jazzoLOG: The Bush Economy Is Burning Us    
 The Bush Economy Is Burning Us11 comments
picture1 Jun 2004 @ 03:35, by Richard Carlson

The use of uselessness: to keep my Way.
In this secluded life I move toward truly feeling.
Mulberry and hemp, deep in rain and dew,
A mountain finch, I've built here half a life, at least.
The village drums may urge from time to time,
The fishing boats, each one floating, light.
With bramble staff I take my white head walking.
Heart makes tracks here; here's purity,
In thought, in action.

---Tu Fu

One of the elders said:
Either fly as far as you can from men, or else, laughing at the world and the men who are in it, make yourself a fool in many things.

---Thomas Merton

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.

---Thomas Huxley

Protestors outside Halliburton headquarters

Got time to catch up on some holiday weekend news?

TIME From the Magazine
Sunday, May. 30, 2004
The Paper Trail
Did Cheney Okay a Deal?

Vice President Dick Cheney was a guest on NBC's Meet the Press last September when host Tim Russert brought up Halliburton. Citing the company's role in rebuilding Iraq as well as Cheney's prior service as Halliburton's CEO, Russert asked, "Were you involved in any way in the awarding of those contracts?" Cheney's reply: "Of course not, Tim ... And as Vice President, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the [Army] Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the Federal Government."

Cheney's relationship with Halliburton has been nothing but trouble since he left the company in 2000. Both he and the company say they have no ongoing connections. But TIME has obtained an internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official—whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon—that raises questions about Cheney's arm's-length policy toward his old employer. Dated March 5, 2003, the e-mail says "action" on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. The e-mail says Douglas Feith, a high-ranking Pentagon hawk, got the "authority to execute RIO," or Restore Iraqi Oil, from his boss, who is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. RIO is one of several large contracts the U.S. awarded to Halliburton last year.

The e-mail says Feith approved arrangements for the contract "contingent on informing WH [White House] tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's [Vice President's] office." Three days later, the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton the contract, without seeking other bids. TIME located the e-mail among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems says the Vice President "has played no role whatsoever in government-contract decisions involving Halliburton" since 2000. A Pentagon spokesman says the e-mail means merely that "in anticipation of controversy over the award of a sole-source contract to Halliburton, we wanted to give the Vice President's staff a heads-up."

Cheney is linked to his old firm in at least one other way. His recently filed 2003 financial-disclosure form reveals that Halliburton last year invoked an insurance policy to indemnify Cheney for what could be steep legal bills "arising from his service" at the company. Past and present Halliburton execs face an array of potentially costly litigation, including multibillion-dollar asbestos claims.

Copyright © 2004 Time Inc.

The New York Times
June 1, 2004
The Great Escape

Americans who think the 9/11 commission is going to answer all the crucial questions about the terrorist attacks are likely to be sorely disappointed — especially if they're interested in the secret evacuation of Saudis by plane that began just after Sept. 11.

We knew that 15 out of 19 hijackers were Saudis. We knew that Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, was behind 9/11. Yet we did not conduct a police-style investigation of the departing Saudis, of whom two dozen were members. of the bin Laden family. That is not to say that they were complicit in the attacks.

Unfortunately, though, we may never know the real story. The investigative panel has already concluded that there is "no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace." But the real point is that there were still some restrictions on American airspace when the Saudi flights began.

In addition, new evidence shows that the evacuation involved more than the departure of 142 Saudis on six charter flights that the commission is investigating. According to newly released documents, 160 Saudis left the United States on 55 flights immediately after 9/11 — making a total of about 300 people who left with the apparent approval of the Bush administration, far more than has been reported before. The records were released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.

The vast majority of the newly disclosed flights were commercial airline flights, not charters, often carrying just two or three Saudi passengers. They originated from more than 20 cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Houston. One Saudi Arabian Airlines flight left Kennedy Airport on Sept. 13 with 46 Saudis. The next day, another Saudi Arabian Airlines flight left with 13 Saudis.

The panel has indicated that it has yet to find any evidence that the F.B.I. checked the manifests of departing flights against its terror watch list. The departures of additional Saudis raise more questions for the panel. Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, told The Hill newspaper recently that he took full responsibility for approving some flights. But we don't know if other Bush administration officials participated in the decision.

The passengers should have been questioned about any links to Osama bin Laden, or his financing. We have long known that some faction of the Saudi elite has helped funnel money to Islamist terrorists —inadvertently at least. Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who has been accused of being an intermediary between Al Qaeda and the House of Saud, boarded one of the evacuation planes in Kentucky. Was he interrogated by the F.B.I. before he left?

If the commission dares to address these issues, it will undoubtedly be accused of politicizing one of the most important national security investigations in American history — in an election year, no less.

But if it does not, it risks something far worse — the betrayal of the thousands of people who lost their lives that day, not to mention millions of others who want the truth.

Craig Unger is the author of "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

The New York Times
June 1, 2004
Dooh Nibor Economics

Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.

Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.

It has long been clear that the Bush administration's claim that it can simultaneously pursue war, large tax cuts and a "compassionate" agenda doesn't add up. Now we have direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch, that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election.

That agenda is to impose Dooh Nibor economics — Robin Hood in reverse. The end result of current policies will be a large-scale transfer of income from the middle class to the very affluent, in which about 80 percent of the population will lose and the bulk of the gains will go to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.

I can't back that assertion with official numbers, because under Mr. Bush the Treasury Department has stopped releasing information on the distribution of tax cuts by income level. Estimates by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, which now provides the numbers the administration doesn't want you to know, reveal why. This year, the average tax reduction per family due to Bush-era cuts was $1,448. But this average reflects huge cuts for a few affluent families, with most families receiving much less (which helps explain why most people, according to polls, don't believe their taxes have been cut). In fact, the 257,000 taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million received a bigger combined tax cut than the 85 million taxpayers who make up the bottom 60 percent of the population.

Still, won't most families gain something? No — because the tax cuts must eventually be offset with spending cuts.

Three years ago George Bush claimed that he was cutting taxes to return a budget surplus to the public. Instead, he presided over a move to huge deficits. As a result, the modest tax cuts received by the great majority of Americans are, in a fundamental sense, fraudulent. It's as if someone expected gratitude for giving you a gift, when he actually bought it using your credit card.

The administration has not, of course, explained how it intends to pay the bill. But unless taxes are increased again, the answer will have to be severe program cuts, which will fall mainly on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — because that's where the bulk of the money is.

For most families, the losses from these cuts will far outweigh any gain from lower taxes. My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that 80 percent of all families will end up worse off; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will soon come out with a more careful, detailed analysis that arrives at a similar conclusion. And the only really big beneficiaries will be the wealthiest few percent of the population.

Does Mr. Bush understand that the end result of his policies will be to make most Americans worse off, while enriching the already affluent? Who knows? But the ideologues and political operatives behind his agenda know exactly what they're doing.

Of course, voters would never support this agenda if they understood it. That's why dishonesty — as illustrated by the administration's consistent reliance on phony accounting, and now by the business with the budget cut memo — is such a central feature of the White House political strategy.

Right now, it seems that the 2004 election will be a referendum on Mr. Bush's calamitous foreign policy. But something else is at stake: whether he and his party can lock in the unassailable political position they need to proceed with their pro-rich, anti-middle-class economic strategy. And no, I'm not engaging in class warfare. They are.

Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Mr. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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1 Jun 2004 @ 12:38 by jmarc : 100,000 new jobs created last quarter
did you hear? I was wondering why Kerry switched tack, to complaining about Iraq. It seems things are getting better for many, despite the high gas prices.
Now a new interim government selected for Iraq today. All this good news for the country has to be terrible if you're a democrat, huh? I guess all that will be left soon is to beat the halliburton drum.  

1 Jun 2004 @ 16:53 by Quinty @ : We should be
so lucky.....  

2 Jun 2004 @ 07:19 by jazzolog : Lower Gas Prices Are Next
What Democrats do, jmarc, is wonder in shock and awe at the coincidence of a series of Good News Events deep into an election year. Is it possible Republicans are willing and capable to "orchestrate" various Free Market developments on cue? Do Republicans wonder at massive layoffs during the first months following a Presidential election? Are Democrats paranoid conspiracy-mongers, or are Republicans paranoid denial-jabberers. Either way looks like we need a therapy.

As for the "new jobs," Paul Krugman addressed this creation 2 weeks ago, but I neglected to put up the column I think. He wrote as follows~~~

But is the economic news really that good? No. While the recent economic performance is better than in the administration's first three years, it isn't at all exceptional by historical standards. And after those three terrible years, the economy has a lot of ground to make up.

Let's start with the "nearly 900,000 new jobs" created in the last four months. Is that exceptional? Well, during the first four months of 2000, the last presidential election year, the economy created 1.1 million new jobs. An e-mail message to Bush's supporters from Ken Mehlman, his campaign manager, takes a longer view, boasting of 1.1 million jobs created since last August (when job growth finally turned positive). But in April 2000, payroll employment was 2.3 million higher than in August 1999.

And that was after seven years of sustained employment growth; rapid job growth is hard to achieve when the economy is already close to full employment. To find a year comparable to 2004, we need to look back to 1994, when the economy was still recovering from the first Bush recession. In the first four months of that year, the economy added almost 1.3 million jobs.

The experience of 1994 also gives us some indication of how likely job growth is to "redefine" an election. Between December 1993 and November 1994 the economy gained 3.6 million jobs, a number beyond the Bush administration's fondest dreams. Yet voters, convinced that Bill Clinton was leading the country astray, gave his party a severe defeat in that year's midterm elections. So it's interesting that a new CBS News poll finds that 65 percent of Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction — a level not seen since 1994.

If you want to convince yourself that I'm not playing games with dates, go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site at stats.bls.gov. Click on "U.S. economy at a glance," then on the green dinosaur next to "Change in payroll employment" for a 10-year chart of monthly job gains and losses. The chart reveals that for 37 months, from January 2001 to February 2004, the Bush administration presided over dismal job numbers: employment for each month fell, or grew far more slowly than the norm during the Clinton years. March and April were much better, but they still weren't exceptional by 1990's standards.

And a mere return to Clinton-era job growth isn't enough: after all those years of poor job performance, we need extra-rapid growth to make up for lost time.

Here's one way to look at it. The job forecast in the 2002 Economic Report of the President assumed that by 2004 the economy would have fully recovered from the 2001 recession. That recovery, according to the official projection, would lead to average payroll employment of 138 million this year — 7 million more than the actual number. So we have a gap of 7 million jobs to make up.

And employment is chasing a moving target: it must rise by about 140,000 a month just to keep up with a growing population. In April, the economy added 288,000 jobs. If you do the math, you discover that President Bush needs about four years of job growth at last month's rate to reach what his own economists consider full employment.

The bottom line, then, is that Mr. Bush's supporters have no right to complain about the public's failure to appreciate his economic leadership. Three years of lousy performance, followed by two months of good but not great job growth, is not a record to be proud of.

Originally published in The New York Times, 5.25.04

2 Jun 2004 @ 09:54 by Quinty @ : Macro Economics

Is tax cuts an economic program? That appears to be the extent of what the Bush administration has offered. Now, many analysts have said that these cuts only truly benefit the very rich, since the rest of us, the poor and middleclass, have to make up for the cuts in increased property taxes, fees, new taxes, etc. And, as a result of the huge deficits, many government services will be reduced, in education, infrastructure, etc. And the poor and middleclass pay in this way too.

Does anyone truly believe Bush and his people have the welfare of the middleclass and poor uppermost in mind? The tax breaks were intended to benefit the super rich, some of whom, such as George Soros and others, have responded by claiming they need no such help. That these deficits which the cuts help create are a danger to our economy. These deficits will only be employed as an excuse for cutting government programs, which the rightwing hate. This, I think, in a nutshell, is Bush's economic program.

About new jobs: the economy, I think, has a life of its own. It's cycles move in a way which are somewhat independent from government action. Tax cuts in themselves may not offer enough of an influence to radically effect the course of the economy. There has also been increased government spending, about two hundred billion for the war and an additional hundred billion to the annual defense budget. This - pure Keynsian macro economics - could have had its effects as a stimulus.

Does this strike anyone as a positive economic strategy for the future course of our country? I'm no economist, as you may be able to tell, and if I'm missing something essential here I would gladly be corrected. But the Bush tax cuts don't reveal any initiative or genuine grasp of economic affairs, but rather a lack of imagination, which has been a hallmark of the Bush administration. That, in spite of the fanciful global strategy which may have led us into this Iraq war. Considering the enormous problems the world faces this can only be considered a tragedy.  

2 Jun 2004 @ 14:24 by b : Clintons have a great imagination
And Kerry seems so bright and imaginative too. All of the democrats are so helpful in solving the problems of us people. The democrats, after they push Bush out have all the know how and the willingness to straighten out this mess. They surely can get us out of that nasty ME by withdrawing all of our troops and leave our wounded and dead behind. Who wants to bother with the cost of all that? Terry McCauliff, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, JFKerry, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton and James Carville. All such saviors who know best what is good for us people and moreover know how to modify our behavior so that we deserve their judgements and actions toward us people so that we public can be grateful to them. Oh Goody, I can barely wait to be suppressed some more.  

2 Jun 2004 @ 17:34 by Quinty @ : Uh....
who says this has anything to do with Democrats and Republicans? If you are thinking of voting for Kerry, such as myself, it may because you are grasping for straws. It's a matter of issues, and standing apart from the political debate, which, yes, I agree, tends to be spurious and dishonest. Especially since the Democrats appear afraid to open their mouths less they scare someone away. This isn''t a partisan issue, as far as I'm concerned. Nor was LBJ lying to us about Vietnam partisanship. Many of us who are horrified by President Bush's actions were also horrified by the actions of Democrats.  

2 Jun 2004 @ 17:39 by martha : Quinty
the bug is a Republican...  

3 Jun 2004 @ 02:52 by jazzolog : Bee's Suppression
Bee, I welcome political debate at this Log...and especially during this election year. It is an honor to me if members of this distinguished NCN international community air opinions and ask questions about our political process. I am aware, however, there are a few NCN members who hold that process of election in total disdain, and assert that "democracy" is a huge fraud and waste of time. I believe you are one of those people, and we certainly can discuss that perspective. In fact, it may be well to do so, since there are increasing numbers of US citizens who seem content to allow the "free market" to determine this nation's policies. If you wish to affirm that approach, please say so and let us begin dialogue about it somewhere.  

5 Jun 2004 @ 14:32 by Quinty @ : Bush Ignores Wage Crisis Hitting Middle
The following is from MoveOn's Daily Mis-lead

"Over the last month, the Bush administration has cited recent jobs numbers to claim that average workers' paychecks are increasing. Vice President Cheney said, "real incomes and wages are growing." But as new studies show, wages have actually decreased for the average worker, even as corporate profits and CEO pay have exploded.

"According to the Economic Policy Institute, while corporate profits have risen by more than 62%, workers' take home pay has dropped by .6%. This follows an earlier report which shows that industries currently adding jobs pay 21% less than industries that are slashing jobs. Despite this wage crisis, President Bush is pushing to cut off an estimated 8 million workers from overtime pay protections, and supports efforts to outsource even more well-paid American jobs. Meanwhile, he refuses to raise the minimum wage, despite new research showing a minimum wage hike would not adversely affect businesses or consumers.

"The story, of course, is different for the president's wealthy campaign donors. A recent study shows CEO pay exploded by 27% in just one year, all while the President lavished more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks on the richest 1% of the population. To put the contrast into dollars, the average worker takes home $517 a week and will receive about $400 in tax breaks from President Bush. At the same time, the average CEO takes home $155,769 a week and this year alone received well over $50,000 in new tax breaks from Bush."

For the footnotes and original go to this http://www.misleader.org/daily_mislead/Read.asp?fn=df06042004.html


Paul, I edited out the 10 footnotes in the comment, because I became confused in the midst of a couple stats they were referencing. I hope you don't mind.


6 Jun 2004 @ 13:27 by Quinty @ : Anything for clarity's sake.
If someone should want to see the documentation they can just go to the link.  

29 Jun 2004 @ 04:51 by jazzolog : Where Are Iraq's Oil Billions We Took?
The New York Times
June 29, 2004

Who Lost Iraq?

The formal occupation of Iraq came to an ignominious end yesterday with a furtive ceremony, held two days early to foil insurgent attacks, and a swift airborne exit for the chief administrator. In reality, the occupation will continue under another name, most likely until a hostile Iraqi populace demands that we leave. But it's already worth asking why things went so wrong.

The Iraq venture may have been doomed from the start — but we'll never know for sure because the Bush administration made such a mess of the occupation. Future historians will view it as a case study of how not to run a country.

Up to a point, the numbers in the Brookings Institution's invaluable Iraq Index tell the tale. Figures on the electricity supply and oil production show a pattern of fitful recovery and frequent reversals; figures on insurgent attacks and civilian casualties show a security situation that got progressively worse, not better; public opinion polls show an occupation that squandered the initial good will.

What the figures don't describe is the toxic mix of ideological obsession and cronyism that lie behind that dismal performance.

The insurgency took root during the occupation's first few months, when the Coalition Provisional Authority seemed oddly disengaged from the problems of postwar anarchy. But what was Paul Bremer III, the head of the C.P.A., focused on? According to a Washington Post reporter who shared a flight with him last June, "Bremer discussed the need to privatize government-run factories with such fervor that his voice cut through the din of the cargo hold."

Plans for privatization were eventually put on hold. But as he prepared to leave Iraq, Mr. Bremer listed reduced tax rates, reduced tariffs and the liberalization of foreign-investment laws as among his major accomplishments. Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time — but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics.

If the occupiers often seemed oblivious to reality, one reason was that many jobs at the C.P.A. went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections — people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen, a prominent neoconservative, told a forum that "the level of casualties is secondary" because "we are a warlike people" and "we love war."

Still, given Mr. Bremer's economic focus, you might at least have expected his top aide for private-sector development to be an expert on privatization and liberalization in such countries as Russia or Argentina. But the job initially went to Thomas Foley, a Connecticut businessman and Republican fund-raiser with no obviously relevant expertise. In March, Michael Fleischer, a New Jersey businessman, took over. Yes, he's Ari Fleischer's brother. Mr. Fleischer told The Chicago Tribune that part of his job was educating Iraqi businessmen: "The only paradigm they know is cronyism. We are teaching them that there is an alternative system with built-in checks and built-in review."

Checks and review? Yesterday a leading British charity, Christian Aid, released a scathing report, "Fueling Suspicion," on the use of Iraqi oil revenue. It points out that the May 2003 U.N. resolution giving the C.P.A. the right to spend that revenue required the creation of an international oversight board, which would appoint an auditor to ensure that the funds were spent to benefit the Iraqi people.

Instead, the U.S. stalled, and the auditor didn't begin work until April 2004. Even then, according to an interim report, it faced "resistance from C.P.A. staff." And now, with the audit still unpublished, the C.P.A. has been dissolved.

Defenders of the administration will no doubt say that Christian Aid and other critics have no proof that the unaccounted-for billions were ill spent. But think of it this way: given the Arab world's suspicion that we came to steal Iraq's oil, the occupation authorities had every incentive to expedite an independent audit that would clear Halliburton and other U.S. corporations of charges that they were profiteering at Iraq's expense. Unless, that is, the charges are true.

Let's say the obvious. By making Iraq a playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors, the administration did terrorist recruiters a very big favor.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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