America doesn’t have a spending problem. It has a tax problem.

There’s been some discussion on Newsvine this afternoon about the various federal agencies and programs people would like to cutto solve our supposed spending problem. Only none of those ideas would work even if you ignore the strong public opposition to cutting programs like Medicare and Social Security that make such cuts politically impossible.

The thing is, this country hasn’t really increased spending that much over the past three years. Rather the tax revenue base has collapsed as a result of millions of people losing their jobs. Not only do those people not have income to pay taxes on anymore, their lost income isn’t going back into the economy to buy goods and services, lowering demand at companies that usually pay taxes on those sales – unless you’re GE – in a self feeding cycle that results in stagnation.

Would it surprise you to know that without any substantive change in tax policy in the past three years, that federal government revenue has fallen by $530 billion dollars? Revenue as late as 2009 was $2.7 trillion. This year it’s closer to $2.17 trillion. The government didn’t cause that, the recession did.

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Excusing Bush’s damaging policies to give yourself a free pass for supporting them

George W. BushOne of the more common traits in modern American conservatism is the tendency to try to escape responsibility by generating specious arguments about scapegoating. Rather than saying flat out that X isn’t responsible for Y, the argument has become that blaming X for Y is just covering for Z, who is really responsible.

It’s ironic that the person Z usually represents – President Barack Obama – has used that strategy to his own benefit by insisting that we “look forward, not backward” when it comes to crimes committed by the Bush administration and Wall Street, but not for anyone else like courageous whistle blowers who reveal government wrongdoing and ordinary citizens committing relatively minor crimes.

This tactic is commonly used to let George W. Bush off the hook for policies he strongly advocated for and encouraged Congress to enact, because the negative consequences of those policies either harmed the country or made Bush and the Republican Party look bad in retrospect.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the economy and Bush’s tax cuts.

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GOP oversight chairman re-fills the swamp with corruption and abuse

Darrel IssaPoliticians who abuse the enormous power they wield over the lives of the American people to enhance their personal business interests are not a new phenomena by any means. With the sleazy revolving doorbetween massively rich and powerful corporations and the government posts meant to regulate themspinning off its hinges, such corruption has hardly seems worth writing about anymore.

The spat between the New York Times and Darrel Issa is only notable for two reasons. First, the Times wrote about Issa’s rather blatant corruption in using earmarks to enrich his business and himself personally. Usually these douchebags only enrich their friends and campaign contributors.

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Ron Paul’s faux libertarianism

Ron PaulGlenn Greenwald has complained on many occasions about the obsession of the press with superficial character traits and flaws, horse race popularity contests, petty scandals, and other irrelevant matters over substance. I strongly agree, which is why I was happy to see Matt Yglesias taking a look at Ron Paul’s political views to see how well they compare to the actual tenets of libertarianism.

I think all too often, Paul’s opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and staunch support for some civil liberties are inappropriately attributed to his being a libertarianism. As if being a libertarian means automatically holding this populist and automatically just views.

It’s not that Paul is a libertarian and therefore holds these views. It’s that Paul holds these views and so do many libertarians, combined with the fact that Paul claims to be a libertarian and constantly links the two together.

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The politics of optics and ancient warfare

One of the more trying aspects of dealing with conservatives is trying to talk to someone that lives in a reality separate and distinct from the one in which Earth resides. In few ways is that better illustrated than policy vs optics. You ask questions about efficacy in a policy debate. Will this work, do we need to do it, will the benefits outweigh the costs, etc. Facts run the show, emotions hold you back, and intellect is at a premium.

In optics, you ignore the facts, lie even when you don’t feel like you have to, demonize people you disagree with and things you don’t prefer, trivialize, appeal to emotion, and violate all precepts of civil conduct. A person who does all of this then falls prey to projection, and accuses anyone discussing policy of engaging in this abhorrent behavior. Any check or balance on this type of behavior, like the news media, is subsequently attacked in base terms so transparently false and pathetic that it has no choice but to fall in line.

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Corruption Journal: I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen.

Charlie SheenIssue #2

August 5th, 2011

WINNING
Because this point won’t be made by the corrupt and rotten media (too truthy): Every country that’s tried austerity has had their economy get worse. The more harsh the austerity, the worse that country has fared. CNBC analysts blamed the market troubles on a European economy that looks like it’s going to fall off another cliff, and Europe is largely the poster child for the kind of austerity we just enacted. The few countries that practiced stimulus all fared better, with the United States near the top in spending and near the top in recovery metrics, really only trailing Germany because of a good export market. So naturally the GOP forced Congress to reverse course and enact serious austerity measures. Within 48 hours, the Dow crashed and a NYT/CBS News poll finds the the highest disapproval of Congress in history, at 82%. This, after GOP leader Speaker John Boehner bragged that his party got 98% of what it wanted from the debt ceiling deal.

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Dow Jones Plunges Over 400 Points as Investors Panick

The twits on CNBC are desperately blaming this on bad news of Europe, so I’m sure it’s a totally cooincidence that this happened right after the GOP forced America to go from stimulus, to non-action, to outright harsh austerity:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) at one point fell nearly 428 points, or 3.6 percent, settling briefly at 11,468.48 around 3:40 p.m. ET Thursday. The loss managed to erase all of the DJIA’s gains for the current year.

Economic and political turmoil have been keeping investors on shaky ground for days.

Closed down -512 points.

 

Political analyst: If GOP wins White House, civil war could break out with Tea Party

Some political analyst is saying what has been painfully obvious for like three years now. If the GOP gains serious power (Senate and White House), the Tea Party extremists will cause a civil war within the party:

“John Boehner used to be one of the most conservative members. He came to Washington as a bomb thrower, he wanted to cut government, he wanted to reform things. Now he is the mainstream of the party. That just shows you where the party has moved to.”

Boehner will continue to be forced to consider Tea Party Republican’s views, Rothenberg said, “because he will need their help along the way. The Tea Party will be a significant force throughout the next year and a half.”

But he predicted serious problems if the Tea Party Republicans gain more clout.

“If they are ever in charge — if the Republicans win the White House or control the White House, Senate and House, you will see civil war break out,” Rothenberg said. “The Tea Party will think okay, now we can run the place. They will expect everything they want to be passed. It will be a huge problem for whoever the president is.”

You created this monster, GOP, hoping the Tea Party would do most of its damage to your enemies (e.g. people who think differently than you do). And as usually happens with monsters, they are going after everyone.

 

Mitt Romney Has the Creepiest Secret Rich People Donors

Here’s just the latest sign that our campaign finance laws are healthy in every way the Founding Fathers could have imagined: A secret company that no one knows anything about has given Mitt Romney’s SuperPAC $1 million and quickly dissolved into nothingness. The folks behind this fly-by-night operation are probably relaxing on a beach in Mexico by now! Oh man.

The company that donated the $1 million to Restore Our Future, the SuperPAC Mitt Romney’s buddies have set up for his campaign, was W Spann LLC, formed in March. “The corporate records provide no information about the owner of the firm, its address or its type of business,” NBC News reports:

There’s no telling where that money came from. It could have come from a foreign power, drug cartels, AT&T, or Romney’s own wife. It could have been legit, or laundered money. America needs to get serious about campaign finance disclosure. No more donations from anyone, period, without full disclosure. This is ridiculous. (h/t Gawker)

Corruption Journal: Oversight scandals and election stealing

It’s gotten to the point where GOP corruption and extremism has become so commonplace and all-encompassing that covering it requires a big picture view to see it all. If the equally corrupt and rotten media covered even a fraction of the crimes and scandals perpetrated by Republicans and those that support them, we wouldn’t have a Republican Party in this country. It’d have been banned as an unprecedented criminal conspiracy unrivaled anywhere in the civilized world.

On the days when I’m not writing original stories, I plan to collect the day’s bill of corruption, law breaking, and scandalous misdeeds of establishment Republicans and their allies in corporate America, in this, the Corruption Journal.

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