Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reverse-Class War, American Style: Senator Bernie Sanders Explains How the GOP Does It

In a recent report released by the Presidential Commission on balancing the roughly 13 trillion dollar overall deficit, some conservative members of the group have taken the trouble to, once again, try to reduce taxes on the very rich (taking the highest tax rate from 35 percent down possibly to 23 percent) while making 2.2 trillion dollars in cuts to domestic programs over the coming years. While there would be some increases in dividend taxation (long overdue) the ultimate gains in taxation on the richest Americans would be offset by these income tax cuts.

President Obama himself has not commented on the proposals that may or may not be voted on by Congress, but it is clear that lowering taxes on the wealthiest income-earners right now is the direct opposite of any logical program to reduce the the Federal Budget.

The problem has been that over the last thirty years Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush and much of the Congress has engaged in too many untaxed programs, including most recently the 2008 Wall Street banking bailout and the two long wars in Irag and Afghanistan.

Too many politicians can't seem to get used to the idea that investment bankers, corporate honchos and their lobbyists agents who ring the capitol have to pay the piper like the rest of us.

One of the few who does get it is Bernie Sanders of the state of Vermont, the one true democratic social-progressive Senator in Washington. In this interview he correctly identifies what has caused the record-high deficits, and its NOT the Social Security system.


  1. The only possible way to stimulate economic growth is by the creation of 'green jobs' massive national programmes of insulation, widespread renewable energy installation and rebuilding the national infrastructure such as for example a fully integrated road and rail network.

    Regional and local energy creation initiatives based upon geothermal and other renewable technologies would reduce energy costs create work and stimulate the economy.

    Any kind of social spending cuts are completely disastrous, for every public sector job lost in the UK 2 will be lost in the private sector, pauperisation is not the way forward, all it does is increase social tensions (and some might call that 'crime') and divert resources away from the struggling masses toward the privileged few.

    It is what is happening here now and a massive price will be paid for this stupidity, greed and arrogance................with my complete support and agreement. In fact I'll do whatever In can to sabotage to current government and their friends in commerce and industry.

    Its going quite well so far, but it will get much better I think I can safely promise that!

    In my experience Doug class war is always and invariably unleashed by the elite, the popular resistance is always therefore defensive I think

  2. Just a bit of evidence from the current comparatively small scale UK experience of the sort of investment I am referring to here:-

    Surveyor's fact 1: If all the UK homes with un-insulated cavity walls and lofts had them insulated the energy saved could heat a staggering 1.7 million homes each year.

    Surveyor's fact 2: The majority of those who moved into an un-insulated property - after having lived with cavity wall and loft insulation in their previous home -insulated again, soon after moving.

    Surveyor's fact 3: Between 2002 and 2005 around 800,000 home owners installed cavity wall insulation.

    It is estimated that this will have saved nearly 400,000 tonnes of CO2, enough to fill the new Wembley Stadium 47 times.

  3. I appreciate the great follow-ups to my rather sketchy blog here,Oakie and AA.

    I will comment further when time permits.

  4. When we were told the government were going to get the people who are on benefit back to work, we could all feel the conceptual earthquake rumbling away. Where were these jobs coming from? They have already encouraged local government departments to make cuts. People who are rushed off their feet in various areas are going to have to cope with half the staff. Those on benefit are going to be forced to attend job centers without a hope of finding employment, how disheartening is that.

    We can't really blame one party for this mess, but we have a right to be mortified when we hear that an MP claimed a £100,000 for allegedly claiming her sister's spare room was her main residence. What's more she didn't have to pay it back. True this was the last political party, but we had a right to expect that money back, it was ours and that was only the tip of the iceberg. We are asked to tighten our belts while we have been fooled over MPs expenses. We read about these things and then are suppose to turn a blind eye to the statement that disability allowances are to be cut.

    Cameron made promises to the students about their grants and then went back on it as soon as he was in power. Then they are annoyed at the behaviour of the students at the protest in London. When are we going to get a political party, or banks, can we can trust?

    Let's face it, cuts need to be made responsibly. Britain can't afford to pay for all its current defence commitments, yet we are still spending money on a war we can't win. The Green Paper on the future of the armed forces, proposes that we should integrate with not only the USA, but with France. We are aware that to save money we are going to have to face cuts in many areas, but please, please don't let that saving be made from education or the disabled.

    I was please to hear that David Cameron, has had to back-track, after plans to make cuts in school sport. So many sportsmen wrote in to the Prime Minister about the axing in this area, he has had to ask the Education Minister to to reconsider his proposals. We can make a difference if we don't sit back and allow the government to do as they please when we know it's wrong.

    Yes, we will tighten our belts but for gods sake show us a light at the end of the tunnel.

    I guess we are level pegging with the USA, eh, Doug?

  5. No rush, Doug!

    It just sadly seems that the USA is going to go for similar policies to the UK and I think that emmense suffering will ensue.

    It is class war. The power classes against the poorer classes.

    We are going Medieval!

  6. There is a clear paradox to these draconian policies. They simply cannot work. Too many contradictions.
    The creation of many more "job seekers" when jobs are deliberately being cut is rediculous and offensive.
    And there are many more inconsistencies and hypocracies, not least the almost scot-free escape of the rich from any extra financial burdens.

    Yes, for years students have been largely politically passive in UK, but now we already have one on an attempted murder charge and many arrests. we'll see the same thing repeated all over the place and in a number of industries.
    There will also be massive riots in poorer areas of the UK.

    Can there be light at the end of the tunnel? Not if these UK and US policies are going to be carried through all the way, in my view. We need creative solutions to our problems, not the reinvention of the Feudal economy.

  7. Well put Oakie. A real bunch of *******!

    As far as Wall Street Investment Bankers and their "amen corner" in Washington's lobbying cadres, I'm afraid since 2007 our "mover and shakers" at Team USA have been practicing financial "terrorism" on other economies, not least our own. I don't know if this was always intentional or not, but it hardly matters now.

    creating a financial boondoggle in the American housing industry with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) then having savvy Wall Street investment bankers pretend that the bonds that secured these loans are top grade; through tricks made possible by federal deregulation.

    And these bonds went out all over the world, as you say,and blew up in the faces of a lot of innocent investors. They have also effected people who had top-notch credit and good jobs since so much of the USA's prosperity was based on using the equity in their homes as a way to boost their buying power. Of course when the housing bubble popped and the "Big 5" banks in America had to be bailed out by the government, our economy dragged other nations' economies down with us.

    Fifty-five percent loss of benefits is a stunning number. Especially if you are likely one of the millions of Britons who has been paying for the retirement and medical benefits of current recipients. There is going to be a great deal of unrest unleashed in both nations before this is over. I hope those who Top One/Two Percent who benefitted from eighty percent of the growth in booming economy will have to pay out sooner or later for the effects of the inevitable bust.

    Good grief! politicians having to spend their own money for expenses. It's a world gone mad! ;-)

    Scapegoating the ordinary pensioners for the woes of the banking and government/defense economy
    excesses is cynical business indeed. The thing I find odd is that so many in America think its the Medicare and Social Security recipients--the latter haven't had a real increase in their monthly benefit in three years--that are at fault. This is the triumph of conservative advertising techniques over reality, as Senator Sanders alluded to in the video above.

    Yes, many states (including Oregon, where I live) have a state health care plan. But it takes years for someone to get on the plan, and the same cries of "cheats" keep the program in a constant state of being threatened with cuts. The only way you can get on it is to practically be at death's door and totally broke, which defeats the purpose of easing health care worries and causes similar draconian layoffs in the public health programs, especially those that help aged people stay in their homes and not go into a nursing facility.

  8. Austerity is exactly the wrong program indeed, AA---the same disastrous course taken by President Herbert Hoover (the most reviled American President perhaps until Nixon) to stave off the Great Depression in the early 1930's by squeezing out public spending and triggering further job layoffs. This "cruel to be kind" approach is always used to stave off conservative fears of inflation and government "meddling" in the economy.

    Of course, it also perpetuates economic misery in the short-term, stifles the public infrastructure , as you say, creates an "Us vs. Them" society where compromise becomes impossible and ends with stark consequences in the body politic.

  9. There is an even greater need for this in America, AA. There have been some Federal projects by Clinton and now Obama's Administration to get "green" by saving energy, uch as winterizing homes and, most recently, getting people to dispose of old appliances that waste energy like regrigerators and freezers by offering incentives to trade them in and receive cash credits.

    Needless to say it is more a campaign slogan than the all-out effort we need.

    I wish the media would spend more time on these programs because I see that they work and obviously they are the wave of the future however long it takes to build a concensus around weening off fossil fuel dependency.

  10. No, an economic screw-up like we face on a broad scale cannot be blamed all on one party, Cassandra. It takes a consensus of politicos who are sneaky about their tax returns--like a certain Democratic New York State Congressman, Charles Rangel, who basically forgets to file his income taxes for years while he is on the committee that over sees tax policy(!) ---or fudge their expenses as in the UK and I'll bet get a slap on the wrist as punishment. It's no wonder many people don't bother to vote!

    Trust is the key here, and you can't trust a party,any party that won't stand up for something in or out of office. The moment their leaders take advantage of office to go against their promises, they have to feel public pressure. And they must produce budgets that people feel are fair, that balance whatever cuts are made with a greater tax bite on those who can afford it. If we are indeed "all in the same boat", we should all have access to the same lifeboats, not leave any group out, especially the most vulnerable. The young students protesting in London and other cities, for instance, who have the same right to a bright future as those generations that came before.

    I'm glad to see the Dave Cameron/Nick Glegg gang doing their share of backtracking on school sports. There has to be a line in the sand drawn by the public on some matters and that sounds as worthy as anyplace to draw it.

    I'm afraid that in the USA we will have to deal with a gridlocked government for the next two years. This does not mean progress can't be made but it does mean that the public must choose sides at some point,and it would be nice if they choose the side most willing to balance the load and stop falling for the empty rhetoric of blaming the recipiants of public sector social services for a fiscal crisis they didn't start in the first place.

    Yes, we all seem to be "pegged" and Americanized in our politics on both sides of the Atlantic. I, for one, apologize on that score.

  11. The banks have behaved reprehensibly on both sides of the Atlantic when it comes to "helping" people attain new homes. But I didn't realise just how dodgy things were with the bonds. That's outrageous.

    Personally I think that I will be able to "cope" on a much lower income, and by "cope" I mean remain in accomodation, unlike many people who will be dumped onto the street as help with housing costs will be massively slashed. Landlords are not expected to lower their rents in an effort to be competitive because the influx of foreign workers will provide them will a steady flow of potential tennants in many areas. London and other relatively expensive parts of the UK will be "ethnically cleansed" of all low income families, some of whom's roots in the area go way back.

    We are not a million miles away from a purely survival of the fittest regimine where the vulnerable are left to die so that the strong can thrive. But what the strong must remember is that they too will be feeble and ill in future times.

    Pensioners certainly should get their just desserts. Most have worked tirelessly and have paid into their funds in good faith, only to be let down by bad governance or crooked pension companies. A few years back changes were made to stop old people freezing to death in winter. They were given extra financial help to pay the Machiavellian fuel company shareholders dividends. However, it seems likely that the old will also have their money docked, and the end result of that is inevitable.
    BUT, in a couple of decades the Baby-Boomers will be the pensioners and they are a third of the population. Woe-betide ANY government that does not recognise their voting potential then.

    The US is pretty famous in Europe for having sub-standard health-care, by First World standards. It sounds like it is cut to the bone anyway. Further cuts will, I'm sure prove fatal.

    I agree with the Aardvaark. A Green way forward would be much more fruitful than cutting away at the nation's economy like a psycho in a slasher movie.

  12. When the government have to back-track on policies because of the hue and cry of the people, they are fighting a losing battle. I feel people have had enough. We are expected to pull our belts in while they still have all the luxuries.

    They keep using the phrase, "New politics," what new politics, things carry on the same whoever gets in power. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. We have an economic problem caused by the banks being allowed to hand out money they didn't have, now we are all paying for it and will for a long time to come. Most businesses are keeping going by breaking even, but there is no profit.

    In August 2010, the banks announced huge profits, fueling a political controversy that they should do more to help small business. Banks hit the jackpot time and time again, but the greedy beggars don't pass it on to those in need of financial help before they flounder, not unless there is a huge profit for them. So where is their part in belt tightening?
    The banks blame the mess on people who want holidays and new televisions, every mod com. If we couldn't pay the loan back they should have said no, instead of using these folk because they are their bread and butter. High interest rates keep them going. They should have taken some responsibility because some people just don't know when to stop spending.

  13. Yes, we are seeing similar conditions here. Landlords (and those who protect them from regulation) will always react to demand, I'm afraid, and that's all the more reason for a bigger public policy role in basic housing, and not just for the poor.

    It says something that so many people are looking at such awful dislocation and discomfort. I think the political class in the USA and the UK are taking a lot for granted. The patience of hard-working people being downsized as is not as infinite as they might think.

  14. I was surprised how far reaching the cut backs were going to be. The BBC for instance has had its licence fee frozen for six years and it has to cover the cost of The World Service, which I like to listen to. Does my heart bleed for them, no. I know they put out many excellent programmes, but we are seeing far more trash lately. For people like me who don't watch much television, I'm not affected, but if one has limited channels and are housebound, these people must be pulling their hair out. Many folk aren't even paying the licence fee through choice, so those of us who do pay will suffer.

    Indeed, if we can't trust the people we vote for, why bother to get the party in. This business of fixing expenses seems to be widespread, to me, they don't have anyone to be accountable to. We need more people checking on the money they spend. They certainly have some crafty moves and very clever accountants.
    I'm afraid the lifeboat the average man gets put in has a slow puncture. It is one set of rules for them another for us. What amazes me is the way people stick to one party even though they fail them. I have been Tory and Labour. I'm afraid they they are now so similar in their policies, there's a fine dividing line.

    The students had a genuine gripe because promises were broken. I'm surprised trouble wasn't expected from this group of people. They can't even find holiday work to help pay their expenses. Loads of students want to have a part time job to take the pressure off their parents financial problems.

    When you think of the privileged education those two men have had, shame on them for depriving these young people of the same kind of schooling. Yes, it is good to see that they have backtracked.

    Mmmm, two years isn't long to get policies put into practice. The trouble is, changing a party can be a terrific upheaval and another year of writing up new papers, undoing policies they didn't make.

    Hahahaha, no apology's needed, Doug.

  15. I don't know how these cuts will effect broadcasts of the World Service over here, which are carried by some stations as part the National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting on television, and I'm a keen listener on my days off and driving to work.

    I find much of the coverage the BBC delivers about Asia and Africa and Europe dwarfs anything the American commerical stations get around to. The panel shows, for instance, seeem far more insightful. But this "dumbing down" effect is relentless over here I'm afraid. The last thing needed, especially for the eldxrly housebound and youngsters who need to see and hear something culturally nourishing, is to see the BBC programs dry up in quality, turning into a parody of their former standards.

    Regulation is a big key to all reform of course in governement and business. The US economy started off the rails with the repeal--in 1997-- of the Glass-Stegall Act of the 1930's, which kept bankers out of risky investments that led, in part, to the Great Depression of 1929--1940.

    It took about ten years for this repeal to create the current crisis and still some parties resist a return to accountability. Of course, those in office can't seem to account for themselves all too often!

    The largest group in America right now is neither Republican or Democrat, but call themselves "independants". While this might be a good develooment for aligning politicans to the needs of their constituents, it's also clear that (a) the lawmakers in the US Congress are more rigid in their policy lines than ever and (b) that the public is so impatient for a recovery of jobs and personal credit and home real estate values, et al, that I think the USA is in danger of not giving any leader or party enough time to make a see reform ofany kind through.

    Just having voters being angry about something going on in government is a good start, but anger and impatience isn't a solution. We seem to need a third party choice over here, but our system and history is geared against that.

    We have plenty of people who are willing to be practical, however, but they too often lost in the shuffle of talking heads in the media who stir up divisive issues not to solve our national problems,but to boost their ratings. (That is an issue for another blog, though.)

    And, as you alluded to, voters changing at the ballots every two years and politicos undoing laws and programs and such is unlikely to lead to positive results. States need funding for health care and off-setting higher public education costs, and the elderly and sick need a better economy to furnish caregivers. The younger workers entering universities need work to sustain them for careers when better times (fingers crossed) come. At the same time many are worried about deficits, and there is no concensus between taxes and spending cuts I've seen that are truly close to being fair.

    It's tough dealing with two major fiscal problems at once, but tough problems aren't new and most we've had in the past have been overcome.

    On a lighter note, thanks for letting me off the hook on the 'Americanization' process. My occasional e-mails to the local congressman and senators, brimming with good cheer and positive suggestions, seem to make surprisingly little impact. :-(

  16. I agree, they are taking so much for granted. They will expect major media fallout when their policies really hit home, but they will have to steel themselves as thousands of lives will be lost as a direct result of their policies, and in the US, I would think, whole communities could actually fall under the bread-line, if they aren't there already.

  17. The responsible media in the UK has to pick up the ball on the housing crisis.

    Where I live and in other places over here, there has been more demand in America for public charities and food banks to help struggling families stay intact---and its just at a time when the budgets of most of the fifty states' are running on less revenue and complaining of cuts on aide coming from Washington DC.

    Yes, I'm afraid this is a long-term community crisis in many areas. A "breadline economy" are no longer as much of an exaggeration as I'd long assumed.

    And middle-class employed and small business, people who have no control over the prices on food and fuel and housing, are also trying to get the government to lessen their taxation. All the time when the need for higher education and basic services are greatest.

    It's quite an unsettling time.

  18. At least people over a certain age don't have to pay for a television licence. I'm not sure what age that is, but I do worry that these concessions will be taken away in the effort to find more money.

    Is the lack of news about Asia, Africa and Europe, because Americans feels rather detached from it all?
    I'd like to think the youngsters listened to radio talks, but I fear they are more into television and Facebook. As for the disabled, it seems to me their allowances were the first to be hit. I couldn't understand that at all, because the more they are able to be looked after in their own homes, the less chance there is that they will be living in a hospital bed.

    Of course we need regulations but there was no brake on the banks, this recession was seen to be coming twenty years ago in this country, but things were allowed to carry on without anyone intervening to stop it. Yes, we do have to face cuts, but the government here doesn't keep their side of the bargain. The lower middle classes fall in that line where they don't get any help at all. This is hard when they see what is suppose to be a working class person who somehow manages to buy huge television, while applying to the benefit office for help. There is no reward for working hard and supporting your own family, nor is there for saving because it will be taxed to the hilt! I do feel this is where the savers could be rewarded, by those savings having a reduced tax.

    Hahaha, once in office we see a different politician to the one we voted in. If only we had a crystal ball.

    Do you ever see a time when you will have a third party in American politics?

    Yes, most problems we've had in the past have been overcome, but we have been promised this situation could last many years before recovery...........gulp.

    Actually I do feel we suffer from callow youth in our politics, where are our wise older men. Oh I know they also make mistakes but at least they have experience and to me that needs a few years under your belt.

    Awww, Doug, take heart, when you send an email, you've put yourself on the map, otherwise we the people are invisible.

  19. In these economic circumstances, Cassandra, I'm afraid politicians will look to cut wherever they can to avoid tax increases--at least that's the way things shape up over here. Not even multi-millionaires, who may or may not be helping the domestic economy, seem to face higher taxation i nthe near future. So cuts in public programs are going to be the major "belt-tightening" part of the fix.

    Yes, Americans are often too detatched from the rest of the world. Part of this comes from the sheer size of the United States. But a lot of it I'm afraid is a collective hubris. Many Amercians are rather like the Victorians in Britain, the assumption being we are the envy of the world in every sphere. It's one thing to be proud of your country, another to be a chauvanist.

    That is changing with the rise of China and India and the importance of the EU, but not very fast in my view.

    Yes, decades ag omore people defined themselves by what they did for work or where they lived or their religion or political party or what have you. I'm afraid today too many people define themselves by what they own. Why do people who need benefits or retraining go out and buy a 48-ince television? It's because they define themselves as consumers and they buy too much on credit. We could all do with less I suppose, myself especially, but I have seen this consumer obsession over here and was part of what led people to get the equity out of their homes too soon or max out their credit cards, always assuming the economy would grow. Nations like Germany and China which, did more overall personal and governement saving, are faring better.

    Not that I want to let the investment bankers on Wall Street off the hook. There were some very shady dealings there! And those who tried to blow the whistle on the derivitives markets and the toxic adjustable-mortgage schemes were ignored over here, or put down as "doomand gloomers".

    A third party approach has been tried in America but it hasn't taken off. Part of the reason is that our Constitution favors concensus over diversity--there are no coalition governments allowed, for example, and its winner-take-all in every election. I think its more likely one party might fade away and another take its place, but I remain in hope we get a new "third force" in the game over here.

    No we are in a slow, slow recovery by all accounts I've read, and it will take years to come back to normal, or close to it.

    Yes, I would like to see some more experienced people in government. The enchantment with "bright young things" irks me. Politics in America is the only profession where a lack of experience is seen as a plus. That is a major error of public opinion in my view.

    Thanks for the encougarment on contacting office-holders, Cassandra. One can't let a serious contention go unvoiced!