The Economic Recovery and Opportunity

The Opportunity Agenda has created a series of tools for advocates and policymakers to use as they advocate for equal opportunity in the economic recovery process.

Our most recent tool is a new report, Economic Recovery and Equal Opportunity in the Public Discourse: An Analysis of Media Content and Public Opinion (PDF). This report analyzes mainstream media coverage and a large body of public opinion research regarding America’s economic recovery and the ways in which it is affecting different communities and groups within our society.

There's more...

The Economic Recovery and Opportunity

The Opportunity Agenda has created a series of tools for advocates and policymakers to use as they advocate for equal opportunity in the economic recovery process.

Our most recent tool is a new report, Economic Recovery and Equal Opportunity in the Public Discourse: An Analysis of Media Content and Public Opinion (PDF). This report analyzes mainstream media coverage and a large body of public opinion research regarding America’s economic recovery and the ways in which it is affecting different communities and groups within our society.

There's more...

The Economic Recovery and Opportunity

The Opportunity Agenda has created a series of tools for advocates and policymakers to use as they advocate for equal opportunity in the economic recovery process.

Our most recent tool is a new report, Economic Recovery and Equal Opportunity in the Public Discourse: An Analysis of Media Content and Public Opinion (PDF). This report analyzes mainstream media coverage and a large body of public opinion research regarding America’s economic recovery and the ways in which it is affecting different communities and groups within our society.

There's more...

Weekly Mulch: Why Energy Reform is on Shaky Ground

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

Since national energy reform is on the rocks, ethanol subsidies for the Midwest and ballot propositions to roll back progressive energy legislation in California are the most important policy fights to watch right now.

Neither will revolutionize the way Americans get power, and in both cases, moving forward could actually mean moving away from a sensible energy future. In California, voters could turn back progress the state has made towards holding down carbon emissions. And Washington’s support for ethanol reveals the static thinking that’s smothering our ability to address climate change.

More important than legalizing pot

In 2006, California passed a law that would take effect in 2011 and put an ambitious plan in place to decrease the state’s carbon emissions by 2020. Even after the law passed, however, the debate over its merits continued. This being California, that debate made its way onto this November’s ballot.

The most commonly floated line of reasoning against the law focuses on negative impacts to job growth: Increasing the price on carbon increases the cost of doing business, limiting economic growth and the resources that businesses have to dedicate to expansion. Proposition 23, a ballot initiative that will come to a vote next Tuesday, would delay the carbon bill’s enactment until the state’s economy takes a turn for the better.

But Mother JonesKate Sheppard knocks down the economic argument against the 2006 law (AB32):

While enacting AB32 could cause job loss in some sectors, most independent experts actually forecast growth in jobs in the renewable energy, transportation, and efficiency sectors. In fact, green jobs are pretty much the only sector growing in the Golden State. The number of green jobs grew 36 percent in California between 1995 and 2008. The rate of growth for regular old jobs was only 13 percent.

Double trouble

Activists have focused on shutting down Prop 23 (check out, via The Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia, this clever campaign to flip “yes” voters), but as Amy Westervelt points out at Earth Island Journal, that initiative is not the only one that could free companies from their environmental responsibilities.

It turns out another California proposition, Prop 26, could raise the threshold legislators would have to meet in order to make companies pay for their pollution, including from oil spills. As Westervelt writes:

While some companies have steered clear of the Tea Party-backed Prop 23, which seems to be losing popularity every week, California companies interested in slowing down AB32 and maybe ridding themselves of responsibility for pollution altogether have been quietly funneling money to Prop 26.

California has long been a leader on energy issues. If either of these propositions goes the wrong way, it will be yet another troubling sign of the failure of progressive energy policy.

The other ethanol

Although environmentalists have fought hard since 2008 to pass cap-and-trade, the policy was always fundamentally conservative one. The Obama administration has always tried to map out a middle path on energy policy, and so far it has been ineffective. Ethanol is yet another case in point.

As Lynda Waddington reports at the Iowa Independent, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the administration was moving forward with a program that aids farmers producing crops (in addition to corn) that could be turned into ethanol. Switchgrass, the foundation of Brazil’s much-touted ethanol system is one example. Notably, the arguments Vilsack advanced for the program had more to do with the economy than with energy.

Pros and cons

This type of cellulosic ethanol, Brooks Lindsay explains at Change.org, would go mainly towards fueling cars. Lindsay weighs the pros and cons of producing this sort of ethanol in general, and comes down against it. His reasoning: “At best, cellulosic ethanol is just a stop-gap measure while electric cars slowly replace liquid-powered cars….But, a stop-gap fuel does not deserve massive investments and government attention.”

Indeed, progressives across the board have long argued that politicians’ support for ethanol derives from political calculation, not from practical policy. (Ethanol states are swing states.) Ethanol is energy-intensive to produce, and it has a slew of negative environmental consequences that outweigh the cuts in carbon emissions.

Rethinking the politics

Before they rush to back the Obama administration’s policies, however, policymakers should consider this news from Heather Rogers, author of Green Gone Wrong. Rogers reports for The Washington Monthly:

As I discovered on a recent reporting trip through Iowa, many farmers there would welcome a way to break free of the ethanol-industrial complex. The people I met said they’d rather cultivate crops using ecologically sound methods, if they could do so and still earn a decent living. It’s not as if midwestern farmers don’t know—better than the rest of us—that growing crops for biofuels damages their soil and keeps them at the mercy of predatory multinational corporations.

The article is worth reading in full, but fast-forward to the end to find Rogers’ sensible policy proposal. Instead of enlisting farmers in a complicated energy-production procedure that ultimately keeps Americans in their cars, why not aide the work they’re already doing to reduce carbon emissions on their farms? After all, farms are responsible for a huge portion of the country’s carbon burden — they just have lobbyists savvy enough to keep their business from being regulated. As Rogers puts it:

Paying farmers to sequester carbon is sound public policy, but it’s also, and just as importantly, good politics. By helping to preserve farmers economically while also allowing them to be the stewards of land most want to be, it peels farmers away from the agribusiness coalition that is pushing the Obama administration to bet the country on a failed biofuels energy strategy.

Now there’s a bit of thinking that could move energy policy forward.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Supply SLIDE Economics: GOP's $9.1 Trillion U.S. Debt

"Everyone Knows" Republicans are Better for the Economy, Right?

Fact: Republican Administrations have Created over 80% of All U.S. Government Debt Since 1978 

Let’s keep it simple. The success of supply side economics is a lie, brought to you by Fox News, the Republican Party and bankers everywhere, and here’s how you prove it to even the most unwilling listener.

Since 1978, Republicans have created over four-fifths of all U.S. Public Debt.

Republicans:          $9.1 TRILLION in Debt since ’78.

Democrats:            $2.1 Trillion in Debt since ’78.

 

Excel Spreadsheet of U.S. Public Debt Data and Free, Downloadable Bumper Sticker Templates:

A Debt Is A Tax.com

 

In the last third of a century, over 81% of U.S. Public Debt has been created under Republican Presidents.

Only 19% has been created under Democratic Presidents--and most of that came last year as President Obama was trying to dig us out of the incredibly deep hole George Bush Jr. dug for us. The only "achievements" supply siders can legitimately claim are the massive bankrupting of the U.S. Treasury, the TRILLIONS of dollars of taxpayer guaranteed loans to the already very rich (often erroneously called tax cuts), and the bankrupting of the middle class.

Now, how do we convince a nation of disbelievers of this?

Supply Side Economics Explained:

Here’s supply side economics: A rich guy wants a Rolls. You need a job. So he convinces you to take out a loan he’ll never have to repay, and tells you that you’ll stimulate the economy if you buy him a Rolls: That it will trickle down: That free U.S. government loans to billionaires will pay for themselves in increased tax revenue and that the economy will be great if you just give him a free loan/tax cut to buy his Rolls--oh, and did he mention that you and I, the U.S. taxpayers, will have to pay off his loan?

(Is it just me, or does this sound like every college sophomore’s get-rich-quick scheme that Mom and Dad quickly refuse?)

But, they say that tax cuts are supposed to pay for themselves in new tax revenues and a stimulated economy, right?

Well, here’s the only answer you need to that crock.

$9,100,000,000,000. Nine point one trillion dollars. That's how much debt Republican supply side presidents have created for the U.S. Treasury during their presidencies since 1981. If supply side worked, it would be income neutral, or at least close to it. Instead, it is a massive U.S. Debt creation machine that continues to churn out almost unimaginable debt while GOP shysters continue to insist that it stimulates the economy.

That’s a nine, followed by a one, followed by eleven zeroes. Too much to count. Too much to comprehend—and WAY too much to have to pay back. And you will. Right now, of course, you’re only paying interest, but soon enough, you or your children or their children will pay for this gigantic loan made by you, the U.S. taxpayer, to rich people who are thrilled to let you help them pay it back—and who’d like to continue to get free government loans, sometimes erroneously called tax cuts.

We have to make people understand that an unfunded tax cut is a debt, not a return of piles of tax money sitting in a vault in Fort Knox. A debt is a tax. An increase in U.S. Debt is no different than a car loan, just a lot bigger. We, the U.S. taxpayers will still have to pay it back sometime in the future. So a debt is a tax on your kids.

(There is one more way to balance out the debt that they are happy to mention: Just drastically cut back Social Security and Medicare--you know, the only income that 50% of us will have to retire on?)  Even better, if you're a supply sider you can claim that you're only doing it because these entitlements, (that we've paid all our lives for), can't pay for themselves. What they really mean of course is that we can't pay to help our Seniors, (and for your eventual retirement), if we give most of our collective taxing and borrowing capacity to our already wealthiest citizens.

So here’s how we stop that once and for all.

They can take away your MSNBC, they’ve taken away progressive radio in rural areas, they’ve taken away to ability of your little campaign contribution to make much difference in the face of corporate billions, but there’s one thing they can’t take away.

They can’t take away the bumper on your car.

And they can’t take away your bumper sticker.

So here's your bumper sticker.

Gentlemen, (and gentlewomen), start your bumpers!

Here are the cold, hard facts—drawn from U.S. Office of Management and Budget tables and adjusted so that all dollar figures are in 2010 dollars.

US PUBLIC DEBT—DEMOCRATS VERSUS REPUBLICANS 1978-2010

Democratic Presidents:

Jimmy Carter (Fiscal Years 1978-1981)        Minus $0.143 Trillion 
Bill Clinton (Fiscal Years 1993-1996)                    $0.733 Trillion 
Bill Clinton (Fiscal Years 1997-2001)            Minus $0.235 Trillion 
Barack Obama (Fiscal Year 2010)                        $1.785 Trillion

Total Democratic Debt (1978-2010)                    $2.140 Trillion

Republican Presidents:

Ronald Reagan (Fiscal Years 1982-1985)               $1.288 Trillion 
Ronald Reagan (Fiscal Years 1986-1989)               $1.355 Trillion 
George Bush Sr. (Fiscal Years 1990-1993)             $1.531 Trillion 
George Bush Jr. (Fiscal Year 2002-2005)               $1.794 Trillion 
George Bush Jr. (Fiscal Year 2006-2009)               $3.142 Trillion

Total Republican Debt (1978-2009)                     $9.110 Trillion

Go to http://www.ADebtIsATaxOnYourKids.com for the full charts.

All charts are based on information and data from the US Office of Budget and Management website and all numbers are updated to 2010 equivalent dollars. For more on the methodology used--(See Footnote 2).  

And we’ll have bumper stickers available on line to print out yourself or (with union bug) to give to your local party chairs, and Democratic campaigns and to have them share with their constituents.

You can also get to the numbers behind this analysis by going to the simpler version of the meme:

A Debt Is A Tax.com

Also, Democrats perform better on virtually every economic indicator, so why don' they ever talk about it, and why do average voters think, completely inaccurately, that Republicans are better for the economy?

Democrats Better on Jobs, GDP, Stock Market

Democratic Presidents Better on Top Eight Economic Indicators

Diaries

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