Department of Stop it! You're killing me!
The New Populism, if it exists, and isn't just a creation of Washington villagers wanting to give an attractive name to the new feint of the Administration toward the progressive base of the Democratic Party, can be a turning point for America's domestic economy, but only if it can avoid certain tropes, shibboleths, and myths that people associated with it, such as Bernie Sanders, and various other supposedly “left” members of the Democratic Party in Congress seem to delight in reinforcing. Again, Robert Borosage's little piece on “The New Populism” provides more examples of such tropes:
Much of this debate has been framed around the faltering recovery, as the Congress perversely punted on the opportunity to rebuild America when we could borrow money for virtually nothing, with construction workers idle and eager to work. But in the end, this is a question of making the public investments we need, and paying for it by ending the tax dodges and tax breaks that enable the rich and the multinationals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget shows what is possible, while still bringing our long-term debt under control.
Well, Congress did that, and the Treasury certainly could have borrowed “money for virtually nothing,” and spent it on infrastructure and the public commons while creating many millions of new jobs and cutting greatly into our massive unemployment problem. However, why should Borosage and others writing about the new populism assume that such deficit spending has to be accompanied by borrowing money? Read below the fold...
Let's look again at the new populism through the lens provided by Robert Borosage in his recent attempt to tell us what it is about. He says:
The apostles of the new inequality have unrelenting sought to starve the public sector. President Reagan opened the offensive against domestic investments. Perhaps the hinge moment was in the final years of the Clinton administration when the budget went into surplus, and Clinton, the finest public educator of his time, pushed for paying down the national debt rather than making the case for public investment. He left the field open for George W. Bush to give the projected surpluses away in tax cuts skewed to the top end.
The hinge moment wasn't then. It was when he decided, either early in his first term, or even before he took office, to rely on deficit reduction coupled with low interest rates from Alan Greenspan, on the advice of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, rather than on deficit spending on human capital investments as advocated by Robert Eisner and Robert Reich. Rubin's victory in the internal debates within the Administration was well-known at the time (1993), and set the deficit reduction course that played along with the Fed's bubbles to create the private sector debt-fueled “goldilocks” prosperity, and surpluses of his second term. By the time Clinton faced the choice Borosage refers to, the die had already been cast. It was very unlikely that Clinton would turn away from further Government austerity policy, and turn instead toward investments in infrastructure, public facilities and “human capital.”
But this is a side point, the real focus of this passage is the notion that the Clinton surpluses were good because they created an opportunity for public investment by using those surpluses. The trouble with this, is that it is a point purely about politics and communications which neglects the economic fact that the surpluses of the Clinton's term, as well as his deficit reduction policies, were bad for the US because they reduced or eliminated private sector surpluses causing a growth in private sector debt in Clinton's “goldilocks” economy. Read below the fold...
[T]he top earners in the US are mostly not rentiers, living off income from wealth and property. Instead, they are the working rich – such as bankers and lawyers – and entrepreneurs who have “not yet accumulated fortunes comparable to those accumulated during the Golden Age”. But he argues that this distinction “might not last very long”.
Banksters not rentiers? Lawyers? BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!!! Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: 10% of ObamaCare Federal enrollments could contain coverage-preventing errors
An estimated 10 percent of all enrollments now being made on the federal Obamacare marketplace contain data errors that could delay people from actually getting health coverage, officials disclosed Friday.
And that error rate for enrollments submitted via HealthCare.gov and then sent to insurers before December was an estimated 25 percent, officials revealed.
The rate fell in the past week, officials said, because of repair efforts to HealthCare.gov's, particular the discovery and fix of one particular software problem that was causing an estimated 80 percent of data errors, officials said.*
But both past and present error rates are much higher than 1 percent, the rate which insurers considered to be unacceptable when doing business outside the Obamacare exchanges. And they are raising serious questions about whether significant numbers of people will actually be without insurance Jan. 1 despite believing they have enrolled.
So, you roll up to the hospital in your ambulance thinking you're covered, and what then? Don't worry, we'll straighten out the paperwork later? Why don't I think this will work? Read below the fold...
Obama's presser was so bad, so bad bad BAD. I hate to quote The National Review, and even more do I hate to quote Mark Steyn, especially because he's Canadian and knows what a humane health care system looks like, and so should be out pushing for single payer instead of indulging in schadenfreude, but since our putative left is just wandering about, looking at the sky, humming vaguely, and refusing to acknowledge that the Preznit, in his latest presser, displayed not only all the capacity to accept responsibility, but all the intellectual ability, of a fucking six-year-old*, I guess I'll just have do what I hate doing.
Caveat: I assume that, just as so many of the bloggers who built the case against Bush 2003 - 2006 turned out to have no trouble at all with Obama doing whatever Bush did, because Obama, Steyn would, were a Republican President, be writing a very different column on RomneyCare, because Romney.
That said, to Steyn's weapons-grade snark:
Still, as historian Michael Beschloss pronounced the day after his election, he’s “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.” Naturally, Obama shares this assessment. As he assured us five years ago, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.” Well, apart from his signature health-care policy. That’s a mystery to him. “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working,” he told us. The buck stops with something called “the executive branch,” which is apparently nothing to do with him. As evidence that he was entirely out of the loop, he offered this:
Had I been I informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, “Boy, this is going to be great.” You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, “This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity,” a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work.
Ooooo-kay. So, if I follow correctly, the smartest president ever is not smart enough to ensure that his website works; he’s not smart enough to inquire of others as to whether his website works; he’s not smart enough to check that his website works before he goes out and tells people what a great website experience they’re in for. But he is smart enough to know that he’s not stupid enough to go around bragging about how well it works if he’d already been informed that it doesn’t work. So he’s smart enough to know that if he’d known what he didn’t know he’d know enough not to let it be known that he knew nothing. The country’s in the very best of hands.
Pretty good, for a professional. Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Splendidly sleazy semantic wankery from Zeke Emmanuel on when individual plans are grandfathered
An enterprising reporter takes a deeper investigative look at hospital pricing for the individually insured or uninsured. Along the way, true stories to make you choke, and some great data gathering. The focus is on the question nobody ever asks from the perspective of the sucked-dry patient -- the astronomical irrationality of prices. Read below the fold...
There is a hugely funny comments section in response to the Kasama Project re-posting Glenn Greenwald's Salon piece on Ron Paul. Talk about exploding heads! I almost ruined my keyboard, eating my breakfast cereal and reading the comments! And Carl Davidson learned something! Rich. Read below the fold...
On Sept. 23, 1998, a panel of radiation safety experts gathered at a Hilton hotel in Maryland to evaluate a new device that could detect hidden weapons and contraband. The machine, known as the Secure 1000, beamed X-rays at people to see underneath their clothing.
One after another, the experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration raised questions about the machine because it violated a longstanding principle in radiation safety — that humans shouldn’t be X-rayed unless there is a medical benefit.Read below the fold...
I went out of town on vacation in early November and when I returned, I decided to go hang out on Alternet for awhile. I had been told that it was a "center-right" site, but I didn't believe it. Well, I'm here to report that it is, indeed, a center-right site and might even qualify as a right-wing site, since there are so many Paul-, Rand-, and Obama-bots over there. I canceled my subscription to Alternet this morning, after posting a farewell message to one of the posters. I'm sure I won't be missed - a few will be shouting, "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out", no doubt. Read below the fold...