IBI Watch 4/10/11

10 04 2011


Brinksmanship and the Cavemen

This week, a federal government shutdown was averted – for now anyway.  Most pundits see a victory for House Speaker John Boehner, who forced $38 billion in cuts in current-budget discretionary spending while fending off demands from the Tea Party for even deeper cuts.  The Democrats supposedly win because they managed to keep extreme demands from social conservatives out of the final agreement.  And President Obama supposedly wins because he is a grand broker of compromise.  Here is the formula: Democrats and Republicans make a deal; Republicans raise hell, lock arms; Democrats cave; Repeat.

I say – what a disappointment.  In fact, I have a spot-on slogan the Democrats should embrace for the 2012 election:

“Vote Democratic.  We are slightly less corrupt and not quite as dumb as the other party.”

Several links for you.  First, a Paul Krugman commentary on the GOP’s long-term budget goals.  I think he effectively skewers the Republicans’ current sage, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan.  In Krugman’s words, what is not howlers is voodoo.  Second, a commentary from the Nation on the long-term agenda.  Finally, a pictorial view of Ryan’s plan.  All this points to a truism about the Republican Party.  Whatever plans come forward, however complicated they may be, if you dig deeply enough, what they are really all about is cutting taxes down to nothing on the very wealthy, and obliterating regulation that was intended for the common good.  The huge difference today is that millions of Americans who are hurt by these plans have been propagandized sufficiently to believe they are a good thing.

I think we need a new FDR.  We thought we had one in Barack Obama. Oh, well. But when the next would-be second coming of FDR emerges, there will be one problem.  At least half the country will denounce him or her as a communist.




How About Tax Restoration?

The media are full of apologists for the very wealthy.  You know the thinking – in actual total dollars, the wealthy pay lots of tax, so progressives should shut up and stop complaining.  One of the loudest here in the Twin Cities is Jason Lewis – quoted here last week.  But where are the trends going? Until the 1970s, our government generally had enough funds to do what was needed.  And marginal tax rates on the wealthy were many times higher than they are today.  Maybe they were too high, and needed to be brought down.  OK, but clearly they are now too low.  Since no one really likes to pay taxes, propagandists for the plutocrats have enlisted the support of millions in beating down all taxes.  The result – rates on working class people have been mainly level, while those on the top cats are very low by historical standards.  And we will all pay the price.

How about changing the debate?  It’s really not about tax cuts or tax hikes.  It’s about tax restoration.

For links, take a look at this Think Progress chart on effective tax rates over time.  Can you imagine what those trends will do if the Senate goes Republican in 2012, and the GOP manages to  permanently eliminate the estate tax? Second link – the Star Tribune recently reported on effective taxes on different income levels in Minnesota. Third – a concise commentary by Chuck Collins on Alternet.  Some simple, common-sense solutions.  Check the links within (listed fourth and fifth here).  Two organizations with very informative web sites, describing their work to restore economic justice.






An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

Remember Scott Walker?  Firebrand Wisconsin governor?  Fierce fighter for low-cost government, determined to take the deficit out of the hide of state workers?  You’d think such a pol would be squeaky clean, immune from charges of corruption and patronage, right?  Think again.


Summing Things Up – a Progressive View

Here is a link to a pointed commentary posted on Facebook by my friend Jeff Carlson.  Jeff is promoting a new moniker for the modern Republican Party – the Party of Scrooge.  I think Jeff has some very good points to make.


The Environment – Ignore it, and We Will Go Away

It’s not an easy time to be an environmental activist.  It’s been 41 years since the first Earth Day.  And the problems that seemed so large back then are dwarfed by today’s global threats.  Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein have a brief, hopeful article currently posted on Alternet.  In other hopeful news, one of the right-wing activist proposals that was nixed in this week’s budget showdown was a quest to defang the EPA in controlling greenhouse gases.  Find your victories and celebrate, however modest they may be.



“There is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic system are simple. They are:
  • Equality of opportunity for youth and others;Jobs for those who can work;
  • Security for those who need it;
  • The ending of the special privileges for the few;
  • The preservation of civil liberties for all;
  • The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Contributed  content and/or links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Mark Goldberg,  Alysson Harper




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