Monday, October 1, 2012

Whoever Wins, We Still Lose

I have long believed that this country is in serious decline. To me the upcoming elections are less about whether or not that decline continues than more about the rate or rapidity of our inevitable decline. Occasionally a small non-partisan voice attempts to "tell it like it is"; unbiased and with sobering clarity - one such is Jack Rasmus:

Excerpts from his recent post: "The Coming Obama-Romney Economic Debate-Economic Program Similarities and Differences": (Hopefully Dr. Rasmus has no objections to my citing portions of his blog) You can read the entire article in detail here.
While there are several dramatic differences between the Obama and Romney economic programs, there are also several almost identical programs shared by both. Both favor major reductions in corporate taxes. Both advocate hundreds of billions in social spending cuts, including entitlement programs. Both are almost identical in their positions on Free Trade...

... both propose to extend much of the Bush tax cuts—Obama suspending the cuts for the top 3% and Romney eliminating tax credits for the working poor and lower middle class...

...Both appear quite willing to gut Medicaid spending, with Romney cutting other discretionary spending by additional trillions over the decade...

...These comparisons mean that, regardless who is elected president, an historic reduction in social program spending is on the agenda for the weeks immediately following the November 2012 elections....

...that has prompted this writer repeatedly to predict the likelihood of a double dip recession in 2013...

... if Obama is re-elected, the fiscal austerity coming in early 2013 may be delayed a year and effectively ‘back loaded’ to start taking its greatest effect a year later in 2014. But if Romney is elected and Republicans control either, or both, houses of Congress the more draconian austerity programs will take effect earlier in 2013. That alone will ensure a double dip recession...

Dr. Jack Rasmus is the author of the new book, “Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few”, April 2012, and host of the radio show, ALTERNATIVE VISIONS, on the Progressive Radio Network, PRN.FM, in New York, on Wednesdays at 2pm.


Rain Trueax said...

It's not what Robert Reich said on the video he just created. I guess we will see. The one definite difference is where it comes to health care-- zilch from Romney if we can believe what he said and social issues like gay marriage, abortion and birth control. There is a lot at stake where it comes to Supreme Court Judges also. I just had a physical exam for the first time in three years (not because of money but just I don't do doctors if I don't have to) and it was totally free, not even a co-pay as a Medicare/Advantage patient. At the clinic where I go, they have little clippings taped to the desks-- how good the health care plan is and will be. So I guess time will tell. If Romney wins, the first day according to him will see the end of what i just enjoyed with that physical and no copay. I think personally if we give Obama a Democratic majority, it will lead to single payer. If we continue with blocked government, then who knows.

Rubye Jack said...

Yelp, it's a sad situation.

Antares Cryptos said...

I am afraid you're right. Then again, the future is unpredictable.

Stinkypaw said...

Sad to see that no matter which side of the border we're on, things are the same... argh.

Beach Bum said...

...Both appear quite willing to gut Medicaid spending...

I respectfully have to disagree on that statement. Yes, Paul Ryan has made his plans clear on that part but I have yet to hear of anything along those same lines from Obama.

Most reasonable and intelligent projections on the Medicare growth rate do show that costs are spiralling out of control and will have to be brought under some sort of control.

For me it's just a question whether Romney wins with him going for the Ryan plan and slashing everything while INCREASING defence spending and giving ever larger tax breaks to millionaires or do we keep Obama and have him HOPEFULLY force something through congress that is somewhat humane.

For me the debate is less a choice between two presidential evils and more of one where liberals and progressives work to elect a congress with at least a modicum of intelliegence.

As for the ultimate question of America being in decline I tend to agree. The controlling power structure of what amounts to dominant white males (WASPS) is being replaced with a far more diverse society with African-Americans, Hispanics, and other groups playing a much larger part in the country.

Whites are desperate to cling to power and are doing everything they can to retain control.

for the sake of my kids, and the fact immigrating to some other country is very difficult, I have to keep some faith that once the old order is finally replaced the United States will recover.

Tommykey said...

If I had to pick an historical parallel, I would go with the Roman Empire in the mid to late 4th century. It's still very strong but beset with growing problems internally and externally. One or two major catastrophes are all it takes to inflict a serious injury that cannot be healed.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Rain Well Romney has been back-pedaling on health care, wanting to keep some parts of it. The American Taliban wants the baby thrown out with the bath water, of course. This essay again is only focusing on the economic plans of both candidates; issues like reproductive rights, gay rights, etc adre quite divergent between the two candidates. Yes, I would love a single-payer system... corporations will NEVER allow that to happen regardless of what is best for us.

Rubye More sad for the generation behind us. I see my grandchildren living in a USA that will look more like Mexico or India.

Cryptos Oh I think there is definitely some inevitability here; our manufacturing base is GONE, the "transfer ow wealth" has been remarkably successful for the top 3% and they are NOT going to allow that to change. If Rupert Murdoch had figures out to also make the Spanish language network "Telemundo" part of his empire, he can easily sway another hugely growing demographic to vote against their own best interests. The list goes on.

Stinky Well, the salivating over corporate profits knows no borders.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Tommy I would agree, good parallel. The mantra against Iran will likely Escalate into military action. It will be a double tragedy in that the Iranian people love Americans, but their leadership has a different agenda. All of our resources will be diverted to our Legionnaires (Military Industrial Complex, as Eisenhower described it). We already have the Television equivalent of the Roman Coliseum in our enjoyment of victimizing of people in the reality shows. All the signs are there.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Beach Bum I was going to quote back sections of the article in reply to this but instead, if you go back to the article and skip down to the heading "HEALTHCARE-MEDICARE/MEDICAID" there is a good explanation. The ACA focused on insurance but not bringing the spiring cost of medical care Poroviders) under control. This forces Obama to need to cut $700 billion Medicare/Medicaid costs.

When you mention electing a Congress "with at least a modicum of intelligence", you have to remember that these men and women are dependent on campaign donors who represent corporate interests. There is one lobbyist for each and every member of Congress representing just the Pharmaceutical industry alone. THESE are the people our representatives listen to, not you or me.

Tom Sightings said...

Tommy may may or many not be right -- we'll never know -- but I would compare our situation more to the 1970s, with its energy problems, terrible economy and troubles in the Mideast. Unfortunately, we didn't learn much ... we still have all the same problems! But I believe there's still time to make progress, if we stop insulting one another, pull together, make some compromises, develop practical solutions, etc., etc. Step 1: Turn off the cable news channels.

Robert the Skeptic said...

SightingsThere is a MAJOR SIGNIFICANT difference between what happened to our Representative Republic between the 1970's and today, mainly: ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council:

"A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge." ~ Bill Moyers

This coordinated organized effort to undermine the public interest for the gain of corporations has only recently come to light. Video here.

Nothing remotely like this existed, nor to this extent, back in the 1970's.

billy pilgrim said...

do any of their economic projections include servicing the debt with higher interest rates or how to deal with soaring food costs due to droughts brought on by global warming? i'm sure both candidates are aware of these and countless other obstacles but they're both willing to sell their souls in order to get elected.

if their polling and focus groups told them that the voters were interested in these problems, then they might deal with them. they both seem to act more like followers rather than leaders.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I don't see it as two nearly-equally bad candidates. I think Romney is bad news all across the board. The idea of him being President (and his ilk running the country) scares the bejeebers out of me.

Ingineer66 said...

Interesting debate going on here. I find it funny how the double dip is being delayed by Obama. Of course it is. That is why most of Obamacare doesn't kick in until 2013 and 2014. I also find it funny how Obama who is a democrat and supposedly all about the worker is telling defense contractors to violate federal law and not give required notice to workers that are about to be laid off until after the election. This guy will do anything to get votes.

Rain, maybe I am wrong but I thought the Healthcare Affordability Act eliminated Medicare Advantage?

Robert I will have to go with Tommykey on his analogy. We will never be Mexico, even if we have a high percentage of Hispanics in this country. Even the Mexicans here do not want us to be Mexico.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Billy You are, of course, discussing complexities far beyond the comprehension of the average American voter. And they are immaterial with regard to getting elected - research shows that, although focus groups may banter about real issues, the final vote is cast by how people "feel" about a candidate. In short, facts don't enter into it.

Secret Agent I probably didn't emphasize enough that the topic focused on in this article was specifically the economy. Indeed, if you read the full Rasmus article, Obama's policies are only less draconian. On the points where both candidates differ to little degree is in their yielding to the entrenched corporate interests.

Now, as you point out "across the board" such as on non-economic matters (women's rights, gender equity, etc.) Obama's position is in stark opposition to Romney's and the President has my support hands-down. HERE there are most significant differences.

Ingineer On the issue of defense contractors (and other similar issues)... Thanks for pointing out that Obama isn't perfect, I would never have guessed.

My point about the country evolving into a "Mexico" has nothing to do with Hispanics and everything to do with our nation ending up with a miniscule middle class, an even more microscopic wealthy elite, and a huge burgeoning underclass, just like Mexico. Yes, Hispanics will not want to come here because in Mexico the Mexican people (unlike us) have national medical insurance.

Lastly, with regard to your observation regarding Obama: "This guy will do anything to get votes." I am so glad Romney hasn't stooped to that level... aren't you too?

Ingineer66 said...

Robert, my main point is that Obama is asking companies to violate a law meant to protect workers. Don't you think that is a bit ironic for a Democrat? Or for any President to advocate the violation of law? The hypocrisy on this one surprises even me.

What if a Republican President told people to go ahead and blockade abortion clinics and the Federal Government would pay for their legal defense. The left and the media would be having a conniption fit and rightfully so.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Ingineer I'm going to give you this one on having it appear like a "political" posture during an election. With regard to the President advocating "breaking the law"... not so fast. The layoffs are not assured, they may not happen; the Federal Government is saying it isn't going to hold companies liable for not notifying their employees of something that is not yet a done deal.

"On Friday, the Obama administration reiterated that federal contractors should not issue notices to workers based on “uncertainty” over the pending $500 billion reduction in Pentagon spending that will occur unless lawmakers can agree on a solution to the budget impasse, negotiations over which will almost definitely not begin until after the election."

"At White House Request, Lockheed Martin Drops Plan to Issue Layoff Notices", ABC News

Here is the actual order by the OMB:

So the real question is: are the Republicans milking this for all they are worth, suggesting they may not agree to continue the budget... in other words, lay off workers just to make Obama look bad before the election? Seems pretty dangerous for Republicans to be saber-rattling with funding for their pet constituency: Military contractors.

Rather than use your abortion clinic analogy comparing apples with oranges; can you tell me with absolute certainty that, were Romney the one in the Oval Office, he wouldn't do the exactly same thing?

I know Conservatives like to magnify everything Obama does into monstrous proportions, but really, this does not rise to the level of wholesale disregard for the will of Congress or the Constitution... like say "Iran-Contra" or "Watergate". Remember our old friend Tricky Dick even said: "If the President does it, it's not illegal".

But yes, I agree with you... whether it is or is not, it has the appearance of political ass-covering. He should have known that he would be accused of that; I would have let the notices go out and blame it on the Republican House foot-dragging on everything budgetary the last two years.

Ingineer66 said...

I am not Mitt Romney so I do not know if he would have done the same thing or not. But we all know Republicans are horrible employee hating bastards so everybody would expect him to. The man that has his Labor Department stop a Boeing plant from opening in South Carolina and creating thousands of good paying jobs because it is a right to work state, you would think would not want to see union workers screwed over in the name of political expediency. But we can look at Bengazi and know that votes are all that really matters to Obama.

As for the budget, who is responsible for not getting a budget the first two years of Obama's term when Democrats controlled the House and Senate and Whitehouse? Can't blame that on so-called stonewalling Republicans. His own party wouldn't even agree to his economic and tax plans.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Ingineer I find I am doing a lot of research and CITING SOURCES for my responses. You... not so much.

"But we can look at Bengazi and know that votes are all that really matters to Obama." Sounds like an off-the-cuff opinion... can you cite some (credible) factual sources? For your previous sentence as well, would be nice too.

On your comment about the Dem's first two years, seems your boy doesn't agree with you:

RYAN on Obama: "And in his first two years, with his party in complete control of Washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda, but that didn't make things better. "

I'll let you spend some Google time for a bit.

Ingineer66 said...

The Senate still did not pass a budget. I will try to do a better job citing sources.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

A time has come in history where the shift of world power is increasingly obvious. The two rival parties are bickering over what they believe the voters will want to hear. It's all a calculated 'game' and there are many losers.
While this whole electoral machine runs, so do the global politics. And things are heating up around Turkey. Russia is carrying on badly in the Syria issue.
It would appear China and Japan are also a bit at odds. But my guess is China is testing the global reaction.
Who is paying attention?
How can the US budget keep up it's defence machines while not raising taxes?
Does it realize it's education system is failing it's own citizens?
While jobs at home are being promised the funding to ensure Americans are qualified are not clearly set out.
You are right about the outcome but let's just hope both groups start uniting and get on the same tract if the nation is to survive as a powerful one. It must be very aware of the shifts globally and act accordingly.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Heidrun Americans have an "us versus them" mentality. As long as that continues, people will see to ingratiate "us" at the expense of "them".

Put a specific human face on the deprivation of a specific individual, and Americans pour out their support in amazing demonstrations of generosity. But when the same deprivation is suffered by unnamed masses, not so much. It's really basic psychology.

The success of the Conservative media has been to place their followers into a state of fear, a "bunker mentality" would best describe it. That media effort, besides being extremely profitable for its promoters, has been extremely effective. People are willing to believe outright lies because they feel strongly that it serves their interests to do so. It works... quite well, in fact.

Entre Nous said...

Hear Hear :}