Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wisconsin Cong. Paul Ryan, Taxophobia & Ayn Rand

Jonathan Chait in Democracy:
Not long ago, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan—who enjoys unparalleled prestige on budget issues among conservatives of all stripes—railed against the deficit and was asked about the massive cost of extending tax cuts. He replied, “Keeping tax rates where they are, and preventing them from going up, is not spending, because that is people’s money in the first place.” What on earth could this mean? Here is the answer. Ryan has declared his deep intellectual debt to Ayn Rand (the obsessively anti-government author of Atlas Shrugged -ed.) He required all his staffers to read her work. When he responds to a question rooted in simple accounting with a moral claim (“people’s money in the first place”), he is saying that the arithmetic of revenue, outlays, and deficits does not matter to him. None of the pecuniary issues that he claims to care about so deeply ultimately matter. He is fighting a class war, which he views as a war for freedom itself. 
Rand’s passion and hate flowered in a postwar world in which the working classes were slowly drawing closer with the upper classes. The great irony of the recent triumph of her vision on the right is that it takes place in conditions just the opposite. The poor and working classes have languished for decades, while the rich pull in unimaginable sums. This is the atmosphere that has paradoxically given rise to the right’s fervid class warfare...

A "Common Sense" Guide to the Great Deficit Debate

No matter how much liberals may poke fun at them, Tea Party partisans can claim victory in fundamentally altering the country's dialogue...Thanks to the Tea Party, we are now told that all our problems will be solved by cutting government programs...Does anyone really think that cutting such programs will create jobs or help Americans get ahead? But give the Tea Party guys credit: They have seized the political and media agenda...

E.J. Dionne Jr. Washington Post: 2-21-2011

In the wake of a deep financial crisis and continuing high unemployment, we are confronted with a contentious, often angry argument over our future as a nation: 

- How best to expand economic productivity and resources, and to “grow” jobs?    
- What programs and social policies do we value as citizens?  
- What public goods will we invest in? 
- How do we pay for government at a scale that we can agree we need? 

These vital concerns are increasingly reduced - problematically - to the sole issue of deficit spending.

Unions in Wisconsin - Down But Not Out!

"Working America, an advocacy organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO that provides an outlet for non-union members to support the labor movement, has signed up approximately 20,000 new members (in Wisconsin) since Feb. 15," reports Amanda Terkel.

Is help finally on the way for folks whose homes are "underwater" ?

Huffington Post:
The Obama administration is seeking to force the nation's five largest mortgage firms to reduce monthly payments for as many as three million distressed homeowners in as little as six months as part of an agreement to settle accusations of improper foreclosures and violations of consumer protection laws...