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Mark Warner and the Lump of Coal He Wants to Put in Our Stockings


When I was at the mall a couple times this week, I marveled at the small crowds. What’s up? Well, it turns out that, in the waning days of Christmas shopping, shoppers are wary. The fiscal cliff mongers of doom have probably set off some unintended consequences. Worse, they promise a lump of coal too.

US Senator Mark Warner is once again braying about the perils of a so-called “fiscal cliff” he helped engineer. If Democrats would just be good little do-bees (i.e., they do everything they are told like good little boys and girls), then everything would be A-OK. He also pretends that Democrats are equally guilty of refusing to negotiate the so-called fiscal cliff particulars, when, given the four-year-long Republican tantrum, and all the concessions the President has made, that false equivalence is downright laughable.

During negotiations, President Obama already threw seniors under the bus, as well as the Middle Class. Yet Republicans have been willing to give up nothing. They walked, remember? Instead of calling upon Republicans to stop the extortion of everyday Americans’ futures, Warner does what he does best – attack his own side as equally responsible. He knows damn well it is not.  Besides, as I pointed out above, this is a manufactured crisis.

What’s worse, just before Christmas, Warner once again prances (better than Prancer, the Reindeer) his so-called “radical centrism,” which is another word for self-serving Republicanism-for-the-rich. Warner’s preaching policies which will worsen the economy and hurt the Middle Class. Remember, this is the guy who has been on the speaking tour with Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA: the guy who tried to equate war hero Max Cleland with OBL) for an offshoot group of Americans for Prosperity (i.e., one of the main Peter Peterson/Koch Brothers funded groups  which funded the Tea Party). Warner’s Gang of Six (and then Eight) essentially tweaked and repackaged the Wall-Street-friendly “package” of massive budget cuts and revenue enhancements of Simpson-Bowles.  

But hey, most Virginians are clueless about all of this. Indeed, as one airhead said earlier this week on a different subject (never mind Democrats have given ALL the ground thus far), “Things are different now. The partisanship of the last few years must end.” Get that? Implicitly, because of the CT shootings, Democrats have to continue to allow themselves to be bullied by the Club-for-Growthers and Peter Peterson clones. Give the manipulators everything they demand, or else, well, we are just not nice.

If that logic escapes you, you are not alone. What is definitely not nice is to run roughshod over the 98% because of a false crisis. And Senator Warner knows it. It’s just that he loves the sound of his own “radical centrist” monotone.

If everyone stopped the scare-mongering, and everyone stayed calm, absolutely nothing would happen with respect to the faux fiscal cliff. If stock holders stayed calm, nothing would happen. And if politicians such as Warner would stifle themselves, nothing would happen. Breathe. Serenity now.  

Our taxes for 2013 won’t be due until April 15, 2014. You can bet that the Bush tax rates will be put back in place at least for the 98%. And it will happen in January of 2013. Once the Bush tax cuts expire, it is no longer about raising anyone’s taxes anymore, but rather cutting them and you know how pols want to cut taxes.  Who wouldn’t vote for that?

But Warner doesn’t want you to know something else, a huge something else: If you do what he wants, the economy will be harmed. We still do not have a full economic recovery. A full recovery would go a long way to bring revenue back up without any manipulations. To bring the revenue side more into balance, bring the troops home. Re-route the peace dividend to clean, green and energy-saving technologies and programs which help real people rather than kill them. Raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year.

BTW, it is lunacy for President Obama to admit Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, and before the election to say it is off the table (until later talks about its long-term future) and then hand it over to the GOP for cuts during the “fiscal cliff” talks. What is going on here?  More lumps of coal? More on that after the holidays.

Listen to Warner, and we will be harmed, both collectively and individually. Don’t believe me?  Check out William Black.

Here’s the short version of why austerity is a self-destructive response to the Great Recession. A recession occurs when demand to purchase goods and services falls and the economy contracts, causing increased unemployment. This simultaneously causes tax revenues to fall and government expenditures for programs like unemployment compensation to increase. The fall in revenues and increase in expenses causes the federal budget deficit to grow rapidly.

Austerity is a policy of raising taxes and/or cutting governmental spending for the purported purpose of cutting the deficit. If one raises overall taxes in response to the Great Recession the result is a reduction in private sector demand. If one cuts governmental spending the result is a reduction in public sector demand. The result of reducing private and public sector demand in the recovery phase from the Great Recession, where overall demand is already grossly inadequate, is to throw the nation back into recession or even a depression. That causes the budget deficit to grow. A policy of austerity undertaken under the claim that it will reduce the deficit causes a gratuitous recession that leads to a massive loss of wealth, far higher unemployment, and in increased deficit. That is why austerity is a policy that is the self-destructive economic analogy to the medical insanity of bleeding patients.

So, no Scrooge for Christmas, OK? No lumps of coal over a faux crisis for you, dear reader.  And no more false equivalence. Steady as she goes. The new year beckons soon. And there is always hope (though not much) for Scrooges like Mark Warner to change their ways in 2013.


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