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Liberal Outrage

Enthusiasm gap

As mistermix points out, we're in "Ralph Nader runs for president" territory, although his take on that seems to be 'blame the voters' instead of 'blame the people who switched focus to deficit reduction when unemployment was at 9%+ and also failed to push for any initiatives that might have excited the base (public option, check card, greenhouse gas regulations, etc.)'.

Luckily for the Dems, i don't think there's even a semi-viable third party candidate out there right now.

By fnord12 | September 30, 2011, 11:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Dean Baker Snark


They kept spraying water on the wood, but they just couldn't get the fireplace started. The Post wrote the equivalent in an article on the Greek crisis:

"The government has raised taxes and cut services and is announcing tougher steps every other week. So far it has been to no avail; the economic outlook keeps getting worse, not better."

And therefore, prepare for worldwide economic collapse:

The German government agreed Thursday to bolster the ESFS. That's encouraging news but many analysts say it's insufficient to contain Greece's collapse on its own.

If those analysts are right and no further steps are taken, the U.S. is exposed via trade and finance. "Europe back in recession hurts US exports, since they buy less. Worries about the Euro lead to a stronger dollar/euro exchange rate, which further hurts U.S. export competitiveness. US banks and money market funds have exposure to Europe, so their balance sheets are damaged if Europe goes under."

This has led economist Nouriel Roubini to conclude it's not just a question of if the U.S. will tumble back into recession, but of how deep it will be.

By fnord12 | September 30, 2011, 10:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Maybe we need a parlimentary system

Last political post of the day...

TPM alerts us to the fact that the Department of Justice is looking into Rick Perry's Redistricting Plan in Texas.

The Justice Department said late Friday that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have been "adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress."

DOJ's Civil Rights Division is specifically contesting the changes made to Texas Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice.

Obviously, this is wrong. But at the risk of doing "a plague on both your houses" of my own... it's a known fact that both parties engage in gerrymandering. Both parties try to strengthen the demographics that they know will vote for them while splitting up the demographics that they know will vote against them. It's called pack and crack.

It was a Ralph Nader campaign point back in 2000 because, in his view, the parties conspire to ensure safe incumbents in all districts. You get your rural district, and i get my urban district, and the unpredictable suburban voters are split up in small numbers between the two where they won't cause either of us any problems (for example).

Of course, this strategy would often cause breaks among ethnic lines, so i'm surprised that the DOJ is finding a problem with it this time. Unless this is the beginning of a crackdown on such practices, although even as i type this i realize how impossible that sounds.

By fnord12 | September 26, 2011, 10:42 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Pity the poor millionare

Two more annoying political posts...

Here's a Washington Post editorial called "Five myths about millionaires", explaining why we shouldn't increase taxes on the wealthy.

The truly outrageous part is this:

Today, $1 million in the bank generates only about $50,000 per year in interest. That isn't chump change, but it's roughly equal to the 2010 median household income.

Awwwwww! So the poorest of the millionaires makes as much in interest than the average person does after slaving away for 40+ hours a week. And this is an argument against increasing their taxes? Are they kidding me?

As insane an argument as that is, it gets worse the more you think about it. First, no one is talking about a tax in wealth holdings. We're talking about income tax. So if a person is earning $50,000, either from working or from sitting around collecting interest, they will be taxed at the $50,000 tax rate... not a millionaire's rate. Second, the millionaire's $50,000 will likely be taxed as capital gains, which is currently, unfairly, taxed at a lower rate than wages.

Next we have two completely irrelevant factoids:

  • Millionaires don't think they are rich (who cares?)
  • Millionaires don't all share the same political beliefs (so what?)
And then there are two items that are supposedly debunking myths but actually need some debunking of their own:

The first is about whether or not millionaires pay lower tax rates than working people. The WP article leaves out payroll tax and state and local taxes, and adds the nonsense about double taxation on top of it (the argument is "dividends are paid out of corporate profits that have already been taxed". Guess what? Wages are also paid out of corporate profits that have already been taxed! And when i pay sales tax, that's out of my earnings, which i pay income taxes on. My god, it's triple taxation!). Regarding the rest of it, here's Krugman.

The second is that a millionaire's tax will hinder investment. I recently posted an article that touches on the fact that most corporations and investors are basically sitting on money right now. Again, our current problems aren't supply side.

The previous two myths are typical conservative talking points. The real clunker is that first item. Honestly, right now, we need all the demand we can create, so if i were president i wouldn't be raising any taxes (except a stock transaction tax). But i'd also be increasing spending. The reason we're talking about tax increases at all is because we've stopped worrying about the economy and started worrying about the deficit. Which is the wrong thing to focus on right now. But if we're going to, i don't think the fact that millionaires currently earn "only" $50,000 in annual interest should stop us from returning to tax rates that we had in the Clinton... or Reagan... or Eisenhower eras.

By fnord12 | September 26, 2011, 9:58 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Shape of the Earth: Views Differ

I give the Democrats a hard time over the fact that they never stand up for themselves, but the truth is that when you see articles like this from the AP, you realize they're not exactly on a level playing field.

The article makes it seem like the parties are equally to blame for not being able to approve disaster relief spending. It's 15 paragraphs in before it's revealed why the bill isn't getting passed, and when you finally get there, it's a very poorly written explanation. Maybe i just have poor reading comprehension, but i already knew about the dispute and i could barely parse the explanation as written. After 15 paragraphs of "a plague on both your houses", i don't think anyone's going to be trying too hard to figure out what the problem is.

The issue is that the Republicans are demanding, without precedent (not "Democrats complained that it's unprecedented", it is unprecedented), that all relief aid be offset with spending cuts. Of course, the relief aid will be temporary and the spending cuts will be permanent. And in a recession, there is no need for spending cuts. And the amount of money involved is so small it's irrelevant (The article unhelpfully says it's a "small part of the almost $4 trillion budget", and later says it's about $2 billion in relief. So .05% of the budget?).

So far from "On spending, Congress can't agree on easy stuff", this is a clear case of Republicans being villains: holding relief money hostage in order to pursue an agenda they couldn't otherwise pass. If that's too partisan, how about just an article explaining the dispute, maybe with some quotes from economists explaining the budget impact and relief agencies about what the funds will be used for?

By fnord12 | September 26, 2011, 9:35 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Boondoggle Initiative


By fnord12 | September 23, 2011, 5:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

At least there will be someone awesome to root for in the next election.

Elizabeth Warren.

By fnord12 | September 21, 2011, 4:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

We don't want your money

LA Times:

Americans are pumping money into bank accounts at a blistering pace this year, sending deposits to record levels near $10 trillion on escalating fears that the U.S. economy is on the verge of another implosion.
"Banks and credit unions are doing everything they can to get rid of the cash except make loans," said Mike Moebs, a Lake Bluff, Ill., banking consultant.

He said banks are driving away deposits by refusing to renew CDs at higher rates and by imposing fees on checking accounts for depositors who don't use other, profitable financial services as well.

And in a possible glimpse into the future, one New York banking giant is even charging big customers for the right to park money there. The Bank of New York Mellon is forcing institutional clients to pay fees if they deposit more than $50 million into an account.

It should be obvious that cutting taxes is just going to add to this. It's certainly not going to stimulate the economy because the problem isn't a supply side problem.

By fnord12 | September 19, 2011, 11:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Just get rid of the Electoral College

This is only being considered a power grab due to the timing. In the long run, if half of Pennsylvania's voters choose a Republican, then it's only fair that half their Electoral Votes should go to the Republican. They should do this in every state or, even better, just go by the popular vote.

And, once again, kudos to the Republicans for coming up with a ballsy strategy while the Dems stand dumbly on the sidelines.

By fnord12 | September 15, 2011, 10:06 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

It can't happen here


After more than a year of aggressive budget cutting by European governments, an economic slowdown on the continent is confronting policymakers from Madrid to Frankfurt with an uncomfortable question: Have they been addressing the wrong problem?

By fnord12 | September 2, 2011, 10:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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