Scholars Err in Major Report Seeking Austerity for Public



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Bipartisan Federal Attack on Social Safety Net To Impose Austerity

Huffington Post, Paul Krugman Responds To Critics: 'Maybe I Actually Am Right,' Staff report, April 28, 2013.  Paul Krugman’s got it right when it comes to the economic crisis, says Paul Krugman. The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist responded in a blog post Sunday to his countless critics who claim he’s choosing specific facts and ignoring others to make his case that budget-tightening policies are hurting economies around the world. His comments come as debate rages in Washington and in Europe over whether slashing spending -- which has led to high unemployment and slowed immediate economic growth in some places -- is the best way to boost economies in the long term. “Maybe I actually am right, and maybe the other side actually does contain a remarkable number of knaves and fools,” Krugman wrote in the post Sunday. Krugman faces a chorus of detractors on a regular basis. The latest criticism came from Ken Langone, the CEO of investment bank Invemed Associates and co-founder of Home Depot, who argued on Bloomberg TV that Krugman’s push against focusing on closing the deficit is at odds with the realities businesses face. Langone joins the company of the Prime Minister of Latvia, conservative Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and an entire website with the URL in accusing Krugman of having his facts mixed up on deficit reduction and economic growth.

Huffington Post, Bi-Partisanship We Don't Need: The President Offers to Cut Social Security and Republicans Agree, Robert Reich, April 10, 2013. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, revealed why it's politically naive for the president to offer up cuts in Social Security in the hope of getting Republicans to close some tax loopholes for the rich. "If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes," Boehner said in a statement released Friday. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor agreed. He said on CNBC he didn't understand "why we just don't see the White House come forward and do the things that we agree on" such as cutting Social Security, without additional tax increases. Get it? The Republican leadership is already salivating over the president's proposed Social Security cut. They've been wanting to cut Social Security for years. But they won't agree to close tax loopholes for the rich. They're already characterizing the president's plan as a way to "save" Social Security -- even though the cuts would undermine it -- and they're embracing it as an act of "bi-partisanship."

Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren 'Shocked' At White House Plan To Cut Social Security With Chained CPI, Jason Linkins, April 10, 2013. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, made it clear Wednesday in an email to supporters that not only would she oppose President Barack Obama's plan to cut Social Security benefits through a cost-of-living adjustment known as chained CPI, but that she was "shocked to hear" it was included in the White House's budget proposal at all. Warren said her brother David lives on the $13,200 per year he receives in Social Security benefits. "I can almost guarantee that you know someone -- a family member, friend, or neighbor -- who counts on Social Security checks to get by," she wrote.

Huffington Post, A Tale of Two Constituencies, Mike Lux, April 12, 2013. The president had been elected and re-elected on not only a progressive platform, but arguably with the most populist rhetoric in 40 years. He had run his campaigns on fighting for the middle class, protecting the vulnerable from harm, taxing the wealthy, and taking on the wealthy special interests who were harming our economy. His re-election campaign had bragged about taking on Wall Street, and harshly criticized the vulture capitalist business practices of his opponent. And because of running these kinds of campaign, this president won two decisive victories in a row, becoming the first president of his center-left party to win a clear majority of the votes more than once since the 1930s. But in the bizarre and troubled land of black magic and twisted morality I describe, the ..most widely reviled constituency, Wall Street executives, have not been prosecuted for their crimes, have not had their Too Big To Fail banks broken up, have had any regulations against them so watered down as to hardly impact on the way they do business, and have just as much access to the halls of government today as they did before the financial collapse. Meanwhile, that massive and beloved constituency, America's grandparents, are having their Social Security and Medicare benefits cut in that president's budget, the one who ran that populist progressive campaign.

Buzzfeed, Howard Dean: Obama Might Drive Me Out Of The Democratic Party, Evan McMorris-Santoro and Andrew Kaczynski, April 15, 2013. “What the hell are they thinking?” the former DNC chair asks about Obama's proposed budget. The Democrats' civil war? Howard Dean, right, has had it with President Obama's budget proposal, saying the plan put forward by the White House might just drive him from the Democratic Party he once led as DNC chair. On Sunday night, Dean tweeted that the restoration of some defense sequestration cuts contained in Obama's budget proposal were a step too far when coupled with the president's entitlement cut proposal that progressives like Dean are already livid about. "If this is true I may have to become an independant [sic]," Dean wrote, before linking to an April 10 article by Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Josh Green.  Dean doubled down on his threat to leave the part in an interview with BuzzFeed Monday. The White House did not respond directly, but an official did push back Monday on the thrust of Dean's attacks. "I just think that's unacceptable," Dean said. "If this passed I would have to reevaluate if I belong in the Democratic Party. If this were passed with Democratic votes, I think it would be impossible to be Democrat."

Rolling Stone, The most outrageous facts about our broken voting system, Tim Dickinson, April 9, 2013. So you think the American electoral system is broken? New research out of MIT lays bare just how bad it really is. Here are the five most outrageous facts from "Waiting to Vote," a forthcoming paper by Charles Stewart III for the Journal of Law and Politics, on long lines in the 2012 election.

1. African-American voters wait in line nearly twice as long as white voters. "Viewed nationally, African-Americans waited an average of 23 minutes to vote, compared to 12 minutes for whites."
2. Hispanic voters wait in line one-and-a-half times as long as white voters."Hispanics waited 19 minutes" – again, compared to a 12-minute wait for whites.
3. True-blue Democrats wait in line 45 percent longer than red-bleeding Republicans. "Strong Democrats waited an average of 16 minutes, compared to an average of 11 minutes for strong Republicans."
4. Voting in Florida remains a shitshow – even compared to other big states."Waiting times varied tremendously across the states in 2012, ranging from less than two minutes in Vermont to 39 minutes in Florida. . . . On the whole, states with the smallest populations had the lowest waits. . . . However, it should be noted that California had among the shortest wait times in the country, at an average of 7 minutes."
5. The federal Election Assistance Commission is on its last legs. It is supposed to have four commissioners. It currently has four vacancies. "It is for answering questions such as this – how to shorten lines in urban areas and a few states where they exist statewide – that the Election Assistance Commission was created. Unfortunately, the EAC has become a 'zombie commission,' without commissioners and therefore without a clear agenda . . ."

PR Watch, Reinhart and Rogoff surely knew the purposes for which their work was being cited, Staff report, April 12, 2013.  It will come as no surprise that Reinhart and Rogoff have ties to Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, a big fan of their work. Peterson has been advocating cuts to Social Security and Medicare for decades in order to prevent a debt crisis he warns will spike interest rates and collapse the economy. (Peterson failed to warn of the actual crisis building on Wall Street during his time at the Blackstone Group.)  As the Center for Media and Democracy detailed in the online report, “The Peterson Pyramid,” the Blackstone billionaire turned philanthropist has spent half a billion dollars to promote this chorus of calamity. Through the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Peterson has funded practically every think tank and non-profit that works on deficit- and debt-related issues, including his latest astroturf supergroup, “Fix the Debt,” which has set a July 4, 2013 deadline for securing an austerity budget.  Reinhart, described glowingly by the New York Times as “the most influential female economist in the world,” was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics founded, chaired, and funded by Peterson. Reinhart is listed as participating in many Peterson Institute events, such as their 2012 fiscal summit along with Paul Ryan, Alan Simpson, and Tim Geithner, and numerous other Peterson lectures and events available on YouTube. She is married to economist and author Vincent Reinhart, who does similar work for the American Enterprise Institute, also funded by the Peterson Foundation.  Kenneth Rogoff is listed on the Advisory Board of the Peterson Institute. The Peterson Institute bankrolled and published a 2011 Rogoff-Reinhart book-length collaboration, “A Decade of Debt,” where the authors apparently used the same flawed data to reach many of the same conclusions and warn ominously of a “debt burden” stretching into 2017 that “will weigh heavily on the public policy agenda of numerous advanced economies and global financial markets for some time to come.”

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