Monday, August 08, 2011
Jerry Brown on the budget impasses in Washington and California (2 of 2)In my previous post, I harped on the clueless of Candy Crowley in her interview with Jerry Brown this past week, as well as on CNN's selectivity in their online transcript.
But I'm also more than a bit mystified by the lack of perception by some liberal bloggers about what Jerry is doing and saying. Scarecrow at FDL is, if anything, more clueless than Candy Crowley in Jerry Brown: Leading Hospice Party Democrats to Extinction 08/07/2011. Here is part of Scarecrow's summary of the interview, which makes me wonder whether he actually listened to the whole thing, or was listening while running a weed-whacker on the lawn or something:
He told Candy Crowley he thinks the country is in danger from political rigidity, but blamed both the uncompromising Republicans refusing to consider new taxes and the unwillingness of Democrats to explain that all our entitlements have to be cut back. You would never know that America is an immensely rich country, but the richest 1 percent were capturing 25 percent of the income and 40 percent of its wealth and they're still looting the country, hollowing out the middle class. You'd think a Democrat would want to point that out and organize the posse.This is not, to put it mildly, an accurate representation of this interview. FDL has been making noises about encouraging a third party movement. But it's hard to see how anyone serious about wanted a liberal-progressive movement of any kind would give this interview such a reading.
One thing on "entitlements," i.e., Social Security and Medicare. Jerry in the three places he mentions one or both of those programs clearly does not suggest cutting benefits. He just does not. Cutting benefits of either is a spectacularly bad idea, whether it's from John Boehner or Barack Obama or, if he were to propose such a thing, Jerry Brown. But Jerry clearly does not propose such a thing in that interview.
Social Security advocates generally favor raising the cap on income subject to the payroll tax in order to address the easily managed gap currently projected for a quarter-century down the road by the Social Security Administration. Defenders of Medicare and all economists I know of point to rising health care costs as a serious problem for the US economy as a whole. As Paul Krugman has been pointing out repeatedly for months, Medicare costs are unsustainable under present trends because the current trend of rising health care costs is unsustainable. Some additional revenues from raising the payroll tax cap are needed to fully finance Social Security two and a half decades from now. And we know from the experience of other countries that health care costs can be contained without endangering the quality of care. One way would be Medicare for all, actually.
That's the reality Jerry points to in that interview. If we don't raise some additional revenue, which can easily be done, Social Security does face a future shortfall. If we don't contain health care costs as a whole, current Medicare benefits will become impossible to finance. And, more generally, the sacred market will control health care costs by pricing large numbers of people out of the market for it. And that's what Democratic leaders need to be saying and advocating, not preaching the austerity gospel as Obama and the Republicans do and offering up benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare as Obama and the Republicans advocate.
Here is Jerry's first mention of Social Security, in Part 1, from the longer CNN transcript. He's clearly talking about it in Democratic terms of favoring government as a positive good:
CROWLEY: So you think the president needs to run, saying, "Folks, we need to raise taxes"?How Scarecrow squeezed his/her sneering and misleading interpretation out of that, I don't know.
Tags: barack obama, jerry brown, us economy
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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