Friday, 8/12/11, Public Square

Austerity: The Wrong Prescription

By Carl Gibson*

f you were a patient in intensive care, sick and in pain, what would you say to a doctor whose only recommendation was cutting off your blood supply, meals and therapy, and redirecting your pain medicine to another patient who was already healthy and well? Would you follow your doctor’s orders, or sue them for malpractice?

For the first time in US history, our credit rating has been downgraded, meaning higher interest rates on Americans’ personal debt, like credit cards and student loans. Conservatives have jumped on this as an opportunity to bash President Obama, arguing that not enough spending cuts were made in the recent debt deal to avoid the downgrade. The media has allowed this to be the dominant narrative in the national conversation.

But Conservatives and the media are both ignoring page 4 of Standard & Poor’s research update, published August 5th, which explicitly states, “the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.” In their reasoning for our credit downgrade, S&P specifically attacks the GOP for threatening to not pay America’s bills in order to protect tax breaks for billionaires, corporate jet owners and big oil.

While Republicans and the corporate media bemoan the growing federal debt as our most pressing crisis, very few commentators, with the exception of folks like Allison Kilkenny, have mentioned the necessity of addressing America’s most crucial deficit – jobs. We’re on the verge of entering a double-dip recession, and there’s been surprisingly very little conversation in Washington or on cable-news networks about how to actually get millions of Americans back to work.

While America’s middle-class families and small business owners struggle to survive, thousands of tax loopholes for tax-dodging, job-outsourcing companies like GE remain open. We still freely give out $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies who don’t even pay $1 in taxes. Warren Buffett still pays a lower effective tax rate than his receptionist. Congressional Republicans are calling for $4 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, saying America is “broke.” Yet, by simply ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, we would recoup $5.4 trillion in a decade.

Republicans like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell continue to give our teachers, cops, firefighters and other public services the axe, all to protect these failed “trickle-down” policies that have blown holes in our budget since the Reagan years. Their adherence to such flawed policy ignores reality – the economy has tripled since 1973, but median income has actually gone down since then. Something is trickling down, but it certainly isn’t wealth.

Our economy is on life support, barely holding on while jobs continue their flight overseas. Foreclosures and fuel prices are rising almost as fast as the profit margins of big banks and big oil. Despite all of this, there is still no real economic prescription offered by Republicans and corporate Democrats to heal our economy and get people working again. Instead of “compromising” with the doctors who want to pull the plug on us, America must demand new doctors who are actually interested in curing the disease.

*Carl Gibson, 24, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. He graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism before starting the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of 2011. Since then, over 20,000 US Uncut activists have carried out more than 300 actions in over 100 cities nationwide. You may contact Carl at  Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


Filed under The Public Square

30 responses to “Friday, 8/12/11, Public Square

  1. I just read the report.

    This guy is full of it. Not because I don’t believe the Bush tax cuts should expire but when he says.

    ““the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.” In their reasoning for our credit downgrade, S&P specifically attacks the GOP for threatening to not pay America’s bills in order to protect tax breaks for billionaires, corporate jet owners and big oil”

    They were referring to the fact that they don’t think the spending cuts on the table are enough. That coupled with the fact that the Bush tax cuts now don’t look like they will expire with this Congress means an increase in our spending to GDP ratio, which is not good.

    Maybe he got his hands on a different report but the rest of that paragraph is BS and was never brought up in the report.

    • It’s difficult to argue that Republicans “resist any measure that would raise revenues,” or to ignore how that affected the S&P downgrade.

      Those who are vying for president from their party all said that even if the POTUS had offered a deal of 10 billion in cuts to 1 billion in increase they wouldn’t have taken it. Every single one!

      Then there’s this from S&P:

      Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

      “That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

      Read more:

      And then there’s this —

      Mrs. Bachmann misrepresented the debt ceiling debate when she complained that Congress had given a “blank check” to President Obama by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling — even though it had to be raised to pay for the bills that Congress had already approved, not for future spending.

      And her gloss of the warning from Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency that downgraded the United States’ credit rating last week, was off as well. “We just heard from Standard & Poor’s,” she said at one point. “When they dropped our credit rating what they said was we don’t have an ability to repay our debt.”

      In fact, the ratings agency warned that the difficulty in reaching consensus was weakening the government’s ability to manage its finances. And it was dismayed by how close the nation came to default — which would have happened if the debt ceiling had not been raised, a position Mrs. Bachmann supported.

    • To be clear, I am not saying that the right isn’t to blame for the ratings mess, but his correlation that S&P said it in the report is false and the examples in that paragraph were never stated anywhere I could find.

      Why if you have a solid argument do you throw it all away by making stuff up. I don’t get it.

      • indypendent

        Would Fox News have a following if they did not just make stuff up?

        Sad to say, that is what happens when the media is controlled by the few corporations – who are basically after the same thing – profits.

    • He didn’t actually say “the report,” but, …ignoring page 4 of Standard & Poor’s research update, published August 5th, which explicitly states, “the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.”

      Here’s the link to S&P’s research update —

      Click to access af2c4fac-bfc2-11e0-90d5-00144feabdc0.pdf

  2. Freebird1971

    Happy birthday to a friend who has bee too long absent from here

    • Too long absent! Those new pics of him and his family (two brand new grandchildren!) sure look great, don’t they?

      • Freebird1971

        They sure do I was glad to see them

      • Speaking of our friend, I have his home mailing address. At our ages a birthday card that comes late is as good as on time, or a thinking of you note might brighten a day. So, everyone has my email addy and if you’d like this address, let me know.

    • indypendent

      I assume this is about toosmart?

      Where are the pics?

      • On that social network site you used to have and then had to close. 😦

      • indypendent

        That’s what I figured……thanks

      • indypendent

        BTW – the reason I had to close that social network was due to one of those Religious Righties who seem to think God has chosen them, and only them, to be sitting on his right side to pass judgment on their perceived enemies.

        What a waste of a perfectly good lifetime on Earth…

  3. Any thoughts on whether the GOP will take us to this kind of austerity and whether it will or won’t have the kind of affect it had in Europe?

    I think if the GOP wins either the Senate majority or the presidency the answer is a resounding yes they will, and there’s a good chance we’ll see revolutionary acts on our soil.

    • indypendent

      Maybe this is what it will take to wake up the majority of Americans?

      Because, the rich are only a few in number compared to the rest of America.

      And believe me, if there is a revolution by the working class people, the current GOP elephants in Congress will do a 180 degree turn and try to pass themselves off as they really did not mean anything they said.

      • indypendent

        I’ve had a bad feeling for the past 6 months that history is going to repeat itself.

        I’m thinking of November 1963…..

      • indypendent

        I need to clarify as to why I feel this way –

        There is such a deep hatred of Obama. There is this blind lemming-like lockstepping towards destroying the country by letting it go bankrupt.

        This much hartred is a cancer and cancer kills everything it touches unless it is cut out.

        And I don’t give a damn if they think their God can beat up every other god. Their God must not be listening if Messiah Perry has prayed for rain in Texas last month and Texas is still baking.

        Perhaps Perry prayer results are like his job creation – just a bunch of B.S.

        For all those jobs Perry claims to have created – 40% are public jobs (isn’t that busting the budget) and the majority of all jobs are miniumum wages jobs.

        I wonder how many of these Republicans are willing to take one of those minimum wage jobs down in a state where it has not rained, even though the Messiah Perry has placed his direct line phone call into his God.

  4. indypendent

    When every GOP candidate last night raised his hand to NEVER raise taxes – do these fools even think about what that means?

    How do they plan to pay for their upcoming and desired holy war?

    If all the working people are going to have to settle for minimum wage jobs (like the ones Perry claims to have created)

    How in Hell is that going to be enough to pay for all those lovely, cute and adorable war machines?

    Anyone of those GOP buffoons have an answer to that question?

  5. John discusses the U.S. public debt, our dangerously high debt to GDP ratio, the S&P’s downgrade of America’s credit rating, and why our debt may not be as unmanageable as it seems. There’s also some general discussion of economics, currency, the gold standard, and the worldwide financial system’s dependence of the American dollar.

  6. GOP Debate Watch
    Holding the candidates accountable for what they said—and what they didn’t

  7. Totally off topic and guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.

    All animal lovers know they express humor, joy, understanding and most importantly of all love. Here’s a video to life your spirit and share in some loving moments.

  8. indypendent

    I fully expect Rick Perry to sweep in and get the GOP nomination.

    And I hope he does – because at some point he will have to come out of the safety zone of Fox News and answer some tough questions.

    Several analysts were saying last night that Rick Perry is not popular in his own state of Texas. In fact, the word ‘hated’ was used alot in describing how the Texas political junkies feel about Perry. The issue of his being smart factor came up also. One guy described him being ‘as dumb as box of rocks’. Kinda goes with that article fnord posted recently

    It seems everyone liked GWB because he was just a good ol’ boy from Texas – but the same cannot be said about Perry.

    I predict the Perry candidacy will be alot like the Palin VP candidacy was – alot of hype but when it comes to actually substance – don’t bet the farm on it.

  9. indypendent

    Didn’t Newt Gingrich get his panties in a twist when Chris Wallace asked him about his campaign staff massive exodus?

    But did you also notice how the crowed cheered for Newt?

    Wow – these lemmings are so hate-filled they will vote for anyone that says he hates Obama – won’t they?

    • Freebird1971

      I have had several people express the opinion that their only qualification for their presidential vote is that the person is not Obama,hell of a way to decide on the next president

    • Hi, Fleetwood. Welcome!

      That makes three of us.

      How can there be so much hate in the world?

  10. fleettwood

    I have had several people express the opinion that their only qualification for their presidential vote is that the person is not Bush,hell of a way to decide on the next president

    I agree.

  11. WSClark

    You know, there are times when, after reading the news about crazies in Iowa, lunatics in Washington, pit bulls in Pacifica, looters in London and killers in Syria, you really just want to yank the cord and stop the bus. At times, really nothing seems to make any sense, and you grieve for the future of a world that seems to have no future.

    Then, you spend a day and a half with your beautiful, smart and kind, eleven year old grand daughter and the future seems safe and secure.

    She will have to deal with the mess that we are going to leave her one day, but the answers that will come from the young people are far better than the irresponsible and self-serving answers we are now getting from the so-called adults.

    Take a walk through Delano Antique Market with a young child in tow, explaining what ice tongs were for and how a butter churn works, and you will see just a small glimpse of our past combined with a large glimpse of our future.

    What we did yesterday pales in comparison to what they will accomplish tomorrow. We can never give up on our future, but we need to remember that it is their future that holds the greatest promise.

    Forty years ago, the singer sang “Imagine.” Some of us never stopped being a dreamer and that dream, echoed by so many from the past, is the gift we pass on to the future through our example.

    The future is indeed, bright.