Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stepping Up

Once again, after everyone else has not only made their positions clear but worked through their tantrums until exhausted like three-year-olds on a sugar bender, President Obama has publicly stepped into the debt ceiling fray with his press conference today. He's once again being entirely reasonable (too much for some) in what Ezra Klein believes indicates the failure of negotiations:
The conventional wisdom is that now this fight moves to the people. I’d put it differently. Now this fight moves to the consequences. Neither side is going to give in the face of purely rhetorical salvos. The White House is expecting Republicans to accuse them of wanting to raise taxes. The Republicans are expecting the White House to accuse them of putting the interests of large corporations and wealthy donors in front of the needs of seniors, children and the poor. Both parties have seen the poll numbers behind their positions. If a few news conferences were going to be sufficient to end this, it would never have started.

What the two parties are really doing is trying to position themselves politically to survive the consequences of their failure. We don’t yet know if we’ll get to the point where the market will panic, but it could. We’re very likely to get to the point where we have to stop funding certain government services, which could mean as little as delaying payments to military contractors and hospitals or as much as halting Social Security checks. Either way, the public is likely to ignore the political breakdown until the consequences begin. At that point, both parties are hoping they will have framed the debate such that the electorate’s fury falls squarely on the other’s shoulders. That’s what today’s news conference was about.
With the GOP leadership unwilling, in the face of their infantile Tea Party wing and Koch-level corporate sponsorship, to cut tax loopholes for the wealthy and their corporations -- let alone actually solve the problem significantly by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich -- there may have to be a rattled financial market to make them act like adults.

And that's the most pointed theme of the Obama presser -- that the GOP is acting like spoiled children. My favorite part:
The White House has been positioning Obama for months as the grown-up willing to make th tough decisiosn, but to make the point again today, Obama pointed to the homework habits of his daughters, Sasha (10) and Malia (13), and suggested that they’re better at completing assignments than Congressional Republicans.

They don't wait until the night before. They're not pulling all-nighters....You know, Congress can do the same thing. If you know you have to do something, just do it.

And further delay, Obama suggested, should not be seen as Republicans standing on principle. Instead, he painted them as cowardly avoiding a difficult situation.

August 2 is a very important date, and there's no reason we can't get this done now. We know what the options are out there. This is not a technical problem anymore. This is a matter of Congress biting the bullet.
Time to start turning the tables. If you don't believe increasing wealth disparity is changing the nature of America, then maybe you need to hear it from Advertising Age itself:
The rich -- and marketers who cater to them -- just keep getting richer as everyone else struggles through a so-called recovery. That fact of economics could reshape marketing strategies this year, and for years to come.

Last year, the only growth in spending came from people making $100,000 or more annually, said David Calhoun, CEO of Nielsen Co., speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation's annual Re:Think conference in March. If anything, the disconnect between the haves and the have-lesses has only kept widening since. The ConsumerEdge Research monthly tracker, based on surveys of more than 2,000 consumers, helps illustrate this vividly.
Like catastrophic climate change and the poisoning of our planet's oceans, I fear it may be too late to reverse the momentum.

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