(S)tatistics demonstrate the speciousness of the conservative case for states facing budget crises to default on their public pension obligations. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report recently demonstrating that, in fact, they have “adequate tools and means to meet their obligations.” To the degree that some states appear to be in real trouble, explains a June report by two Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco analysts, this is the result of a “profound macroeconomic shock” rather than pension obligations... Yet snowjobs like those promoted by Murdoch, Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are painting a bull’s-eye on the back of public unions.Update: Mark Thoma has more on this at "Economist's View"
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Kevin Drum @ Mother Jones explains in his "must read" article:
IN 2008, A LIBERAL Democrat was elected president. Landslide votes gave Democrats huge congressional majorities. Eight years of war and scandal and George W. Bush had stigmatized the Republican Party almost beyond redemption. A global financial crisis had discredited the disciples of free-market fundamentalism, and Americans were ready for serious change.
Or so it seemed. But two years later, Wall Street is back to earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it's not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama's economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama's election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.
Read his entire piece, "Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About," HERE.The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-'70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.
Second, American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes...
"(D)o you remember the lavish praise heaped on Britain’s conservative government, which announced harsh austerity measures after it took office last May? How’s that going? Well, business confidence did not, in fact, rise when the plan was announced; it plunged, and has yet to recover. And recent surveys suggest that confidence has fallen even further among both businesses and consumers, indicating, as one report put it, that the private sector is 'unprepared to fill the hole left by public sector cuts.' ”
Read the whole piece here.
Read the whole piece here.