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Winning the future

Obama statement today:

And, so, that’s where I have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative.

And the reason is because if the only thing we’re talking about over the next year, two years, five years is debt and deficits, then it’s very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained. How do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.

You know, if you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research then you should want our fiscal house in order so that every time we propose a new initiative, somebody doesn’t just throw up their hands and say more big spending, more government. You know, it would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order.

So, now the question is, what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs and what aspects of what government’s doing are a waste, and we should eliminate. And that’s the kind of debate that I’d like to have.

Yes, we know that’s the kind of debate you’d like to have. That’s what’s so depressing.

First of all, we have an endless supply of money. If I could be so rude as to point this out, we have all the money in the world for wars and banker bailouts. What we don’t have is political will to do anything that doesn’t help rich people.

And our political system is broken, completely corrupted by corporate influence. That’s why I can’t even get mad at Obama personally anymore, he’s just a universal archetype of the Corporate Politician. At that level, they’re all like that.

Memories

I keep thinking about a conversation I had back in 2007, when one of the progressive organizations came out and endorsed Obama. I was so mad, I called the executive director (who I know) and said, “Why would you endorse this guy? You know he’s not a progressive.”

“Yeah, we know that,” he said. “But he’s popular with young voters and we think he’ll bring a lot of new, progressive congress members with him. So we’ll have the Chicago machine running the country for eight years! It’s a trade-off we can live with.”

“Who’s this ‘we,’ white man?”

Never underestimate the degree of cynicism that goes into these decisions. The rest is just marketing.

Oh look

Pete Peterson rallies the troops!

Look, we’re getting screwed on this debt deal. At this point, the only question is which orifice is the point of entry, and which particular group is at the front of the line for the gang bang.

Guess what

McConnell’s plan mandates a major review of entitlements!

343x

That’s how much more area CEOs are making than their lowest paid employee. Will Bunch points out that Philadelphia’s CEO compensation is even above the national average – but of course, the workers are the ones paying for it:

A Daily News survey of 51 CEOs of publicly traded companies in Philadelphia and its nearby Pennsylvania suburbs – firms in which the leadership didn’t change and have reported their 2010 data – found that their average pay raise last year was a whopping 32.6 percent.

Not that Philly’s CEOs were hurting in 2009, when their average compensation was more than $3.38 million. But, last year the typical top boss got a raise that topped $1 million, to more than $4.48 million.

Their pay hikes on steroids – including bonuses and other things that you probably didn’t get, like stock and pension benefits, on top of base salary – is more than 10 times higher than the average American worker’s raise of just 2.7 percent.
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Deep thought

The Democratic party has become like a wall of slot machines at the casino, with people frantically moving from one machine/politician to the next, hoping this time they’ll hit the jackpot and finally get some policies that actually help us.

But we’re just about out of quarters. And anyway, the house always wins.

Strangled

Bob Borosage:

House Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party comrades regularly assail “job-killing regulations that are strangling employers all over the country.” Lurid, graphic, and no doubt focus group and message dial tested, these very words – job-killing regulations strangling employers – are on the palm cards for every conservative politician or Fox News anchor.

But, as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would say, “How can anyone believe that?” Here’s a chart of what’s happened to corporations and to workers since the recession officially ended. Profits are up; CEO salaries are soaring. It isn’t employers who are being strangled; it is their workers.

Go read the rest.

Plan B

Reid and McConnell put together a backup plan.

What is emerging as the most likely outcome is a plan based on Messrs. McConnell and Reid’s work, a Democratic official familiar with negotiations said. It would include roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction, but would not come with tax increases or Medicare savings, the official said. It could include an extension of unemployment insurance, the official said, which costs $40 billion and would be offset by spending cuts.

Mr. Obama suggested in Thursday’s meeting that leaders end tax breaks for ethanol producers, oil and gas companies and corporate jet owners, and offset those tax increases with an extension of the payroll tax credit for employees, a Democratic official familiar with the meeting said, but Republicans said they would not support it.

Mr. Obama said he still prefers a larger plan, but the only way to get even to a $2 trillion deal is to include tax increases, which Republicans flatly oppose, or Medicare cuts, which Democrats oppose without concessions from Republicans on taxes. Mr. Obama will hold a news conference Friday morning.

In other words, if Boehner can browbeat the House Republicans in to budging on tax increases, the Dems are going to cut Medicare. Oh, yay!

Irony

They had a post on the Washington Post website last week about long-term unemployment and asked people how they coped. They asked you to include your phone number for a possible story.

So I got this call last night and the reporter (or intern, not really sure) asks me a lot of questions, then asks if I’d be interested in writing a weekly dispatch about being unemployed for the Post.

“I assume this is unpaid?”

He allowed that it was.

“Then I’m not interested. Don’t you think that’s ironic? I mean, I’m an unemployed writer and you’re asking me to write, for free, about being unemployed?”

He cleared his throat. “Yes, I hear you. But we can’t really afford to pay for that.”

“That’s not true, I know that your parent company is doing quite well. Kaplan’s still making a lot of money. And as a writer, I’m not interested in being part of a content farm where writers churn out content for your company for free. No, I’m not interested.”

“I understand. Really. Good luck.”

Heh. Turns out I was wrong, and his paper and their parent company are losing quite a bit of money. I think he’s the one who’s going to need it.

Which way you blowing, Nancy?

Women are an important constituency in the Democratic party (they were twice as likely to vote for Obama in the last election as any other group). Add to that the fact that one of the most common fears among single women is becoming a bag lady. Gee, Medicare and Social Security cuts sound like a real formula for electoral success, huh?

This week, multimillionaire House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi seemingly alerted women to the dangers of the changes to Social Security and Medicare in the various debt ceiling proposals – but also claims that a change to the chained CPI isn’t a cut. That sounds like she sees the train coming down the track and knows she has to sell it to her caucus:

“We know firsthand the impact of changes in Medicare,” said Pelosi, flanked by 14 other Democratic women. “We know it because we are women and caregivers and we know it because of the people we represent. We know it because of the special interest we have taken in this bedrock of security for women and families in our country.”

Several lawmakers pointed out that women tend to live longer than men, and are usually the primary caregivers in families – making their dependency on key social programs that much more urgent.

Several of Pelosi’s colleagues were adamant that changing how Social Security benefits are calculated would essentially be cutting benefits – a stance that the House’s top Democrat didn’t embrace on Tuesday.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) [Ed. note: net worth $130K] stressed that using the chained Consumer Price Index to calculate benefits would push more seniors into poverty. And Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) [Ed. note: assets up to $5M, with debt totaling $5M] added that reducing these cost-of-living adjustments would “acutely harm” Latina women.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) [Ed. note: net worth $50M] said “even Grover Norquist” – the influential leader of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform – considers using the chained CPI to determine benefits a tax hike.

“Let’s remember that the average income on Social Security is $19,000 a year,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). [Ed. note: collects a pension of almost $23K annum from State of Illinois, net worth up to $390,999] “And these are the people who ought to be paying to cut the deficit here?”

NOTE: I’m continuing my little experiment of illustrating just how large a class divide exists between us and our elected representatives. As has been reported elsewhere, members of Congress seem to have amazing luck with the stock market – frequently beating the Street by significant margins. So let’s keep in mind that their interests may not always align with ours.

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