If you have "no place to go," come here!

It's all about the rents, part one million and four

Robert Kuttner:

As I reported in my 2007 book, The Squandering of America, liberals can thank Monica Lewinsky for saving Social Security from that earlier bipartisan deal. Why? Because when the frisky Clinton was being impeached, and Congressional liberals were holding their noses and reluctantly saving him from ouster, they were in no mood to have him trash Social Security. New details have been reported in the recent book, The Pact, by Steven Gillon, about Clinton’s dealings with Gingrich.

But "who really saved Social Security" -- thanks, Monica!* -- isn't the interesting or useful part of this post. Here is the key question:

But what is it with Democrats like Bowles, Rubin, and Rubin’s protégé Peter Orszag, now director of the Office of Management and Budget and another of the deficit hawks who would weaken Social Security in order to cut the deficit? Don’t they get that Social Security, along with Medicare, is one of the Democrats’ crown jewels? Don’t they appreciate that two-thirds of elderly Americans depend on Social Security for at least half their income?

Yes, they do. (Deficit terrorist rationalizations omitted).

Social security taxes wages. Get wage growth back to historic postwar norms, and Social Security is in surplus forever.

So, then, keeping unemployment high and collapsing real wages is a two-fer for the elite, then. They get to fuck us over at the jobs, and steal our retirement money with Shock Doctrine yammering about the deficit!

The main reason is that Wall Street looks at all that money and imagines the fees that could be collected if it were diverted to private accounts. It’s no wonder that Democrats like Robert Rubin ([D-]Goldman Sachs and [D-]Citigroup) and Republicans like Peter G. Peterson ([R-]Blackstone Group) are the mainstays of the bipartisan crowd proclaiming a crisis of Social Security and promoting a cut in benefits, or privatization — both of which would produce more reliance on Wall Street products.

Quelle surprise. It's all about the rents. And the legacy parties compete with each other to enable rent-seeking behavior by our rentier elite.

Look! Over there! A tea-partier just walked into a Denny's!

NOTE * Normally, I'm leery of "sinsational" tell-all stories like this one. Then again, Bill Clinton did keynote The Let Them Eat Catfood! Commission conference. So, from a policy perspective, the story is quite likely to be right.

No votes yet


tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

Maybe people are realizing it's not a bad apple problem; it's the entire rent-seeking apparatus. This instance of extortion goes beyond "Look over there! Nikki Haley!"--it's more like...I let the "expert" speak instead!

BUT when you complain about "the Democrats" you are misinterpreting the problem in a way that misdirects you from the necessary action to solve the problem. The problem is SOME Democrats, not THE Democrats.

Ah! I see. Too bad there isn't such a distinction for tea partiers. They ALL burn crosses and join militias (not before a fattening breakfast at Denny's! fat dumb fatty Americans!). So Grayson and Whitehouse are heroes b/c they say the right things (even that's a stretch). It's doesn't matter if they vote to supplant guaranteed retirement security with cat food or to allow the ins cos to extract rents from the peasantry. It doesn't matter that they censor single-payer/Medicare for All or the federal jobs guarantee/full-employment. It's about symbolism and identity and expression!

This is why i usually don't go to OL. My punishment for doing so, i guess!

* Not about losing a FKDP majority, but about people looking elsewhere besides the legacy parties (both)

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Asking for money, of course. But what gave me the morbid giggles was why she wanted the money.

From the email

The progressive movement is at a crossroads. The alliance with the Democratic Party that served both groups during the Bush years is breaking down.

Progressives must now choose: do we pursue a corporate-sponsored model functioning within the party that ultimately accepts the party's goals, or are we willing to fund an independent movement, capable of freely advocating for progressive values from the outside?

So now the prog blogs are supposed to be independent.

But this really gave me the guffaws.

Is it any surprise that the only groups to stick to their guns for the public option in health care were those free of corporate money?

What guns? Haw.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

So they could raise money. Same with Howard Dean, possibly to make another run for pres. Same with other progblogs. Progs vote and donate against their *alleged* principles more than the po' red state folks allegedly vote against their self interest.

Edit: This is in response to Aeryl's comment.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Which she doesn't deserve, she is diagnosing the correct disease.

It's just funny that her solution to that, is the same as it ever was.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

I find it hilarious that Kuttner brings up this ridiculous fantasy that were it not for Monica, Bill would have out done Obama on catfood. His "dealings" with when he let Gingrich shut down the federal government. Oh boy. There's lots to criticize BC about but I have to chuckle at those who would criticize him for things he didn't do, when it's their man that is the one pushing those very issues. Hysterical.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I don't really trust either to be objective, truthful or honest when discussing the Clintons. The way they distorted and trashed Hillary during the primary to cover for Obama--Obama!--should call into question their ability to discuss the Clintons.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

Same as it ever was.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

To admit that Bill Clinton balanced the budget mainly by raising taxes on the wealthy. Democrats don't do that any more. They'd rather steal the food out of the mouths of the poor than money out the pockets of the rich.

Hence, the fiction that Clinton was focused on "entitlements" as a way to reduce deficits, just as today's "Democrats" are. For heaven's sake, he wouldn't let Gingrich cut Medicare benefits and that was why Gingrich shut down the government. If Clinton had wanted to cut SS benefits, the Repubs who controlled Congress would have been more than happy to oblige him.

We are very far from Gore's "put Social Security in a lockbox" rhetoric now, aren't we?! Giant sigh.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

They don't do that raising taxes on the wealthy thing anymore...too polarizing.

Roman Berry's picture
Submitted by Roman Berry on because it's utterly false. Don't get me wrong here. Clinton did raise taxes (marginally) on the wealthy, but the source of the bulk of the balanced budget (which in itself is a misleading term -- back out Social Security receipts and you'll see why) was not the marginal increase in tax rates for high incomes. Nope. The source was the last bubble and all those capital gains, along with the productivity revolution (read "fewer workers doing more") made possible by the maturation of IT.

Take the internet bubble away and we do not see a surplus at any point during the Clinton admin. Allow the bubble but back out the SS surplus receipts and we don't see a budget surplus save for two lousy quarters.

The reason I post this is not to denigrate Clinton (though I was never much of a fan) but to burst the myth. Don't worship what is not there. Ascribing the short term surplus to the marginal increase in tax rates passed under Clinton may feel good, but it's just flat wrong.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

The companies that came out of it, Cisco, AOL, Yahoo, and so many others are still with us, still multi-million concerns. When Clinton mandated open protocols he tore down the walled gardens of Prodigy, Compuserve, et al. That created millions of opportunities and new business models that had not been previously possible.

Same with opening GIS for civilian use.

Had Alan Greenspan increased the minimum margin for a stock buy to 20% the whole bubble phenomenon would not have been possible. But Greenspan is a great believer in bubbles.

Also Clinton vigorously enforced the Community Reinvestment Act and Fair Credit Act, pouring millions of dollars of investment capital into capital starved communities sparking major urban revitalization.

I am tired of people pooh-poohing Clinton's achievements. We can't have progress if we are unwilling to celebrate our past successes.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Is key to the continued success of the oligarchy/patriarchy!!!111!!! Why won't you get on board, DCB?! ;-)

Thanks for responding. "Utterly false" indeed. The tax rate increase was neither marginal nor unimportant. It raised taxes on the top 1.2% of Americans. It passed Congress without one single Republican vote. It was an achievement that was utterly Democratic, and although it hurt Clinton's approval rating, he did it anyway. And, it helped increase revenues to the federal government, which helped balance the budget. How is this a myth? It's what happened.

Roman, I think that you are confusing Clinton's jobs record with his financial record. Not that he didn't do quite a bit to push jobs through the federal sector - again, something that the Democrats no longer do, unless the jobs are short-term - but the rise of the Internet was a huge factor in creating those jobs as well.

Obama also told us during the campaign that he was going to reverse the Bush tax cuts in order to help the economy, then he didn't do it (despite pressure from Nancy Pelosi). Had he kept that promise, I would have liked him a heckuva lot better.