recession for us, bail-out for the rich

I was going to try to write something today on the looming recession and the inevitable economic stimulus package that will attempt to keep it at bay, but then I realized that I don’t really have anything to add to what’s already being said. The economy’s fucked. We’ve been rewarding greed, barrowing from other countries, and bailing out assholes for far too long. And the chickens are finally coming home to roost. Not to sound like too much the pessimist, but the sky really is falling… The good news is, there’s a petition that will stop it all just in the nick of time… OK, that was sarcasm… At some point I think it’s going to dawn on us that things don’t change because of petitions. At that point, we’ll break out the pitchforks and the torches. Right now, though, we’ve got another petition… Here’s the context from the folks at MoveOn:

Did you see the news this morning? All signs point to recession.

Congress and the President are racing to pass a stimulus package. Here’s the problem:

The President’s plan–tax breaks for corporations and rebate checks for the well-off–isn’t just morally wrong. It’s based on discredited “trickle down” theories and it won’t work.1

But there’s tremendous pressure on Democrats to accept the President’s priorities just to get something passed. Negotiations are happening right now, and Congress needs to hear from you right away!

We need to demand a progressive stimulus package–one that puts money into the hands of people who are feeling the squeeze (who, incidentally, will spend it fastest). One that funds public infrastructure projects that will create new jobs, make our economy more competitive, and reduce our dependence on oil. One that will actually solve the problem.

Can you sign our petition to Congress? Click here and add your name.

The petition reads: “Congress must quickly pass a stimulus package that helps those who need it the most and will spend it the fastest. And it should include public investments that will create jobs and move us toward a 21st century, clean energy economy.”

A leading economist at NYU says “We’re facing the risk of a systemic financial crisis.” 2 The mortgage, credit card, and auto loan industries are all in trouble. The stock market is tanking as we speak. On top of all that, we’re hemorrhaging $2 billion a week in Iraq. 3

The “Iraq Recession” is here.

Yet Bush’s proposal is just another kind of trickle-down economics. His plan gives little or no help to people who make less than $40,000 a year, and families of four making less than $24,950 would get nothing–even though those are the very folks who would spend a little extra cash in their pockets.

According to a top economic think tank, the Republican plan would do nothing to help about 65 million Americans. “This approach fails on two counts. It omits or partly omits those who need the help. And it omits the tens of millions of people who are living paycheck to paycheck and who would be most likely to quickly spend every dollar they can get.” 4

Bush’s own Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress that “putting money into the hands of households and firms that would spend it in the near term” would be more effective than other short-term fixes or tax rebates for the wealthy. 5

We need to get help into the hands of those who need it. That means making sure tax rebates go to working people, not millionaires, extending unemployment benefits, sending money to the states so they don’t have to cut back programs for average people, and fully funding energy assistance programs for the low-income families struggling to heat their homes as oil prices rise. 6

And, with skyrocketing oil prices driving the recession, we need public infrastructure investments that create jobs in the short-term, and move us toward a 21st century, clean energy economy in the long-term. We should invest in energy efficiency, mass transit, and a Clean Energy Corps, putting hundreds of thousands of people to work rebuilding our economy.

And of course, we need to end the war that has already cost us $1 trillion.

This economic stimulus package will cost about $150 billion. Just think what we could do if all that money was invested in big, smart, sustainable ways. Or we could just try the same old, failed, trickle-down economics.

Congress is moving fast, and will make a decision as early as this week about what the plan will include. Click here and add your name to the petition.

I don’t know that it’s the right thing to do. As someone else mentioned in the comments section today, putting money into the hands of the working poor and middle class may keep the economy going for a little while longer, but it’s not a solution to the underlying problem. The system is rotten. We’ve been bailing out crooks for far too long. We allowed Neil Bush and company to walk away after the Savings and Loan scandal, and I have no doubt that we’ll let the guys behind the current sub-prime mortgage crisis do the same. You and I, the taxpayers, will bail them out. We always do. We’re saps. When things are going well, we stand by and watch them get rich. We even vote to keep their taxes down. But then, when the shit hits the fan, we jump in and clean up the mess while they’re off being blown by high-price hookers in Hong Kong. At some point, I have to think, people will rise up. And, when they do, things are going to get awfully ugly.

update: If you click here, you can see the Democratic candidates for President debating how to respond to the sub-pime mortgage crisis, etc.

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4 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    All of those underlined numbers are links, in case that’s not clear.

  2. John on Forest
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    See my post on a green stimulus package.

  3. adrian
    Posted January 23, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming.

    The Daily Green just put an article out talking about how the presidential candidates are not being asked where they stand on the issue of the climate change – this is surprising to me considering its such a MAJOR concern to people. I just saw a poll on http://www.EarthLab.com that says people care a lot what their next leader thinks about global warming (after you take it they show you the results). Does anyone know of another poll or other results about this subject?

    If not, go to http://www.earthlab.com/life.aspx and take their poll to see which way the results go. This is a pretty legit website; they are endorsed by Al Gore and the alliance for climate protection and they have a carbon footprint calculator. No matter which political party you vote for this is an important issue for our environment, our economy and for homeland security.

  4. egpenet
    Posted January 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Greenspan talked about “exuberance” but he caused it with low interest rates. He opened the floodgates of money and gave the active rich, as well as the idle rich, the ability to avoid risk and to gamble our futures away with no risk.

    There is a recession, as we speak. And it will most certainly deeepen to a world-wide level as we move through 2008 and into 2009.

    The markets in the US hit, tested and bounced off of a technical “bottom” today … although the sledding will be bumpy at best for a while. However, due to thee tightening money supply and risk avoidance in the world economy, growth will certianly slow.

    Cities like Ypsilanti will find borrowing costs rising and great difficulty in funding pensions and the like, as well as, poorly planned projects like Water Street.

    However, the sun WILL come up tomorrow.

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