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Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 25, 2012

 
Mainstream news organization campaigns for austerity

by digby

No, this is not from Pete Peterson's Austerity Circus or  "Fix the debt" or the Concord Coalition.



Can you see what the problem is there? This is from ABC News, which normally goes into huge contortions pretending to be objective. That slick graphic does not tell the whole story, most especially the salient fact that this is a phony crisis created by politicians to force solutions to problems that aren't problems and make real problems worse.

The Village may have worked itself into a frenzy over this deliberately created, phony deficit crisis, but that doesn't mean that major news organizations should be engaging in demagoguery and advocacy. Maybe they don't know any better, but they should.

If you want a real set of solutions to the "fiscal cliff" here's James Galbraith:
First, is there a looming crisis of debt or deficits, such that sacrifices in general are necessary? No, there is not. Not in the short run – as almost everyone agrees. But also: not in the long run. What we have are computer projections, based on arbitrary – and in fact capricious – assumptions. But even the computer projections no longer show much of a crisis. CBO has adjusted its interest rate forecast, and even under its “alternative fiscal scenario” the debt/GDP ratio now stabilizes after a few years. 
Second, is there a looming crisis of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, such that these programs must be reformed? No, there is not. Social insurance programs are not businesses. They are not required to make a profit; they need not be funded from any particular stream of tax revenues over any particular time horizon. Reasonable control of health care costs – public and private – is necessary and also sufficient to keep the costs of Medicare and Medicaid within bounds. 
Third, would the military sequestration programmed to start in January be a disaster? No, it would not be. Military spending is set in any event to decline – and it should decline as we adjust our military programs to our national security needs. The sequester is at worst harmless; at best it's an invitation to speed the process of moving away from a Cold War force structure to one suited to the modern world. 
Fourth, would the upper-end tax increases programmed to take effect in January be a disaster? No, they would not be. There is no evidence that the low tax rates on the wealthy encourage them to spend or invest, no evidence that higher tax rates would deter the spending and investment that they might otherwise do. 
Fifth, would the middle-class tax increases, end of unemployment insurance and the abrupt end of the payroll tax holiday programmed for the end of January risk cutting into the main lines of consumer spending, business profits and economic growth? Yes, over time it would. But the effects in the first few weeks will be minimal, and Congress could act on these matters separately, with a clean bill either before the end of the year or early in the new one. 
Sixth, what about all the other cuts in discretionary federal spending? Yes, some of these would be very damaging if allowed. Simple solution: don't allow them.
In short, Members of Congress: if you can, just pass the President's bill on middle-class taxes, and, if you can, eliminate the domestic sequester. Then, please go home. Enjoy the holidays. Come back in January prepared to extend unemployment insurance, to phase out the payroll tax holiday gradually, to restore stable funding to necessary programs and to start dealing with our real problems: jobs, foreclosures, infrastructure and climate change.
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