Friday, March 7, 2008

What Economy, Stupid?

By Manifesto Joe

Yeah, the title is an exaggeration. But it comes just after a day of very bad economic news. The recession is not yet official, but I think the question is no longer if, but when. Here are a few news nuggets from Thursday:

-- For the first time since World War II, U.S. homeowner debt now exceeds home equity.

-- In the fourth quarter of 2007, the percentage of U.S. homes caught up in foreclosure proceedings reached a record 0.83 percent.

-- The benchmark crude oil price climbed to a record $105.47. The prices of staple
groceries -- bread, milk, eggs and such -- have been been climbing in tandem.

-- The Dow Jones industrial average fell 214 points Thursday and is flirting with a dip below the 12,000 mark.

I would dare say that Republican "free" market economic policies have been given every chance to work and have proved wanting. I got my "tinkle-down" in the '80s. I'm still waiting for the "trickle-down."

The Bush "stimulus" tax sweetie-pie has yet to make its way into the economy, but don't look for it to be an answer. It will add to the deficit; and it won't help people who are about to lose their homes, their jobs, and their cars, right now. It won't help those who have been waiting for years to qualify for SSI disability or Medicaid because of the enormous backlog of applicants facing pared-down skeleton crews. It won't help the millions of medically uninsured, a number of whom are simply sent home to die.

I could stretch this litany on and on, but I won't belabor it. It should be clear that the U.S. has gone through an almost 30-year robber baron revival, a Gilded Age redux. This year, the electorate has one more opportunity to put a stop to it.

Fasten your seat belts. As Bette Davis once told moviegoers, it's going to be a bumpy ride. There won't be anything meaningful done this year because Big Business has just the cretin they chose in the Oval Office. We're looking to January 2009 for any genuine solutions.

One thing that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton more or less agree on is that taxes on the rich will have to be raised. Clinton, in one of their numerous debates, suggested that the tax structure should be returned to where it was at the beginning of 2001, before George W. Bush pushed through his sweet tax meat for the wealthy and big corporations.

That was the tax rate passed in 1993, the first year of Bill Clinton's presidency, by one vote in the House. It got no Republican votes. The marginal rates were raised, but not even close to what they had been 12 years earlier.

I'll rehash something from a previous post: You remember what happened during those '90s, the Clinton era? Republican opponents of his program predicted economic collapse ...

Unemployment rose to 25 percent. Inflation went double-digit, and interest rates topped 20 percent. There were food riots in the streets of heartland cities. Teenagers, put out of their homes, rode the rails, stole and ate yard chickens and prostituted themselves to degenerates.

The Bonus Army marched on Washington ...


Sorry -- wrong presidents, wrong eras. Seriously, the Clinton plan brought a dramatic turnaround in the federal deficit, because the government was finally collecting enough tax revenue to fund what was needed. The relatively modest tax increase on wealthy individuals somehow accompanied years of strong growth. Future generations will have reason to be grateful -- the national debt would likely be around $12 trillion now, instead of $9 trillion-plus, if it hadn't been for those eight years.

One president we wouldn't likely get any meaningful change out of is John McCain. The leader of the Straitjacket Express appears to have sold out to the Bushies on economic issues. He's committed himself -- pardon the expression -- to the Bush tax smoocherama with the rich and Big Business, pledging to make Bush's bonanzas permanent.

An important thing to remember is that the division in the Democratic Party is going to have to end soon. We're at a critical juncture in the nation's history, and we simply can't afford any more Republican economic policies. We need voters to expand the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. And, we need a Democratic president -- yes, I know there are differences between the candidates, but one or the other will be essential -- to sign the bills.

The big word is November. I hope you can pay your mortgage until then.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

1 comment:

redhogdiary said...

Amen Joe! And I think Americans will once again arise to the occasion! The record turnouts at the primaries have been simply astonishing! When you hear news that Wyoming had expected three times the normal turnout and then witnessed numbers approaching 10 X that you have to be impressed. 315 more days to go! Hang on to your hat!