What happens when “austerity” budget cutting blows up on the GOP? See Kansas

July 8, 2014

Kansas finds itself in a big, big pickle.

Republican Governor Sam Brownback managed to get the legislature to make massive tax cuts, claiming it would boost jobs in Kansas and stimulate the Kansas economy, thereby  paying for themselves.

Instead the Kansas economy is failing. Massive cuts have gutted Kansas’s once-revered public education system, and deeper cuts will be necessary to keep the state government afloat, unless there is some change in tax policy, or a massive, miraculous influx of business beyond what even the Koch Bros. could arrange.

Gov. Brownback is running for re-election, and finds himself behind in popularity in Kansas — behind even President Barack Obama.

Wow.

Full story at Vox, “Kansas was supposed to be the GOP’s tax-cut paradise, but now can barely pay its bills.”

And of course, there is comedy of the kind that you couldn’t make up:  Brownback blames Obama.

Oy.

Chart from Vox, showing what happened to Kansas's surplus revenues, promised to balloon with the tax cuts Gov. Brownback asked for, and got.

Chart from Vox, showing what happened to Kansas’s surplus revenues, promised to balloon with the tax cuts Gov. Brownback asked for, and got.

Turns out Americans, and especially the citizens of Kansas, want government that works.  They’d like taxes to be low, but low taxes won’t make voters happy when the roads are bad and the kids’ schools are crappy.

Wonkblog's chart showing job creation in Kansas is terrible, also.

Wonkblog’s chart showing job creation in Kansas is lagging, also, contrary to the GOP promises when tax cuts were instituted.

Government’s first job is to govern; just governments are established among men to secure human rights, old Tom Jefferson wrote.  Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness make a snappy line in a patriotic reading on July 4, but when the crowd drives home, they don’t want to be dodging potholes, and they don’t want their kids to complain from the back seat of the car that they don’t know what the Declaration of Independence is or what it says, “and who is Jefferson — I thought it was just a street in Dallas?”  When government fails to do basic jobs, voters may not be happy.

Will false advertising be able to bail Sam Brownback out?  Watch Kansas.

More:


Can America afford to be great anymore? Many say, “no”

May 1, 2014

A friend posted this on Facebook:

“As of today our total national debt is roughly $17 1/2 trillion. Of that number nearly $12 1/2 trillion is publicly owed. Can you even get your mind around it?”

To which I responded:

As a portion of GDP, our national debt was much greater in 1946.

So, the Congress did what it had to do.

Congress borrowed money to educate millions of returning veterans, and to subsidize their homes. The greatest education aid and housing aid programs in history, both in the GI Bill.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II -- on borrowed money.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II — on borrowed money.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our allies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, on the assumption that an ally with a strong industrial base and good economy is stronger, and can come to our aid if and when we need it.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our enemies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, because a nation with a good economy and health trade tends to stay out of war. Those nations became our allies.

Congress borrowed to build the greatest road system in history, connecting nearly every corner of America — under the pretense that such a road system would allow us to move troops and armaments quickly from coast to coast in event of a defense emergency.

Congress borrowed to finance space exploration, to go to the Moonbecause, you know, it’s hard.

Congress borrowed to build a library in every county in America, and fill it with books — so that if there were ever nuclear war, everybody who survived would be close to the information necessary to rebuild civilization.

Congress borrowed to build the world’s greatest air transportation system, with airports for sport, business and commercial aviation all over the place.

Congress borrowed to build sewer systems and water systems, doubling down on public health service spending, to prevent disease and make health people.

Funny things happened. Our economy boomed. The world economy boomed. Millions of new jobs were created, filled by people who paid whopping taxes. And the debt sorta melted away.
___________

When I hear people complain about our national debt, and how we as Americans must stop spending money, I hear them saying, “We cannot afford to be great anymore. Our time as the world’s leading economy and leading democracy has passed. It will be a lot cheaper for the nation to curl into a national fetal position, and then taxes won’t be so high.”

That’s what I hear the GOP saying, when they urge tax cuts for the rich, while taking away food stamps from the families of our military deployed overseas.  (Can you imagine anything like that happening during World War II? Not even “interned” families of soldiers went hungry.)

In 1946 — and in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1968, and other election years — there were plenty of Americans who said “we can’t afford the Marshall Plan; we can’t afford foreign aid; we can’t afford to build all these roads; we can’t afford to go to the Moon; we can’t afford to pay for college (or other schooling) for all these veterans/students.”

What would America look like, had leaders listened to those people, and then NOT borrowed the money to build America?  What would the world look like?

I don’t think George Washington spent 8 years at war to curl into the fetal position and give up.

Am I wrong?

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)


Obama already negotiated; GOP taking hallucinogens? (Again?)

October 8, 2013

Oh, Speaker Boehner forgot to mention that.

 

http://bit.ly/GE9nzF 

pic.twitter.com/8N4bG4GFHY


Make this man president? Neil de Grasse Tyson indicts America’s failure to spend to dream

August 17, 2011

P. Z. Myers said he’d vote for Tyson for president.  Tyson’s point, made on Bill Maher’s program,  is certainly something that should be part of our political discussions today.

This is not a new idea by any stretch, that doing great things and dreaming great things to do is one of the things that makes America what it is, in its better incarnations.

Robert R. Wilson at the 1968 groundbreaking of Fermilab

Physicist Robert R. Wilson at the 1968 groundbreaking of Fermilab - Fermilab photo via Wikimedia

Physicist Robert Wilson — who had been the youngest group leader at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project — gave a brilliant defense to a Congressional committee about the value of pure research, while working on the project that eventually became Fermilab.  Wikipedia has a good, concise description of the event, and an account of Wilson’s words:

In 1967 he took a leave of absence from Cornell to assume directorship of the not-yet-created National Accelerator Laboratory which was to create the largest particle accelerator of its day at Batavia, Illinois. In 1969, Wilson was called to justify the multimillion-dollar machine to the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Bucking the trend of the day, Wilson emphasized it had nothing at all to do with national security, rather:

It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

Thanks to Wilson’s leadership—in a full-steam ahead style very much adopted from Lawrence, despite his firings—the facility was completed on time and under budget. Originally named the National Accelerator Laboratory, it was renamed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab for short) in 1974, after famed Italian physicist Enrico Fermi; the facility centered around a four-mile circumference, 400 GeV accelerator. Unlike most government facilities, Fermilab was designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Wilson wanted Fermilab to be an appealing place to work, believing that external harmony would encourage internal harmony as well, and labored personally to keep it from looking like a stereotypical “government lab”, playing a key role in its design and architecture. It had a restored prairie which served as a home to a herd of American Bisons, ponds, and a main building purposely reminiscent of a cathedral in Beauvais, France. Fermilab’s Central Laboratory building was later named Robert Rathbun Wilson Hall in his honor.

It’s time to dream, America.  It’s time again to make America worth defending.

More: 


President Obama on the deficit ceiling deal

August 1, 2011

The White House published this video within the last hour or so:

302 views at posting

Here are the White House bullet points on the deal:

What the Debt Deal Does

  • Removes economic uncertainty surrounding the debt limit at a critical time and prevents either party from using a failure to meet our obligations for political gain.
  • Makes a significant down payment to reduce the deficit — finding savings in defense and domestic spending while protecting critical investments in education and job creation.
  • Creates a bipartisan commission to find a balanced approach to continue this progress on deficit reduction.
  • Establishes an incentive for both sides to compromise on historic deficit reduction while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and programs that help low-income families.
  • Follows through on President Obama’s commitment to shared sacrifice by making sure that the middle class, seniors, and those who are most vulnerable do not shoulder the burden of reducing the deficit. As the process moves forward, the President will continue to insist that the wealthiest Americans share the burden.
  • For a closer look at the mechanics of the debt agreement, take a look at this infographic.

More from Obama here.


How did we get into this deficit mess?

July 26, 2011

From the New York Times:

Costs of policy changes under two presidents, Bush and Obama - New York Times chart

From the New York Times, article by Teresa Tritch, "How the deficit got this big"

Teresa Tritch wrote the story, published on July 24.  Sources for the chart were the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


No bus coming, so Republican/Tea Partiers call cops on Grandma

May 25, 2011

Republicans and Tea Partiers in Michigan can’t exactly be accused of throwing their grandmothers under the bus, but only because there was no bus coming at that moment.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, scheduled a meeting with Tea Party supporters last Saturday.  When senior citizens showed up, apparently fearing they would raise some questions about the Republican budget plan with figuratively throws grandma under the bus with drastic cuts to Medicare, organizers called police, claiming the post-65 group had started physical violence.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?  If it were fiction, who would believe it?

Read the full story at DailyKos (with links to ThinkProgress):

One way Republicans have found of dealing with the bad press and hostility they’ve faced in public meetings over their highly unpopular budget plan has been what’s actually a pretty typical Republican response: censorship. They’ve clamped down on reporters and citizen journalists, barring them from recording the events.

In Michigan, they’ve taken it up a notch, courtesy of Tea Party control freaks who not only banned a group of senior citizens and reporters, but called security on them at an event with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

Rep. Justin Amash held a townhall meeting sponsored by a Tea Party group on Saturday sponsored by a Tea Party group, but a group of senior citizens and two reporters — including this one — were denied entry to the event.The traditional purpose of a townhall meeting is for an elected official to meet with his constituents in public, giving the people a chance to ask questions and engage in dialogue with their representatives. But neither the organizers nor Amash apparently wanted to hear from or speak to a group of concerned senior citizens — even at a time when the fate of Medicare is being debated in Congress.

About eight senior citizens arrived at the Prince Conference Center on the Calvin College campus for a chance to question Amash concerning his voting record in regards to eliminating Medicare.

Once barred from attending the event, the seniors stood out in the parking lot where they were taking questions from this reporter and Tanya Somanader of Think Progress, the two members of the media who were denied access. Eventually, six security guards arrived on the scene and said that both the seniors and the reporters had to leave.

Amash, and the Michigan Republicans, appear to be too embarrassed to talk about the GOP budget approved by the House of Representatives.  Those senior citizens kicked out of the meeting had been invited to attend by the Tea Party, apparently unaware that their ideas are unpopular among their own nominal supporters.  Invited, then kicked out.

Amash and Republicans should be embarrassed.

At least the security guys who responded also saw the humor in the ridiculous situation


%d bloggers like this: