Sunday, March 7, 2021
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Tag: austerity

The People Have Spoken, But the Peter Peterson Crowd Keeps Calling...

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Three weeks ago tonight, we rejoiced that we had elected President Barak Obama to a second term and retained the US Senate. We ousted numerous Neanderthal wingers. And the people had spoken a resounding "No!" to those who would continue the massive tax giveaways to the millionaires and billionaires. We went to bed around 2:30 AM.  Not four hours later the minions of Peter Peterson were at it again, as if no election had ever taken place. They were on every news outlet chanting the contrivance of the "fiscal cliff," which doesn't exist except for their own making. They want "austerity" for all of us (but not them). On one radio and TV show after another, they took aim at the very heart of the people's budget. And so on it went.

The cast of characters was long. I'll name a few names. As this Huffington Post article tells it, the CEO Council demands cuts to the poor, elderly, and the hungry while reaping billions in government tax breaks, contracts and even/especially bailouts.  They're engaged in a zero-sum game.

The worst offender, though, is the architect of the faux debt crisis. Peter Peterson, conservative GOP partisan and founder of the Blackstone Group, Center for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) and Americans for Prosperity (AFP), blanketed the networks with disinformation and propaganda. Many ads messaged  directly or indirectly against president Obama and Democrats. Through CRFB and AFP he's poured 30 million into the campaign to rip off you and me to benefit rich people like himself.

Why Not Try Something Besides Austerity?

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Both Democratic and Republican Governors---- and, in fact, both parties at the national level---- are in hysteria mode when it comes to tackling the designated Big Problem du jour: budget shortfall, deficit. Note: job-creation is now playing second fiddle; you occasionally hear a tip-of-the-hat to job creation, as in "we must get our financial house in order first, in order to create jobs"---- a new sort of political double entendre. This has created the remarkable spectacle of states slashing public sector jobs in the name of austerity, which only adds to unemployment, instead of reducing it (when the BLS provides the latest stats on unemployment, I wish they'd tell us just how many of those new first-time unemployment applications were the result of governors' firing state employees). Does this make sense? Two economists say "no," and offer some sensible, pragmatic alternatives to austerity in the interview below. Instead of simply cut, cut, cut, and thereby destroying our society in the process, why not try a few other policies as well?

The Austerity Scam

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The key political word for 2011 is going to be Austerity. No, not Deficit, although some, including President Obama, have apparently been hoodwinked into thinking so. The public relations campaign manufacturing hysterical fear about the federal deficit is actually agitprop, whose purpose is not so much to reduce the deficit as to enforce austerity on an olympic scale.

Controlling the deficit is the rationale, actually the excuse, for imposing austerity, the austerity is the means to an end, and the end is the final transfer of almost all wealth and power into the hands of the financial and business oligarchs of Wall Street and the globalized elite. Remember, when the Wall Street meltdown occurred, Bear Stearns went under, and the world financial system teetered on the brink of the abyss (or so we were told), some of us said the whole affair bore a striking resemblance to what Naomi Klein called Disaster Capitalism in her book The Shock Doctrine.  We asked, Was it now the turn of the United States to suffer through the brutal "reforms" forced on third world countries, Chile, Argentina, even the former Soviet Union by Milton Friedman and the free market theorists of the World Bank and the IMF?  It seemed almost a silly question, since it was, after all, Americans themselves who had treated those other countries like lab rats in an economic and social experiment based on conservative Friedman economics. The answer, I fear, is Yes, it is our turn.

Will Austerity Create Prosperity?

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Listen! Hear the growing clamor about the "impossible" federal debt and demands to cut back on all government spending, slash services, even raise taxes (!) to bring our federal budget "under control," just as hard-pressed families have to cut back when their incomes go down.

Is this not remarkable: The very lenders and banks whose excesses created the great global economic meltdown of 2008, who were rescued by massive government bailouts, are now demanding guarantees that those loans, which enabled the bailouts, be repaid with interest------ and by guarantee they mean "austerity" on the part of the very government which saved them.  The threat is explicit, that until austerity is imposed on the citizens of the country through higher taxes and reduction of government services, there will, quite simply, never be adequate new loans made to finance a broader recovery, the government will have to pay higher interest on what it has borrowed (in order to bail out the banks in the first place).... Let's get this cycle straight: now that the banksters have been saved they suddenly want their saviors to tighten their belts in order to pay the banksters back for lending the banksters money to save the banksters---- they demand an austerity and frugality they themselves did not display. This is the ultimate chutzpah, do as I say, not as I do.