Apocalyptic Pain and Picasso
Tom Coburn put on quite a show today with Chris Wallace and everyone should pay attention:
Senate Republicans' "Dr. No" spending hawk warned Sunday that America would experience "apocalyptic pain" with 15-18 percent unemployment and the "middle class destroyed" if it didn't get its fiscal house in order.
"If we don't fix the problems in front of us everybody's going to pay a significant price," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said on "Fox News Sunday."
Coburn warned of the United States ending up like Greece or Ireland if proper austerity measures aren't taken, or like Spain, Italy or Japan, which are in danger of similar financial collapse.
In May, the IMF and EU agreed to extend a $145 billion bailout package to Greece. In November, a $113 billion bailout package was extended to keep Ireland afloat.
"Everyone else in the world that's doing this today is getting punished," he said of runaway spending.
Coburn said he didn't believe the lame-duck Congress got the message from voters on reining in spending, and that this next Congress should chart a much different course.
"There's well over $300 billion a year that I can lay out for you in detail that most Americans believe we should eliminate," he said, though it "remains to be seen" how much the 112th Congress will slash.
"There will not be one American that will not be called to sacrifice," Coburn said. "Those who are well-to-do will be called to sacrifice to a greater extent."
I'm starting to get really nervous here. These people have finally made it happen: they have convinced themselves and God only knows how many others that the economic downturn is the result of government spending and the deficit. (We knew they were trying, but this is the best example I've seen of someone who just states it right out with no caveats or disclaimers.)
There was a good reason to play the blame game and look in the rear view mirror over the last two years, aside from the simple political calculus, which was to offer the country the real story of the meltdown and counter this ridiculous right wing theme. This may be the most pernicious effect of the huge money in politics at the moment -- the ability to seduce or blackmail political leaders into weaving a disaster capitalist storyline in the wake of financial catastrophe. This is how it unfolds.
As for the notion that the well-off will be asked to sacrifice, we know that Coburn isn't talking about taxing them. (That would be off limits because tax cuts don't count.) So, I'm assuming we will be told that because they will receive the same cuts in services and social security and medicare that the rest of us will get, we all have the same "skin in the game." And I expect that a whole lot of silly conservatives will buy that this is what makes us such a great country --- our equality.
Meanwhile, however, we can at least take heart in the fact that the wealthy are busily creating jobs, which will soon bring us all back to prosperity:
Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust", a 1932 work by Pablo Picasso, last night became the most expensive painting ever sold at auction:
"In an overflowing salesroom at Christie’s, six bidders vied for 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,' which depicts the artist’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, reclining naked. When the canvas last changed hands, in 1951, it sold for $19,800. But this time, 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' brought $106.5 million. For 8 minutes and 6 seconds, bidding rose steadily, with five people still competing at $80 million. Nicholas Hall, of Christie’s old master paintings department in New York, took the winning bid for an unidentified buyer."
Hey, dead artists need work too.
Update: Also, Krugman.