Wall Street has worked hard to keep its inner workings from seeing the light of day. But one of the worst offenders in the financial crisis may be about to face the kind of public disrobing that government regulators, the corporate media and transparency activists are incapable of performing. If the rumors that have been swirling around in recent months prove true, Bank of America's dirty secrets may soon be exposed for the world to see, courtesy of the whistle-blower site Wikileaks.
It’s difficult to know where to begin deconstructing conservative rhetoric on taxes and spending. It's such a central part of their worldview, and yet it's a view informed by a whole slew of falsehoods that have been repeated again and again during this year's debates over the Bush tax cuts, public spending and the deficit. What follows are nine of the biggest fact-free whoppers that conservatives insist are true.
If our politics weren’t tainted by a unceasing barrage of innumerate right-wing demogoguery on taxes and public spending, then a temporary tax cut would be just that and the deal Obama cut with the GOP last week would be, as the president insisted, a pretty good one on balance.
Despite ubiquitous claims to the contrary, the United States does not have a "deficit problem," over either the short or the long term. That’s because a large fiscal deficit is an economic issue, and what we face is a political problem -- a profound disconnect between what Americans expect to receive from the government in services, and what they expect to pay for it in taxes.
The Great Recession showed the world that the crimes that create the most victims are not committed by terrorists, gangbangers or drug traffickers, but by well-heeled crooks in Wall Street’s executive suites. Tens of millions of people have seen their jobs disappear and their pension funds fleeced, and had their homes taken out from under their feet as a result of the crash of Wall Street’s Great Casino. Yet so far, the culprits have been given little more than a slap on the wrist.
On Wednesday, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of Obama’s deficit reduction commission, released their own recommendations for balancing the budget. It’s being treated as a very serious proposal by much of the corporate media, but it is in fact deeply unserious -- it’s a profoundly regressive, unrealistic set of proposals that wouldn’t get the support of 14 of the commission’s 18 members -- required to spur Congressional action -- much less enough votes to pass on the Hill.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, a lot of ink (and no small number of pixels) has been devoted to what impact unlimited, anonymous special interest money may have on our political system.
The nation’s public employees educate our kids, fight our fires, make sure our food isn’t tainted with toxic crap, provide services to the neediest and perform a thousand other vital tasks the private sector has no incentive to do. They earn less, on average, than their private-sector counterparts with similar qualifications. None become billionaires.
Last week’s release of thousands of documents detailing the horrors of the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, and the torrent of corporate campaign dollars unleashed by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision are the two hottest stories of the day. Most people don’t connect them, but when the history of the 21st century is written, the Iraq war may prove to be a crucial nail in the coffin of our democratic system.
Ever since the financial crisis hit, conservatives -- at places like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, joined by some prominent Tea Party groups -- have fought tooth-and-nail to deflect new regulation of Wall Street’s wheeler-dealers. (In my new book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy, I note that the Right, following the advice of conservative message-maker Frank Luntz, derided new regulations that Wall Street was fighting hard to kill as a "second bailout" of the big banks. It was a lie so bold that one couldn’t help but be impressed with their chutzpah.)
This is an excerpt from my new book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies about the Economy (And Everything Else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs, and Corporate America).
Perhaps the most pernicious right-wing lie of late is that the Wall Street hustlers who came close to bringing the global economy to its knees in 2008 were just innocent victims of government-sponsored programs that forced them to lower lending standards in a misguided effort to increase home ownership among the poor (read: dark-skinned).
It’s an alluring story line for those who are ideologically predisposed to blame “inner city” people instead of MBAs in suits roaming the executive suite. It’s also patent nonsense—a Big Lie that has nonetheless become an object of almost religious belief for some on the Right.
You’ve no doubt heard about how the Social Security Trust Fund is projected to run out of cash a few decades down the line. What you may not have heard is that it might not run out at all; in fact, it may well continue to back-stop the popular program indefinitely.
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