Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Joseph Stiglitz: What is happening in the new economy ?

Social Security in the Budget Deal

Today, the Republican Leadership agreed to a deal to keep the government operating, raise the debt limit, and ensure that all Social Security benefits continue to be paid in full and on time beyond 2016. When hostage takers release their hostages, we are, of course, relieved that the hostages are no longer in harm’s way, but this is nothing to celebrate. That the ransom isn’t steeper is also not something to celebrate. 
The deal does include some good provisions: Medicare beneficiaries will not experience the drastically large premium increases that were set to take effect next year. It also closes a loophole that was introduced in the law relatively recently that allows wealthier Americans to game the system by claiming extra benefits inconsistent with the goals of the program.
But there is a diversion of Social Security resources towards virtually nonexistent fraud. This focus on fraud is a distraction from Social Security’s one real shortcoming: its benefits are too low, and an overwhelming majority of Americans know it. Congress should follow the will of the people by expanding those modest but vital benefits and restore the program to long range actuarial balance by requiring the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bernie Sanders Campaign


Sat. Oct. 24.  Des Moines, Iowa
Economic proposals:
Make the wealthy and the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
Oppose Citizens United. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Keynes Comes to Canada

Paul Krugman
Canada has a reputation for dullness. Back in the 1980s The New Republic famously declared “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative” the world’s most boring headline. Yet when it comes to economic policy the reputation is undeserved: Canada has surprisingly often been the place where the future happens first.

  • And it’s happening again. On Monday, Canadian voters swept the ruling Conservatives out of power, delivering a stunning victory to the center-left Liberals. And while there are many interesting things about the Liberal platform, what strikes me most is its clear rejection of the deficit-obsessed austerity orthodoxy that has dominated political discourse across the Western world. The Liberals ran on a frankly, openly Keynesian vision, and won big.
Before I get into the implications, let’s talk about Canada’s long history of quiet economic unorthodoxy, especially on currency policy.
In the 1950s, everyone considered it essential to peg their currency to the U.S. dollar, at whatever cost — everyone except Canada, which let its own dollar fluctuate, and discovered that a floating exchange rate actually worked pretty well. Later, when European nations were scrambling to join the euro — amid predictions that any country refusing to adopt the common currency would pay a severe price — Canada showed that it’s feasible to keep your own money despite close economic ties to a giant neighbor.

Socialism With an American Face

Gar Alperovitz,,
Sen. Bernie Sanders' public defense of socialism in the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate has kicked off America's first major discussion of the idea in more than a generation. Columnists, talk show hosts and Donald Trump have all joined in. Most of the discussion, however, has been wildly misleading, and almost all of it has bypassed some of the most interesting forms of a very American and practical form of socialism emerging throughout the United States.
Sanders was clear about what he meant by socialism, pointing to Denmark as a positive example. But Denmark is a capitalist nation with a record of welcoming and supporting private business investment. The word "socialism" is used there - as it is in many European countries - to describe a strong welfare state that includes comprehensive health care, a solid safety net, generous retirement benefits, day care and many other programs that almost any American progressive would support.
The American term for this kind of system - capitalism with a strong welfare state - is, in fact, liberalism or, perhaps, when combined with very tough taxes on the rich and corporations, populism. Socialism, on the other hand, historically has gone far beyond progressive welfare state measures by asserting that a democratic society can be achieved only if it includes democratic ownership of the economy.
In many European countries, strong labor movements committed to socialism as strong liberalism have helped counterbalance the power of capital by supporting a stronger welfare state. However, this option has always been constrained in the U.S., where union membership has declined from 35.4 percent of the labor force at its peak in the early 1950s to a mere 11.1 percent today. Racism and other factors historically have weakened and divided the American labor movement and almost entirely prevented union organizing in the South.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Republicans seek to stop CFPB- Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
You'll never guess who's going around Washington, trolling the halls of Congress, talking about the importance of protecting the long-term health of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The banking industry.
That's right: After years of trying to kill, then delay, and then defang the agency, the banking industry and their Republican friends in Congress have launched a new effort to attract Democratic support for their latest attack by claiming that they just want to help the agency and the consumers it protects. Surely Democrats will not be taken in by yet another attempt to weaken the CFPB. 
The latest industry-sponsored bill would fundamentally change the structure of the CFPB by replacing the agency's single, independent director with a commission of political appointees. 
The banks can't point to any difficulties with the agency's operations. In fact, the CFPB has been operating for only four years, but the success of the single-director structure is already apparent. Under the leadership of Director Richard Cordray, the CFPB already has:
  • returned more than $11 billion to over 25 million consumers who were cheatedon their credit cards, checking accounts or other financial products; 
  • built a complaint hotline that has exceeded all expectations, handling more than 700,000 complaints and building an information database that is beginning to level the playing field for consumers; and 

California Seniors face hard times

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Take on Banks Does Not Stand Up.

Matt Tiabbi.

….The other drama was serious and highly charged argument between two extremes on the political campaigning spectrum, pitting the unapologetic idealist Bernie Sanders against the master strategist Hillary Clinton. (Martin O'Malley seemed like an irrelevant spectator to both narratives.)
One of the most revealing exchanges in the Clinton-Sanders tilt involved the question of Wall Street corruption. Sanders has always been a passionate crusader against Wall Street perfidy, but Hillary's take on the subject was fascinating.
Asked about it Tuesday night, she gave an answer that to me sums up her candidacy and the conundrum of the modern Democratic Party in general. She seemed to hit a lot of correct notes, while at the same time over-thinking and over-nuancing a question where a few simple unequivocal answers would probably have won everyone over.
The key exchange began with a question from CNN's Anderson Cooper:
"Just for viewers at home who may not be reading up on this, Glass-Steagall is the Depression-era banking law repealed in 1999 that prevented commercial banks from engaging in investment banking and insurance activities. Secretary Clinton, he raises a fundamental difference on this stage. Sen. Sanders wants to break up the big Wall Street banks. You don't. You say charge the banks more, continue to monitor them. Why is your plan better?"

Paul Ryan and Republican Economics

WASHINGTON — First, it was called the Roadmap for America’s Future. Later, it was the Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise. The next installment was Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal.

Each one could be called the Ryan Plan, for short, or the Ryan Budget: a single-minded — Democrats would say absurdist — quest by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to drastically cut federal spending and taxes, transform Medicare essentially into a voucher program, partly privatize Social Security and abolish the corporate income tax, the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

(Democratic Debate) Bernie Sanders explains Democratic Socialism

A specter is haunting the 2016 Democratic Party primary. The specter of socialism. Bernie Sanders's presidential bid is forcing Americans to reckon with an ideology that has profoundly shaped the politics of just about every other developed country, and has shaped America more than we might like to admit. Tuesday night, Sanders's defense of the socialist label at the first Democratic debate got viewers frantically searching Merriam-Webster to find out what, precisely, "socialism" is.
According to Sanders, socialism — or "democratic socialism," his preferred formulation — is basically mainstream Democratic Party liberalism but more so. It entails single-payer health care, not Obamacare. It entails tuition-free college, not subsidized loans. It entails government jobs to deal with our unemployment problem, not stimulus through tax breaks. These are big policy changes, but they also don't really seem to amount to the overthrow of capitalism — especially since actually existing capitalism in the United States has long included regulation of business and a welfare state.
But Sanders isn't wrong. Looking at the history of socialism as a movement — from its utopian beginnings to Marx's refinement and popularization and the split of socialists into reformers and revolutionaries at the start of the 20th century — reveals an ideology that has changed over time and shaped most countries around the world, including the United States, and that in some ways just isn't as sharp a break with a status quo as the pearl-clutching tone of Anderson Cooper's questions might lead you to believe.

1) Is Bernie Sanders a socialist?

Debs is a major personal hero of Sanders'sSteve Liss/the LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Sanders sits in front of an image of socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs in 1990.
Sanders is, in his own words, a "democratic socialist." To him, that means he supports the policies in place in many democratic countries, particularly Northern European ones like Sweden, Finland, or Denmark.
"In virtually all of those countries, health care is a right of all people, and their systems are far more cost-effective than ours, college education is virtually free in all of those countries, people retire with better benefits, wages that people receive are often higher, distribution of wealth and income is much fairer, their public education systems are generally stronger than ours," Sanders told Vox's Ezra Klein earlier this year. "When I talk about being a democratic socialist, those are the countries that I am looking at, and those are the ideas that I think we can learn a lot from."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What You Should Know About That Completed TPP "Trade" Deal;

 The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade

The TPP is still secret and according to the terms in this year's fast-track legislation it will remain secret for 30 days after the president formally notifies Congress that he will sign it. That could be a while still, as the agreement's details need to be "ironed out." After that 30-day wait the full text has to be public for 60 days before Congress can vote. Expect a massive and massively funded corporate PR push.