"?We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace ? business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. ... Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me. And I welcome their hatred!"
Ever since FDR gave America the New Deal, the right-wing of this country has been trying to destroy it.
The recurring theme in the recovery plan was Roosevelt?s pledge to help the ?forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.?
The term New Deal was coined during Franklin Roosevelt?s 1932 Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech, when he said, "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." Roosevelt summarized the New Deal as a "use of the authority of government as an organized form of self-help for all classes and groups and sections of our country."
FDR was considered a traitor by his rich friends, but he vowed not to be swayed by their hatred. I won't get into each different program, but he embarked on tremendous deficit spending and Keynesian economics to accomplish this because that's what the country needed to do recover from the Great Depression. From there many other social programs, civil rights/liberties legislation created along with Medicare and Medicaid which came from LBJ's The Great Society helped protect the middle class and poor of this country. History taught us this lesson all too well. There were deficit hawks going crazy over this and they later prevailed which then bogged down the economic gains FDR had achieved. Conservatives try to spin our social safety nets into the left wanting some imaginary super rich to pay for the lower 98 percent's rock and roll lifestyles while we're cashing our unemployment checks.
Now after the financial meltdown caused by the mortgage scandal, the federal deficit is high and what's coming out of many of these modern day deficit hawks is that we must raise the retirement age of Social Security and Medicare recipients to help reduce the deficit and save us all. Help, we're burning! It is a horribly cruel idea for many reasons, but it's being floated around as a way to get some economic stimulus pumped back into our struggling economy:
Badly enough to take the deal suggested by the Financial Times? From ThinkProgress:
In broad terms, the needed elements are plain: further short-term stimulus combined with credible longer-term fiscal restraint. Cut the payroll tax, extend jobless benefits and subsidise new jobs; then curb entitlement spending by raising the retirement age.
In my view, raising the retirement age is basically the worst possible form that credible longer-term fiscal restraint could take. The way this works is that if you?re rich, the benefit cut in dollars and cents terms is very small since your life expectancy at 65 is already high. But if you?re poor, the benefit cut is much more severe. Except in real psychological terms it?s even more regressive than that, since poor people are more likely to have jobs that are physically taxing and generally unpleasant. So it sounds like a stinker of a deal to me.
This is NOT a good thing for people who work for a living. but raising the retirement age seems to run off the lips of our beltway pundit class so effortlessly it's frightening. They act like soft spoken carnival barkers trying to suck you into a tent show you desperately don't want to see, And we''ll even push it back twenty years or so because we're so nice and want to make your life easier. They make Roger Popeil look like an amateur. They frame it as if it's not much of a hardship to the people who receive it. 65, 67 or 69--- what's the big freaking deal? Other fear-mongering techniques like...our life expectancy is much higher now than it was back then so we have to raise the retirement age or our souls are doomed to burn in hell. Again, another lie. Kevin Drum writes a good piece on these zombie lies.
I'm perpetually amazed by the parade of pundits and talking heads who continue to insist that the first and best way of attacking entitlement spending is to raise the retirement age. In fact, as Matt says, it's probably the worst possible way of doing it: not only does it produce pretty modest savings, but it's savagely unfair to the poor and the working class. As the chart on the right shows, the life expectancy of upper income earners has gone up a lot over the past few decades, so even if you increase their retirement age they still have a lot more retirement years than they used to. But low earners? Their life expectancy has barely gone up at all. If you raise their retirement age, it entirely wipes out the tiny gains they've made. The bottom line is that high earners get longer retirements while poor people just tread water.
And it's even worse than that. Not only do high earners get long retirements, but they've mostly spent their lives working in cushy jobs that don't wreck their bodies and are often fairly interesting. An extra couple of years of work isn't that big a deal for them. But for truck drivers and coal miners and nursing home workers? That's hard work that's hard on their bodies, and it's absolutely no fun. An extra couple of years of that is something to shudder at.
But wait! It's even worse than that! If raising the retirement age were the only way to address entitlement spending, maybe we'd have to bite the bullet and do it. But it's not. There are dozens and dozens of better ways to do it. Social Security is quite easy to fix without touching the retirement age: there's a nice list of options here from the CBO, and you'll note that raising the retirement age is barely even a blip compared to all the other options. Medicare is more complicated, but it's still the case that raising the retirement age (a) doesn't save very much money, since healthcare costs go up rapidly the older you get, and (b) doesn't change the rate of growth of Medicare, which is our key problem. Like it or not, the answer has to be found elsewhere.
So why does this zombie idea continually resurface with such clock like predictability? Two reasons, I'd guess. First, it's a perfect sound bite. "Raise the retirement age" is a whole lot easier to understand than "Change the AIME bend points, reduce the top two PIA factors, and raise the taxable maximum to cover 90% of earnings." So that's what we get.
Second, all the loudest voices come from highly educated, white-collar folks who write and talk for a living. They belong to, and speak for, a class that has interesting jobs that don't tax their bodies, probably aren't planning to retire at 65 anyway, and in any case, get paid well enough that they can retire early on their investments if they want to, regardless of Uncle Sam's official retirement age. So it just slips their mind that a higher retirement age would be a way bigger deal to other people than it is to them. Basically, they need to get out more.
Raising the retirement age is an idea that really needs to be buried once and for all. Social Security's retirement age is already scheduled to rise to 67, and for medical care, age 65 is old enough already. There are plenty of other ways of tackling entitlements, ways that are both fairer and more effective. Anybody who really cares about this stuff needs to understand that.
Wisconsin Jobs NowAfraid of the protesters he would draw for his plan to slash the social safety net in order to make the rich richer, this month Rep. Paul Ryan cancelled public town halls in favor of events requiring paid tickets. In response, unemployed constituents in Ryan's district are asking for face-to-face meetings by conducting sit-ins at his local offices. So far, Ryan's staff has twice threatened to call the police on those protesters.
The protests are continuing despite these threats, and so is the escalation from Paul Ryan's office. Yesterday, cameras were banned at one of his local offices, as Wisconsin Jobs Now showed through the photo on the right. Further, one of the protesters, Andrew Cole, was told by the police that Ryan's office has now restricted parking, with tickets and towing threatened. Now today, numerous reports have emerged that the protesters have been locked out of the office.
Before they were locked out, one of the protesters captured a video of a confrontation with a member of Ryan's staff:
As of 10:20 am central, the protesters remained undeterred, chanting "we're back" outside the Racine office.
Update: While a police presence continues to block the protesters from entering the Kenosha office, protesters have apparently entered the Racine office.
Dumbed down, God-invoking, gun-slinging, constitution cutting, anti women, retro Republican Rick Perry is causing Mitt Romney severe distress. He’s not doing much for Democrats and progressives either. But what sets Perry apart and earns him his[...]
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TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Running now would be an awful idea
Like Gaddafi thinking it'd be neat
This week for him in Tripoli to have
A friendly little meet-and-greet.
Romney's video (and presumably his next RtW salvo as well) is just plain wrong. The video features a New Hampshire business owner, one in the warm grandpa mode, talking plaintively about how his business is a family and he has "reasonable confidence" his workers are happy and he's just worried about them, the workers:
What if they don't want to join the union and the union says you have to join? What happens to them? Do they have to leave the company because it's a union house? Well, to me that's absolutely wrong. Absolutely wrong....We live in the Live Free or Die state and they can damn well choose whether they want to join an organization or not join an organization.
As it happens, it is absolutely wrong to say that workers have to leave a union employer if they don't want to be in the union. That is, it's a factually incorrect statement. A refresher on the facts, from the post I'm glad I wrote once so I wouldn't have to rewrite it every single time:
["Right to Work"] proponents would have you believe that without RtW laws in place, you can be forced to join a union in order to get a job?in a unionized workplace, a point they tend to gloss over. I mean, really, it would be nice if job=job in a unionized workplace, but that?s not remotely the case. In reality (PDF), though, you can never be forced to join a union?you can only be required to pay dues directly related to work the union does representing you.
So there is no circumstance (barring an unimaginably massive, pro-union overhaul of labor law) in which Romney's grandpa figure would have to worry that his anti-union employees would be driven from the warm family embrace of his business because of their refusal to join a union. What he really appears to be worried about is that his workers may unionize?buried in the video is an admission that what makes him want RtW is the concern that the NLRB might make it easier to unionize.
All his talk about the union as a third party coming between him and his warm loving family of employees, then, is a cover for the fact that he's concerned that those very employees, the ones he's "reasonably confident" are happy, might want to join a union. After all, a currently non-union workplace is not going to become a union workplace without support from a majority of the workers. But by weakening unions in a state, RtW makes it less likely a strong union will be available for workers in that state to join should they wish to. RtW prevents employers and unions from agreeing to a "union security" clause, which:
...says that if the union represents you, you have to pay your share of the costs they incur. So what banning that type of agreement means is that if someone gets a job in a unionized workplace, the union has to represent them, but they have no responsibility to the union. They get the wages and benefits negotiated, however improved those may be (union members earn, on average, 28% more than non-members), and don?t contribute to the costs of negotiating. If they?re fired illegally, the union represents them for free, no matter how much staff time and resources go into defending them. And if they feel like the union didn?t do well enough representing them for free, they can sue.
You can see where that goes. People enter as freeloaders, happy to have improved wages and benefits and help when they have a problem with the boss, and happy to let someone else pay for it. But that freeloading weakens the union, and in the end, working conditions and pay are driven down for everyone[.]
That's the reality of what Mitt Romney is pushing today, however much grandfatherly rhetoric about management and workers as one big happy family he wraps it in.
In the 50 state AG "investigation" of the bank foreclosure/securitization fraud saga, there's a smaller task force of about 13 AGs and two banking regulators who are involved in the negotiations with the banks and whatever else it is that they're working[...]
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Think Progress's Lee Fang has done great work revealing how much help Goldman Sachs had been getting from their man on the inside, former VP Peter Haller, who is now a staffer for Rep. Darrell Issa's Oversight Committee. Issa has been particularly keen on pressuring regulators, "demanding that they justify new Dodd-Frank rules impacting investment banks," like Goldman Sachs.
That pressure has extended to excessive scrutiny of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and has taken the form of highly personal attacks on the architect and previous interim director of the agency, Elizabeth Warren. You'll remember this exchange in an oversight hearing, when Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) accused Warren of lying about her schedule and her appearance at the committee.Guess who set that moment, and Warren, up? That's right: Peter Haller.
According to e-mail correspondence obtained from Judicial Watch, Haller oversaw the scheduling of the Warren testimony. According to Flavio Cumpiano, a congressional liaison for the CFPB, Haller reportedly changed the time of the hearing at the last minute, then misled Warren staffers by promising to end the testimony by 2:15 pm that day. In the emails, Haller denies ever agreeing to 2:15. But, Haller had been informed that Warren could not go beyond 2:15:? Monday May 23 8:43pm: Haller writes to Flavio Cumpiano, a congressional liaison for the CFPB, the night before the hearing to make ?an [sic] late change to 1:00.? At 11:00pm, Cumpiano responds to figure out a better time.
? Tuesday May 24 morning: After Haller and Cumpiano go back and forth with e-mails about which time would be best, a phone conversation occurs between Haller and Adewale Adeyemo, chief of staff to the CFBP implementation team, and a schedule is set. At 10:11am, Cumpiano e-mails Haller: ?Hi Peter. I understand from Wally -copied here- that you both spoke and she?ll [Elizabeth Warren] testify from 1:15pm to 2:15pm. Thanks, Flavio.?
? Tuesday May 24 afternoon around 2:15pm: McHenry, with Haller sitting behind him, accuses Warren of trying to evading the committee by trying to leave at the agreed-upon time. When Warren noted that McHenry?s aides had agreed upon the schedule, McHenry elicited audible gasps in the room by declaring Warren a liar: ?You?re making this up, Ms. Warren. This is not the case.?
? Tuesday May 24 2:32pm: As Warren leaves the hearing room, Haller fires off an e-mail to Cumpiano demanding that he ?please confirm? that he did not ?confirm the end time.? Later that afternoon, Cumpiano responds by reiterating that Haller had confirmed the 2:15pm end time, and had even told Adeyemo that he would inform McHenry of the schedule during the call.
McHenry seemed to have a mission that day. As Crooks and Liars blogger Karoli pointed out, before the hearing started, McHenry appeared on CNBC and accused Warren of lying about the nature of her advice to the consumer protection agency. The scheduling controversy at the hearing appears to be little more than a cover for McHenry to smear Warren as untrustworthy.
By the way, the guy sitting behind McHenry in the video, the one who "shakes his head at Warren when she said 'we had an agreement for the time this hearing' (time stamp 00:55)," that's Haller, who engineered this entire exchange meant just to smear Warren by manipulating the schedule.
Under Issa, it's apparently not the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform anymore. It's the Goldman Sachs Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
I wonder if this will work. Democrats seem almost congenitally incapable of holding the line on Democratic values, so maybe a big push on this will work:
Former Sen. Russ Feingold and his new group Progressives United are petitioning the six House and Senate Democrats serving on the joint deficit Super Committee to walk away if Republicans don't budge on tax increases, and insist on cutting entitlement benefits.
"If we don't get our policy priorities, Democrats need to be ready to walk away from the deal," Feingold emailed his supporters. "You can guarantee extremists on the other side will continue to push relentlessly to give even more to corporations and put even more of the burden on the middle class. We have to fight harder than they will."
He lists the bright lines:
1. Ensure millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations pay their fair share of debt reduction,
2. No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits,
3. No giveaways to corporate interests,
4. Or no deal.
His concern -- which progressives widely share -- is that Republicans will refuse to raise a penny of revenue, particularly from wealthy Americans, and leave the Committee's Democrats to pick between significant entitlement cuts or the trigger penalty, which would fall most heavily on Medicare providers and national defense.The effort is aimed at Democrats so that they don't lose their spine at that key moment. "We can have leverage with the Democrats on the super committee, but we need to build it," Feingold said.
National Science Foundation clears Michael Mann of any wrongdoing in the "climate-gate" hoax/scandal. [...]
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