27 July 2011

What Did We Learn About Politics Today?

The first thing we learned is about irony. It was ironic to learn that John Boehner's budget cutting plan - which would've been dead in the water anyhow - really was dead when the CBO announced that the cuts he proposes would not be quite so deep and draconian as he announced. And it was even more ironic to learn from the very same CBO that the putatively Democratic plan advanced by Harry Reid in the Senate would actually cut more deeply than would Boehner's! So, it is not just that the Senate plan is not "balanced" in the sense of approaching the task of deficit reduction by including both tax revenues and spending cuts (it relies solely on the latter), but it actually cuts more than the Republican leadership in the House would like. (Read the report here.) Call all that bi-partisanship in action.

The second thing we learned is that this bi-partisanship takes aim dead at the foreheads of working Americans - or should I say Americans who are not working due to the depression. Spending cuts will have a negative impact on an already depressed labor market. (Report here.) No self-respecting Democrat is saying anything about that. So, thank the lord for Brother West! He is taking his 'call out the President for abandoning working and poor America' show on the road. Not only are the democrats out-doing the republicans at the reactionary deficit reduction by spending cuts game, they are screwing their own putative "base." That would be ironic too, if it were not so predictably pathetic.

Finally we learned about the power of capitalists and their ideologists. What we are worried about - after all, there is no evidence we are worried about the poor and the working classes, those who will bear the brunt of all the deficit reduction shenanigans - are the investors in the bond markets. We already know that they can withhold investment to signal their displeasure. But we're now being threatened by rating agencies too. Standard and Poor's is threatening to downgrade the rating on U.S. Treasury Bonds. If you ignore all of the other links in this post, I urge you to check out this commentary by Robert Reich. Credit rating agencies are accountable to precisely no one. But they sure are throwing their weight around. No irony in that.

One useful thing I did learn is that we really don't need the debt ceiling at all. It turns out that lots of other perfectly functional capitalist political economic systems work perfectly well without any such legal constraint. Read about it here. But why be sensible?

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