Student loans

I wrote three lengthy comments in response to NPR’s Facebook story about student loans. I abandoned those, and then I was just going to post something on my Facebook feed. I abandoned that, too.

But I feel compelled to say this.

I’m really effing tired of hearing about your effing student loans. I really don’t care.

Oh, I can’t say that either, even if I qualify it.

Go ahead, take away my Progressive Left-Wing Club Rewards Card.

I don’t seem to be able to go on the record with anything controversial anymore on here. I used to do it all the time.

No need to comment with your own tale that demonstrates how I don’t get it. I probably do get it. Maybe I just loathe 90% of college graduates between 21 and 30 because I’m still, at heart, a misanthrope, and a old, crotchety one, at that.

Ok, I’m done here.

UPDATE Dammit, I should qualify this by saying that I support the Occupy protesters who understand that they’re protesting because they feel like government serves primarily “the 1%”, the corporations, and the banks, and that people have lost their livelihoods, their homes, and their dignity because of Wall Street greed and politicians’ enabling of that greed. Somehow, I just make a distinct between those people and the law school grads who can’t find jobs. The law school grads ARE going to find jobs eventually, and they’ll pay off their student loans, even if it takes them 15 or 20 years. They will be fine. The 50-year-old unemployed factory worker ain’t gonna find shit, and when the law school grad gets his job, he’s not going to give a shit about that other guy anymore. Done again.

UPDATE And THIS (protesting Marine vet has fractured skull, critically injured by police) is really effed up regardless of why anyone is protesting.


Monday night political post

House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.

The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of “class warfare.” If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. The mathematics are inexorable.
Robert Greenstein / the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / 2011.07.25

There’s just no arguing with the fact that what we all just witnessed outlined in no uncertain terms the dynamic that’s been going on in Washington for the past several months in regard to the debt ceiling fight. Obama was not only reasonable, measured and — I can’t believe I even have to say this — mature, but he made it clear that he was a man so willing to compromise for the good of the country that he’s consistently fending off fire from many in his own party who feel like he’s somehow selling them out. Boehner, meanwhile, was a petulant, haughty adolescent, someone not the least bit interested in genuine compromise and who’s more than willing to forgo honest dialog in the name of cheap theatrics, bad jokes and brutish partisan intransigence because he knows it’s what his party demands at this point.

I tweeted this a little earlier but it can pretty much be broken down like this: Obama: “We need to compromise and stop being petty children for the sake of everyone.” Boehner: “Fck you.”
Chez Pazienza / Deus Ex Malcontent / 2011.07.25

Teresa Tritch / How the Deficit Got This Big / New York Times / 2011.07.24

On the tax cuts deal

I’ve been complaining about those Bush tax cuts for a few months. Now the deal is (almost) done. I’ll just like to some more articulate people’s thoughts on why lots of Democrats will be looking around for a new leader over the next 20 months.

This “deal” Obama just made with Rep.s:$900 billion UNpaid for! Where r Teabaggers to protest? Ben Franklin costume in the wash?


Ok I’m starting to scream at Obama on tv the way I used to with Bush – not a good sign


My conversations with various progressives over the past 24 hours have convinced me that the problem is less the specifics of the deal — though liberals legitimately dislike the tax cuts for the rich, and rightly point out that Obama swore to let them expire — than the way in which it was reached. Put simply, Obama and the Democrats didn’t fight for them. There were no veto threats or serious effort to take the case to the public.

Instead, the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they’d made no effort to sell to progressives. When the deal was cut, the president took an oblique shot at their preferences, saying “the American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories.” And this came a mere week or two after the White House announced a federal pay freeze. The pattern, for progressives, seems clear: The White House uses them during elections, but doesn’t listen to, or consult them, while governing. In fact, it insults them, and then tells them to quiet down, they got the best bargain possible, even if it wasn’t the one they’d asked for, or been promised.

Ezra Klein

…if Democrats give in to the blackmailers now, they’ll just face more demands in the future. As long as Republicans believe that Mr. Obama will do anything to avoid short-term pain, they’ll have every incentive to keep taking hostages. If the president will endanger America’s fiscal future to avoid a tax increase, what will he give to avoid a government shutdown?

Paul Krugman

Mr. President, for these meager crumbs, you have given up costly, insulting, divisive, destructive tax cuts for the rich and you have given in to Republican blackmail which will be followed by more Republican blackmail.

This President negotiates down from a position of strength better than any politician in our recent history. It is too late now to go back and ask why the President, why the wobbly Democratic leadership, whiffed on its chance to force John Boehner to put his money where his mouth was. In September Boehner said if he had no other option, of course he would vote to extend tax breaks only for the middle class.

We have enabled this President, and his compromises-spinning-within-compromises. And now there are, finally, those within his own party who have said “enough.” In the Senate, the Independent, Mr. Sanders has threatened to filibuster this deal. He deserves the support of every American in doing so, as does Mr. Conyers and Mr. McDermott and the others in the house. It is not disloyalty to the Democratic party to tell a Democratic president he is wrong; it is not disloyalty to tell him he is goddamned wrong.

It is not disloyalty to remind him that we are not bound to an individual. We are bound to principles. If the individual changes, or fails often and needlessly, then we get a new man. Or woman. None of that is disloyalty. It is self-defense.

Keith Olbermann

Toastie Eliminates the Deficit

The New York Times has a must-see-and-play-with interactive tool for showing how the current deficit and future projected deficits can be managed.

It’s an neat tool to check out because it shows very clearly how some popular targets are really just drops in the bucket, like foreign aid and medical malpractice reform.

Closing the projected 2030 budget shortfall is very difficult unless you start messing with social security. There needs to be someway of raising the retirement age without adversely impacting those who careers rely on their bodies to function adequately. You simply can’t expect sanitation workers and UPS drivers to work until they are 70.

Anyway, I played the game and managed to at least close the 2015 projected shortfall of $418 billion, 3/4 from tax increases and 1/4 from spending cuts:

  • Eliminate farm subsidies – $14B
  • Reduce troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by 30K by 2013 – $86B
  • Obama’s estate tax plan (lower than Clinton’s; higher than nothing) – $24B
  • Obama’s investment tax plan (lower than Clinton’s; higher than nothing) – $10B
  • Expire Bush tax cuts for income above $250K/yr – $54B
  • Expand ceiling for payroll tax – $50B
  • Millionaire’s tax (new top bracket, instead of top bracket starting at $375K) – $50B
  • Convert mortgage-interest deduction to credit (less benefit for high-income hh’s) – $25B
  • Carbon tax – $40B
  • Bank tax – $73B

Tuesday night politics

After multiple Republicans filibusters, the Democrats finally passed an extension of unemployment benefits, even though it was supposed to be a “jobs bill” (see Ezra Klein) and had been heavily watered down just to get the 60 votes to break the filibuster. This fall, Republicans will ask, “Where are the jobs?” and all the Democrats can say is, “Well, it would be worse if we had done nothing, and we would’ve done more if you guys didn’t get in the way.”

So people are supposedly going to enthusiastically vote for Republicans in November, but on what premise? More tax cuts? Tax cuts were the legacy of George W. Bush. Shall we just try that again?

Tax Cuts vs. Stimulus
This is from conservative financial type folks:
(h/t Bob Cesca)

I’m really pissed that Democrats have caved time and time again over the last 18 months. The stimulus needed to be a lot bigger. They couldn’t sell it. Health care needed to be bolder. They couldn’t sell it. And basic measures to try to push the economy along are token measures.

But they’ve a least got the country pointed in the right direction, if not headed there. I don’t see how putting Republicans back in power can possibly help.

Spending way too much time looking into the Bush tax cuts

Inspired from one of those things I starred in Google Reader:

There’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy.
– Senate Minority Leader Mitch McDonnell (R-KY)

(TPM via Ezra Klein)

It’s legitimate to praise the Bush tax cuts if your goal as a conservative is to enhance the wealth of the wealthy. If you are wealthy or you aspire to be wealthy and like to think that your hypothetical wealth would grow unbounded, the tax cuts look pretty vibrant. If you’re not in the top 10% of earners, not so vibrant:

As for that deficit that Tea Partiers are so upset about, that they’re so certain mostly composed of Obama’s socialist agenda:

Here’s another fancy chart (click to see it in all of its full fanciness):

Technically, McConnell is correct, in that IRS receipts went up over the past decade. This chart is from a right-wing website, which, like McConnell, touts how revenue increases followed the tax cuts.

I am obviously no economist, but tax revenues would’ve gone up anyway. All raw economic numbers are always going up. So this is a pretty silly argument, right? I’m inviting a conservative to chime in and tell me why it’s not a silly argument. And if it’s not a silly argument, the CBO numbers on the impact of the tax cuts on the deficit are still pretty damning. Conclusions on the numbers on their effect on income-inequality are subjected to one’s political philosophy, I suppose.

Geez, this amateurish in-depth analysis took up a lot of my time tonight. No wonder I usually stick to Sarah Palin sound-bytes.

American Idiot: Deficit Crusader

(h/t Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish)

But Obama’s the one screwing over our grandchildren.

Sarah Palin says President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget is “immoral” because it increases the national debt, which she called “generational theft.”

Palin told the national “tea party” convention Saturday that America’s national debt, which is held largely by other nations, “makes us less free” and “should tick us off.”

By the way, the largest state debt-to-GDP-ration? Former half-governor Palin’s Alaska.

When the former vice presidential candidate resigned as governor of Alaska in the summer of 2009, she left the state with a 70 percent debt-to-GDP ratio — the highest state debt burden in the United States.

Too much government, who needs 911?

Sign of the times…a truly depressing example of what’s going on in America:

Via this Tom Friedman NYT op-ed, this story from Tracy, CA:

Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency.

But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year which allows them to call 9-1-1 as many times as necessary.

Or, there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead, they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.