Monday, November 29, 2010

What deficit???

Reading or hearing the latest news headline is quite an interesting experience these days, isn’t it?  (I almost wrote “shocking experience” but that would take us to a whole different level, wouldn’t it?  It you don’t know my reference, please go [Here])
As we are bombarded by specific squeaky leaks, courtesy of the msm via Wikileaks, we had best also prepare ourselves for the expected vote and report from the so-called Catfood Commission that is scheduled to report in this week.  We hear that the two chairs and their aides are scrambling to get a consensus from the 2o-member group.  And even if they do get a super majority, the package will have to get Congressional approval and an Obama signature.  
The larger question, of course, is why are we focused on the national deficit while we are in the midst of an economic recession with millions of our citizens unemployed and desperate.   AlterNet has an interesting essay by senior editor, Joshua Holland, titled “Why the Deficit Is Simply Not an Economic Problem Now, or in Future Decades.” [Here]  
Holland claims--and we should all pay attention--that the rightwing has framed the issue for us and we’ve swallowed it all, hook, line and sinker.  Here is part of his essay:
If you can frame the terms of a debate, you’ve gone a long way toward winning it, and the deficit hawks have been wildly successful in portraying our budget gap as a structural economic problem, driven by rising “entitlement” costs, that will get worse if unaddressed. The narrative has been echoed across the media -- NPR called the budget gap a “great problem,” the Washington Post reported on ”the gravity of the country's deficit problems,” and in Pete Peterson’s Fiscal Times, Henry Aaron falsely claimed that “all responsible budget analysts agree that the United States faces a daunting deficit problem” (emphasis mine).
These claims echo an ideologically driven framing of the issue -- one that assumes we spend too much and must cut back on the size of government, whether we would otherwise opt to do so or not. The solution, we are told again and again, is some “painful” combination of spending cuts and tax hikes...
Holland concludes that this whole discussion is a rightwing ideological scam which the msm has fallen for.  Unfortunately, so has our President.
The liberal economist Dean Baker agrees with Holland and sums it all up for us in Truthout: [Here]
So, when you read a Washington Post editorial demanding action on the deficit, just remember that you are reading recommendations on the economy by a group that could not see that house prices were 70 percent above their long-term trend. When you hear NPR present one-sided stories telling listeners about the urgent need to cut Social Security and Medicare, you are getting news from people who didn’t bother to report on an $8 trillion housing bubble whose collapse was imminent. All those knowledgeable columnists who tell the public that there is no alternative to cuts in these popular programs failed to see the 200-pound tumor sitting on the economy’s heart back in 2007."
Thank you for the education, Joshua Holland and Dean Baker.  
Hold your hats, folks.  We are in for a bumpy ride...  

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