Robert Kuttner on deficits and the like

Robert Kuttner writes and talks on KPFK about the deficit and the Bush tax cuts with Ian Masters. Of the many points made during the conversation and in his HuffPo piece, a distillation would include that the draft released by the Deficit Commission chairmen does not include allowing the Bush tax cuts (which have cost over 4 trillion during last decade) to ride off into the sundown, no mention is made of taxing financial speculaton which would hit the rich in the pocketbook but might serve to reign in dangerous speculation and increase revenues to the state as well, does not fess up to the notion that belt-tightening maneuvers are not well suited to an economy in the toilet with several hundred thousand home foreclosures every month and a job creation rate too low to bring down unemployment.

Writing of Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chairman of what Obama calls a non-partisan commission (only 4 of the 18 members are progressives while the other 14 are rich, and the salaries of the Commission are footed by long-time deficit ‘fetisher’billionaire Pete Peterson who has managed to get legislation created that allows him to pay less taxes than school teachers and bus drivers), Kuttner says:

“These people do live on another planet — Planet Wall Street. Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair, has spent most of his life as an investment banker. He began at Morgan Stanley, and now serves on its board, where he collects a fee of $335,000 a year for attending a few annual meetings. That’s more than 99 percent of Americans earn for working full time.”

LSW would like to add that the Republican co-chair, Alan Simpson wrote in an email to Ashley Carson, executive director of the National Older Women’s League (OWL) that Social Security Is Like a “Milk Cow with 310 Million Tits!”, and concluded saying that “call when you get honest work!”.

LSW wonders what drives Obama set up a deficit commission which is for and by the very rich? And appoint bozos (at least in the deficit economic sphere) like these two to run the fool thing? It’s not these guys’ belts that will be tightened.

Kuttner points out that the American public is not upset about budget deficits but about the continuing economic calamity.

On Social Security, which runs a surplus and which the Commission chairmen have placed on the chopping block:

“What pushed Social Security (very slightly) into the red is the fact that all the income gains have gone to the top. The chairmen’s draft report, with its rhetoric of equal sacrifice, gets 92% of proposed Social Security savings from cutting benefits, and just 8 percent from increasing the income ceiling on payroll taxes. Some sharing.”

He says that if the deficit hawks get their way (and no investment is made in the upgrade of the physical and electronic infrastructure and no jobs are created and the states continue to strapped for cash, the economic calamity will continue, producing an ever worse political state of affairs for Obama who may well wind up being a one and done President. If the state does not invest, at a time when no one else is investing, consumer demand will not increase, job creation will continue to wallow in the swamp, unemployment will not decrease with the result that no one will be buying, investment will remain low and on and on and on. The rich have more than enough, the rest not enough.

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