people of this country could care less if a president has a “kill list” and destroys the rule of law, among so many other issues. I have completely lost faith in expecting to see any level of morality.
Occupy Congress. Fill those offices and don’t leave.
A Safety-Net would be less necessary had America a political sense of Social Justice. What’s the difference?
A safety-net repairs calamities, a proper system of social-justice prevents them. Whazzat?
Social Justice is a notion by which policy decisions are made for the purpose of the equitable benefit of society as a whole, not just particular segments of it. The common definition of safety-net is based mainly Unemployment Insurance in times of need. Yes, of course, that is necessary.
But it would be far better if we could reduce our long-term unemployment rate, which the World Bank defines as
Which for the US has tripled over the past four years:
How is that miracle accomplished? Like any economic miracle, there is No Quick Fix. We don’t pass a law and we don’t create another Congressional hearing to “look into it”.
It is more a philosophy and goes like this: We do in our power to assure that each individual has some basic human rights that extend beyond those presently in the Bill of Rights.
We should include the right to Universal Health Care (at all ages) and Tertiary Education. That is:
* Health-care must be both preventive and curative. And the more preventive it becomes the less costly is the cure for any illness. (Americans must resign their folly to overeat.)
* That whilst primary and secondary education are provided by the state, the third (and most important element) of tertiary education is not sufficiently guaranteed to all students (on a means basis).
These two above key elements are desperately in need of our attention. Why? – one might ask.
Because of the obesity pandemic in the US, the cost of health care will continue to spiral out of control. This cost weighs heavily upon the total cost of America’s productive ability. A National Health Care service that mandates pricing, as in Europe, can contain spiraling costs.
Health Care insurance is not manna from heaven. It’s cost is recuperated by companies in the pricing of their goods / services meaning two consequences:
* Too many of our goods are priced out of foreign markets, thus constraining export-jobs. And,
* Because domestic prices are higher due to health insurance, we Americans have less discretionary income to sustain job-levels.
Because also a tertiary education provides a student with the credentials necessary to find decent work at a decent wage, thus permitting young adults to obtain better job-security.
Both of the above elements of Social Justice are long-term but, I submit, key solutions that America needs badly. More so, we can well afford them, if only we can find the will to implement them.
Now, with are reinvigorated presidency, we shall see if America can take its fixation off jobs, jobs, jobs (which are coming anyway) and focus our talents upon the solutions that will afford us better paying jobs AND more job-security.
And when either of those two fail us, then, yes, the safety-net will catch us.
Social security and medicare are not entitlements
Qiut useing right wingers terms
They are a debt due by the US government to all US citizens who
Paid their money out of every paycheck week after week for 40 years
Any cuts to agreed upon payments (benefits) is a breach of contract!
The US government agreed in that contract to start paying back my money at age 62
Is a breach of contract. Making any cuts illegal as in any other contract.
Whose money is it?
Americans seem to forget it is their money.
Health care is too high because Insurance companies, hospitals
Are Overcharging that’s the problem
Will Obummer repeal Bushes medicare pays highest price possible for drugs
No, he woulda done it in 09
Will Oboomba drop bush tax cuts for rich
NO, woulda let expire, instead he extended.
Obama needs to get his wall street ass over to Warren, Grayson, Sanders, The new leaders
To hear what US citizens want
Obomma speech 11-7-12 what’s he say, compromise
In obama speak- SELL OUT
Getting Oboma to change is the same fight as getting
Any other wall street owned, right winger to change actions
The scheduled budget cuts and expire bush tax cuts is just fine
No cliff, good start
Dump Holder, Bill black for Attorney General
Lets see some Fraud prosecutions
I thought the AFL-CIO was taking action against grand bargain
I see nothing on their site
Time for Trumka and to quit selling out union members
Stop grand bargain
All groups take action
Where’s OWS action
Green party action
Action solidarity NOW
No grand bargain
Social security, raise cap
Lower age, increase benefits
Medicare for all
1% wall street sales tax
0% FED loans to SMALL business
Untied front against austerity
Home Owners For Justice
No corporate person hood
Move to amend
Stop TTP trade deal
Stop transfer of US jobs
End school, public asset PROFITization sell out
Email call all congress critters
All groups organizations
Take action stop grand bargain
in congress local offices
In the streets
Take back We the People
The fight is just starting
Will We the People win?
Bill, you write an excellent piece. They can take Social Security out of our cold, dead hands. It is the people’s pension people, fully funded with over $2.5TRILLION surplus, while Wall St Banks lie unburied, insolvent, dead in The Street. For 75 years, never a problem, now, sometime 3 decades from now, there will a ticking time bomb explosion! It is a lie. But nobody who uses Social Security and its benefits believes it.
Obama can be sought after as an ally to keep Social Security out of the reach of Wall St. As you point out, it is the pillar of the Democrats. It is what historically defines them and distinguishes them from the GOP. Without it Democrats acting as the Sword and Shield of Social Security, they can never expect to collect enough votes to amount to anything more than an also ran.
Social Security is FICA we pay, deducted from our paychecks. We pay into it, we accumulated it and it is ours. It needs reform. The loophole, the income cap, needs to be removed, and the base needs to broadened to include all capital gains, rents, dividends. By doing this, we can lower the rate of contribution and lower the burden on small business who have to come up with payments in excess of the payroll, the dreaded payroll tax. And Medicare/aid can be expanded to all who do not or can not afford private insurance. President Obama agrees. He also believes that Keynesian stimulus works. I believe be made an ally and the Dems can as well. They have seen the auto workers vote for him, no matter how many lies were told and how much super pac money was thrown at them mystify, distort and manipulate. The bottom line, government stimulus works on creating and retaining jobs and getting votes for Dem politicians. This is a workable approach that needs to be hammered into the ears of every Congressperson, Every Senator and the White House, 24/7. It is our last chance to see if the Democratic party can function at all in the interests of the people as a whole. It can also secure their hold on power by means of making a simple, short line between point A and point B: Vote Dem, and Social Security, Medicare/aid will NEVER be diminished. Work hard while you are young and strong and rest assured at retirement, age you do not have to worry about the bills or paying to see a doctor. It has worked for 75 years as a Depression a Savings and Loan collapse and total wipe out of global banking repeatedly brought the economy to its knees. Social Security weathered the storms.
CLOSE THE TAX AVOIDANCE LOOPHOLE IN SOCIAL SECURITY!
REMOVE THE INCOME CAP ON THE FICA PAY IN!
INCLUDE CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDENDS AND ALL INTEREST AND RENT INCOMES!
LOWER THE PAYROLL FICA PAYROLL RATES FOR SMALL BUSINESS!!
Ummm, did not Clinton sign the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, thus ending welfare as we knew it. It is he who gouged a massive hole in the social safety net, income support being a compelling need during a time of exceptionally high unemployment. Clinton, as we also know, was willing to cut a deal with Gingrich meant to end Social Security as we knew it. Monica Lewinsky and Clinton’s sex mania saved America from that fate.
Of course, the real wages of most today are not equal to those found in the late 1960s. The upshot: Having a job does not ential having an economically flush and secure life. It might only mean not having to rely much on a safety net which powerful Democrats ruined when they had the chance.
This is sooooooo crucial right now. Thank you, for trying to save us, Bill Black. The Ideological must win over idiotic partisanship lowered to the level of a reality tv show.Im absolutely not calling for more “bipartisanship” here – less of it if anything, but that we need to keep the conversation on whats happening, whos making it happen and why. In other words people need to be wised up to the scam. The past 5 years have seen that happening, but not nearly enough. The third way false flag operation shows the worthlesness of political “brands”…in fact anyone who talks about public policy as a “product” should be ignored or called out.
We ought to be rolling back the age of Social Security eligibility to 60, for everyone. Why not?
What are you now, French or something?
I’m all for giving Obama two choices of who to emulate in his second term.
It’s either Teddy or Franklin. In any case it’s time for him to:
“Roosevelt Up” !!!!!!!!!!
Here is another reason why the Democrats (and GOP) would prefer to slice into the social security safety net. Although the SSA handles hundreds of billions of dollars, it is very difficult to bribe, steal, and graft off this money because it is distributed over millions of recipients in relatively small amounts. And, to workers at the SSA.
There is simply no large chunk of money to be diverted into nefarious purposes. On something like payments to private contractors in Afghanistan, however, the chance to curry favor and gifts is much greater because the sums expended are tremendously larger per recipient.
Additionally, the criteria for disbursement are much looser. An old timer is either 65 or isn’t. That is cut and dry. The choice of asphalt contractor for the province of Crapistan is a whole lot more “iffy”, both in recipient and need. That disbursement is ripe for play.
Sooo, there is an additional benefit for reallocating government dollars from social security to other types of expenditures.
Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter
Third Way = the house-wigger wing of the DNC …
100% excise duty tax on all computers electronics and parts