Pres. Richard Trumka: "We're here today for the folks who were played for
suckers in the casino economy and will be silent no more. The message
we bring is this: Wall Street, fix the mess you made."
America lost 8.5 million jobs because of the financial crisis created
by Wall Street, Trumka said, and now is 11 million jobs in the hole.
Absolutely no mention in NYTimes.com in Nat'l or Business sections.
The Last Show
by: Bill Moyers Journal,
Wednesday 28 April 2010
Airtime: Friday, April 30, 2010, at 9:00 PM (EDT) on PBS (check local
listings at http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/about/airdates.html
In this special 90-minute finale to Bill Moyers Journal: With distrust of
the federal government at a historic high and Americans disillusioned with a
government run by and for the powerful, Bill Moyers sits down with populist
Jim Hightower to look at the history and legacy of people's movements and
discuss how ordinary people can reclaim political power. The Journal also
travels to Iowa where one group has been helping ordinary citizens fight for
change for more than three decades. And, acclaimed author Barry Lopez joins
Bill Moyers to discuss nature, spirit and the human condition. Lopez is an
essayist, author and short-story writer, whose many books include "Arctic
Dreams," winner of the National Book Award and "Of Wolves and Men," a
National Book Award finalist.
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$1 Rent for Billionaire Broad
So much for Villaraigosa's new era of transparency and shared sacrifice
BY TIBBY ROTHMAN
Welcome, Los Angeles, to your postrecessionary urban life. Prices are being
hiked by the City Council for superfluous items like DWP power and trash
pickup, the city is issuing $500 red-light camera tickets to increase
revenue, and the mayor and council are slashing library service in poor
neighborhoods. But, while Angelenos were cobbling together the rent, City
Councilwoman Jan Perry and others were involved in secret negotiations to
lease billionaire Eli Broad a piece of choice, taxpayer-owned property next
to Walt Disney Concert Hall for $1 a year. All this unfolded as City Hall
leaders, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Perry, who represents
downtown, were advocating municipal ... MORE »
The Coming Plan to Slash Social Security and Medicare
The Flight of the Deficit Hawks
By DEAN BAKER
Counterpunch: April 28, 2010
The deficit hawks are going into high gear with their drive to cut Social
Security and Medicare. President Obama's deficit commission is having a big
public event on Tuesday in which many of the country's most prominent
deficit hawks will tout the need to reduce the budget deficit. The next day,
Wall Street investment banker Peter Peterson will be hosting a "summit on
fiscal responsibility," which will feature more luminaries touting the need
to get deficits under control.
What will be missing from both of these events is any serious debate on the
extent of the deficit problem and its causes. These affairs are not about
promoting a real exchange of views on issues like the future of Social
Security, Medicare, and public support for education, research and
infrastructure. The purpose of these events is to tell the public that
everyone agrees, we have to cut the deficit. And, this means cutting Social
Security and Medicare. This is argument by authority.
Many public debates in the United States take this form. The issue is not
what is said, but rather who says it. A few years ago all the authorities
said that there was no housing bubble. The large body of evidence showing
that house prices had hugely diverged from the fundamentals did not matter
when the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the President's Council of
Economic Advisors and other leading lights of the economic profession
insisted that everything in the housing market was just fine.
Going further back to the mid-90s, many of this same group of deficit hawk
luminaries tried to use argument by authority to cut Social Security. They
came up with the story that the consumer price index (CPI) overstated the
true rate of inflation. After workers retire, their Social Security benefits
are indexed to the CPI. This crew (which included then Sen. Alan Simpson, a
co-chair of President Obama's commission, and Peter Peterson) argued that
Social Security benefits should lag the CPI by 1.0 percentage point a year.
In other words, if the CPI shows 3.0 percent inflation, then Social Security
benefits will only rise by 2.0 percent.
That may seem a small cut, but it adds up over time. A worker retired for 10
years would have their benefits reduced by approximately 10 percent. A
worker retired for 20 years would have their benefits cut by almost 20
To push this agenda, they put together a panel of the country's most
prominent economists, all of whom blessed the claim that the CPI overstated
the true rate of inflation by at least 1.0 percentage point. In addition to
this panel, the Social Security cutters also pulled in other prominent
economists, including Martin Feldstein, formerly President Reagan's top
economist and the head of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The Social Security cutters were so successful in rounding up the big names
that virtually no economists were prepared to publicly stand up and question
their claims about the CPI. They had near free rein, running around the
country with the "all the experts agree" line.
As events unfolded they were not able to get their cut in Social Security
benefits. (Ted Kennedy and Dick Gephardt deserve big credit on this.) But
what is really interesting for the current debate is what happened to the
experts' claim on the CPI. There were some changes made to the CPI, but in
the view of the expert panel, the major causes of the biases in the CPI were
not fixed. They concluded that even after the changes the CPI still
overstated the true rate of inflation by 0.8 percentage points annually.
If this claim is really true then it has enormous ramifications for our
assessment of the economy. It means, for example, that incomes and wages are
rising far more rapidly than the official data show. It means that people in
the recent past were far poorer than is indicated by official statistics. If
the claim about the CPI being overstated is true, then we would have to
re-examine a vast amount of economic research that starts from the premise
that the CPI is an accurate measure of inflation.
However, almost no economists have adjusted their research for a CPI's
overstatement of inflation. In fact, even the members of the expert panel
don't generally use a measure of inflation that adjusts for the alleged bias
in the CPI. In other words, when they are not pushing cuts to Social
Security, these economists act as though the CPI is an accurate measure of
the rate of inflation. This could lead one to question these experts'
This history should give the public serious grounds for being suspicious
about the latest efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare. A serious
discussion of the deficit will show that in the short-term the deficit is
not a problem and that the longer-term deficit problem is really a problem
of a broken U.S. health care system. The public should not allow the deficit
hawks to derail a more serious discussion with their argument by authority.
Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
(CEPR). He is the author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the
Bubble Economy and False Profits: Recoverying From the Bubble Economy.
This column was originally published by The Guardian.