Regardless of what you’re being told, the deficit is due to Bush’s tax cuts, not Obama’s stimulus spending

Ann Arbor-born economist and historian Bruce Bartlett, who served as domestic policy advisor to Ronald Reagan, and in the Treasury under George H.W. Bush, joined Chris Mathews on MSNBC’s Hardball yesterday, talking about the true origins of our nation’s current deficit. It should be required viewing for all Americans… Here’s the video, followed by an excerpt from the transcript.

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MATHEWS: Bruce Bartlett is former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary under the first George Bush and a policy adviser to Ronald Reagan. Bottom line, let’s look at the numbers right now. We’ve got a chart coming up. This shows the Bush tax cuts were responsible for increasing the debts. Now, we have about a $14 trillion debt right now, half came out since the turn of the century, and more than 40% of that has been from tax cuts.

BARTLETT: That’s right. When Bush took office, we had a debt of about $6 trillion. The projections from the CBO were that we were going to run a $6 trillion surplus. By this point, if we had done nothing, we would have paid off the dead debt, but we added about $3 trillion of tax cuts. We lost about $3 trillion of revenue because of the slower economy and added about $6 trillion of spending, largely due to two unfinished wars, Medicare drug benefits and a lot of other things. So, instead of getting — paying off the debt — we ended up with about a $14 trillion debt.

MATHEWS: Some of these clowns, not all of them, running around saying Barack Obama is a Socialist, he drove up the national debt to $14 trillion and dance around in a circle and congratulate each other. That’s not true.

BARTLETT: No, I think the dirty secret is that Obama is a moderate conservative. If I were a liberal democrat, I probably would be upset.

MATHEWS: The point is a $1 trillion debt, and another… is from the prescription drug bill. The rest of that is from a lousy economy under Bush and these two wars he came up with.

BARTLETT: That’s right. The Republicans keep saying the tax cuts are the key to prosperity. The 2000’s are evidence that that is not true. We had booming economies in the 1980s and ’90s. If we went back to those taxes, we would be better off.

MATHEWS: What is the argument against the kind of tax policy– let’s just say it again. It seems like a heck of a great economy with the tax rate of about 39.6, as opposed to 35?

BARTLETT: Right.

MATHEWS: That’s the ones the rich bitch about, to use a crude term. That helped balance the budget.

BARTLETT: That’s right. Don’t forget that Ronald Reagan raised the capital gains rate, and now it’s only 15%, and of course the wealthier you are, the more of your income comes from capital gains.

MATHEWS: We showed the 400 richest people in the country. They pay about the same as a poor person pays, about 18%.

BARTLETT: That’s right – of income taxes – that’s right.

MATHEWS: Whereas the middle class, who think they are the majority of the country, they’re paying a higher rate.

BARTLETT: That’s right. I don’t think there’s any question that there would be positive economic effects if we went back to those tax rates.

MATHEWS: How come I need to drag you on the show — the fact is, just a simple math, we have a $14 trillion debt, half came from the Bush era, almost, and the rest came from the prescription drug bill, and with a terrible economy and the two wars that he promulgated. That’s simple math there.

BARTLETT: That’s right, but in the Republican playbook, of course, the deficit is never caused by tax cuts…

And, here’s that chart that they were mentioning, which clearly shows why we’re in the state we’re in, and who’s responsible.

Now, if we could just get ourselves a leader who could could fight for the following three things…

1. End the Bush tax cuts.
2. Allow Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
3. Begin the process of ending the Bush wars, and trimming the military budget.

If we could do just those three things, our country would be back on the path to prosperity. But, of course, it won’t happen, as everyone knows that our country is going bankrupt because of that damned Socialist in the White House and his insane spending on the poor, right?

[note: Please share this information with everyone you know.]

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Dow Chemical given the green light to continue polluting in Michigan

If you read the local papers, you probably saw the awesome news yesterday that Dow Chemical had joined with state and federal funding agencies to launch a $130 million investment fund for Michigan companies. What you probably didn’t read about, however, is the fact that Dow was just given tacit approval by the courts to continue polluting in Michigan. The following clip comes from Politicus USA:

…Within the past month, the ability of individuals to band together to take on powerful corporations was dealt a crushing blow when the conservative Supreme Court disallowed class action status to millions of women who suffered pay discrimination at the hands of retail giant Wal-Mart. It is bad enough that the High Court deprived the women an opportunity to plead their case before the court, but the real damage was the precedent that disallows individuals from joining forces to fight corporate injustice and damaging business practices. Within the past week, that precedent was cited by a Michigan judge who was set to hear a case between a hundred land owners and corporate giant Dow Chemical.

The Michigan case involved landowners who complained that the chemical giant spread dioxin, a highly toxic and cancer-causing byproduct of chemical manufacturing process through the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and into Lake Huron. When rivers downstream flooded, sediment laden with dioxin was deposited on properties in the floodplain. Soil samples of floodplain properties revealed dioxin contamination thousands of times higher than Michigan allows and prompted health officials to warn property owners to wear masks while mowing their lawns, keep children from playing in dirt near their homes, avoid eating fish and livestock raised in the floodplain, and to take other precautions to keep from being poisoned. The land owners say property values are diminished and they are not able to fully use their properties because of the contamination; not to mention the health damages they may have already been subjected to. The judge, Leopold Borello, had granted class status for the group but reversed his decision because, although the case met Michigan guidelines for class status, the Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart decision created new rules for what a group must have in common with one another in order to be considered a class.

The difference between the cases is that one was in federal court and should have no bearing on Michigan certifying a class action but the judge still acquiesced to the corporate giant’s demand. The entire issue does not bode well for future class actions in Michigan because the state Supreme Court is a conservative majority that tends to favor corporations over individuals. The case also shows the long-lasting damage the conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court continues to wreak on America. Republicans constantly decry the dangers of liberal activist judges legislating from the bench, but the current High Court has been making legislation for Republicans since last year’s Citizens United ruling allowing unlimited secret campaign funding…

More on Dow’s toxic history in Michigan can be found here.

Oh, and you might also be interested in reading about the Midland “cancer cluster”.

On the plus side, however, Dow’s second-quarter profit, it was announced yesterday, exceeded analysts’ estimates. The company’s net income rose to $1.07 billion…

Welcome to the corporatocracy that is America.

Posted in Corporate Crime, Economics, Environment, Michigan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Republicans are “Going to hurt some people,” and they know it

We all know that the gap between rich and poor in America is growing wider, right? Well, it looks like it might get even worse, if the Democrats aren’t able to turn the debt ceiling debate around. According to reports out today, the new plan being championed by Speaker of the House John Boehner would increase poverty across the country dramatically. The following clip comes by way of Think Progress:

…It’s a plan that the usually “mild-mannered” Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is describing as “tantamount to a form of ‘class warfare’” that “if enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.” Since Boehner’s blueprint contains no tax increases and his first round of cuts targets discretionary spending, the joint committee will have no choice but to achieve its $1.8 trillion in budget reductions by cutting entitlement spending, Greenstein explains:

– As a result, virtually all of that $1.8 trillion would come from entitlement programs. They would have to be cut more than $1.5 trillion in order to produce sufficient interest savings to achieve $1.8 trillion in total savings.

– To secure $1.5 trillion in entitlement savings over the next ten years would require draconian policy changes. Policymakers would essentially have three choices: 1) cut Social Security and Medicare benefits heavily for current retirees, something that all budget plans from both parties (including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan) have ruled out; 2) repeal the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions while retaining its measures that cut Medicare payments and raise tax revenues, even though Republicans seek to repeal many of those measures as well; or 3) eviscerate the safety net for low-income children, parents, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. There is no other plausible way to get $1.5 trillion in entitlement cuts in the next ten years. […]

In short, the Boehner plan would force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor. It would do so even as it shielded all tax breaks, including the many lucrative tax breaks for the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations…

And, lest you think that the Republicans are unaware of what it is that they’re doing, I thought that I’d pass along the following factoid.

According to the Washington Post, the Republican caucus was shown a video clip from the Ben Affleck movie today in an effort to shore up support for Boehner’s plan. Here’s a clip from the article:

…The House GOP leadership team, often described as fractious, showed complete unity behind closed doors and in public Tuesday. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Republicans he was “150 percent” behind Boehner and his plan, according to Republicans who attended Tuesday morning’s closed-door meeting. He told Republicans to “stop grumbling and whining and to come together as conservatives” to support the Boehner proposal.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the party’s vote counter, began his talk by showing a clip from the movie, “The Town”, trying to forge a sense of unity among the independent-minded caucus…

And here’s the clip they were shown:

Ben Affleck: I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later. And we’re going to hurt some people.

At this point, according to the Washington Post, Congressman Allen West cried out, “I’m ready to drive the car.”

This is the message – don’t ask any questions – let’s hurt some people – that Republican leaders thought would resonate with their caucus.

How fucking insane is that?

How is that even possible? Are they so out of touch with the American people that they didn’t realize how that would come across, or don’t they care? I may be reading this wrong, but it sounds to me as though they’re almost joyful about the prospect of hurting people. How is it that we’ve elected people who could yell “let’s hurt some people” before voting to slash social security benefits for our seniors? How have we allowed things to go this far?

Posted in Economics, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Belated Mittenfest V wrap-up

In the aftermath of last year’s Mittenfest, I asked Brandon Zwagerman for his thoughts on how things went, what he and the other organizers might have learned from the experience, and how, if at all, things might change in the future as a result. My intention was to post his comments here on the site in early January, but, for one reason or another, I kept putting it off. Well, it’s now over half a year later, Mittenfest VI is just a short five months away, and I’m finally getting around to it. [note: Those who weren’t able to attend Mittenfest V can find some of my videos here.] Anyway, here’s what Brandon had to say seven months ago…

Brandon Zwagerman:

What can I say about Mittenfest V, really?

By all accounts it went off without a hitch. Andy, Hasan, and the rest of the Woodruff’s staff ran everything like a Swiss clock. The sound was excellent thanks to Dave, Keith, and crew, and the sets of 60 bands ran smoothly, save a few minor glitches. If Woodruff’s keeps this up, with the right booking they’ll be a truly viable competition to the Blind Pig. We hit capacity every night, although sometimes barely, and other times without an overly-ridiculous line; to me this is evidence that Woodruff’s is the right size for Mittenfest for the near future, and we hope to grow with them as they mature. And I can’t thank Jeremy Peters enough for being on top of every facet of every problem that would arise from every corner.

As far as I can tell, most everyone who participated or attended had a great time, and that’s really what we are going for here. From Patrick Elkins in a dress to the New Year’s Eve dance party lasting until 4 a.m., many of the most memorable moments occurred off-stage. 826michigan’s table featured an interactive robot-drawing station, which was quite a hit as well; in general I think they had more crowd interaction and support than ever this year.

As for the music, we somehow hosted a full 60 performances, and fans showed up at 3:45 every day, and stayed until 2 a.m. for four days in-a-row. And, almost without exception, everyone was great. I can’t even attempt to mention everyone, but Drunken Barn Dance, The Sights, Matt Jones & the Reconstruction, and The High Strung should probably all just play a show together if they haven’t; I’m curious who the last band standing would be. Gotta say, Secret Twins are better every time I see them; I picked up their record and it’s downright amazing and beautiful. All I really want to listen to the past week or so is them along with Bad Indians, Deadbeat Beat, and Long Whisker, but that’s just me. Other personal favorite sets were Mittenfest rookies like In Tall Buildings, Pistolbrides, The Kickstand Band, Pewter Cub, Cains & Abels, Stef Chura, Ola Ray, The Press Delete, and Scarlet Oaks. Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful sounded better than ever. I was a total sucker for Patrick Herek and his band full of Mongers as well. There were mosh pits during Frontier Ruckus and Lightning Love. And White Pines? I’ve always loved Joe Scott but he has come back from Ohio a force to be reckoned with.

We upped the ante yet again: $15,000 for 826michigan, and a total of approximately $34,900 over the past 5 years. Which is crazy, in retrospect, given the truly humble origins of Mittenfest. The best part is, everyone had a good time doing it.

This year, Mittenfest matured, I think. We know what it really is, what it is good at, its tolerance for evolution. It feels like something solid I can poke with a stick that isn’t going to change in any drastic way. For Mittenfest VI, we will figure out how to raise even more funding for 826 while tweaking the stylistic diversity further, but on the whole I think we have found the right formula for a successful 4-day fundraiser music festival in Ypsilanti that can hold its own against any comparable event in the state.

I should add, for those of you who have bands, that the deadline to apply to be a part of this winter’s Mittenfest is fast approaching. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the last day of July. Anyway, if you want to be considered for a slot, all you have to do is click here and fill out the form… So start forming your bands today. Good luck.

Posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The dead kids in Norway, according to Glenn Beck, were like “Hitler Youth”

I know the folks at Fox News aren’t telling you, but Anders Behring Breivik, the man suspected of killing close to 70 young members of Norway’s Labor Party on Friday, appears to be a right wing Christian fundamentalist. In fact, it would appear that his radical beliefs were, to a large extent, influenced by the kinds of right wing American bloggers that one often finds on Fox News, ranting about everything from the threat of Islam to the UN-driven “conspiracy” of global warming.

Speaking of Fox and their propagandists, did you see that Glenn Beck said yesterday that the children who had been gunned down in Norway sounded “a little like the Hitler Youth“? He said this because the island camp which these children had been attending was run by Norway’s liberal political party. Clearly, Beck feels as though it’s tantamount to Naziism to engage young adults in political discourse. Putting aside for a moment the belief held by some that FOX News hosts never use Nazi analogies (which is what I really wanted to talk about tonight), I find it curious that Beck feels this strongly about keeping young men and women from political indoctrination. Seeing as how his own 9/12 Project is operating a summer camp this year intended to indoctrinate impressionable kids to the ways of the Tea Party, I would have thought that he’d be a bit more understanding… One wonders if the kids attending his camp were gunned down, if he’d be so fast to pull out the Hitler Youth analogy.

While he doesn’t come right out and say it, Beck’s meaning is pretty clear — Anders Behring Breivik may be a terrible man, but there is something suspicious about these Norwegian kids who choose to spend their summers learning about progressive politics. He doesn’t, of course, say that they deserved to be hunted down and killed one by one on the tiny island, but the implication is that Breivik, whether you agree with his methods or not, stopped something that was questionable at best, if not downright sinister.

Posted in Media, Observations, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

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