Report of the Citizens’ Commission on Jobs, Deficits and America’s Economic Future Released

Yesterday Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist, led a panel explaining a progressive alternative to the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan proposed by the center-right forces leading the president's deficit reduction commission.  The Citizens' Commission on Jobs, Deficits And America's Future is  a coalition of Demos, the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), and the Economic Policy Insitutute (EPI).  The panel also included economists Dean Baker from CEPR, John Irons (EPI) and Robert Kuttner from American Prospect, and Nancy Altman -- an expert on pension rights and social security.

Professor Stiglitz opened with a telling anecdote about recent pressure on Spain to adopt Greek and Ireland - style austerity regimes to ward off the "bond vigilantes" (bankers and investors) who allegedly will ruin your economy and country if you don't bail our bankers with cuts in workers pay and benefits. Otherwise central banks will not  lend you any more money. He said: "So Spain DID adopt new austerity policies.  But bond interest rates went up anyway!!.  Why? Not because the bankers did not believe Spain was serious. They DID believe them -- and THEY KNOW that the plan will NOT work! Ireland, which 6 months ago adopted the most rigorous cutbacks in government services, and now is in crisis again, is the proof."

The Citizen's Commission keeps the focus of recovery on jobs and investment – without which, no plan can solve the deficits. It rejects attacks on social security in Simpson-Bowles since social security has absolutely nothing to do with the current deficit issues. It rejects regressive taxation (more cuts for the rich) – also a stench that rots the Simpson-Bowles proposal. It focuses revenue increases on the most strategic structural changes – green energy and infrastructure costs and incentives. Here's my proposal to Erskin Bowles – blue dog with a millionaire's pension cushion – if you agree to live on your proposed social security reform, so will I. Until then.please just STAY RETIRED.

"The United States continues to suffer the aftereffects of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, triggered by a financial crisis whose causes were ignored or made worse by elite policymakers for decades. Today, more than 25 million Americans who are ready and willing can’t find full-time work. Personal wealth has declined sharply, creating an especially uncertain future for people approaching retirement age. Confidence is down for both consumers and businesses, which prevents sustained economic growth."

Only 10 years ago, at the end of the Clinton Administration, there were record surpluses. Now we face record deficits that are spreading alarm and confusion across the land.  Further, this "constrained depression" comes after a decade that has "featured the worst job creation in the post-war period, declining wages for most Americans, weaker unions confronted by employer attacks on rights to organize, continued decay of basic infrastructure, an ongoing crisis in public education, record trade deficits and job loss abroad, and extreme inequality."

Despite the ongoing pain  the debate in Washington is now dominated by conservative cries for immediate reduction of the federal deficit, no unemployment benefit extensions, tax cuts for the rich, no rights for unions, calls to CUT the minimum wage and "trickle-down" theories about jobs dribbling down the thighs of the well fed and wealthy. "The hungry dog huts harder" they say to the 5 applicants for every job opening seeking bread and shelter.

Several elite “commissions”—two privately financed, and one created by the president and Congress—have effectively shifted the attention of the media to deficits as the primary focus for public action.

One voice has been conspicuously absent from most discussion of deficits—that of the American people. Polls have shown that the public's opinion and that of many leading economists are surprisingly well aligned. The public agrees with economists who warn that deficit reduction must be performed judiciously, without restricting government's ability to create jobs and without damaging needed social programs.

With this new effort the Citizens Commission – there is a positive handle movements can grasp to move this debate away from the fates of Greece, and Ireland. What we really have here is a national -- even international – strike by capitalists who, against all wisdom and even their own best long term interests, have simply decided that NO circumstances of national or moral need warrant expanding the public sector further into the domain of private capital. So they are refusing to invest, and are spending billions on political lobbying of every description -- including sponsoring fringe racist and fascist type hysteria – to nullify the will of the American people.

They seem to think we are dogs -- maybe so -- then its time to form some packs and hunt down the masters.


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