links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter


Posted on on December 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Starbucks’ company’s chief executive officer Howard Schultz, has asked his  baristas who work in Washington-area Starbucks, to scrawl “COME TOGETHER” on coffee cups for the rest of the week, to generate enthusiasm for a Congressional compromise on avoiding falling of the cliff or defaulting on paying the Nation’s creditors.

Finally someone is ready to scrawl a solution. Good he suggested using the Coffee cups and not the Tea cups. This is probably the deepest meaning of his suggestion at a time Senator McConnell has not yet promised to check in at the Senate’s door his filibuster fully automatic rifle.


Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog
23 December 2012


Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog
26 December 2012
Robert Reich writes: Every year about now I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again to remind myself what Frank Capra understood about America — its essential decency and common sense.In many ways the nation is better than it was in 1946 when the movie first appeared. Women have gained economic power and reproductive rights; we enacted Civil Rights and Voting Rights and, through Medicare and Medicaid, dramatically reduced poverty among the elderly; we began to tackle environmental devastation; we stopped treating gays as criminals and have even started to recognize equal marriage rights. We elected and then re-elected the first black president of the United States. We have enacted the bare beginnings of universal healthcare.

But we are still in danger of the “Pottersville” Capra saw as the consequence of what happens when Americans fail to join together and forget the meaning of the public good.

If Lionel Barrymore’s “Mr. Potter” were alive today he’d call himself a “job creator” and condemn George Bailey as a socialist. He’d be financing a fleet of lobbyists to get lower taxes on multi-millionaires like himself, overturn environmental laws, trample on workers’ rights, and shred social safety nets. He’d fight any form of gun control. He’d want the citizens of Pottersville to be economically insecure – living paycheck to paycheck and worried about losing their jobs – so they’d be dependent on his good graces.

The Mr. Potters are still alive and well in America, threatening our democracy with their money and our common morality with their greed.

resident Obama is cutting his Christmas holiday short, returning to Washington for a last attempt at avoiding the fiscal cliff.

In a game of highway chicken, for example, the driver that can’t swerve because he’s tied his hands to the steering wheel and chained his foot to the accelerator forces the other to swerve in order to avoid crashing.

The trick is for the first driver to convince the second that he’s crazy enough to have committed himself to instant death if the second doesn’t act rationally.

So, why would a sane driver agree to play the game in the first place?

Boehner can now credibly claim he has no choice in the matter -Republican fanatics in the House have tied his hands and manacled his feet — so the only way to avoid going over the cliff is for Obama and the Democrats to make more concessions. The Republicans love to keep Boehner in his seat and the talk of bringing in Paul Ryan right now is nonsense.

The White House’s hope of getting the Senate to pass legislation that raises taxes on the wealthy in order to pressure Boehner won’t work because the legislation can’t possibly get through the House. That’s the point: Boehner has demonstrated he has no choice; the fanatics are in charge there.

Obama could decide going over the cliff isn’t so bad after all -as long as he and congressional Democrats introduce legislation early in the 2013 that gives a tax cut to the middle class retroactively to January 1st (extending the Bush tax cut to the first $250,000 of income) and restores most spending — and Republicans feel compelled to go along.

But with Boehner’s hands tied and the fanatics in charge, this gambit becomes far riskier. What if we go over the cliff and House Republicans continue to hold out against any tax increases on the rich while demanding major cuts in Medicare and Social Security?

The path of least resistance is for Obama and the Democrats to offer to keep everything as is, through 2013 -extend all the Bush tax cuts and continue all current spending (lifting the debt limit along the way) -unless or until a “grand bargain” on the budget is agreed to before the end of next year.

This is likely to satisfy enough Republican fanatics to gain a majority in the House. And it would avoid the fiscal cliff, kicking the can down the road and giving everyone more time.

Deficit hawks in both parties won’t like it, but that’s okay. Unemployment is still way too high and growth too meager to justify trimming the deficit any time soon.

The real problem with this gambit is it doesn’t change the game. Even down the road, Boehner’s hands will still be tied and the fanatics will remain in charge — which will give Republicans the stronger position in negotiations leading to a “grand bargain.” Compromise would have to be almost entirely on the Democrats’ side.

That’s why I’d recommend going over the cliff and forcing the Republicans’ hand. It’s a risky strategy but it would at least expose the Republican tactic and put public pressure squarely on rank-and-file Republicans, where it belongs.

The fanatics in the GOP have to be held accountable or they’ll continue to hold the nation hostage to their extremism. Even if it takes until the 2014 midterms to loosen their hold, the cost is worth it.

So, why bother faking it by keeping up 2012 meetings with the Republicans? We would rather spend the time resting and looking at other issues. Enter the new Congress, and with a new Administration team in place, it will be more favorable  playing a different game – call it Expose the Opponent to the Blame of the People and Wait for the People to hold the Opponent Responsible.

The opponent just has the money that flows to lubricate the  elections, but it is the People that have the numbers that Vote.

If the people will feel the hurt, they are bound to wake up to facts of life – their being held hostage to the industrial profiteers.

The Obama II years may then look like – two years of set-up-the-stage – so the remaining two years make history.
President Obama has the mandate to bring about change and the world watches to see his courage to carry out the substance of this mandate.
Not bad if you know what you are after!

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article