We're moving ever closer to a double-dip. Of course, as I've said before, most Americans never got out of the first one.
In previous postings I've suggested ways to reverse course, including
a "people's tax cut" exempting the first $20K of income from payroll
taxes and making up the revenue loss with a payroll tax on incomes over
Yet Democrats seem frozen in the headlights of conservative
supply-siders, blue-dog deficit hawks, and pollsters who say the public
doesn't trust anything government does.
As to Republicans, now comes John Boehner, capitalizing on this distrust by blaming the bad economy on government bureaucrats.
In an address billed as a major speech on economic policy, the House
GOP leader yesterday (Tuesday) attributed our economic woes to the fact
that "taxpayers are subsidizing the fattened salaries and pensions of
federal bureaucrats who are out there right now making it harder to
create private sector jobs."
It's true workers at all levels of government now earn more than
their private-sector counterparts. But that's mainly because
private-sector benefits have dropped precipitously over the last few
years. Companies have replaced defined-benefit pensions with
do-it-yourself 401(k)s, and have ratcheted up premiums, co-payments, and
deductibles on employee health-care. Government workers' benefits
haven't yet been sliced the diced these ways, but the cuts are coming.
The pay gap is also due to the fact that the typical public-sector
job requires more education. According to the Center for State and Local
Government Excellence, 48 percent of state and local employees have a
college degree while only 23 percent of private-sector employees do.
Blaming government workers for this bad economy is absurd,
regardless. The Great Recession continues because consumers can't and
won't spend. They're overwhelmed with credit-card debt, their mortgages
are under water, their nest eggs have become chick peas, and they can't
afford health insurance.
Rather than help alleviate all this, Boehner and his Republican
colleagues have been busily voting against extending unemployment
insurance, against reorganizing mortgages under bankruptcy, against
forcing credit card companies to stop charging exorbitant interest, and
against giving Americans affordable health insurance.
As far as I can tell, all Republicans want to do is to privatize
Social Security, extend the Bush tax cuts to the richest 3 percent of
Americans, and deregulate. But none of this seems particularly relevant
to the task at hand.
Privatizing Social Security would put retirees entirely at the mercy of the Wall Street casino.
Extending the Bush tax cuts to the richest 3 percent wouldn't
stimulate demand because the very rich save rather than spend most of
their extra cash.
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And if anything we need more rather than less regulation. Just
consider BP's oil spill, Massey's mine cave-in, DeCoster's rotten eggs,
Goldman Sach's predations, and Wellpoint's double-digit insurance
Boehner delivered his speech at the City Club of Cleveland, a safe
distance from those government employees he says are on the make. But of
course Boehner is a federal employee. He gets $193,400 a year along
with generous retirement benefits. In fact, he has among the fattest
salaries and pensions in Washington.