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Progressives question Obama's bona fides

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Point of Order, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    NYT's Paul Krugman and TPM's Josh Marshall:


    Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

    Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate.

    There’s a strong populist tide running in America right now. For example, a recent Democracy Corps survey of voter discontent found that the most commonly chosen phrase explaining what’s wrong with the country was “Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington.”

    And there’s every reason to believe that the Democrats can win big next year if they run with that populist tide. The latest evidence came from focus groups run by both Fox News and CNN during last week’s Democratic debate: both declared Mr. Edwards the clear winner.

    But the news media recoil from populist appeals. The Des Moines Register, which endorsed Mr. Edwards in 2004, rejected him this time on the grounds that his “harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.”

    And while The Register endorsed Hillary Clinton, the prime beneficiary of media distaste for populism has clearly been Mr. Obama, with his message of reconciliation. According to a recent survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Mr. Obama’s coverage has been far more favorable than that of any other candidate.


    You're Kidding Me, Right?
    12.19.07 -- 11:30AM
    By Josh Marshall

    I really hope the Obama camp is kidding when they say Barack is the most scrutinized candidate in the race. If they're not, they're living in a fantasy world that makes me question whether they're up to the rigors of a national campaign.

    Let me be clear: there's legitimate scrutiny of legislative records, policy positions, personal finances, history of decisions made in tough, pressure-filled situations (the only really legitimate meaning of character), etc. There's been some of that and should probably be more.

    Then there's the collective assault that constitutes modern press 'scrutiny', especially for a Democrat who generally has to deal with the tag team of the national political press and the regrettably much more able and ruthless GOP oppo research cadre, which has an established feeding operation mainlined to most national political reporters.

    It ain't fair; it ain't right; but it's the reality. And if he thinks he's already gotten that, well ... what's he been smoking?

  2. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    The Clinton camp will dredge up every slimeball missile in the book if the slippage in Her Royal Highness's poll numbers continues.

    As for Krugman . . . he's the reigning king in terms of delineating the symptoms of the current disease. He's been masterful. He makes all the cons squirm, because he ferrets out most of the timelines of the modern dirty-tricks squad beautifully, and he understands why the dirty-tricksters continue to try to do what they're trying to do.

    On the other hand . . . Krugman's SOLUTIONS to current difficulties . . . not so easy to endorse.
  3. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Nice ad hominem on Krugman, but I've been arguing the substance of what Krugman and Marshall are saying for a while, as Zeke12 can attest. Obama taking the conservative bait on the social security "crisis" concerns me.
  4. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Jeebus, taking the conservative bait on Social Security?

    You're carrying a lot of Hillary water, POO.

    And that wasn't an ad hominem on Krugman, that's fair comment on his writing.

    Saying Paul Krugman is a pathological loser is an ad hominem attack on Krugman.
  5. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    god damn, what's the problem with removing the income cap off of the social security tax?
  6. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Apparently, it's now an insult to liberal orthodoxy.

    I was late getting the memo, too.
  7. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    I guess the base of the democratic party remains firmly entrenched north of 59th street, south of 110th street and bounded by Central Park and the Hudson River.
  8. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I kind of wish "liberal orthodoxy" understood how Ponzi schemes work. Social security is going to fail, no matter what Obama or Hilary Clinton or anyone else does. Alan Greenspan has/had this right. Having people hoodwinked into thinking it is going to be there for them 30 or 40 years from now, does them a disservice, because people can't plan properly now. The program has promised something our economy can't deliver. It's not insurance. It relies on the payments of young workers to pay the benefits of retired workers. As birth rates have declined, the amount collected through taxes hasn't kept up with the value of the payments. It is not only a recipe for ruin, it has all kinds of bad consequences that never get discussed rationally. It gives wrong incentives and mismanages wealth--huge disservices to society as a whole. But it is a political third rail, because people never want to face realities. They love that "liberal orthodoxy," which promises things that would get laughed at by most people who are street smart enough to understand that someone promising to turn a quarter into a dollar is full of shit.

    The program hurts us overall, because of all the inefficiencies and waste (not to mention its coming failure). Social security payments never earn interest or grow over time, the way investment should. They are immediately paid out to current beneficiaries. When I retire, though, if it really WAS insurance, I should collect benefits that have been adjusted upward because of interest earned over the years. Social security can not do this. It can't even keep up with non-interest adjusted payments because the promises made exceed the tax base trying to currently meet them. Another huge issue is that payroll tax deductions are more harmful for more people than consumption taxes (Not even going to try to explain this, but hopefully someone here took Econ 101). The program even unintentionally screws minorities and the poor, because they have lower life expectancies. They spend their whole life paying in (and in relative terms, it is a percentage of their pay they could use more in life than someone wealthier, who doesn't miss the money as much), and get fewer benefits collected because they don't live as long. There are other side issues related to this. Poor people have a disproportionate amount of their life savings tied to the program, which limits wealth transfers across generations. You can't pass along your social security savings as an inheritance. Not to mention that access to funds is limited to retirement, unlike other types of savings. If you lose your job, you can't just reach into your social security "savings" to pay for education or daycare expenses while you look for work or to stem the tide. The overall result is that the program is not only ridiculous from a common sense economics perspective, it has done things antithetical to "liberal" or progressive ideals, yet people who consider themselves progressive still embrace it. It actually helps prevent class movement for minorities and the poor. It's a paradox that never gets talked about, perhaps understandably, because it is hard enough to get people to talk about the fact that it is just plain unsustainable and inefficient and on a course for failure (like all Ponzi schemes). The money coming in doesn't add up to the promised benefits, no matter how you slice it in political terms.
  9. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Excellent post.

    Insult from Fenian coming in 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1
  10. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    I understand quite well how it works. The problem is that cons have convinced us that the repaying social security trust fund is optional, notwithstanding the fact that it is supposed to be back by the full faith and credit of the United States government. The cons have convinced people that its okay for the congress to rob the trust fund (remember SNL making fun of Al Gore for the "lock box" proposal? That's what that was about then -- keeping congress out of the social security trust fund -- not so funny now, is it?).

    Raising taxes now will further encourage this ill-advised practice. The problem with ginning up a social security crisis is that it is belied by the facts. Deposits will exceed withdrawals until 2017, and then in 2040, I repeat, 2040, the trust fund reserve will run dry IF nothing is done. So, why propose raising taxes today on someone who makes $90-120k? Doing this will only encourage the continued looting of the trust fund.

    If y'all want to have a substantive argument, let's have one. Zeke, you know where I stand on the primaries, which is why I posted what I considered two credible articles that basically agree with my stance. Where you pull out of your ass something about "liberal orthodoxy" I have no idea. Call it toting water for Hillary if you want to, but be aware that you do it at the expense of any substantive counter. I guess you don't take any issue with the content.

    I thought this site was supposed to be above average that way.

    Ragu, Social Security has been pretty popular. Your rhetoric is tired. It's the same that has been proffered since FDR instituted the program. Most republicans don't believe in the idea of a basic safety net for the prevention of elderly impoverishment. I disagree.
  11. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    I guess Obama still gets off without any scrutiny -- until after he is the nominee I suppose.
  12. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Point, They were right in FDR's day. And it isn't rhetoric. It's just fact. SS is a pay-as-you-go program, exactly as I stated. Like a Ponzi scheme, it would have died in the 80s. I give Daniel Patrick Moynihan some credit for figuring out a band-aid approach to a political problem, but he didn't "fix" it. He yanked the rug out from under people who had been made ridiculous promises, and changed the rules. People were promised one thing, and because the program is a failure, their promises ended up being reneged on.

    The trust fund was created by that change of rules (i.e. -- they increased taxes, but didn't increase benefits). They made a promise and then reneged on the promise by raising the taxes. If I say to you, "Give me a dime every week for the next 20 years, and after 20 years, I'll pay you back the dime plus a below-market-rate of interest (what SS is)," forget the fact that I am ripping you off because you could have gotten a market rate on your own if I hadn't coerced your wages from you. What if after 10 or 15 years of that, I say, "Nah, I can't do what I promised you. It is going to take 15 cents every week instead of 10 cents, but the payout I am going to give you is going to stay the same." Explain to me how that is a good system that has done good things and explain how it is efficient and sustainable?

    The trust fund is a miniscule amount in the grand scheme of things. That 2017 number is all BS. They have no idea exactly how long they can sustain the reserve fund, and they will tweak their projections accordingly to try to keep people from panicking. But it is inarguable that the end is near. Either way, it is 2008, and you are telling me we can keep a reserve fund for nine years (JUST nine more years left on the band aid they slapped on it 25 years agi), and the only reason we can is that they raised taxes (they reneged on their promise and changed the rules)? That is exactly where we are headed all over again. Your 2040-something number, again, is just a made up date, and all it means is that we will be back to a pay-as-you-go system without any reserves sometime before then. And by then, the promise will have been turned into complete bullshit, because people will be lucky if their payments are 60 to 70 percent of what they were being promised when they were paying in.

    One of two things is going to happen if this monster survives. They will raise taxes again without increasing benefits--fairly soon, because you can't wait until the reserve fund they built runs dry. By then it is too late. Or they will decrease benefits substantially. And taking either of those courses is only a temporary band-aid--the same way it was in 1983. It also is proof that the program is a failure and doesn't work. When you have to keep increasing taxes without increasing benefits, or you have to decrease benefits while keeping taxes the same, you have something inefficient and unworkable on your hands.

    Doing it, buys you what, another 25 years (like increasing taxes did in 1983)? And then we face the same set of problems--the problems you have when EVERY Ponzi scheme inevitably falls apart. Except by then, people will be paying enormous amounts in and getting way below market returns when they retire.

    A pay-as-you-go system can not work, period. And it obviously can't compete with market-based returns actually INVESTING money gives people. Social security is just insane. The 12.4 percent in payroll taxes would be much better served in people's pockets. It's just more efficient. But even if you want a Nanny society, for Pete's sake, at least set something up in which instead of a pyramid scheme (which is illegal if anyone else tried to run one), in which you rob people of their money, sell government-backed bonds, and pay them amortized interest on par with treasury bonds as their "return."
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