Monday, March 22, 2010

Obama Care and Deficit Hysteria

Well, Obama passed his "health care reform." I've never been taken in by Obama's neoliberal bullshit and I think that this health care bill is a piece of shit. The most that I'll say it might be is a health care version of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Because of opposition and amendment of The Civil Rights Act of 1957, it was largely ineffective in its enforcement and its scope. By 1960, slightly fewer blacks were voting in the South than had been in 1956. It did however open the door to later legislation that was effective in securing voting rights as well as ending legal segregation and providing housing rights.
If Obama has EVER been serious about doing anything for the US-American people, it's through small, incremental steps. (It's possible he's just conning them ... and his cynical use of lies on the campaign trail make that the more likely prospect.) If he's serious, then what he thought was that this was the tiny wedge that breaks the log-jam. If he thought that he couldn't pass anything without appealing to "Blue Dog" Democrats and Republicans (by proposing something similar to Mitt Romney's health care ideas), making back-room deals with the hospitals and the health insurance companies, and steam-rolling progressives, to do so, then so be it. Just like the Civil Rights Act of 1957 wasn't worth the paper it was written on, but was the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction and paved the way for more substantial legislation later, "Obamacare" might simply have been intended to break the belief that the oligopolist-capitalist, private-sector stranglehold on healthcare was untouchable. Now, more substantial progress is possible.

I'm not saying that I believe that. I'm saying it's a possibility.

Now to deficit hysteria.

One of the arguments against Obamacare is how it'll add to the US-American deficit. While I'll admit that the bush II regime wasted trillions and trillions on illegal, destructive wars, on a give-away to the pharmaceutical companies, and tax-cuts to the obscenely wealthiest. But in spite of all that, the USA debt-to-GDP ratio is a very manageable 60%.

The total amount of debt in the USA, such as its trade imbalance, it's overall current account deficit, and the extent of private household debt, PLUS the government's debt, are unsustainable. But household debt could be mitigated by getting super-profitable private sector interests to share some of that wealth and provide wage increases to the majority of US households. And the trade deficit could likewise be mitigated by forcing US corporations to stop off-shoring manufacturing and other jobs. The government's debt could be reduced by taxing the wealthiest again.

But even without these commonsense ideas, it's important to not get swept away by deficit hysteria. Look at the link about world government debt levels again. Japan's debt is at 170% of their annual GDP. If Japan hasn't imploded with debt levels more than 200% of US levels. How can the US (or us in Canada) be in some sort of danger of a debt overload at 60% but Japan, the world's third or fourth largest economy (after the European Union, USA, and maybe China) was somehow able to sneak up to debt levels more than double our own? If Japan isn't going to self-destruct (and it isn't) then it's even more obvious that the USA and Canada aren't going to self-destruct either. We're a LONG way away from being in any sort of danger.

There really is no genuine argument against this people. If Japan's government debt is manageable (and given how much people are shitting their pants about Greece, Iceland, and etc., you'd think we'd be hearing it right now if Japan's gigantic economy was in any real danger) at 170% of annual GDP, then the USA and Canada at 60% each aren't in any danger.

Yes, obviously, we can't go on adding debt forever. But we're not going to do that now are we? And one way to start adding to government revenues again is to start taxing the wealthy and the corporations again because they're not doing anything with the money besides investing it in subprime loans, dot-coms, and other garbage.

Here's some reading material.

The call to panic: Deficit hysteria

Don't succumb to deficit hysteria

Deficit hysteria no excuse to end economic stimulus

Revisiting deficit hysteria

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