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In one of his best columns ever, Robert Reich cuts through a lot of bull-malarchy in The Ongoing War: After the Battle Over the Cliff, the Battle Over the Debt Ceiling, were he gets to the core issue of our fiscal battles -- it's about the size of government, not deficits or debt. Our biggest problems are not excess spending on Social Security and Medicare, but is rather insufficient numbers of jobs and over concentration of wealth which is dragging down our economy.


It's about the size of government. Tea-Party Republicans (and other congressional Republicans worried about a Tea-Party challenge in their next primary) want the government to be much smaller.

"My goal," says conservative guru Grover Norquist, "is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

What's behind this zeal to shrink government? It's not that the U.S. government has suddenly become larger. In fact, non-military government spending relative to the size of the U.S. economy remains the smallest of any other rich nation.

Reich notes that apart from the military, the highly popular Medicare and Social Security make up most of the rest of government expenditures. (Yes he understands the Social Security Trust Fund is on a separate balance sheet from the primary federal budget.)

Reich recounts our recent history which show deficits have been dropping recently, if measured properly, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S.) In September of 2009 the deficit was 10.1% of GDP, and it has fallen to 7%  by 2012.

After President Clinton handed President Bush an economy in surplus, Bush trashed it with tax cuts equal to 2% of GDP, two unfunded wars and a near doubling of total defense spending, which was then made worse by the Great Recession of 2009 when our economy and consequent tax revenues tanked. This recession also "boosted government spending on a stimulus program and on safety nets like unemployment insurance and food stamps."

As our economy and employment improve - and tax revenues increase, and safety net spending such as unemployment declines our deficits are improving.

Yes, we do have to deal with rising health care cost as baby boomers age, but this is not the core problem with our economy or our budgets. Health care consumes "18 percent of the total economy and almost a quarter of the federal budget (mostly in Medicare and Medicaid).

Reich then sarcastically predicts that we would see Republicans and Democrats looking for ways to hold down future health care cost such as:

They might be debating how to make the cost controls in the Affordable Care Act more effective, for example, or the merits of moving to a more efficient single-payer system, as every other advanced country has done.

Reich does not mention the large savings we could achieve by letting Medicare negotiate with the big pharmaceutical companies over drug prices, or allow people to buy-in to Medicare at cost, as the public option in the ACA, bring cost down substantially.

Reich argues we are not hearing this debate because that is not what this war is about. I'm already stretching fair use, as this point so I encourage you to follow the link to read Reich's cogent analysis of the deep despair, frustration and anger that many Americans feel as no matter how hard we work we find it difficult to get ahead. And, worse, we fear for our children's future as we see a more wide spread collapse of the American dream.  

The Tea Party has learned to channel this anger against government rather than keep it focused on  the true causes of poverty, the declining real per capita wages, overly concentrated wealth, and record corporate profits through eviscerated regulation and corporate accountability.  

Government is an easy scapegoat, utilized by much of corporate America to convince average Americans to cut taxes, spending, and regulations -- and divert attention from record-high corporate profits and concentration of income and wealth at the top.

The median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation, even though the economy is growing. And the share of the economy going to wages rather than to profits is the smallest on record.

When people see government bailing out corporation but not people it is too easy for the Norquist "drown the government" zealots to channel anger against "Big goverment" with lies about the "47% of moochers, takers, and fakers."  

Reich's cogent analysis helps focus our progressive attentions on the goals of refocusing Americans frustration on the proper problems of over concentration of wealth, falling real wages, a non-progressive tax system where the wealthy and corporation do not pay their fair share, and inadequate regulation and accountability.

Outside of our overly large military spending, the fraction of GDP we spend on social programs appears to be much less than other modern nations, and our total taxation is less.

The McConnell-Biden bill fixed government tax revenues at 18% of GDP which is inadequate to sustain our current spending of 23% of GDP. If we more aggressively wind down the Iraq and Afghanistan war spending (not just troop reductions), and improve our jobs and economy (thereby reducing safety net spending such as unemployment), if appears we may be get our total spending down to 21% of GDP, without totally slashing our New Deal, Great Society, and ACA programs as the GOP intends to do, but we need to resist.  

From a progressive Democratic point of view, our problem then should be raising 3% of GDP of tax revenues, stimulating job and wage growth, and rationalizing military spending, not cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, the NSF, NIH, Amtrak, regulatory agencies, and other non-military government spending.

Democrats should not get suckered into the dominant GOP meme. Our problems is not too much government spending, except for military spending, but too little taxation on the wealthiest and corporations, too few jobs, and inadequately low wages. Our spending on these are lower than most other modern advanced nations.  

Originally posted to HoundDog on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by TrueMarket.

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Comment Preferences

  •  he was just on PBS newshour and said pretty (41+ / 0-)

    much the same thing, in rebuttal to other guests from rightwing think tanks who said the President needs to show 'leadership' to solve the problems as WE have defined them to be (ie unaffordable entitlements)

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:14:16 PM PST

  •  Shhhh! (11+ / 0-)

    Opstay alkingtay aboutway iggerbay overnmentgay, it'sway ourway ecretsay.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:19:59 PM PST

    •  But at least I didn't reveal the secret (28+ / 0-)

      handshake and password of the vast liberal conspiracy, Empty Vessel.

      If we all remain silent every time the Republicans repeat these stupid untrue pablums about how all the problems of country is that we are drowning in excess government being handed out to parasites, people will begin to believe it. And, repeat it as a way of catharsis for their own frustrations and anger.

      Are any of you "youngsters" old enough to remember the Willie Horton adds that undercut Governor Michael Dukakus, or the Swiftboating of Senator Kerry?

      One of the right's favorite techniques is to just make up total bullshit and keep repeating it over and over.  

      We liberals think it is so blatantly stupid as not to merit a response -- so we ignore it.

      Can't do it any longer folks.  We are nearing the bottom.  

      This is a once-in-a-lifetime battle to save Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and our 80 years of achievement of progressive Democratic efforts.

      The magnitude of the human suffering that is even going on, not, but which will get worse in the future will be staggering.

      Sorry to get on the soap box with stuff you already know, but I'm getting upset about this.  

      When even an increasing number of otherwise respectable Democrats betray our core values and principles by repeating this bullshit that our big problem now is excess Medicare payments it hits a raw nerve.

      I can feel a slowly escalating simmering rage coming up if we do not see Democrat leaders rise  to the occasion, and defend core Democratic values rather than mouth Republican horse shit, pretty damn quickly.  

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:34:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This government has been hamstrung for decades (14+ / 0-)

    And the longer it is, the more it is vulnerable to attacks by the right.  There is no way, short of a perfect world, that our economy is not being managed somehow.  As the 1% continue to hoover up the wealth, that's where the management is at.  And that's what we're seeing today.  We already know what kind of problems (see Citizens' United) that is bringing us.  All the fears of a socialized economy are coming to pass right before our eyes.

    The road ahead would be better if it included a renewable energy revolution.  It would be as dynamic as the tech boom, and it would be great for unemployment, not to mention the deficit.  If the private sector won't manage to make this happen, and Robert Reich has clearly laid out many reasons why it won't, the the government of, by, and for the people can do it.  All it takes is a real mandate.

    Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

    by jcrit on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:25:37 PM PST

    •  Nope. The goverment has been moving further and (6+ / 0-)

      further to the right for decades. Easy ways to measure it, too.

    •  The "nope" in my first comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Gooserock

      was simply to the "hamstrung." It's not hamstrung - it's moving steadily right!

      •  it's a management issue today (10+ / 0-)

        But tomorrow it will be a sovereignty issue.

        Perhaps "hobbled" would have been the better word to use.

        Get beyond generalizations to just one area- education.  I witness first-hand how it happens.  It is called, "privatization".  BushCo really allowed it to germinate, and now it is credible- thanks to the ability of its proponents to take advantage of the weakened state of government.  We've gone through all this many times now.  The result is the accumulation of wealth to the 1% of us who are willing to sacrifice the commons, and who stand to benefit from the disasters that result.

        Yeah, this requires a book to articulate well, but read between the lines and the trend of Norquistonomics to accomplish this is clear.  There is no trust anymore.

        Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

        by jcrit on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:54:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, excellent point, jcrit. We are so close to (8+ / 0-)

      the possibility of a new golden age as we could be running our economy at full employment with green jobs accelerating our conversion to sustainable energy that would give our earth's atmosphere a chance to recover.

      We need not just to preserve and defend our meager safety net programs but expand a minimum egalitarian safety net so we do not have to worry sick that we, our loved ones, and fellow Americans, if not all people around the globe to not risk poverty, pain, suffering, and premature death, from lack of bare minimum health care, food, and shelter, while the 1% wallows in magnitudes of wealth not even possible to imagine a few centuries ago.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:39:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  pretty much (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radarlady

        It's come down to what kind of revolution we would like, and while there is still a choice for that, I'd prefer one that works out the problems.  It appears that many out there would rather retrench and wait for zombies to appear, forgetting that zombie is just another word for enemy.

        Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

        by jcrit on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 06:01:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One of the problems with the pro-deal people (13+ / 0-)

    here is that they ignore this completely. The premise, or premises, of the pro-deal arguments I've seen by their nature have as a premise the implication that Republicans are "making a deal," rather than getting their foot, boot, leg, hips farther into the door so they can blow the whole fucking place up.

    I've said it a bunch of times - but again: this stuff is not happening in a vacuum. That is the great mistake of the pro-deal group.

    •  premise has a a premise? Sorry. (2+ / 0-)

      Hopefully you can see through that bit of brain-fart:

      The premise, or premises, of the pro-deal arguments I've seen by their nature imply that Republicans are "making a deal," rather than getting their foot, boot, leg, hips farther into the door so they can blow the whole fucking place up.

    •  Can we just have a thread where (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Boppy, jcrit

      we talk about the issues and resist labeling folk?  Thanks.

      •  Dude, the Eddie Haskell act is getting a little (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lostinamerica

        tiring. You've given just as good as you've taken here for a very long time. How about you just chill that act, alright?

        And this is a response to this very good diary, and is exactly about the issues:

        One of the problems with the pro-deal people (5+ / 0-)
        here is that they ignore this completely. The premise, or premises, of the pro-deal arguments I've seen by their nature [imply] that Republicans are "making a deal," rather than getting their foot, boot, leg, hips farther into the door so they can blow the whole fucking place up.

        I've said it a bunch of times - but again: this stuff is not happening in a vacuum. That is the great mistake of the pro-deal group.

        And YOU say this to me. Too fucking much. "He worked over Christmas" is decidedly - and embarrassingly - NOT about substance.

        P.S. What if the fuck is your objection with the label "pro-deal group"?

      •  P.S. Thanks for your comment, Eddie. nt (0+ / 0-)
      •  And btw, when some pts out a factual error in your (0+ / 0-)

        diary, I think most people here would agree the right thing to do is to address it, fix it, and acknowledge it.

        "Also, the President in this deal, got a great number of his appointments confirmed by a 100 vote Senate without them needing to be there.  No confirmation hearings will be needed for them. No languishing posts."

        The 100 number is correct, but the remainder, and the gist in whole - is factually wrong.

  •  otgay ityay! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Matt Z, jcrit, Boppy

    The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

    by sydneyluv on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:34:23 PM PST

  •  Well, duh (7+ / 0-)

    Now if only we can get the rest of the country to get this self-evident fact.

    If only Jefferson had stuck to separation of church and state and civil liberty and not become the patron saint of all teabaggers throughout US history with his anti and small government paranoia and call for individual self-reliance (especially laughable given that he inherited his wealth, spent himself into massive debt and depending upon slaves for support).

    Sorry for the aside, but today's anti-government zombies can trace their ideological roots back to the likes of Jefferson.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:45:24 PM PST

  •  And we have a media all too happy to mouth (13+ / 0-)

    repub talking points instead of looking at the issues in a journalistic manner. They, and the GOP are guilty of turning the american people against their own government for political gain, or in the case of the media, access.

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:52:05 PM PST

    •  I have stated many times (7+ / 0-)

      that the MSM is one of the main problems.  As long as they are wholly owned subsidiaries of the very corporations that don't want to pay their fair share, then our basic message gets lost.

      Every time.

      •  It's the 1st Amendment. Owned or Not Owned, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lostinamerica, IreGyre

        all important media are corporations themselves. There's still no intrinsic reason for them to serve the nation's or the peoples' interests ahead of corporate interests.

        The freedom itself was made backward, and some of the framers themselves were shocked by how press freedom worked in practice when they began to serve under it.

        Not that I have a snap answer to what it should be.

        If we started by looking at the forces and powers of a 21st century democratic superpower, and worked backward to what relationship a government should have to information and communication so that that superpower would be safe and beneficial to its people and the world, the constitutional formula for info/communlication would look like a Star Trek phaser compared to what the framers wrote with quill pens.

        There's no compact musket era phrase that can come within a light year of what we need even for mere safety and survival of democracy.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:02:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  serving the nation's and the peoples' interests (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jcrit

          daily kos and other progressive blogs are public media - not corporate owned, operated or inclined - and are more and more important and influential.

        •  Still, no. It's not the first Amendment. (0+ / 0-)

          There's nothing in the 1st Amendment which guarantees corporations existence, let alone rights. Courts didn't treat corporations as people for half the life of the nation, and future courts don't have to.

          It's Congress and their FCC which has made things the way we find them. Currently regulations favor consolidation. Previously, they didn't as much. In the future, they don't have to at all. Congress can write a law; can appoint an FCC which says "Any corporation can own one outlet in five markets and that's it."

          We are not seeing a 1st Amendment consequence. We are seeing a business/Congress partnership consequence, a partnership going back to the early days of radio.


          The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

          by Jim P on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:29:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thus Kos's call for a liberal media. nt (0+ / 0-)

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:06:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dean Baker has an op-ed on CNN today, same (14+ / 0-)

    topic and point but he makes the case more as a lack of growth (something which Katrina van denHeuvel has been saying ad nauseum)

    President Barack Obama has an opportunity to show real leadership. He should explain to the public the basic facts that all budget experts know: We do not have a chronic deficit problem. The big deficits are the result of collapsed economy. The priority of the president and Congress must be to put people back to work and bring the economy back up to speed.
    http://www.cnn.com/...

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:59:48 PM PST

    •  I'M NOT SHOUTING AT YOU (5+ / 0-)

      but shouting

      "GOOD GRIEF! IT'S IMPOSSIBLE THAT NO ONE IN THE BELTWAY KNOWS THAT MORE GOOD JOBS IS THE FIX FOR EVERYTHING!"

      I heard some of Michael Hudson on the radio recently. He was saying Obama, the Democratic Centrists, are neo-liberals. And the neo-liberal idea is that "we have to make the US worker competitive in the global marketplace."

      So that means lower wages. And the way you get to lower wages, is through high unemployment for a long time.

      I hear this and think: Meanwhile, the bar for wages is set by nations using, quite literally, slave labor, and one-foot-from-slave labor. And conservatives want lower wages for higher profits (and also probably from contempt.)"

      Add them together and you get this truly head-shaking dissonance, where Democrats are talking the deficit talk, the Republican's talk, when the voters are writhing in thirst for "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! and here's how."

      Can't pass it this Congress? Push it, best chance for sweeping majorities in the next Congress and pass it then.

      Deficit fixed. Economy fixed. Safety-net fixed. Most of all: 40 to 150 million lives raised from near-despair and lower.

      Politics 101. National Security 101!

      Now, I don't know if this is what Obama subscribes to, but I think Hudson is spot on about Neo-Lib thinking. Because they are "Big Picture, I Grok the World," people, and to those types, when you make an omelet you have to break some eggs.

      A smooth-running business world with hundreds of millions of eggs laying about would be the object.


      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:45:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's what it's always been about (9+ / 0-)

    Republicans have been trying to "starve the beast" for over 30 years.

    Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary

    by Paleo on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 06:11:07 PM PST

    •  And since politics abhors a vacuum (5+ / 0-)

      our corporate overlords can then step in to partially or totally run our schools, prisons, military, and any other services that government doesn't or can't undertake, without being fettered by any pesky regulations. Plus the big banks and insurers will get a monopoly on retirement plans (for those who still have them, Social Security being gone), and healthcare and health insurance would be totally privatized too. The goal of shrinking government is to enable a giant power grab by the business elite. We got a good preview of this from the Romney campaign.

      •  wow (0+ / 0-)

        That's what we have today.  Led by the likes of Neo-cons and Neo-libs.  I can trace them back at least to the founding of the country.

        Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

        by jcrit on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:06:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nope, you ain't seen nothin' yet. (0+ / 0-)

          Dear fellow, if you think that's what we have now, I have some bad news for you. It can get much, much worse. We still have some government that functions on our behalf. They won't rest until every public good has been privatized. They will not rest until they find a way to charge you for every breath of air you take.

          "That's what we have today." Pssh. What you have is a failure of imagination. We're not even close to the kind of totalitarian fascism they want.

  •  Good diary, good topic. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, jcrit, eXtina, Boppy
  •  "the deep despair, frustration and anger that many (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Boppy, jcrit, HoundDog

    Americans feel as no matter how hard we work we find it difficult to get ahead. And, worse, we fear for our children's future as we see a more wide spread collapse of the American dream."

    I would venture to say that most kossacks consider 1) these responses melodramatic and 2) actual efforts to substantively deal with them Quixotic.

    And that, more than Republicans, is our real problem.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 06:33:06 PM PST

  •  Not *size* of government, *role* of government (9+ / 0-)

    I don't think it's really about the size of government per se, although most conservatives appear to believe that government is incompetent, so the less it does the better (and then when elected proceed to demonstrate that incompetence).  The real disagreement is over the proper role of government.

    I dare say that most of us on Daily Kos believe that government has an active role to play in righting economic wrongs, ensuring that there are opportunities available to people, regulating business to ensure that it can't privatize profits and socialize costs, and so on.  Conservatives appear to have a very different view: national defense and protecting property rights are the only two legitimate functions of government (and in some cases, enforcing a stern code of personal morality).  In particular, that it's a purely individual responsibility to take care of oneself, and government must not intervene there.

    •  that would make for a good diary post in itself. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog

      Sometimes political kabuki is little more than a dirty diversion from reality.  Yeah, we need to better define gov't. roles.

      Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

      by jcrit on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:12:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  also, (0+ / 0-)

      Conservatives appear to  have a very different view about unfettered capitalism and economic profiteering.

      For example, although warmongering and imperialism is yet another very different view topic, I believe even if they cared enough to aware, they would indifferent to the fact that a large portion of our absurd level of military spending is profiteering by the military-industrial complex of giant corporations.

      However, I have no good understanding of why ordinary people would tend have any of these views.

    •  One of the factors here is, of course, the lust (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog

      for power in a group of Rs who have never had it before and don't know how to handle it now. They choose not to understand the consequences of their actions in the thrill of those being their actions which neither the Rs nor the Ds can stop, in their view.

       The public cussing, demanding that Obama crawl to them on their knees before getting a deal, leaked to the press, shows the essential id activity going on here. Since they are sure that whatever they are doing will not harm them personally, but will reduce the status of a whooole lotta people around them. You did notice, I am sure, that Boney in his second inaugural said that he and his were not even listening to their constituents, but only to the times which in their minds required this or that action.

    •  Not Too Add (0+ / 0-)

      Govt supplies NIH, CDC, NSA, the Pentagon, State Department--every agency with funding for R & D, along with talented civilian workers.
      Well, I don't want to include our MIC or IIC, bc they r psychotic.
      Grants & tax credits to universities & new industries.

      We need to hammer this home everyday to ppl.

  •  it's always been a debate about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    the role of government.  we all know the GOP really doesn't give a rat's ass about the deficit, just hates the social safety net.

    but here's the thing about SS/medicare and raising the income caps:  the boomers number some 79 million, gen x some 53 million.  the millennials are back up in the 70-million range, but millennials are not having as many children as their baby boomer counterparts at the same ages.  

    i.e., the drop between millenials and gen z will be greater than the 25 or so-million difference between the boomers and gen x.  and look how that screwed up SS.  yes, the boomers are retiring, but that will not mean net new jobs; gen x and millennials will simply replace boomers in existing positions.

    the generation that replaces millennials will not be large enough to fund their retirement, no matter what the income cap is.  and the millennials are now 12-30+ years old, i.e. a lot of them are already in the system and working, and SS still has projected shortfalls.

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:02:29 PM PST

  •  It's over the scope, not size of government. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jcrit, HoundDog

    That's a much better frame. It puts what government does into the conversation.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:08:38 PM PST

  •  Tipped and rec'd and tweeted. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog
  •  Highly recommended (9+ / 0-)

    When Reich writes "the share of the economy going to wages rather than to profits is the smallest on record." We should get angry about that.

    It means that everybody's 'dirty little secret'...the share of our monthly income we send in interest to banks...adds up to a lot of money.  

    And the size of our paychecks is not sufficient to make up for it.

    For others of us, it's that our pay is much too small to begin with.

    The last time you bought lunch, did it cost more than an hour's pay at minimum wage?  ($7.25 an hour)  

    If it did cost more than that, think what a worker working an eight hour day at federal minimum wage is supposed to do.  (Many work two jobs, and double and triple up their housing.)

    We have CHOSEN this society, we have voted for it and endorsed it and participated in it.

    The only way to change our misplaced priorities, is for enough of us to demand better so that others gain hope that our movement can make a difference and join us.

    50 million Americans in poverty is not acceptable.  To change that, we need fair taxes and laws that prevent the greedy from rigging the system against those on the bottom.

    •  Thanks for this most excellent comment. This (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, KenBee

      is an example of the kind of message we need to get out into popular discussion to avoid this TeaParty short-circuiting of popular discontent against government instead of falling wages, excess concentration of wealth, and disproportionate share of return to capital rather than return to labor.

      But, we also need to translate these concepts into popular language such as you do with the example of how many hours of labor does it take to buy lunch.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:03:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Government is "too big" only when it provides (9+ / 0-)

    services that the private sector would like to be providing - and charging us for.

    Republicans don't want to destroy SS and Medicare because they hate the elderly and the infirm. They view these programs as competitors to personal retirement plans and health insurance.

    Every issue seems to come back to the fantastic concentration of wealth that has occurred in the last generation.

    There's simply too much wealth in too few hands. As revenue is converted to capital, the imbalance accelerates, and the shrinking private sector simply cannot create enough economic activity to absorb all the capital that is demanding investment and return.

    RepubliCorp's solution?  Capture public revenue streams and divert them into private enterprises.

    That's why we have:

    -  private contractors doing non-combat military work in war zones.
    - charter schools,
    - fewer scholarships and more student loans.
    - privatization of parking meters and public libraries.
    - attempts to hamstring the Postal Service to give FedEx and UPS a clear field on Saturday delivery.
    - the 2005 attempt by Congress to let workers divert 2% of their FICA to their IRAs.
    - and the perennial war on Medicare and Social Security.

    We have to call out the Republicans, and frame this as a struggle between "our" public enterprises, and "their" voracious monopolistic masters.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:28:52 PM PST

  •  Every time they say they want (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jcrit, Sunspots, Arlys

    government to be smaller, we should arrest them without charges, detain them indefinitely, and waterboard them.  We can find out if they say it by spying on all their phone calls and email.

    That seems to be their idea of small government.  Which means they're really for big government.  They're just against safety net programs.

    They're just against safety net programs.

  •  Trade (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arlys
    ...focus our progressive attentions on the goals of refocusing Americans frustration on the proper problems of over concentration of wealth, falling real wages, a non-progressive tax system where the wealthy and corporation do not pay their fair share, and inadequate regulation and accountability.
    It all goes back to trade. We keep shipping wealth-producing jobs overseas and holding down wages. Until we reverse that by putting sensible limits on our trade deals we'll continue to have all those problems.

    Why is there concentration of wealth? Well, you can go to China and make a killing if you're an investor but you can't go to China and make a dime more if you're a worker.

    Yet, not even Reich talks in detail about the trade deficit (you know, the deficit that matters). We have to refocus his thinking, too.

  •  Most Americans already KNOW the rich are the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arlys, IreGyre

    problem, and they say so. The fact is that our politicians are so distanced and unconnected from average citizens that they feel no empathy or concern for the public at all, and defy the clear majority opinion.
    After a few months -- much less years -- of free-healthcare, no worries about ever not working again, special security, wined and dined by wealthy favor-seekers, no-hassle air travel (no security checks for politicians!), people hanging on every word, nobody elected to office feels any connection anymore to the world WE have to live in. The politician's opinions and statements are given great weight and consideration, if you don't agree with him then something must be wrong with YOU.
    I believe that Barack Obama was a humble, good, public-service dedicated man when he was elected President. But after living as a king for years, guarded, pampered, feted, given luxurious living quarters and lionized for his actions and words, how could he NOT become detached from the real every-day life us common folk have? How could ANYBODY?
    This is why America will keep failing, and failing, and failing ... our politicians have become a super-class far above the average citizen. And I see no trends to counter that.

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizzam!

    by fourthcornerman on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 11:42:20 PM PST

  •  One quibble. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Arlys, IreGyre

    Can we please stop calling it "defense" spending?

    When we spend more on the military than the next ten biggest-military-spending countries COMBINED, it's pretty clear it ain't about "defense."

    Great diary, HD.   Thanks.

  •  It's the empire. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arlys, Jeffersonian Democrat, IreGyre

    I agree with everything that Reich says except the principal
    movtivation and long term agenda.

    Norquist and the neoconservatives aren't interested in shrinking the size of government much, only the parts that support the welfare of the people domestically. What we have come to call social safety nets though it extends beyond the big three.  As everyone knows the military and all related expenditures such as spying and the numerous intelligence agencies, Homeland Security, are all currently the number one priority in the nation and are untouchable except for token cuts.  Though there's little concern now for soldiers and their benefits and health.

    Too many people have forgotten the PNAC, the Plan for a New American Century.

    Republican administrations have never reduced the amount of the broad swept of programs for building the MIC, only domestic social programs.

    The bottom line is that in order to be able to continue with empire building the costs of domestic security have to be cut to pay for it.

    I don't think that the long term goals have anything to do with the size of government if one is talking about revenue and expenditures, but rather the economic conditions and bribes to corporatists in order to create the ultimate modern military state to continue it's expansion.  In order to pay for that expansion the standard of living of the majority of people has to fall and the fruits of their productively shifted to bribes to corporatists and to continue to pay for all costs related to maintaining and growing as much as possible authoritarian and military might.  And it has to be equally strong at home to prevent movements, like OWS and anti-war oppositions as they arise.

    Everything Reich says is true but the size of government is a propagandistic ploy and a major deflection from the long term strategy though it's still designed to only benefit the 1%.  You don't have to have even a majority of plutocrats to agree with or understand the long term as along as they are sufficiently benefitting from the short term results that will inevitably lead there.

    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

    by blueoasis on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 01:02:56 AM PST

  •  Not size of government (0+ / 0-)

    I like Reich, but he does a huge disservice in these comments. Conservatives couldn't care less about the size of government - if anything, Republicans are the big government party. They want more government in "defense", more government to jail people, more government to subsidize corporations, and more restrictions on freedoms and civil rights. What conservatives don't want is government to protect the average man from excesses of businesses and [conservative] government.

    The difference is not one of government size, but one of who the government is protecting. Every time there is a conflict between the privileged and the average person, conservatives will support a government policy protecting the privileged 9 times out of 10.

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