Obama Errs

 Posted by at 8:27 pm  National Politics
Apr 052013
 

onoz_omg2So, those of you who have accused me of being nothing but a cheerleader for the President, hear this:

I hate the proposed shift to chained CPI for federal inflation calculation. It’s probably more accurate, but that’s no consolation for people who get smaller increases going forward.

That said, I think it’s important to understand that chained CPI wasn’t just thrown on the table by itself. The President’s proposed budget is a package. It includes significant tax increases and loophole closures targeting wealthy individuals and corporations, and its clear that his intent is to get beyond the endless nattering about debt and deficits so we can start rebuilding the country.

I don’t know that I agree with him about that, but I’ve always credited him with thinking big, and this is the kind of thing you get when someone thinks big. The kind of person willing to take on third-rail subjects like health care and tax hikes and guns and DADT and DOMA and infrastructure and energy and brain R&D initiatives probably isn’t ABLE to ignore an issue as big as the nation’s problematic balance of accounts. He has to try to do something about it. And he’s looking at those dates–not that far in the future, let’s be honest–when SS and Medicare start going broke, and he wants to fix that, too.

Personally, I’m with Paul Krugman in that I don’t believe the deficit is nearly as big a deal as most people seem to believe it is. I think the solution on SS and Medicare is simple: get rid of the income ceiling on contributions and charge FICA on every nickel people earn.

But everyone knows that isn’t going to fly. Not now.

I don’t like this proposal. And I don’t necessarily believe the President’s dogged effort to come to grips with the nation’s balance of accounts is as important as he thinks it is, especially in times like these. But to me it’s still clear he is trying to do what would be best for the country, as he understands it. So I won’t trash him for it and start in on Teh Big Lefty Stoopid about how he’s a closet corporatist blah blah blah.

I just think he’s wrong here. I think he’s making an error in perception, because what his base, the press and the opposition are seeing isn’t the integrated package he clearly intended to offer.

They’re just seeing naked Social Security cuts offered up, and that’s a tactical mistake.

At publication, the Dragon was NONPLUSSED

Nov 072012
 

This is a grab-bag of observations I made on Facebook the day after Democrats’ electoral romp on November 6, 2012. Stuff I thought readers might find interesting. FWIW…

 

The people in the GOP we are NOT hearing from today (in the wake of the Republican trouncing) are the social conservatives/Christian right. They are the anchor around the neck of the Republican Party, and they are ***INCAPABLE*** of moving one inch on their flagship issues of abortion and hating gays. Their leaders will not let them. Huckabee is talking about trying to get to Latinos, but it was WOMEN who drove Obama’s victory more than anyone else, and the Robertson crowd is never going to move off its position on abortion. It raises too much money for the televangelists and it’s too convenient a tool for whipping up fervor among low-education social conservatives.

If it were just about their insistent fantasy of trying to return to the world of “Mad Men”, that would be a solvable problem for the GOP. But “Mad Men” is the Plutocrats’ fantasy and goal. The social conservatives’ fantasy is Jesusland, and tolerance is anathema for them. That’s the GOP’s real problem: they need all those ignorant Southern/Midwestern white Christians. They can’t get anywhere nearly enough votes without them. And they are an absolute stake in the ground which prevents the party from moving strategically.

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More election musing: the dispossessed.

One of the remarkable things about Barack Obama’s first Presidential campaign was that he tossed the conventional wisdom about who would vote and who wouldn’t. He looked for groups of forgotten, ignored and untapped voters in places no one had looked for years: the young, for example. Low-propensity African-Americans and Latinos. He went to those constituencies, registered them, organized them and won. And then he did it again in 2012.

One less-recognized part of that strategy was Team Obama’s major effort to register and turn out Native Americans. In low-population, high-Native states like NM and the Dakotas, Native American votes can be a deciding factor. And as it turns out, in North Dakota this time around, they were: they were the deciding margin that gave a Senate seat to Heidi Heitcamp over Rick Berg.

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Oh, and…that complete repudiation of the retrograde-fantasy, straight-white-male-rulership,hateful, antifactual, antidemocratic travesty that has become the brand and agenda of the Republican Party?

We totally built that.

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I’ve been involved in FOUR elections that were decided by less than ten votes, from Sonoma City Council to an alderman race on Cape Cod. Anyone who tells you a vote doesn’t mean anything just isn’t informed. It means *everything*.

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Given the Republicans’ complete shellacking in this election, it does bear pointing out, friends, that the scary super-secret voting machine software patches owned and manipulated by Tagg Romney did not materialize.

(Ohio Secretary of State Jon) Husted and the rest of the GOP tried everything they could this cycle to suppress the vote, because the system actually does deliver a result based on voter choices. Let’s try to remember that when the conspiracy theories start flying around next time.
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Here’s my take: the Powers want us not to care. It reinforces the narrative they’re trying to push: that nothing matters, that you can’t fight city hall, that the fix is in. They want us to go back to watching Jersey Shore and playing Angry Birds while they carve the world for their feast.

But the truth is that we aren’t like that at all. We’re suckers for a dream: we’re Americans. We want to believe, and we will exert quixotic effort in the name of our belief. I know that I wouldn’t think twice if I had to stand in the rain for a couple of hours to vote–I’d wear a coat and chat with the next person in line, if I had to.

But I wouldn’t consider not voting–not for one minute. I’m a shareholder in the future, goddamn it. My opinion matters. And so does yours. We aren’t the victims of history, nor its spectators. We MAKE history. We are its exponents.

We COUNT, you and I.

 

At publication, the Dragon was REALLY DAMNED HAPPY

Sep 052012
 

Okay, here’s the thing about this Democratic National Convention, in my view.

Rallies can be great, but there’s a body-level thing that happens in humans when involved with a mob swept with enthusiasm…which can be good or bad, depending.

So I try to step back from the emotional surges that come with cadences of speeches and roaring crowd approval: as a speaker, I know how to make those things happen, and though when I do, I do it because I believe what I’m saying, I know that there are people who DON’T believe what they say who can nonetheless trigger those responses.

But independent of that, this convention has been a more full-throated endorsement of what this country is supposed to be than I have heard in my lifetime at a political convention. More than the 2008 DNC, when the idea of a Democrat as competitive was much more tentative and speakers had to be more gingerly.

Physics help me, I’m a Democrat. It’s a road that can be hapless and frustrating and throw-your-hands-in-the-air exasperating. More than once it has led to downright despair, as I’ve watched the slow-motion nightmare that Reagan ushered us into.

It got so very dark, under Bush. Kafka, wrapped in Orwell, sold by Goebbels. Hard to watch. Hard to bear.

But I’m a Democrat. I’m a sucker for optimism.

That Rosie-the-Riveter-We-Can-Do-It thing? Can’t help it: I believe it. I can’t help but believe in the City on the Hill. I love it too much to give it up.

So after the despair, I’m soon back at it. And finally, crazy as the Orcs have become—and yes, let’s start calling them Orcs, shall we?—the Democratic Congressional sweep in 2006 felt like light on the horizon; the election of Barack Obama, like sunrise at last.

Now, in the light of day, beset by Orcs who can no longer hide how ugly they are under darkness, Democratic politicians don’t have to whisper about what they stand for, the way they did in the Clinton years because they thought the whole country had flipped to the right. They don’t have to soft-pedal their caring about the poor and the disenfranchised. They don’t have to pretend free markets are the Magical Fairy Dust of Prosperity.

So when I listen to Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton speak at this convention, and they speak about heart and love and hope and future and mutual responsibility and inclusiveness and good-paying jobs and fairness to women and minorities and gay people—and basing policies on some goddamned FACTS for a change—they’re the words I’ve wanted to hear from people in a position to do something about it since the bitter, disillusioned years of the late 1970s.

We’re better than the small, mean people our opposition wants us all to be.

We’re the United States of America.

What we’re supposed to be doing here is making this joint match what we thought that meant when we were kids and they first told us those glittering, sanitized stories about Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln. The way Dr. King invoked the mountaintop.

Nobody at this convention is apologizing for anything any more. No one at this convention is weaseling around what we stand for.

Which is Justice.

And Reason.

And Responsibility to the Future: environmentally, economically, militarily, diplomatically, educationally, scientifically, technologically, culturally.

We stand for Good.

And damn, it’s good to hear it ringing from the Big Podium, at last.

At publication, the Dragon was MOVED

Aug 302012
 

I get asked for this sort of thing all the time, and thought I’d put it all in one, convenient place, so the next time someone starts bending your ear about the glories of Reaganomics, tax-and-spend Democrats, or Weber and the Austrian school of economic theory, you can point them to a nice, sleet-frigid shower of reality.

You see, we liberals have this great hole card when it comes to economic policy, which is that while our prescriptions for the economic health of the country may not be 100% right, it is irrefutably a fact that those of conservatives are wrong.

You like charts? I like charts. Here are some charts: 42 of them, in fact. The list is below the image slider.

UPDATE! Here is an accessible annihilation of Hayek, von Mises and their “Austrian School” of economic theory, which really boils down to governments baaaaaaaad (boo! hiss!), and Magic Free Market Pixie Dust gooooooood.

Go read it, it’s informative and fun.

1_percent_share_of_pre_tax_income

Picture 1 of 42

  1. The Top 1%’s Share of Pre-Tax Income
  2. Republicans are Responsible for the National Debt
  3. The US has a low rate of taxation
  4. Federal Income Taxes on Average Families are Historically Low
  5. Corporate Taxes are Historically Low
  6. Effective Tax Rates on the Wealthy Have Fallen Dramatically
  7. The Bush Tax Cuts Were Weighted Heavily for the Rich
  8. Eliminating Bush Tax Cuts Flattens Debt Growth
  9. Tax Expenditures are Bigger than Entitlement Programs
  10. Bush Increased Spending by 88%; Obama by 7.2%
  11. Private Sector Jobs Have Grown Far Better Under Obama
  12. Deficit is Projected to FALL Under Obama
  13. Income Increases Flat Since 1979 Except for the Wealthy
  14. Capital Gains Are Concentrated Among the Very Wealthy
  15. Typical Middle Class Households Pay Higher Tax Rate than Many Wealthy
  16. Raising Capital Gains Tax Would Have No Major Effect on the Elderly
  17. Obama Scaleback of Bush Tax Cuts Affects Only the Very Wealthy
  18. Lower Taxes on Rich Do Not Lead to Job Growth
  19. Bush Policies–NOT TARP–Drive Huge Deficit
  20. Doing Nothing Would Reduce Deficit by 7.1 Trillion Over 10 Yrs
  21. Synopsis–Republican Economic Talking Points Are False
  22. Reaganomics Has Killed American Prosperity
  23. The End of the Great Prosperity Is Linked to Supply-Side Economics
  24. Ryan Budget Raises Taxes on 10x as Many People–Just Not the Rich
  25. More than one-third of Families With Children Have Increased Taxes Under Ryan Budget
  26. Income Growth, Climbing for Decades, Has Plummeted Since Reagan
  27. Nearly All Income Gain Since 1979 Has Been At The Top
  28. Nearly All Income Gain Since 1979 Has Been At The Top (2)
  29. Productivity Has Jumped, But Pay Fallen
  30. Inequality Since 1979 A Sharp Departure from Postwar Prosperity
  31. Median Household Incomes Declining
  32. Republicans Created Huge National Debt
  33. Obama Has Cut Taxes More Than Bush
  34. Private Job Gains Smaller Under Republicans
  35. Benefits of Increased Productivity Have Not Gone to Middle Class
  36. The Poor Pay the HIGHEST Taxes Proportionally
  37. Reaganomics Gutted the Middle Class
  38. Right to Work States Lose More Manufacturing Jobs
  39. Economists Near-Unanimous Stimulus Worked
  40. Supply Side Economics Fails By All Measures
  41. Average Tax Rates Reduced Most Since 1979 for the Wealthiest
  42. Taxes for Wealthy Have Fallen Dramatically