AlterNet is an online magazine with a rich trove of intelligent liberal and progressive analytical essays. [Here] If you aren’t familiar with it or don’t know about it, you should visit the site. If for nothing else, it is comforting to know that there are other committed intelligent folks who are as concerned about this country’s political and economic direction as you and I are.
AlterNet is currently running a long and interesting interview by Jan Frel of the liberal historian Lawrence Goodwyn, titled “The Great Predicament Facing Obama: An interview with legendary historian Lawrence Goodwyn on Obama, the larger currents in our political life, and the possibility of a rebirth in our democratic culture.” You might not agree with his assessment of Obama’s first two years as President--(I don’t)--but his recounting of how we got where we are today is razor sharp.
Here is part of Goodwyn's economic analysis:
The sequence of events is not debatable: 1) In 2001 Republicans inherited Clinton's hard-earned "balanced budget." 2) They immediately moved to dismantle it by generating a trillion-dollar tax cut for the rich. No more balance in the budget. 3) The GOP then added in a war against the threat of Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" that did not exist because the "evidence" concocted by Dick Cheney was fraudulent. Another trillion more or less. 4) En route, they tossed in a prescription drug benefit that added more trillions, conceivably forever -- or until we get the public option, whichever comes first. 5) An additional inheritance from Clinton was the culmination of the relentless conservative-championed campaign for "financial deregulation" sanctioned by Alan Greenspan, the old Fed chairman, and buttressed by the Milton Friedman-inspired balderdash trumpeting the emergence of a "rational market." (For reasons that have always escaped me, the latter piece of puffery found a home in the American economics profession.) 6) As a sendoff for his final days, Bush's Secretary of Treasury and his Federal Reserve Chairman found themselves saddled with the inevitable post-regulation financial crisis that (inconveniently enough) could no longer be postponed until after the 2008 election. The $800 billion or so embedded in the Toxic Assets Relief Program was the result.
It is good to review the GOP's and Bush’s 8 years of control of the country and our economy. And now, after all of this, the GOP leadership is pointing fingers of blame at Obama and the Democrats. The sheer arrogance and duplicity of their talking points are breathtaking. As Goodwyn writes, “...[T]he politics of the GOP is absolutely incoherent. Much of the Republican tent is simply flapping in the breeze behind a cascade of public lies. As it now presents itself, the so-called party of conservatism has nothing to bring to the economic crisis except demagogy.”
Another economist, the liberal James Galbraith [Here] has extended Goodwyn’s finger of blame to include Obama’s economic team. Galbraith calls them “a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers. Larry Summers. Timothy Geithner. Ben Bernanke.”
I think it is important to remember and review all of this as the Republicans shake themselves off after the blizzard of distorted facts, half-truths and pure malarkey their corporate spin doctors have blown our way for the last few months. Somehow, some way, we must yell truth at the new power players in Congress and regather our forces and renew our resolve.
As Goodwyn warns us: [Here]
This is no time for the faint of heart. The economic fate of America's inherited democratic promise is absolutely on the line in the decade we are now entering.
And let us also hope that our leadership is up to the task...