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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 23, 2013

 
This post will stay at the top of the page for a while.  Please scroll down for new material.

Grand Bargains featuring Dana Carvey and Paul Krugman

by digby

Annual holiday fundraiser:









I will confess that when I first started writing this blog, it was Paul Krugman's "shrill" columns on the insane Iraq invasion that led me to quote his work. He was, at the time, in a small minority of national columnists to take on the Bush administration's blatant lies. Little did I know that in a few years it would be his economic expertise on which I would rely on nearly a daily basis.

He has been a good friend to this blog, linking up my writing and also David Atkins' and dday's before him on his own blog Conscience of a Liberal. You can imagine what a boost it gives to a little site like this to get a Krugman NY Times link. (And he has been very kind to me personally, even writing one encomium that left me breathless with bloggerly pride.)

I don't think he ever wanted to be faced with writing two columns a week for years on what he calls the Lesser Depression, but that's what happened.  What I found most interesting (aside from the trainwreck aspect of it) was the fact that so often my own laypersons instincts about this economic story seemed to track with what Krugman, the expert, was seeing as well. It turned out that anyone with common sense and a basic grounding in economic history could see that the austerity approach adopted to by Europe and to a slightly lesser degree by the United States was a mistake of epic proportions.

I first wrote about my fears concerning President Obama's plan for a Grand Bargain in a post called "Obama goes to China" before he was inaugurated. My Cassandra piece warning of the dangers of deficit fever was greeted with an unprecedented level of hostility from readers.  I didn't blame them really.  It was a euphoric time and the last thing anyone (any Democrat anyway) wanted to hear was criticism of the new president. But what was received by the establishment liberals as a thrilling roadmap to bipartisan "reform" looked very much to me like a shock doctrine style austerity program that would end up accruing only to the benefit of those who wanted to dismantle the New Deal. And when you look at charts like this, you can see that my dark prediction wasn't all wet after all.

Luckily the worst aspects of the president's Grand Bargain was stymied in most respects, at least so far. The best piece of it aspect of it, health care reform, was enacted and will likely turn out to be the president's signature achievement. Many people are going to benefit from the Medicaid expansion or will be paying less for more secure insurance. (And hopefully the Republicans will, over time, learn to stop worrying and love Obamacare, at least to the extent that a few will be willing to cooperate on necessary fixes.) But his plan to "reform" Social Security and medicare was stopped in its tracks, largely because of Tea Party obstruction but in no small part because of outside organizing that, in the end at least, began to be formidable enough that the Democrats could expect a serious mutiny if it came to a vote. They don't call it the third rail for nothing.

I certainly don't take credit for that but I think it's a small illustration of the value of commentary of the kind we do here. It is often unpopular and controversial --- and I have the scars to prove it. But the independent blogosphere brings a unique perspective that can be important over the long haul --- unique individual voices, outside the mainstream, that people can trust to simply be as honest as they know how. It's never very popular to be the first to point out the foibles of people who should be allies, but somebody's got to do it.

I couldn't be happier that the Grand Bargain has not been enacted so far. But an awful lot of damage has been done --- much of it by Democrats scrambling to prove their "grown-up" bona fides.  The elite obsession with deficits is never going to go away and there will continue to be pushes from some very powerful forces to degrade and eventually eliminate the American social insurance programs. It's in the conservative DNA. There will always be a need for progressives to keep their eyes on the ball.

If you think what we've done here over the last few years to help spread the word about the dangers of Grand Bargains, austerity and dangerous elite consensus, I'd appreciate it if you could throw a few bucks into the kitty for the annual fundraiser. It ain't over.  It's never over.




If anyone wants to send something via snail mail, the address is on the column on the left.

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