Disassembling Yves Smith’s Critique of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network’s Budget.

Yves Smith is unhappy. Specifically, she is unhappy that the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network has participated in the Peterson Foundation “Fiscal Summit,” an event at which they presented an extensive budget plan that was enabled by a grant from the Peterson Foundation. These proposals, submitted by the big policy think tanks (EPI, Center for American Progress, Heritage, AEI, and Bipartisan Policy Center), were then the subject of debate. Here is the Campus Network’s summary and full budget.

(Full disclosure, I have been a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute since January 2010, and have worked with the Campus Network, a separate group inside the organization, though not on this budget.)

Smith is so unhappy that she wrote a 3,000 word post about it. But for covering 3,000 words, there is little of actual substance in the budget that she seems to disagree with. It takes 1,790 words to get to the first actual substantive disagreement. That’s 1,790 words in which she describes the Powell memo, mentions the British think tank Demos and Peterson’s high-school curriculum program, plugs her book, describes AT&T’s support for GLAAD, and quotes at length from a letter Dwight Eisenhower wrote his brother in 1954, among many other historical detours. All of which I think has little to do with the actual proposal in question.

Critique in Theory

The first two-third is so convoluted I’m going to go ahead and clearly restate the thesis. The argument of her post is that corporate sponsorship corrupts, and that by participating in this Fiscal Summit the Campus Network is corrupted too. This is the language of a “bribe” that Smith uses, the examples of policy conclusions of activists groups being dictated by sponsors and her more general history of the right-wing. I’ve seen this more subtly dealt with in an issue of Adbusters, but it is what it is.

It’s important to realize that this is an entirely consequentialist argument.  What the Campus Network did is wrong because it will produce bad results.  Peterson will never, through subtle-and-not-so-subtle influences, let a progressive budget through in his summit.

And it’s important to realize what this critique is not.  There’s an argument to be made that even if the Campus Network could make a strong, progressive budget for the summit it is a moral wrong to participate in this summit.  This is usually predicated on the idea to never mention a long-term deficit problem and implicitly on the idea that the budget right now, with all its waste in health care and military spending, is at a progressive optimum.  I think this argument is insane because we are not at a progressive optimum, but either way it is not the argument Smith puts forth, and not what I will respond to.

As with any consequentialist argument, the proof must be in the pudding. If this is corrupting in theory the corruption should show through in the budget it produced. So what do we see with the Campus budget?  The elephant in the room is Social Security. Here is the Campus Network:

In order to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security, we propose increasing the taxable maximum to 90 percent of total payroll, drastically decreasing the long-term shortfall. And for individuals making more than 90 percent of payroll, we propose a 4 percent tax on their wages above 90 percent. We expand the program by allowing children of the disabled or deceased who are pursuing higher education to continue drawing benefits up to age 22, as long as they remain in school.

So expand Social Security by raising the payroll tax and increasing a wage tax on the top earners. I’d argue strong progressive, no compromise. Could you argue differently on the merits?  And what about the rest? From the document:

Institute a public option, controlling non-Medicare costs to 3 percent of GDP…Require Medicare to directly negotiate prices with drug manufactures…Permanently repeal the monopoly exemption for insurance companies…Reduce national defense expenditures and more effectively ensure global stability…Phase out the Mortgage Interest Deduction….[Implement] an upstream tax on carbon of $24.33 beginning in 2013, increasing yearly by 5.6 percent….Institute a Financial Transaction Tax.

This is a progressive fantasyland of strong proposals designed to deal with the challenges of the 21st century in a center-left direction. What am I missing? Between the public option, financial transaction tax, and carbon tax I’m hard pressed to see where the centrist compromising started.

Critique in Practice

Here’s where the last third of Smith’s critique can help us out, because there she finally goes through the document finding problems.  What does she find? I’ll list her complaints, as there are only about six and they are all weak. One:

Gee, if these students had done their homework, they’d understand the blowout in debt levels was due to the global financial crisis, so if they want to “address underlying causes” they should first and foremost urge ruthless action to curb risk-taking at the TBTF banks.

Sigh. The second page, the second page! (the first is only a cover!!), of the budget has the following:

The budget addresses the root causes, not just the symptoms, of the federal debt by ending Too Big to Fail and addressing rising health care costs… When Millennials survey our country’s economic and political landscape in 2011, they can see that the root causes of the financial crash have not been addressed. They recognize that the housing bubble that wiped out the savings of millions of hard-working Americans was made much worse by irresponsible practices in the financial sector, especially from banks that are “too big to fail.” Any sustainable solution to America’s fiscal challenges must include decisive action to bring about a stable, efficient financial system. The Budget for the Millennial America moves aggressively to reduce the systemic risk in the financial sector by proposing a “Too Big to Fail” Tax on systemically risky institutions.

The budget crisis is the results of a financial crash and long-term health care costs. That’s it. The idea that we should address the boom-and-bust cycle of financial crises and the devastating effects it has on our budget and our country is front and center. I don’t think anyone else includes that element – that financial stability is a precondition to a functioning government – in their budget. You’d think that conceptually it would get some credit, but Smith goes right to the policy and thinks that their tax won’t work. Two:

Yes, the plan has a “Too Big to Fail” tax (described only at the wishful thinking level), but as we’ve discussed, following the Bank of England’s director of stability Andrew Haldane, taxes will never work to curb bankster adventurism; a high enough levy would wipe out the industry, so prohibition, meaning tough regulations, is the only viable remedy.

I’m not sure what the complaint is here. The document implies that Dodd-Frank hasn’t solved financial crises, which I imagine Smith would agree with, and that there is still more work to be done. If there’s a smarter approach then let’s discuss it. I imagine they’d be open to it. But in practice, this isn’t a CFTC white paper, it’s a budget paper, so only the parts dealing with taxes are discussed. Three:

Folks, what will the net effect of [social impact bonds] be? To introduce a ton more intermediaries and complexity into the provision of public services, which will give all the participants the opportunity to rip out more fees.

The public-versus-private funding of public goods is a complicated debate. There are some areas where I’m for having market mechanisms provide the goods and some where I am strongly in favor of public provisioning. The budget does propose a public option for health care, so it’s not anywhere near advocating “let’s sell off everything” as a conceptual tool. The important thing is that social impact bonds are being discussed in the context of expanding investment in people. Four:

It urges lowering tax rates and eliminating “tax expenditures”. While the corporate tax code could use a scrub, some of its complexity is due to the difference in various types of companies (the most obvious being the depreciation tax shield). The “lower tax rate” idea is usually bundled with a proposal to end the US policy of taxing corporations on their worldwide income. If this plan also envisages going to territorial taxation, that’s another boondoggle to big international companies, since it will be even easier for them to dodge paying taxes in the US.

I’ve read this a bunch of times and I’m not sure how to respond. Corporate tax code could use a scrub. Check. It’s true that “if this plan also envisages going to territorial taxation” it would be a bad idea, in the same sense that “if this plan also envisages pouring poison in the town reservoir, throwing eggs at elderly people and implementing the full Ryan plan” it would also be a bad idea. I have no idea how to respond to hypotheticals in this case, but the point is noted. Five:

It also stunningly enshrines the canard that tort reform will have a meaningful impact on health care costs and therefore (you have to love the Orwellian language) proposes to reform “the way Americans seek redress for medical malpractice.”

That’s a fine critique. “Stunningly enshrines” is a bit strong, as the centerpiece of the portion that deals with health care is bolstering Medicare with aggressive price bargaining on drugs and a public option. She is right, however, that that is in there, and that reflects how young people see that debate.  Lastly, six:

But this sort of idea is underplayed in the Peterson paper, and ideas like a bonus tax to correct incentives are completely absent.

I’m not sure what a bonus tax is referring to here. But a bonus tax might be a good idea and a better approach than the paper’s strong proposals to make the tax code more progressive. But that’s an intellectual debate that’s tough to have with this level of volume. And that’s it for the critique of the document as actually standing. I’ll let you decide whether or not these two last points clear a consequentialist hurdle of corruption via the forum yourself.

Why This Exercise Matters

And I’d argue this is all besides the point. In my book, arguing that element A is bad and element B would be better is not the point of these budget exercises.

There are two reasons why the exercise of creating a budget is important. The first is to get the idea that there is a progressive budget to be had in the public debate, one that strengthens the social safety net and that makes investments for the long-term. The second is that it is important that young people get a say in this budget.

The Gang of Six (now Five) are all older men. The Ryan budget is cynically designed to throw people under 55 under the bus. Young people of a diverse background are not getting a seat at the table. Young people should have a venue in which to say they don’t want to inherit the wreckage of a strip-mined country, but instead want a place where there is a vibrant workforce and protection from the brute bad luck of poor health, unemployment, and poverty in old age.

I don’t buy Smith’s case that this budget is not progressive or liberal. If only because Smith’s critique, where it is an actual critique of substance, is about specific items, rather than the vision. And arguing that this one tree reeks of Centrist-Rubinism (or whatever) misses the entire forest of a generation that is getting their country sold out from under them, and them trying to make a stand saying that they want something different. That’s what this is about.

And if Pete Peterson wants to give the Campus Network money to talk about optimal financial transaction taxes, the best way to raise the Social Security payroll cap and create a health care public option, that’s a pretty sweet gig.

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116 Responses to Disassembling Yves Smith’s Critique of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network’s Budget.

  1. Neildsmith says:

    I really don’t think Ms. Smith cares about the details of your budget. Her basic criticism is this: “Just as the Democrats pretend to offer an alternative to Mussolini-style corpocracy when they are loyal servants of big businesses donors, so to does the image of diversity of opinion in the foundation/think tank world serve as useful cover for control that the right wing has achieved over messaging on economic issues.”

    She calls it an “embarrassing dance with the devil.”

    I know you can’t imagine this to be the case. From your perspective your motives are pure: “And if Pete Peterson wants to give the Campus Network money to talk about optimal financial transaction taxes, the best way to raise the Social Security payroll cap and create a health care public option, that’s a pretty sweet gig.”

    I think we call that rationalization. Good luck.

    • Also, too, il faut bien manger. …

      * * *

      Hey, I just thought of another “sweet gig” for Mr. Konczal! Heading up the a “social impact bond” program to purchase can openers for the millions who will need them if Peterson’s “Cat Food Commission” wins the day on policy!

      I mean, it’s a sad picture. A few years down the line, there I am, happy in the knowledge that by shrinking my Social Security check I’ve added a mite to the sum total of human happiness, at least for the top 1%, and, there I am, sitting at the kitchen table in the cold, making those few decisions that are still mine to make — Beef? Chicken? “Seafood”? — by the light of a flickering candle, the power having been cut off, along with the heat, and then, with a sense of eager anticipation, selecting a can…. And there’s no can opener. My dream crashes to earth. Mr. Konczal’s “Can Opener Social Impact Bond Program” can save my dream!

    • [Once again, no feedback from the site on whether comments post.]

      Also, too, il faut bien manger. …

      * * *

      Hey, I just thought of another “sweet gig” for Mr. Konczal! Heading up the a “social impact bond” program to purchase can openers for the millions who will need them if Peterson’s “Cat Food Commission” wins the day on policy!

      I mean, it’s a sad picture. A few years down the line, there I am, happy in the knowledge that by shrinking my Social Security check I’ve added a mite to the sum total of human happiness, at least for the top 1%, and, there I am, sitting at the kitchen table in the cold, making those few decisions that are still mine to make — Beef? Chicken? “Seafood”? — by the light of a flickering candle, the power having been cut off, along with the heat, and then, with a sense of eager anticipation, selecting a can…. And there’s no can opener. My dream crashes to earth. Mr. Konczal’s “Can Opener Social Impact Bond Program” can save my dream!

    • Konczal (penultimate graph):
      “I don’t buy Smith’s case that this budget is not progressive or liberal. If only because Smith’s critique, where it is an actual critique of substance, is about specific items, rather than the vision.”

      again: “where it is an actual critique of substance, is about specific items, rather than the vision.”

      “Trust me I used to be a financial engineer.
      The rhetoric of physicality, solid weight and measure. And Joseph Yellow Kid Weil should have called himself a Confidence Engineer.

  2. [The site doesn’t make it clear whether comments are moderated or not. Since my comment just disappeared, I’ll rewrite and repost; moderator, please delete.

    Shorter: Real progressives don’t take money from winger billionaires because that makes all progressives look like shills. Mr. Konczal, the turnip truck is that way. You seem to have just fallen off it.

    Bottom line: Roosevelt Institute should roll back its relationship with Peterson and give the money back.

    Or they should change their name. Roosevelt built Social Security. Peterson wants to destroy it. Which side is Roosevelt Institute on?

    • Gaah, and then I didn’t close a bold tag. Moderator, I’m going for some caffeine now!

    • Tim Price says:

      Since the Campus Network budget is a viewable document that you can read with your eyes, and it explicitly strengthens and preserves the Social Security system, I’m honestly not sure how this is an open question.

      I’ve already spent far too much of my weekend debating this at ND20, so I’ll just say that I’m complete agreement with Mike and I think the contention that no matter how progressive this budget is, the money should be given back to Peterson so it can then be passed on to other, less progressive causes, is a hilarious example of the left’s circular firing squad in action.

  3. K. Williams says:

    “Smith is so unhappy that she wrote a 3,000 word post about it. But for covering 3,000 words, there is little of actual substance in the budget that she seems to disagree with. It takes 1,790 words to get to the first actual substantive disagreement. That’s 1,790 words in which she describes the Powell memo, mentions the British think tank Demos and Peterson’s high-school curriculum program, plugs her book, describes AT&T’s support for GLAAD, and quotes at length from a letter Dwight Eisenhower wrote his brother in 1954, among many other historical detours. All of which I think has little to do with the actual proposal in question.”

    The only thing I’m confused by is why you’re surprised by the above. This is the way Yves Smith argues about everything, and the way she writes about everything. She’s unable to take opposing points of view seriously, she demonizes anyone who disagrees with her, she rarely has anything of real substance to say, and her view of American society and politics is utterly nihilistic. Yet people continue to take her seriously. Totally mysterious.

    And, of course, right on cue we have “Lambert Strether” appearing here from Naked Capitalism” to proffer his self-righteous pseudo-Marxist piffle. Shorter Lambert Strether (no matter what the topic): “I am the guardian of the left-wing light. Blah. Blah. Blah.”

    Don’t waste your time reading her, Mike. It just grinds you down to no purpose.

  4. Tom Hickey says:

    The issue is an organization bearing the Roosevelt name and purporting to advance the New Deal for our time taking money from another organization whose aim is to scuttle the New Deal. Simple as that.

    The mistake should be acknowledged, the money returned, and further association with the Peterson Foundation and affiliates ended forthwith. Otherwise, principled progressives associated with the Roosevelt Institute and writing for New Deal 2.0 should resign in protest and do their thing elsewhere.

    No bargaining with the devil.

    • K. Williams says:

      “No bargaining with the devil.”

      There was no bargaining done. The Peterson Foundation didn’t vet any of the proposals and had no say at all over what was produced. Had EPI and the Roosevelt Institute not participated, the terms of debate would have been determined entirely by the right-wingers at AEI and Heritage. That’s an absurd argument to make, as is the notion that EPI and Roosevelt are corrupt. This is precisely the kind of suicidal purism that’s left the left utterly marginalized in terms of the public debate. But that’s okay: you and Lambert Strether can sit back, comfortable with your unscathed consciences, and aesthetically contemplate the decline of America. Considering Lambert Strether is one of the most tiresome, weak characters in American literature, never has a pseudonym been more appropriate.

      • Tom Hickey says:

        This is like politicians taking contributions from industries that they oversee and saying it makes no difference to them. Or Ken Lay saying he didn’t know what the people under him at Enron were doing. It is corrupt, and America is corrupt through and through. We don’t need more of it here under the guise that some money fell out of tree and RI just picked it up.

      • K:

        I’ve always been inspired by Strether’s realization “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.” Of course, for Strether, “living” didn’t including forcing old people to live on cat food, unlike Peterson and, I might add, those who take Peterson’s money, or enable those who do. Worse, of course, than simply taking Peterson’s money is corrupting a new generation of youth who were funded by the project, who may come to believe that Peterson’s project to demolish Social Security would have been acceptable to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (see under Luke 17:2).

        So, with FDR, I welcome your hatred. Your amusing assault on my online persona is, of course, the sign of a weak case; and I, personally, would rather have a weak personality than make a weak case. You, clearly, prefer the reverse.

        * * *

        As for the rest of your comment, I’m sure your collection of pathetic and delusional rationalizations is familiar to anyone sophisticated enough to read this blog; there’s really no point in investing time refuting them individually. I imagine that you that think your story is unique; but in fact it happens over and over again.

  5. Foppe says:

    You really should watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Maddow from last November.
    Link to uncut version found here among other places. http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/11/jon-stewart-vs-rachel-maddow-uncut-interview

  6. L. Randall Wray says:

    Look, every “debate”, “discussion”, “analysis” funded by Pete Peterson’s billions begins with the presumption that the government’s budget is “unsustainable”, that something must be done about “structural deficits”, that Social Security is “insolvent” as currently funded, and so on. None of the shills from New Deal 2.0 who are trying to justify taking the Peterson “bribes” disputes the Peterson position.

    So you take a bunch of ill-informed and ill-educated students, tell them that budgets must be trimmed, give them a bunch of money, and ask them for a “progressive” haircut of federal government programs, and they produce a “New Deal” budget that is consistent with Peterson’s views.

    No one is justifying the “waste” in the current budget–no progressive worth the name supports the foreign wars of agression, the “Obamacare” support of health insurers, the tax loopholes for offshoring. But that is a different matter entirely from the deficit hysteria whipped up by Peterson and “New Dealers” like Bo Cutter.

  7. banflaw says:

    I take Smith to be trying to remind wonks like rortybomb that politics isn’t about policy.

    No one — and least of all Pete Peterson — cares what they think about the budget. They are being used.

  8. don says:

    “Smith is so unhappy that she wrote a 3,000 word post about it. But for covering 3,000 words, there is little of actual substance in the budget that she seems to disagree with.”

    Exact same feeling I had when I finished reading this post, except in this post it seems that Rorty thinks something called the ‘budget’ is the issue here (rather than something much broader), and thus defends it, leaving this reader at least sensing nothing less than apology.

    • jstur says:

      Agreed. This post amounts to nothing less than an apology. It’s because it comes up so empty-handed.

  9. nihil obstet says:

    I guess the real question is why it uses the name “Roosevelt Institute”. The thought seems to be FDR was a liberal hero. We’re progressives (avoiding the l-word). Therefore, we’ll adopt the liberal hero’s name, while advocating policies that retreat from his actual accomplishments, never mind the vision he laid out in his 2nd bill of rights.

    Roosevelt transformed the national narrative from the Gilded Age “rich is what matters and the rich rightly run the country” to “every ordinary citizen has a right to secure and prosperous participation in national life”. Your objection that the critique of your college student exercise isn’t specific about individual proposals seems based on a lack of appreciation for the failure of the narrative. It’s like worrying about the size of nails you’re going to use repairing somebody else’s house. You seem to be saying, “She doesn’t talk about nail size, so her criticism is silly.”

    And again on why it’s called the Roosevelt Institute. Would Roosevelt have looked for Petersen’s assistance? I think his second Inaugural answers that: We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. . . . [T]hese forces . . . are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.

    • jstur says:

      Exactly — it’s as though Roosevelt Institute and their fellows threw their collective moral compass overboard, along with any semblance of effective policy and along with prevailing american spirit and birthright.

      And now they expect this empty rhetoric to be found an acceptable or appropriate rejoinder for the massive systemic failure in think-tankery that follows on the heels of the massive systemic failure in the banking and political arenas.

  10. Punktilio Pete says:

    Yves Smith got some ‘splainin’ to do! Who died and left her progressive enforcer?

    I’m a huge fan of her blog, but really, not everybody can run things the way she does. In this world, the big corps and millionaire/billionaires have all the money. Get 10 million retail workers to give a few bucks each to a new foundation and maybe then you’ll have a real “purity caucus.”

    Until then, much of the progressive movement is going to have to hope and pray for some funding from the plutocrats who happen to realize that Koch-style scorched earth tactics may lead to social unrest that they can’t control. Even Jesus saw the possibility for redemption in the good thief.

  11. laudyms says:

    I find this a very interesting discussion, with valid points on both sides. The dangers of selling-out or being gradually co-opted are ever with us; plus deep pockets have an obvious advantage. Meanwhile it is nice to have a coterie of young people speak up for a coherent, humane budget especially in hard times.

    FDR was at best a benevolent elitist anyway.

  12. Mike,

    A quick question: Is there anyone from whom we at the Roosevelt Institute wouldnt take money from?

    Obviously, the answer to that question is “Yes”. Most emphatically. In fact, I’m sure it would be a long list, so accepting funding is a matter of drawing that line and not just about the topic at hand, whether you think it serves a good end or not.

    It’s a bit like taking money from the SS Waffen to fund a bar mitzvah celebration.

  13. Coldtype says:

    “This is precisely the kind of suicidal purism that’s left the left utterly marginalized in terms of the public debate.”-KW

    So we were wrong in our early suspicions of the Prince of Peace, President Hopey Change then? At some point we’ll get around to eating that humble pie now that the Wall Street hustlers, insurance racketeers, and war profiteers are all on the defensive thanks to the tireless exertions of the Obama administration…

  14. Neildsmith says:

    There are those who think they can “change” America by operating from within the government. It’s hard to argue with that proposition because we seem to have two very active partisan camps from which to choose. Let them do battle over ideas and policies and the winner of each election gets to have their way until the next election. It all seems quite logical. Now, though, this battle of ideas seems to be missing something. Perhaps the debate is now rigged and the proper response of thoughtful people is to call attention to that rather than participate in a farce. God forbid I should characterize Ms. Smith’s views, but if that is her point then I have to agree.

  15. Mike says:

    This is helpful, because the critique has moved pretty quickly to the idea that even with autonomy to create whatever budget to be discussed it should still be turned down as a matter of principle.

    Marshall/L Randall Wray,

    A quick clarification. The criticism seems to split with two parts. One is that Peterson is too affiliated with turning over Social Security and other right-wing attacks that no good can come of this. The other is the any exercise to balance the budget pegged to a debt/GDP ratio is a bad idea and should be resisted as a matter of course because it assumes the government’s budget deficit is unsustainable.

    With the second in mind, any foundation that asked the campus network to do what it just did – balance the budget with a vision of governance in mind – would have to be turned down, no? That critique goes beyond Peterson towards an ly budget exercise.

  16. Mike says:

    As for the argument to participate: I find that the mainstream budget debates are between the center and the right and produce center-right compromise of a vision. Getting more left-leaning voices in that debate is a good.

    Second, liberals often have a too technocratic visions of what to do. The Campus Network has a budget with an intergenerational context and a vision I thought is strong. Lastly, the idea that social security won’t be there for the young is a critically important weapon deployed by Peterson and Peterson types, so it is good to have a youth group take the opposite argument in that space.

    • “in that space”

      No. Not in Peterson’s space. New space. This is all straight forward Overton Window stuff [2007]. Loons like Ryan are setting the right side of the spectrum of permitted discourse, which Peterson or one of his golfing buddies is funding them to do. And now he’s funding the Roosevelt Institute to set the left side of that spectrum. And what lies beyond the spectrum of permitted discourse are exactly the policies and concepts that Marshall A points to. The invariant along the spectrum always boils down to the talking point: “ZOMG!!!! The debt!!!!!” And the entire Campus report is based on that.* Mission accomplished!

      Since nobody with experience in Washington could be so naive as to not know how this game is played, it’s impossible to believe that the decision to, in essence, sell the Roosevelt brand (and its accompanying good will) to Pete Peterson, who wants to destroy everything Roosevelt accomplished, wasn’t made with complete awareness of the Faustian nature of the bargain.

      NOTE * One cannot know if exposing them to unpermitted ideas would have changed the outcome. But the attempt was not made.

  17. eric says:

    The budget looks like weak tea to me, and anything funded in any way by Peterson is certainly immediately suspect. On the other hand, this is nothing to get all up in arms about.

  18. Shorter Mike: Pass the cocktail wienies!

  19. Ted K says:

    There are many probs I have with Yves Smith. Too many to elucidate in a blog comment without coming across as a flake. But I will try my best to keep it my version of brief. Firstly Yves is way way way too self-righteous. Here is a woman who has done business with TBTF banks in the past (and I would make an educated guess, also does business with TBTF banks currently, though I don’t know). A woman who has taken fees from large banks happily, and worked at Goldman Sachs very happily (no one held a gun to poor Yves’ head to work at Goldman), and she quite enjoys name-dropping Goldman and McKinsey every chance she gets, as in “Oh look at that beautiful sunset, did I tell you I used to work at Goldman???” and “I think I’m low on gas, oh that reminds me, I used to work at McKinsey”. After about the thousandth one of those in a post, you know there is some ego deal there (whether it means overly strong ego, or hidden insecurity, I honestly don’t know, but I’m betting on the former). Also she complains about bloggers lifting her work. Although nearly every post she makes lifts huge blocks of other people’s writings. Does she give them credit and a reference??? YES, she does. But so do many bloggers she rips for taking her work and swiping blog hits. I fail to see the difference. She has also repeatedly plugged a book “Treasure Islands” by Nicholas Shaxson ad nauseam, which, guess what??? Happens to be published by the same company (Palgrave) as published her book. She hosted an internet discussion of this book I believe at some “Salon”. She also mentions the Palgrave business dictionary multiple times, in case any of the other zillion business dictionaries out there didn’t fit the bill. I’m sure that has no connection to anyone she’s trying to butter up at Palgrave. I mean lord knows Yves is so above “bribes”, nor would she be eager to be published again some time down the line, by way of lending her time and blog space to a book put out by the same publisher. NO, that thought would make Yves so sick.

    And that layback Yves did for Maria Bartiromo on the C-SPAN interview, that wasn’t hypocritical at all was it??? Of course not….

    My last peeve with Yves is, if you criticize her constant and continuous book plugs, or hypocrisies in her posts, you get blocked. Here is a woman who talks about the press and freedom of speech. I am here to tell anyone who cares to listen: NOBODY would not want to live in a world where Yves decides who talks, who writes, and who is forced to stay mum. The narrative voice would be quite SINGULAR. And you get one stab at whose voice it would be.

    But I see she got her two pals Auerback and Wray to come over here. Aren’t friends wonderful???? So much for being brief…..
    YVES, NEWS FLASH FOR YOU: YOU ARE NOT SALLY FIELDS IN “NORMA RAE”. GET OVER IT.

    • Making the critic the issue instead of the critique is a well-worn tactic. At least when K Williams tries that, she’s not prolix. Unlike Ted K. I prefer my character assassination done with a rapier, not a dull knife. Just saying.

    • Foppe says:

      Do I smell misogyny here?

    • Goober Peas says:

      Dang! You must’ve majored in Shoot the Messenger with a minor in Character Assassination as Strawman.

      • Ted K says:

        Yves Smith calls young students at Roosevelt “immoral” for having an open discussion about America’s budget problems, then all of her ditto-heads come running over here claiming “character assassination”. Really reading Yves’ cult of ditto-heads is kind of like watching the wide-eyed parishioners of an Oral Roberts speech.

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    The point isn’t the budget that was actually produced by the students.

    And the point also isn’t the merely moralistic, “dirty hands” argument that people shouldn’t take money from bad people, no matter what they do with the money. If progressives want to take Peter Peterson’s money, no strings attached, and then use it to wreck Peterson’s agenda, that would be great.

    But they didn’t wreck Peterson’s agenda – and that’s the point. The money was actually used to advance Peterson’s agenda. That agenda consists in terrifying Americans about the public sector and its budget. The agenda consists in getting Americans to believe that the size of the debt and the size of the current deficit are the main economic problems facing America – not 9.1% unemployment; not three decades of growing inequality and declining wages; not a weakened do-nothing government that is ordered about by a two-big-to-fail and two-big-to-prosecute financial sector. The agenda is to get Americans to believe that we can’t do anything big and new and important until we move toward surplus. The point is that by taking the money, and following the instructions to produce a progressive approach to fiscal sustainability and the creation of government surpluses, this Roosevelt Institute initiative has put a seal of Rooseveltian approval on the Peterson claim that an out-of-control federal budget is the main challenge of the day. This means that the guardians of the New Deal ethos are now playing Pete Peterson’s game of debt-and-deficit hysteria and, and have helped him promote his agenda.

    Whenever Americans are biting their fingernails over public sector debt and the budget, Peterson wins. It doesn’t matter whether they respond to the nail-biting by coming forward with a progressive budget or a conservative budget. Peterson now has important progressives on record as endorsing the position that the deficit is a big, big, big problem. This neo-Hooverite stance makes it much harder for progressives to mobilize the political will to address some very big problems that can only be addressed by an activists government prepared to run deficits. It’s 1937 all over again.

    Also, by allowing Peterson to purchase a “millennials” budget proposal, whether progressively themed or not, you have helped him underline one of his main themes: that a reckless older generation is stealing from their kids and grandkids by “saddling them with overwhelming debt”, and that the kids must now fight back against this wanton spendthrift behavior. This is BS.

    Of course this flap is only one recent small episode in a much bigger debacle. The real disaster occurred when President Obama named and embraced his Peterson-themed Deficit Reduction Commission. That pivot toward the right, toward the Tea Party and toward deficit hysteria has wrecked the second half of Obama’s first term, and tied his hands. He is now paralyzed in the face of a non-recovery that he finds he can’t just wish or talk into existence. He can’t step up to do more about our profound mess of joblessness and crappy mortgages and evaporated wealth and collapsing standards of living without undertaking an embarrassing climb down from from the new consensus theme that our budget is out of control.

    It’s good we’re having this argument, because there are a whole lot of Democrats in the Clinton, Obama camp who are still clutching onto 90’s style Third Way neoliberalism. They basically think Peterson is OK and on the right path, but just a bit too conservative.

    That’s wrong.

    What is it about this guy Peterson and his Svengali-like charms that makes everyone – Republicans and Democrats alike – show up at his conferences and budget fear-fests? Is it just all about the money? It’s like he’s a modern Jonathan Edwards preaching a sermon on “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Debt”, to which he is able to drag in unlimited numbers of wide-eyed, quaking, knee-knocking wretches from all political walks of life.

    There is a debt problem in America. But it is a private sector debt problem. Given the scope of that problem, public debt is actually our friend.

    It’s time for progressives to get together and tell this guy Peterson to take a hike.

    • salvo says:

      great post

      “And if Pete Peterson wants to give the Campus Network money to talk about optimal financial transaction taxes, the best way to raise the Social Security payroll cap and create a health care public option, that’s a pretty sweet gig. ”

      you simply don’t get it. Pete Peterson would gladly give the Campus Network any money provided the produced discourse would fit in his ideological framework, and that’s what happened with the budget topic

      anyway you’ll never admit your fault as … “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

    • Well, Dan, I think we’re agreed that Roosevelt Institute should sever relations with Peterson and give the money back.

      But I’m curious about what I see as a contradiction between your first sentence and your last. Your last sentence:

      It’s time for progressives to get together and tell this guy Peterson to take a hike.

      Your first is:

      And the point also isn’t the merely moralistic, “dirty hands” argument that people shouldn’t take money from bad people, no matter what they do with the money.

      So, from a purely tactical standpoint, your view is that the best way for “progressives” to “get together” is to label those who think taking Peterson’s money is wrong “merely moralistic”? What next? “Purist”?

  21. Mike,

    I think the important question to ask about the Campus Network study relative to the tradition of RI is whether it reflected the perspective of achieving economic and social democracy and moving us closer to the second bill of rights? I think the answer is pretty plainly, no!

    In recognizing the existence of a deficit crisis and subordinating the second bill of rights to Peterson’s notion of fiscal sustainability, the study clearly takes the same side as the Hooverians in Roosevelt’s time who opposed visions like the second bill of rights and tried constantly to push balanced budgets on him.

    Yes, I know that the Millennial fiscal report is much kinder to people than some of the other reports produced by Peterson’s engaged think tanks. But there’s no getting around the fact that the RI/ND20 fiscal plan produced by the campus network prioritizes a non-existent budget problem (http://bit.ly/iiKVoW http://bit.ly/dMPSPd http://bit.ly/fIgywy http://bit.ly/l8sgZH ) above all else, while Roosevelt was preparing to prioritize the second bill of rights above all else.

    In short, the very idea of a long-term deficit reduction plan is anti-New Deal and anti-Rooseveltian, and to commit to developing such a plan without even considering whether doing so is a valid idea in the first place, is about as anti-New Deal as it gets.

    As Randy Wray says here: http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/06/03/speaking-truth-to-power-46928/#comment-14739

    “The notion that students who rely on Peterson’s billions will come up with a reasoned position on the deficit, while all anti-Peterson discussion is sidelined from New Deal 2.0 is–shall we say–”quaint”. It is not even a well kept secret that Bo and some others at New Deal carefully edit out alternative views that would oppose Peterson.
    New Deal 2.0 is not Rooseveltian. The dream is over. Time to move on.”

    The dream may be over at ND20; but it is not over. It will never be over. As somebody once said, long after the New Deal passed:

    “. . . the work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives. And the Dream shall never die.”

    We don’t need 21st Century students staking out a truncated left-wing in a budget debate that accepts Peterson’s basic premise that we have a long-term fiscal crisis. We need them instead to be learning about the second bill of rights and to be constructing budget plans that provide for its implementation in as short a time as possible, recognizing that the Federal Government, as the monopoly issuer of our currency cannot have any solvency issues under the Constitution itself. Instead, Peterson bought himself a nationwide network of young people carrying the RI name and advocating for a budget whose primary concern is maintaining a debt-to-GDP ratio that is a meaningless indicator of fiscal sustainability, but rather a measure of the extent to which the Government unnecessarily constrains itself in realizing the dream.

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    This is helpful, because the critique has moved pretty quickly to the idea that even with autonomy to create whatever budget to be discussed it should still be turned down as a matter of principle.

    No, not as a matter of principle. It should be turned down as a matter of strategy and progressive tactics. Helping Pete Peterson sell deficit hysteria, whether he sells it with fresh-faced young progressives or cranky and wrinkly old conservatives, promotes misguided economic thinking about the role and nature of federal spending, and damages the cause of activist government.

    • I’m unclear, Dan, why you think acting on the basis of principle is incompatible with being a progressive. “Progress” in what direction, after all? See under the “church of the savvy” for what action without principle looks like. All of the rationalizations on this thread for taking money from a guy whose principles ought to be diametrically opposed to yours can be put under that heading, “savviness.”

      Marshall A has the right of it on the “But we’ll use the money for good!!” argument:

      It’s a bit like taking money from the SS Waffen to fund a bar mitzvah celebration.

      This is not an over-the-top comparison, really. If Peterson — and his new enablers at the Roosevelt Institute — gets his way, a statistically certain number of elders will be more likely to get sick, and will be more likely to die. What Social Security was set up to prevent will, in fact, happen to them.* And there’s been a remarkable amount of obfuscation on this thread to evade responsibility for those consequences. Now call me a purist! That’s the ultimate insult, if you are one of the “savvy.”

      NOTE * Of course, if you’re some sort of Randroid or Social Darwinist, shedding useless eaters is your principle. Presumably those principles are not on offer from anyone on this thread, although they are at the right wing of the Overton Window that Peterson funds, places like Roosevelt Institute being the left.

      • Dan Kervick says:

        I’m predominantly interested in the actual consequences of actions – not their appearance, and not whether one’s hands get dirty in the action. And in this case, if people can find a way of taking of Pete Peterson’s money and using it for something progressive and good that does not legitimize Peterson and does not amplify his message and does not advance his agenda, if they can take the money and then actually use it to undermine Peterson, then I say “great”.

        But in this case, taking the money and using it for the purposes Peterson required did advance his agenda. It gave a progressive, Rooseveltian imprimatur to the central Peterson message that the US government and its budget are a big, out of control problem, and that rising generation needs to be very, very, very afraid of insolvency and onerous debt.

        If, during the Nazi era, someone could have taken some kind of grant from the Waffen SS and used it kill Waffen SS members, that would have been awesome.

  23. K. Williams says:

    “My last peeve with Yves is, if you criticize her constant and continuous book plugs, or hypocrisies in her posts, you get blocked.”

    Ted makes an important — and not much-mentioned — point about Yves’ site — basically, if you make arguments that she doesn’t like, your comments never appear. She’s quite intentionally made the comments section of Naked Capitalism an echo chamber, which says something important about her lack of intellectual honesty and seriousness. Yet another reason for Mike not to spend any more time worrying about her.

    • Richard Smith says:

      “Ted makes an important — and not much-mentioned — point about Yves’ site — basically, if you make arguments that she doesn’t like, your comments never appear.”

      Oh, get off your high horses, the pair of you.

      To help give a sense of the sort of argument that Yves doesn’t like, and of the importance of the point that TedK and K Williams are making, I reproduce below the key section of the email which preceded TedK’s banning from the comments section at Naked Capitalism, part of an inept exchange about a typo by Yves.

      “Dear Bitch,
      You want me to copy it and highlite it???? You say HE–you didn’t list his name you little cunt–and if NYT did that, you’d throw you’re little pussy fit. The Chief enonomist of Citigroup–who apparently you hate—but when he says (here here, and here) you didn’t fucking fix it did you bitch????????”

    • Foppe says:

      Ooh, Williams has struck on an “important point”. Seriously, if you ever read the comments section you’d see that even ideological twits like Bruce Krasting on Chris Whalen regularly feel the urge to post there. (Always spouting variations on the same drivel, too. but anyway.) But to say that the NC comment section consists of an “echo chamber”?

      The real “echo” is in, as L. Randall Wray notes, echoing Peterson’s concern with the deficit.
      Seriously, after Reagan’s budget director already admitted in the 1980s that the only reason why Reagan (and now GW) drove gov’t debt into the stratosphere while lowering taxes was because they knew it would allow them to go after social programs and environmental protection — because it would “shift the debate” — you still fall for “the deficit is a problem” argument? Politics comes first, policy a distant second. If you are not able to frame the debate, all is lost.

      • Foppe, exactly. The entire Beltway is a vast echo chamber of right wing talking points funded by Peterson and people just like him, and they hire people like Heritage, AEI, and know Roosevelt Institute to sing in chorus in that echo chamber.*

        And yet, somehow, K and her ilk have managed to make this thread about whether the comment section on some econoblog is an echo chamber.

        Really, it’s such a super job of distraction and misdirection that it might as well have been professionally done, and I mean that as a compliment!

        NOTE [Cue the chorus of: "We're going to use the money for good! We're not tobacco scientists!" And we're the suicidally naive ones?]

    • “You get blocked.”

      Well, maybe Yves got tired of your tireless creation of straw men and relentless thread-jacking. I sure God am.

      Really, complaining on one blog about somebody else’s blog is the essence of trollish misdirection. Must be an important issue here for so much energy to be invested in drawing people’s attention away from it.

  24. Pingback: On Fauxgressive Rationalizations of Selling Out to Powerful, Moneyed Backers « naked capitalism

  25. Mike says:

    “. . . The other is the any exercise to balance the budget pegged to a debt/GDP ratio is a bad idea and should be resisted as a matter of course because it assumes the government’s budget deficit is unsustainable.

    With the second in mind, any foundation that asked the campus network to do what it just did – balance the budget with a vision of governance in mind – would have to be turned down, no? That critique goes beyond Peterson towards an ly budget exercise.”

    Yes, it would have to be turned down if you wanted to stick with Roosevelt’s second bill of rights legacy, because that legacy is fixing the real economy to achieve the second bill of rights. That is the New Deal agenda; not first achieving stability in the debt-to-GDP ratio at some normative level of safety for sustaining fiscal capacity. Dan Kervick made this point very well:

    “But they didn’t wreck Peterson’s agenda – and that’s the point. The money was actually used to advance Peterson’s agenda. That agenda consists in terrifying Americans about the public sector and its budget. The agenda consists in getting Americans to believe that the size of the debt and the size of the current deficit are the main economic problems facing America – not 9.1% unemployment; not three decades of growing inequality and declining wages; not a weakened do-nothing government that is ordered about by a two-big-to-fail and two-big-to-prosecute financial sector. The agenda is to get Americans to believe that we can’t do anything big and new and important until we move toward surplus. The point is that by taking the money, and following the instructions to produce a progressive approach to fiscal sustainability and the creation of government surpluses, this Roosevelt Institute initiative has put a seal of Rooseveltian approval on the Peterson claim that an out-of-control federal budget is the main challenge of the day. This means that the guardians of the New Deal ethos are now playing Pete Peterson’s game of debt-and-deficit hysteria and, and have helped him promote his agenda.

    Of course, the “progressive” proponents of the idea of fiscal crisis claim that we must achieve fiscal sustainability defined as maintaining some level of the debt-to-GDP ratio in order for the Government to retain its capacity to spend money to achieve and maintain the outcomes envisioned in the second New Deal. They say that if we don’t, then Government debt will become insupportable because the bond markets will drive interest costs on the national debt up so high that the Government will be able to afford little else except those expenditures and a continuously weakened social safety net. There are a few things wrong with this view however.

    First, the bond markets don’t control the interest rates that Governments sovereign in their own currency must pay. Those governments have the power to determine those interest rates and to drive them down to nearly zero if that’s what they want.

    And second, nothing forces Governments sovereign in their own currency to issue debt either prior to or after deficit spending. In fact, if the US Government would stop issuing new debt when it wants to deficit spend; then over time the national debt would simply disappear as it was gradually paid down. Our debt-to-GDP ratio would then be zero, proving once and for all that fiscal sustainability isn’t a matter of stabilizing the debt-to-GDP ratio.

    The counter to these arguments by people who believe in the debt-to-GDP ratio view of fiscal sustainability is that “printing” money without constraints will cause inflation and perhaps even hyper-inflation of the kind we’ve seen in Weimar and Zimbabwe. They forget however, that Weimar and Zimbabwe owed money in currencies not their own, and also spent money beyond their productive capacities. No one. however, is advocating that here. Instead, the second New Deal calls for Government deficit spending only until full employment is reached, and it also calls for spending on achieving public purposes that add real value (i.e. real wealth) to the economy. So, in any second New Deal program Government deficit spending would not simply be adding net financial assets to the non-Government sector of the economy, but also adding real assets and new productive capacity to it. demand-pull inflation isn’t possible under such circumstances.

    So, the bottom line here is that Governments sovereign in their own currencies have no solvency constraints except self-imposed ones. Whether or not they have debts at all, is a matter of their choice. They can liquidate all their debts simply by not issuing new debt and continuing to deficit spend. Nor must they have demand-pull inflation or currency debasement concerns as long as deficit spending doesn’t exceed the productive capacity of the economy. In short there is no deficit/debt problem. There is only the problem of, at long last, implementing FDR’s second New Deal vision.

    Pete Peterson and those collaborating with him don’t want us to solve FDR’s problem. Instead, they want to solve the imaginary deficit/debt problem; Hoover’s problem; the problem of the old-time religion. The Roosevelt Institute in joining with Peterson to address Hoover’s problem, has gone over to the other side and shamefully taken its Campus Network along for the ride.

  26. I’m just never cynical enough. Never in a million years would I have thought that an institution called The Roosevelt Institute would end up going on Pete Peterson’s payroll. The FDR speech nihil obset cites to — “… They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs…” — describes Peterson and his ilk to a T. “[T]he old enemies of peace” have been trying to undo the FDR’s legacy and the programs of the New Deal for at least a generation, and now they’re on the verge of doing it — with the Roosevelt Institute legitimizing their efforts, and their “savvy” enablers waving their hands and treating the whole matter as business as usual. Away with the purists! Hard choices! Tough decisions! Of course, the really hard choices are taken — after the Peterson Crowd, now cheerfully assisted by the Roosevelt Institute, guts Social Security — by elders. Shall it be the Whiskas? Or the Friskies? Or, perhaps, at the end of the month, a glass of water.

    Shame on the Roosevelt Institute. Shame on Peterson’s shameless enablers on this thread. Shame on the Roosevelt Institute management for selling the Roosevelt brand. Shame especially on the so-called progressives who sold our youth to Peterson.

    The disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country has never been greater, and the sordid and shabby actions of the Roosevelt Institute — which has turned out to be just another Beltway think tank — couldn’t show this more vividly.

  27. K. Williams says:

    “have been trying to undo the FDR’s legacy and the programs of the New Deal for at least a generation, and now they’re on the verge of doing it — with the Roosevelt Institute legitimizing their efforts, and their “savvy” enablers waving their hands and treating the whole matter as business as usual.”

    Oh, please. When FDR created Social Security, it didn’t apply to agricultural workers, domestic workers, railroad employees, the self-employed, government employees, or nonprofit workers. It didn’t include benefits for dependents or widows, no COLA, and no disability, and it was funded by regressive taxes. But FDR went ahead and created it because he knew that even with all these flaws, it was a much better deal than workers were otherwise going to get.

    And what did he get as a result of making this deal? Slammed by the Lambert Strethers of the 1930s, who attacked his “betrayal” of workers, and the “death blow” he’d delivered to the principle of social insurance (that’s from The Nation).

    If Strether, Smith, et.al., were around during the New Deal, FDR wouldn’t have been good enough for them, either. They’d be attacking his endless compromises and sell-outs, decrying him for his lack of purity. Even FDR couldn’t live up to the name “Roosevelt” for these people.

    • Foppe says:

      Ah, the “we realists” defense. Yes, Lord knows you’re getting a lot of important stuff done under Obama’s similarly “realist” reign.
      Shame you have to waste so much time defending yourself from the few people who assert you might be losing sight of your objectives by constantly positioning yourself in the middle of the given Overton window. Suggestion: take an introductory polsci class, it might help.

    • Yes, we would have, pulling FDR to the left, and bringing more people into the program faster. Dragging the Overton Window left is a problem for you why, exactly? Failure to show due deference to an authority figure?

      Like I said, K, above, when you decided to invest time in a personal assault, I’d rather have a weak character than a weak argument. Looks to me like you’re failing on both counts, now.

      NOTE I really like the “purity” talking point. It’s so “savvy”!

      NOTE And I really really like “these people.”

  28. K. Williams says:

    “Really, complaining on one blog about somebody else’s blog is the essence of trollish misdirection.”

    How do you figure this? The thread is about Yves Smith’s ad hominem, unjustified complaints on her blog about this blog. Surely Smith herself is one of the subjects of this thread, and complaints about her are germane to the question.

    • Foppe says:

      If you really want to discuss Yves’ banning policy, I would suggest you first list the offending quotes that got you (and TedK) banned. And looking at Richard Smith’s reply to your assertion, and seeing what it was TedK posted to get him banned (a post filled with expletives, insults and slurs), I am not sure you have all that much to complain about.

      • K. Williams says:

        “I would suggest you first list the offending quotes that got you (and TedK) banned.”

        Do you actually save the comments you write on blogs? That’s far too geeky for me, so I don’t have any of the exact quotes that never got posted. For that matter, I’m not sure that I’m technically “banned” — all I know is that whenever I’ve made comments that dissented from Smith’s general worldview, those comments have vanished forever into NC’s memory hole. These include comments about the legal status of MERS; the question of whether, for the purposes of establishing ownership of a mortgage, the mortgage follows the note or not; the magnitude of the banks’ supposed losses on second-liens, etc. The language in these comments was never vulgar or offensive — if Ted K.’s was, then I have no problem with banning him. What prevented the comments from being published was purely their content, and their general ideological underpinning.

        To be honest, I wouldn’t even care if Smith were killing comments she disagrees with, as long as she were upfront about it. But she’s not — readers aren’t told that the threads reflect her ideological vetting of what people are writing, and commenters don’t know when they write something whether or not it’ll end up being posted. She frames herself as a brave truth-teller, and yet she’s a quintessential ideologically-driven censor.

      • Foppe says:

        I don’t. However, it was conveniently pasted here by Richard Smith. As for the rest, it is little more than speculation on your part, and considering the posts I do see popping up at NC, I doubt you are correct.

    • Oh, K, K, K. The link you’re looking for is over here.

      This thread is about how the Roosevelt Institute sold its soul, its brand, its audience, and its fledging youth brigade to the Peterson Institute, which is trying to destroy everything Roosevelt ever achieved, and for not very much lucre, either.

      May I suggest that if you want to go meta and vent about moderation policies, there are many other more appropriate venues? A gripe session in email with your friend, Ted K, would unclutter this discussion. I’m sure many would consider it a public service! Please do consider it.

      • K. Williams says:

        Fascinating. I respond to a direct question from Foppe, and I’m accused of hijacking the thread. Some of us can deal with more than one question in a thread, Lambert. Stop being so uptight. (It really is remarkable how well you live up to your chosen pseudonym.)

    • Yves Smith says:

      This is quite a display of projection here. I’m accused of ad hominem when that’s pretty much all you offer in the way of argument (that plus straw manning, I’ve never styled myself as a “truth teller” although if that shoe does fit, I’m happy to wear it). Perhaps you don’t understand what the term means, since there was nothing in my post yesterday or today that was ad hominem.

      As for not publicizing my comments policies, your charge is utterly false. I’ve made it quite clear multiple times that I hew to what I call the Ritholtz Rules, since I regard them as web standard, and have ALSO made clear that I am far more lenient than Barry in implementation (see here, I’ve referred to either this post or the underlying Ritholtz piece repeatedly in later posts). I’ve conferred with him and bloggers every time someone is a candidate for banning, ex Ted K levels of abuse that speak for themselves, and have proceeded only if they concur. In addition, as I made clear after I converted to WordPress, which allows for the use of moderation, the use of certain words will get your comment put in moderation, as I have described repeatedly on the site.

      So the idea that I am unfair, behave in an unusual manner, don’t tolerate dissent, etc. is simply inaccurate. I’ve gotten independent confirmation that my belief that a commentor is out of line is valid before terminating their comment privileges.

      You behaved in an unacceptable manner and have decided to use a controversial post to come and pout about it on another site.

      • K. Williams says:

        “You behaved in an unacceptable manner and have decided to use a controversial post to come and pout about it on another site.”

        I don’t know who the “you” is in this sentence. I’m assuming it’s Ted K., but maybe not. Regardless, your description in this comment of your comments policies is simply untrue. You may think it’s true, but there’s no question that you simply delete, or don’t post, comments that engage substantively with issues but that you disagree with. You know you do this, and you should just say it, instead of linking to Barry’s comment policy, which has little to do with your own. Barry describes his policy by saying, “Dissent is good. I want to see a debate of views, a battle in the market place of ideas.” But look at your threads. There’s almost no (sometimes no) dissent from your general worldview, and whatever debate there is is between people arguing over just who is further left, or who hates whatever villain you hate more. Perhaps that’s just a coincidence — perhaps everyone who reads NC is just immediately convinced of your genius. But from personal experience, I doubt it.

  29. jstur says:

    Mike,
    That you do not accurately represent Yves’ position is abundantly clear — and you are hardly responsive to what she is saying. Philosophizing is no refuge from the clear signal sent by the Roosevelt Institute it is jumping in bed with Peterson, which necessarily requires failing to counter Peterson’s propaganda.

    Resorting to rhetorical theory or linguistic gambits (‘critique in theory’) does not substantively address the very real corruption the Roosevelt Institute incurs by taking the money and singing in the chorus in order to hush any functional public debate. The rules of this discussion do not include subjective, hypothetical and self-indulgent thought experiments that bear no relation to the very real political battle and budgetary propaganda flung about by actors as they continue to actively undermine the country for their own financial gain.

    I can do battle on Rorty’s home turf — and win out over rather docile philosophical attempts to control Truth rather than recognize truth through legitimate dialogue.

    But this post is extremely disappointing — it’s unfit to appear on a blog that (mis)uses Richard Rorty as its namesake. As disappointing as observing the Roosevelt Institute turning its back on FDR’s successful policy formulations so as to feel relevant.

  30. jstur says:

    Ultimately, I disagree this process could ever effectively address the budget — the Peterson initiatives have always been marked by a fundamentally dishonest attitude and a profoundly corrupt demeanor. Nor does the budget produced under the Roosevelt Inst’s involvement actively or effectively address ‘root causes’. It’s easy to say that’s what you’re doing or to claim it is somehow proof there has been no corrupting influence and so no consquentialist proof is available.

    But that turns this into a theoretical exercise — perhaps the corrupting influence just isnt’ evident yet — and the exercise is intended to produce sweet words that’ll be undone at the earliest possible convenience. Maybe the symptoms will arise in the next weeks or months, or over the course of the careers of the Roosevelt fellows. If the first option in replying to Yves Smith is to deploy the dubious logic of philosophical arguments, rather than respond to the questionable wisdom of consorting with liars and propagandists — I use the word consorting consciously, as money was accepted for services — then the corruption has already taken hold here at Rortybomb. Maybe the whole point of this partnership was to assuage the egos of the irrelevant appendix-like salons of liberaldom, ameliorate Peterson’s public image by association with the Roosevelt name, and then go for the final choke-hold on the American polity as Peterson seeks to throttle the life out of the American economy once and for all.

    That’s a much more likely scenario given Peterson’s pattern of behavior. Nevermind that Alan Simpson can barely conceal his glee. Never mind that you just don’t like Yves Smith and can’t bring yourself to address her concerns. Hey, never mind that Richard Rorty would hardly appreciate your inversion of our mutual contingent understanding of reality, Mike, through your misuse of language and through actively acting as in bad faith as an interlocutor. I question whether this blogpost or the Roosevelt Institute’s involvment with the Peterson people qualifies as a valid or germaine contribution to the public interest or the civil domain.

  31. K. Williams says:

    “Dragging the Overton Window left is a problem for you why, exactly? Failure to show due deference to an authority figure?”

    Ah, the Overton Window. The first and last defense of those for whom no one will ever be pure enough. In any case, simply articulating an extreme position does not necessarily drag the Overton Window — to the extent that it actually exists — in your direction. On the contrary, articulating hysterical or utterly unrealistic positions often completely marginalizes you and/or creates a backlash in the opposite direction. The kneejerk anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism of the late New Left, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, pushed middle-class Americans away from the Democrats and into the arms of Republicans. Today, arguing that government debt, while unimportant in the short- and middle-term, is not an important issue would not drag the Overton Window to the left. On the contrary, it would push voters into the arms of those who seem to be taking debt issues seriously. Roosevelt and EPI did the right thing: they produced budgets that deal with the long-term debt issues while placing the main focus on jobs and economic growth in the short- and medium-term. That’s an actual engagement with the Overton Window, as opposed to wandering off in the Gamma Quadrant, as Joe Firestone has been doing all through this thread.

    • Nice misdirection with the shift to Joe Firestone. I applaud your skill. If you’re not paid, you should be.

    • Foppe says:

      Oh, so that’s what happened to the “new left”. They were so radical everyone became a GOP voter. You should really consider reading Chris Hedges’s Death of the Liberal Class; I think you’ve gotten your history from the wrong person.

    • Who’s to say where the gamma quadrant is and who’s in it? What I’ve seen for the past 40 years is progressive efforts to engage conservatives while accepting the key framings the conservatives advance. For 40 years now, progressives doing that have moved the Overton window far enough to the right, that the second New Deal is outside the frame. The only way to stop that is to break the frame, and replace it with another which is consistent with the second New Deal.

      My point, and the point of many others commenting here is that RI strengthened Peterson’s deficit/crisis/problem frame by working with PGPF on the Millennials project, rather doing its own competing study that broke the Peterson frame. Our further point is that this was a departure from the most important RI principles and values, and that it is just unacceptable if RI wants to continue to occupy the New Deal 2.0 space it now claims.

      RIs prominence as the New Deal successor organization is based on people’s perceptions that it is committed to the New Deal legacy. The minute it becomes apparent that it is not so committed, RI supporters will begin to gravitate to other sites and organizations that take the New Deal’s legacy seriously, and reflect its principles in everything they do.

      • Dan Kervick says:

        Who would have thought the tea party – with its crazy warmed over Bircherism – would be anything other than a marginal movement? Who would have thought it until the tea party took over the Republican Party and the House of Representatives?

        The respectable, compromising pros in the Democratic Party have shown a persistent lack of understanding about grass roots change and how it actually happens. Such change starts with people who are stigmatized as “fringe” in the current environment, and who are not respectable.

  32. jstur says:

    Also, ‘disassembling’ Yves Smith’s critique does not in any way mean your are ‘disproving’ it.

    But ‘disassembling’ sounds a lot like ‘dissembling’ — the near-homonymy is enough to indicate the slip-shod rhetorical game afoot here.

  33. I really like this. K lectures: “A]rticulating hysterical or utterly unrealistic positions often completely marginalizes you…”

    Oh, now I understand. Saying that The Roosevelt Institute shouldn’t be funded by a winger billionaire is “hysterical [and] utterly unrealistic.”

    Alrighty then.

    For the rest of it K’s pathetic and delusional rationalizations, meh. And ick.

    NOTE “Hysterical” is good, just like “purist” is good.

  34. Figured I’d say farewell to K with this. For “brother,” read “elder.” They, Claudius:

    O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
    It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
    A brother’s murder! Pray can I not,(40)
    Though inclination be as sharp as will;
    My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
    And, like a man to double business bound,
    I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
    And both neglect. What if this cursed hand(45)
    Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
    To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
    But to confront the visage of offence?
    And what’s in prayer but this twofold force,(50)
    To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
    Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up;
    My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
    Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder?’
    That cannot be; since I am still possess’d(55)
    Of those effects for which I did the murder—
    My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
    May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?
    In the corrupted currents of this world
    Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,(60)
    And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself
    Buys out the law; but ’tis not so above:
    There is no shuffling; there the action lies
    In his true nature, and we ourselves compell’d,
    Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,(65)
    To give in evidence. What then? What rests?
    Try what repentance can. What can it not?
    Yet what can it when one cannot repent?
    O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
    O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,(70)
    Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay.
    Bow, stubborn knees; and heart with strings of steel,
    Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!
    All may be well.


    And that’s what the “savvy” enablers and managers of the Roosevelt Institute, now on Pete Peterson’s payroll, are telling us. “All may be well.” We’re using tainted money for good! And we’re supposed to be the naive ones…

    Sleep well, K. I’m sure your consience is clear.

  35. Mike says:

    Reading the comments, I think it is important to note that most of these criticisms are valid if the Campus Network did the same exact budget project with a grant from the Generic Foundation, or if they released it themselves, or if the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt asked them to pick a debt/GDP ratio to balance the budget at in the long-term and explain how to get there. Peterson amplifies the problem in your books, but the real problem is making this kind of budget exercise in the first place.

    So for a full disclosure which will seal your case against me, I will happily admit when other liberal think tanks did this exercise last fall I have applauded them – here is me applauding the EPI/Demos/Century Foundation exercise: “Our Fiscal Security. Investing in America’s Economy: A Budget Blueprint for Economic Recovery and Fiscal Responsibility” for having a carbon tax and budget reform as financial reform, with me saying things like it is “great to see these issues at the front of a responsible, liberal vision of how to handle the budget.” And otherwise complaining that there weren’t enough liberal/progressive budgets ready to go in the debate. I did the same for the Campaign for America’s Future budget when they did this. This Our Fiscal Security blueprint is essentially what EPI used for their contribution to the Fiscal Summit.

    • Foppe says:

      Yes. This point has been made a few times in the comments above, but i’ll repeat it here: it is utterly suicidal to let the other side decide what the “priorities” are in the public sphere, as being able to choose the priorities is the most important thing for any politician to do. This is something you see most clearly in election years, when candidates are deathly afraid that some issue or other will dominate the debate, but it is much more important (because much less obvious) in every day discussions.
      As Reagan’s budget director stated flat out back in the mid-1980s, the reason why Reagan (and GW) were comfortable with huge deficits was because it would, later on, force the discussion on to the topic of “austerity” — which would mean that it would become “reasonable” to discuss cutting back on social security, environmental protection, drilling in wildlife reserves, you name it. Yet at the same time, whenever any kind of tax raise is even mentioned, Boehner immediately comes out to state “this would be bad for job creation”, and the media never even ask anyone else to give their view, because this is “common knowledge”.
      Playing politics is emphatically not about being reasonable, it’s about staking out a position and staying on message, and letting the debate come to you, in stead of the other way around. And this is why there is a far smaller difference between the “ideals” republicans have and how much of them they get to realize, and the ideals the progressives have, and what they get done. Republicans do not chastise the people to their right for being “extremist”, yet at times it seems this is all the “reasonable” liberals do when it comes to people talking from their left. And that is having horrible consequences.

      • Foppe says:

        Or well, let me quality my own “yes” slightly. Yes, if it is indeed the case that the affiliation with Peterson did not result in the exclusion of candidates or positions being deemed ‘unpalatable’.

      • francis says:

        Mike is being disingenuous . What went down was that Peterson bought some credibility, and some access to college students for grooming the next Matt Y or Ezra Klein shills. It was the ‘Roosevelt’ Institute et al who sold that to him for $200,000 each, catering provided.

        Let’s not forget the deal.

    • For the millionth time, Mike, the issue is not the content, such as it is, of the report. That’s not really what Peterson bought, now is it?

      And pointing out that you’re really just recycling the your content makes you a consultant with a sound business model, but it’s not germane to the issue of lending Roosevelt’s name to Peterson’s vile and lethal enterprise.

  36. francis says:

    Here’s Yves disassembling you, Mike.

    “His post is not even an argument, it’s a tribal signal to the insider class that, though he may have liberal sympathies, he can be trusted at crunch time.

    The fact that Konczal is in theory aligned with the pinko cause only makes him more valuable to Peterson, not less. If the legitimacy of the system was not at stake, Konczal might be a competent technocrat. But at this moment, at this time, the lack of a moral sensibility is deeply disturbing and potentially dangerous. It is the opposite of Elizabeth Warren, the opposite of valor. It is in fact an argument against moral courage. ”

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/06/on-fauxgressive-rationalizations-of-selling-out-to-powerful-moneyed-backers.html#comment-405373

  37. Tom Hickey says:

    None of the defenders have yet addressed the liberal/progressive RI taking the arch-conservative billionaire bribe. I am still waiting.

  38. Francis mentions “$200,000 each,” the aptly named Rich’s price.

    See, that’s what really bugs me: For “savvy” people, Rich and his cohorts sure sell themselves cheap. It reminds me of Ian Welsh’s wonderful post on Why Politicians Get Bribed For So Little:

    (They sell out cheap) because it’s not their money. It’s like selling your neighbor’s car for twenty bucks.

    Exactly. Or, in this case, trafficking a few students.

    • Clonal Antibody says:

      The problem is actually much deeper than that, and it is highlighted by the word that Yves used – “careerism.” If you are a part of an institutional think tank, careerism is a major part of your life. The problem with careerism is best discussed in Jeff Schmidt’s book “Disciplined Minds”

      From a copy of the Disciplined Minds website,

      Who are you going to be? That is the question.

      In this riveting book about the world of professional work, Jeff Schmidt demonstrates that the workplace is a battleground for the very identity of the individual, as is graduate school, where professionals are trained. He shows that professional work is inherently political, and that professionals are hired to subordinate their own vision and maintain strict “ideological discipline.”

      The hidden root of much career dissatisfaction, argues Schmidt, is the professional’s lack of control over the political component of his or her creative work. Many professionals set out to make a contribution to society and add meaning to their lives. Yet our system of professional education and employment abusively inculcates an acceptance of politically subordinate roles in which professionals typically do not make a significant difference, undermining the creative potential of individuals, organizations and even democracy.

      A radio reading of the book can be found at the A-Infos Radio Project

      A book by Jeff Schmidt about the social agenda of the process of professional training, and how it is used to promote orthodoxy by detecting and weeding out candidates with the most critical view and by exerting pressure on the rest to obey their instructors and abandon a social agenda or efforts to reform injustices. So that they, in turn, can squeeze the life out of the next generation. Shortly after writing this book, Jeff Schmidt was fired from his position as Editor of the academic journal, Physics Today. After many years of legal battling, he was judged to have been dismissed without good cause, awarded a considerable sum of damages and reappointed, whereupon he swiftly resigned.

      • More Kliches…. Raising the ante from “purism” to “self-satisfied purism.” What a blow was there struck!

        [Dear lord, calling a single payer advocate a member of the "hard left"! What a realm of fantasy...]

      • K. Williams says:

        “[Dear lord, calling a single payer advocate a member of the "hard left"! What a realm of fantasy...]”

        Lambert, I’m not calling you a member of the hard left because you’re an advocate for single-payer health care. I’m in favor of single-payer health care, too, though like Mike I don’t think it’s politically possible. I’m calling you a member of the hard left because that’s what you are. You think banks should be regulated public utilities, if not owned by the state. You think Guantanamo is the equivalent of Auschwitz. You think the similarities between Bush and Obama are far greater than the differences. You think most corporations are psychopathic. You think Paul Krugman is an example of the rot at the heart of the system. Those are positions that define you as a member of the hard left in the U.S. Why deny it?

      • K asks “Why deny it?” Well, because it’s not true. The beauty part here is that K — doubtless unwittingly — exemplifies the very operation of the Overton Window that, elsewhere on this thread, she mocks. Let’s take her points 1 by 1.

        1. K’s “hard left.” You think banks should be regulated public utilities, if not owned by the state. First, that’s what The Bank of North Dakota is, and last I checked a map, The People’s Republic of North Dakata wasn’t on it. Second, when making more than a quick sketch, I advocate a public utility approach for “boring banking,” a position many others not of the hard left have taken (links on request). Third, the hard left position isn’t state banks, but collective ownership of the means of production. See how K has skewed the Overton Window right?

        2. K’s “hard left.” You think Guantanamo is the equivalent of Auschwitz. First, I’m always glad to meet a pro-torture liberal, and if I’d given the matter sufficient thought, I would have known you’d be one such. Second, if sequestering people, many of whom are innocent of any crime, even broadly conceived, denying them any recourse within the legal system, torturing them, and then placing the whole apparatus beyond the rule of law doesn’t make “progressives” think of Auschwitz, then “progressives” are even more morally cretinous than I ever imagined. Now, it’s true that at Auschwitz, the killing was industrialized, and at Gitmo it’s not (we do, however, permit the prisoners to commit suicide). But the apparatus is there to be scaled up. Some people want to prevent that from happening; pro-torture liberals want to do something about it later. I guess that, in much the same way that K feels that “We’ll use Peterson’s money for good,” K feels “We’ll torture people at Gitmo for good! [Cue “tough decisions” Kliche. Notice how K normalized torture? That’s moving the Overton Window right!

        3. K’s “hard left.” You think the similarities between Bush and Obama are far greater than the differences. Well, let’s take torture: Obama normalized Bush’s policies. Let’s take the banksters: Obama whipped for the Bush’s bailouts as a candidate, then continued them as President. Let’s take health care: Obamacare is a Heritage paper. Let’s take massive surveillance: Obama voted to grant the telcos retroactive immunity for Bush’s warrantless surveillance while a candidate, and then normalized that in office. And let’s take unemployment: Bad under Bush, worse under Obama, and 9% as far as the eye can see. Now, I’m sure K can come up with some petty tribal differences — “Obama speaks in complete sentences!” — but if you’re anything other than a Beltway creature, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference the performance of either of ‘em. Of course, a real hard leftist would be advocating for the dictatorship of the proletariat! Now, I’m sure K’s response will be to take some small differences and magnify them — thereby nailing the Overton Window firmly in place.

        3. K’s “hard left.” You think most corporations are psychopathic. Awww, come on, K. The Corporation is a Canadian movie! Canadian psychopaths?!

        4. K’s “hard left.” Paul Krugman is an example of the rot at the heart of the system. Krugman consistently refuses to call out the fraudsters at the heart of the financial crisis, or even to discuss accounting control fraud. Granting elites impunity for illegal acts is, as Simon Johnson points out, the hallmark of banana republics. Enabling that impunity by silence, which is what Krugman is doing, is moral rot. And according to Stiglitz, refusing to bring the financial system back under the rule of law impedes the recovery, keeping millions jobless (and losing their homes and health care). That’s moral rot too. And notice how K works the Overton Window? Anybody to the left of Krugman is “hard left!” And what would a real hard leftist say? “To the re-education camps for all the salt- and fresh-water economists!”

        So, that’s K’s laundry list. I suppose, from the perspective of Beltway, I am on the “hard left.” And that is, after all, K’s perspective…

        * * *

        K, the Overton Window is a powerful analytical tool, and you exemplify its operation in your writing. Why deny it?

  39. Neildsmith says:

    Yikes! This is a rowdy bunch. I think you all need to take a breath. For it to have been a bribe there must be some sort of quid pro quo. So yes, the Peterson clan got to pretend to be bipartisan and the lefty circular firing squad is doing its part to make it all worth while. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but there aren’t a whole lot of people outside the beltway/pundit/blogger class who could tell you the difference between NakedCapitalism, The Roosevelt Institute, Rortybomb, and the Peterson Foundation. Everyone here in the real world just feels let down by all of the so-called elites and could care less what went on at some obscure “fiscal summit”. While you were squabbling over trivia, someone looted and pillaged the American economy. Everyone from evil bankers and their enablers in government, to mortgage brokers, real estate agents, developers, and – yes – greedy mortgage deadbeats seem to have had a hand in this fiasco. The right wing didn’t need Peterson to be a mouthpiece while looting the country; Americans went along for the ride willingly. And while I applaud Ms. Smith for calling out the greed in the business class, she has a terrible blind spot when it comes to garden variety greed on the part of the middle and lower class in America. This disaster was a joint effort. So like it or not, someone is going to have to pay for all this and I’m pretty sure it won’t be bloggers or think tank partisans.

    It’s sort of difficult to imagine any of you actually care.

    • Tom Hickey says:

      Neildsmith, those who are going to pay for the disaster are the victims of it. That’s plan of the ruling elite and Peterson is a leading figuring in putting it over on the public in the name of “fiscal sustainability.”

      It is a typical scam perpetrated on an ignorant public using complicit politicians and “experts.” This is why the involvement of the RI is so repugnant to those that able to see through the specious reasoning, really alarmist rhetoric, behind it.

      Apparently a lot of people here have been taken in by it.

      • Ted K says:

        Oh you, know, the lefties who have been “taken in” by the problem of a budget deficit, we’re just counting on the self-righteous Yves, and you Tom, to lead us to “intellectual freedom” and “the land of milk and honey”. Where do we start, reciting eclectic diatribes of Yves like some Buddhist mantra???

        I think Yves cult of commenters is slowly going to make me wistful for the peak of Rush Limbaugh’s career, when braindead parrots known as “ditto-heads” were more comedy relief than anything.

  40. “… the Fascist octopus has sung its swan song…”, “the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot…”, “…eclectic diatribes of Yves like some Buddhist mantra”….

    * * *

    Smarter trolls, please!

  41. K. Williams says:

    “You should really consider reading Chris Hedges’s Death of the Liberal Class; I think you’ve gotten your history from the wrong person.”

    Unbelievable. This thread encapsulates perfectly just how out of touch the hard left is. Chris Hedges? The man is the embodiment of histrionic, self-righteous blathering. He despises mainstream America, has no understanding of history, and offers counsel that would reduce liberals to a tiny fringe movement. If he’s your source for understanding American politics, I’m not surprised you’re as confused as you are.

    • Foppe says:

      It is painfully ironic to see you complaining about the histrionic behavior of Hedges, whose book is precisely about the “liberal” tendency to kill off anyone who seems more progressive than they are, while at the same time happily accepting money and taking orders from someone on the extreme right such as Peterson.
      Anyway, whether you call them hard left, new left, or “horrible idealists”: what is it exactly that they have done to make you so afraid of being like them or even taking “their” point seriously and engaging with them in conversation rather than resorting to name-calling? Because I know what the hard right does: run up the deficit by $6 trillion in 8 years, destroy any source of popular organization (such as the unions) while giving corporations free reign in spending on politicians, allow the banks to blow up the economy, give tax breaks to companies like GE to outsource abroad, etc.. There seems to be a slight mismatch here between what the hard left and hard right are doing. Yet somehow, all you worry about in all of this thread is the “hard left”. It is truly somewhat depressing.

      • What’s depressing about it? I find the crystalline clarity of career “progressive” motivations and analytical abilities — not to mention the rhetorical tactics of their enforcer on this thread — rather bracing, quite frankly.

      • K. Williams says:

        “what is it exactly that they have done to make you so afraid of being like them or even taking “their” point seriously and engaging with them in conversation rather than resorting to name-calling?”

        I’m happy to engage them in conversation. But as this thread has demonstrated, the hard left is not interested in conversation, because they’re convinced that anyone who doesn’t support their positions, or who has a different attitude toward Pete Peterson than they do, is a corporate shill, a sell-out, a self-serving careerist, etc. That was my point about Yves’ Smith censoring of her comment threads: she’s not interested in conversation, she wants a monologue. And the idea that you’re attacking me for “name-calling” when this entire thread is riddled with personal attacks on Konczal and RI is mysterious to me.

        As for what I’m worried about, I’m far more worried about the hard right than the hard left. But insofar as this thread is dominated by people from the latter group, that’s whom I’m speaking to in this thread. And my fundamental concern is that the self-satisfied purism of the hard left makes it harder for liberals to get good policies through, and makes it easier for the hard right to define itself as representing mainstream America.

      • Foppe says:

        Astonishing. Do you even watch the US media? Where on earth do you get the idea that the “hard left” even gets a hearing? Everything you hear is at best centrist, and usually a good deal right of center. As a consequence, pretty much all policy decisions are right of center. And yet here you are repeating the asinine claim that it is the “purism of the hard left” that is destroying America, and keeping good liberals (like you deem yourself to be) from getting heard.

      • K. Williams says:

        “Where on earth do you get the idea that the “hard left” even gets a hearing? . . . And yet here you are repeating the asinine claim that it is the “purism of the hard left” that is destroying America, and keeping good liberals (like you deem yourself to be) from getting heard.”

        Were you even alive in 2000? The reason we got massive tax cuts for the rich, the reason we went to war in Iraq, the reason we saw a complete abdication of regulatory responsibility between 2001 and 2008, was because people like you and Lambert insisted that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, that both were corpocratic pawns, and that therefore it made sense to vote for Nader. George Bush’s presidency is a direct consequence of hard-left purism, period.

      • Foppe says:

        Were you even alive in 2000? The reason we got massive tax cuts for the rich, the reason we went to war in Iraq, the reason we saw a complete abdication of regulatory responsibility between 2001 and 2008, was because people like you and Lambert insisted that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, that both were corpocratic pawns, and that therefore it made sense to vote for Nader. George Bush’s presidency is a direct consequence of hard-left purism, period.

        Dear God, how did you know? I am actually a precocious 5-year-old (who is able to run circles around you in debate).
        Having said that, I wish I had your capacity for rationalization, and externalization of blame. However, if we’re doing an alternate history game, don’t you think you should blame SCOTUS rather than Nader for making Bush win the 2000 election? Because I think they were slightly more instrumental in fixing the outcome of the 2000 election than the 20 voters who went Nader in Florida were.

      • Foppe says:

        And just to hammer the point home: are you aware of the fact that it is still (sort of) legal in the US to demonstrate against bad policy, and against SCOTUS decisions that boil down to stealing an election? Or are you in fact such an institutional thinker that it has never even crossed your mind that there also exist extra-institutional ways of trying to change the direction a country is in?

      • K. Williams says:

        “Because I think they were slightly more instrumental in fixing the outcome of the 2000 election than the 20 voters who went Nader in Florida were.”

        You mean than the 97,000 people who voted for Nader instead of Gore in Florida? That’s okay, though — keep rationalizing away your responsibility. Or, like Lambert, you can just pretend there’s no analogy between your critiques of progressives today and the Naderite critiques of Gore in 2000. I leave you now to revel in your uncareerist, clean-conscience purity.

      • Foppe says:

        Awesome. To paraphrase you slightly for purposes of clarity: Everything Bush got away with happened because 97,000 voters out of 18+ million Floridans decided to vote with their conscience in stead of “tactically”, as would’ve been the “prudent thing to do.” Do you understand what it is you’re implying? Namely, that anyone with progressive tendencies has a duty to vote for the Democratic party, lest they be accused by the likes of you of destroying This-Once-Great-Nation?
        Having said that, I will note that you have not said anything about the impact on that election of an unconstitutional move perpetrated by the Supreme Court, nor about the fact that there are in fact alternatives to institutional change that can be pursued but weren’t. Guess it was more appealing to you rhetorically to pick on an irrelevant fact than to engage with the actual substance.

      • K. Williams says:

        “Everything Bush got away with happened because 97,000 voters out of 18+ million Floridans decided to vote with their conscience in stead of “tactically”, as would’ve been the “prudent thing to do.” Do you understand what it is you’re implying? Namely, that anyone with progressive tendencies has a duty to vote for the Democratic party, lest they be accused by the likes of you of destroying This-Once-Great-Nation?”

        Yes, that’s what I’m implying. In a two-party system, anyone with progressive tendencies has a duty to support the more progressive candidate of the two parties. At least, they have that duty if they’re interested in actually realizing progressive goals. As for your talk of extra-institutional activity, I don’t know what it means in the context of the 2000 election. Elections are decided by votes. If the Naderites had not supported their hopeless-but-oh-so-pure candidate, Bush would never have been in a position to steal the election. The Naderites had a choice. They made the wrong one. And the U.S. paid for it dearly.

      • Foppe says:

        No, I suppose you are right in saying that you don’t know what extra-institutional power is, or what it can achieve. And so, rather than think about why people are disillusioned by the democratic party, you prefer decrying anyone suggesting that the choice between two evils is not a choice, and you drape yourself in a cloak of indignation and anger at those horrid, horrid Naderites who destroyed everything.

        But however sad the above characterization might seem, the truth is worse, because you go one step further, because you don’t just act like this during election season, but you’ve made this your full-time job: Not only do decry people for not voting strategically during election seasons, you attack anyone who even suggests that there is something wrong with the democratic party, and you lambast someone like Lambert for suggesting that the recent health-care reform debacle was a sell-out. Because that, too, was the ‘strategic choice’, and thus the only one that may be discussed in public. And I have no doubt that in the case of Dodd-Frank, or whichever “achievement” of Obama I would care to list, you have done exactly the same thing. This isn’t just about your precious elections, this is about systematically rooting out dissent to your left. You are the thought police.

      • On “thought police.” Well, of course. K’s an enforcer. She’s a lot like the Chinese paid trolls, who evolved their schtick, and no doubt increased their billing, by moving from one-liners into sophisticated talking points. Well, relatively sophisticated. All the “progressive” blogs have one, and this blog is no exception.

        So it’s a mistake to think you’re having an actual interaction with K. There’s no real persuasion or interaction going on: D legs good, R legs bad, there are no other legs, that’s all K boils down to. If that’s not her job, it should be.

        However, by triggering K to emit talking points, and then refuting them and making it possible for others to see through them, you’re performing a valuable service to the reading public. Heck, you might even rescue one of those millenials Rich trafficked to Pete Peterson!

  42. Oh! A new Kliche! “Hard left” (to follow “purist,” “those people”, et cetera et cetera). I should have known that one was coming. Like the majority of Americans, I support Medicare for All. Single payer is a centrist solution; the “hard left” solution is a National Health Service. Konczal, as befits a Peterson enabler, labels public option a progressive solution, since that continues to allow the rent-seeking health insurance companies to retain their central position in the system. IOW, a moment’s study of the thread would enable K to actually engage with left positions, instead of emitting a dreary sequence of career “progressive” abuse. But then, that’s her job.

    When is the Roosevelt Instituion going to give the money back?

  43. jstur says:

    Missed this gem:

    And arguing that this one tree reeks of Centrist-Rubinism (or whatever) misses the entire forest of a generation that is getting their country sold out from under them, and them trying to make a stand saying that they want something different. That’s what this is about.

    This is utter bullshit: that’s not what this is about at all. Stop pretending this is an expression of righteous outrage by a generation stuck with the irresponsible budgeting and governance policies of past generations (read: New Dealers). Pete Peterson and his allies are directly responsible for the current economic disaster and for the fiction you’re passing off as a budget crisis.

    Mike wrote, “Centrist-Rubinism (or whatever)” pretty callous attitude, with the GenX slang whatever! tossed in like you don’t understand the central complaint. Just attempting to shift the topic to ‘what this is all about’ is doesn’t further your position, and eliding the issue won’t make it go away.

    First, Mike, no one needs that forum or any Peterson-Roosevelt backing to “make a stand saying that they want something different.” Stop pretending this project/ report/ voice is so freaking special. It’s not. If you, Peterson and Roosevelt had bothered to listen to college students over the past 10 to 30 years, you’da gotten plenty of budgets along with an earful or two, and the policy ‘problem’ would be fixed by now. We’ve been speaking about this for years, Mike, and neither you nor anyone else has been listening. You can go to any campus in the country and get better and more authentic opinions.

    Second, stop implying that new deal or great society programs resulted in Citizens “getting their country sold out from under them.” Exporting the manufacturing base and completely eliminating corporate tax revenues, two unpaid-for and undeclared wars, a succession of spendthrift Republican budget deficits and dine-&-dash policies, economically disastrous Bush tax cuts, and rampant wall street fraud — that caused the current fiscal situation. The New Deal was never the problem. To imply otherwise is grossly dishonest and a real slap in the face. You have to remember that not only is it their money, but it’s going to get spent on basic necessities. I don’t see any push to challenge Peterson’s line of propaganda. I don’t see any push for a New Deal with investments in America and the legitimate jobs that come with public sector investment. (yes, I know, you write blogs and pay lip service) But ineffectually.

    Pete Peterson was mighty quiet when all that open fraud and deficit spending was going on — he didn’t call his fellow financiers to account, he didn’t demand prudence or fiscal responsiblity on wall streeet, and he didn’t call on george bush to get real about the numbers (beyond the usual lip service, natch). Now somehow, he’s legitimate? No one thinks so. Somehow, all the nominal liberal groups gotta get to the table? It shouldn’t be a surprise folks are asking how you’ll be spending the thirty pieces of silver RI got in return.

    I bought a gallon of gas the other day and paid more in taxes than Chevron. Any outrage from the upcoming generation needs to be directed at the Republican authors of current fiscal policies and tax cuts, at corporations which pay no taxes, and at the Pete Petersons who lie and cheat the country out of real governance made of enlightened policies.

    When you and RI can find the guts to challenge Pete Peterson, expose the gibberish about “shared sacrifice” as the insane attempt to get Main Street to pay for Wall Street’s unrestrained fleecing of the American taxpayer, and force Peterson and the Rubin Democrats to invest in America first, to deliver public sector jobs in the form a of a new deal, then you and Peterson have room to lecture. Given his record, I’d like to know why anyone associates with Peterson at all. Call a legitimate budget summit, because he sure as hell doesn’t belong in public life.

    “Reading the comments, I think it is important to note that most of these criticisms are valid if the Campus Network did the same exact budget project with a grant from the Generic Foundation . .”

    No, it is not important. Nor is it true. ACME Foundation does not have an axe to grind, nor is it riven with self-interest. ACME Foundation did not have a hand in creating our economic crisis, it didn’t look the other way while Bush damaged the country , and it isn’t closely tied to wall street criminals who hijacked America’s tax revenues along with our wealth. If the criticisms of Peterson’s budget propaganda are true, as you say, then you’re conceding the point. Sounds like the criticisms are substantive and valid to use your word, no matter who is producing the bad policy. What’s your point?

    “With the second in mind, any foundation that asked the campus network to do what it just did – balance the budget with a vision of governance in mind – would have to be turned down, no?”

    Peterson didn’t just whistle down the garden path and happen upon the Campus Network. He invented the organization, offered eager Citizens titles as senior fellows and set forth its mission, defining it and what it was to do from start to finish. There is no reason to believe this particular network is more informed or better equipped to discuss the national budget. The Campus Network is not the Voice of the Millenials, and there’s no reason for you or anyone to go to them for their opinions on the national budget, nor should their views hold extra weight in the current federal budget discussions. They are shills, at best. They’ve been given a role as pawns, yes to lend Peterson a fig leaf of legitimacy — but none of us need senior fellow merit badges or official invites from potempkin networks to analyze the budget shenanigans and deliver better policy options than Peterson and the Campus Network can put together.

    There’ no basis for turning down every offer from every foundation. Some foundations are legitimate, have the public interest in mind, operate objectively, aren’t in an open conflict of interest, and aren’t entangled in responsibility for mismanaging the country up to this point. Peterson can’t say that. Some foundations look for effective policy before determining the ideology, and examine the data before arriving at conclusions rather than trying to fix the process around a false belief.

    The Millenials should not have to participate in a biased forum as part of a fixed process in order to be heard in this country. There are other legitimate fora and millions of legitimate voices — it’s just that neither RI nor Prznt Obama are listening to citizens with solutions that work.

    Finally — the Roosevelt Institute, CAP and EPI all already know the price for participation in the Peterson /Obama charade to address the entitlement/deficit situation is a sellout. Hamsher was on the conference call, but omits the substantive betrayal to focus on the symbolic:

    The point is that many of the people who represent the institutions you’re talking about in these posts were on that call. They all knew the importance of the symbolism of Peterson being the key note speaker at a big White House “fiscal responsibility” confab. To now claim that the symbolism of selling the Roosevelt Institute name off to Peterson means nothing is quite a reversal.

    The substantive betrayal of cozying up to and cooperating with Peterson — someone wholly devoted to perverting everything Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood for — is plain. FDR’s policies were effective, while Peterson’s are destructive. Blog all you want, but to adopt Peterson’s assumptions and help him along is nothing less than a wholesale rejection of the more efficient and more responsible policies of the Roosevelt legacy.

    Oh, and can the ‘consequentialist’ arguments, willya? A foundation or senior fellow can be corrupt as hell and still not get the result they’re hoping for. Peterson was trolling for willing schlubs eager to parrot his ideological line. That he didn’t get what he was hoping for (an open question, as he got the faux participation he was looking for, from a not statistically valid dataset nor a politically legitimate responders) does not mean his intent wasn’t to corrupt the process and rig the game.

    Just sayin': try addressing the issues raised, rather than shifting the issue, & rather than just throwing word games at the debate as though people will somehow be fooled and just go away.

    Hey! You could talk about “Centrist-Rubinism (or whatever)” — you know! reciprocate in good faith and be responsive to your peers here — because that flippant “(or whatever)” is just shockingly cavalier and callous. But then, you have a job.

    • Yeah, nice to see the Roosevelt Institute fomenting intergenerational hatred, as well as training ‘em how to do the math on what’s inside the envelope that nice Mr. Peterson leaves on the dresser. It’s a two-fer!

  44. Dollared says:

    Mike, as a long time fan, your post is deeply disappointing. Especially on the health care stuff and the naivete about Pete Peterson’s goals.

    You don’t think a public option is a possiblity? I love you man, but you just need to move over to OFA. Franklin Roosevelt needs his legacy advanced by someone who sees the possiblity that we could have a health system as rational and cost-effective for all Americans as the #$%%$&& Dutch. And someone who sees how not having single payer is destroying both Social Security and Medicare.

    You don’t seem to be advancing Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy, just ensuring that the retreat is a bit more orderly. Too bad. Really.

  45. Dan conducts a thought experiment:

    If, during the Nazi era, someone could [emphasis mine] have taken some kind of grant from the Waffen SS and used it kill Waffen SS members, that would have been awesome.

    And that’s about as likely to happen as the Roosevelt Institute taking Peterson’s money and using it to break Peterson’s framing, instead of reinforcing it).

    Hey! Mike! I’ve got an idea! Rather than continuing to push the ludicrous idea that even though taking tobacco money totally corrupted the science, taking Peterson’s money won’t corrupt the discourse at all, why don’t you reframe the whole thing as a jobs program? That way, the careerist and resume-building aspect can move front and center in the marketing strategy, everybody’s objectives can be out front and aligned, and everybody’s going to be much more comfortable, now that no more violence is being done to RI’s internal culture. Whaddaya say?

  46. More delicious Kliches! (It’s like Peterson’s funding a Turing Test competitor…)

    Now K combines “people like ….” with “Naderite”! I guess if you think 2000 is 2011, that might be relevant. Anyhow, the whole thing is fact free. K has no way of knowing how anybody here voted in 2000, and really, “people like” boils down to… Oh, people who thinking shilling for a winger billionaire is pretty bad, but corrupting the youth by making them think Beltway careerism should be the norm is even worse. See Luke 17:2….

  47. More delicious Kliches: “In a two-party system, anyone with progressive tendencies has a duty to support the more progressive candidate of the two parties.”

    Leaving aside the last gasp of “Nader!”, since this year — follow me closely, here, K — is not 2000 but 2011, “two party system” assumes facts not in evidence. Since the Ds and the Rs have the same set of owners — Pete Peterson’s purchase of the Roosevelt brand from the aptly named Rich really couldn’t make that more clear, now could it? — it’s all and only about branding, and not policy. For example, Starbucks, the corporation, has two brands: Starbucks (the burnt stuff) and Seattle’s Best (the slightly less burnt stuff). In the same way, the elite of this country have two brands: The Rs (burnt) and the Ds (slightly less burnt). Of course, there’s the narcissism of small differences between the fans of each brand. K exemplifies this mindset.

  48. hipparchia says:

    “And if Pete Peterson wants to give the Campus Network money to talk about optimal financial transaction taxes reinstating glass Glass-Steagall, the best way to raise the Social Security payroll cap lowering the retirement age to 55 or 60 and doubling the Social Security benefits, create a health care public option national health service, and raise taxes on the rich to pay for it all, that’s a pretty sweet gig.”

    There. Fixed it for ya.

  49. A says:

    And if the Campus Network had submitted the Communist Manifesto as their contribution to the Peterson budget confab, the only thing anyone would have heard of it would be that Campus Network obviously agreed that the budget deficit is the worst problem (‘came to the bi-partisan left-right consensus…’). (And unemployment is not).

  50. willid3 says:

    a few issues. tort reform has been implemented in several states (Texas and California. and guess what it? it didn’t work. costs didn’t go down. they continue to climb. and in some cases are at the top of the cost levels. in areas that aren’t major cities too!). its actually been proven that its been turned into a profit center by some providers. the anti trust idea is for insurers isn’t bad, but you need to also include providers. as they did monopolies too. the real cost driver in health care is the fee for service system. don’t fix that and you can’t really fix the health care system. and by the way. the employer tax exclusion is a benefit for employees, not the employer. so you are raising taxes on workers. and the voucher, will cover maybe 1-2 months of health insurance. maybe. the averages i have seen for health care has been about $1000 a month. and reducing the mortgage deduction is ok, but its mostly used by consumers not business. they are much more interested in leasing. is the funds from cap and trade going to fund roads and every thing else the gas tax did? if not, how will you fund transportation infrastructure? and what is the auto stimulus? didn’t see what it was described any where. on defense. most seem a good idea. might make funding to find and implement new energy sources a priority (if its not in that study you mentioned). also wondering why you think keep 50-60 year air craft in the air is a good idea, the majority of air tankers (707 based) are really old. and use lots of fuel too. same issue with trying to buy more f-18 and f-16s. they are both originally from the 1960s and 1970s era. even if most potential adversaries aren’t top notch in some ways. they will have newer planes than that. so are you saying let the young pilots fly antiques and get by on he skill only? the newer drones my help some, but they are subject to being disrupted by jamming of commands. high speed rail might work in the north east. but will not work very well in the west, and some larger states (Texas for example) it won’t work well at all. the distances are to great. with stops and all, it could take a few days to travel. to long in a world of work where you might get 10 days a year in vacation

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