Tag Archives: Great Depression

GOP Rep: Wall Street doesn’t commit crimes because they don’t use guns

Are these people really this ignorant?

The Examiner

During a recent town-hall meeting, a Republican congressman claimed that there was no criminal activity happening on Wall Street because they don’t use guns.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) spoke to constituents during a town-hall event in El Dorado Hills, California and was asked many questions. A member in the audience asked what the congressman thought about “Wall Street criminal practice” and where he stood on the Glass Steagall act, a piece a legislation that was repealed in the 1990s that had previously separated commercial banks and investment banks after the stock market crash of 1929. Rep. McClintock responded, but an an interesting reason for why he didn’t believe there was any criminal activity occurring on Wall Street.

“You can get somebody to do just about anything with a gun. I hear about predatory lending, for example, my first question is that is just terrible. You shouldn’t be able to force somebody to take out a loan they don’t want. With respect to Glass Steagall, that is the measure that had been in place, it was a depression era measure, that essentially forbids banks from making a wide range of investments. My attitude is someone different on that. Instead of applying additional government forces into the process, in this gets back to your critical question, lets stop bailing out peoples bad decisions.”

When the financial crisis came into full swing in the fall of 2008, the American people looked on in horror as the economy was dealt its hardest blow since the Great Depression. Decades of looking the other way while big banks where able to run wild, continuing tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations and trade practices that only hurt the middle class, the economy finally fell flat on its face. For any member of congress to use an excuse of lack of fire arms for the reason there is no criminal activity on wall street is almost as delusional as the party he is apart of.

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Paul Krugman Explains Why He Really Didn’t Want That Treasury Job, Anyway

A new commenter inadvertently led me to this article.  Thank you and welcome, Ed Darrell  for your   original suggestion to read You need to watch this: Paul Krugman, ‘Jobs NOW, the key to our recovery’ .

Washington Monthly

In a fascinating and sprawling interview with Bill Moyers, airing this weekend on the PBS show, Moyers & CompanyNew York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman explained why he didn’t want to be nominated to the post of Treasury secretary, even after 235,000 people signed an online petition urging the president to appoint him, and offers his take on Jack Lew, the president’s nominee:

PAUL KRUGMAN: …I probably have more influence…, doing what I do now, than I would if I were inside trying to, you know, do the court power games that come with any White House — even the best — which I don’t think I’d be any good at. So no, this is fine. And what the president needs right now is he needs a hardnosed negotiator. And rumor has it that’s what he’s got, so.

BILL MOYERS: In Jack Lew?

PAUL KRUGMAN: That’s right. The president can’t pass major new legislation. He can’t formulate major new programs right now. What he has to do now is bargain down or ride over these crazy people in the Republican Party. And we what we need now is not deep thinking from the treasury secretary. If the president wants deep thinkers, he can call Joe Stiglitz, he can call other people. What he needs from the Treasury secretary is somebody who’s going to be very effective at dealing with these wild men and making sure that nothing terrible happens.

But that’s not the most interesting part of the interview. Believe it or not, where it gets really fascinating is in Moyers’ discussion with Krugman on the difference between a recession and a depression. (As the title of Krugman’s new book, End This Depression Now!, he thinks what we’re in is the latter.)

While he concedes that the current depression, as he sees it, is not as horrific as the Great Depression of the 1930s, Krugman asserts that it’s likely worse than we perceive, because things that once made a depression obvious to all — breadlines, “will work for food” signs and the like — have take new forms in the the electronic age, and at a time when some public welfare, however meager, is available, and all acting in concert to hide widespread suffering from view:

KRUGMAN: Somebody said that food stamps are the soup kitchens of the modern depression. That there’re a lot of people who would be standing in line to get that soup, who are instead, and it’s a good thing, who are instead getting — I guess it’s now called SNAP, Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program — but who are getting those debit cards, and are getting essential food stuffs. And they’re at the grocery store and they look like anybody else. But the fact of the matter is they are still as desperate, they’re getting by day to day with the aid of a trickle of government aid, just like the people who were standing in line at the soup kitchens in the ’30s, but they’re not visible. They, we don’t have guys selling apples in street corners partly because, you know, the city licensing wouldn’t allow that anymore.

I totally buy that. I know lots of people of all generations who consider themselves middle-class, but are living hand to mouth. The young people working marginal jobs with no prospects and an unimaginable pile of college debt. The middle-aged people short-selling homes that were theirs for years. The old people who never earned enough to invest in mutual funds.

I know them. Don’t you?

The complete Moyers interview:

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Lindsay Graham: I Will Destroy America’s Solvency Unless The Social Security Retirement Age Is Raised

How much clearer can the GOP get with their extortion threats to American citizens?  Graham is a Senator with enough clout to back up his threat.  This is shameful…

Think Progress

Although official Washington is currently fixated on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff,” the biggest threat to American prosperity is the debt ceiling, which must be raised in February to prevent economic catastrophe. If Republicans refuse to reach a deal on the so-called cliff, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that they will spark a new recession in 2013. But if Republicans block action on the debt ceiling, they will make that potential recession look quaint. Without raising the debt ceiling, the United States will be forced to embrace austerity so severe it will lead to “a bigger GDP drop than that experienced during the Great Recession of 2008.”

But in an interview on Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to oppose this must-pass bill unless Social Security benefits are taken away from millions of future retirees:

I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, saving Social Security and Medicare [sic]. So here’s what i would like: meaningful entitlement reform — not to turn Social Security into private accounts, not to take a voucher approach to Medicare — but, adjust the age for Social Security, CPI changes and means testing and look beyond the ten-year window. I cannot in good conscience raise the debt ceiling without addressing the long term debt problems of this country and I will not.

Watch it:

This is extortion, plain and simple. It is the budgetary equivalent of threatening to break America’s legs unless Congress agrees to break the backs of millions poised on the edge of retirement. Graham’s position is that seniors should have to wait longer for their retirement benefits — even if they work in physically demanding jobs that literally tear the body apart by the time a worker reaches age 65 — and that those benefits should be reduced in the future.

And if Congress won’t agree to this deal, then Graham is prepared to thrust the nation into an economic calamity unheard of since the Great Depression.

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Are We Better Off? 10 Headlines From September 2008

Yes, we are better off…

Think Progress

Recently, the Romney campaign has taken to telling voters that Obama “can’t tell you that you’re better off” now than four years ago.

While the economic numbers suggest otherwise, there’s a simpler way to understand the reality of four years ago: take a look at what people were saying at the time. September 2008 was the month where the financial crisis — caused in significant part by Republican-supported deregulation of the financial industry — really took off, a point reflected clearly in the newspaper headlines from the time:

STOCK SHOCK FELT ROUND THE WORLD. Gets ‘nasty’ as Lehman tanks, Merrill vanishes, AIG wobbles [New York Daily News, September 16, 2008]

Depression Coming? Boil Some Beans; Ladies Who Quilt Give Tips On Surviving Tough Times [Albuquerque Journal, September 21, 2008]

One day on the brink On Wednesday, it seemed U.S. economy might collapse[St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 21, 2008]

‘Great Depression’ closer than U.S. admits, report finds [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 27, 2008]

Will Bush become the new Hoover? [Politico, September 19, 2008]

Developers bend under housing meltdown [Colorado Springs Gazette, September 27, 2008]

Depression seen possible [Florida News-Press, September 27, 2008]

Wall Street Meltdown Continues [CNN, September 17, 2008]

Is It Really the Next ‘Great Depression’? [NPR, September 19, 2008]

Behind Closed Doors, Warnings of Calamity [The New York Times, September 20, 2008]

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Right Wing Denial and the Legacy of Slavery

Politicus USA

Slavery ended nearly 150 years ago. It’s over. Nothing left to see here. Except that it’s Black History Month, and those damnable minorities and their liberal allies keep bringing up the past, reminding everyone of that darkest blemish on American history. The only times you hear conservatives talking about it are to revise history as politicians like Ron Paul have been doing by mainstreaming the belief that the Civil War was not primarily fought over slavery. There is no acknowledgement from conservatives that slavery and its aftermath had any consequences that can be observed today. They continue to argue that everyone has an equal chance of success on an equal playing field. While a disproportionately high number of African Americans remain in deep poverty, conservatives bend over backwards to blame them for their circumstances.

With the way that generations overlap, there are living African Americans who have heard their great-grandparents tell stories of their relatives’ firsthand experiences surviving slavery. During the Great Depression, firsthand accounts by slaves were collected for those who are interested to hear them personally. What kinds of stories would be most relevant to the social circumstances of African Americans today? Certainly, there was the commonplace policy of purposely breaking up families for over 240 years. Ever since the Moynihan Report first identified the struggles of the black family, conservatives have been quick to pounce and attribute the high percentage of single parent families to their moral laxity. They are chronically unable to acknowledge that a systemic decimation of families perpetrated by white people plays a significant role in the instability of male-female relationships to this day.  We have no precedent for the recovery time required to overcome this type of assault on a fundamental societal institution.

Speaking of recovery time, it’s been approximately seven generations since formal slavery ended. But that’s not the whole story; this month on February 13th, PBS will be airing the documentary, Slavery by Another Name, based on the book by Douglas Blackmon of The Wall Street Journal. This documentary will focus on the period from 1865 to World War II when African Americans experienced neo-slavery, a time of legal discrimination, widespread and brutal violence, and rampant criminalization. For example, “black codes,” or laws that were written to arrest and confine African Americans for crimes such as “vagrancy,” resulted in forced labor camps with conditions indistinguishable from slavery. Of note, a black man could be arrested for vagrancy for not having a job in a community that refused to employ him. As Blackmon states, “African Americans know this story in their hearts…and so people come up to me and say, ‘Gosh the story that my grandmother used to tell…I never believed it because she would describe that she was still a slave in Georgia after WWII or just before, and it never made sense to me, and now it does’…These are things that connect directly to the lives of people and the shape and pattern and structure of our society today.”

Continue reading here…

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In The Alternate Universe of the GOP: Cantor: We Need To Rely On The Wealthy To Address Income Inequality

I’m beginning to wonder if Cantor, DeMint, Issa,  Boehner and their ilk even understand what the average American faces economically?   After all, in Washington, DC most politicians are millionaires and seem way out of touch with the “common folk” of this country.

This is not just about income inequality Mr. Cantor.  It’s about the despicable practices of Wall Street like stealing working folks’ money in various ways! It’s about disparaging the working class on an unprecedented basis while lining their pockets with unprecedented billions.

Mostly, its about Washington politicians continuing to tout tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the programs most middle class folks depend on like Medicare and Social Security.

Think Progress

The 99 percent movement protests are going global as more and more people seek to register their frustration with corporate greed and injust economic policies. Preferential tax treatment has helped drive the U.S. to its worst level of income inequality since the Great Depression, with the nation ranking more unequal than the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. Since 1979, “the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled.”

America’s recognition of the indisputable level of inequality is forcing Republicans to back away from their condescending treatment of the “Occupy” protesters. Once concerned about these “growing mobs,” House Majority Eric Cantor (R-VA) ismaking an about-face. Today on Fox News Sunday, he told host Chris Wallace that the president and Republicans “agree that there is too much income disparity in this country.” Pointing to the public’s “complaint” about the unfair economic playing field, he insisted that Congress should rely on America’s wealthy “to take care of income disparity”:

CANTOR: We know in this country there is a complaint on the folks on the top end of the income scale that they make too much and folks on the end don’t make enough. We need to encourage those on the top income scale to create more jobs. We are about income mobility and that’s what we should be focused on to take care of the income disparity.

Watch:

Continue reading here…

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Topeka, Kansas City Council Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence To Save Money

If this is true, it’s absurd! It appears that we’ve been forced to turn the  clock backwards on a number of social issues, all in the guise of saving a few bucks.   I think it’s beyond absurd…

Think Progress

Faced with their worst budget crises since the Great Depression, states and cities have resorted to increasingly desperate measures to cut costs. State and local governments have laid off teachers, slashed Medicaid funding, and even started unpaving roads and turning off streetlights.

But perhaps the most shocking idea to save money is being debated right now by the City Council of Topeka, Kansas. The city could repeal an ordinance banning domestic violence because some say the cost of prosecuting those cases is just too high:

Last night, in between approving city expenditures and other routine agenda items, the Topeka, Kansas City Council debated one rather controversial one: decriminalizing domestic violence.

Here’s what happened: Last month, the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office, facing a 10% budget cut, announced that the county would no longer be prosecuting misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, at the county level. Finding those cases suddenly dumped on the city and lacking resources of their own, the Topeka City Council is now considering repealing the part of the city code that bans domestic battery. [...]

Since the county stopped prosecuting the crimes on September 8th, it has turned back 30 domestic violence cases. Sixteen people have been arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery and then released from the county jail after charges weren’t filed. “Letting abusive partners out of jail with no consequences puts victims in incredibly dangerous positions,” said Becky Dickinson of the YWCA. “The abuser will often become more violent in an attempt to regain control.”

The YMCA also said that some survivors were afraid for their safety if the dispute wasn’t resolved soon. Town leaders and the district attorney all agree that domestic abuse cases should be prosecuted — but no one would step up to foot the bill. The city council is expected to make its decision on decriminalizing domestic violence next week, but the back-and-forth over funding has already put battered women and their families at increased risk of harm.

Domestic violence is still at epidemic levels in the United States, and too few cases are prosecuted as it is. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence. And domestic abuse is a crime that damages entire communities, not just women. Witnessing violence between one’s parents is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next: boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partner when they grow up.

And while not prosecuting domestic violence cases may seem to save money in the short term, it actually has staggering financial consequences. The health-related costs of domestic violenceexceeds $5.8 billion each year. Nearly $4.1 billion of that is for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion are for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages. Victims lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence.

It should go without saying, but apparently doesn’t, that preventing domestic abuse is essential to promoting communities’ economic and social well-being. That the Topeka City Council would even consider such action is a heartbreaking illustration of the consequences of austerity.

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Bachmann: Debt Limit Hike Caused the Downgrade

Michele Bachman and her ilk have simply lost their ever lovin’ minds…

Slate – Dave Weigel

ATLANTIC, Iowa — It filled up early at the Cass County community center here. Five minutes before she was scheduled to speak, better than 50 Iowans had shown up — the lucky ones under a tent, the unlucky ones in the warming sun. (They were told to show at 11:45.) The worry of the moment was, what else, the S&P downgrade.

“I agree with S&P,” said Morry Knudsen, 76, a retired college professor. “This debt thing they passed… it was a facade.”

When Bachmann arrived, she devoted half of her opening statement to the downgrade. The message: She could have stopped it.

“For the last two weeks, I led the fight against raising the debt limit,” Bachmann said. Increasing the limit “pushed the rating agency over the edge.” It was a “$2.4 trillion blank check that caused the downgrade.”

Make no mistake: The downgrade was Barack Obama’s fault. “We were somehow able to get through the Great Depression without a credit downgrade,” she said. “Only under this president have we seen a credit downgrade… we are getting that credit rating back. That is going to be our goal. That will be our mission.”

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A Tale of Two Americas: One America Lives on Greed; The Other America Barely Survives to Live

The Buzzflash Blog

Yes, it’s the tale of two Americas.

To its no doubt cheering readership, The Wall Street Journal reported today that big CEO bonuses are back – and back big time:

CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5%, the biggest gain in at least three years, according to a study of the first batch of corporate CEO pay disclosures by consulting firm Hay Group for The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, amid a continued unemployment crisis, indications of financial distress and basic subsistence are also soaring:

From November to December of 2010 487,000 Americans were added to the food stamp program. Keep in mind this all occurred while the stock market continued to soar and has rallied nearly 100 percent from the lows reached in March of 2009.

Working and middle class Americans barely have enough to pay for the monthly bills so speculating in Wall Street is likely the least of their concerns. The data on food stamp usage usually trails the current calendar date by one quarter. The latest data we have is from December of 2010. However, we are adding roughly 300,000 people per month to the food stamp program called SNAP. If that is the case, as of today we now have 45,000,000 Americans participating in the food stamp program….

This is the highest percent of Americans on food assistance since the Great Depression when there was no food assistance early on aside from local charities.

It’s a tale of two Americas: one gorging on gluttony, and one barely able to survive. And the safety net for those in need is being cut with a machete knife as the richest among us get richer.

Yes, it’s the tale of two Americas.

To its no doubt cheering readership, The Wall Street Journal reported today that big CEO bonuses are back – and back big time:

CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5%, the biggest gain in at least three years, according to a study of the first batch of corporate CEO pay disclosures by consulting firm Hay Group for The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, amid a continued unemployment crisis, indications of financial distress and basic subsistence are also soaring:

From November to December of 2010 487,000 Americans were added to the food stamp program. Keep in mind this all occurred while the stock market continued to soar and has rallied nearly 100 percent from the lows reached in March of 2009.

Working and middle class Americans barely have enough to pay for the monthly bills so speculating in Wall Street is likely the least of their concerns. The data on food stamp usage usually trails the current calendar date by one quarter. The latest data we have is from December of 2010. However, we are adding roughly 300,000 people per month to the food stamp program called SNAP. If that is the case, as of today we now have 45,000,000 Americans participating in the food stamp program….

This is the highest percent of Americans on food assistance since the Great Depression when there was no food assistance early on aside from local charities.

It’s a tale of two Americas: one gorging on gluttony, and one barely able to survive. And the safety net for those in need is being cut with a machete knife as the richest among us get richer.

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Patriotic Millionaires For Fiscal Strength

Fiscal Strength Dot Com

There are actually millionaires out there who have urged President Obama to get rid of the “Bush Tax Cuts” once and for all.  (h/t Democratista)

Dear Mr. PresidentWe are writing to urge you to stand firm against those who would put politics ahead of their country.

For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled.

We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.

We have done very well over the last several years. Now, during our nation’s moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share. We don’t need more tax cuts, and we understand that cutting our taxes will increase the deficit and the debt burden carried by other taxpayers. The country needs to meet its financial obligations in a just and responsible way.

Letting tax cuts for incomes over $1,000,000 expire, is an important step in that direction.

Sincerely,

(See list of signatories here: http://www.fiscalstrength.com/)

 

You should know:

Only 375,000 Americans have incomes of over $1,000,000

Between 1979 and 2007, incomes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans rose by 281%

During the Great Depression, millionaires had a top marginal rate of 68%

In 1963, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 91%

In 1976, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 70%

Today, millionaires have a top marginal tax rate of 35%

Reducing the income tax on top earners is one of the most inefficient ways to grow the economy according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office

44% of Congress people are millionaires

The tax cuts were never meant to be permanent

Letting tax cuts for the top 2% expire as schedule would pay down the debt by $700 billion over the next 10 years

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