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http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/fugelsang-cutting-medicare-to-fix-budget-is-like-invading-iraq-when-you-were-attacked-by-15-saudis/

John Fugelsang:

America’s broke and it’s the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion. So if you’re mad about the former, thank the millions of Americans who opposed the latter. Because this anniversary is a fitting time to talk about the destructive budget battle that now divides our nation.

The Republican Party is outraged over the deficit — although George W. Bush never once balanced a budget in eight years, but of course those were freedom deficits.

Now after the credit-card-with-no-limit presidency of Mr. Bush, the credit card bill has arrived — in your mailbox. It’s called austerity. Last decade we had two wars off the books while cutting taxes for the wealthy and this decade, y’all get to pay for it.

Now there are ways to fix our deficit that don’t hurt the poor or the middle class. A carbon tax of $20 per ton could cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion. Treating capital gains as income could raise over $530 billion. A financial transaction tax could reduce the deficit by an estimated $350 billion. But apparently we don’t really hate deficits that much.

So here’s an even better idea: Let’s build a time machine, go back to 2003, and stop President Bush and his Republican and Democratic allies from invading and occupying Iraq. Because today we know from estimates by the Costs of War Project, the war will eventually wind up costing the U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion.

That’s in addition to the 190,000 people killed — the men and women in uniform, the contractors and civilians. Two trillion dollars America would have in the bank, if we hadn’t had a bloody unconstitutional dine-n-dash of a war.

Now please keep this in mind as some of the people who told you how necessary the Iraq War was — both in politics and media — are now telling you how necessary austerity is.

The people who were wrong about everything are now telling you we’ve got to repeal everything since the New Deal.

The same people who said Iraq definitely had WMDs are now telling us you’re going to have to definitely eat more Mickey D’s. The ones who promised we’d be greeted as liberators are now telling us you may have to be liberated from some of your earned entitlement benefits. The politicians who guaranteed democracy would flourish in the region now say surpluses will flourish if we voucher-ize Medicare.

The guys who said two wars in Iraq would bring down gas prices then, are telling you now that the Keystone Pipeline will bring down gas prices.

The folks who said Iraq would be a cakewalk are now saying, “Let ‘em eat cake.”

So let’s thank some of the people who opposed the Iraq invasion: people like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Ron Paul, Arianna Huffington, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Pat Buchanan — yeah, I said it — Michael Moore and the last two popes. They knew how un-Christian a concept pre-emptive war was: “Forgive us our trespasses as we trespass against those we think might trespass against us.”

Or go ahead and listen to the ones who were wrong: Limbaugh, George Will, Kristol, Krauthammer, McCain, Condoi Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Coulter, Hannity, O’Reilly, Scarborough, Bush and way more Democrats than I should be able to name.

Unlimited funds then, austerity now. And they want your Medicare, and they want your Social Security. And they’re gonna get it, unless America wakes up in a way we didn’t wake up 10 years ago.

Because, my friends, going after Medicare to fix a budget crisis is like going after Iraq when you were attacked by 15 Saudis.

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John Fugelsang:

So for tonight’s F-bomb, we cover a little-covered report that affects all of us.

Because it’s from Stuart Bowen. He’s the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And that’s more than just a sexy title — he’s the guy whose job it is to officially notify Congress about how much of our money was spent on the Iraq invasion and occupation and reconstruction.

Now, Bowen just reported that maybe, just maybe, the Iraq War wasn’t a great idea from a money perspective. I could quote you highlights from the report: how the reconstruction “grew to a size much larger than was ever anticipated” or how “not enough was accomplished for the size of the funds extended.”

Wow. Who knew?

And he’s just talking about the $60 billion of U.S. taxpayer money that went to Iraq reconstruction projects. I’d like to repeat that figure, since we’re all so busy arguing about the budget deficit in this country: $60 billion, or $15 million per day. Just to give you some scale, that’s more than Current TV pays me in a whole month.

And it’s relevant. Under the austerity politics of D.C., we have Democrats and mostly Republicans now telling us how we have to cut spending to rebuild America after 10 years of nonstop spending to rebuild Iraq after we blew it up. So let’s go back, through the mists of time, to 10 years ago this month.

Back when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his capo de tutti capi Paul Wolfowitz were telling us how invading Iraq would pay for itself. And then once we were there they said we couldn’t leave because then Iran would invade Iraq and create the new Islamo-fascist supergroup “Iranq.”

Meanwhile, the people who were against the invasion said it would kill a lot of soldiers, would kill even more Iraqis and would only succeed in making a few U.S. businessmen and international oil companies very, very rich.

So who was right?

Well, according to the report, the American taxpayer spent $40 million for a prison in the eastern Diyala province that now sits in ruins. It’s never gonna be finished. It’s never gonna be used. All that money wasted — sort of like the next Guns N’ Roses album.

Also, a $108 million wastewater treatment center in Fallujah is going to finish eight years late and only service 9,000 homes. If Iraq wants to finish the job we’ve started, they’ve got to pony up with another $87 million. And we can’t help them because we’re broke from spending too much money trying to help them after blowing up their country.

At the end of the day, my friends, the Iraq War cost you and me around $800 billion, or $7.6 billion a month. Factor in long-term cost of caring for our wounded veterans, it’s about a trillion dollars. Over 4,000 U.S. troops are dead, well over 30,000 are injured or maimed for life. Over 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Now I don’t know if America will learn anything from this, but as long as we’re talking about cutting Medicare, cutting education, cutting salary for government employees; as long as we’re paying the tab after George Bush’s eight-year-long dine-n-dash; as long as Barack Obama is still being blamed for an economy that was partially wrecked by this war; as long as there are still men and women in our government who think they can have two wars off the books while cutting taxes for the wealthy and still get to call themselves conservative …

Here’s a very simple economic formula that works: People who supported the Iraq War don’t ever, ever, ever get to complain about deficits or spending.

In late 2002, a group of entertainers called Artists United to Win Without War put out an open letter to President Bush rejecting the doctrine that America had the right to launch first-strike attacks. A lot of people put their reputations on the line, like Mike Farrell, Lily Tomlin, Samuel L. Jackson — and look who’s right there, in between the late Bonnie Franklin and Janeane Garafalo? Which also happens to also be my dream three-way? — 100 million Americans — one third of us were against Iraq.

Yes, all this spending has led to a lot of suffering, and the austerity politicians of the GOP remind you we can alleviate some of that suffering if we can just come together, cut taxes for the rich even more, and take just a bit more money away from old, sick people.

http://current.com/shows/viewpoint/videos/john-fugelsang-people-who-supported-the-iraq-war-dont-ever-get-to-complain-about-deficits/

 

Posted March 9, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Ezra Klein “Think back to July 2011. The problem was simple. Republicans wouldn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling without trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Democrats wouldn’t agree to trillions of dollars in deficit reduction if it didn’t include significant tax increases. Republicans wouldn’t agree to significant tax increases. The political system was at an impasse, and in a few short days, that impasse would create a global financial crisis.

The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.

There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.

The second was the 2012 election. If Republicans won, then that would pretty much settle it: No tax increases. If President Obama won, then that, too, would pretty much settle it: The American people would’ve voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.

The American people voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.

In fact, they went even further than that. They also voted for a Senate that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes. And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts, they didn’t get one.

Here in DC, we can get a bit buried in Beltway minutia. The ongoing blame game over who concocted the sequester is an excellent example. But it’s worth remembering that the goalposts in American politics aren’t set in backroom deals between politicians. They’re set in elections. And in the 2012 election, the American people were very clear on where they wanted the goalposts moved to.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/23/on-the-sequester-the-american-people-moved-the-goalposts/

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Stewart “Four weeks, ladies and gentlemen.  Just twenty some days.  Our country will be heading over the fiscal cliff, that we ourselves dug, and put in our way.  It’s the set of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that can only be averted if our nation’s leaders are able to display bare bones competence, and middle-school maturity.  So, is there a deal?”

Reporter 12-4-12 “There’s, of course, no deal.”

Stewart “Of course!  Is there a prospect for a deal?”

Reporter “There’s not a prospect for a deal.”

Stewart “Of course.  But, the ongoing talks?”

Reporter “There aren’t even very many talks going on.”

Stewart “You’re killing us.  Give us something.”

Reporter “But, for the first time, there are numbers on pieces of paper from both sides.”

Stewart “Numbers on paper!  We have numbers on paper.  From both sides.  We’re going to be OK.  How were negotiations being conducted before they decided to put numbers on paper?  Were they communicating by pheromones, like ants? … Were the two sides just spray-painting the side of a camel and hoping it wanders past the other sides office, or other equally absurd examples of something?  So, tell us about this paper, with numbers on them?”

Reporter 2 “$4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next 10 years.  It includes $1.6 trillion in higher taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year.  There’s also $400 billion in cuts to entitlement programs.  There’s also some fresh new spending, $50 billion next year in stimulus spending, all for infrastructure.”

Stewart “All right.  So, we’ve got a little tax hike here, a little entitlement trim there, basically telling the government it needs a mix of diet and exercise if it wants to reduce its chances of succumbing to heart disease, or a swollen prostate… Basically, this plan is around, somewhat, what Obama said he was going to do about the budget, while he was on the campaign trail.  I guess we could put that another way.”

Rep Jim Gerlach (R-PA) 11-30-12 “The proposal that came forward yesterday, really is a joke.”

Sen John Cornyn (R-TX) 11-30-12 “I’m not surprised that my colleague Senator McConnell laughed at that proposal.”

Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 12-2-12 “The President’s plan does nothing but damn us to becoming Greece.”

Rep Ted Poe (R-TX) 12-2-12 “So ridiculous.”

Sen Orin Hatch (R-UT) 12-1-12 “Disastrous.”

Sen Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) 12-2-12 “Very disappointing…disappointed…I’m very disappointed.”

Stewart “Really?  ‘Cause you really don’t sound that disappointed, quite frankly…To their credit, though, the Republicans didn’t just complain about the President’s plan.  They put forward, on paper, numbers of their own.”

Luke Russert (MSNBC) “You see the offer there on your screen.  $800 billion through tax reform.  $600 billion in health savings.  $300 billion in mandatory savings.  $200 billion entitlement scale revision.  $300 billion further discretionary savings.  That nets to a total of $2.2 trillion in savings.”

Stewart “All right.  So, the GOP proposal is, if I’m adding that up correctly, is $1.2 trillion in cuts, $1 trillion in savings, and they leave the tax rates alone for the top 2%, and they, wait a minute.  The fiscal cliff, the thing we’re trying to avoid, had $1.2 trillion in cuts, but half of those cuts were going to be defense.  This has $1.2 trillion in cuts, but they’re just saying, why don’t we just make the whole thing cuts to entitlements and domestic spending, and not cut defense at all.  Basically, they’re trying to entice Democrats through saying, I don’t want you to fall off this cliff, so why don’t you voluntarily jump off this steeper cliff, but don’t worry.  Your fall will be cushioned by lava.  Now, obviously it’s a negotiation.  People take a hard line position.  It’s a starting point.  With the tax bite being the lowest it’s been in America since the 1950’s, most likely we’re going to raise it back to the rate it was in the 90’s, for the upper 2% at some point.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) 11-9-12 “Raising tax rates is unacceptable.”

Stewart “OK, so what exactly is your idea of a negotiation?”

Boehner 12-2-12 “The President’s idea of a negotiation is, roll over and do what I ask.”

Stewart “At least, once he has you on your back, he asks….I cannot wait until the Democrats get a hold of this Republican proposal.  They’re going to tear it to shreds.”

Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) 12-3-12 “The good news is, he’s put something in writing.  The bad news is, it doesn’t really get us moving forward.”

Rep Xavier Becerra (D-CA) 12-3-12 “The Republican plan failed the very first test of fairness.”

President Barack Obama 12-4-12 “Unfortunately, the Speaker’s proposal, right now, is still out of balance.”

Stewart “Out of balance?  Fails the fairness test?  Where’s your hysterical rhetoric?  Where’s your I laughed in their bleeping faces?  Where is your DISAPPOINTED?  Where is your this proposal is an insult, this proposal will destroy America?….You know what?  Maybe it’s just time to stop this back and forth of offers.  It’s pretty clear that Republicans aren’t ever going to come to the table with anything even remotely reasonable, so I’ll be the one to say it.  I know it would be disastrous.  I know it will doom our economy for years to come.  But, let’s just go over the bleeping cliff.  Fine.  Let’s just go.  Just leave the negotiating table and send us over the cliff.  “Cause you know why?  At least, for a few seconds, it’ll feel like we’re flying.”

 

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-4-2012/cliffpocalypsemageddonacaust—totally-solvable-budget-problem—numbers-on-paper

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. Now that President Obama has won reelection, the debate in Washington has shifted from whether we should raise taxes to how and by how much.

This makes sense. With a deficit over $1 trillion, we will need a combination of increased tax revenues and spending cuts. The president and his allies, including Robert Rubin, have made the case that eliminating deductions simply will not get you enough money.

You will actually have to raise tax rates. That’s probably true as well. But let’s not give up entirely on the issue of deductions and all those hidden subsidies that the Simpson-Bowles report accurately called, “back-door spending,” hidden in the tax code.

In order to sound like they’re not spending money, Congress often tends to grant special exemptions to paying taxes. In his excellent book, “Red Ink”, David Wessel points out that, “If you get $1,000 exemption, it is exactly the same as being paid $1,000 by the government, yet one is recorded as government spending, which is bad. The other is a tax cut, which is good.”

The Simpson-Bowles Commission pointed out at that when you add up all these tax expenditures, they amount to over $1 trillion in foregone revenue. Consider that the federal government’s total revenues are just $2.5 trillion, according to the CBO. Wessel points out that if we got rid of all corporate tax subsidies for example, we could lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, but the larger benefit would be to reduce corruption in Washington.

Congressman get cash for their campaigns and, in return for this, they often give away preferential treatment in the tax code to special interests, to companies, to lobbies.

That is the system of legalized corruption that is at the heart of the American politics. Tax expenditures are particularly valuable because, unlike actual spending, which has to be renewed in every year’s budget, tax expenditures are in the code and the benefit is received every year.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Now, since we can’t do much about campaign finance reform thanks to the Supreme Court, why not get rid of what the cash often buys.

The largest tax breaks are not to corporations, they are to people for things like home mortgage deductions. But even these are vastly overdone and should be limited or phased out.

Britain got rid of the interest deductions on mortgages with no adverse effects. Canada never had one. And, yet, they have a similar rate of home ownership to the United States.

But forget about the economics for a moment. Just as a corruption cleansing mechanism, let’s get rid of tax expenditures. If Congress wants to give you money, let them do it the old-fashioned way, write a check and do it again every year.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1211/18/fzgps.01.html

Posted November 19, 2012 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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