Here’s a nice, handy reminder at Visualizing Economics.
Originally published in July of 2009 in the New York Times, the graphic is a great illustration of how laissez-faire and trickle-down economics led to catastrophe yet again.
In summary, for policies alone, and not owing to economic downturns ($770 billion) and not even including Bush on policies he implemented but Obama later supported ($417 billion):
If you aren’t regularly reading Glenn Greenwald over at Salon.com, you should be.
He consistently hold’s our president’s feet to the fire over his seeming disregard or unwillingness to fight for our civil rights.
The latest atrocity is Obama‘s announcement that he will sign the detention bill — despite claiming for months that he would veto it.
The bill is, according to the ACLU and Human Rights Watch:
the first time indefinite detention has been enshrined in law since the McCarthy era of the 1950s, when — as the ACLU put it — “President Truman had the courage to veto” the Internal Security Act of 1950 on the ground that it “would make a mockery of our Bill of Rights” and then watched Congress override the veto. That Act authorized the imprisonment of Communists and other “subversives” without the necessity of full trials or due process (many of the most egregious provisions of that bill were repealed by the 1971 Non-Detention Act, and are now being rejuvenated by these War on Terror policies of indefinite detention).
Like Greenwald, I have detected a pattern in Obama’s decisions that show he is no defender of Civil Rights, and has done everything in his power to seize on and bolster the executive powers of the presidency:
Obama, as I documented last week and again below, is not an opponent of indefinite detention; he’s a vigorous proponent of it, as evidenced by his continuous, multi-faceted embrace of that policy.
Obama’s objections to this bill had nothing to do with civil liberties, due process or the Constitution. It had everything to do with Executive power. The White House’s complaint was that Congress had no business tying the hands of the President when deciding who should go into military detention, who should be denied a trial, which agencies should interrogate suspects (the FBI or the CIA). Such decisions, insisted the White House, are for the President, not Congress, to make. In other words, his veto threat was not grounded in the premise that indefinite military detention is wrong; it was grounded in the premise that it should be the President who decides who goes into military detention and why, not Congress.
This is indeed a dark time in America, and as I warned my Republican friends when George W. Bush launched the notion of the “unitary executive”, a dangerous one for democracy.
- Human Rights Watch calls refusal to veto detainee bill “a historic tragedy for rights” (americablog.com)
- Ron Paul: Defense Bill Establishes Martial Law In America (mountainrepublic.net)
I don’t have any great expectations for the State of the Union address tomorrow night.
Paul Krugman has been critical of the signalling coming out of the White House:
The Competition Myth
Robert Reich has a blog summarizing how our country got to it’s current state and what the president should do about it:
The State of the Union: What the Presideny Should Say
There’s much truth in what both of these economists say.
But Obama has spent much of his time trying to appease business interests and surrounding himself with the movers and shakers from the very corporate enclave that helped create our current economy.
It’s not clear exactly what helpful policies will be allowed to see sunlight in a setting in which the president is bending over backwards to satisfy big business.
- Report: Obama to Call for New Investments in State of the Union (news.firedoglake.com)
The White House is releasing a report today that shows that the stimulus package was under budget, had few reported cases of abuse or fraud, and was able to fund more projects than expected.
The Washington Post reports today: “Report gives stimulus package high marks”
In addition to assessing how the stimulus program has been carried out, the study restates the administration’s case that the package has been effective economically, arguing that it staunched the worst bleeding in employment and led the economy to rebound late last year.
Many prominent economists agree with that assessment. The CBO has forecast that the package may be on track to meet the administration’s goal of preserving 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year.
The number of complaints and fraud and abuse investigations were attributed to the oversight the Administration implemented from the outset:
Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, which represents government contractors, said the unprecedented focus on oversight clearly paid off and should be analyzed for lessons that could be applied throughout the government.
Compare and contrast that with the way money was handled in Iraq and Afghanistan ( “Audit: U.S. lost track of $9 billion in Iraq funds” and “Corruption Suspected in Airlift of Billions in Cash From Kabul” ).
It seems clear that there is a difference when people who think government can be an effective tool to reach our collective goals are in charge — and when people who think government is a problem run things.
- It’s Official: The Stimulus Isn’t a Waste of Money (time.com)
- The Stimulus May Have Saved the Economy, but It Won’t Matter in November (dailyfinance.com)
Gene Lyons has a post up at Salon that captures what I have been thinking about the upcoming mid-terms and the “Obamacare” scare tactics.
In “Don’t be fooled by the GOP’s sick healthcare rhetoric” Lyons makes some good points about the right’s plan to run on a distortion of Democratic accomplishments.
Is there anybody capable of filling out Form 1040 EZ who buys this latest Republican fantasy? Alas, yes. A clamorous minority remains captive to the GOP’s decades-long War on Arithmetic. The more dramatically “conservative” economic dogma fails — there’s nothing conservative about believing in magic — the greater their cultlike need to believe it.
But Lyons makes an important observation in the next graph:
Obamacare’s problems, however, are somewhat of the White House’s own making. Polls have shown that while the law’s unpopular in the abstract, its constituent parts earn wide approval. That’s partly because GOP propaganda, “government takeover,” “death panels,” etc., scared low-information voters; partly because the bill’s so complex that few really understand how it works.
It is simply not a believable argument that Republicans are going to repeal Healthcare Reform. The logistics aren’t there for them to win a veto-proof majority, and if the Democrats would merely make the Republicans answer exactly what popular provision they would like to cut (or, not answer, as the case may be) there is little chance this meme will remain potent.
The article also outlines exactly what is wrong with the Republican position. They treat healthcare as a commodity, and of necessity eliminate people who have preexisting conditions from having access to treatment. To save money.
“Obamacare” addresses this by mandating insurance to increase the pool, and lower the costs for everyone.
The Republican plan tackles costs by — oh, wait. They don’t have one. Except for the red herring of tort reform (which does not lower costs in any way according to studies in states where it has been enacted).
In any case, the county isn’t going to go backward.
Lyons cites a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study that shows that 4 in 10 respondents don’t think there is enough reform in the legislation.
In order to tackle the nation’s problems, we need a serious discussion about how to fix things and be honest about what sacrifices we need to make.
Eventually, some form of single payer will have to be enacted. It presents the most cost controls, the least complex administration and the most benefits.
If the Democrats were smart, they would run on trying to pass that. The tide is turning.
- Pence: Repealing healthcare reform is a mainstream GOP position (thehill.com)
- GOP ‘Pledge’ Includes Repealing Reform Law (abcnews.go.com)
- Cornyn: ‘We Need To Keep Expectations… Fairly Modest’ About Health Care Repeal (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
The Huffington Post is reporting that Elizabeth Warren will be tapped by the White House to head up the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
This is bad news, judging by the vehement opposition to her being anywhere near the proposed oversight of Wall Street Shenanigans.
It means that they are trying to appease the liberal base while keeping her out of the running to actually head the newly formed body.
Update: Okay, maybe I was reflexively cynical about this initially. It’s possible that Obama is just trying to avoid a fight with the Republicans and will eventually install her as the permanent director. We’ll see.
- They Must Really Not Want Her (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Elizabeth Warren: Rumors indicate an interim appointment to CFPB Director slot (crooksandliars.com)
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