Wednesday, July 12, 2006

That's A Joke, Son...I Say, That's A Joke

foghorn leghornIs there anything more insufferable than watching Bush parade around with his little banty rooster chest puffed just because he thinks he’s scored a point in the War on Truth? Here he is, crowing over the “shrinking” of the deficit:

“Tax relief is working, the economy is growing, revenues are up, the deficits are down,” Mr. Bush said, “and all across this great land, Americans are realizing their dreams and building better futures for their families.”
Famed social analyst Dan Bartlett, who I’ll bet the farm has never had to worry about whether to pay utility bills or go to the doctor, is all aglow with Greenspanishness:

“People are personally pleased with their economic position but are anxious about the future,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, calling the shoe factory visit “a real-life example that our economy is growing and prospering.”
Yet ordinary people (read, the bottom 4/5ths of the economic stratum) stubbornly continue to defy Our Leader’s orders to put on a happy face. Could be they’ve finally hit that financial wall of zero equity after all those loans taken out in the febrile days of skyrocketing real estate values. Could be they’ve finally noticed, especially after maxing out the credit avenues, that they haven’t gotten a decent raise in years and their ability to continue buying crap has been severely cramped, not to mention their ability to purchase necessities like gas, utilities, health care, and food, whose rising costs have had the Fed raising interest rates like crazy. Could be they’ve looked around at housing and realized that they can’t afford to buy a house, or move into a nicer one, or rent in the neighborhood they want, anymore. Could even be they actually remember the House and Senate selling them out to the captains of the finance industry with the passage of the Bankruptcy Bill, because they have found themselves skating dangerously close to insolvency. Despite all this, the plutocrats scratch their well-coiffed heads:

“In addition to Mr. Bush’s appearances, other administration officials, including Rob Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, were also giving interviews and making public appearances.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating to us that the American people don’t recognize how well the economy is doing,” Mr. Hubbard said.”
Just as it’s frustrating to them that the American people don’t recognize how well the adventure in Iraq is going. How many times do we have to tell you, people??

Calculated Risk comes to the rescue with his own analysis and links to reports by others. As he notes:

“The Bush Administration routinely overestimates the deficit and then touts their "improvement".”
Keep an eye on this, because it’s going to be used to segue into more talk about axing Social Security. The administration is readily admitting the future is bleak:

“While this is good news today, the greatest threat continues to come from unsustainable spending on entitlement programs," Rob Portman, the White House budget director, said at a briefing for reporters. "Left unchecked, they would take over the entire federal budget in 30 years. This is a problem that is not being resolved by the good news I'm reporting today."

To document his point, the Office of Management and Budget distributed a chart showing that spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are projected to increase from about 10 percent of GDP in 2005 to 20 percent of GDP by 2070 -- and those estimates assume a slackening in the cost of health care. Fixing the problem, Portman said, will require making a choice between "dramatically" increasing taxes or curtailing future benefits.”
That creature isn’t dead yet; it’s going to rise again, whether before the election on the advice of Rove to “attack opponents where they are strongest”, or afterward, when the possible negative fallout won’t harm the hegemony, I don’t know. But it’s coming, and this will be its battering ram.

UPDATE: Like I said.

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