Trust Us (This Time)

Here’s how things have gone down.

- Last year, Republicans hold the debt ceiling hostage, demanding billions and billions in budget cuts before before they vote to raise it (something they raised seven times under Bush, with no problem).  As a result of the down-to-the-wire posturing, the US credit rating is downgraded, but both sides agree to a “SUPER CONGRESS”.

- The SUPER CONGRESS will be made up of Dems and GOP, and is tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion out of the budget.  Why will this work?  Because, both sides have agreed to triggers.  If the SUPER CONGRESS doesn’t work, then the $1.2 trillion with automatically be taken out of programs each side cares about, equally.  For the Republicans, this was Defense.

- The SUPER CONGRESS failed, so the agreed-upon triggers will happen.

- Republicans don’t like cutting from Defense (that was the whole point of the trigger), so their new budget next week is rumored to drop those ‘forced’ cuts.  As Speaker John Boehner’s office said, ““The Speaker and Chairman McKeon are working towards a shared goal: ensuring that we have $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction, but doing it in a way that does not ‘hollow out’ our Armed Forces or jeopardize our national security.”

So after all this crazy bullshit, the Republicans are STILL going to demand $1.2 trillion in cuts, but not from anything they care about.  The last six months or so have done nothing.

This Whole Birth Control Bullshit

John Holbo has a great article on the religious liberty argument being used by Republicans.  The whole thing is worth a read, but here are some excerpts:

Sticking just with the medical case, getting specific: suppose the Muslim owner of a large company that employs Muslims and non-Muslims (or even just Muslims) wants to be exempt from insuring medical stuff except in cases where male employees see male doctors and female employees see female doctors. The owner find it objectionable that ‘his money’ should pay for anything he finds religiously repugnant, and this is his take on sharia law. Would Republicans have any objection?

Exactly.  With the Catholic Bishops causing a stink, it’s all about ‘religious freedom’.  But shouldn’t that apply to all religions?

Compelling religious observance is a violation of religious liberty, which includes the right not to be observant of any given religion… Yes, employees can go out and buy [the pill] even if it isn’t covered by employers. But, since it would be free otherwise, by law, the church groups are, in effect, imposing a ‘sin’ tax, to express religious disapproval of what these individual are up to. Surely that’s a violation of religious liberty: to wit, the right not to regard being on the pill as sinful. If the Catholic church wanted to impose a voluntary sin tax on practicing Catholics – if the Bishops said all Catholics who use birth control should pay a bit extra, to atone for this sin – that would be acceptable (at least legally non-objectionable, in the eyes of the government). But the church can’t ask the state to compel payment of this tax, unless there has been some kind of binding contract to pay. The church can’t compel the state to help them extract payment even just from Catholics, let along non-Catholics. It’s not the government’s business.

The other day someone warned me not to use the slippery slope argument when it comes to this birth control issue, that it muddies the water to say that the religious freedom argument in regards to birth control could lead to any and all employers to reject a la carte any part of any plan that they ‘object’ to.  But, as GOP Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment shows (which is receiving full support from the GOP this week), it’s already there.  His amendment would allow just that: any employer (not just a religious one) to deny their employees any part of a plan the employer deems objectionable.  But again, which religion is the GOP talking about? Muslim employers obeying Sharia Law?  Or just Catholics?

This isn’t about religious freedom.  It’s about the GOP running against everything Obama to win the 2012 election.  And with the economy slowly improving (despite constant GOP obstruction), they have to reignite the Culture Wars.  Fortunately, it’s not 2004, and a lot more people are on the other side today.

DEMAND DEMAND DEMAND

Let me just say this for the thousandth time.  The main problem with the economy right now is not business uncertainty about regulations and taxes.  The problem is that nobody is buying anything.  Because they don’t have jobs to earn them money to buy stuff with.

If there’s demand for a product in the market, demand that would ensure, say, $100,000,000 in profit to a company that fills it, than any rational business would make a move to fill that demand.  What Republicans seem to be implying is that when faced with the possibility of having their taxes perhaps raised 3 points, businesses would rather make absolutely nothing, and not fill that demand at all.  Think about that.  Say their taxes could potentially go up from 34% to 37%.  You’re telling me that businesses are saying, “Either we make $66,000,000, or nothing!  We’ll be damned if we have to pay three cents more on the dollar!”

That’s idiotic.  Any business that makes that decision deserves failure, not more tax breaks.  No, the problem is that there is no demand that would earn companies a $100,000,000 profit.  So they’re sitting on trillions in cash (paying out to CEOs and shareholders), and not hiring.   What Obama’s jobs bill does is spend money on roads and bridges and other infrastructure.  That requires the hiring of lots and lots of construction workers, engineers, architects.  Then there’s the support industries for them: supplies, equipment, payroll companies.  Then there’s the support for them: manufacturing, assembly, IT systems, software.   And the support for them.  And then all those employees have more money, to buy food and clothing and maybe have a little more disposable income to buy Widget A or Widget B or a new car that they’ve been needing.  And there it is: DEMAND.  So businesses try to fill it, and need to hire more to fill more demand, creating more jobs, more disposable income to create more demand, which businesses try to fill, so they hire more to fill more demand, etc….  That’s how an economy grows.

But no, Republicans claim businesses are throwing a tantrum because they’re “not sure” if their taxes are going up or operating expenses will change.  Bullshit.  LACK OF DEMAND IS THE PROBLEM.  As Atrios constantly says: “GIVE PEOPLE FREE MONEY.  PROBLEM SOLVED.”

No Taxes Ever!!

Totally not watching the debate tonight, but according to Crooks & Liars, Bachmann has gone all the way and said there shouldn’t be any taxes.

"You earned every dollar, you should get to keep every dollar that you earned," the candidate said. "That’s your money, that’s not the government’s money."

"Barack Obama seems to think that when earn money, it belongs to him and we’re lucky just to keep a little bit of it. I don’t think that at all. I think that when people make money, it’s their money."

This is the bullshit point-of-view that Elizabeth Warren’s suddenly viral speech was putting to shame.  You made money, good for you.  It is your money. But you didn’t make it in a vacuum.   You’re not in some nowhere bubble going to work, making money, and coming home.  From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, and overnight as you sleep, there are things that our tax dollars fund that allow you do continue doing this stuff.

If you live in the United States, you’re taking advantage of certain things that the United States helps exist.  You can’t live completely off the country’s grid.

I Don’t “Buy” It

BillO recently stated a reason against raising taxes on the Job Creators™: “If you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in.” 

Combine this with Boehner saying that “Job Creators™ are essentially on strike” because of the uncertainty and potentially higher taxes that Obama wants.

I touched on this topic last month: many economists say that the problem in the economy is not that the Job Creators™ are uncertain, it’s that there’s very low demand.  Likely because many of the people who buy stuff - the lower and middle-class - are pinching every penny because they don’t have jobs.  Because the Job Creators™ aren’t creating jobs, which pay them money, which they in turn exchange for goods and services.

The constant talking point that all these rich corporations and potential hirers are looking at a market in which they can make $50 million fulfilling some sort of demand, and deciding on making NO money by being “on strike” as opposed to filling that market demand and getting a few extra points taken out of the $50 million in profit is ludicrous.  If there’s demand for something, the market usually fills that demand.  No company worth its salt is looking at tax rates possibly going up a few ticks and saying, “Well, then I’m just not going to try to make a dime.”  I call bullshit.