Weekly Audit: Curbing the Deficit, Cat Food, and You

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The deficit commission released its much anticipated list of helpful money-saving tips for the federal government last week. These tips include tax cuts for the rich, reducing unnecessary printing costs, and cutting the jobs of federal contractors.

The recommendations are more like a menu than a program. As Mark Schmitt of The American Prospect notes, there’s no coherent vision, just a list of possible tax increases and program cuts with projected savings attached.

The commission was dubbed the Cat Food Commission by critics who see the project as an attempt by the Obama administration to provide political cover to gut Social Security, thereby forcing the elderly to subsist on cat food.

Officially, the commission is charged with making suggestions to balance the budget by 2015. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones is surprised at the hype the presentation has attracted, considering that it’s not a piece of legislation, or even proposed legislation, or even the actual report by the deficit commission, but rather a draft presentation by “two guys in a room” (co-chairs former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erskine Bowles).

Hope is not a plan

Drum has trouble taking the draft seriously because its main focus is cutting discretionary spending, which according to the Congressional Budget Office, only accounts for about 10% of our projected deficit. The secondary focus of the report is Social Security, which only accounts for a small share of the projected deficit, and moreover, is easily fixable with very small tax increases and tiny decreases in benefits phased in over a long period of time.

Rising health care costs account for the lion’s share of our projected deficit, but as Drum notes, the draft doesn’t get into detail about how to contain those costs, the authors simply stress that someone had better get on that. No kidding. The authors assert that that the government should never take in more than 21% of GDP in total taxes. Drum dismisses this suggestion as completely unrealistic seeing as the authors have no plan to slow the growth of health care costs.

Note to workers: “Drop dead”

Roger Bybee of Working In These Times takes aim at the presentation’s suggestion to cut taxes on the rich. The deficit chairmen urge legislators to cut the top tax rate from 35% to 23%, which as Bybee notes, would actually add to the deficit. The presentation also favors cutting corporate taxes and taxes on American expatriates. Hardly deficit-friendly stuff. Bybee argues that the real goal of this commission is to deflate public expectations about the role of government:

This draft report was thus not about slicing the deficit, but shrinking those portions of the government on which the poor and working class depend and shoveling new benefits to corporations and wealthy, at a time when the richest 1% already rakes in 23.5% of all U.S. income.

According to AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, whom Bybee quotes, the message to the American worker is: “Drop dead.”

Gawker vs. the Cat Food Commission

Astute commenters at the media gossip blog Gawker discovered, via a New York Times interactive feature, that the entire problem could be solved by rolling back the Bush tax cuts and ending foreign wars. John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent explains how they did it:

The Gawkers simply let the non-job-making Bush tax cuts expire (because they were never meant to be permanent and because most Americans don’t want them extended) and they ended Bush’s (now Obama’s) overseas military adventures, which cost more money every week ($2 billion!) than the Rolling Stones have made in the last forty years, our contemporary version of the Cold War space race taking place not in space but in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the United States is racing only against itself to borrow and spend as much money as possible every single day– almost none of that money spent on the troops who come home wounded and sad and totally screwed up.

Nine out of ten grandmas prefer the fiscal policies of the Clinton administration to Meow Mix.

Extending unemployment = Jobs

Ed Brayton of the Michigan Messenger argues that extending long term unemployment insurance benefits would benefit the economy to the tune of half a million jobs. The unemployed still have to eat. Their children still need shoes. If unemployment benefits are extended, the unemployed will spend their benefits quickly in order to live, which is exactly what an economic stimulus is designed to do. Grocery stores and shoe stores employ people. Checkers and shoe salesmen also spend their wages in their communities, thereby sustaining the jobs of still more people.

Pension plan bets green on green

Investing in green jobs is sound economic policy, but governments can’t do it alone. The private sector has to help finance the greening of our economy, too. One California pension plan is stepping up and betting big, investing $500 million on green projects, according to Mikhail Zinshteyn of Campus Progress. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has a green portfolio worth $2.5 billion, which it has amassed since 2006. CalPERS is betting that low carbon energy programs and other clean energy initiatives will be a lucrative place to park their members’ money.

Hopefully, these investments will also benefit the economy in the short term by creating jobs, including jobs for some California public employees. However, some analysts are skeptical that these investments will yield the handsome dividends that CalPERS analysts are projecting.

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

Where is YOUR Plan for Bringing Jobs GOP?

Where are your plans for creating jobs Rep. John Boehner, Senator McConnell, and Rep. Cantor?

 

 

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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.

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To Create Jobs, We Must Invest In America!

The Pretenders, the GOP/Tea Party's, "mission" is to sell to the American people the "bill of goods" that we Need less government, after all, government will only get in the way of their fraudulent schemes and try to hold them accountable to people and not to corporations! 

Then, they pretend that they want to lower taxes for the American people knowing full well that the loopholes they created for the wealthy means that Corporations and wealthy Americans pay very little taxes or No taxes at all, so that every-day Average Americans have to carry and Shoulder all the tax burden.

Then they pretend they want to Create Jobs in America, but to Create Jobs, you must Invest in America.  Yet the Party of No always vote Nay to any    any spending for America's crumbling and decaying roads, streets, sewer system, infra-structure, high-speed rails, and public education (to further "dumb-down" Americans)!  They vote No to any Investment in America's water, air, clean energy and her people.  They know that Investing in America means TO CREATE JOBS! 

On the otherhand, they don't mind rewarding companies who create jobs overseas or to spend and invest millions of dollars on Wall Street stocks and bonds, phony ponzi schemes and real-estate deals.  
They do this while watching America continue to further decline and decay into a third-world country, because the Simple and Awful truth, is that Republicans do not want, and they Fear, a government for the people and by the people.  Their desire is for America to go back to the times when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer!  That's what they are fighting for, not for average Americans, but for their greedy way of life and for power.

How long before Americans wake up and realize that the Republican Party is a party for the wealthy, and that they will do anything and say anything to keep their power over the people.  They pretend to be Christains but everything they say and do is un-Christ like.  On the otherhand, the Democratic Party has always been inclusive and a party for the  people.  When the Democrats try to Invest in America to heal America, they always come up against filibusters, lies, swiftboating, pretense and dishonesty.  Now, the Pretenders are trying to "convince" Americans that this depression and loss of jobs began when President Obama took office and that he is to blame for all of America's problems.

For America to turn to her former ways of prosperity and generosity, we must say No to the Pretenders, professional liars without a conscience.  We must finally get off  this "yellow-brick" road to nowhere but down!   We must stop being  fooled by the Wizards behind a curtain of deceit!  We can vote No the Pretenders on November 2nd and begin to take our country back from greed, dishonesty and deceit.

 

 

 

To Create Jobs, We Must Invest In America!

The Pretenders, the GOP/Tea Party's, "mission" is to sell to the American people the "bill of goods" that we Need less government, after all, government will only get in the way of their fraudulent schemes and try to hold them accountable to people and not to corporations! 

Then, they pretend that they want to lower taxes for the American people knowing full well that the loopholes they created for the wealthy means that Corporations and wealthy Americans pay very little taxes or No taxes at all, so that every-day Average Americans have to carry and Shoulder all the tax burden.

Then they pretend they want to Create Jobs in America, but to Create Jobs, you must Invest in America.  Yet the Party of No always vote Nay to any    any spending for America's crumbling and decaying roads, streets, sewer system, infra-structure, high-speed rails, and public education (to further "dumb-down" Americans)!  They vote No to any Investment in America's water, air, clean energy and her people.  They know that Investing in America means TO CREATE JOBS! 

On the otherhand, they don't mind rewarding companies who create jobs overseas or to spend and invest millions of dollars on Wall Street stocks and bonds, phony ponzi schemes and real-estate deals.  
They do this while watching America continue to further decline and decay into a third-world country, because the Simple and Awful truth, is that Republicans do not want, and they Fear, a government for the people and by the people.  Their desire is for America to go back to the times when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer!  That's what they are fighting for, not for average Americans, but for their greedy way of life and for power.

How long before Americans wake up and realize that the Republican Party is a party for the wealthy, and that they will do anything and say anything to keep their power over the people.  They pretend to be Christains but everything they say and do is un-Christ like.  On the otherhand, the Democratic Party has always been inclusive and a party for the  people.  When the Democrats try to Invest in America to heal America, they always come up against filibusters, lies, swiftboating, pretense and dishonesty.  Now, the Pretenders are trying to "convince" Americans that this depression and loss of jobs began when President Obama took office and that he is to blame for all of America's problems.

For America to turn to her former ways of prosperity and generosity, we must say No to the Pretenders, professional liars without a conscience.  We must finally get off  this "yellow-brick" road to nowhere but down!   We must stop being  fooled by the Wizards behind a curtain of deceit!  We can vote No the Pretenders on November 2nd and begin to take our country back from greed, dishonesty and deceit.

 

 

 

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