Paychecks Won’t Change Even Without Fiscal Cliff Deal

We’ve been told that if a fiscal cliff staircase deal doesn’t get done by 1/1/13, whenever it does get done, it will be retroactive to the beginning of 2013 as to middle class taxes, so their taxes really won’t go up.

But Timothy Geithner also has the power to keep payroll withholding the same next year*, so not only won’t taxes go up, but paychecks will stay the same even without a deal.

Keeping consumer spending power the same goes a long way to controlling economic damage from the failure to make a deal.  Hang tough, Mr. President.

See “Geithner Keeps Withholding Freeze as Weapon to Curb Cliff,” Richard Rubin, Bloomberg

It’s War

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) will block a Rice nomination for Secretary of State if Obama chooses to proceed:  “I would place a hold on anybody who wanted to be promoted  for any job who had a role in the Benghazi situation.

The battle against Rice has led to charges of sexism and racism.  That’s why they’re putting a New Hampshire woman out front, to try to deflect those charges.  Both McCain and “Butters” Graham are male, obviously, plus Butters is from South Carolina.

Quotes of the Day

“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got, and some that we didn’t get, concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate.”

Sen. John McCain after meeting about Benghazi with Ambassador Susan Rice, who was accompanied by Michael Morell, acting director of the CIA.

Senators Lindsey “Butters” Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) also were there, so the GOP had the gay and female demographics covered.

Butters said, “The bottom line is that I’m more disturbed than I was before.”

This meeting was supposed to smooth the way for Obama to nominate Rice as Secretary of State.  Looks as if O still has a fight on his hands.

Obama needs to address Benghazi himself.

Krugman Scolds the Deficit Scolds

From “Fighting Fiscal Phantoms,” Paul Krugman, NYT:

“But we’re not  Greece, and it’s almost impossible to see how this [a run on Treasuries, a spike in interest rates and a return to recession] could actually happen to a country in our situation.

“For we have our own currency — and almost all of our debt, both private and public, is denominated in dollars.  So our government, unlike the Greek government, literally can’t run out of money.  After all, it can print the stuff.

“But if the U. S. government prints money to pay its bills, won’t that lead to inflation?  No, not if the economy is still depressed.

“Still, haven’t crises like the one envisioned by deficit scolds happened in the past?  Actually, no.  As far as I can tell, every example supposedly illustrating the dangers of debt involves either a country that, like Greece today, lacked its own currency, or a country that, like Asian economies in the 1990s, had large debts in foreign currencies.

“For years, deficit scolds have held Washington in thrall with warnings of an imminent debt crisis, even though investors, who continue to buy U. S. bonds, clearly believe that such a crisis won’t happen; economic analysis says that such a crisis can’t happen; and the historical record shows no examples bearing any resemblance to our current situation in which such a crisis actually did happen.”

The Best Article in a Decade

Wherever you live on the political spectrum, you absolutely must, must read Bruce Bartlett’s truly amazing article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community,” in The American Conservative.

He talks about the censorship that the right, especially Rupert Murdoch, has tried to impose on him and about how this former supply-sider has come to agree with Paul Krugman on how to deal with the Great Recession.

A little background if you don’t know Bartlett.  He worked for Congressman Jack Kemp, for Heritage, in the second-term Reagan White House, at Treasury under Bush 41, for Cato, and wrote for all the top-line conservative publications.

Some excepts:

“My book, ImpostorHow George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, was published in February 2006.  I had been summarily fired by the think tank I worked for back in October 2005.  Although the book was then only in manuscript, my boss falsely claimed that it was already costing the organization contributions.  He never detailed, nor has anyone, any factual or analytical error in the book.

“Among the interesting reactions to my book is that I was banned from Fox News.  My publicist was told that orders had come down from on high that it was to receive no publicity whatsoever, not even attacks.  Whoever gave that order was smart; attacks from the right would have sold books.  Being ignored was poison for sales.

“I later learned that the order to ignore me extended throughout Rupert Murdoch’s empire.  For example, I stopped being quoted in the Wall Street Journal.  Awhile back a reported who left the Journal confirmed to me that the paper had given her orders not to mention me.  Other dissident conservatives, such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan, have told me that they are banned from Fox as well.  More epistemic closure.

“Annoyingly, however, I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis [of the economic meltdown] was identical to my own.  I had previously viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy and attacked him rather colorfully in an old column that he still remembers.

“For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman.  The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.

“The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist.  In fact, he’s barely a liberal — and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today.  Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.

“At this point, I lost every last friend I had on the right.  Some have been known to pass me in silence at the supermarket or even to cross the street when they see me coming.  People who were as close to me as brothers and sisters have disowned me.

“So here we are, post-election 2012.  All the stupidity and closed-mindedness that right-wingers have displayed over the last 10 years has come back to haunt them.

The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism.  We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day.

“At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure.  They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris.  Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.

“I’ve paid a heavy price, both personal and financial, for my evolution from comfortably within the Republican Party and conservative movement to a less than comfortable position somewhere on the center-left.  Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat.  But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me.  When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.”  Emphasis added.

I haven’t had Bartlett’s distinguished career, but his story, especially over the past four years, is my story ideologically and philosophically.

 

Pro-Life Murder

Like many all over the world, I am saddened and outraged by the death of Savita Halappanavar, who was killed in a Dublin hospital because of a refusal to treat her miscarriage, dooming her to die of blood poisoning.

In addition to anger at her death, I am angry at how it is being framed, as the denial of an abortion.  She arrived at the hospital with her fetus miscarrying.  There was no way to save this fetus, either inside her body or outside.  The fetus was doomed.  The issue was providing proper care for her miscarriage, so that she would not die as well.

If we start thinking and talking about basic, established medical care for miscarriages as “abortions,” simply by using this terminology, we are caving to the crazies.

In Ireland, they just unnecessarily murdered a young woman under the sick and twisted guise of being pro-life.  If it were up to Paul Ryan and others in the GOP who share his extremist views, the same thing would happen to American women.