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Obama Administration

Today corporate stooge Glenn Kessler, WaPo‘s so-called fact checker, actually (and very selectively) quoted Paul Krugman to argue that Krugman opposes raising the federal minimum wage. And, of course, Krugman has been among those calling for raising it. Krugman’s most recent NYT column, in fact, called for raising the minimum wage.

It cannot be that even Glenn Kessler is so stupid that he would have looked up something Krugman said in 1998 and ignore what he wrote last week. No, this was deliberate fudging of facts to make a “centrist” (i.e., plutocratic) argument that the working poor just need to suck it up.

What’s going on here? Are the elites getting nervous?

Fast food workers are striking today. Democrats across the country are pushing for a minimum wage increase. I’ve seen a number of news analyses saying that Elizabeth Warren represents the soul of the Democratic Party.

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech that Ezra Klein called “perhaps the single best economic speech of his presidency.” In the speech, the President called economic inequality “the defining challenge of our time.”

Greg Sargent provides a summary:

A few key takeaways from the speech: Obama described the decline in economic mobility as a direct consequence of inequality — as opposed to arguing that lack of mobility is itself the problem — and as the product of trends that are decades in the making. He cast the need to ensure that ”opportunity is real” for our children as “the defining issue of our time.”

Obama also argued that current levels of inequality and lack of opportunity as out of sync with the country’s founding values, noting that “the premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in the American story,” and that the way to preserve that promise is to ensure that “success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.”

And, crucially, Obama described the overall problem as the result of the rich pulling away from the rest. He noted that the share of the country’s wealth is increasingly going to the top while tax cuts for the wealthiest have cut into investments that benefit the rest, emphasizing that this has made it harder for poor children to escape poverty. Meanwhile middle class incomes have stagnated thanks to technological advances and declining unions. Result: The “basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed.”

Praised be, even the Pope is warning us about the dangers of unfettered capitalism.

The Right is pushing back. Recently the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece from Third Way solomnly warning Democrats they should back off from economic populism if they know what’s good for them. Elias Isquith wrote,

Their argument is not convincing but, surprising no one, establishment centrists like Mike Allen of Politico and Ron Fournier of National Journal loved the piece. Allen even went so far as to categorize it as a game changer (which evidently sent a thrill up the leg of whoever runs Third Way’s Twitter account). But for those of us who don’t already wish to see Social Security and Medicare benefits cut, Third Way’s piece was little more than a reminder of the selfishness (and increasing irrelevance) of the economically plutocratic wing of the Democratic Party.

Game changer? It’s basically the same arguments Republicans have been making since McKinley. But, you know, hope springs eternal. Some people really need to believe that the rubes will continue to buy the snake oil.



  1. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:11 pm

    “Their argument is not convincing but, surprising no one, establishment centrists like Mike Allen of Politico and Ron Fournier of National Journal loved the piece.”

    Allen and Fournier.
    Established centrists?

    Only if you define the ‘center’ of a football field as somewhere from inside the Republican’s 20 yard line.

    They’re not “centrists.”
    What they are, is establishment cheerleaders!
    “He said!’
    She said!’
    Blah! Blah!! BLAH!!!
    No matter how far right,
    Republicans are still part of the middle!”

  2. uncledad  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:56 pm


    More like Turd way, just a bunch of right wingers embarrassed by and trying to distinguish themselves from the baggers. I wish President Obama and the Democrats would start using the rights language against them. Start explaining that company’s like Wal-Mart, Yum Brands, etc. are costing the country billions in food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid (free government healthcare) all in order to subsidize the profits of these same corporations. Agree with the right that food stamps are less than desirable. Why not raise the minimum wage and let these corporations pick up the slack? I really think this sort of language may actually get through. If it gets repeated enough maybe the corporate media may start to report on it in spite of the commercial considerations?

  3. moonbat  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:03 pm

    We’re at a very interesting point in history – the mighty right has stumbled, fractured and looks like fools, and the left is starting to win some victories, at least in the public mind if not in actual policy or votes. It’s as though the deck of cards is being reshuffled, and everything is up for grabs. All that’s lacking is leadership, and Pope Francis, whether he knows it or not, has just challenged the leader of the right.

    From the left coast, So Seattle Elected a Socialist. What Now?

    …But here’s the thing: In cities across the nation, the majority of Seattle’s City Council and political leaders would be probably cursed as “socialists.” While shocking headlines about Seattle electing a “radical” like Sawant probably moves papers in suburbia and raises eyebrows in middle America, Sawant’s campaign demonstrated that the bulk of her platform isn’t too far left of Seattle’s politics. She’s championed the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage – an issue both Mike McGinn and mayor-elect Ed Murray eventually campaigned on. She’s calling for more affordable housing in the city and wants all of Seattle’s workers to be able to afford to live here – a vision Nick Licata shares. She wants improvements in education and public transportation – things just about everyone seems to agree are necessary.

    Sure, Sawant will speak to the evils of capitalism in a fiery tone that can make the establishment squirm. And when she talks about workers rising up and taking over Boeing it provides wet-dream fodder for blowhards like Dori Monson. But the continued characterization of Sawant as a fringe dissident denies the obvious: a majority of Seattle voters who cast a ballot this year have spoken, and they’re on board with the core tenants of her message – socialist or not…

    Meanwhile, on the other coast, Vermont is Designing the Nation’s First Universal Health Care System:

    As states open insurance marketplaces amid uncertainty about whether they are a solution for health care, Vermont is eyeing a bigger goal, one that more fully embraces a government-funded model.

    The state has a planned 2017 launch of the nation’s first universal health care system, a sort of modified Medicare-for-all that has long been a dream for many liberals….

    …The result will be health care that’s “a right and not a privilege,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said.

    The reasons tiny Vermont may be ripe for one of the costliest and most closely watched social experiments of its time?

    It’s the most liberal state in the country, according to Election Day exit polls. Democrats hold the governor’s office and big majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

    It has a tradition of activism. Several times in recent years, hundreds of people have rallied in Montpelier for a campaign advocating that health care is a human right.

    It’s small. With a population of about 626,000 and just 15 hospitals, all nonprofits, Vermont is seen by policy experts as a manageable place to launch a universal health care project.

    “Within a state like Vermont, it should be much more possible to actually get all of the stakeholders at the table,” said Shana Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the University of California at Los Angeles’ Center for Health Policy Research.

    These are all, way off the beltway kind of experiments, but I am reminded that Canada’s national health care system originated in Saskatchewan, out in the prairies.

    I hope Pope Francis has some top notch bodyguards. Fascists, and the powers behind them, play for keeps. Depending on how far he goes with his message, he risks being Wellstoned.

  4. Lynne  •  Dec 5, 2013 @4:52 pm

    I enjoyed reading your comment, Moonbat. I’m a Seattle native and lean socialist, myself.

  5. Ed  •  Dec 5, 2013 @4:55 pm

    The rich get richer because they are paying taxes at almost the lowest rates in sixty years. During the 1950s the top rate was 90% of the income above $400,000. The 1960s at 70%; the 1980 at 60%. The 1950s was the decade with the largest average yearly growth in GDP in the last sixty years.

  6. Stephen Stralka  •  Dec 5, 2013 @6:27 pm

    It wasn’t Elizabeth Warren who made Wal Mart put out donation baskets for their serfs. When the nation’s largest employer is openly announcing that they don’t pay a living wage, and even trying to make a virtue of it, something is seriously wrong.

  7. JR  •  Dec 6, 2013 @6:16 pm

    “Are the elites getting nervous?” I think that’s it EXACTLY.

    Karl Rove’s tactic was to attack an opponents biggest perceived STRENGTH. So if they’re selectively and stupidly going after Paul KRUGMAN they’re not playing around anymore.

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