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Posts Tagged ‘Republicans

Clip From ‘Brave, Honest Conservatives’ and Social Insurance

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Mark Thoma: Social Insurance: “Socialism is a low mean, low variance economic system…. Worker income, though low, is not subject to substantial variation over time. Other economic risks, such as access to housing and risks related to healthcare are also very low…. Under capitalism the average level of income is much higher, but economic risk is higher as well…. A worker who has shown up to work every day and worked hard to support a family can be suddenly unemployed for reasons unrelated to anything connected to his or her own behavior…. In an agrarian economy, economic security is provided by extended family relationships coupled with the largely self-sufficient nature of farms…. For a worker dependent solely upon wage income, the consequences of a recession are much more severe…. 1920 marks a benchmark year where, for the first time, more than half of the population lived in cities. When the Great Depression hit around a decade later, the social changes the U.S. was experiencing and the need for new ideas regarding the government’s responsibility for the economic security of its citizens became clear. The Great Depression made it evident that in a capitalist system, where the whimsies of the marketplace can wreak havoc on people’s lives, the government has an obligation to provide economic security. It was also evident that the private sector did not provide the needed level of insurance and that government intervention was required to overcome this problem (due to both moral hazard and asymmetric information problems in the private insurance market).”

The entire post by Thoma (an economist) is well worth the time spent reading it.

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Written by Valerie Curl

January 26, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Missing 20th Century Republican Roots….

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Regarding the desire of many on the left and among Democrats to see the GOP die, I have very mixed emotions. I remember a very different GOP: one which had lived through the Great Depression and WWII and was firmly committed to fiscal responsibility, rebuilding and renewing the homeland, staying out of foreign military engagements as much as possible, and creating economic growth and security for everyone.

With this ignorant and bombastic GOP, I say keep up the publicity ’cause they’ll continue to lose and maybe lose even more sooner if the current Democratic fundraising push has legs, provided, of course, that the GOP doesn’t rig the electoral game too much more in their favor regardless of what is in the best interests of a constitutional democratic Republic. (FYI, a lot of these sneaky gerrymandering, etc., actions were Cheney’s grand idea. Another reason to hate that rotten old SOB.)

Movement conservative GOP libertarian ideology

Yes, I do want them to lose because they do not represent the GOP I grew up knowing and appreciating for their conservative yet economic moderation, understanding and knowledge of fiscal realities, their desire to rebuild and renew the American physical and economic landscape, and to keep Americans out of more wars. The modern conservative movement, and its many faceted coalition, no longer represent, let along understand, what those earlier Republicans stood for or helped build. Let alone why.

On the other hand, I’d like to see a renewal of a more centrist, post WWII like GOP, aka Eisenhower or Rockefeller Republican party, who were fiscally responsible (as in raised taxes to keep deficits and spending down), did not believe in American Imperialism or being the world’s great cops and liberty bringers, and recognized that the way to create both wealth and a strong functioning society was build the up middle class by providing economically family sustainable jobs and economic opportunity (including quality k-12 and affordable higher education) to anyone who worked hard enough to rise up through the ranks as two of my uncles did within major corporations to senior management ranks.

Those same old-fashioned Republicans, now called RINOs and who have been driven from the party by the Limbaughs, Ericksons, Coulters, and Hannitys of the GOP infotainment media universe, were the ones who also believed in efficient but enforced financial regulations that kept our financial system sound for 50 years. A financial soundness they knew had never happened before in the nation’s history, but at the same time empowered tremendous growth and development of new businesses, quite often through the sharing of financial and information resources of combined government and private enterprise.

Those Republicans had lived through the Great Depression and deeply understood the economic, family, and social harm caused by that speculative financial crash. Even Reagan proudly said he was an FDR Democrat (and a union head) until the ’60s when Democrats went too far left (and yes, Reagan was wrong on Medicare – the best thing the nation could do today economically would be to let go of its obsession with employer provided health care for one of the other OECD models in order to save well over a trillion dollars annually. But many like Reagan believed the AMA denunciations of Medicare way back when).

They, too, had experienced real war, unlike most in the GOP today who either like McCain cannot forget, let alone forgive, leaving Vietnam without winning, or hold to a Cheney-Kristol neo-con belief in American Imperialism that would have been antithetical to the Greatest Generation Republicans who fought WWII. Anyone who had read the dispatches of Ernie Pyle – there’s an out of print book of them and his diaries – quickly understands why Eisenhower kept the US out of more wars. Most of today’s leading GOP pundits and followers hold fast to their guns but have absolutely no knowledge or experience with actual realities of war. I’d bet few of them have ever seen the mid-1950s TV series, “Victory at Sea” that was aired every Sunday morning. They think guns, shooting, et al, are all fun and games kind of like a video game. But Ernie Pyle wrote about the dirty, bloody underside of war. Embedded with Army, he wrote about slogging through the mud, the American GIs (and himself) exhausted and worn out; seeing the bombed, bloody body parts of American GIs he knew spread across the landscape; seeing and feeling death and destruction everywhere as the Army moved north in Italy towards Germany.

My father and mother’s generation had lived through the hell of the Great Depression and WWII. My Dad rode the rails as a teenager, looking for work to send money home to his family and to support himself. My mom’s family lost their home and moved into a cousin’s barn, while my grandfather walked the highways and streets of eastern Washington, selling spices door to door. My dad convinced his mother to lie about his age so he could join the Army and later transferred to the Army Air Corps because he was allergic to horses. He and two other uncles became part of the USAF during WWII. Dad flew missions over Africa. My two other USAF uncles flew missions over Germany. Another uncle was lost when his ship was sunk in the Pacific. That is what Eisenhower knew about war and what today’s neo-cons have never experienced war and do not know…and have never experienced. They never joined up. They have never known the dirt and exhaustion, the horrors of the killing and the ugliness of death.

These prissy gun-toting haters of our social safety net have never experienced the fear, loss and devastation that my parents and grandparents went through. Worse, they don’t care to even learn or even understand. But the Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans knew just as Democrats of that era knew. Just as my Republican parents and grandparents knew. They had seen and lived through the worst of deregulation and speculation as well as the real horrors of war. They demanded stability, economic growth and opportunity for a better life than the one in which they had grown into adulthood. They demanded some sense of economic security and the knowledge that the killing was over. They supported reasonable, sound gun laws, as did the NRA in those days, to end the killing of which they had seen far too much.

They supported a social safety net because they knew how easily it was to lose everything they had worked years to achieve to be left with nothing: not homes, not jobs, not businesses, and often without families. They approved of restrictive regulations on Wall St. to prevent another Great Depression, caused by over speculation and gambling. Even the very McKinley-like Lochner SCOTUS eventually finally gave way to public demand for more social equity that put workers on a equal footing with owners and eventually gave way for more new business development and opportunity.

These are the reasons why Reagan was an FDR Democrat until the overreach of Democrats in the ’60s. For all of the GOP’s glorification of Reagan, they have quite literally forgotten, or chosen to ignore, what he had lived through and who he really was. They’ve twisted him into a McKinley laissez-faire hero he never was. In truth, he probably felt closer to a Rockefeller Republican with a great deal of sympathy for 1950s McCarthy-Bircher anti-communistic ideology. There is no where in his record of actions, legislation or speeches in which he preaches a laissez-faire, libertarian ideology. He was a real product of both the Great Depression and World War II…not of the cynical, selfish, ignorant modern movement conservative. I know. I lived in California, as an adult, during his Governorship as well as his Presidency. I watched him and I saw him. He is nothing like what modern conservative claim him to have been. Even his breaking of the Air Traffic Controllers Union was a product of union over reach rather than a hatred of unions. As a union negotiator, he knew and understood the values of unions in protecting the membership’s wages and benefits as opposed to inflating corporate profits at the expense of workers.

So, if and when the GOP returns to its 20th Century, post Great Depression, roots, I will begin to root for it as my parents did. Until then, I will pray – and work towards – for the national and state wide demise of its current incarnation. I believe our nation – and all her people – deserves better than the current GOP.

Rebuttal to Book Review: Forgotten Conservatives in American History

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Thomas JeffersonOn the American Conservative website, Stephen M. Klugewicz favorably reviewed the book, Forgotten Conservatives in American History by Brion McClanahan and Clyde Wilson. The main thesis of the book, to which Klugewicz approves, is that many forgotten great American conservatives have been ignored by history professors, etc, who have chosen a liberal – or progressive – definition of history that excludes those who these three consider great conservatives.

I have a hard time accepting many of the people noted in the review are real conservatives, in the Burkean sense. My take on Burke, whose ideas I only know from cursory reading, is that he would have been appalled by the South choosing secession, or war, as several of the author’s – and the reviewer – choices advocated. In addition, the authors’ bent towards Southern Civil War arguments on State’s Rights reveals a thorough misunderstanding the volatile and varied arguments that occurred throughout the 13 states during the development of the Constitution.

MIT’s Pauline Maier’s Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 provides an excellent description, taken from newspaper accounts, personal diaries, and legislative records of the time, of the often hyperbolic arguments that occurred throughout the states. One of the biggest arguments was, indeed, over states’ rights. But unlike what we now hear of states’ rights vs federal government, it was whether states’ rights (e.g. state governments) took precedence over “the people.”

Several delegates to the convention, mainly from southern slave holding states, argued that states’ rights should be primary while the rights of the people were secondary. Obviously, that argument was lost to anyone seriously reading the Constitution, but the compromise the delegates chose was to limit federal powers to such things as affected all citizens and to not end slavery.

It should be noted, too, that Madison, Randolph, and Mason – all of Southern states – first wrote letters to each other and then to Jefferson and finally to Washington advocating the idea of a Constitutional Convention, rather than attending the upcoming, though lowly attended, Confederation Congress and putting their ideas before that Congress.

It was these men who saw first saw the states’ rights issue as unworkable for a strong, economically healthy, growing nation. Individual state coinage valuations, individual state debts, and disparate taxation had failed in their opinions. The new nation, they argued, needed a strong central government with one currency for trade stability and one main taxation method to stabilize the crushing states’ debt and one strong central government to bring all the states together into one cohesive whole.

So, in a larger sense, the notion of states’ rights as envisioned by many pre-Civil War separatists as well as by some now completely misreads history and the arguments that caught up the entire 13 colonies, from editorial writers to barkeeps to farmers and everyone in between, prior to the passage of the Constitution.

I’m not a conservative in the current definition of that term. I probably would be considered more Burkean with a bit of Adam Smith and more than a bit of TR domestic economic progressivism. Of course, many of my beliefs and leanings comes from having studied European history, especially social history, from the Dark Ages forward. As well as having lived a fairly long and well traveled life within the U.S.

Thus, many of those greats whom the authors applaud I find more than a bit elitist and regressive. HL Mencken, for example, positively hated average workers while glorifying what he considered to be his class: the educated, well heeled aristocrats of society. His works and comments fairly drips of disdain for average workers. As for Cleveland, while he ran a clean administration (something almost new during that age of political corruption,) his fiscal policies probably led to the rise of the riots and silver policy arguments sparked in the West mainly by farmers who were being destroyed by the railroads.

So, what I see in this book review is an argument for conservatism based on protecting the economic elite regardless of every other citizen’s economic outlook as well as a general misunderstanding of the founding of the Constitution.

I understand the desire for movement conservatives to rewrite history that favors their side of the political and ideological aisle as well as their desire to cast about for conservative American heroes, I find many of their heroes to be less than heroes and the arguments in favor of those heroes lacking in general scholarship as well understanding of a nation moving forwards towards “a more perfect union.”

No union can be perfect if nearly half the nation, either in the past or the future, is left out of, ignored by, or excluded from the decision making process. History is the process of progressive change towards more equality of opportunity and decision making. Conservatives fail history’s lessons if they seek to promote a brand of conservatism that glorifies economic elitism over opportunities for the many.

The truly great accomplishments of TR’s progressivism and FDR’s populism and Ike’s understanding of the common man was that average Americans, without power and money, were able to break out of their family history, create new businesses and industries, and rise to wealth.

Thus, the modern conservative movement’s attempt to rewrite history in order to gain its own movement heroes seems a futile effort at best and a fallacy at worst. Nothing will stop history from moving towards a more equitable and open future.

Written by Valerie Curl

January 16, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Can American Labor Unions Be Relevant Again?

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      “I believe leaders of the business community, with few exceptions, have chosen to wage a one-sided class war today in our country — a war against working people, the unemployed, the poor, the minorities, the very young and the very old, and even many in the middle class of our society.”

      “I would rather sit with the rural poor, the desperate children of urban blight, the victims of racism, and working people seeking a better life than with those whose religion is the status quo, whose goal is profit and whose hearts are cold. We intend to reforge the links with those who believe in struggle: the kind of people who sat down in the factories in the 1930’s and who marched in Selma in the 1960’s.”

      – UAW President Douglas Fraser in 1978

Jerry Tucker Labor Leader and ActivistFor decades, American workers have progressively watched their incomes and working conditions decrease and their opportunities lowered. As a result, Americans continue to view the economy and their families’ prospects negatively. Every American knows why these reduced expectations are occurring, but no one seems to have a definitive answer.

On March 12, 2005 at the conference on “Work and Social Movements in the United States” at University of Paris – Sorbonne, the late Jerry Tucker, labor leader and activist, told the audience,

”America’s 21st century workers need a labor movement committed to fight alongside them against those ‘who would destroy us and ruin [their] lives’ and leaders who have the courage to launch a strategic counter-offensive against the aggression on all fronts. If there are such leaders, they can start by openly ‘speaking truth to power’ and denouncing corporate America’s war on workers and working class communities, naming the ideological nest the perpetrators swarm out of, and condemning the overwhelming government backing they receive.

Yes, today many American workers are cynical and, collectively, do have reduced expectations. They know all too well that their quality of life is under attack and, for many of them, that unionism has not held up its end in the struggle. That was also true in the early 1930s. But that does not mean now, as then, that the willingness to fight back, the urgency to resist injustice, and the desire for dignity have been driven from the consciousness of our sisters and brothers. They have it in them to engage in struggle when they perceive the struggle has immediacy in their lives, when the injustices are real, and when they know they will not be alone. There are among them good and even great leaders for the struggle to come. A program that reconnects with workers built around their needs at the base, not just the notions of distant bureaucrats, is the way to start rebuilding the labor movement.

With history as our guide, the revitalization of the labor movement also cannot occur without a revitalization of an independent left within labor. U. S. labor as we know it today, and as is demonstrated by the narrow limits of the AFL-CIO debate, lacks the credibility to form the multi-lateral and multi-racial relationships for a new, dynamic social movement. A revival of progressive, socially-conscious left thinking internally could alter that reality and open up many new options.

U. S. labor needs a counter-offensive. And, the centerpiece of labor’s counter-offensive, with or without all current labor leaders, should be derived from a new vision of America based on justice and the creation of a new social intersection for all of those abused by the nexus of corporation and state and today’s neoliberalism.

A true crisis-resolution strategy must re-introduce a culture, and shared vision, of struggle and of common defense, through worker-to-worker, union-to-union, and social-movement-to-social-movement solidarity. Under one broad social banner, we need to declare war on poverty, racism, sexism, imperialism, and the denial of the fundamental right to affordable health care for all, full employment, shorter work-time, and many others of the true values due all participants in a just society.

Crisis-bound, U.S. labor is at a crossroads. The direction it takes will impact, for better or worse, the lives of a majority of all Americans.” [my emphasis]

The Status Quo is Not Enough

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Throughout most of November I was sick so I neglected my regular posts. In addition, it seemed as though far too many American voters just don’t care enough about what was and is happening and who continues to influence Congressional members (for example, per Pew Poll results (pdf): 61% of those polled have never heard of Grover Norquist). It’s doubly hard to maintain a positive attitude and seek to change the national dialog when so many voters don’t have a clue as to what is going on and don’t seem to care. Nevertheless, I will continue to try because I do care about my country: the country my ancestors helped found and defend for nearly 300 years.

So, here’s my editorial of the day…and maybe the week.

House Speaker Boehner, President Obama, Minority Leader Senator McConnell

Regarding the upcoming debt ceiling fight that Senator Graham (R- SC) announced this week, I’m sure Republicans believe that Obama will give in again rather than risk the nation’s credit rating and default on the debt as he did last year. However, given Obama’s recent sharp rhetoric to the nation’s business leaders, he’s very likely to allow the GOP to shut the government down rather than give in to them. As a result, the interest on the debt and the military will be paid. Beyond that, who knows.

All other payments will depend upon how much existing and incoming cash exists for any other payments. Further, it’s possible interest rates on the debt will increase which will exacerbate the debt situation, and defaulting on the debt – or even putting the debt in jeopardy of default – will put our national ability to retain the dollar as the world’s reserve currency at risk. Being the world’s reserve currency gives the US enormous latitude in cheap borrowing costs (safe haven for investments) that other nations simply do not have. China has been lobbying the BRICs for the last couple of years to end the dollar as the reserve currency in favor of another currency, presumably theirs. Just think how much more leverage a debt default will give China in its arguments against the dollar…and the US.

Nevertheless, once the GOP begins feeling the heat from their various constituents and donors as well as from the nation’s CEOs, they’ll back off and raise the debt ceiling. But by then the damage will already have been done to the nation’s credit rating as well a having put another knife in the heart of the GOP.

For those of you who believe that ending the GOP control of the House in the next election is eminent as a result of their intransigence and, frankly, economic stupidity, let me remind you of Republican gerrymandering in 2010. That gerrymandering will enable the House to remain in GOP hands until at least the next census in 2020 unless many of those GOP controlled districts suddenly turn blue. The only way to turn those gerrymandered GOP districts will become blue is for the Dems to have better policies and policy arguments that address the needs of ordinary middle income voters (jobs, income security, opportunity, economic growth, etc.) while at the same time putting our fiscal house in order.

Right now, the Dems need to focus on creating a new progressive movement to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Globalization is not going to go away, nor should it. Globalization has caused billions around the world to rise out of poverty. That’s a really good thing that Dems should applaud. Besides, unless the US wants a global trade war, it just ain’t gonna happen.

However, the Dems can create policies that address the immediate and long term challenges of globalization via better education (see Finland and Singapore, for example); a tax code that is fair both vertically and horizontally including eliminating much of needless spending on legacy industries; an improved patent system that enables/fosters innovation rather than suppresses innovation (see Ford vs owners of the Selden Patent); a reduction in the financialization of the US economy through better, more effective regulations and rules that puts (as in rewards) capital to work in the real economy rather than in speculation and short term investments/trading; and rebuilds/renews our national infrastructure to compete in the 21st century, and a host of other policies that encourages higher wages which make income subsidies unnecessary and irrelevant.

Meanwhile, Dems should push to reform the federal government to streamline it and make it more efficient. For example, think about the DHS for a moment. Has the DHS made the nation’s security branches more effective or efficient? Have the many national security branches worked together better and more effectively? Has the monies allocated to DHS over the last 10 years been effectively and efficiently spent – or has Congress doled out the cash in its usual inefficient, vote getting, pork laden manner?

Our federal government is based on an early 20th Century model that has grown exponentially while not becoming more efficient or effective. Obama spoke a couple of years ago during his State of the Union message about this problem and asked Congress to help/authorize him collapse departments and consolidate similar programs. Congress did nothing in response. Nothing! Because doing so means loss of generous donors (“Mr. CEO, we’re thinking about changing the law…”) as well as loss of individual, personal power via chairmanships and other important committee positions. Yet, the GOP felt perfectly comfortable in the last election attacking Obama for not making the federal government more efficient by consolidating similar programs (i.e., employment programs); yet, only Congress has the power to do so since Congress took the power to collapse department and consolidate programs away from the President many decades ago.

Beyond these suggestions, Dems need to better communicate their ideas and policies. Essentially, they need a wordsmith like Frank Luntz on their side of the political spectrum. It’s not enough to have better policy ideas if they cannot communicate how those ideas will make lives better for the broader populace. Superior communications ability is what caused FDR to win all but about 7 electoral votes in his second election.

Moreover, Dems need an antidote to the Tea Party. It’s not appropriate to winning elections to deride the Tea Party as no-nothings or radicals or whatever. You don’t win elections by deriding and denigrating nearly half the voters.

Dems, across the board, and their supporters must understand the motives of the Tea Party and their supporters and build communications scripts that speak to their needs and fears as well as their hopes and longings. Deriding them does nothing but create more antagonism and stubborn hatred. Instead, answer their fears with understanding and assurances that we all, from whatever party allegiances, seek the same goal of a sustainable and prosperous country where everyone can find or achieve his/her dreams. In addition, Dems need to form a broad coalition of activists, akin to the Tea Party, to influence not only the national conversation as the Tea Party has but to influence primaries, even in Red State gerrymandered districts.

Finally, Dems need to work diligently to remove money from politics. As long as both sides of aisle depend upon corporate and special interest funding via lobbying dollars and PACs and hugely funded outside organizations (501(c)4s) like American Crossroads or Americans for Prosperity, nothing will ever change for the good of the American people at large. Right now, both sides of aisle award the highest fundraisers with chairmanships and other committee perks. Not on expertise or knowledge of the subject matter. (Thanks, Newt! We, the American people, really needed your putting fundraising dollars, in the mid 90s, ahead of subject matter knowledge and expertise.) But rather on their ability to fund raise.

The current scenario is not that much different than the early 1900s “Millionaires Congress” in which Congressional candidates and members were openly bought by millionaires. Even McKinley’s presidency was purchased by our Gilded Age millionaires. Our founders expected Congress to reflect the will of the people – their voting constituents – rather than those who through large donations buy and write legislation and seats. Yet, it’s not enough in this era of partisan politics to denounce via hyperbole our modern days millionaires (Koch Bros, Addelson, etc.), Dems must explain – clearly, succinctly and simply – why the ideas of those groups and people are wrong for America at large…and how their policy ideas will harm/hurt average American families – in which Dems very much believe – in our global economy and in our local and state communities.

Lastly, Dems must communicate a better understanding of the rising libertarian movement within the GOP. Even though Friedman’s neo-liberal financial movement gained wide support throughout the country, it’s fallacious underpinnings have begun to crumble worldwide, especially in the BRIC countries.

Moreover, classical libertarianism, as espoused by Heyak, is not opposed to many Dems policies, such as retirement security (i.e. social security) and national health care. Hayek, in a published paper (pdf) for a Chicago audience, stated that he was not a conservative but a classical liberal, meaning he did not look back at the past but towards the future and all it might hold. In addition, he stated that many of the changes which the future might hold would necessitate the state providing income security (i.e, unemployment benefits and retirement) and national health care to the masses. He saw these benefits as not evils but as beneficial and appropriate for social stability.

Dems should be proclaiming what Hayek said as akin to their philosophy along with libertarian ideology against perpetual war and loss of individual freedoms per the NDAA and Patriot Act. True libertarians, not the Ayn Rand Koch Bros version, are natural allies of Dems, if only Dems would wake up to that fact. Where Hayek and Dems differ is on regulation. Hayek lived during the rise of Communism and feared Stalinism, with good reason. But Stalin’s – and even Mao’s – Communism was defeated; the modern state is not going to now or ever control the means and ownership of production. The new free market state must fear, instead, the ownership of production and innovation by the few powerful. And this is where Friedman’s policies appear to break down because he did not address, in the larger public economic context, the rise of economic and political powerhouses to buy and shape policy that control the societal benefits of the larger political audience – the average voters. Hayek, while he was ultimately wrong, and yet right in his fear regarding the issue of Communism and Socialism, given the world’s turn towards free market capitalism, was an important voice of that era and, thus, his support for income security and health care should also provide mutually important points of discussion among Dems and true libertarians.

Moreover, an alliance with those young anti war-forever libertarians just might break the back of neo-con Republicans at the ballot box. Dems are not the party of forever wars or American imperialism. That ideology is a Cheney, et al, belief. It is not traditionally American nor does it reflect traditional American values. As a result, Dems could, if they used their powers of persuasion and understanding, move those young anti-imperialistic libertarians from the GOP into the Dem column, especially if Dems, as a policy platform, also openly promoted fair, open and honest financial industry dealings.

As I said, Dems need to create a new Progressive Era with entirely new policies that meet the challenges of a globalized 21st Century while reassuring average middle and working income voters that their voices are being heard and that the nation is becoming fiscally sound and secure. But as long as Dems keep fighting old wars and allowing the GOP – and the monied class – to set the agenda and dominate the national conversation, a new progressive movement cannot take place. A new TR cannot rise to the top until the nation is ready for a new progressive era. Thus, the job of every Dem should be to promote and discuss new, progressive ideas.

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Related articles:

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Five People Politico Should Have Called for Its Terrible Article on Fixing the Economy

Written by Valerie Curl

December 12, 2012 at 9:55 AM

No Principles

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2012 Presidential Candidates Romney and Obama

When I first read this story in The New Republic, I was shocked and disgusted. Now, I’m disgusted and appalled.

As you may have heard, Romney on Thursday scared the bejeezus out of Ohio autoworkers when, during a rally, he cited a story claiming that Chrysler was moving Jeep production to China. Thousands of people work at a sprawling Jeep complex in Toledo and a nearby machining plant. Many thousands more work for suppliers or have jobs otherwise dependent on the Jeep factories. It’s fair to say that they owe their jobs to President Obama, who in 2009 rescued Chrysler and General Motors from likely liquidation. If Chrysler moved the plants overseas, most of those people would be out of work.

The story turns out to be wrong. As Chrysler made clear the very next day, in a tartly worded blog post on the company website, officials have discussed opening plants in China in order to meet rising demand for vehicles there. They have no plans to downsize or shutter plants in the U.S. On the contrary, Fiat, the Italian company that acquired Chrysler during the rescue, just spent $1.7 billion to expand Jeep production in the U.S. That includes $500 million to renovate and expand the Toledo facilities, with 1,000 new factory jobs likely to follow. On Monday, about the same number of people will report for their first day of work in Detroit, when Chrysler adds a third shift to a Jeep plant it operates there.

The campaign does not appear to have announced the ad. The Obama campaign captured video of it, during a broadcast in the Toledo area. Here’s how it ends:

    Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.

Although the statements about Chrysler are true individually, together they imply that the Obama Administration’s action led to the outsourcing of American jobs. That is obviously false, both in the specific sense of what Chrysler is doing and in the more general sense of what the entire auto industry is doing. Just look at the numbers (or the graph below). According to the Bureau of Labor of Statistics, the number of autoworkers fell almost in half between 2002 and 2009, from around 1.1 million to around 600,000, as the industry was in something like a death spiral. Then, as Chrysler and GM were on the brink of true collapse, the Obama Administration stepped in with federal loans and a managed bankruptcy. Almost immediately, the automobile manufacturing sector started growing again. Since July, 2009, the workforce has risen by about 150,000 jobs and that’s purely in manufacturing. If you include parts manufacturing and other related jobs, it’s 250,000.

Auto Employment

And that’s the net increase. By providing Chrysler and GM with the financing they needed to avoid liquidation, the Obama Administration prevented those companies from putting more people out of work. Overall, according to estimates by the Center for Automotive Research, the rescue probably saved at least a million jobs.

Of course, this kind of deception is emblematic of the campaign Romney and his supporters have waged in the last few days. They insist that Romney never thought government should let Chrysler and GM collapse. But Romney’s vague and inconsistent rhetoric included statements that he would have opted for a “private sector bailout”—something that was not possible in 2009, because private investors were in no position to make the necessary loans.* As Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh wrote on Friday,

    Throughout the primary campaign, [Romney] joined other Republican candidates in a chorus of bailout-bashing and union-bashing when the auto bailouts came up, painting the Obama administration’s crisis-management effort as a reckless campaign to run up the national debt and do favors for labor unions.

Romney and the Republicans were wrong then and they are still wrong. But Romney has gone beyond normal political bounds.

Politics is often a dirty, nasty business, and politicians do lie and mislead. However, Team Romney chose to go well beyond the bounds of normal decency with this blatant attempt to scare workers with closure of their plant – and loss of their jobs – when no such plans exist in order to win votes.

With this ad and similarly misleading talking points, Romney has exposed his complete lack of principles and ethics. He has stepped well over the boundary of decency and proven that he will say and do anything to achieve his desired goal of becoming president.

The final question remaining is if Romney is elected president how many other unprincipled lies and deceits will he conjure to achieve his own ends. Where is his conscience and what are his ethics?

I’ve been watching politics, in particular presidential politics, since the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and I have never seen a more deceitful, unprincipled campaign as Romney’s. Even Nixon’s paranoia and criminal campaign did not disgust this much.

Team Romney’s unprincipled attempt to scare workers with the loss of their jobs for purely self-interested reasons should be enough to disqualify Romney. There is no excuse – none whatsoever – for deceptively scaring workers with the loss of their jobs. It’s sleezy, disgusting, and reprehensible.

Additional Note: I hope my readers will send this blog or the links to their friends, especially to those in swing states. Romney is not qualified.
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Important political stories:

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How to Act Human, Take Two: The Search for the Real Romney By James Lipton

Preventing National Decline

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Presidential Candidates Romney and Obama

I’ll be honest, I want Obama to win. Not because he’s a great president. We would need another TR or FDR for that. But campaign costs and the way campaigns are funded, along with Citizens United, make a real reformer president unlikely at present. Look what happened to Obama. He told Wall St during the ’08 campaign that he would raise their taxes and reform the financial system; when he actually tried they revolted to the tune of half a billion dollars in negative ads and lobbying.

Nevertheless, Romney will be a disaster as president.

This afternoon, I spent time reading some of my favorite financial and economics blogs: Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s Baseline Scenario and Jesse’s Café Americain. Through their blogs, I clicked over to a blog by Judge Richard Posner, appointed by Reagan, who now sounds more liberal than modern conservative Republican; then onto an interview with Glen Hubbard, Romney’s leading economics adviser (ugh, what a arrogant sleeze!); and then found a new blog, Capitalism Without Failure.

In each blog, I became more firmly convinced that if Romney is elected, Wall St and the uber wealthy will win; that we average people, like you and me, not only don’t count in their considerations, we’re irrelevant; and that any chance to reform the financial system into becoming a system that provides capital to businesses rather than a high stakes, high risk gambling casino will fail. Most of all, if the nation continues to celebrate the “greed is good” and “me first and only” ideology that has been fostered over the last 30 years, the nation will see another devastating depression within a few years. It will be far worse than the Great Recession and would likely spark violent revolutions worldwide.

Yesterday, I read a Business Week Charlie Rose interview with Jeremy Grantham who owns a highly successful equity fund business. He, too, is sincerely worried about coming events that the GOP ignores or has convinced its base is irrelevant or misleading (pdf). He told Charlie the U.S. is in for a major fall if it doesn’t wake up to what is going on worldwide and here at home.

Over and over again, I read the hazards that await the country if this nation doesn’t change paths. Obama, I believe, is attempting to change those paths if not well, considering the legacy of monied forces arrayed against him and his innate desire to cut a deal rather than being the progressive reformer TR was.

Romney, on the other hand, is a continuation of GW Bush on steroids, and the GOP Congress is worse. In Bloomberg View, Jonathan Alter writes that if Romney is elected, not only will we not know which Romney shows up at any particular moment, he’ll be constantly looking over his shoulder to the GOP Congress to see how he should act and what he should say. He’ll be led along by Norquist, DeMint, and Blackrock’s Schwartzman to name a few. Ryan will probably control the budget, just as Cheney controlled energy and national security.

Our nation is already suffering OECD ratings losses in a variety of competitive areas, from education to equity and mobility to loss of new business start ups to income security to health care to governmental ability to resolve problems and issues. Given the Romney-Ryan budget plans, neo-con national security advisers, and the whole far right wing conservative movement of the GOP, I cannot conceive of a Romney administration increasing the nation’s OECD competitive ratings…or even Harvard’s Business School Review’s competitive rankings.

It’s hard for me to believe that so many people have been conned by Romney. He’s a chameleon whose only beliefs are his destiny to become president (fulfilling Daddy’s dream?) and that the wealthy are superior beings. The US cannot be run as if it’s an LBO in the making. Or at least it should not be. As John Winthrop told his small community of colonists back in the early 1600s, the community needed to needed to take care of each other as Jesus required. And only in ensuring the economic viability and equitable opportunity of every colonist would that community become the “shining city on the hill” – the light of Jesus.

Yet, now, nearly one half of the nation would choose to elect a man, and a party, who choose to negate everything Winthrop told his Puritan parishioners and which that colony worked so diligently to achieve in terms of equity and opportunity, from free schools to physical and monetary care for the poor and disabled to income taxation based on ability to pay without causing family harm for the general needs of the commonweal.

There are plenty of things about which dislike the Obama Administration. But a Romney administration would be even worse – not by any stretch of the imagination better. Romney would lead the nation down the path of Depression and aggressive selfishness.

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