Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Are there other ways for the president to raise money besides borrowing?
Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there's a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.
Ironically, there's no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.
Other clever solutions may be found here.
In one swoop, Britain has recognized Libya's rebel government, expelled the remaining London diplomatic staff of the Tripoli-based regime, and freed up millions in assets that can now be funneled to the cash-strapped rebel troops.
Amid a weeks-long stalemate, diplomatic activity seems to have stepped up. This is likely partially because Ramadan begins next week, which will force NATO forces to scale down the fighting as most of Libya begins the month-long daily fast. The US and France have already recognized the rebel government.
"This decision reflects the national transitional council's increasing legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country," Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday, according to the Guardian.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
That is why we need to raise new tax revenues as well — so we can simultaneously shrink the entitlements programs, but still keep them viable, and generate the funds needed to strengthen all five parts of our growth formula. Anyone who says that either entitlement reform or tax increases are off the table does not have a plan for sustaining American greatness and passing on the American dream to the next generation.
Alas, that is the Tea Party. It is so lacking in any aspiration for American greatness, so dominated by the narrowest visions for our country and so ignorant of the fact that it was not tax cuts that made America great but our unique public-private partnerships across the generations. If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission. No American politician was more allergic to debt or taxes than Thomas Jefferson, but he also appreciated the need to have the resources to make the Louisiana Purchase and insisted that on his tombstone it be written that he founded the University of Virginia.
Naturally, some assholes have a problem with this truth.
That's largely because the economy is growing much too slowly to absorb the available work force, and industries that usually hire early in a recovery—construction and small businesses—were crippled by the credit bust.
And that comes almost directly after this:
Over the past 10 years:
• The U.S. economy's output of goods and services has expanded 19%.
• Nonfinancial corporate profits have risen 85%.
• The labor force has grown by 10.1 million.
• But the number of private-sector jobs has fallen by nearly two million.
• And the percentage of American adults at work has dropped to 58.2%, a low not seen since 1983.
And the conclusion, after almost THIRTY YEARS OF CRAPPY JOBS GROWTH is that jobs were lost two years ago and aren't coming back?
I almost wish they WOULD tap voicemails there. At least they'd have a clue.
An atheist group has filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent a cross made out of World Trade Center steel beams from going on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
American Atheists filed a lawsuit this week in state court arguing that the group opposes the placement of the cross in the museum because members believe it is the only religious article getting special accommodation there.
The cross, made of two intersecting steel beams, was found standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
I suppose you could look at it and see a religious symbol. Some people see Jesus in their Wal-Mart receipts, too, but that doesn't make the receipt a religious artifact.
The military says an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile has been destroyed minutes after it blasted out of an underground silo on the California coast on a test flight.
[...] The military says the missile was nearing its target in the Pacific Ocean's Kwajalein Atoll area when it was destroyed.
Kwajalein Atoll is just a couple thousand miles from the Philipines....Probably take about twelve hours by plane, give or take.
Norway's prime minister said Wednesday that the response to twin attacks that have rocked his country will be "more democracy."
Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday that Norwegians will defend themselves by showing they are not afraid of violence.
The vicious attack in the normally placid country has left Norwegians appalled and shaky, but determined to move forward. Some government workers were planning to return to work in their offices in the buildings where the bomb blasts blew out most windows.
Contrast this with "WANTED: Dead Or Alive," paranoia, patting down grandmas, "You're with us, or with the terrists," Islamophobia so bad that ten years later the first instinct for the cowardly was to blame Al Qaeda for a bombing and killings that a) didn't even fit their modality and b) were in a country that hadn't even blipped on the radar in bin Laden's statements.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a meditation on 9/11 that goes into great depth about the fears inherent in living in what was an open society which I invite you to read at your leisure. I will not repeat it here, except this excerpt:
I will never be afraid again of this world that has been created around me by naked greed and hideous envy, for I am stronger than any of you who would see me buckle and bend to your hatred. I will be true to my soul, and true to my heart, and will fight you with every breath in my body and with every fibre of my being.
And long after you have gone to dust, long after I go to dust, the monument to truth and peace and freedom that I have added a few miserable pebbles to will stand tall and firm as a bulwark against the dark you attempt to bring to the world.
Call it a Nordic trait, I suppose: the Prime Minister of Norway got it a lot faster than I did. Note that those words are not only directed at those who would attack me, my home, my people, but also to those who would twist events to their own warped ends.
Those people, the greedy cowards who stick their fingers into pies simply to prevent anyone else from savoring them because they fear the loss of one pie to someone else means no pie for themselves, they are as to blame for the events in Norway as Anders Breivik himself. Moreso, since they saw first hand the devastation of terror and still incited more anger and more fear.
Truth. Peace. Freedom. The tripod of enlightened society, the true wealth of nations.
Jens Stoltenberg, you have my gratitude.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.
As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.
Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites.
That last paragraph tells a tale: that would probably be the result of hyperborrowing in mortgages and against credit cards in the wake of stagnating wages, pitiful jobs growth under the Bush administration, and the collapse of savings in this nation. People need to buy in order to keep the economy humming. The economy hummed, but the social construct has always been that the economy hums when people shop, which creates jobs, which creates wealth (and net worth), which creates a humming economy.
That's disconnected now, largely because the humming has moved overseas as China and other south Asian nations have taken the bulk of the jobs in cost-cutting moves by hypernational corporations that retain their cash, thus turning the trickle-down effect into a true trickle.
This is the worst gap since 1986, when Pew started publishing this study, and not coincidentally, when America gave a goddamn about the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, and not the first tee at Winged Foot.
Just keep those net worth numbers in mind: Blacks, $5,677; Hispanics, $6,325 (so much for the rise of La Raza Republican); Whites, $113,149.
According to a GOP aide familiar with the emerging House bill, it would provide for an immediate $1 trillion increase in the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit in exchange for $1.2 trillion in cuts in federal spending.
The measure also envisions Congress approving a second round of spending cuts of $1.8 trillion or more in 2012, passage of which would trigger an additional $1.6 trillion in increased borrowing authority.
While the bill marked a retreat from legislation that conservatives muscled through the House last week, the two-step approach runs afoul of Obama's insistence that lawmakers solve the current crisis in a way that avoids a politically charged rerun next year in the middle of the 2012 election campaign.
This is probably a premature enactment on the part of the GOP. Pushing this issue into the middle of next year's election cycle will create a far bigger headache for them than it does for Obama.
Boener is mollycoddling his radical right wing with this proposal, and basically throwing his hands up and saying "Basta!" Placing this issue in the middle of the election cycle is going to lose him the House, and any chance at the Senate. I see the warped logic the GOP is using, so let me analyze it a little for you.
Of tangential import, this will be the first major issue in the post-Murdochian-meltdown of FOX News, so Boener loses his most effective propaganda tool.
The gamble Boener is making is that in the next six months to one year, he can marshal public opinion in his favor. Right now, the nation seems pretty divided over who is to blame for the debt ceiling crisis, with the slight benefit of the doubt given to President Obama.
What I believe he is misreading, what Obama can rely heavily on, is that the nation is pretty unified over the idea that the problem demands a long-term solution and now. All those months of stroking to whip up a froth of "you can't spend more than you make" has left the wrong impression of the Republicans in this constituency. It's not about cutting spending deeply, it's about making more money for them. The American people understand that there will be sacrifices, but they remember the Great Depression and World War II when everyone sacrificed. We're all in agreement spending should be cut, and while we may disagree in detail, in the long, broad strokes we get it.
Cutting Grandma's blood pressure medicine won't do it. Cutting ExxonMobil's taxes sure as hell won't do it. The American people want a solution that they can examine, agree with, and then conveniently ignore, secure in the knowledge the problem is wll in hand, and not rising again in six months' time. We, like the markets, prefer certainty, not a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" buyoff.
Which leads me to point number two that I think Boener is misreading: apart from Ryan's universally panned $6 trillion debt cutting plan, President Obama's proposals are the only ones on the table (not even Reid's match his numbers) that will permanently cut the debt, mount revenues while shedding risky behavior like farm subsidies and plug other corporate loopholes.
If the GOP is successful in kicking the can down the road, Obama can simply run the tape of these past few weeks where he has been stiff in his resolve to seek a permanent solution to the problem. "See? I told you so!" would be a mantra that he could run on.
Meanwhile, in the intervening six months, the GOP has to winnow down the seven dwarves, err, twelve monkeys to a viable field in the primaries. If you think that the debt ceiling isn't going to be a major topic of conversation that the GOP will be arguing back and forth, up and down, in and out until the cows come home, thus softening the impact of any media campaign the GOP leadership might roll out, you'd have to be an idiot, Mr. Weaker Boener.
We don't have much of an attention span, we Americans, but over and over again, we've shown the distinct ability to sniff out garbage, which is precisely what you offer.
Monday, July 25, 2011
The White House has never gotten serious about tackling the serious issues our nation faces — not without tax hikes — and I don't think they ever will. The path forward, I believe, is that we pull together as a team behind a new measure that has a shot at getting to the president's desk. It's won't be Cut, Cap & Balance as we passed it, but it should be a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap & Balance. We're committed to working with you — and with our Republican colleagues in the Senate — to get it done. No one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.And I think the leaders in both parties and both houses of Congress already agree that we need significant reductions. But if we stick together, I think we can win this for the American people . . . because I do think there is a path. But it's gonna require us to stand together as a team. It's gonna require some of you to make some sacrifices. If we stand together as a team, our leverage is maximized, and they have to deal with us. If we're divided, our leverage gets minimized.
The president's position of forcing us to give him a debt limit increase through the election is purely political and indefensible. He cannot sustain or defend putting politics above the country's interests in this situation. Let me tell you, though, he has the microphone. The only way to overcome him is to remain united and insist that every dollar the debt limit is increased, we have equal or more dollars in spending cuts without ANY tax hikes.
“He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,” lawyer Geir Lippestad told independent TV2 news.
[...]Breivik hated “cultural marxists”, wanted a “crusade” against the spread of Islam and liked guns and weightlifting, web postings, acquaintances and officials said.
So in one neat little paragraph, we have the entire right wing of the United States in a nutshell, eh? "Socialism," "Islamism," gun nut, white Aryanist. If only he ate Cheetos in mom's basement, he could be Jim Hoft!
Not that there's anything wrong with understanding the schools of thought Breivik subscribed to. It is important that he emerged out of an intellectual movement that includes Brussels Journal, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer, as it shows how he developed and formed his worldview.