Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Work to be done

Bob Herbert of the New York Times:

While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.

The public interest? Forget about it.

With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care, the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

Joseph Stiglitz: Why we have to change capitalism:
Even now, many deny the magnitude of the problems facing our market economy. Once we are over our current travails – and every recession does come to an end – they look forward to a resumption of robust growth. But a closer look at the US economy suggests that there are some deeper problems: a society where even those in the middle have seen incomes stagnate for a decade, a society marked by increasing inequality; a country where, though there are dramatic exceptions, the statistical chances of a poor American making it to the top are lower than in "Old Europe".

It is said that a near-death experience forces one to re-evaluate priorities and values. The global economy has just had a near-death experience. The crisis exposed not only flaws in the prevailing economic model but also flaws in our society. Too many people had taken advantage of others. Almost every day has brought stories of bad behaviour by those in the financial sector – Ponzi schemes, insider trading, predatory lending, and a host of credit card schemes to extract as much from the hapless user as possible.
Dennis Kucinich:
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Wednesday said the Massachusetts election was a "wake up call" for Democrats and that his party had better change course or it could suffer devastating losses come November.

"People elected Democrats in 2008 to change the country's direction," he told Raw Story in a nearly hour-long interview.

"And the same entrenched interests that George Bush could not shake, this current White House is having great difficulty in shaking. One could suggest they might be more entrenched than ever."

Kucinich staunchly defended liberalism but alleged that Democrats are not behaving like liberals.


Kucinich lamented Democrats' growing camaraderie with big moneyed interests, claiming it's hurting the party.

"You ask the banks to reform banking?" he said. "Put the insurance companies to reform insurance. Call in nuclear to reform energy policies? Are you kidding me?"

"These problems, lest we forget, did not start with Barack Obama," Kucinich said. "It was George Bush drove the economy over the cliff with a trillion dollar tax cut and a war based on lies, and an expanding trade deficit."

"And we can't do that by playing patty-cake with Wall Street, by caving into the demands of big banks, by playing footsie with insurance companies and by jumping in bed with the pharmaceutical industry.

"Americans are really skittish about the economy, and they have every right to be," he said. "This isn't a left-right argument; this isn't a liberal-conservative argument. This is about down or up."

"We have a really deep recession, and the only way to bring it back up is to have a massive jobs program," he said. "I don't see any evidence" that Obama's economic team is standing behind that.
Can we do it?

Update: Steven Colbert has the final word: Colbert on filibuster rules: ‘Democrats are pussies’

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