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      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Thursday: Stating the Obvious

I was flipping through channels last night, trying very carefully to avoid broadcast news, when my low battery powered remote got stuck on PBS during the NewsHour.  There was Judy Woodruff interviewing Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin about their (yet another) budget deficit reduction plan.  This one is just another version of “stick it to the middle class” that has become the popular fad in Washington these days.  In this one, we get a sales tax!  Ooo, it’s like opening a new present every morning.

But what was funny about this interview was not their earnest but misguided assertion that if we, the naively childish middle class voters of America, would just understand what the problem is, we would thank them for bringing it to our attention before things got really bad.  It wasn’t the magical rearranging of the debt burden saddling us while the rich get away with murder with (yet another) income tax cut.  It’s not that these bipartisan groups to which no one WE know were invited to participate in keep coming up with new ways to screw us.  No, it was Domenici forgetting where he was.  Literally:

ALICE RIVLIN: We got a surplus. We both worked on that.

And we got the budget from a considerable deficit into surplus. And the way it was done was some tax increase and holding down spending. The caps on spending are the same idea that we had back in the ’90s. And it worked. It worked. Yes, it worked.

PETE DOMENICI: I want to say this one thing about this. And, as far as I’m concerned — tell me what I’m talking about, because I have forgotten.

JUDY WOODRUFF: About whether you believe that this will actually be solved, that the members of Congress will vote…

PETE DOMENICI: Oh. Yes. We were able to — we were able — we were able to do bipartisan work and get some big problems solved. [RD hides head in hands from embarrassment] This problem is many, many more times difficult for America. We’re going to be ruined as a nation and become a second-rate country if this debt is allowed to continue like it is.

So, we have a bigger, a more just reason to convince people. We convinced them then to work together. We ought to be able to now. It won’t be easy, but I believe leadership, including leadership from the president, is going to make this a war, a war on this debt. And, if we do that, we might win.

Well, I’m confident now.

(Ok, maybe I was too hasty.  Pete Domenici apparently suffers from a brain disorder that leads to Republicanism dementia.  My remarks might be misconstrued as a bit insensitive.  However, with that in mind, Domenici probably was not the best person to work on this committee or present it on TV.  It tends to make me not take this bipartisan task force very seriously)

By the way, Washington, the next time you want to set up (yet another) bipartisan group thingy to examine the deficit, I suggest you go through the formal route and have Congress do it so the people’s representatives, some of whom may be liberal Democrats (we’re not positive but some claim to lean that way) have some semblence of having the teeniest, tiniest input.  Otherwise, it doesn’t look legitimate to us and we will probably not “understand” and will be harder to “convince”.  JMHO

Paul Krugman weighs in on a national sales tax with some graphs to back it up but I’m with Atrios on this one.  (come to think of it, I’m in agreement with a lot of what Atrios wants like better urban planning and mass transit. If Obama hadn’t destroyed the left blogosphere, we might even be allies.  Go figure.)  The deficit hawks aren’t giving us any choices to reduce the deficit except on the backs of the middle class and I’m agin it until they do.

Accountability before Austerity

But I could think of at least one way to boost the nation’s economy in a big way that got taken down by Ben Nelson of Nebraska yesterday…

Join me below the fold…

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