The Preachers of the Austerity Gospel Are Back

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    • #326945
      • Total Posts: 5,719

      Though we’re in the midst of an essentially unprecedented economic crisis, and almost certainly in for a very long stretch of hardship, calls for budget-tightening have reliably restarted. Austerity is the hammer that thinks everything is a nail, as it were. Republicans continue to oppose a new stimulus bill even as food banks remain overwhelmed by demand and nearly half of Americans have lost income as a result of the coronavirus. The numbers in the May jobs report, shaky as they were, have only given them additional fodder to further delay a vote on a new relief package. “The economic fallout from this pandemic may have bottomed out and begun to turn around weeks earlier than had been predicted,” Mitch McConnell said earlier this week. “Our citizens are getting their jobs back by the millions.” The 30 million people still out of work probably don’t take much comfort in that assessment, but Senate Republicans have vowed not to entertain any further stimulus proposals until July, which conveniently includes a two-week recess right before pandemic unemployment benefits are set to expire.

      That’s perhaps not much of a surprise from the party that fretted over laid-off poverty-wage workers receiving slightly more in unemployment benefits than they made while working. But as is usually the case, a certain amount of budget hand-wringing has also started up in ostensibly more liberal corners. This week, The New York Times editorial board issued a caution to Mayor Bill de Blasio against borrowing money to cover the city’s funding shortfalls. Though its proposal identified some legitimate areas of waste—cushy consulting contracts, unnecessary software licenses, sprawling NYPD overtime—it inevitably also landed on city workers’ benefits as a site of possible belt-tightening. “If the fiscal crisis is serious enough to consider assuming billions in debt, it is serious enough to ask the unions to come back to the negotiating table,” the board wrote. “Among the issues to discuss: the city’s exceedingly generous health care benefits.” That seems incendiary—if not a little homicidal—during the worst public health crisis in a generation.

      Even if some kind of economic recovery is indeed underway, budget austerity in this moment—even the sort that seems measured, or nominally less malicious than Republican schemes—will only seed the ground for more wide-scale misery. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve predicted a slow, years-long recovery and forecast that millions of the jobs lost during the pandemic could take years to return, or even vanish forever. It’s also worth recalling that while the recovery from the Great Recession officially began in 2009, it took more than a decade for household income and jobs to return to their pre-recession levels. Then there’s the question of what kind of work might come back, if and when it does. Right before the pandemic, during the same period that employment in the U.S. was at a record high, nearly half of all Americans were working low-wage jobs. The employment rate is one thing, in other words, but the number of jobs that pay a living wage is quite another.

      All things considered, the official numbers that theoretically gauge the strength of the economy—including gross domestic product, the unemployment rate, and temporary on-paper increases in income—may increasingly obscure more than they reveal about the situation of the average worker. “The labor market has suffered a traumatic blow and a full recovery will be measured in years, not weeks or months,” economist Nancy Vanden Houten recently told Reuters. And of course, as unemployment remains high and state and city governments are strapped for funding as the result of lost tax revenue, billionaires, boosted by the climbing stock market, got richer for the sixth week in a row. Perhaps it’s finally time for an assessment of the economy that measures something other than their plunder.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #326960
      • Total Posts: 835

      But of course it’s not really austerity for the country. It is merely another reason to up middle class taxes and take away any crumbs of poverty assistance from the destitute.

      They bought it under Obama, will they buy it under Trump and Moscow Mitch? Seems Americans are pretty stupid, so yeah maybe they will buy it again.

      Just as long as the crushing austerity doesn’t graze the filthy rich.

    • #326965
      • Total Posts: 4,742

      to turning to crime to survive. My son and his family (2 kids) are moving out of the US before XMas. He got a position at the Univ of Amsterdam. He may miss the civil war. I’ll miss him, but god speed.

    • #326976
      • Total Posts: 1,093


      If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

    • #326981
      Ohio Barbarian
      • Total Posts: 14,587

      That’s the motto, and they all forget one of the few times Dick Cheney was right:

      Deficits don’t matter. 

      They don’t care about the deficit when Wall Street wants the money, only when working class people do. Anyone who believes this garbage about the deficits is either a liar or a fool.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #326991
      • Total Posts: 1,479

      The democrats should have really held up the bailouts to the corporations and banks, till the 99% got some relief.  I think they caved after the republicans agreed to take the blame for not having another bailout for the people.  As long as the democrats are not blamed, they are down for stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

    • #326993
      retired liberal
      • Total Posts: 2,700

      “… billionaires, boosted by the climbing stock market, got richer for the sixth week in a row. Perhaps it’s finally time for an assessment of the economy that measures something other than their plunder.”

      The stock market adds nothing to the Gross National Product. It is a high stakes gambling den, with loaded dice and marked cards, so that only certain people can win. Wall Street has lost the scrip for the reason of their existence.

      We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
      If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
      Both major political parties are special interest groups enabling each other for power and money, at the expense of the people they no longer properly serve…
      Always wear a proper mask when out and about. The life you save could be both yours and mine.

    • #326996
      • Total Posts: 2,010 cut or get rid of Social Security and Medicare.Both Trump And Biden support that,so it’s that magic word,”bipartisan.”Which means it will happen,the fix is already in.

    • #327089
      • Total Posts: 70

      Here in California, our “progressive ” Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed cuts to state worker’s pensions as a panacea.

    • #327116
      • Total Posts: 812

      This means that the New Republic expects Biden to win, because

      deficits only seem to matter whenever there is a D in the WH.

    • #327120
      • Total Posts: 3,182

      Republicans love to drive up the debt- with spending, as opposed to investment – and then complain about it when the Democrats are in power. Especially if any of them have the nerve to propose any actual investment.

      Difference between spending and investment? If the money ain’t ever coming back, in any form, it’s spending. As in endless wars, which have nothing to do with the actual security of the United States. As in never-ending tax “cuts” for corporations & inheritance rich leeches who haven’t paid a dime of actual taxes since 1981.

      Investment on the other horn, can be as big and complicated as FDR style infrastructure programs or as simple and direct as SNAP benefits (food stamps). Right wingers like to bitch about those, but the simple fact is, it’s one of the most efficient “stimulus” programs ever invented, with nearly every penny of it going directly into local economies, not only keeping the recipients from starving, but also keeping grocery stores & by extension, their supply chains in business.

      Jude Wanniski was a sadistic evil son of a bitch, but he predicted this whole mess pretty accurately, back in the mid 70s.


      "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable". - John F. Kennedy

    • #327137
      Babel 17
      • Total Posts: 3,393

      And affordable servants.

      Voters in desperate straits don’t ask annoying questions, or care that much about those throwing them a lifeline being corrupt, or warmongers acting on behalf of global interests.

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