So Much Happening in Washington and So Little to Show for It, So Far

Politics Elephant cartoon

The public doesn’t know what’s going on because the national media would rather report on the sexual escapades of famous people or social trends or high finance (a recent Pew study of economic reporting shows the vast majority of stories about the Great Recession have focused on Wall Street rather than Main Street).

Half Measures and Lukewarm “Reform” Won’t Save the Middle Class

liberty

The 30-year class war the rich launched against the working people in this country (and reached its apogee during the George W. Bush years), has left the middle class reeling and wounded. Only bold federal action that puts something concrete in the palms of middle-class Americans can begin to turn these dire social conditions around.

Fascism: Are We There Yet?

fascism

It is up to us to defend and improve our democracy more effectively than the Germans of 80 years ago. This implies not only vigilance and willingness to do political battle, but as important, a willingness to acknowledge and respond to the real concerns of honest conservatives who might otherwise be seduced by Rush Limbaugh and his colleagues.

Washing Dishes for Change

evolution

The companies too big to fail have grown larger. The financial companies still run under the same model and free of much regulation like before.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Knife Play

Schwarzenegger

Now we have a Republican governor in California who sees the state’s current budget catastrophe as nothing but a big joke. Why else would Arnold Schwarzenegger post a tasteless Twitter video where he wields a two-foot-long folding knife boasting about his budget-cutting prowess?

President Obama’s Politics of Dignity

obama

President Obama knows that solutions won’t arise out of politics as usual. His personification of dignitarian politics resonates not only with Americans but around the world.

Does the Obama Plan for Reforming Wall Street Measure Up?

evasive-money

In a word: No. The plan doesn’t stop stop bankers from making huge, risky bets with other peoples’ money. It does increase capital requirements and oversight, but it doesn’t require bankers to take their pay in long-term stock options or warrants, and it doesn’t even hint that banks should go back to being partnerships instead [...]

Constructing a California Budget That Is Least Injurious to the Most Vulnerable

urban-poor

Resolving our fiscal crisis will require many very difficult decisions, but our guiding principle must be constructing a budget that is least injurious to the most vulnerable. While we will have to take quick action to avoid the state sliding into insolvency, we must take that action in a thoughtful manner minimizing the potential permanent [...]

The Great Debt Scare: Why Has It Returned?

broken economy

It’s the kind of thing I expect to hear from deficit hawks and chicken littles — from the self-described “fiscally responsible” right, from the scolds Ross Perot and Pete Peterson, from my former cabinet colleague Bob Rubin. But yesterday I was shown slides developed by the putatively liberal Center for American Progress intended to make [...]

The President’s American Recovery & Reinvestment Act: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us

shovel-ready

One of the first things President Barack Obama did as our nation’s Chief Executive was to urge Congress to pass, then sign, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), better known as the nation’s “economic stimulus” package. The $787 billion bill, the largest taxpayer footed bill ever passed, was viewed as the primary vehicle to [...]

The Auto Bailout Is Going Off the Road

chrysler

GM just announced it was laying of 21,000 more of its workers, as a means of assuring the Treasury Department the company is worthy of more bailout money. A Treasury official was quoted as saying approvingly that the goal is a “slimmed-down” GM. What? Having General Motors or Chrysler cut tens of thousands of jobs [...]

The Great Credit Card Battle To Come

credit-card-sharks

The next front in the banking wars will be over credit cards. Some of the nation’s biggest bankers — including representatives of Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and other recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars — are meeting today with the President to ask him back off his move to reform credit-card lending practices. What’s happening [...]

We Don’t Torture But Here Are the Things We Do Do

Jon Stewart really hits the ball out of the park with this one. He asks, “does our country torture people?” Looks like we don’t torture but Jon Stewart provides us with a list of the things we do do thanks to the memos released by the Obama administration. This is a humorous look at a [...]

Where Government Spending Should be Trimmed — And Why It’s Necessary to Fast-Track Universal Health Care

play-aig

It’s no accident that as Congress returns this week from its two-week recess and begins debate on the $3.5 trillion budget plans for the fiscal year starting in October — which may or may not include a provision that fast-tracks Obama’s health care proposal by allowing it to pass the Senate with a mere majority [...]

Stimulus Mania: Is It The 21st Century Soup Line?

soupline

The efforts to jump start the economy in the United States, in hopes of causing a global ripple, have taken on an entirely new meaning as people and industry alike wait for the $787 billion dollar economic stimulus package to drop. It’s like a “mania” as so many cities, states, industries, school districts, homeowners, small [...]

A Short Citizen’s Guide to Kooks, Demagogues, and Right-Wingers On Tax Day

what-are-we-protesting

No one likes to pay taxes, so tax day typically attracts a range of right-wing Republicans, kooks, and demagogues, all of whom tell us how awful we have it. Herewith a short citizen’s guide (that is, a citizen’s guide that’s short rather than a guide for short citizens) responding to the predictable charges: “Americans pay [...]

African Americans and the Economic Crisis

economy-drop

Joe Biden was quite out front about it. On the same day the newspapers were trumpeting the news that President Obama had felt a “glimmer of hope” in the economic situation, the Vice-President was telling CNN that we can expect unemployment to increase each month for the rest of the year. Joblessness stands at 8.5% [...]

We Need More Stimulus, Not More Bailout

patching panks

With only $110 billion remaining in the TARP bailout fund, all signs are that Tim Geithner is preparing to return to Congress seeking more bailout money. He’ll bring along the results of his bank “stress tests,” which will probably show many that big banks are still technically insolvent, along with bankruptcy scenarios for General Motors [...]

Nationalizing Banks and Industry: Why Capitalists Hate Socialism

worse-depression

The United States has always been a political economy, requiring government regulation of its finance and money markets, and using government stimulation on its labor force. “Free Market” enterprise is based on the notion that open markets and the competition derived from competing ideas for consumer patronage will create a market balance (equilibrium) that will [...]

Why We’re Not at the Beginning of the End, and Probably Not Even at the End of the Beginning

populist-rage

Are we at the beginning of the end? Mortgage interests are now so low (the average rate on 30-year fixed mortgages was 4.87% Thursday, slightly higher than the 4.78% last week, but still the lowest level since 1971) that President Obama has begun urging Americans to refinance their homes so they can save money and [...]

CSI Bailout, with William K. Black — Bill Moyers Journal Interview

handcuffs

William K. Black suspects that it was more than greed and incompetence that brought down the U.S. financial sector and plunged the economy in recession — it was fraud. And he would know. When it comes to financial shenanigans, William K. Black, the former senior regulator who cracked down on banks during the savings and [...]

A Year Without a Newspaper — The Best Year of My Life

los angeles city hall

Exactly one year ago Saturday I was fired as Editor of the Daily News, the newspaper I devoted 23 years of my life to, and like everybody else who worked there during that time, endured just about everything imaginable to be able to keep my job and put out the best newspaper I could for [...]

It Is As Bad As The 1930s

mute-poverty

So much for the Republican chant of “stimulus is bad” and “we need a balanced budget.” Nobel Prize winning columnist Paul Krugman points out on his New York Times blog yesterday that the world economy right now is more or less at the point John Maynard Keynes described in his essay The Great Slump of [...]

Why You Should Work for a Hedge Fund

jacuzzi

Just because I lost a big chunk of my total retirement savings over the last year doesn’t mean I should be upset that 25 hedge-fund managers reaped a total of $11.6 billion during the same interval, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha Magazine — including $2.5 billion for James Simons of Renaissance Technologies and $2 billion [...]

It’s a Depression

good-old-days

The March employment numbers, out this morning, are bleak: 8.5 percent of Americans officially unemployed, 663,000 more jobs lost. But if you include people who are out of work and have given up trying to find a job, the real unemployment rate is 9 percent. And if you include people working part time who’d rather [...]

The Administration’s Proposed Responsible Wall Streeter Tax Credit

recession-copy

The Administration is about to launch a new plan designed both to stimulate the economy and clean up Wall Street at the same time, the “Responsible Wall Streeter Tax Credit”.

Color of Law: U.S. Drug Policy Has Gone to Pot

marijuana-joint

In a recent online town hall meeting at the White House, President Obama was asked by the online audience whether he thought legalizing marijuana would create jobs and help the economy. It was the most popular question asked at the meeting.

AIG Bonuses: Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

jasmyne cannick

I watched this week as the nation’s furor turned towards employees of insurance giant American International Group (A.I.G.) and the $200 million-plus in retention bonus payments recently doled out to executives. Executives, who, as we already know, are largely to blame for their role in A.I.G.’s financial crisis that led to the country’s economic meltdown [...]

AIG and the Undeserving Rich

dry-bones

Charles Blow, the “moderate” who seems to write a lot of words but never takes a clear stand on anything, recently lamented on the op-ed page of the New York Times about what a small matter the $165 million in bonuses really were compared to the $170 billion AIG received in government welfare. Sheryl Gay [...]

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