Krauthammer: Obama Has Republicans Right Where He Wants Them

Pundit and perpetually dour Travelocity Gnome Charles Krauthammer, took to his token WaPo seat today to inform the world that the Compromiser-in-Chief really hornswoggled those waskly Republiwabbits with his captiulation compromise on the Bush tax cuts. A plan so clever that Obama, Democrats, and apparently judging by their reactions, Republicans too, are just too dim to see.

Yup Chuck, that wiley old Kenyan socialist has ‘em right where he wants ‘em now!

According to the Great and Glorious Oz-Hammer, Obama tricked Republicans into what the Wall St. Journal calls, “a second, stealth stimulus package” worth a $1 trillion by agreeing to tax cuts for all and extra money for those not lucky enough to be unemployed corporate titans.

Psst…don’t tell anyone that many economists see the tax cuts for the wealthy as making up the lion’s share of the trillion and providing the least stimulus – unless by stimulus you mean stimulus for yacht and corporate jet makers.

Oh wait! The wealthy already get private jet service as part of their measly compensation packages. Silly me!

Alienating Voters for Fun and Profit
Obama gave up his objection to tax cuts for the rich – before negotiations even started – in exchange for tax cuts for everyone and unemployment money the Republicans didn’t care a whit about anyway – except to the extent that the have nots would’ve been momentarily pissed if they got nothing.

Now here’s the genius of Barack Machiavelli’s plan. Give the Republicans what they really want (tax cuts for the rich) in exchange for letting them off the hook for their most outrageous and politically embarrassing proposals (no middle class cuts and unemployment continuation).

Then, kick the can down the road so that Republicans will be in power and more easily able to strip the tax cuts down to only those for the More Money Than God tax bracket while pummeling Obama with accusations that those budget-busting middle class tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits just ruined the economy. Ruined I say!

If the Republicans gave a crap about their constituents – other than their corporate donors I mean – the unemployment extension shouldn’t have needed to be negotiated. It was a worthless bargaining chip as far as the Republicans were concerned, “Let the little people have their crumbs. Pass the $5,000 per ounce caviar Mr. Halliburton.”

As for middle class taxpayers it’s not such a ‘victory’ either. The deal could raise taxes for 1-in-3 workers. And as usual, the working poor get bupkis. The Obamicans giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other.

Lighting $100 Cigars with $100 Bills
The Bush tax cuts were passed during the period of the inflating bubble. The corporate titans could light $100 cigars with $100 bills worth $200. Middle class folks could buy homes well-beyond their means with money loaned by banks engaged in the world’s largest 3-card monty game. Most everybody, except those losing their jobs to offshoring, was working. And, we were flush enough to finance two wars – creating much of the deficit Obama inherited – “off the budget books”.

There’s an old fable that makes too much sense to possibly be true. To balance a budget you have to have more coming in than you have going out. But when your economy is built with all the stability of a Jenga game on quicksand you won’t be able to do it quickly. The economy took a long time to get so thoroughly and royally hosed.

It’ll take sacrifice and austerity by EVERYONE – yes Robber Barons and your super-citizen corporations, this means you. It also means middle class folks who won’t like to bite the bullet, but guano happens. The poor aren’t generally paying taxes anyway because the tax on zero is, oddly enough, zero.

The truly fiscally responsible way would’ve been to give no tax cuts to anyone. The rich and middle class are where the money is and are best equipped to weather the storm, even if income disparity is as equal as an elephant on the other side of a scale from a squirrel. Not a popular solution, but everyone suffers equally, if not proportionately, and the treasury is that much closer to getting more coming in than going out.

As for the extension of unemployment benefits, pass them independent of any deals. The politicians have shafted these people quite enough already, giving them a break is the least they could do. At least that money will be spent on something useful, like keeping a roof over the unemployed’s heads and food on the table. It’ll cost a little, but not as much as the cuts.

Rich folks, and those who ride their ample coattails, I know it’s tough to forgo that yacht the size of an aircraft carrier, but come on. Dig deep. Get the holiday Christmas spirit. Middle classers, you’ll have to suck it up as you always do. That sucks, but it is the way of capitalism – greed always wins.

The Republicans don’t give a damn what the electorate thinks of them. The Democrats are more disorganized than a herd of feral cats. And Barack…poor, poor Barack…got his feelings hurt because he’s become mono-partisan – that special state of grace where everyone – left, right, and center – thinks you’re an incompetent boob.

No more negotiating. No one ever negotiates anything that’s good for the country and it just depresses the hell out of the rest of us.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Hugo Chavez’s Failure to Help the Poor

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Economist, Great Britain’s magazine for the American elite, recently published a special report on Latin America. While the magazine noted the continuing challenges facing Latin America, it also perceived that Latin America has made great strides in the past decade. This has especially been the case with reducing inequality, a perpetual curse of that region in the world – and perhaps the greatest obstacle to economic advancement in Latin America.

In doing this, The Economist published the following table:

Link to Table of Latin American Inequality Since 2000

This table indicates the rate by which a country’s inequality – measured by the Gini coefficient – has declined since 2000. The table stops at 2006 or a later date; unfortunately it does not say which countries have data until 2006, and which countries have data after that.

All in all the table paints a bright picture: inequality is down in most countries, from Brazil to Mexico to Argentina.

Several countries, however, stand out as exceptions. The most notable is Venezuela, which has been governed by President Hugo Chavez since 1999. Under Mr. Chavez, inequality has barely decreased. When compared to other countries, Venezuela has on done worse than average.

Since so much of Mr. Chavez’s political messaging rests upon his appeal to the poor, this is a startling failure. Mr. Chavez proudly characterizes himself as a socialist, determined to reduce income inequality and redistribute wealth more evenly. Yet after more than a decade of rule, inequality has barely budged – in stark contrast to the rest of Latin America.

One finds that this is the case with a number of Chavez-aligned countries. Anti-American President Daniel Ortega governs Nicaragua, and former anti-American President Manuel Zelaya ruled Honduras until 2009. In both countries the presidents are (or were) left-wing anti-American hardliners committed to socialism and helping the poor. In both countries income inequality has actually increased.

There are exceptions. President Evo Morales is as left-wing and anti-American as any Latin American leader, and Bolivian inequality has decreased substantially. Moreover, some of these leaders were not in power before 2006, so they may not be responsible for what the graph shows (although in some cases the data may be more recent). Their elections may have been a response to rising inequality – rather than to say that they failed at reducing inequality.

But Mr. Chavez has been in power since before 2000. He has no such excuse. When a president comes into office promising to help the poor, a good way to measure whether he or she has kept the promise is to look at how the poor have done relative to the rich. By that measure, Mr. Chavez – for all his about rhetoric about socialistic revolution – has not helped Venezuela’s poor.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

How the Rich Conduct Class Warfare

First, let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with the rich. I plan on being rich. I'm an American. I believe. We all believe we can get to the top and enjoy the spoils of wealth. We are Americans.

That's never been the issue. And in my lifetime the poor or middle class have never come close to declaring anything other than envy for the rich. But there is a class war going on. It's being conducted by the rich on the middle class in this country.

Again, let's be clear. It's not by all of the rich or even most of the rich. There are great philanthropists among the rich. In fact, over 40 billionaires just pledged to give away half of their money to charity. Bill Gates earned his money, is giving it away and has no interest on declaring war on the middle class.

I'll even give you the classic line - some of my best friends are rich. So, this isn't about some ridiculous stereotypes or populist demagoguery. This is about stone cold facts.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country have been systematically trying to reduce their own taxes and make sure their companies are not regulated by the government. This makes sense. They want to make more money. But in the process, they have bought our politicians, corrupted our system and ultimately given us enormous income inequality.

This income inequality doesn't seem just, but that isn't my main issue. The real problem is the results of that inequality. It leads to speculative bubbles, crashes, recessions and depressions. It leads to the middle class losing their pensions, having stagnant wages for the last thirty years and lacking opportunity to move up the chain. It kills our economy and ultimately it kills the American Dream.

Here are some numbers on the rich versus the middle class that demonstrate what I'm talking about:

 

All of the money went to the top. Do you know that between 1979 to 2007 income for the bottom fifth of the country went up by just 16%, but for the top 1% income it went up a staggering 281%?

The rich got much richer. This is not an accident. People like the Walton family and the Koch brothers have been doing this for a long time. The Waltons don't want to pay estate taxes for understandable reasons because they plan to inherit and pass on billions of dollars. It is cost efficient for them to buy our politicians for a couple of thousand dollars in campaign donations. The Koch brothers hate taxes and regulation of their businesses. If you want to know how they have hijacked our system you should read this brilliant articleby Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, you know what happened to the poverty rate - it went skyrocketing up. Now, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. That's 45 million people. Last year, we had the highest increase in poverty since the government started keeping these numbers in 1959.

The poor are growing, the middle class is shrinking and the rich are getting even richer. This is how you build a Third World country. So, the next time you hear about class warfare, understand which direction it's going in.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country pulled the wool over your eyes and picked your pockets. I don't have anything against the rich and I understand their motivation. But the rest of us are crazy to keep letting it happen. At some point, you have to fight back. Not with pitchforks, but at the very least with your votes.

Now that you know the game that's being played, it's incumbent on you to make sure you join the battle. Help us save this country and rebuild our once great middle class.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks 
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

How the Rich Conduct Class Warfare

First, let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with the rich. I plan on being rich. I'm an American. I believe. We all believe we can get to the top and enjoy the spoils of wealth. We are Americans.

That's never been the issue. And in my lifetime the poor or middle class have never come close to declaring anything other than envy for the rich. But there is a class war going on. It's being conducted by the rich on the middle class in this country.

Again, let's be clear. It's not by all of the rich or even most of the rich. There are great philanthropists among the rich. In fact, over 40 billionaires just pledged to give away half of their money to charity. Bill Gates earned his money, is giving it away and has no interest on declaring war on the middle class.

I'll even give you the classic line - some of my best friends are rich. So, this isn't about some ridiculous stereotypes or populist demagoguery. This is about stone cold facts.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country have been systematically trying to reduce their own taxes and make sure their companies are not regulated by the government. This makes sense. They want to make more money. But in the process, they have bought our politicians, corrupted our system and ultimately given us enormous income inequality.

This income inequality doesn't seem just, but that isn't my main issue. The real problem is the results of that inequality. It leads to speculative bubbles, crashes, recessions and depressions. It leads to the middle class losing their pensions, having stagnant wages for the last thirty years and lacking opportunity to move up the chain. It kills our economy and ultimately it kills the American Dream.

Here are some numbers on the rich versus the middle class that demonstrate what I'm talking about:

 

All of the money went to the top. Do you know that between 1979 to 2007 income for the bottom fifth of the country went up by just 16%, but for the top 1% income it went up a staggering 281%?

The rich got much richer. This is not an accident. People like the Walton family and the Koch brothers have been doing this for a long time. The Waltons don't want to pay estate taxes for understandable reasons because they plan to inherit and pass on billions of dollars. It is cost efficient for them to buy our politicians for a couple of thousand dollars in campaign donations. The Koch brothers hate taxes and regulation of their businesses. If you want to know how they have hijacked our system you should read this brilliant articleby Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, you know what happened to the poverty rate - it went skyrocketing up. Now, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. That's 45 million people. Last year, we had the highest increase in poverty since the government started keeping these numbers in 1959.

The poor are growing, the middle class is shrinking and the rich are getting even richer. This is how you build a Third World country. So, the next time you hear about class warfare, understand which direction it's going in.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country pulled the wool over your eyes and picked your pockets. I don't have anything against the rich and I understand their motivation. But the rest of us are crazy to keep letting it happen. At some point, you have to fight back. Not with pitchforks, but at the very least with your votes.

Now that you know the game that's being played, it's incumbent on you to make sure you join the battle. Help us save this country and rebuild our once great middle class.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks 
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

How the Rich Conduct Class Warfare

First, let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with the rich. I plan on being rich. I'm an American. I believe. We all believe we can get to the top and enjoy the spoils of wealth. We are Americans.

That's never been the issue. And in my lifetime the poor or middle class have never come close to declaring anything other than envy for the rich. But there is a class war going on. It's being conducted by the rich on the middle class in this country.

Again, let's be clear. It's not by all of the rich or even most of the rich. There are great philanthropists among the rich. In fact, over 40 billionaires just pledged to give away half of their money to charity. Bill Gates earned his money, is giving it away and has no interest on declaring war on the middle class.

I'll even give you the classic line - some of my best friends are rich. So, this isn't about some ridiculous stereotypes or populist demagoguery. This is about stone cold facts.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country have been systematically trying to reduce their own taxes and make sure their companies are not regulated by the government. This makes sense. They want to make more money. But in the process, they have bought our politicians, corrupted our system and ultimately given us enormous income inequality.

This income inequality doesn't seem just, but that isn't my main issue. The real problem is the results of that inequality. It leads to speculative bubbles, crashes, recessions and depressions. It leads to the middle class losing their pensions, having stagnant wages for the last thirty years and lacking opportunity to move up the chain. It kills our economy and ultimately it kills the American Dream.

Here are some numbers on the rich versus the middle class that demonstrate what I'm talking about:

 

All of the money went to the top. Do you know that between 1979 to 2007 income for the bottom fifth of the country went up by just 16%, but for the top 1% income it went up a staggering 281%?

The rich got much richer. This is not an accident. People like the Walton family and the Koch brothers have been doing this for a long time. The Waltons don't want to pay estate taxes for understandable reasons because they plan to inherit and pass on billions of dollars. It is cost efficient for them to buy our politicians for a couple of thousand dollars in campaign donations. The Koch brothers hate taxes and regulation of their businesses. If you want to know how they have hijacked our system you should read this brilliant articleby Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, you know what happened to the poverty rate - it went skyrocketing up. Now, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. That's 45 million people. Last year, we had the highest increase in poverty since the government started keeping these numbers in 1959.

The poor are growing, the middle class is shrinking and the rich are getting even richer. This is how you build a Third World country. So, the next time you hear about class warfare, understand which direction it's going in.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country pulled the wool over your eyes and picked your pockets. I don't have anything against the rich and I understand their motivation. But the rest of us are crazy to keep letting it happen. At some point, you have to fight back. Not with pitchforks, but at the very least with your votes.

Now that you know the game that's being played, it's incumbent on you to make sure you join the battle. Help us save this country and rebuild our once great middle class.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks 
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

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