Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two More Debt Ceiling Facepalms

1.  If one didn't know any better, one might conclude that our elected officials don't care whatsoever about the American people.  I know it may sound shocking, but I have this sneaking suspicion.  As evidence, I give you this Washington Post-ABC poll which asked people, among other things, if they would oppose or support certain items in an effort to reduce the national debt.  Here's a summary:

Cut spending on Medicaid:  26% support, 72% oppose

Cut military spending:  43% support, 56% oppose

Raising taxes on Americans earning over $250,000 a year:  72% support, 27% oppose

Gradually raising Medicare age from 65 to 67:  46% support, 54% oppose

Changing the way SS benefits are calculated so they increase slower:  42% support, 53% oppose

Raising taxes on oil and gas companies:  59% support, 39% oppose

Means testing Medicare:  61% support, 36% oppose

Removing SS tax income cap currently at $107,000:  66% support, 33% oppose

Raising taxes on hedge fund managers (essentially changing capital gains taxes to income taxes):  64% support, 25% oppose

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Drama Makes Everyone Look Incompetent

The debt ceiling stuff makes me sick to my stomach.  Despite the fact that the warnings about default are clear and dire, our elected leaders seem to be only interested in political showmanship and not actually solving the problem.

On the one hand you have the Republicans who are the party much more responsible for our unwieldy debt, refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless all of their suddenly austere measures are met without any inkling of desire to compromise on any issue.  They are the major cause of the problem, are completely hypocritical about government debt and size now that they believe it is politically advantageous, and are unwilling to negotiate like responsible adults to avoid the catastrophe they precipitated.  They are more interested, it seems, in pleasing their corporate overlords than doing what is right for the American people.  Here is one graph, among many many many, that illustrates the level to which Republicans are at fault for the debt:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good News Everyone: Corporations Are Doing Great

The economic recovery isn't going so well for Americans.  The unemployment rate is still over nine percent and hiring is actually slowing down again.  Home foreclosures are still occurring at an alarmingly high rate.  Regular people are not doing well.  In short, as the Wall Street Journal notes: "Across a wide range of measures—employment growth, unemployment levels, bank lending, economic output, income growth, home prices and household expectations for financial well-being—the economy's improvement since the recession's end in June 2009 has been the worst, or one of the worst, since the government started tracking these trends after World War II."

In contrast--stark, ugly contrast--corporations are doing great.  Corporate profits are at an all-time high.  Corporations are holding onto a record amount of cash, around $2 trillion.  The GDP is higher now than it was pre-recession, but virtually all increased income was captured as profits by corporations.  Stocks are the highest they've been since the recession began.  Taxes on the wealthiest Americans are at all-time lows.  The Wall Street Journal astutely noted that there is a "dichotomy between corporate performance and the overall health of the economy."