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The rest of the dinner table deficit/debt discussion: Equity

I promise, there are numbers here, but lets have some fun first and write a screen play to set up the point. It is long, but…

“Dear, I’m getting nervous. We seem to keep adding to how much money we owe and our income hasn’t changed for the better. What can we do?”
At this point of the conversation, the conservative ideology (Republican and Democratic Parties) suggests and encourages you to believe that the answer is something like: “Well Honey, as I look over the horizon I see no possibility for improving our current position. The only thing we can do is cut back on our spending. We have to stop spending on anything we don’t need to live. If we are willing to sacrifice then eventually we’ll have savings that we can then use to invest such that we have more income.”
Now, for most Americans at this moment in the euphemistically labeled “business cycle” Honey’s response would be: “But I don’t know where else we can cut!” Of course to the conservative there is always something that money is being spent on that is in actuality an indulgence for which one should repent and thus cut from their spending if said spending is greater than one’s income. This is true because no righteous individual would ever let the devil of consumption tempt them from the path to wealth heaven. Redeem one’s self through the power of restraint of consumption urges.

The People-as-Props That Obama SHOULD Use During His Speech Tomorrow Night: John Boehner and Joe Barton. And They’re Already Invited!

House GOP has voted to replace the president’s sequester twice. Here’s why, courtesy @whitehouse: #obamaquester

— Twitter, h/t Politico, Boehner’s office dubs it “Obamaquester,” Feb. 8

Oh, dear.  I guess this is going to be a regular thing.  A few days earlier, our dignified House Speaker created the twitter hashtag #spendingstheproblem. Which it certainly is when you deliberately dramatically reduce revenues by drastically cutting taxes, especially on the wealthy and on corporations, and wage two wars, significantly increase expenditures on homeland security, and expand the Medicare program to include prescription drugs.  

And which it surely is when those tax cuts are called, obviously tongue-in-cheek, temporary and are enacted only a decade before the huge baby-boomer generation begins to retire and to qualify for Medicare, and then are in fact mostly not allowed to expire because some of the folks who brought you the tax cuts in the first place, and who think spendingstheproblem, keep blocking attempts to raise revenues even by closing egregious loopholes that benefit only the wealthy.  

Something about the Democrats having to take those tax cuts from their cold dead hands, I guess.  Which if the sequester actually does occur, the Democrats will have little trouble doing, because the Repubs’ political hands will be very cold and very dead.  

The Republicans delude themselves into thinking otherwise, based upon the presumption that the public doesn’t even yet grasp that spendingistheproblem only when you reduce tax rates to historically low levels and allow mega-loopholes through which hedge fund managers and Mitt Romney fly their private or chartered jets through on their way from one of their several homes to another one.  The public, though, does grasp that, and showed it last November 6.  And in the late December polls during the “fiscal cliff” crisis.  And in the polls last month during the debt-ceiling crisis.  

Yet if the Boehner’s Tweet is any indication, he still thinks that all the Repubs have to do is vote to replace the president’s sequester.  And they’ve done that.  Twice.  

No matter what they voted to replace the sequester with.  Nope.  What matters is that they voted to replace the sequester, and that they did so twice.  And that the sequester is “the president’s.”  And that in fact it’s not even a sequester; it’s Obamaquester.  The substance of what they want to enact won’t matter to the public.  All that will matter to the public is that the House Republicans voted to replace the sequester with something and that therefore the Senate Dems and Obama are obligated to adopt it.  That’s because the Republicans won the election last November–er, because there’s now a cutesy, juvenile twitter hashtag out there saying that the sequester is Obamaquester.  First things first, you know.

The Speaker, as Paul Krugman pointed out on Thursday and again on Friday, suffers not just from short-term memory problems but also from long-term memory problems. Boehner said last week that the budget deficit has continued to increase throughout his 22-year tenure in Congress. Which, of course, is why in 2001 and again in 2003, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accellerated rather than wound down, and after we began to spend considerably more on homeland security in the wake of 9/11, and after Medicare was expanded to include prescription drug coverage, he joined nearly all his Republican colleagues to vote for the drastic tax cuts, most of it benefiting the wealthy and large corporations.  

I guess that’s because #spendingstheproblem even when the budget deficit has recently been eliminated with the help of tax rate increases mostly on upper-income folks. And even when the huge baby boomer generation is beginning to retire.  

Longtime House member Joe Barton (R-Texas), who apparently doesn’t favor a strategy of posting juvenile twitter posts, does nonetheless agree with Boehner that we should simply allow the sequester to take effect unless the Senate Dems and Obama agree to rubberstamp the House Repubs’ offered substitute for the sequester.  The one they passed.  Twice.  He explained to Politico why he favors the sequester, despite pleas from constitutions who will be furloughed as a result:

I’m a lot more concerned about trillion-dollar deficits every year stretching to infinity. That’s obviously a more indirect issue to somebody who’s about to lose their job or has lost their job, and I respect that 100 percent.

It’s the next generation that he’s concerned about, he said.  Which is why he refuses to consider raising taxes on this generation of wealthy taxpayers and corporations by closing loopholes through which hedge fund managers and cutely offshore-based-for-tax-purposes American corporations fly their Learjets.

Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports this morning that Obama plans to be forceful tomorrow night in explaining his economic-policy position and in refuting the Republicans’.  But, as Greg Sargent says today, Obama’s preference for pussyfooting, generic, brief catchphrases, such as “self-inflicted wounds” and “We can’t cut our way to prosperity,” need actual several-sentence explanations.  They’re worthless unless they’re spelled out, with actual clarity and specificity.

But here’s something else–something absolutely critical–that Obama needs to make clear.  To make clear.  That the Republicans have settled on a strategy of pretending that additional tax revenue doesn’t decrease the budget deficit, and of pushing that strategy via the tactic of simply making repeated public comments that ignore that additional tax revenue does exactly that.  Thus, #spendingstheproblem, the sequester is #obamaquester, and neither the Clinton presidency nor the G.W. Bush presidency happened.

Both Boehner and Barton will be in the audience tomorrow night.  They won’t be sitting next or right in back of Michelle, special guests of the president.  But they’ll be there.  And Obama should address them by name, in a comment along the lines of:

Rep. Barton, you’ve said you’re a lot more concerned about trillion-dollar deficits every year stretching to infinity than you are about the jobs of the National Weather Service employees and air traffic controllers and food safety inspectors who live in your district.  And you’re a lot more concerned about keeping income tax rates at 15% for hedge fund managers, and about keeping the corporate offshoring tax advantages intact, than you are about trillion-dollar deficits every year stretching to infinity.  Even though, in light of the fiscal-cliff compromise that the Democrats forced at the beginning of the year, and the economic recovery that will continue if you and your colleagues stop the sequential Russian roulette and start taking your oath of office at least a little bit seriously, infinity could turn out to be not that far away after all.

Of course, the president could instead create a hashtag on twitter.  My suggestion: #pleasegrowupspeakerboehner.

Or maybe he should just sit tight. Doesn’t the tornado season begin in Texas right about the time that the sequester does?  And in Ohio soon after?

Yup, John Boehner and Paul Ryan Are Right: The economy contracted in the fourth quarter because #spendingstheproblem and Keynesian Economics Doesn’t Work.

Construction has been one of the more encouraging sectors, adding jobs each of the last four months. The hiring there was probably because of a combination of rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy, unseasonably warm weather that led to fewer work stoppages, and the nascent housing recovery, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisors.

Retailing, health care and the wholesale trade also added positions in January, while the government again shed jobs. Government payrolls have been shrinking most months over the last four years.

Job Growth Is Steady Amid Snags Holding Back Economy, Catherine Rampell, New York Times, today

Bring on the sequester, I say!  Let’s get that economy going again!