Will the Republicans’ The-Debt-Ceiling-Is-About-Appropriating-NEW-Spending-Measures Disinformation Campaign Succeed? (Well, only if Obama lets it.)
A hallmark of the Romney campaign was its pathological tendency to make bald misrepresentations of fact and to reiterate and reiterate the misrepresentation even after almost everyone knew it was false. Sometimes everyone knew the statement was false as soon as the statement was made; it contradicted what everyone already knew. Other times–or at least one other time–everyone knew the statement was false after, say, the CEO of the auto company that Romney said was closing a major plant in Ohio and moving the jobs to China said in a highly-publicized statement what everyone in or near the locality of the plant already knew: that the story was false and that the plant had recently expanded and was about to increase its workforce there. And still other times, everyone learned that the statement was false because the Obama PAC corrected the misrepresentation with TV commercials, or the news media pointed out often enough that the statement was false.
But those misstatements of fact didn’t concern technical matters of law or economic fact that almost no one actually knows. Which is why the debt ceiling matter is so susceptible of misrepresentation that “raising the debt ceiling” means increasing budget appropriations, when actually it means making available enough money to pay bills already accrued from earlier budget appropriations. This is a technical issue made in Tea Party heaven, albeit many decades before the Tea Party was born.
So, isn’t it paramount the president explain to the public what the debt ceiling issue actually is, rather than allowing the Republicans to keep misinforming the public that it’s an increase in budget allocations rather than a payment for budget allocations already made? This quirk in the law–the requirement that Congress authorize payment of costs already budgeted, already promised (e.g., in bond interest, Medicare payments, Social Security payments, veterans benefits)–is something that almost no member of the general public knows.
Obama keeps saying, in a single sentence, that he won’t allow default on money already appropriated and owing. That’s nice. But does he really not understand that this goes right over most people’s heads, because the Repubs keep telling them the opposite, and because the debt ceiling law is a technicality that most people simply don’t know about, and because that technicality has no counterpart in, say, normal living experience?
This is beginning to seem to me like the 2009-2010 ACA debate, redux–with the rightwing misinforming the public, and Obama thinking that the public knows specifics that the public flatly does not know.
So here’s a suggestion: Obama’s shown a fondness for adopting the Republicans’ messaging by analogizing the federal government to a family’s finances, even though this analogy, when it involves economic stimulus and other fiscal-appropriations issues, actually amounts to a misrepresentation of fact. But on the debt ceiling matter, the government-is-similar-to-families analogy is exactly apt. If someone already runs up large credit card bills, he owes the money even if he decides to rip up his credit cards and stop running up personal debt. If he doesn’t pay the credit card bills he’s accrued, he’s DEFAULTING on those debts, and his credit rating will plunge. And if someone owes monthly mortgage payments, he can’t simply stop paying them, and expect to keep his home. He’ll lose the home in a foreclosure proceeding.
See? Not hard to explain. But if Obama can’t or won’t explain this, some other Democrat who can garner the public’s attention should. My suggestion: Bill Clinton. And if Clinton won’t, then maybe Joe Biden can.
And after this success, maybe they can begin to torpedo the Republicans’ “Greece” canard by actually providing the public with facts. Such as that Greece has a much smaller, less comprehensive social safety-net system than the U.S., than Germany, than Holland, than Canada, than Australia, than …. It also has a deeply embedded culture of low rates of taxes, tax payments and tax collections. Unlike Germany, Holland, Canada, Australia ….
Which might suggest that McConnell didn’t know what he’s talking about when he said we didn’t have this problem because we weren’t taxing enough. Especially since we didn’t have this problem when, say, during the Clinton years, we were.
That spending addiction of ours, of course, goes by the some familiar names. Those names include Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid (including nursing home payments for incapacitated elderly who’ve exhausted their savings), and unemployment insurance. They also include the Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, air traffic controllers, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Centers for Disease Control, medical research grants, supplemental aid to states for education, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Agriculture Department (food safety), and farm price supports. Not to mention “tax expenditures” to, say, ExxonMobil.
All of which the president should mention in his two big speeches this month: the inaugural speech and the State of the Union address. Maybe then the Republicans will suggest what parts of our spending addiction they want us to confront, and how–exactly–they think we should confront them.
Since, unlike Greece, we didn’t have this problem because we weren’t taxing enough.
From 1990 to 2002 we had a budget process that required funding to be found for new spending. It made a difference.
And we should return to it…retroactively, by raising taxes enough to pay for the republican overspending on wars and drug benefits.
now that krugman has turned down the Treasury Secretary job, what say we throw beverly’s hat in the ring?
Obama alone is exactly the wrong approach to countering the fallacies of the Republican camp. One man’s word is as good as an others, at least in the eyes of most of the public. A team approach to a presentation of reality always works best, even better than when the other team is peddling bullshit. Start with Geithner as the expert. Follow up with the same message with politicos a la Clinton, Biden, Reid, etc. And recirculate the same facts, and emphasize that they are the facts of the matter, with high profile economists like Krugman. Facts can often have little more strength than fiction, especially when fiction sounds and feels good. In my business customers have always preferred the biggest lies in spite of their saying they hate to be lied to. That is the primary reason liars often walk off with the loot. Does the name Madoff ring a bell.
So this round robin of fact presentation has to be continued and repeated often until it actually displaces the lies. Facts have to become common knowledge before they are acknowledged as facts relative to bullshit. Obama’s word is almost useless in the absence of a consensus of opinions about what is fact and what is crap. McConnell hasn’t got far to go to begin to look like a buffoon, but it does require a sledge hammer approach to putting the facts of economic life out on the street. And one good tangential step would be to get rid of the carnival act known as Simpson and Bowles. Its hard to sell facts when you associate with charlatans.
Actually, taxes are going up on people who make a lot less than $450,000. Please take a look at the PEP and Pease provisions and how they are changing.
Hear, hear, rjs! Although I’d probably first have to learn what the Fed does.
Beverly, I’m surprised at your lack of knowledge regarding the Federal Reserve system. The solution to your problem, the need to learn what the Fed does, is embedded in the name itself, as my previous sentence implies. The Fed is a heuristic device utilized by the financial industry and its cohorts in the three branches of the government to obscure the actions of both in developing monetary policies that best suit that industry, but appear to be formulated by some independent system or committee group, i.e. FOMC. You see therein lies the genius of the system. The Federal Reserve system obscures the roll of the members of the financial industry in the making of laws and policies that at one in the same time appear to regulate that industry and enhance its profitability and independence from constraints on its activities. While there are twelve organizations that are a part of the Federal Reserve System that use the word Bank in their names, the connection between the system and the financial industry is obscured by the use of the word Central which modifies the name Bank.
Yes, some would say that it is a bit Orwellian in the use of language. A thing is not the thing that it actually is, but it is some other thing that is the opposite of what it says that it is. This is very much like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, otherwise known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which modernized (as the title says) the financial industry by reincarnating it back to its late 19th century form, nearly completely unregulated. You may recall that it was the Federal Reserve that gave Citigroup a year long pass to violate the Glass-Steagall Act and Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 and combine the several forms of finance companies under one “umbrella.” That was just long enough for the Gramm Bullshit Act to make the illegal legal again in 1999.
That’s basically all one needs to know in order to run the Treasury Dept. I’m afraid, however, that you may not have the necessary prerequisite work experience for the Secretary position. Do you have any prior experience as a significant member of the financial industry?
jack, the point is we dont want a captive member of the financial industry as treasury secretary; we just want someone who will stop obama from giving away the store negotiatng with the republicans…
I’m surprised that you couldn’t read that same intention between my lines. I don’t focus on what I wish were the case. I focus on the inadequacies of the system and what makes it such. That last paragraph in my prior comment should be read with an eye toward a sharp protrusion pushing out both my (facial) cheeks.
PS: Did I get the facts of the Fed and its accomplices in the Congress wrong? I. E., is the financial industry now suffering any real restrictions on its rapacious behavior? That’s not be accident. It results from an act of god, by intelligent design.
sorry jack, i just woke up & the coffee wasnt working yet…
the Fed acts to protect and serve the banking system…everything and everyone else is secondary…
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Do I have any prior experience as a significant member of the financial industry, you ask, Jack? Absolutely. I have my late father’s famous (within the family) significant talent for picking stocks: buy high, sell low. Seems to work every time!
the financial industry depends on people with talent like your father’s.