Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged Debt

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7 Things Fox Viewers Are Wildly Misinformed About

This is an interesting read because the information from many surveys of Fox News viewers is collated into one article. It’s honestly stunning yet entirely understandable that viewers of The Daily Show in the latest study were actually more informed than Fox News viewers - and correctly informed.

Straight from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s study [Emphasis mine]:

NPR does the best job of informing respondents about the debt crisis: Listening to NPR is associated with a 26-point increase in the likelihood of correctly naming Germany as the bailer, and a 12-point decrease in thinking that the US is behind the Euro-bailout. Sunday morning talk shows, talk radio and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart have similar positive impacts. On the other hand, people who report watching Fox News are five-points more likely than those who watch no news at all, to incorrectly say it’s the US that is bailing out European countries.

Puts a new spin on the old cliche “No news is good news,” doesn’t it?

Filed under Fox News The Daily Show Politics economy media misinformation news Europe debt Faux News

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Sex Work to Pay Off College Loans? How the College Debt Racket Sucks Young People Dry -- And Led Many to Occupy Wall St.

The young man standing next to the “Jail Sallie Mae, Cancel All Student Loan Debt” sign in Liberty Plaza last night could very well end up in jail himself – not for protesting economic injustice and marching on Wall Street, but for doing sex work to pay off his student loans. “My loans are $1,300 a month,” he said. “My rent is $1,300 a month. My salary is $2,600 a month. You can see the problem. So I work as a prostitute for food and utilities.”

Though he works a day job in the tech sector, it’s not enough to get by. “But it could be worse,” he continued. “I could have to do sex work for all of it.” 

With the Department of Education estimating that outstanding US student loan debt will soon exceed $1 trillion and job growth stalled, students face the very real prospect that there’s no way to ever pay back their debts. As of this May, new graduates are leaving college with an average of $22,900 in debt each, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, makes the class of 2011 the most indebted in history. 

I don’t even want to think about my student loans and what will have to happen for it all to get paid off. It’s because I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out. I fear that getting a law degree won’t be enough.

Filed under student loans politics economy debt college university financing education education sex work prostitution

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Poll: 62 percent say debt ceiling deal benefits the rich and hurts the poor

Sixty-two percent of Americans think the bill that raises the federal’s debt ceiling through the year 2013 and makes major cuts in government spending benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class, according to a CNN/ORC poll released on Monday.

Only 27 percent say that the debt ceiling deal treats all classes fairly and 11 percent have no opinion.

The poll (PDF) also found that 47 percent of Americans rate the economy “pretty badly” and 28 percent rate it “very badly.” Only 23 percent think the economy is going “fairly well” and a meager 1 percent say it is going “very well.”

In other words, 62 percent of Americans are starting to realize something in the milk ain’t clean.

Filed under debt debt ceiling deal economy politics America Rich tax the rich

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‎Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues…

The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently.

Standard & Poor, explaining their decision to downgrade the credit rating of the US for the first time in history.

So let’s revisit this:

"I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done." - Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell, on his party’s handling of the debt ceiling.

Was it worth it? You incorrigible bastards still wounded the hostage. And now, for acting like deadbeats, you all tarnished the full faith and credit others have in the US to make good on its obligations.

Bravo.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Filed under S&P Standard & Poor debt debt ceiling economy politics brinkmanship hostage taking fuckery

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Former Sen. Alan Simpson told Lawrence O’Donnell it’s time to “peel all the layers of the onion” and figure out just why people seem to listen intently to Grover Norquist.

In an interview on The Last Word tonight, Simpson noted that Norquist had challenged Republican Sen. Tom Coburn on a $6 billion cut on ethanol subsidies he had called “tax increases,” which incensed Simpson greatly. “Grover and his happy band of warriors are trying to call that a tax increase– that’s a damn lie and he knows it,” he told O’Donnell. “And if he can get away with that, elect him President.”

Simpson continued to question Norquist’s power throughout the segment, arguing that “he can’t kill you, he can’t burn your house, he can defeat you in reelection,” and if a public servant thought the latter was enough to obey him, they didn’t deserve the spot.

He also told O’Donnell several times that “if Grover Norquist is more powerful than the President of the United States and the Congress, he should run for President” … On that note, Simpson called for an investigation. “Grover Norquist should be examined into– where does he get his money?” In times where people amass so much power, he argues, it becomes necessary to “peel all the layers of the onion.” “Anytime anyone gets this powerful,” he argued, “you want to dig in… who is he slave to?”

He clarified that he did not mean “salacious stuff and his personal life,” but how Americans for Tax Reform operated and why so many people in Congress feared him, because based only on his status as leader of an anti-tax group, “you must be chicken if you fall for that crap.”

I have a soft spot for former Sen. Alan Simpson. He’s part of the Reagan era, yes, and that’s where the accelerated sell-out of my generation began. However, he also has a streak of common-sense conservatism sorely lacking in the Republican Party. He’s pro-gay rights (including marriage) and pro-choice, which puts him to the left of nearly every Republican out there.

I agree with Simpson. Let’s find out where Grover’s getting his bucks.

Filed under Alan Simpson Lawrence O'Donnell MSNBC politics debt debt ceiling Grover Norquist Tax tax cuts Tax cuts don't solve everything Tax the rich

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I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell, on his party’s handling of the debt ceiling.   (via officialssay)

Goddammit. Is every single session of Congress going to be like this? One day, we’ll say, “No, Mitch McConnell, you bitter, turtle-esque asshole. We know you won’t shoot the hostage.” And then one day, those batshit bastards are going to shoot.

I’m glad you learned a lesson. By flat-out stating the economy, plus the full faith and credit of the US are worth taking hostage for ransom, you have officially revoked your right to bitch when someone calls you terrorists. Who takes hostages again? Riiiiight… criminals and terrorists.

Filed under Mitch McConnell politics so much RAGE debt debt ceiling hostage taking Tea Party Teahadists government

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Things I learned from the debt ceiling debate

  • It IS possible to experience exponential, chain-smoking rage with no dissipation for days on end.

  • If you really, really want something, threaten to crash the US economy in the name of responsibility. When people suggest you won’t follow through, just stick your fingers in your ears and insist in sing-song, "Nuh-uh! La, La, La, La, I can’t hear you!" 
     
  • Most importantly, I really boned “Negotiation 101” as a child. When my parents said I had to eat my veggies, clean my room, etc. instead of just throwing a temper tantrum, I should have held their mortgage payment hostage too. 

Filed under Tea Party debate debt debt ceiling hostage taking politics tantrums government

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How the Billionaires Broke the System

The US deficit reduction plan makes no sense – until you remember who’s behind the Tea Party movement.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 1st August 2011

There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending. Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor. Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich.

So the rich, in a nominal democracy, have a struggle on their hands. Somehow they must persuade the other 99% to vote against their own interests: to shrink the state, supporting spending cuts rather than tax rises. In the US they appear to be succeeding.

Partly as a result of the Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2003 and 2005 (shamefully extended by Barack Obama), taxation of the wealthy, in Obama’s words, “is at its lowest level in half a century”. The consequence of such regressive policies is a level of inequality unknown in other developed nations. As the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, in the past 10 years the income of the top 1% has risen by 18%, while that of blue collar male workers has fallen by 12%.

The deal being thrashed out in Congress as this article goes to press seeks only to cut state spending. As the former Republican senator Alan Simpson says, “the little guy is going to be cremated.” That, in turn, will mean further economic decline, which means a bigger deficit. It’s insane. But how did it happen?

The immediate reason is that Republican members of Congress supported by the Tea Party movement won’t budge. But this explains nothing. The Tea Party movement mostly consists of people who have been harmed by tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor and middle. Why would they mobilise against their own welfare? You can understand what is happening in Washington only if you remember what everyone seems to have forgotten: how this movement began.

On Sunday the Observer claimed that “the Tea Party rose out of anger over the scale of federal spending, and in particular in bailing out the banks.” This is what its members claim. It’s nonsense.

The movement started with Rick Santelli’s call on CNBC for a tea party of city traders to dump securities in Lake Michigan, in protest at Obama’s plan to “subsidise the losers.” In other words, it was a demand for a financiers’ mobilisation against the bail-out of their victims: people losing their homes. This is the opposite of the Observer’s story. On the same day, a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) set up a Tea Party Facebook page and started organising Tea Party events. The movement, whose programme is still lavishly supported by AFP, took off from there.

Read more…

Filed under Tea Party politics hostage taking debt

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Rep. Giffords returns to the US House floor

Turn on C-Span right now. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the US House floor just moments ago. This was her first vote since being shot earlier this year.

It’s amazing to see her colleagues from both sides of the aisle embracing her after such bitter partisanship. 

Oh, and the US House just passed the debt ceiling bill, 269-161.

(Source: politico.com)

Filed under Arizona Gabrielle Giffords Rep. Gabrielle Giffords politics debt debt ceiling vote US House

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Paul Krugman: The President Surrenders

Posting nearly in full:

For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status…

Pay no attention to those who invoke the confidence fairy, claiming that tough action on the budget will reassure businesses and consumers, leading them to spend more. It doesn’t work that way, a fact confirmed by many studies of the historical record.

Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

And then there are the reported terms of the deal, which amount to an abject surrender on the part of the president. Republicans will supposedly have an incentive to make concessions the next time around, because defense spending will be among the areas cut. But the G.O.P. has just demonstrated its willingness to risk financial collapse unless it gets everything its most extreme members want. Why expect it to be more reasonable in the next round?

In fact, Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a pattern here.

Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.

First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.

Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.

And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.

Filed under Paul Krugman debt debt ceiling not a compromise Democrats Republican republicans politics extortion