A discussion of race, politics, media and the like… What I see is what you get.

Posts tagged “Washington

How Brave Is Paul Ryan?


The answer is….not very brave at all.

To be sure, Paul Ryan is brave.

That’s the widespread moderate reaction to Ryan’s budget-slashing budget. He might be a monster, a bizarro class warrior, a heartless, draconian reverse-Robin Hood robber of the the American family. But how brave to put all that nasty stuff on paper!

Washington’s badge of courage for Ryan is an awkward honor. His ideas are widely reviled among moderate think tanks and Washington offices. Reducing Medicare by capping payments to seniors is one part reform and three parts politically-unacceptable rationing. It is, as my colleague Graeme Wood once said, a bit like trying to lose weight by binging on doughnuts while wearing a tight corset.

Ryan’s enthusiasm for slashing Medicare is shared by only 4 percent of the public. Four percent. The United States has eight times more ghost-believers than wannabe-Medicare-cutters. This is absurd, but it’s also refreshing. There is something redeeming about politicians sailing by their own values rather than tacking to adjust for every gust of public polling.

But where was this applause in November, when Rep. Jan Schakowsky, the most liberal member of the president deficit commission, proposed an equally bold proposal to fix out budget. She reformed Social Security exclusively with tax increases on people making more than $106,000. She cut spending but found 90 percent of the fat in defense. Then she killed $130 billion in tax benefits for companies without lowering their rate, leaving us with perhaps the highest effective corporate tax rate in the developed world. In all, her plan was 90 percent higher taxes and defense cuts. Ninety percent.

Calling for an historically high tax increase for the rich and corporate America is just as bold and courageous on the merits as a call for the end of Medicare and Medicaid, isn’t it? Why are Ryan’s ideas greeted with a hero’s welcome, even among moderates who disagree, while Schakowsky’s ideas were written off as boilerplate liberalism outside the lefty blogosphere?

How Brave Is Paul Ryan? – Atlantic Mobile.

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Why Washington Doesn’t Care About Jobs


As an independent progressive, my take on Republicans is well chronicled. But hidden in my extreme distaste for Republicans is my utter lack of patience for some Democrats. Namely, Blue Dogs, DINO’s, conservative Dems or anyone else who has taken on the talking points and perspective of a Republican but somehow still wants to call themselves a Democrat.

The analogy that Chris Hayes refers to about the lack of heat in certain office buildings, I think, makes the point. Washington does not have the sense of urgency that is needed when it is the people’s interest they are supposed to be serving. The notion of servanthood is lost, in most part, it seems to me, in the milieu of money and lobbyists and self-grandizement that appears to rule the day in Washington…meanwhile, regular people need heat or the opportunity to get the heat turned back on. Washington seems insulated, figuratively and literally.

Social distance of this sort isn’t new, of course. The “out of touchness” of the Beltway is such a cliché that Beltway denizens themselves love to invoke it to demonstrate their self-awareness. But I’d wager the social distance that characterizes this moment is probably as bad as it’s been in at least a generation. We’ve had more than three decades of accelerating inequality that has placed the top 10 percent further and further away from the bottom 90 percent, followed by a financial crisis and “recovery” that has only exacerbated these distributional trends. There were already Two Americas before the Great Recession, but in the wake of that seismic disruption, those two continents have only moved further apart.

This manifests itself in our politics in two ways. For one, it just so happens that policy-makers, pundits and politicians are drawn from the classes that are in recovery, and they live in an area where new sushi restaurants are opening all the time. For even the best-intentioned and most conscientious staffers and aides this has, I think, a subconscious effect. Think of it this way: two office buildings are operating side by side in Chicago’s Loop in the middle of a brutally cold January day, when the heat in both buildings gives out. The manager of one building has an on-site office, so he finds himself plunged into cold; the other building is managed remotely, from a warm office whose heat is functioning. If you had to bet, you’d guess that the manager experiencing the cold himself would have a bit more urgency in restoring the heat. The same holds for the economy. The people running the country are not viscerally experiencing the depredations of this ghastly economic winter, and they lack what might be called the “fierce urgency of now” in getting the heat turned back on.

The other problem is that our system is responsive only to voices at the top of the social pyramid—the bankers and businessmen who are raking in record bonuses and the professional upper middle class, which is recovering much faster than the nation as a whole. In a 2007 paper titled “Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness in the United States,” Princeton political scientist Martin Gilens analyzed 2,000 survey questions from 1981 to 2002, looking for the relationship between public opinion and policy outcomes. He found that “when Americans with different income levels differ in their policy preferences, actual policy outcomes strongly reflect the preferences of the most affluent but bear little relationship to the preferences of poor or middle income Americans.”

There is only so much social distance a society can take. The social science literature shows that as social distance increases, trust declines and aberrant and predatory behavior increases. The basic mechanisms of representation erode, and the social fabric tears. “An imbalance between rich and poor,” Plutarch warned, “is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” – Chris Hayes

via Why Washington Doesn’t Care About Jobs | The Nation.


The Forgotten Millions


I’ve said since the fall of 2009 that the President and the Dems needed to move “progressive/left” and populist. I still believe that. He needs to be the President that ran in 2007-2008. That rhetoric won the day and it is still popular. The fact that our politics now only discuss deficits and spending tells you just how complete the Republican rhetoric is and just how much the Dems need a counter-narrative to fight back. They had, and we voted for, a counternarrative in 2008… Where has it gone Mr President??

More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.

Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.

So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.

It might not be so bad if the jobless could expect to find new employment fairly soon. But unemployment has become a trap, one that’s very difficult to escape. There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.

In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care? – Paul Krugman

 

The Forgotten Millions – NYTimes.com.