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Republicans need to take this big, bad dog to the vet

DebraDeAngeloW

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From page A7 | October 20, 2013 | 47 Comments

I’m going to say something that will blow your mind: Ted Cruz is not the problem.

Breathe, breathe… don’t ball the newspaper up and walk away shrieking. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

True, Cruz spearheaded the exasperating government shutdown in what Sen. John McCain called “a fool’s errand” to defund Obamacare, and true, in the end, the Republicans gained nothing other than to participate in the destruction of their own party, but we should be less concerned with “what” happened than “why” it happened.

Cruz didn’t go rogue. He wasn’t tilting at windmills with Sancho Palin at his side. He’s not stupid, either. He’s a trial lawyer who argued cases before the Supreme Court before being elected senator in Texas. He
understands the Rule of Law, yet flagrantly disregarded it as it pertains to Obamacare.

Why?

More curiosity: Cruz is apparently a mind-bending Jedi, because the non-tea party Republicans seemed mesmerized throughout the entire debacle, snapping out of their group hypnosis only after a budget agreement was reached (for now) at the 11th hour. Those who did comment and concede defeat seemed downright polite, and even timid.

Why?

Is Cruz is so powerful that all others tremble in his presence? Do fellow Republicans fear offending The One who may be their next presidential candidate? (Reality check here, people: Chris Christie will wipe the floor with him.)

Why, why, why did all this happen?

Because it’s not about Cruz. It’s about the people who voted for him. Cruz wasn’t acting on his own (other than pure self-interest in getting re-elected), he was representing the beliefs and interests of those who elected him. He has a damn cushy job and he wants to keep it. To be fair, can you blame him for that? Would you reelect a representative who did the opposite of what you elected him/her to do? Would you support him/her next time around? I think not. Agreed?

OK, so now bend your mind around this: Your desire that your representative actually represent you… the Tea Partiers have that same desire. Weird, right? Like talking to a KKK member and finding out that you both drink the same beer. It’s unsettling.

Let’s shake that subsequent oobie-joobie ick feeling off by considering some recent polls.

A Washington Post poll revealed that 74 percent of the public disapproves of how Congressional Republicans handled themselves in federal budget negotiations. The Republicans, as a whole, are taking a hit for the antics of a minority in their party. And they’ll continue to do so unless the rational faction of the Republican Party stops cowering in front of the tea party constituency. It was never more clear than it is now: If the
Republican Party continues to pander to the Nut Wing, it’s finished.

However, while Republicans as a whole suffer in the polls, Ted Cruz’s popularity among tea party Republicans is soaring: it’s also at 74 percent. Yes, that’s right. Since taking Congress hostage for 16 days, Cruz has become a tea party rock star. And they’ll reelect him. Oh yes, they’ll reelect him.

So, we can stop asking “why” we had a shutdown. Ted Cruz isn’t why. The people who elected him are why. The bigger question is “when.” As in, when will it happen again? This is far from over. Cruz and the other tea party candidates were elected fair and square. In their districts, the tea party is the majority, and these regional majorities view the government as their enemy. They want to overtake it and bend it into something else. That’s far more alarming than Cruz wasting everyone’s time and patience reading Dr. Seuss books.

The budget and debt ceiling agreements reached last week are no more meaningful than hitting “pause” on the DVR. The show’s far from over. As Cruz left the final budget hearings, he declared, “This fight, this debate will continue until collectively the American people can make D.C. listen.”

Excuse me? Again with “The American People”? It’s starting to become comical.

The American People voted for Obamacare. The tea party isn’t interested in what The American People want. The tea party is not “The American People.” The majority of Americans don’t support tea party views. Polls done by Pew Research indicate that the tea party’s popularity is plummeting, across the board, even amongst Republicans. I would imagine particularly amongst Republicans, because the tea party is destroying their party. And yet, Tea Partiers are still winning elections, and propelling their representatives into Congress, with marching orders to be the collective monkey wrench in the government’s gears.

Following the government shutdown, with the blame falling squarely on tea party members and those Congressional Republicans who quake in fear of their constituency, the word “sedition” was tossed around. Is that too extreme? Maybe not. According to the Cornell University Law School website, the act of sedition includes to “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

Obamacare is the law of the land. The Supreme Court validated that. Tea party Republicans, by force, attempted to prevent, hinder and delay the execution of that law. Moreover, they have publicly vowed to continue to do so. The tea party thumbs its nose at the Rule of Law. Without the Rule of Law, we have no government. We have no United States. We have nothing. Which is exactly what they want.

So, don’t feel too relieved that Congress pushed “pause” on this American horror story. Nothing was solved. Only stalled. Tea party Republicans learned nothing, other than how to take the government hostage and get away with it. They learned that there are no actual consequences for sedition. They’ll take advantage of these next couple months to regroup and attack again.

So, Ted Cruz? Psssshhh. He’s nothing. A pipsqueak. Just a flea — on a very angry, aggressive, nasty-tempered dog. A flea collar won’t solve the problem. But neutering would.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

Debra DeAngelo

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Discussion | 47 comments

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  • John TroidlOctober 19, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    Agreeing with almost everything here.... and LOVE the last line! But I quibble on one thing.... although it is true that those silly Texans voted Cruz into office, it was not they who got him elected. It was the rich anti-government hyper conservative nut cases (Koch Bros, for example) who did. Until we have some new legislation controlling the efforts of these seditious turkeys to buy elections, we're gonna have a circus in Congress.

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  • JoeOctober 19, 2013 - 3:59 pm

    Hey Johnny, I don't hear you complaining about George Soros pouring his bottomless checkbook into Democrat causes.

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  • alfOctober 19, 2013 - 7:53 pm

    The GOP is the party fighting for unlimited legalized bribery. They even want to limit our right to know who's doing the bribing.

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  • greg johnsonOctober 20, 2013 - 9:48 am

    The republicans unfortunately need to buy themselves promotion, as they don't have the media standing in line like slobbering dogs waiting for their opportunity to provide unconditional support for everything they do. Even Bill Clinton, who was the recipient of vast media support, was extremely angered at the way the media embraced their golden God Obama to Hilary's disadvantage. He promised to talk about it after the '08 election but I imagine kept silent to avoid a fracture in the democratic party.

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  • John TroidlOctober 21, 2013 - 6:44 am

    Really? Ever hear of Clear Channel? Fox News? The Republicans have had plenty of opportunity to broadly spread their message. The problem is.... it is just not selling. That's because.... unlike the days when Republicans were still patriots, today's Republicans are host to the Tea Baggers.... and extreme self-centeredness. "It's all about me" is just not a winning proposition for a political party.... thank goodness!

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  • JoeOctober 21, 2013 - 10:45 am

    There you go again Johnny, "Tea Baggers"? Very classy.

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  • October 21, 2013 - 11:57 am

    Fox News and talk radio have nowhere near the total exposure capacity of all other news outlets combined. It is hard to compete with the likes of The Daily Show where the majority of millenials get their political information (many have told me so). Buying off voters with giveaways, in combination with showering them with glowing narratives for the left from the media make the content of the message almost irrelevant.

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  • alfOctober 22, 2013 - 5:51 am

    "The republicans unfortunately need to buy themselves promotion" The GOP seems quite happy and not in the least reluctant about sucking up corporate cash. It's a happy cycle for them where more deregulation and privatization further enriches their contributors who help them continue to get reelected. The gop has also gotten progressively more extreme in their quest to demolish campaign finance limits, now including even disclosure, even as Fox "News" and its allies in the media have gotten more powerful.

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  • MarkOctober 22, 2013 - 1:10 pm

    Alf, did you read that 42 press reports blame the GOP for the government Slowdown - that was planned by Valerie Jarrett? See, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC are all in the tank for the Democrats. Along with the AARP, the unions, Olde York Times, L.A. Times, AP, Time Magazine, etc. "Extreme" is the out-of-control $8 Trillion that Obama added to the public debt, along with more entitlements and food stamps and government waste for young people to pay. And $1 Trillion a month in "Quantitiative Easing" - i.e., the government printing press! Magic Money. Over-regulation is killing our economy - see the Global Warming fiasco. Thank goodness fracking has helped us to decrease our CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and has given us another source of cleaner Natural Gas.

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  • alfOctober 23, 2013 - 6:15 pm

    Valerie Jarrett is behind the shutdown? Where are you getting this stuff? Clearly it was Oprah who conceived, plotted, and then with a little help from Boehner and Co, executed the shutdown, all from her coastal hideout in Santa Barbara. 42? Should have been every single one of the hundreds or thousands of shutdown stories that pointed out the basic fact that the gop had been intending to cause this crisis for months. It's all on the record yet the "liberal media" mostly played it as "dysfunction" and "gridlock," not a deliberate strategy of one party aka the gop.

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  • October 24, 2013 - 8:57 pm

    Yuppers, Valerie Jarrett - aka The Night Stalker - planning the suhtdown has perfect timing, and explains why Obama didn't talk to the GOP ... but he did play golf. They voted to fund numerous bills, just not ObamaCare... which is now a world-class cluster-@#$%. Courtesy of the Obama Administration's Big Gov't philosophy. And 300,000 Floridian's have lost their health care!

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  • alfOctober 25, 2013 - 6:05 am

    wow "the night stalker". I have to hand it to you you don't seem to care how stupid you sound.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 21, 2013 - 2:57 pm

    "Fox News and talk radio have nowhere near the total exposure capacity of all other news outlets combined." ........ I think there are two serious problems, both related, for conservatives and their message when it comes to media. The first is that, while Fox News and right-wing radio are very popular (compared with MSNBC and left-wing radio), they have a very hard edge and (it seems to me) they preach to the converted. There are some bright conservative hosts who, in the past, tried a much less partisan, much more inclusive approach. (Dennis Praeger, Larry Ellison and Bill Bennett were formerly this way.) However, all far-right radio hosts (and the partisans on Fox News) have discovered that they get much better, much more consistent ratings if they copy the more low-brow approach of a Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity and spin everything in order to please the far-right and ignore the 75% of our population who sees things differently than they do. ........ The second problem is that right-wing media wins its audience in large part with social conservativism that appeals to a smaller and smaller segment of America, and hardly appeals at all to younger people. Limbaugh and his clones can make tens of millions of dollars a year bashing gay marriage, supporting the Confederate battle flag, calling for the expatriation of millions of Mexicans and standing for the 10 Commandments (save the ones they ignore) in every classroom and courthouse. But insofar as our politics is a contest to win a majority (something Republicans have failed to do for the last few national elections, despite winning the House with fewer votes than the Democrats got, and something looking harder and harder for Republicans as the Latino population expands), right-wing media is harming the hopes of Republican candidates now and into the near future. The only hope I see for the GOP is that, before too long, the Democrats will overplay their hand and the country will turn against that party.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 21, 2013 - 6:04 pm

    "(Dennis Praeger, Larry Ellison and Bill Bennett were formerly this way.)" ....... Make that Larry Elder, not Larry Ellison.

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  • greg johnsonOctober 21, 2013 - 7:09 pm

    Rich, thanks for your thoughtful commentary. I think there is a lot of truth in what you say. However, I think there a lot of nuances. I don't think that Fox News and talk radio are equidistant from center. Other than Hannity, who does both, I think talk radio is more extreme. I think Fox is an admittedly conservative narrative but of varying degrees. I would call msNBC much more hard-edged, with unabashed fawning over Obama and severe rhetoric against the right ("I'd like to rip out Dick Cheney's heart and stomp on it", etc.) I would compare the extremes of msNBC and talk radio on the right (90 degrees each) with Fox at 45 degrees right, and CNN at 20 degrees left and the most fair of the major outlets. However, mainstream media has a lot of viewers among those who don't have a particular interest in politics, and with the mainstream (and those who float along without a strong compass) the wind blows left. I think this is abundantly clear. I read Bernard Goldberg's book BIAS years ago and his argument was quite compelling (I know he is a Fox contributor which may kill his credibility for some). I talk to young people (many, every day) and it shocks me how many voted for Obama because he was "cool". I respect thoughtful opinions on both sides but I don't believe the playing field is level. Clearly, the right has a messaging problem. I think it was Lindsey Graham who called them a party of old, angry, white guys. I am all 3 of these, although not a republican myself. I do have to admit that if I had to choose, I would go to the republican side due to my fiscal conservatism, although I am bothered by many characteristics attached, rightly or wrongly, to the party.

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  • alfOctober 22, 2013 - 7:00 am

    "msNBC much more hard-edged" Fox broadcasts things like "Obama has a deep seated hatred of white people" and a "Kenyan outlook" (or something very close to that). That's offensive stuff, playing on racial fears of their audience. It's laughable that an organization run by a GOP political operative, that staffs up with gop presidential nominees, and cheerleads for republicans in its "hard news" is considered an offset for the "liberal media." The "liberal media" is in fact corporate media with an interest in pursuing the latest in sensationalistic stories with no loyalty to party, only ratings. The "liberal media" is an invention of the rightwing to influence the networks and print media to report everything with either a pro gop spin or a neutral take, regardless of the facts. Meanwhile, Fox, the ny post, Washington times etc hammer away with little restraint or consideration for journalistic standards or attempts at neutrality. “fiscal conservative” Greg, you blindly eat up the GOP rhetoric on deficits and choose to ignore that this rhetoric is part of their political strategy of obstruction when they are in the minority. Once in power they revert back to Reagan and George W Bush-style fiscal profligacy. Oh, and their latest reckless game-playing just cost us $24 billion in lost productivity. All to pander to their base and prove they are sticking it to Obama. Worked great for the Ted Cruz’s of the party, anyway. Unfortunately for all of us, I think Fox knows its audience well, and it is the same gop base the Ted Cruz's are playing to and that runs the party.

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  • October 22, 2013 - 7:48 am

    ""msNBC much more hard-edged" Fox broadcasts things like "Obama has a deep seated hatred of white people" and a "Kenyan outlook" (or something very close to that). " Obviously Alf doesn't watch Fox yet he thinks he's expert enough to critique it.

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  • October 22, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    Please, Chris "I have a Tingle going down my leg" Matthews - tingling for President Obama - is no pillar to Journalism. And then MSNBC claims that the Tea Party is "racist" while they show a Tea Party member with a rifle... well, they cropped out that the person in the picture was ... drum roll... Black! Yes, the home of Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton.

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  • alfOctober 23, 2013 - 6:05 pm

    true, I don't recommend watching fox, very bad for your mental health not to mention your IQ. Here's a clip though if you doubt that they have talkers who say stuff like "Obama Has A Deep-Seated Hatred For White People." youtube.com/watch?v=MIZDnpPafaA

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  • greg johnsonOctober 23, 2013 - 8:37 am

    alf, I disagree with the republican's shutdown strategy. I agree with McCain that it was a "fool's errand". However, if you think the deficit situation is "rhetoric", you don't understand what's going on. Just because the rating agencies say we're OK does not mean we are. Look at what was rated AAA during the brewing of the financial crisis. WE ARE NOT OK!!! Money printing and borrowing has continued our endless addiction to a lifestyle we can't afford, as individuals, and as a country. THIS WILL END BADLY!!!

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  • alfOctober 23, 2013 - 5:54 pm

    Greg, Not saying the deficit is a totally made up issue. I'm saying the gop doesn't really care about it despite their rhetoric, as proven by their record when they are in control. This latest shutdown fiasco was not over the deficit... they couldn't keep straight the multiple, changing reasons they kept coming up with for why they were doing it. Republicans say they want smaller government. That may be true in a few instances e.g., they would like to shut down the EPA to pay off their polluting campaign contributors. But they don't want to significantly alter the major parts of the budget. Why? Their voters are too dependent, disproportionately so, on entitlements. They of course like everyone want lower taxes, and like most voters they also do not want their services cut. Also, the sky is not falling. The deficit is way down and going lower. The debt is stabilizing. The deficit is not the only thing that matters, we need to focus on growth and future growth, too, which will help make the debt manageable.

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  • greg johnsonOctober 23, 2013 - 7:04 pm

    Alf, I think many republicans do have a sincere, and warrented, concern over the deficit. It appeared OK in 2000 (although I think the signs were there for those who were forward looking) but Bush ran it up a lot (I'm not defending that) and Obama was left with a mess. However, as a guy who was dealt a horrible hand, he is playing it completely wrong. This is not the time to go for Utopia. This is the time for crisis management. THE SKY IS FALLING. Look at Japan. We are following their path but the difference is that US investors are not nationalists like the Japanese. They will not buy US debt for zero return just to keep the country afloat. They would buy war bonds from Bin Laden if they paid well. I believe we are in a crisis. The debt and deficit predictions by the CBO (and they, like everybody, are over optimistic) paint a bleak picture. The liberal economists (neo-keynesians) are wrong. We can not grow our way out of this. College kids are graduating with a ton of debt and no jobs. Unfunded liabilities are in the 60-90 trillion range. You say the republicans won't do entitlement reform. As I recall, Romney and Ryan ran on that platform and suffered for their honesty while Obama reassured seniors (I would call it an outright lie) that everything is fine with SS and medicare. I am not a partisan but we are in trouble and Obama is not taking a path that leads toward recovery.

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  • alfOctober 24, 2013 - 7:18 am

    Greg, Good line about buying war bonds from bin Laden. Not trying to be partisan here but it did remind me of Eric Cantor shorting Treasuries while the 2011 debt ceiling shenanigans were taking place. Still find that hard to believe. Take off that 49ers helmet you’ve been wearing for protection when you go outside. 10 years from now the forecast is that debt will be lower than it is now as a percentage of GDP. Larry Summers recently estimated that a small increase in growth of 0.2 percent per year handles the long term debt. Eating our seed corn, so to speak, by slashing away at R and D, the NIH, infrastructure spending etc. may lower government costs in the short run, but they make us all poorer in the long run. And these discretionary spending cuts don’t even address the reason for the long term debt projections, which is mainly medical cost inflation. Anyone panicking about debt projections multiple decades into the future based on an assumption of ever increasing medical costs should be pushing for single payer to get our costs closer to the rest of the world, improving the competiveness of US businesses and taking care of the debt at the same time. Interestingly, around two-thirds of Republican voters believe the budget can be balanced without touching Social Security and Medicare, and about the same number don’t want to see any big changes to these programs. Could be related to some of the GOP rhetoric:

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  • alfOctober 24, 2013 - 7:21 am

    Greg, here's the quotes: 2010 attack ad: “California seniors are worried. Barbara Boxer voted to cut spending on Medicare benefits by $500 billion”======Sept. 2010: Boehner says one of his top priorities was to "repeal the $550 billion worth of Medicare cuts...”======Oct. 2012, 1st debate, Romney: “I can’t understand how you can cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients of Medicare.... I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.”======April 2013: “National Republican Congressional Committee chairman accused Obama of “attacking seniors” and "trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors"”.. The Financial Times (2012) in its endorsement of Obama, on Romney: “His wishlist includes an aspiration to raise Pentagon spending by a fifth while cutting everyone’s taxes and still somehow balancing the books.”======The Economist (2012) in its endorsement of Obama, on Romney: “Yet far from being the voice of fiscal prudence, Mr Romney wants to start with huge tax cuts (which will disproportionately favour the wealthy), while dramatically increasing defence spending. Together those measures would add $7 trillion to the ten-year deficit. He would balance the books through eliminating loopholes (a good idea, but he will not specify which ones) and through savage cuts to programmes that help America’s poor (a bad idea, which will increase inequality still further).”======The Economist’s (2012) Obama endorsement: “America was in a downward economic spiral when he took over, with its banks and carmakers in deep trouble and unemployment rising at the rate of 800,000 a month. His responses—an aggressive stimulus, bailing out General Motors and Chrysler, putting the banks through a sensible stress test and forcing them to raise capital (so that they are now in much better shape than their European peers)—helped avert a Depression.”

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  • alfOctober 24, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Greg, had some trouble getting the comment posted, here's the rest: 2010 attack ad: “California seniors are worried. Barbara Boxer voted to cut spending on Medicare benefits by $500 billion”======Sept. 2010: Boehner says one of his top priorities was to "repeal the $550 billion worth of Medicare cuts...”======Oct. 2012, 1st debate, Romney: “I can’t understand how you can cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients of Medicare.... I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.”======April 2013: “National Republican Congressional Committee chairman accused Obama of “attacking seniors” and "trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors"”..

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  • Greg JohnsonOctober 24, 2013 - 10:56 am

    URL:http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000200765 Check this out Alf, and if it doesn't load, look up "Rick Santelli "and "wimpy" to get the transcript (or video if you like). I think he's an extremely smart guy who has great insight. Look at the projections using the CBOs own numbers. Instead of taking info from The Economist, look for what's going on economically to real experts (Mohamed El Erian sp?, who manages a few trillion in bonds, Bill Gross, Kyle Bass, who cleaned up on the financial crisis because he saw it coming when Bernanke said he saw no bubble in real estate, Peter Schiff who called the crash in '05 or '06 in Crashproof). People who got it right before all say the same thing, and with the demographics, the debt, the world economy, not to mentions political gridlock and lack of will to solve the problem, the writing is on the wall. I hope your rosy outlook is correct but I'm as sure as anyone can be about the future that it is not.

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  • alfOctober 24, 2013 - 1:49 pm

    Greg, I'm familiar with the names you list except for Bass. Schiff got a lot of publicity for his prediction on the housing bubble which was accurate but he's also been predicting runaway inflation for years now. Krugman on the other hand also wrote about housing bubble at least as early as Schiff but he's been right on inflation staying very low, also. And it's not necessarily the case that anyone who made these predictions is in agreement about the prescription for the economy going forward as Krugman believes austerity is self-defeating. I'll look for the Santelli video when I have a chance but not a big fan of cable talking heads. Also, don't knock The Economist. They predicted the housing bubble and crash before most everyone else and reported on it repeatedly, in great detail.

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  • greg johnsonOctober 24, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    People disagree about future inflation. There is an economist named Harry Dent whose made some great observations, and also blown some big time. He says we will be fighting deflation like Japan. I think the CPI is a total joke. Inflation is deliberately understated for 2 reasons: 1) It keeps people buying US debt, and 2) It allows the Fed to keep printing money. Could either or these occur with a stated inflation rate that was true (near 10 percent). Another quote from Rick Santelli was (paraphrasing somewhat) "don't just believe the economy you see on the news, believe the economy you smell, feel, and touch. In other words, in your life is inflation running at 2 percent? Not in mine. Look up CPI on wiki and look under "hedonics". There is a total con game going on in which they tell us we are getting more "income" due to changes in technology. "That''s a $10,000 computer, because that is what it would have cost in 1990, converted to today's dollars". That's the basic scam. They can titrate CPI to any chosen value to do what they wish (sell bonds and print money). Also, inflation is somewhat tamed by the fact that everybody is sitting on money. They could give us each a million dollars and if we put in under the mattress there would be no inflation. Real inflation is here and will get much worse. The Fed has no exit strategy and is terrified at the idea of winding down QE. They have painted themselves into a corner and made a horrible mess. They have pushed a stock market bubble (CNBC.com today--record leveraging in stock purchases) and this will devastate a lot of people. We are in a mess!!

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  • October 24, 2013 - 9:22 pm

    Greg, good, solid points. The GOP has shown that they have some stomach for deficit reduction - look at sequestration - but the Dems seem to want to spend at every turn in the road. You're right about the many GOPers being sincere - what, 30 % of them voted for Ross Perot! Fact is, what do we spend every year in interest on the debt. $500 B per year?! This is with historically low interest rates. If rates go to 6 or 7 percent, and they will ... then interest payments alone go to $800B or $900B per year. But the Dems seem oblivious to this. Spend, spend, spend. And the most recent example of this is ObamaCare, as massive new reorganization of 1/7th of our economy, and they can't even build a basic website in 3 and 1/2 years!!!

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  • alfOctober 25, 2013 - 5:51 am

    It's true the one part of the budget the gop wants to cut is anything going to the poors. Even if it doesn't matter much for the long term debt. Subsidies for farm corporations and Pentagon waste they are all for. Their position on entitlements was best summarized by the tea party sign: "keep your government hands off my medicare." Sounds like you're very happy with the gop health plan of Boehnercare - go to the emergency room and then into bankruptcy. If you have a preexisting condition too bad, the insurance companies need to pay their executives after all. If you have a chronic condition, need chemo or radiation etc, better have a bake sale, it's not our problem.

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  • alfOctober 25, 2013 - 6:02 am

    Greg, You must be on social security looking for that 10 percent cola. If inflation is 10 percent now then it was about 20 percent under the last administration. Asking if the official inflation rate “feels right” to individuals is of limited usefulness when your personal rate of inflation depends on what goods and services you happen to buy. Need lots of healthcare in a given year and have a couple kids in college? Your personal rate of inflation will be higher than the official inflation rate for that year. The people that have been predicting hyperinflation for years made those predictions knowing the factors you mention to explain why they were wrong. That’s stuff on the margin anyway. Of course we’re at such low inflation levels now that a reversion to the mean will happen eventually. Or we could be Japan beset by decades of deflation. Or we could be Germany in the 1920s carting money around in wheelbarrows. Or a meteorite could hit tomorrow. Many scenarios are possible but one thing is true for sure, after a major economic shock people are more open to believe the worst when in fact we need to continue to make reforms and invest in our human capital, not panic and do stuff like say we will stop paying our bills to balance the budget overnight.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 22, 2013 - 8:18 pm

    "I think Fox is an admittedly conservative narrative but of varying degrees. I would call msNBC much more hard-edged, with unabashed fawning over Obama and severe rhetoric against the right." ........ If so, that may be one of the reasons why MSNBC's ratings are so lousy. I am more-less a moderate. I cannot stand for a second to listen to Al Sharpton. It shocks me that MSNBC has him on. But Sharpton, while perhaps a more reprehensible human being, is no more of a leftie and Sean Hannity is a rightie. Neither of these types tries to appeal to the 60 percent of us in the middle. ......... My main point about Fox and conservative radio programs, though, is that they have won good ratings by appealing to the Republican right, especially on social issues, even though some of that conservativism has effectively harmed the Republican brand among moderates and groups (like Latinos and gays) who feel threatened by it. ........ I am not trying to say that Fox or even Limbaugh have caused the Republicans to move too far to the right on these social issues. I think there are other factors--one of which is simply a backlash to the Democrats' embrace of liberal social causes--led by the fact that the Deep South has become more and more Republican, the South has always been socially conservative, and so it was inevitable that the GOP would follow that path. ........ But as it has, the leading conservative voices on radio and TV have made a fortune just appealing to that segment of the population, and it appears to me it is harming the Republican brand nationally, especially among people who might otherwise be attracted to smaller government ideas.

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  • MarkOctober 22, 2013 - 10:26 pm

    Rich, good points, spoek without malice. Thank you. Whie I share some of Hannity's beliefs, his repetition and whining are off putting. Bill O'Reilly is more my speed, though sometimes he is too wishy washy gooey for me. Fact is, Latinos are conservative in many ways... pro family, ppro children, God fearing, and hard working. But the lure of government handouts, free health care, and Amnesty is hard to beat.

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  • MarkOctober 21, 2013 - 10:27 pm

    Talk about a one-sided article that misses massive underlying issues. But I get it, Debra: Democrats good, GOP bad. I get your Simpleton viewpoint Fact is you completely ignore 4 huge issues. 1. Gerrymandering is a huge player here, with politicos on both sides creating wacky district lines so that they can skate into office with limited competition. So they go far right or far left, with few problems. 2. I think it was Democrat Tip O'Neil who said that any major piece of legislation needed to have 70 votes in the Senate to be a workable law. Think Medicare. Think Social Security. Broad support. Obamacare? 60 votes. 3. Keynesian economic policies have again failed the Democrats, just like they did to FDR. Obama has yet to pass a budget, he's added $8 Trillion to our national debt, and the $1 Trillion Stimulus package wasn't successful. All Obama seems able to do is spend, spend, spend, and play politics. He doesn't even work hard, and the rollout of the disastrous Obamacare website is just another example of failed Big Government. Don't liberals read the newspapers and see the more liberal that EU countries are, the more problems they have? (Greece, Spain, France, Portugal.) 4. Obama now had an approval rating equal to George W. Bush, and just above Presidnet Nixon. I'm surprised its that high, given his unending string of controversies and bungled policies. Heck, our President has even lost the support of Oprah, with an assist by The Night Stalker (millionaire staffer Valerie Jarrett from Chicago). Yes, the Tea Party pushed the GOP into this fight, but now that its over, we see the utter incompetence of the Obamacare rollout, given away on a no-bid contract to a Canadian firm that failed in a similar venture in Canada! Let me guess, did they donate money to Bill Clinton's Library, or will they donate to Obama's Library? Talk about a world-class managerial failure! P.S. Your gratuitious reference to the KKK tells me you are swimming in the shallow end of the pool. But thanks for trying. We need serious debate about serious issues, like stabilizing the funding base for SS and Medicare. And the increase in the debt limit is something the GOP can haggle over, they'll get more support on that issue.

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  • alfOctober 22, 2013 - 6:18 am

    1. Gerrymandering? Republicans seem to have the edge in gerrymandering having received 1.5 million fewer votes in the House of Reps. in 2012. Also, Democrats who occupy districts dominated by democratic voters lack the willingness to utilize the extreme tactics of gop politicians who have decided it’s ok to risk the credit worthiness of the US over laws they don’t like. 2. 70 votes? I thought gop senators’ unprecedented requirement that nearly every bill get 60 votes was a pretty tight chokepoint but I guess that’s not enough gridlock for you. Note that Bush’s medicare prescription drug coverage, along with a bunch of other legislation, is null and void then. 3. Keynesian etc etc? sorry the stimulus was not $1 trillion. Look it up. funny you act as though the stimulus was a response to nothing in particular. I know republicans like to promote the idea of the weakness of the US, however that “we suck,” “we’re Greece” philosophy doesn’t fit the facts. For example, the credit rating agency Fitch in its recent warning said that the US economy was doing better than its peers. That’s even with republican sabotage. Obama “doesn’t work hard”? that seems pretty far from the truth. were you satisfied that a certain hard workin’ texan spent a third of his presidency on vacation? Actually that answers itself; the country was undoubtedly better off when he goofed off rather than dreaming up new wars to pursue to demonstrate his steely resolve. You must have missed “schoolhouse rock”.the president doesn’t pass budgets, he submits his budget request every year, then the gop house figures out the opposite of whatever he recommends is so they can appeal to their know-nothing base by showing them the republicans in the hosue stand 100 percent against whatever the president wants, regardless of whether they thought it was a good idea yesterday. 4. Oprah, libraries, polls? Rasmussen has Obama at 50 percent approval today. Please compare with approval ratings fro the republican party. I think I heard Oprah is getting a show on Fox so her rabid anti-Obama views can reach an audience that will really appreciate them. Little known fact: besides its primary mission of whitewashing the entirely preventable iraq war snafu, the GW Bush library has several employees tasked solely with helping Bush to raise the level of his reading comprehension from 5th to 8th grade. Aim high, that’s the staff motto. RE serious debate about issues, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you expect that from the GOP. They’re too busy pandering to their most extreme primary voters in the reddest districts to worry about governing.

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  • John TroidlOctober 22, 2013 - 6:20 am

    Alf, this is great! Keep contributing here! PS Loved the part about the "aim high" policy of the Bush tutors.

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  • MarkOctober 22, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    Alf, reread what I wrote – it was veteran Democratic leader Tip O’Neil who said that you need 70 votes to pass a major piece of new legislation. You need bipartisan support, or you will have ongoing gridlock and problems. Like what we have now. Obama rammed it down our throats with his backdoor politics, lies, and payoffs to cronies, and now we have continued squabbling. Money doesn’t grow on tress, and Obama was playing math games (or lying) when he said the cost would be under $1 Trillion. Last I checked, it is over $2 Trillion, and all of his major promises have been proven false. Costs have skyrocketed, people are losing their health care plans, and there will still be 30 or 40 million uninsured. 3. Yes, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 spent $831 Billion (I$1 Trillion is shorthand). The Stimulus was a failure at jump starting the economy, just like FDR’s policies failed. The Free Market would do far, far better, and much more efficiently. Yes, look at the daily White House log, the President starts his day usually around 9:30 or 10:00, and doesn’t even read his intelligence briefings! But he plays a lot of golf, and watches a lot of sports. It’s as if the Office is beneath him. (Donald Trump is at his desk every day at 7 AM.) Check out the book “The Amateur” by Edward Klein. 4. Alf, I think you’re going into whacky land. For the record, George W. Bush had a higher GPA in college than Al Gore. If I recall, Gore dropped out several times, but he did makes millions peddling Global Warming.

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  • alfOctober 23, 2013 - 6:59 pm

    If you're going to toss out the charge of "liar" left and right you should probably be more careful with your so called facts. “doesn’t even read his intelligence briefings” is flat out wrong. “Whacky land”? Can’t disagree when you cite Edward Klein as a source. I’m sure national laughing stock D Trump loves this guy’s “scholarship” too. By the way, when will Trump’s investigative team in Hawaii be revealing The Truth about the president’s birth certificate? I’ve been eagerly awaiting that for a year or two now. Remember his cries on election night “this is not a democracy” and “time for revolution”! A true man of the people. Hope he runs for president.

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  • October 24, 2013 - 9:15 pm

    On Oct 21, 2013, Obama and Biden had their daily briefing at 10:30 AM; on the 22nd it was at noon; on the 23rd it was at 10:45; and today it was 9:45 AM. You can get this at the WH website. He surely isn't the workaholic Bill Clinton was.

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  • October 25, 2013 - 6:26 am

    Alf states: "It's true the one part of the budget the gop wants to cut is anything going to the poors." Wow, "the poors"? I have to hand it to you Alf don't seem to care how stupid you sound.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 25, 2013 - 9:36 am

    Greg, do you realize that within one post you contradicted your own argument? First you say that we have a “true inflation rate near 10 percent.” You add to that by saying that “real inflation is here and will get much worse.” But in between those sentiments you wrote, “Inflation is somewhat tamed by the fact that everybody is sitting on money.” …….. If everyone is sitting on his money, that means—by definition—that we don’t have price inflation. The very definition of inflation is rapidly rising prices due to the fact that no one is saving, everyone is employing their dollars (before they become worth less). As my friend Milton Friedman wrote in the early 1950s, inflation comes when you have too much money chasing too few goods. But you tell us that everyone is sitting on his money. That would be the opposite of Dr. Friedman’s observation and is the opposite of your prior claims.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 25, 2013 - 9:37 am

    I’d like to discuss in specific one of your inflation claims: “Real inflation is here and will get much worse.” You very well may be right that inflation (in the future) will be much worse. (You are completely wrong that we currently have high inflation.) I have long thought that the great threat to the value of the dollar has been our huge trade deficit, especially since the late-1990s. Every year since 1976 we have imported more in goods and services than we have exported. That is natural, because foreigners hold the dollar as a reserve currency. Yet fom 1999-2012, our annual trade deficits have been enormous and staggering. Cumulatively, we have given trillions of dollars to foreigners and they have returned to us their goods. The risk then is that they will start spending those dollars and that will bring on a global inflation (“too many dollars chasing too few goods”) and it will cause the traded value of the dollar to drop precipitously, making everything we buy, especially imports, much more expensive. Sebastian Edwards, an economist published by the NBER, suggests that we are due for “a 21-to-28 percent depreciation in the value of the trade-weighted dollar and a considerable slowdown of the American economy. And that may be a best case scenario. He warns that the damage inflicted on the U.S. economy by a sharper and/or more immediate correction in the current account deficit could actually be much worse.” …….. Yet, there is reason to believe that such fears about future inflation and a depreciated dollar are unwarranted: Low interest rates on the 30-year t-bill. If the market had true fears of future inflation, or even a one-time massive dollar depreciation, the interest rate on long-term treasuries would be much higher than they are, and the gap between short-term and long-term rates would be growing. Neither is the case. The gap has stayed small, and 30-year treasuries are paying a modest 3.2% interest rate, which is lower than the auction prices for the same notes a few years ago. It’s possible that the buyers of t-bills are unduly optimistic about the future. But that undue optimism cannot last forever. And yet there has been no sign of a crack in it for the past 25 and more years, even though our trade deficit grew tremendously from 1999-2012.

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  • Greg JohnsonOctober 25, 2013 - 11:52 am

    Rich, I don't believe I contradicted myself. What I said is that there is high inflation (which I see everyday in my life) and yet it would be much higher if people weren't sitting on so much cash. I believe the future will reveal the mess that the Fed is making with what some are calling "QE infinity". I predicted this when the taper talk started. And, speaking of the Fed, they are the reason that rates are low. They are buying the vast majority of US long term debt with funny money. As long as they print money and buy US debt with it, the rates will stay low (note the quick jump in May just at the mention of tapering-what happens when they really go through with it?). Also, markets will stay fat and happy as long as the Fed keeps printing. BUT, when the stop we will see a lot of pain. As I said before, I hope I'm wrong!

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 25, 2013 - 4:49 pm

    Greg: "What I said is that there is high inflation (which I see everyday in my life)." ........ Can you explain how you are seeing inflation in your life, which, implicitly, is unaccounted for by the CPI?

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  • greg johnsonOctober 25, 2013 - 7:06 pm

    Rich, it's true that it is difficult to track "true inflation". I am not normally a conspiracy theorist. However, it is clear to me that the US government would be screwed and they couldn't print and borrow. It is also clear to me that prices of anything (except technology) do not decrease over time. That brings me to another point. The CPI uses "hedonics" which, as I understand it, allows them to use technological advances to qualify as income to us. I write and record music. By this theory, my laptop can do as much as a $30,000 studio could in 1980. Converting 1980 dollars to current, my laptop is worth $60,000 ($59,000 of which we can call an increase in income for me, since the laptop and programs cost $1,000). I call that bogus. It is a way to fudge the CPI. I saw an article on the internet that calculated EPI (everyday price index) which runs about 11 percent. That jibes much better with my real world observations, and I do pay close attention. Another point: CPI counts mortgage costs. The Fed pushing rates down has allowed all homeowners to save an average of 2-300/month. This masks other inflation. BUT, it's a trick that can't be repeated (can't get 0 or negative mortgage rates). All my beliefs and observations point to one thing: BIG TROUBLE. It is possible we can stretch this string a long way for a long time (the US is currently too big to fail) but the writing is on the wall. As I said before, and I am completely sincere in this, I hope I'm wrong. I have 2 wonderful children and I want the best for them and their generation but it is not where logic (at least my logic) points.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 25, 2013 - 8:49 pm

    Greg: "It is also clear to me that prices of anything (except technology) do not decrease over time." ........ You seem to have a poor understanding of the difference between real and nominal prices. Real is what counts. And, if you understood that, you would realize that the real prices of most commodities decline over time. That is a part of the reason the standard of living keeps rising. Milk, for example, is far cheaper today than it was 50 years ago. Same with eggs. Or pork. Or ground beef. All those products take a smaller and smaller share of ana typical person's labor rate. ........ "That brings me to another point. The CPI uses hedonics, which, as I understand it, allows them to use technological advances to qualify as income to us." ........ It's not "technological" advances. It is quality differences. Common sense suggest you have to account for quality changes to compare two things, whether the quality improves or declines. Take cars, for example. A 1978 Ford Pinto was a piece of dreck. A 2013 Ford Fusion is, by comparison, many times better in every respect. So if you don't account for the better safety features, the better performing engine, the better comfort and on and on, you will misstate price inflation. To correct for quality improvements, you have to use a hedonic regression model. At the same time, hedonic regression is used to account for lower quality, as well. ........ "I saw an article on the internet that calculated EPI (everyday price index) which runs about 11 percent. That jibes much better with my real world observations, and I do pay close attention." ........ Considering the share of disposable income which most households use for energy, transportation, housing (rental rates), food and utilities, and since all of those are actual components of the BLS model for CPI, I will call bogus on this internet model you refer to. ........ "Another point: CPI counts mortgage costs." ........ That is incorrect. The CPI's housing component, officially called "Shelter," counts rents. (For ownership housing, CPI counts what you could get by renting it out.) Shelter makes up 32.776% of the All-Urban CPI. It has 5 subcomponents: Rent of primary residence, 5.930%; Housing at school, excluding board, 0.154%; Other lodging away from home including hotels and motels, 2.493%; Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence, 23.830%; and Tenants' and household insurance, 0.369%. ........ "The Fed pushing rates down has allowed all homeowners to save an average of 2-300/month. This masks other inflation." ........ No, that has no direct effect at all on the CPI, because mortgage is not a component of CPI. (In theory, if the people are not saving the money they save from lower mortgage costs, but spending it, then that should drive up the prices of what they are buying, and that would be reflected in a higher CPI.) What counts for shelter is the cost of rent. Further, your logic on how market interest rates are set is very confused. The Fed's policies clearly have an effect, especially on the real rates of interest. But the Fed has no control over what nominal interest rates are. They are determined by billions of borrowers and lenders who deal in dollars. And, as you know, or should know, the nominal rate is the real rate plus the inflation rate. So if the Fed were actually driving up inflation into the territory you think it is, then nominal interest rates today should be at least 10%. But they are closer to 2% for most short term loans, and around 4% for riskier long term loans (like mortgages). Those rates, by definition, are nominal and account for inflation, no matter what the BLS tells us that the CPI is.

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  • greg johnsonOctober 27, 2013 - 11:39 am

    Wow, it looks like I'm the latest victim of a RIch Rifkin smackdown!! First of all Rich, my apology for the incorrect understanding of the mortgage being included. I was wrong. With respect to hedonics, it is intimately tied to technology. My example about the virtual studio in a laptop is extreme but conceptually correct. Yours about the car also involves a lot of technological evolution. There are things you can measure (calories, volume, etc.), and things you can't measure, "quality" for example. What is a unit of quality currently trading for on the exchange?? I am not alone in questioning the validity of CPI. The calculation has been changed over time from the more concrete basket of goods to the more elusive "quality" concept. Some, including myself, are not inclined to believe that the government has no self interest with respect to these alterations which have markedly lowered CPI increases. If I have an alcoholic friend who comes over and takes all my whiskey to bring home "for my own good", I am not likely to believe him. If the government tells me how well I'm doing financially, while I feel like I'm being squeezed more than ever, I'm not likely to believe them, especially when I know we are all screwed if they cannot continue to borrow and print (which they couldn't do at low rates if CPI was rising fast). So, you can drink the Kool aid if you wish, I'll take water. Also, Rich, the Fed does not set the rates on bonds, but when they are buying the vast majority of the long term US treasuries, they have a huge presence in the market. If there was an investment group of Buffett, Ikahn, Gates, and several other billionaires who were known to be buying 75% of all NYSE stocks, and they announced that they were going to stop, what do you think would happen to stock prices? SO, the Fed effectively controls the rates, thus the explanation of nearly 100 basis point increase in the 10 year after Bernanke used the "T" word on May 22nd. So, you can buy into some government black box of "experts" telling you what the value is of the goods you consume, and you can believe that low rates mean everything is fine, as does record highs in the market, and I'll go along hoping that I am the one who doesn't get it. As Paul McCartney wrote "Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong".

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