The Battle for the Soul of the GOP

Robert Reich: Tea Partiers have almost as much contempt for big business and the Street as they do for government. After all, the Tea Party was born in anger over the Wall Street bailout. This is the heart of the civil war in the GOP.

Labor’s Last Stand in 2011?

Shamus Cooke: The stage is set, and the main actors in Congress and in the corporate establishment are ready to perform, having rehearsed behind closed doors for the coming assault on organized labor’s most powerful sector, public workers.

Why the Tax Deal Is an Abomination

Robert Reich: The deal the President struck with Republican leaders is an abomination. It’s larger than the bailout of Wall Street, GM, and Chrysler put together, larger than the stimulus package, larger than anything that’s come out of Washington in years. The president needs new advisors.

Who Is Behind the Deficit Crisis

tax breaks

Shamus Cooke: Unless labor and community groups massively mobilize working people in fighting for a pro-worker solution to the deficit crisis, austerity measures — like reducing Social Security and Medicare — will be forced upon us.

Recession Is Over! (If You Want It)

combat

Joseph Palermo: The National Bureau of Economic Research tells us the Great Recession is “over.” The only thing this announcement reveals is just how out of touch and compassionless those who view human society through the lens of quantitative measurements can be.

Elizabeth Warren You Rock

The New Sheriffs Of Wall Street

Wendy Block: I don’t know if the world would improve if women ran it. Our decision-making and problem-solving brain centers are proportionally larger than men’s. Same with emotions, perhaps a mixed blessing. And anxiety tends to lead women to reach out to others, often at their own expense, whereas men generally get all “fight or flight.”

Financial Reform Too Small to Succeed

wall street reform

Joseph Palermo: The financial reform legislation currently winding its way through the Congress is a step in the right direction but it retains too much of the status quo that brought down the economy in the first place. The key problem, as many economists have been telling us, is that the top financial institutions remain “too big to fail.” Congress can enact all the regulations it wishes but even the best written rules won’t be enough to prevent another financial meltdown.

The People of Greece and the Rest of Us

ancient greek piggybank

Carl Bloice: In most of the rest of the world the prescribed method for dealing with economic crisis is austerity. That’s what it is when, in order to deal with the economic malfunctioning, you cut education budgets and fire teachers, enact special taxes that hit working people hardest, reduce services for the indigent and threaten to reduce or eliminate retirement and medical programs for seniors. It comes down to who, in a pinch, is going to be required to lower their living standards, and which individuals and families are expected to lead more austere lives.

Lincoln to the Rescue

Paul Volcker, Blanche Lincoln

Robert Reich: Blanche Lincoln wants to force the banks to put their derivatives into separate entities that aren’t subsidized by you and me. This is just common sense. Her move would also end the big banks’ monopoly over derivatives, thereby reducing their risk to the financial system. It would also cut dramatically into the big banks’ profits.

Can Progressives Get Coffee to the Tea Party People?

LH_3

Lycia Howell: To be blunt, all but a couple of Tea Party people were unable to express why they are angry in any specific terms.They voice sentiments along the lines that “Obama is ruining the country” or that immigrants are hurting us and some referred to a nasty rap song, “Press One For English,” but they could offer no specifics to back their feelings.

Break Up the Banks

Stimulus

Robert Reich: As long as the big banks are allowed to remain big, their political leverage over Washington will remain big. And as long as their political leverage remains big, the taxpayer and economic tab for the next mess they create will be big. By all means, give regulators resolution authority and also impose the tightest regulations possible. But Congress and the White House shouldn’t stop there. Limits should be placed on how big big banks can become.

Who’s Killing Financial Reform?

Senator Chris Dodd

Robert Reich: Congress isn’t doing a thing about Wall Street because it’s in the pocket of Wall Street. Dodd’s outburst at the Street is like the alcoholic who screams at a bartender “how dare you give me another drink when all I’ve done is pleaded with you for one!”

The U.S. Can No Longer Afford Its Empire

obama red ink

Ivan Eland: The Cold War is long over, and the concomitant rationale (dubious even then) for using an interventionist U.S. foreign policy to attempt to run the world is now obsolete and even dangerous in an era of blowback terrorism. Many empires throughout history have collapsed or withered away because their aspirations were too big for their wallets; the U.S. is in that perilous position now. Therefore, the United States should dramatically retract its defense perimeter, thus cutting the U.S. security budget by half and saving more than $500 billion a year.

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Democracy

Robert Reich: It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

The End of Freedom and Liberty

Liberty Denied

Ron Wolff: OK, it’s a fund-raising letter. I didn’t expect it to be scholarly. But neither did I expect an organization that claims to be a “think tank” to utilize the linguistic legerdemain (yes, I made that phrase up, and I’m mighty proud of it) that is the quintessential opposite of critical thinking.

Obama Finally Gets Tough on Wall Street

Wall Street Bailout

Robert Reich: But suddenly the winds are blowing in a different direction over the Potomac. The 2010 midterms are getting closer, and the Dems are scared. Their polls are plummeting. The upsurge in mad-as-hell populism requires that Democrats become indignant on behalf of Americans, and indignation is meaningless without a target. They can’t target big government because Republicans do that one better, especially when they’re out of power. So what’s the alternative? Wall Street.

The Housing Crisis and Wall Street Shame

Housing Crisis

The $75 billion federal program designed to bribe banks to modify mortgages has been a bust. No one knows the exact number of mortgages that have been modified (that will be reported next month) but housing experts I’ve talked with say it’s a tiny fraction of the number of homeowners in trouble. Seems that the big banks can’t be bothered.