The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup.

by JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ, December 2007

The American economy can take a lot of abuse, but no economy is invincible.

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance. read more

Are candidates telling the truth?

If you want to know, look it up at Politifact

PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly to help you find the truth in the presidential campaign. Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times and CQ will analyze the candidates’ speeches, TV ads and interviews and determine whether the claims are accurate.

Mr. Huckabee! 1 out of 56 isn’t ‘most’.

In a Republican presidential debate in Orlando on Sunday, October 21st, 2007, Republican candidate Mike Huckabee stated, “The signers of the Declaration of Independence were “brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.” ”

Politifact.com says that’s not true. Here’s the real truth:

Mike Huckabee said he believes one of the defining issues facing the country is the sanctity of human life. Arguing that the issue is of historical importance, he invoked the Declaration of Independence . . . and said that most of the signers of the declaration were clergymen. read more

Dem candidates present a reasonable health care reform package

Senator Clinton delayed a long time before coming out with her own healthcare plan . . . Still, this week she did deliver a plan, and it’s as strong as the Edwards plan — because unless you get deep into the fine print, the Clinton plan basically is the Edwards plan . . .

The Edwards and Clinton plans as well as the slightly weaker but similar Obama plan achieve universal-or-near-universal coverage through a well-thought-out combination of insurance regulation, subsidies and public-private competition. These plans may disappoint advocates of a cleaner, simpler single-payer system. But it’s hard to see how Medicare for all could get through Congress any time in the near future, whereas Edwards-type plans offer a reasonable second best that you can actually envision being enacted by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president just two years from now. read more

One more for the House oversight committee

On Election Day in 2002, when New Hampshire voters were going to the polls in a hotly contested Senate race, the phone lines in Democratic get-out-the-vote offices were jammed. . .

The Bush administration has spent a lot of time talking about mythical cases of voter fraud and election improprieties, but the New Hampshire phone jamming case was the real thing. Republican operatives hired an Idaho telemarketing firm to jam the lines to prevent people who needed help in voting from getting through. The scheme was a direct attack on American democracy. read more

Jail political opponents – the new election strategy

Selective Prosecution, August 6, 2007

One part of the Justice Department mess that requires more scrutiny is the growing evidence that the department may have singled out people for criminal prosecution to help Republicans win elections. The House Judiciary Committee has begun investigating several cases that raise serious questions. The panel should determine what role politics played in all of them.

Putting political opponents in jail is the sort of thing that happens in third-world dictatorships. In the United States, prosecutions are supposed to be scrupulously nonpartisan. This principle appears to have broken down in Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department — where lawyers were improperly hired for nonpolitical jobs based on party membership, and United States attorneys were apparently fired for political reasons. read more

Ms. Pratibha Patil, President, India

The country of India now has in its 60th year of independence, as of last Saturday, July 21, a woman president, and people in her hometown of Jalgaong are dancing in the streets! Social activists look to Ms. Patil for relief for women from centuries-old struggles related to gender issues such as dowry-related violence, murder, rape and domestic abuse.

In her new position, Ms. Pratibha Patil has the power to structure both state and local governments. Her government counterpart, the prime minister, is the holder of executive power for the state. Reuters article tells more. read more

Former Treasury officer: constitution is under threat!

Roberts said that because of Bush’s unpopularity, the Republicans face a total wipeout in 2008, and this may be why “the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush’s follies or the war, because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year’s election.”

[But] Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. “Something’s in the works,” he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place. read more

Democrat Billionaires think about the other 99%

Buffett, the third-richest man in the world, is supporting Democratic presidential hopeful in the upcoming elections, because he wants more equitable wealth distribution and taxataion systems in the US.

Buffet criticised the US tax system for allowing him to pay a lower rate than his secretary and his cleaner. Speaking at a fundraiser in New York for Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr Buffett, who is worth an estimated $52 billion (£26 billion), said . . . If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent. read more

End of the Constitution?

Maybe Bush’s outrageous commutation of Scooter Libby’s will help some folks recognize that this president and his cronies have more than normal self-interest or operative pragmatic scheming in mind.

The oft-used term “neo-conservatives,” or “neo-cons,” is thrown around the identify the circles that helped lift this current administration to power . . . these are not just new conservatives . . . At the top, these people have a total overhaul of U.S. Constitutional government in mind. Bush and friends are the first administration that has achieved a level of power high enough to exhibit this. Their goal is the end of democracy as defined by the U.S. Constitution. read more

Nobel laureate calls for removal of Bush

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams came from Ireland to Texas to declare that President Bush should be impeached.

In a keynote speech at the International Women’s Peace Conference on Wednesday night, Ms. Williams told a crowd of about 1,000 that the Bush administration has been treacherous and wrong and acted unconstitutionally.

“Right now, I could kill George Bush,” she said at the Adam’s Mark Hotel and Conference Center in Dallas. “No, I don’t mean that. How could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that.” read more

The Doctor Will See You—In 3 Months

The health-care reform debate is in full roar with the arrival of Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko, which compares the U.S. system unfavorably with single-payer systems around the world. Critics of the film are quick to trot out a common defense of the American way: For all its problems, they say, U.S. patients at least don’t have to endure the endless waits for medical care endemic to government-run systems.

In reality, both data and anecdotes show that the American people are already waiting as long or longer than patients living with universal health-care systems. read more

Each citizen should have a right to vote in the US!

Republicans do cherish their little practical jokes – the leaflets in African-American neighborhoods warning that voters must pay outstanding traffic tickets before voting; the calls in Virginia in 2006 from the mythical “Virginia Election Commission” warning voters they would be arrested if they showed up at the polls. The best way to steal an election is the old-fashioned way: control who shows up. It’s widely known that Republicans do better when the turnout is lighter, whiter, older and richer; minorities, young people and the poor are easy game for hoaxes and intimidation . . . read more

What has the Iraq war cost?

$456 billion is the cost of the Iraq war so far.


(Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

What good could that money do in the world?

The World Bank estimates that “$54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth.

“At the upper range of those estimates, the $456 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world’s poor for five and a half years.” See full 10 page Boston Globe slideshow with commentary. read more

Gina is changing insurance and employment laws

New Scientist reports that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act [GINA] won an overwhelming 420 to 3 majority vote in the House of Representatives. It will soon be illegal for an insurance company to charge higher rates to people genetically disposed to certain illnesses, and for applicants to be denied employment based on genetic test results.

That law will come into being as soon as Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, lifts the hold he has placed on the bill to delay its passage into the legislation archives. read more