These are extreme times. Polls back up our empirical observations and show we’ve never been more polarized, at least in the mass media age. I keep harping on how a lot of the mainstream media doesn’t seem to want to recognize this except when they do a segment on how divided we are and then have two polar opposite talking heads scream at each other to prove it… and we’ll have to leave it there. Next up, is your sink killing you?
Even I feel uncomfortable in conversation with the apolitical or uninformed trying to express to them why I think the last 35 years of politics in this country has been a counterrevolutionary coup by one side of the political spectrum to do nothing less than overturn the progress of the 20th century. It seems one sided. But fuck! It is, really! I have charts and graphs to prove it, wait come back!
On Twitter Polislice self-identifies this way:
The right are ideologues. Libertarians are ridiculous. Only the left is trying to MAKE THINGS WORK.
I believe that. So does the Century Foundation. What it comes down to for them, and I think it’s a good boiling down point, is Only Progressives Care About Public Investment. Republicans, conservatives, centrists of all stripes all say they believe in infrastructure and some public investment (with the exception of libertarians, natch), but as Kevin Drum writes in Mother Jones The War Over Austerity is Over. Republicans Won. Budgets are being crunched, and used as an excuse to not make the crucial investments most people will at least pay lip service to believing necessary. With the Budget Control Act, the Sequester, all the media noise about the budget deficit and the debt that even we on the left crow about when the numbers go down under a Democratic POTUS, spending is down and the debate is overweighted towards continuing that trend.
As detailed in a recent report by Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute, the Obama administration, House Republican, and Senate Democrat budget proposals for fiscal 2014 all predicted federal non-defense public investment falling, within a decade, to the lowest relative levels since 1947.
Which is why the recovery and the jobs picture has been so anemic. Besides being the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Great Recession was accompanied by the unprecedented shedding of public jobs (police, teachers, fire fighters, municipal workers, etc.) which if reversed – if all those public jobs hadn’t been shed at the federal and state level – we’d be seeing under 6% unemployment and healthier local economies. So much of how we approached this crisis was counterproductive because of the influence of the Tea Party Republicans in state capitols and D.C. and their misunderstanding of economics.
Their rejection of Keynesian economics has been a millstone around the neck of the recovery. The simple answer is what economists like Paul Krugman have been saying all along – that debt and deficits are important, but not a priority until you get people employed and steady the economy. The Tea Party fails to see the forest of tax payers for the trees of government spending, ignoring that such expenditures create a virtuous cycle that floats a successful economy.
Govt. employee has a job, spends money, pays taxes to government.
Business and government profit from the employee’s spending.
Govt. coffers are full from business and income taxes.
Govt. can afford to pay employee for services.
It’s really not rocket science, but their anti-tax, small government ideology forbids them from seeing it. They would reject the virtuous cycle and demand that the worker get a private job (even in a recession), that the govt. privatize whatever service the govt. was providing that paid the worker, and the govt. should cut taxes on the businesses patronized by the worker in order to further starve the govt. It doesn’t make a lick of economic sense, would not improve any part of the cycle or the lives of anyone in the cycle – not the worker, not the govt., not the public the govt. serves or even the business (their taxes are lower, but so is their income since the worker can’t shop there anymore)! But the Tea Party ideology demands all this happen and they will not bend to the empirical evidence that they are completely misguided and their assumptions counterfactual.
There’s only one answer to end the treading of economic water and that is greater government spending (except for defense which is already way bloated). Since there’s no stomach for bigger deficits anywhere, then the only way to accomplish that is by increasing revenues. The Tea Party, the Republican Party, the Libertarians will not do it. Progressives are the only ones who will raise revenues and cut defense and the public agrees with them in principal.
The major outlier is the fiscal year 2014 budget alternative of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC)—the most comprehensive progressive budget blueprint on the Hill.
The CPC budget proposed repealing all non-defense discretionary spending cuts from the 2011 debt ceiling deal (roughly $670 billion over a decade) as well as increasing non-defense discretionary spending by more than $1.5 trillion dollars and infrastructure investment by $1.1 trillion.
The Progressive Back to Work Budget does cut defense expenditures and restores non-defense spending. They will increase marginal tax rates on billionaires and equalize the treatment of income from capital and labor, no more loop holes allowing hedge fund billionaires to pay 15% taxes. Eliminate the cap on social security taxes. Restore social insurance programs and expand social security. Create an infrastructure bank and fund infrastructure improvement projects.
It’s the only budget that is trying to bring us back to full employment, steady the economy, build for the future, alleviate suffering, promote equality and deal with deficits in the medium and long run by promoting real economic growth.