Category Archives: Ronald Reagan

Media Myth That Cutting Taxes Boosts Revenue Revived For 2012

Media Matters has a terrific post about the myth that tax cuts generate revenues and that bigger tax cuts generate larger revenues.

Media Matters shows how these claims are debunked by not only by those on the Left, like Paul Krugman but also by those on the Right, who actually proposed the claim and sold it to Ronald Reagan and George w. Bush.

Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist who was the first chairman of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated that a 10 percent tax cut would in fact reduce tax revenue — but only by 3 to 5 percent.

“It is not that you get more revenue by lowering tax rates, it is that you don’t lose as much,” he said. [The New York Times, 3/26/08]


Read … Here

This post I think ties in nicely with the last post from NJPP about what our tax dollars actually pay for.

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Filed under Martin Feldstein, Media Matters, media myth, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Paul Krugman, President George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, supply side economics, tax cuts, tax revenues

Senator Menendez Votes Against Debt Deal

August 2, 2011

WASHINGTON – US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today voted against the debt deal because it lowers the deficit on the backs of working class Americans, demands no sacrifices from those who can best afford it, and could jeopardize our economy’s fragile recovery.

“I cannot in good conscience support a plan where soldiers, seniors, students, and working families must endure trillions in cuts, but oil companies, billionaires, and corporate jet owners are not asked to pay their fair share” said Senator Menendez. “I supported the Reid plan and previous efforts to reduce the deficit because I believe it’s important to stem our nation’s rising debt, but I believe that we must do so in a balanced way that calls for shared sacrifice, just as the American people have demanded. Such an unbalanced approach is not only unfair, but it could also jeopardize our already fragile economy.”

Senator Menendez took to the Senate floor yesterday to explain his opposition to the plan.

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Filed under Budget Control Act, debt ceiling, debt limit, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, shared sacrifice, spending cuts, Tea Party, US. Sen. Robert Menendez

Want to avoid another Depression? Try understanding the first one.

By Robert S. McElvaine
the Washington Post /published July 10th,2011

“I have seen the future, and it works,” journalist Lincoln Steffens famously said of his 1919 visit to Bolshevik Russia. Guided by his economic faith, Steffens saw the future as he wanted it to be, not as it would be.

What excuse do we have when we follow people who, guided by a different economic faith, see the past as they want it to have been, not as it was? Today, under the influence of leaders blinded to facts by certain faith, we are careening toward a repetition of mistakes that led to catastrophe.

A CNN poll conducted in June found that almost half of Americans now think that another Great Depression is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to occur within the next 12 months.

There is a genuine danger that the already weak economy could turn into a second coming of the hard times of the 1930s. The focus of many politicians today on cutting spending and avoiding tax increases on the wealthy is based on a misunderstanding of what led to and extended the Great Depression — and it is setting us up for a new collapse.

Most people realize that a failure to raise the debt ceiling could be catastrophic. But the drastic cuts in federal spending that some Republicans are demanding in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling would be a repeat of the mistakes that prevented a full recovery in the 1930s and then caused a secondary collapse in 1937.

With the economy in a precarious position, slashing spending, concentrating ever more wealth and income at the top, and blocking effective regulation is a
prescription for disaster.

In fact, the first part of this prescription is very similar to one written by Dr. New Deal himself. Fearful of massive budget deficits, President Franklin Roosevelt cut back on spending as soon as his 1936 re-election was secured, plunging the economy into a renewed free fall that introduced the word “recession” into our lexicon so as to avoid calling the collapse a renewed depression.

Yet that is the course upon which a unified Republican Party is insisting. For their part, President Barack Obama and many Democrats have ceded the battlefield and are just trying to reduce the number of casualties.

Conservatives appear to be united behind a set of beliefs that are dangerously wrong. Theirs is a faith-based economics that contrasts with fact-based economics; their god is named the Market. Their economics is as immune to facts as its opposite, Marxism. Call it Marketism. A devout Marketist believes that the Market is always right and any government intervention is, well, sinful.

For more than two generations, the Great Depression discredited this religion. But beginning around 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan, the Marketists staged a revival.

One of my students brilliantly, if accidentally, captured the essence of this economic fundamentalism in a journal entry a few years ago: “During his presidency, Reagan implemented sloppy-side economics.” It is that sloppy-side economics that conservatives have been pushing ever since, and the more it fails, the harder they push it.

During the Great Depression, Roosevelt called for “bold, persistent experimentation” and said: “It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

But the position of faithful Marketists, then and now, is this: Take their method and try it. If it fails, deny its failure and try it again, and again, and again. But above all, keep trying the same thing.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, Republicans have been working unstintingly to misread the history of the Depression and implement policies similar to those that led to the collapses of 1929 and 2008. “One of the good things about reading history is you learn a good deal,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared early in 2009. “And we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15 percent. And it’s widely agreed among economists that what got us out of the doldrums that we were in during the Depression was the beginning of World War II.”

Well, yes — but that fact demonstrates just the opposite of what Marketist fundamentalists argue.

It is plain that the reason the New Deal failed to end the Depression is not that Roosevelt and Congress overspent, but that they underspent. The New Deal was not too reckless in its spending; it was too cautious. The war ended the Depression precisely because it obliged Roosevelt and Congress to spend greater and greater amounts without worrying about where the money was coming from.

The basic reason that the Obama administration has not yet ended the economic disaster it inherited is the same reason that prevented the New Deal from ending the Depression FDR inherited: It hasn’t spent enough. The 2009 stimulus staved off a
second Great Depression, but it should have been much larger to produce a genuine recovery. Subsequently, even with majorities in both houses, the Democrats let the GOP define the argument and failed to force through needed programs to get the economy back on its feet.

It has been the alleged “socialism” of the New Deal that has prevented another Depression for seven decades. While a market-based economy is clearly the best system, it carries serious risks. Government intervention minimizes those risks for businesses and for people — just a spoonful of “socialism” helps the capitalism go up.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes,” Mark Twain is said to have remarked. To the extent that our current history sounds like the 1930s, it is because of the lack of sense on the part of politicians. We know better than to slash spending and allow the rich to become even richer in a weak economy, but we’re set on doing it anyway.

If there is a new Great Depression, it won’t be without rhyme, but it will be without reason.

Robert S. McElvaine, a professor of history at Millsaps College, is the author of The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941.”

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Filed under Bolsheviks, capitalism, CNN, Conservatives, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Great Depression, great recession, Marketism, marxism, repeating history, Ronald Reagan, socialism

>Taking On The Teachers

>Consortiumnews.com 3/23/11
by Lawrence Davidson

Editor’s Note: The American Right has fully embraced Ronald Reagan’s mantra that “government is the problem” – and that dogma is being applied in a wide variety of ways, including a nationwide assault on the pay and job security of public school teachers.

Republican-controlled state legislatures and Republican governors are in the forefront of this campaign, advancing under the cover of parents’ concerns about their kids’ schooling and behind the idea that standardized tests can be a cure-all. In this guest essay, Lawrence Davidson challenges the assumptions behind this effort:

The Florida state legislature has passed Bill 736, and Gov. Rick Scott has signed it. So this effort to “reform” teaching practices in the Florida public schools is now law.

But reform them how? According to the Miami Herald, the bill will eventually “tie teacher pay to student test scores, eliminate so-called tenure for new hires as of July 1 [all subsequent hires will get only yearly contracts] and end layoffs based on seniority.”

It was, of course, a Republican-sponsored bill and that had the Democrats looking for flaws. It did not take them long to spot an obvious one.

According to the Florida House Minority leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West, “if you are basing a teacher’s pay on test scores, there’s going to be a natural incentive for the teachers to teach to the test, instead of, maybe, expanding other areas of interest.”

The Republican response to this concern was to dismiss it as a false issue. According to Rep. Eric Fresen, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill, “As long as the students are learning, I don’t think there’s a problem with that.”

The state of Florida is actually rather late in coming to this. The bill largely mimics the still-extent Bush administration policy known as “No Child Left Behind” which came into existence in 2003 and was overhauled by the Obama Administration in 2010.

As the Florida legislation suggests, this approach relies on assessment based on standardized tests and has made a lot of money for companies who put such tests together.

There are number of assumptions that lay behind all these efforts and here are some of them:

1. The American public school system is performing poorly.

2. This is the fault of bad teachers.

3. Getting rid of the tenure system will get rid of bad teachers.

4. Using standardized tests will allow you to measure necessary levels of learning for specific ages.

5. Having instituted such tests, the attainment of adequate scores means that both the student has successfully learned and the teacher has successfully taught.

It just so happens that all of these assumptions are problematic. Let’s take them one by one.

1. Is the American public school system performing poorly? Well, yes and no. There are plenty of supposedly scary statistics out there that show that the majority of public school students are not fully proficient in a number of academic areas, given a definition of proficiency set by standardized tests.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Education reports that, as of 2009, 17 percent of 12th graders are proficient in math and 18 percent are proficient in Science (let’s keep these percentages in mind), and that “in comparison to 1992, reading scores were lower in 2009.”

However, these statistics beg the question of what criteria is being used to determine proficiency? Or, if you will, just what does it mean to be educated?

Historically (and here I mean from the dawn of civilization onward), the notion of educational proficiency has always been tied to making a living. In other words, either through apprenticeship or formal schooling, what most children have learned over the ages is what their economic environments required of them.

Applied to our own time this means that, for all students in all schools, there are two curricula. Whether you want to be a lawyer or an auto mechanic, the primary curriculum is vocational and the second one is, shall we say, elective.

This elective category may or may not include independent critical thinking which, in any case, is a pursuit that is often disapproved of by local school boards.

By the time American kids are in junior high school, they usually know the difference between what is vocationally valuable and what is not, and most gear their learning efforts to what they believe are their future career interests.

That means vocational learning will most often trump elective learning. It also means that it is not the school per se, or the teachers, that are actually setting the criteria for learning. It is the economy and the student’s local culture.

So, if the economy demands reading and writing abilities at the level of business memos and technical reports, that is the proficiency, on average, that you will get. On average, all learning beyond that, regardless of the courses taken, will be seen by the student as elective and will be absorbed (or not) depending on personal interest.

Ask yourself how many American students want to – or will be required to – know anything beyond basic math in their future workplace? Seventeen percent sounds like a roughly accurate number. How many are going to want to – or have to know – much science? Eighteen percent sounds about right.

Thirty years ago, computer savvy was not a job-related skill. Schools largely ignored it and relatively few people had real proficiency in this area. Today, the situation is reversed. So you see for most students, and their schools, useful knowledge is deemed to be employment knowledge.

Actually, almost all American schools, even the “failing” ones, deliver employment knowledge. You might think that this claim is off-base, but it really is not.

High-end public schools cater to students, most of whom by virtue of their cultural background, have professional career expectations. And that is the educational preparation they get. Just so, low-end schools (admittedly underfunded) cater to students, most of whom have very different expectations, and they are educated accordingly.

I am not claiming this is a good thing, only that this is the way it works. If you want to change it, you have to change culturally driven expectations and the structural nature of the economy.

Just looking at tests and teachers won’t do it. To achieve this sort of change means a lot of social rearrangement and revenue shifting. Historically, the U.S. has never been willing to do these things.

2. And that brings us to our second assumption. If you are not satisfied with the status quo in education, but are not willing to acknowledge where the real problems lie, you might be tempted to find a scapegoat.

So, it all becomes the fault of bad teachers.

First of all it should be determined what is meant by bad teaching. Do we define it by poor student scores on a standardized test? Or do we define it as the failure or inability to make a good faith effort to address the required material?

It should be kept in mind that you can have the first without the second. I would be very suspicious of the first definition because of the reasons given above. So let use the second definition. Given that meaning, are there bad teachers in our public school system? Yes there are.

But it is highly doubtful if, in terms of percentage, they number any more than bad administrators, bad bank managers, bad lawyers, bad doctors, and even bad Florida state politicians, etc.

Nor is it true that, allegedly unlike the other categories, teachers are “insulated from accountability.” Almost every public school teacher in the country is under contract.

One assumes that failure to teach competently is a breach of a teacher’s contract. Just as in all other contractually governed employment settings, it is the administrator’s (the principal’s) job to document the situation and fire the worker who is not doing his or her job…..

Finish reading this essay by Lawrence Davidson >>> here

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Filed under consortiumnews.com, economics of education, Florida, Gov. Rich Scott, Lawrence Davidson, Miami Herald, no child left behind, public education, Ronald Reagan, student culture, teacher tenure, Teachers

>New Civil War erupts, led by super rich, GOP

>I was sent this article yesterday by a friend, it is very interesting and an eye opener for those that think trickle down Reaganomics actually works and is what’s best for America’s working class.The only people that have benefited from Reaganomics are the super rich and the gap between those that have and those that have not is growing increasingly larger every day. Before you know it, a new civil war will be fought in this country if economic conditions do not become more equitable for all.

This article appears online at Marketwatch.com:

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Yes, “there’s class warfare, all right,” warns Warren Buffett. “But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” Yes, the rich are making war against us. And yes, they are winning. Why? Because so many are fighting this new American Civil War between the rich and the rest.

Not just the 16 new GOP governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and across America fighting for new powers. Others include: Chamber of Commerce billionaires, Koch brothers, Forbes 400, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform — which now has 97% of House Republicans and 85% of the GOP Senators signed on his “no new taxes” pledge — the Tea Party and Reaganomics ideologues.

Wake up America. You are under attack. Stop kidding yourself. We are at war. In fact, we have been fighting this Civil War for a generation, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981. Recently Buffett renewed the battle cry: The “rich class” is winning this war. Except most Americans still don’t realize they’re losing, don’t see the prize at stake.

All this was predicted back in September 2008 by Naomi Klein, author of “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” Yes, we were warned that the GOP’s Reaganomics ideology would stage a rapid comeback … warned before the market collapsed … before Wall Street was virtually bankrupt. … before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson conned Congress into $787 billion in bailouts … warned before Obama’s 2008 election

Free-market Reaganomics roaring back, more powerful than before

Yes, back in the heat of battle, in September 2008, Klein warned America: “Whatever the events of this week mean, nobody should believe the overblown claims that the market crisis signals the death of ‘free market’ ideology.” Then the meltdown went nuclear.

Klein warned: “Free market ideology has always been a servant to the interests of capital, and its presence ebbs and flows depending on its usefulness to those interests. During boom times, it’s profitable to preach laissez faire, because an absentee government allows speculative bubbles to inflate.”

But “when those bubbles burst, the ideology becomes a hindrance, and it goes dormant while big government rides to the rescue.” Remember: A week later Paulson was on his knee, begging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for that $787 billion bailout, to save our incompetent Wall Street banks that caused the meltdown from certain bankruptcy.

“But rest assured,” continued Klein in September 2008, Reaganomics “ideology will come roaring back when the bailouts are done. The massive debts the public is accumulating to bail out the speculators will then become part of a global budget crisis that will be the rationalization for deep cuts to social programs, and for a renewed push to privatize.”

And yes, America, this war strategy is happening thanks to General Buffett, the new GOP Congress and 16 aggressive anti-democracy GOP governors.

GOP using ‘shock doctrine’ to gain new anti-democracy powers

The GOP is anti-democracy: With the GOP, “this whole democracy thing” is “very inefficient,” warned Klein. Republican governors are using “a fiscal crisis as a pretext to do stuff they otherwise want to do … Republicans in Michigan want to be able to unilaterally abolish your town. And how do you know when you’re in a financial emergency? Because the governor tells you … or a company he hires.”

Yes the GOP, the party of big business and billionaires, secretly hates democracy, it’s too inefficient for the rich class.

In the interview, Klein reiterated: The GOP governors’ strategy is a clear example of “disaster capitalism,” the Reaganomics war strategy that has dominated, obsessed and driven the GOP for a generation. Klein warns, “these guys have been at this for 30 years,” it is “an ideological movement … they believe in a whole bunch of stuff that’s not very popular,” like “privatizing the local water system, busting unions, privatizing entire towns. If they said all this in an election they’d lose.”

And that’s why crises are so crucial to the GOP war strategies to take over America: Crises “are very, very handy, because you can say we have no choice. … the sky is falling in.” Then the GOP governors “can consolidate power. We remember this from the Bush administration. They did this at the federal level. After 9/11, they said, we have a crisis, and we have to essentially rule by fiat.”

But the truth, warns Klein, is that the GOP “really doesn’t believe in the governments that they are running … this is a really old story.” The greed of their billionaire backers is insatiable. They do not like democracy. And the actions of the new GOP governors is proof that what they really want are dictatorial powers to privatize government and get personally richer.

Continue reading >>>> Here

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Filed under Civil War, class warfare, Marketwatch.com, Reaganomics, Republican Governors, Ronald Reagan, the super rich, trickle down

>Don’t Forget the Bush History

>

Good column below that should remind people of what we are in for if the Republicans once gain control Washington – “Lest We Forget”

By Robert Parry-ConsortiumNews.com

According to almost all media accounts, American voters are on the verge of rewarding the Republican Party for its determined efforts to block Democratic job-creating efforts and President Obama’s other modest reforms.

Amazingly, Wall Street leaders – after getting salvaged by government intervention themselves – are calling for more Republicans in Congress to prevent government initiatives to help other Americans get back on their feet.

There is a strange consensus emerging that, for want of a better phrase, “gridlock is good.”

So, is the United States about to take yet another flyer with “Reagan-Bush-ism,” the “government is bad” ideology that has dominated the nation’s precipitous decline over the past three decades?

Has the Right’s media power left Americans so confused that they have forgotten how the country emerged from the Great Depression and built the great American middle class, with a combination of government infrastructure-building and private enterprise? Have the painful lessons of the George W. Bush administration been forgotten already?

Philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But he surely didn’t think that the people of a modern nation would forget their own history in less than two years.

That was one of the reasons for publishing the book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, which I wrote with my sons, Sam and Nat, in the final years of Bush’s reign. As difficult as it may be to relive some of that history, it is important to remember – or it will be repeated.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the Internet’s first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.

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Filed under Conservative Republicans, consortiumnews.com, George Bush, gridlock, President Obama, Ronald Reagan, Wall Street

Are Republicans too giddy?

By Julian E. Zelizer

Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) — Republicans have been downright giddy following the off-year elections in Virginia and New Jersey. In a swing state and a blue state, Republicans pulled off significant victories with Chris Christie’s defeat of Gov. John Corzine and Robert McDonnell defeating Creigh Deeds.

Just two days after the election, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who had boasted of the results as evidence of a “Republican Renaissance,” issued a stern warning to his colleagues. Steele said that his message for the 2010 midterm elections was that Republicans should remain loyal to the party principles, or “we’ll come after you.”
Republicans certainly can take some comfort in this election. It is clear that some of the excitement about the Democratic Party has faded since the beginning of 2009. The so-called jobless recovery, with unemployment now at 10.2 percent, is not sitting well with many Americans.
But Republicans should be cautious. Both political parties have a history of over-reading election results and seeing mandates where none exist. The leaders of each party have often thought that the electorate sent a clear message endorsing a new direction in public policy only to learn that voters were relatively comfortable with the status quo.
Republicans have made this mistake at several important moments in recent history. After the 1980 election, Republicans gained control of the White House and the Senate and viewed their victory as a strong endorsement of conservative ideas. The Reagan administration moved to reduce Social Security benefits in 1981 as part of its budget reform. House Democrats seized on the proposal and mobilized against the president.
Reagan learned the public was not so eager to overturn New Deal programs. The administration backed off from the reforms and became more sober about how much of a “conservative revolution” had actually taken hold.
The bruising battle over Social Security in 1981 constituted the first real blow to President Reagan. Budget Director David Stockman observed that after Reagan’s loss, “the centerpiece of the American welfare state had now been overwhelmingly ratified and affirmed in the white heat of political confrontation.”
In 1994, Republicans made a similar mistake. The GOP felt very strong after winning control of the House and Senate for the first time since 1952. But then in 1995 and 1996, Republicans pushed for deep cuts in domestic spending. President Clinton took a stand against the GOP. The federal government temporarily shut down in a dramatic standoff between the president and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
While Gingrich would win Republicans support for fulfilling the message of the election, voters turned toward Clinton as they saw stories of visitors arriving at a closed National Zoo or unable to receive their passports.
Elderly voters were not happy about the proposed cuts to Medicare. However, the members of Congress in the Class of ’94 refused to allow Newt Gingrich to compromise. The Republican freshman, said President Clinton’s senior advisor George Stephanopoulos, “had become Newt’s Frankenstein’s monster — and my new best friends.”
The public started to turn on the Republicans, questioning whether they were capable of governing. The clash diminished some of the fervor for the GOP and forced it to moved away from many goals.
After the 2004 election, President George W. Bush and Republicans felt emboldened. President Bush spoke about the “political capital” that he now had and how he intended to spend it. But when he tried to move forward with his most ambitious domestic proposal, privatizing Social Security, the plan fizzled. Like Reagan, Bush discovered that he misread the public.
What should concern Republicans today is that last week’s gubernatorial elections offer even thinner evidence that there has been a sea change in public opinion. The particularities of two off-year elections make it difficult to connect the results to any national trends. President Obama still enjoys strong approval ratings, and Democrats have solid majorities in the House and Senate, although they face potential losses in next year’s midterms.
Only a few weeks ago, a CNN Opinion Research poll found that the number of respondents who had a positive view of the GOP stood at only 36 percent. The Gallup Poll reported in October that 55 percent of those polled trusted President Obama to make changes to the health care system, 48 percent trusted congressional Democrats and only 37 percent trusted congressional Republicans.
While those numbers are not much for congressional Democrats to celebrate (52 percent said they didn’t have much trust in congressional Democrats to do the job), they are even worse for the GOP.
Just as important, there is a major disconnect between the kinds of ideas the national Republican leadership has focused on and the kind of pragmatic, centrist campaigns that the Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey ran on. The outcome in New York’s 23rd congressional district, where the candidate pushed by the national leadership over the local Republican moderate lost to a Democrat, should be a strong warning sign that Steele might not want to come after Republicans who stray from the party line.
Rather than misread the message of the elections, Republicans must turn to the difficult job of rebuilding their party by finding a new generation of leaders and ideas, while broadening rather than narrowing their reach. If they don’t, their response will leave their ranks in even worse shape than before.

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Filed under CNN/Opinion, Newt Gingrich, Republican leaders, RNC, Ronald Reagan