Blog Archives

A word to the Rich from Elizabeth Warren…

Good luck in Massachusetts, Kiddo… and don’t think lots of us aren’t hoping you run for President in 2016!

This just in (6:06 PM):

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After Weeks Of Negotiating, Republicans Block Debate On Financial Reform Bill
Senate Republicans followed through on their threat today to block debate on a financial regulatory reform bill authored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). The final tally on the vote to break the filibuster was 57 to 41, with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) joining the Republicans, but failed to meet the 60 vote threshold required to end debate.
The move ratchets up a political food fight between Democrats and Republicans, with Dems on the offense, charging that the GOP’s decision to block progress on the legislation puts them on the side of Wall Street.
Majority Leader Harry Reid also voted no — a procedural move he had to make in order to bring the motion up again later.
Majority Leader Harry Reid said the vote “reveal[s] who believes we need to strengthen oversight of Wall Street, and who does not [and] force[s] each Senator to publicly proclaim whether party unity is more important than economic security.”
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Well… now we know who is siding with the Wall Street Pigs and who is working for the people.

Or perhaps you can look a it this way:

A Quote for the Day – From the Sunday Morning Talkers

“Anyone who says we need to be bipartisan should bear in mind that for the last several weeks Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader had been trying to stop reform with possibly the most dishonest argument ever made in the history of politics, which is the claim that having regulation of the banks actually bailing out the banks and that basically the argument boiled down to saying what we really need to do to deal with fires is abolish the fire department, because then people will know that they can’t let their buildings burn in the first place, right. It’s an incredible… so anyone who says bipartisan doesn’t include the Senate Minority Leader.”

– Paul Krugman on ABC this morning.

Did Porn Cause the Financial Crisis?

Here’s a clip from a piece in Salon that’s worth going into and reading the whole thing:
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The SEC’s porn problem

Outrage abounds over news that top watchdogs surfed for smut as the economy tanked. Let’s not act so surprised

As the global economy crashed and burned, certain top staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission were busy watching porn. Instead of policing Wall Street, some were surfing for smut. This is the revelation making headlines today after the leak Thursday night of a summary of 33 probes of SEC employees using government computers to access pornography over the past five years. For the most part, the summary (PDF) resurfaces information that was already public; and it’s worth noting that it was requested by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, and is now being used as political ammunition by the GOP.
The summary includes salacious details about hundreds of images and videos stored on work hard drives. One resourceful fellow “used a flash drive to bypass the Commission’s Internet filter and successfully access a significant number of pornographic images.”
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Sam Stein, in HuffPo, raises this point: Obama is pointing out Insurance company greed…

I followed this HuffPo story all the way through Dan Pfeiffer’s Sunday blog post and, of course, it made me wonder which America the Insurance Companies came from… or do they not know that they are calling for us all to go after them?

Or do they care?

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The Obama administration is making a late push for health reform by seizing on a report showing that market concentration for health insurance is so monopolized that insurance companies are willing to raise prices and lose customers in an effort to help their bottom line.

In a blog post on Sunday, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said that the findings, which were put together by Goldman Sachs and first reported by the Huffington Post, presented clear evidence that health insurer “profits will continue to soar under the status quo.”

The last few days have brought even more evidence that the health care status quo is working out great for the insurance companies – at the same time as it continues to fail American families and businesses. No wonder the insurance companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to block reform.”
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New Yorker Profile of Paul Krugman

I just finished reading  The Deflationist. a profile of economist Paul Krugman. Go HERE and read it. You’ll thank me.

When you hear the Republicans scream at the Obama Health Plan’s economics…

…then look at what they voted for under Bush (especially Hatch and McConnell):
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The Democrats’ health care plan costs half as much as the two major tax cuts pushed by the George W. Bush administration, according to a report issued Tuesday.
By comparison, the health care plan advocated by House Democrats is projected to cost about $1 trillion through its first decade (2010-2019), according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
Enacted in 2001 and 2003, the Bush tax cuts are projected to cost about $2.1 trillion in lost revenue in the 10 years since they were first passed, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal-leaning research group in Washington, D.C. About $979 billion of that would have come from the richest five percent of taxpayers.
“Many of the lawmakers who argue that the health care reform legislation is ‘too costly’ are the same lawmakers who supported the Bush tax cuts,” the report notes.
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Paul Krugman does a pretty good history of Contemporary Economics…

… in the NY Times Magazine. Here’s a little of the start, but this is an 8 page article that explains a lot. I recommend it.
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How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?
It’s hard to believe now, but not long ago economists were congratulating themselves over the success of their field. Those successes — or so they believed — were both theoretical and practical, leading to a golden era for the profession.
Last year, everything came apart.
Few economists saw our current crisis coming, but this predictive failure was the least of the field’s problems. More important was the profession’s blindness to the very possibility of catastrophic failures in a market economy.
As I see it, the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth. Until the Great Depression, most economists clung to a vision of capitalism as a perfect or nearly perfect system.
Unfortunately, this romanticized and sanitized vision of the economy led most economists to ignore all the things that can go wrong.
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Quote of the Day

“So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government.”

Paul Krugman

It’s time to realize that the government is both capable and likely to lead us out of disaster, and the Repiglicans are wallowing in their past mistakes.

Krugman: Overwhelming evidence that the Free Market is not the solution for Health Care

Krugman’s last piece in the NY Times yesterday makes a crucial point concerning the Insurance Industry’s push for a free market solution for health care.

An edited quote (I recommend reading the whole thing in its original format):

There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don’t know when or whether you’ll need care — but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor’s office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.

This tells you right away that health care can’t be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can’t just trust insurance companies either — they’re not in business for their health, or yours.
The second thing about health care is that it’s complicated, and you can’t rely on experience or comparison shopping. (”I hear they’ve got a real deal on stents over at St. Mary’s!”) That’s why doctors are supposed to follow an ethical code, why we expect more from them than from bakers or grocery store owners.
Between those two factors, health care just doesn’t work as a standard market story.

Krugman points out that this doesn’t mean “socialized medicine” is the solution. Nor is “single-payer” the only way to go. But,

…(t)here are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work.

There are, however, obscenely profitable Insurance Companies based on the free market, and it would seem that they will do anything to stay that way.

David Sirota says the Rich have never had it SO GOOD…

.. and I agree.

In an article in Salon, Sirota takes ideas like the support for Health Care and shows why the 1% of folks at the top of the economic pile will squash the 99% of us below if they can.

A quote:

With 22,000 Americans dying each year because they lack health insurance, Congress is considering universal healthcare legislation financed by a surcharge on income above $280,000 — that is, a levy almost exclusively on 1-percenters. This surtax would graze just 5 percent of small businesses and would recoup only part of the $700 billion the 1-percenters received from the Bush tax cuts. In fact, it is so minuscule, those making $1 million annually would pay just $9,000 more in taxes every year — or nine-tenths of 1 percent of their 12-month haul.

Nonetheless, the 1-percenters have deployed an army to destroy the initiative before it makes progress.

We are living in an era when greed surpasses good. We live where politicians, by election, get on the inside track to join the 1-percenters, and when the vast majority of Americans all believe that they can be part of the 1% as well, eventually, hopefully… why do we believe this in the face of reality?

Indeed, Obama recognizes this and is campaigning to get the whole country to realize that it wouldn’t even be a dent in the rich folks’ stunning protective skin to take some of it back.

In the face of the “Millionaire Media”, the “Land Rover Liberals” and the “Corrupt Cowboys” (read the article to find out who’s who), the President makes a simple point:

“If I can afford to do a little bit more so that a whole bunch of families out there have a little more security, when I already have security, that’s part of being a community.”

Of course, Congress is taking its August break in time to avoid changing anything.

Quote of the Day

“It is time for Americans to realize that things are not going to improve until they get involved. It will take time. But the economy is not going to improve until we straighten out our corrupt system. Do you have anything more important that you are working on than this? The survival of liberal democratic society in the world.”

– John Talbott, Economist, in Salon

Quote of the Day

From Yale Economist John Roeper:

“Suppose, for example, that America succeeds in implementing universal health insurance; that is, that voters in their majority demand it. A more pleasant society will then evolve: people will be under less from the fear of losing their health insurance when unemployed, or because they contract a major disease; emergency rooms will be less clogged with poor, uninsured persons; insurers will have incentives to urge people to undertake more healthy life styles (to keep costs down), and so on. There is a good chance that citizens generally will like these changes — not only because of their own increased financial security, but because civility will increase, and poverty will be, at least along one dimension, less glaring. Citizens may come to value equality of condition more than they previously did. This change in preferences may well render politically feasible other insurance innovations and increased financing of public goods — more support for the unemployed with job training, perhaps more direct income support for the unemployed, and more support for intensive education for the disadvantaged.”

This makes me wonder what the Repignicans want from our society. More conflict? Fewer jobs? Ongoing frustration?