Beware the “Middle Ground” of the Great Budget Debate

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Robert Reich: If people knew that the Ryan plan would channel hundreds of billions of their Medicare dollars into the pockets of private for-profit heath insurers, almost everyone would be against it.

Extortion Politics

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Robert Reich: Monday Standard & Poor’s (hardly a beacon of reliability after the Crash of 2008, to be sure) downgraded America’s credit outlook. Expect more downgrades if the game of chicken continues.

Elizabeth Warren for Senator

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Brent Budowsky: If Elizabeth Warren runs, she would bring the serious, honest, baloney-free and respectful debate that is long overdue in American politics.

Why Obama’s Proposal Is Risky

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Robert Reich: The underlying problem isn’t the budget deficit. It’s that so much income and wealth are going to the top that most Americans don’t have the purchasing power to sustain a strong recovery.

A ‘Vision’ for the New Century. Or, a Nightmare

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Carl Bloice: If the whole, hardly-nail-biting business accomplished nothing else it momentarily diverted attention away from the big budget fight coming up, the one that will probably shape the country’s economic and social reality for decades to come.

Democrats Should Never Have Started Paying Ransom

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Robert Reich: Problem is, when you pay ransom once, you’re almost begging to pay it again. And that’s exactly the pickle the Obama administration is finding itself in.

Rewriting the Social Contract; Making Everybody Hurt

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Carl Bloice: I’m just intrigued these days by how much the people who have a lot have become the most insistent that those below them on the social ladder bear the brunt of paying for capitalism’s current crisis.

Across-the-Board Cuts Needed to Avoid Fiscal Armageddon

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Ivan Eland: To keep with the bipartisan spirit after the Gabrielle Giffords’ assassination attempt and also to avoid partisan fighting over spending priorities, which will bog down and probably eventually kill any significant budget cuts, all government programs should be cut by 15 percent from last year’s budget level, including heretofore sacred defense and entitlement programs.

The Republican Strategy

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Robert Reich: The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

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Financial Journalism and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Brooks

Carl Bloice: Some critics have taken the author Stieg Larsson to task for spending time on the state of economic reporting, suggesting that dragging in the issues of the day distracts unnecessarily from the enjoyment of a good murder mystery. For me it was one of the book’s highlights.

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Obama Fights Fire with Gasoline

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Robert Reich: The President has to reframe the debate around the necessity of average families having enough to spend to get the economy moving again. He needs to remind America this is not 1995 but 2011 — and we’re still in a jobs crisis brought on by the bursting of a giant debt bubble and the implosion of total demand.

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Progressivism and a Tea Party Approach to State Government

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Walter G. Moss: Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, is demonstrating why most of us who consider ourselves progressives dislike the politics of Tea-Party-backed candidates. For many of us, compassion and empathy are central political values, and Scott’s first budget proposal, unveiled on February 7th, reflects little of either value.

Obama’s Deal with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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Robert Reich: I’ve been watching (and occasionally trying to deal with) the Chamber for years, and all I know is it has a deep, abiding belief in cutting taxes on the wealthy, eroding regulations that constrain Wall Street, cutting back on rules that promote worker health and safety, getting rid of the minimum wage, repealing the new health-care law, fighting unions, cutting back Medicare and Social Security, reducing or eliminating corporate taxes, and, in general, taking the nation back to the days before the New Deal. So what, exactly, is the deal Obama is pitching to the Chamber?

Why We Should Trade Broccoli and Asparagus for Hot Dogs and Apple Pie

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Robert Reich: The requirement that everyone purchase health insurance, or pay a fine doesn’t appeal to many Americans. They don’t like the government telling them they have to buy something. But the healthcare system can’t work without this mandate. Only if everyone buys insurance can insurers afford to cover people with preexisting conditions, or pay the costs of catastrophic diseases.

Why the Republican Budget Plan Is a Hairball

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Robert Reich: What happened to John Boehner’s $100 billion budget-cutting commitment? What became of Paul Ryan’s big ideas? Where did all the roaring and raging on the right during the 2010 election go?

The State of the Union and the Federal Budget: Investing in America’s Future

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Robert Reich: Over the long term, the only way to improve the living standards of most Americans is to invest in our people – especially their educations, skills, and the communications and transportation systems linking them together and with the rest of the world (infrastructure).

Republican Assault on Health Care Could Backfire

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Robert Reich: If successful—either in Congress or in the courts—a Republican victory could turn into a Phyrric one by opening the way to the alternative model, based on the system Americans seem to prefer: payroll taxes and public insurance.

Saving Social Security and the Poisonous Chalice

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Carl Bloice: Social Security is not, to any significant extent, a contributing factor in the burgeoning deficit. Defenders of the system, including some leading economists, have successfully advanced that argument. Yet, a growing number of conservatives have begun to advance other specious arguments for “entitlement reform” that may threaten Social Security.

CNN Reignites Death Panel Myth, Sparking My “Network” Moment

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Linda Milazzo: Corporate media’s constant drumming of death panel lies resulted in Section 1233 (which allowed Medicare to provide advance planning doctor visits every five years) being eliminated from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010. This week CNN was back using the same death panel misnomer, spreading the death panel myth. Well I’m mad as hell. I’m not going to take it anymore from CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and talk radio. We, the people, deserve better.

National Fiscal Hypocrisy Week

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Robert Reich: The best outcome would be an agreement to extend the tax cuts for the bottom 99 percent, for two years. This would stimulate the economy in the short term when it most needs it, and reduce the long-term deficit.

Caring for Others Is Legal — Still

Bob Letcher: In any case, people were screaming slogans at each other, as though volume alone would determine who was right. No nuance. Little listening, little worthy of being listened to.

Who Is Behind the Deficit Crisis

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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.

The Fight to Save Social Security Begins Now

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Shamus Cooke: Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission attacks Social Security and Medicare. The retirement age would be raised from 67 to 68 (for those born after 1959) and from 68 to 69 (for those born after 2006). But current retirees will be affected too. The social security cost of living adjustment will be unhinged from the inflation index, meaning, payments will decrease via inflation.

Party Like It’s 1994

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The vast majority of Americans never supported a “privatize-and-pillage” attack on Social Security. Yet many of the Republican candidates in 2010 are on record supporting all manner of schemes to dismember Social Security.

Health Care Reform – Six Months Later

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Peter Dreier: Lots of reporters and pundits-all of whom have good, employer-provided health insurance plans-now say that Obama invested too much capital getting the Affordable Care Act through Congress when he should have been concentrating on the economy.

Smile, You’re a Liberal After All!

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Steven Conn: As midterm elections approach, conservatives seek to return America to the way things used to be. Not so fast, argues historian Steven Conn, unless you really want racial segregation, child labor, voting discrimination, and all the other things that old-time conservatives once supported.

Congress Should Pass the “Medicare You Can Buy Into” Act

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida)

Tracy Emblem: Grayson’s simple public option plan is more cost-effective for many individual’s who are held hostage now by the BIG Four. Buying into Medicare’s larger insurance risk pool brings down individual premiums.

Are Seniors Right of Center?

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Tina Dupuy: A right-of-center nation would have never embraced the extremely liberal notion of public retirement insurance for its citizens. And government-funded health care for seniors like Medicare?! That’s not “free market” – that’s not “freedom.”

Defense Secretary Wants Defense Spending Cuts–Really

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Tina Dupuy: Going largely underreported, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at the Eisenhower Library (name for the president who coined the term “military-industrial complex”), last week calling for cuts in the Pentagon’s budget. Gates asked, “Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? “

Why More Immigrants Is an Answer to the Coming Boomer Entitlement Mess

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Robert Reich: Sixty years later, we boomers have a lot to be worried about because most of us plan to retire in a few years and Social Security and Medicare are on the way to going bust. I should know because I used to be a trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Those of you who are younger than we early boomers have even more to be worried about because if those funds go bust they won’t be there when you’re ready to retire.

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