As we get ready for John Boehner to take the gavel from Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, I find myself thinking back to the last time a Republican speaker took control of the House from a Democrat -- and reflecting on how far down the wrong road we have traveled since then.
It was January 1995, and Newt Gingrich, now considered a right-wing bomb thrower, was taking the gavel from Tom Foley. After taking the oath of office, he delivered a speech that praised FDR as "the greatest president of the 20th century" and presented concern for the least among us as a shared national objective. "The balanced budget is the right thing to do," he said. "But it does not in my mind have the moral urgency of coming to grips with what is happening to the poorest Americans."
For the incoming Republican speaker, reducing poverty and lifting the poor into the middle class was a moral imperative beyond the left vs. right battlefield -- not just the purview of lefties, socialists, and community organizers:
I say to those Republicans who believe in total privatization, you cannot believe in the Good Samaritan and explain that as long as business is making money we can walk by a fellow American who is hurt and not do something.... If you cannot afford to leave the public housing project, you are not free. If you do not know how to find a job and do not know how to create a job, you are not free. If you cannot find a place that will educate you, you are not free. If you are afraid to walk to the store because you could get killed, you are not free.
So now, with poverty higher than it was 16 years ago, with greater income inequality, and with the middle class struggling to hold on, what will Speaker Boehner make his number one priority? According to the Washington Post, it's "cutting spending," followed by repealing the healthcare law, and "helping get our economy moving" (no specifics on how he plans to do that).
Yet we saw on 60 Minutes that he's very aware of how fragile the American Dream has become, telling Lesley Stahl, "I can't go to a school anymore. I used to go to a lot of schools. And you see all these little kids running around. Can't talk about it." And he choked up when he did try to talk about "making sure these kids have a shot at the American Dream, like I did. It's important."
Interestingly, in his first speech as speaker, Gingrich also talked about being moved by the woes of school kids.
"I have seldom been more shaken," he said, "than I was after the election when I had breakfast with two members of the Black Caucus. One of them said to me, 'Can you imagine what it is like to visit a first-grade class and realize that every fourth or fifth young boy in that class may be dead or in jail within 15 years? And they are your constituents and you are helpless to change it?' For some reason, I do not know why, maybe because I visit a lot of schools, that got through. I mean, that personalized it. That made it real, not just statistics, but real people.
But the trajectory of our political discourse over the last decade and a half has meant that taking on poverty has gone from a moral imperative and shared national objective to an afterthought -- or no thought at all.
The question is, is there anything that can be done to help Boehner make the connection between the policies he supports and the effect those policies have on the kids who bring him to tears?
Newt Gingrich failed to follow through on the moral imperative he identified in his first speech as speaker, trading in his moral vision and replacing it 15 months later with an announcement that the Republican agenda could be reduced to six words: "Earn more, keep more, do more."
Will Boehner's take be "Earn more, keep more, cut more"? Or is there a chance he will surprise us? Maybe it's because it's close enough to Christmas that I still believe in miracles, but wouldn't it be great if the John Boehner who takes the gavel on Wednesday is the one who weeps at the thought of kids denied a shot at the American Dream?
Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform
Dude, Where's My Job
The storyline being sold to the American public by the White House
and the corporate mainstream media is that the economy is growing, jobs
are being created, corporations are generating record profits, consumers
are spending and all will be well in 2011. The 2% payroll tax cut,
stolen from future generations to be spent in 2011, will jumpstart a
sound economic recovery. Joseph Goebbels would be proud.
It was another wise old man named Ben Franklin who captured the essence of what those in control are peddling:
“Half a truth is often a great lie.”
The economy is growing due to unprecedented
deficit spending by the government, fraudulent accounting by the Wall
Street banks, the Federal Reserve buying $1.5 trillion of toxic mortgage
“assets” from their Wall Street owners, various home buyer and auto tax
credits and gimmick programs, and Fannie, Freddie, and the
FHA accumulating taxpayer loses so morons can continue to purchase
houses. Jobs are being created. According to the BLS, we’ve added
951,000 jobs since December 2009, an average of 79,000 per month. Of
course, the population of the US is growing at 175,000 per month. It
seems that there are millions of jobs being created, just not here as
shown on these graphs from the NYT.
The storyline of corporate profits is true.
As a percentage of national income, corporate profits are 9.5%. They
have only topped 9% twice in history – in 2006 and 1929. When you see
the paid Wall Street shills parade on CNBC every day proclaiming the
huge corporate profit growth ahead, keep these data points in mind. Do
profits generally rise dramatically from all time peaks?
You might ask yourself, if corporations are
doing so well how come real unemployment exceeds 20%? The answer lies
in who is generating the profits and how they are doing it. It seems
that the fantastic profits are not being generated by domestic
non-financial companies employing middle class Americans producing
goods. Pre-tax domestic nonfinancial corporate profits are not close
to record levels as a share of national income. They exceeded 15% of
national income once in the late 1940s, and repeatedly topped 12% in the
1950s and 1960s; in the third quarter of this year, they were 7.03% of
national income. I wonder who is making the profits.
According to BEA data, financial industry profits and “rest of world”
profits — that is, the money U.S.-based corporations make overseas —
are relatively much higher now than they were in the 1950s or 1960s. And
the taxes paid by corporations are much lower now than they were then,
as a share of national income. The reason that corporate profits are
near their all-time highs is that Wall Street corporations and
mega multinational corporations are making gobs of loot and paying less
of it out in taxes. Isn’t that delightful for the CEOs and top
executives of these companies?
The profits are being generated on Wall Street through collusion with
the Federal Reserve, as the insolvent Wall Street banks accept free
money from the Federal Reserve to generate speculative profits at the
expense of senior citizens earning .20% on their CDs. The
mega-multinationals are ”earning” their profits by continuing to ship
American jobs overseas at a record pace. The Economic Policy Institute, a
Washington think tank, says American companies have created 1.4 million
jobs overseas this year. The additional 1.4 million jobs would have
lowered the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.9 percent, says Robert Scott,
the institute’s senior international economist. “There’s a huge
difference between what is good for American companies versus what is
good for the American economy,” says Scott. The hollowing out of the
American economy has been going on for decades and despite the usual
rhetoric out of Washington DC, it continues unabated today.
But consumer spending has surged, so the recovery must be solid and
self-sustaining say the brainless twits on CNBC. Consumer spending is
rising because the top 1% wealthiest Americans are doing splendidly as
they are now reaping 20% of the income in the country, levels last seen
in 1929. The Haves have more, the Have Nots have less. The top 10%
wealthiest Americans own 98.5% of all the stocks in the country. They
feel richer because Ben Bernanke has propped up the stock market with
trillions of borrowed money from future generations. The other 90% of
Americans have stagnant or non-existent wages, rising costs for fuel and
food, falling home prices, rising debt levels and little hope for the
future. They have been thrown a bone of extended unemployment bennies, a
temporary payroll tax cut, and extended tax cuts. Any spending they are
doing is on credit cards as the austerity deleveraging storyline is
another big lie by the MSM.
The figure of 15 million unemployed reported by the government and
regurgitated by the corporate media is one of the biggest lies in the
history of lies. The real figure is 30 million and I will prove it using
the government’s own data. I created the chart below from BLS data (ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb1.txt) to
prove that we are in the midst of a Greater Depression and no amount of
spin by politicians and the media can wish it away. When we look at
jobs in America across the decades, a picture of a country in decline,
captured by financial elites, reveals itself. In 1970, America still
produced goods, ran trade surpluses, and paid wages that allowed
families to thrive with only one parent working. Only 34.6% of the
population was employed, with a third of these workers producing goods.
short-term online reputation management
Progressive rock legends Pink Floyd have re-signed with their longtime record label EMI.
Though Congress finally managed to pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits during the lame duck session before Christmas, there are still many other.
MONET'S GARDEN the popular chasing veteran who took his third Old Roan Chase this season has been retired and is battling for his life due to an infection in his hoof.