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Jared Polis did not attend the Occupy Boulder protest this evening

November 3, 2011

I just returned from an Occupy Boulder protest on the corner of a busy street here in Boulder, Colorado.  Our  congressman Jared Polis wasn’t there.  Perhaps he was too busy signing a letter encouraging the “super committee” to cut $4 trillion from the deficit and keep “all options for mandatory and discretionary spending” on the table.

It’s a very sad fact that one of the most liberal districts in the country is somehow stuck with a representative who could easily be mistaken for a republican when it comes to economic matters.  In a crisis of massive unemployment and income insecurity, Polis has the gall to support deficit reduction on the backs of those with modest means.  This at a time when the tax rate on high income has never been lower or military spending higher.  How dare he vote for one penny of cuts to those of middle or lower incomes when we have such gross inequality!

Polis, the fifth richest person in congress, is a member in good standing of the 1% and he serves it quite well indeed.  He told me two summers ago we needed to cut social security to “save it” at exactly the same time he was writing a letter to Nancy Pelosi expressing outrage at the proposed millionaire tax surcharge for health care.  And then, to assure high standing among his wealthy backers, he wrote a letter to President Obama in support of maintaining the 15% tax rate on “carried interest” for hedge fund tycoons.  And, of course, he voted in favor of domestic spending cuts this past summer in answer to the completely bogus republican bluff that they’d default on the debt owed to millionaires unless cuts were made to “entitlement” programs.  The wildest of poker players would never dream of making such a transparent bluff: imagine the Republican response if the Democrats tried the mirror image play, threatening say to default on social security unless taxes were raised on high incomes.

Jared Polis is a clear example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party and this country.  These are interesting times though as a growing number are waking up to the essential unfairness of it all.  It will be interesting to see the reaction on the street when Obama signs this latest attack on living standards.

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7 Comments
  1. Hi!
    As you may know I went to Occupy Boulder the weekend of the 20th:
    http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder/ci_19169982?source=most_viewed

    I could not possibly have been there yesterday because I am in DC voting on issues. I will be happy to come by again when I am in town.

    And again you misportray my position. I have never advocated cutting benefits of social security. I understand that you consider actuarial adjustments resulting from longer lifespans to be cuts, but I do not consider them to be cuts. I support revenue to shore up the program and a “lock box” for the trust fund.

    You have also very conveniently cut and posted from the letter to completely mischaracterize its meaning. You quote “all options for mandatory and discretionary spending” when it actually says ““all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues.” One of our (the Democrats) top goal in the negotiation for revenue is to let the Bush tax cuts expire for those making over $1,000,000/year.

    Jared Polis

  2. Hello!

    I had a feeling you may visit. Welcome back. I always appreciate the opportunity to chat.

    I didn’t know you went the other day – glad to hear it. Of course visiting isn’t what’s important, it’s the policies and interests that are represented in Washington. I don’t want to misportray your position and am sorry if I did. Regarding social security, there’s no sense re-hashing previous discussions. Bowles SImpson calls for raising the retirement age and changing the cost of living adjustments in a way that would reduce future benefits. My understanding is that you support something down those general lines. As a progressive, I find it extremely disappointing that we as a society find it acceptable that any American should be forced to live on just $1,100 per month, the average social security level. Do you know that social security is very meager by international standards? The US ranks 26th out of 30 OECD countries. And now those levels are targeted to go down further. I don’t understand why you, claiming to be a progressive, would favor increasing the retirement age or making other actuarial adjustments when productivity is steadily rising and technology’s putting ever greater pressure on employment. If anything, we should be encouraging earlier retirements so that the young will have better access to jobs. My key question is this: why shouldn’t our living standards be increasing as our technology and productivity endlessly advance? Isn’t there something horribly wrong when we’re being asked to tread water or step backward while we’re advancing so far technologically?

    Other “entitlements” are also on the block and will be hit hard if the deficit is to be reduced by $4T. Again, the same question regarding medicare: at a time of unparallelled productive technology, how is it rational that we be asked to take a step backward in living standards? It makes no fundamental sense. I sent you links in a past comment that clearly show that the whole deficit debate is false. I hope sometime you will read them. Societies are not like families – families can be in debt but societies can’t be in debt to themselves. There’s absolutely no reason the US Treasury / Fed can’t directly create money as long as there’s unemployment and under-utilization of resources. Not through quantatative easing but through direct jobs programs. There’s no rational reason to think it would be inflationary as it would only be bringing into play unused resources. The key point: we can spend now without borrowing or taxing. It’s good for business and good for everyone. Why aren’t we looking at it? Please don’t come back with Obama’s meager jobs bill. It’s way too little and it’s presented in the false orthodox manner that somehow it needs to be paid for through debt or taxes.

    Finally, you object that I mischaracterized your letter by ignoring the call for revenue. I didn’t include it because I think the small incremental revenue additions being discussed are immaterial. It will mean little to the struggling senior making even less on social security and paying more for health care that the tax rate on the well off goes up a couple percent. It’s irrelevant to real world lives. And it’s also irrelevant when one realizes that revenues are not needed when dollars can be created at will. (I’m not arguing we should mindlessly print money – only that sufficient purchasing power should always be in play to assure full employment.)

    Best regards,

    Jim

  3. Hey Jim, I enjoyed talking with you at the Occupy yesterday. This morning I googled “occupy boulder” and your blog pops up at the top of the queue.

    I stuck around until 6, which is when the General Assembly meeting began. I didn’t attend the Assembly because I had to go home and cook dinner. Sadly, I found myself disagreeing, sometimes a bit heatedly, with the other Occupier, who is also one of the organizers. In retrospect I think there were two general areas of strategic disagreement. First, is it important to move top-down, from vision to mission to objectives and so on, or to address specific issues as they arise? Second, is Occupy directed primarily at Wall Street or at Washington? From these two other issues devolve; e.g., does Occupy build a broad base looking to reduce corruption in government, even if it means including libertarians who think that government should either not concern itself with economics or should promote unregulated capitalism?

    You and I talked about whether moving money from banks to credit unions was a worthy project, and I tend to agree that it wouldn’t accomplish much on behalf of the 99%, but it is a collective economic action that doesn’t require politicians to implement it. Libertarian capitalists might even support such a move in support of breaking up bank oligopolies. Maybe that’s why the Occupy organizers have selected “Move Your Money” as its initial specific collective action.

    Another more tactical disagreement dealt with the organizers’ negotiations to secure permission from the city to sleep overnight on the Occupy site. This would entail a permit to occupy 24/7. Pointedly, it’s not a camping permit. You may know that the city of Boulder prohibits camping on public property, a law that affects mostly the homeless. The homeless shelter is closed from April through mid-October, so the anti-camping law in effect criminalizes homelessness, punishing those at the very bottom of the 99%. I thought that Occupy ought to stand — or sleep — in solidarity with the homeless, but it seems that the organizers are more interested in separating themselves legally from the homeless in order to maintain their position of not breaking laws. Tearing down tents has been a significant police action in other Occupy movements nationwide — it seems that the local organizers are prepared to accept an unjust law promulgated by the moneyed interests in this town, rather than confronting that law directly.

    Anyhow, I enjoy the blog. I’ll be back.

    Best,
    John Doyle

  4. Hello John,

    I really enjoyed our conversation yesterday and it’s great to hear from you. Yes, it’s more than a bit disappointing. We absolutely should stand or sleep in solidarity with the homeless. They’re as much an icon of what’s wrong with our society as Wall Street itself. I had hopes that maybe Boulder would show some spirit but maybe it’s just too small or weirdly conservative / libertarian. Or even too MBA based on Vision Statements, etc.

    Libertarians seem sadly quite prevalent in Boulder. I had a series of exchanges with a libertarian on an OB group email forum. He wanted to limit the focus to a Ron Paul like agenda and “compromise” with republicans and Tea Partiers. Of course I disagreed and he eventually accused me of being a “Bolshevik”. Right wing libertarians seem to have just one eye – they see and fear big government but are completely blind to the concentrated economic power that rules the world. All will be well if we just turn the clock back to the 18th century.

    btw, your blog is extremely interesting and I look forward to looking at it closer. Hope to see you at some future protest.

    Jim

  5. Congressman Polis: I think the problem is that you are buying into a narrative of economics & government finance which is simply nonsense. In the 70s, academia in the USA & the world threw out basically sensible economics, based on accounting, & started using bizarre, ancient, outmoded concepts with no applicability to the real world, and no merit but flattery and fealty to malefactors of great wealth, while slowly robbing the 99%.

    What was sold back then as something designed to “shore up” or “pay for” Social Security – the 80s Greenspan SS tax hike creating a big Trust Fund was nothing but a tool to destroy Social Security and attack working people. The sensible thing to do with SS now is raise the benefits & cut the taxes.

    Social Security was designed and administered in the 30s & 40s to the 80s by people using essentially modern economics, represented nowadays by “MMT” & “Post-Keynesian” (= real Keynesian) economics. FDR understood the basics well, far better than anyone currently in government, or in the centers of economic darkness like Harvard or Chicago. (Two of my alma maters, btw).

    FDR perfectly well understood that SS taxes DO NOT pay for SS. They are just political protection of the benefits.

    After hearing a correct, MMT, Keynesian, Institutional explanation FDR said:

    “I guess you’re right on the economics. They are politics all the way through. We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren’t a matter of economics, they’re straight politics.”
    Luther Gulick Memorandum re: Famous FDR Quote

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Move My Money? « Ktismatics
  2. Patriotic millionaires step up – CO Millionaires Bennet and Polis stand down - ColoradoPols.com

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