Don't get me wrong. We've earned it. As Van Jones wrote, it's not often that progressives "battle the concentrated forces of corporations and their armies of lobbyists to a stalemate." So go ahead and celebrate a job well done. But make it quick, because though we've just won this round, the bell signaling the start of the next will soon ring.
The reason members of the Super Committee didn’t reach an agreement is that Republican members insisted on damaging cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicare – AND they wouldn’t budge from their refusal to roll back tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans. more »
On Wednesday morning, the Congressional Progressive Caucus held a hearing on what ought to be the top agenda item in Washington: jobs, jobs, jobs. One by one, the speakers issued a wake-up call that resonates with millions of Americans — America needs jobs, not cuts. Americans — from students graduating with mountains of debt, into the worst job market in decades, to aging baby boomers for whom retirement is suddenly further out of reach, and Patriotic Millionaires ready to do their part — demand jobs, not cuts.
OurFuture.org's Robert Borosage underscored the urgent need for action on jobs, and seize the agenda from the "supercommittee" before it takes America down the road to ruin.
This holiday season, let's spare a kind thought for the decent people who toil inside Washington's legislative machinery. These good folk must live and work inside the dreamlike bubble that is today's policy and media world. Each day they strain to see reality through the reflected light of the false but colorful narratives projected against the bubble's surface.
Or would it be a better metaphor to say they're prisoners in some cold underground cell? No matter how many polls are conducted, no matter how many economic analyses are performed, no matter how many bitter lessons are taught and re-taught, there are those who hope to deny them even a glimpse of reality.
Instead these good people are forced to stare into the harsh glare of synthetic reality, hour after hour, as if were a naked lightbulb in windowless room. Only a few precious slivers of genuine sunlight penetrate the dank basement of illusion that imprisons them.
Well-intentioned staffers in Washington need good information to do their jobs well. Instead they're being inundated with confusing pseudo-facts and empty fear-mongering. This week's case in point? The Congressional "Super Committee." Did you know that unless they come up with their cuts there will be no Christmas this year? You didn't? Then you haven't been reading the Wall Street Journal.
According to a document produced by Democrats serving on the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee, the Democrats are proposing to cut $350 billion from Medicare as part of a $2.3 trillion "grand bargain" to reduce the deficit. It's time for the people to say "no" to this deal. more »
Some Democrats have come under a lot of criticism lately, much of it deserved, for abandoning popular and important programs that were historically associated with their party. But some of the other Democrats -- the ones who are trying to act in the country's best interests -- are genuinely concerned about what will happen to the economy if the Super Committee fails to come up with a plan.
This message is for them -- and anyone else who has the same concern. You need to know that the evidence is clear: A Super Committee failure won't hurt the economy at all.
But its "success" almost certainly would.
Every month it seems as if there's another "bipartisan" process designed to impose austerity on the American people. And every month we're told there will be terrible consequences in the world's markets if it doesn't succeed. These predictions are the economic equivalent of "Y2K" -- always apocalyptic, never true, and all too frequently believed.
Democratic officials and staffers are being bombarded by these predictions, delivered by think-tank operatives from their own party who have been steeped in the cult of austerity. It doesn't matter how many times they're refuted by impeccably constructed papers, or by the observations of Nobel Prize winners. And it doesn't matter how many times these predictions are proven wrong.
“I have great respect for each of you individually, but collectively I’m worried you’re going to fail — fail the country,” former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, a co-chairman of President Obama’s fiscal commission, sternly told the congressional supercommittee last week. more »
One of the House Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is expected to introduce a bill later today that will require the 12-member congressional deficit-reduction "super-committee" to vote on a plan to create 3 million jobs—before acting on spending cuts. more »
Today on "Democracy Now!", Robert Borosage discussed the "dangerously wrongheaded" path the Super Committee appears to be taking. Video is above and transcript is below.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this "super committee," what its powers are, first.
ROBERT BOROSAGE: Well, its powers are quite extraordinary. It has to identify $1.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years. It has to report before Thanksgiving. If it reports, their measure gets an expedited vote in both houses early in December. No amendments. No extended debate. No hearings. No filibuster. And to issue a report, only seven of the 12 members have to agree.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about these members and what their positions are, the Democrats and the Republicans.
ROBERT BOROSAGE: Well, all of the Republicans have signed the Grover Norquist pledge against any tax increases whatsoever. And some of them—Toomey, for example, or Hensarling—are really right-wing zealots who aren’t likely to be part of any agreement. The others are more senior members or experienced members of the House and the Senate and will probably be looking to see if they can get a deal, and they’ll look for increased revenues as opposed to increased tax rates.
The deal that’s starting to get formed, and that the President and Speaker, House Speaker John Boehner, almost agreed to would actually lower rates on the wealthy and corporations and then turn its attention to gain revenues by closing deductions. To gain enough revenues to counter the lowering of the rates, you have to go after the home mortgage deduction, the deduction for employers who offer healthcare to their workers, or the retirement deduction. And so, on the revenue side, this may be very inequitable.
On the cutting of spending, this is targeted directly at Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, at getting—at taking the entitlements, the promises that we make to the most vulnerable in our society, and using this crisis to make changes that would otherwise be unacceptable. So, the kind of deal that’s talked about in the back rooms is raising the eligibility age on Medicare by two years, cutting Social Security over time by lowering the inflation adjustment, and putting a cap or cuts on Medicaid. And these will have really damaging effects on the elderly, the disabled and the very ill.
An unelected and unrepresentative group they call the 'Super Committee' has been given extraordinary power over our own economic destiny. Think if it as a political Justice League of America, except that its mission is to rescue Treasury bonds, not people.
Problem is, the bonds don't need to be rescued. People do. more »