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 082012
 

“We need Latinos”.

That’s the only consensus conclusion being drawn by Republican talking heads after watching their candidates walloped on Tuesday. Seeing the Latino vote climbing steadily, GOPers today all seem to be nodding soberly and agreeing that, yep, they need them some Latinos.

(Well, okay, except for Viagra Rush and Bill-O the Clown. Those guys are just fulminating about the end of “traditional America”, apparently simply shattered at the prospect of a pluralistic society not ruled by old white guys.)

So: what’s wrong with that? The thing about the Latinos, I mean.

Well, to begin with, Republicans who are soberly talking about the urgency of getting with some brown people today are seemingly operating out of a stereotype of the Latino voter as Juan Valdez: a simple, hardworking and basically conservative Catholic, who is only backing Democrats because of the immigration issue.

They don’t seem to understand that Latino voters are Americans. In fact, millions of them were born and grew up here. They went to American schools, grew up in American society and, remarkably enough, they are not bewildered and amazed by smartphones and indoor plumbing. They have opinions on issues other than immigration. They’re no more stupid or gullible than any other segment of the population.

So that’s the first problem: your cutting-edge assessment that maybe you should be, I dunno, a little less racist, maybe, is rooted in assumptions that are…racist.

Not to mention the strategic problem, of course, that budging on immigration policy will make the Tea Party and Southern white racists’ heads explode. But on that, I just say boo effing hoo: you cultivated them, now you’re stuck with trying to keep them.

As I see it, the real mistake the Republican hand-wringers are making is in completely ignoring the real lessons of having lost two Presidential elections in a row and failed by every standard in this one despite a weak economy and limitless money faucet: their policies are unpopular and don’t work, and they have been deliberately deluding themselves that this isn’t so.

Republicans are in a bubble. They are only talking with or listening to people who think exactly like themselves, surrounded by an infrastructure of fable-tellers—conservative media, right-wing think tanks—which feed them a constant stream of fauxformation that reinforces their delusions about policy alternatives, about Democrats, and about what voters really want. That’s why they are all so danged shocked that the polls turned out to be right, that Nate Silver’s math outperformed Peggy Noonan’s gut feeling in predicting election outcomes.

If the Republican Party wants to remain viably competitive on a national scale, they have to become more like Eisenhower’s Republican Party: preferring a market-based, private-sector-centric approach to economics while recognizing that there is a legitimate role for governmental oversight and public works, and meanwhile standing for the liberty of the individual so long as that liberty doesn’t hurt anyone else. But rather than looking at this most fundamental of political problems and realizing that their dreams of a libertarian paradise or Jesusland or whatever the hell they’re trying to do are never going to happen, they just keep doggedly clinging to their increasingly discredited and unpopular policies, hoping to find some magical marketing strategy that will help them to sell America a s**t sandwich.

You don’t solve that by “getting some Latinos”. You solve it by facing reality. America is an increasingly heterogenous society. Women are a majority of voters. Young people are engaging in politics again. The middle class really has been nuked by Reaganomics. Climate change is real. Acceptance of civil equality for gay people is rising fast, and isn’t going to stop. Most people support abortion rights.

These are facts. Throwing a bone at a demographic while continuing to deny that your entire worldview is based in delusional fictions is not going to win you elections any more. Blithely lying about anything and everything is no longer persuasive: the public has caught on.

Predictably, however, the prescriptions being offered by leaders of the various Republican factions this week boil down to: get some of them Latinos, and move more in the direction of [INSERT FACTION HERE]. To head further into Crazyland.

You are now on the wrong side of both history and reality, Republicans. You can’t resolve that with some pretty packaging targeted at a group of people you have treated with naked hostility and contempt for decades. You solve it by starting to offer a product that seems to voters as though it might be useful in some way, instead of a pointless and irrelevant widget.

If you want to become nationally competitive again, you need to face facts, and tough your way through the inevitable civil war you must endure between your Plutocrats, Theocrats, and Teahaddists to a new agenda not rooted in delusion. Otherwise, the most you can possibly hope to do at the federal level is to serve as a spoiler now and again.

You don’t “need Latinos”. You need to wake the hell up.

On publication, the Dragon was KEEPING IT REAL

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