The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trump Outflanks Dems from the Left

So, as you’ve probably heard by now, Trump is opposing the Covid “stimulus” bill and asking it be amended to include a $2,000 check, not a $600 one. Pelosi says he should pass the bill then they’ll pass another bill with the extra $1,400 (which is a ludicrous lie and we all know that).

The cries from many liberal supporters of the bill are that it is a good bill because it includes unemployment insurance relief increases of $300 a week. That’s sort of true, it’s the main good thing in the bill, but the problem is that a lot of people who need help aren’t currently getting UI.

Trump’s simply right about this, whatever his motives. Moreover, throughout the year he’s fairly consistently advocated more relief than Congress has provided.

But the standard play is unfolding. Screamed warnings that if the bill doesn’t pass no one will get relief, and that if it isn’t passed by the 26th, 12 million people will go off UI, so pass the bill, even if it’s inadequate. “We’re giving you something, in a bill packed with pork, and that’s not nothing, so take something.”

This is based on standard economic-neoliberal thinking. There’s a little decision game about it. You and another person are given a hundred dollars. The other person decides how the money is split. You can’t change how it is split, but you can veto getting any money.

The theory is that even if the person deciding how the money is split offers you a cent, you should take it. After all, you’re better off, right? In the real world, people don’t do that. If the split gets too low, they veto any money.

This is correct if you are dealing with a situation where the “game” will be played more often than once. If you don’t do it, you get a cent each time, and the other person gets almost all the money.

The correct action is a veto.

It’s why the Squad should have taken down Pelosi if she didn’t meet some essential demands — to show that they can’t be bullied, and that they have to be dealt with. If you wont use whatever power you have, you have no power, and you get nothing but table scraps.

In this sense, Trump is able to be “wrong” because he’s lame duck now. If he was going to be around for another four years, this threat would have real power because he could gum a lot of things up and he could insist those 12 million people be put back on UI (it’s not like an amended bill couldn’t do that). Biden is very unlikely to veto such a bill.

But he’s not wrong that $600 checks are too little and an insult. That’s not even a month’s rent for most people.

And if he runs in 2024, a lot of people will remember this attempt to get them more money as his last fight.

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A Brief Note on the New Covid “Stimulus” Bill


Merry Christmas


  1. Z

    I think Creepy Joe is going to try like hell to stop it, but the House and Senate are going to cave and agree to the $2000. It’s them who are currently uncomfortably positioned between $1400 and an angry and hungry populace.

    Then, once Trump exits Creepy Joe and “Let Them Eat Shit” Mitch are going to be talking non-atop about the danger of the deficit and looking to create a government funding crisis like Obama pulled with the sequester crisis that he invented.


  2. There’s a lot of thin ice at the end of the year. Pelosi can’t promise a $1600 check next year, because the 116th Congress cannot tell the 117th Congress what to do. Just like the “sequester” was a massive lie, since it was committing future Congresses to a specific course of action.

  3. sbt42

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I first heard this news.

    Due to their constant bickering, holding-out, and waffling on the decision (whatever their motives), Congress essentially gift-wrapped this moment for the exiting President. Looks like at least one person’s having a Merry Christmas after all… Or at least the last laugh.

  4. bruce wilder

    Trump has always been too weak to give much effect to his populist impulses. His lack of intellect, his authoritarian bent and his deep personal insecurities made him weak even befote he acquired lame duck status.

    Still, the outburst is illuminating the reality of the neoliberal political process. Pelosi complaining that the slimy Mnuchin never gave her “a number” and offering unanimous consent to get it done is extremely cynical. We are all supoosed to think the Dems are heroes and only the evil McConnell and the Senate Republicans are preventing the Dems from doing all manner of good things. Ha! (If the House Dem caucus were possessed of a collective good will, they are the worst political negotiaters imaginable.)

    This is just one of an array of policy issues where an iron consensus has swallowed all common sense, and a child like Trump can speak the truth and everyone is shocked. The U.S. cannot get out of Afganistan either.

  5. Z

    Interesting to see the real power a president does have if they decide to wield it and not spit in their hand and reach across the aisle like Creepy Joe Biden and the Head PR Man for the Point Zero One Percent Obama.

    Biden is too doped up and too gone in the head to realize what he’s gotten himself into but he’s not going to have the same latitude as Obama had to sell out the U.S. citizen and his “c’mon, man” routine is going to get very old very quickly. He doesn’t have a fervent base to back him up like Obama and Trump had and if he goes authoritarian to try to put down the upcoming protests he’ll be surprised to find that all of a sudden the Right that let Trump get away with the same sh*t is now going to be vehemently opposing him, not to mention the ones who were out in the streets when Trump was in office aren’t going to stop breaking windows for Creepy Joe and his “nothing is going to fundamentally change” ethos.


  6. If the combined omnibus / covid relief bill sent over to him stays in his pocket, if he just doesn’t sign it and send it back – a pocket veto, everything shuts down Tuesday.

    Two things to unpack here: first is everyone seems to be confusing the omnibus government appropriations with the covid relief package. They’re not the same, they’re two different bills lumped into one voting action. And two… upon vetoing the Defense Appropriations Bill he pocketed the combined omnibus appropriations / covid relief bills while boarding a plane for parts unknown, ostensibly Merde a’Lardo though Jeff Epstein’s island is not much farther.

    He has no intention of signing anything, all of this is a waste of air.

    Everything shuts down Tuesday.

    Gotta’ admire it.

  7. Hugh

    This isn’t about Trump outflanking the Democrats. It is about him settling scores with Republicans, especially Mitch, for not overturning an election he lost. It is about a severely mentally ill President having a breakdown before our eyes and saying FU to his party, to the military, to the federal government, to tens of millions needing help because of the pandemic he essentially promoted, and finally to the country generally. Yes, Virginia, Trump is worse than his predecessors, which is saying something. He will end up killing more Americans than World War II. Even among monsters, Trump os a monster. We need to lay off the koolaid long enough for once to look in the face the evil that Trump is.

  8. Purple Library Guy

    This is all true in the general case, about tactics. But it doesn’t really apply to the current situation. Trump has no interest in getting more dollars to people, nor has he any of the other times. He’s actually doing exactly what the Democrats have been doing: Counting on Mitch McConnell to block anything useful from happening. Throughout the process that got this miserable bill through to Trump to sign in the first place, the Democrats have been asking for more, McConnell has simply been refusing to budge, and the Democrats have been caving in while breathing a sigh of relief, happy that they can say they tried without actually ending up having to spend money on the proles. Useless but it’s the Republicans’ fault is the modern Democrat’s happy place.
    Trump has been doing something similar, but perhaps even more cynical. The Dems at least I think are pleased enough to pass whatever minimal thing they can get past McConnell. Trump has been talking about bigger stimulus, but generally his interventions have just added one more layer of complexity and blockage, making it less likely anything will get passed at all and even if it does, seriously slowing the process down. His goal seems to be to collaborate with McConnell to sabotage getting any bill passed; he and McConnell have been batting the Dems back and forth like a frigging badminton bird. But he gets to talk like he’s offering good stuff.

    On the third hand, of course, Mitch McConnell is just evil. But he’s the evil everyone else is depending on–without him to play the bad guy, everyone else would have to admit they don’t actually want to help; his evil lets them all pretend to be good.

  9. Willy

    Pelosi is calling for a stand alone bill to provide that $2000 while Rand Paul calls $600 “a really foolish, egg-headed left-wing socialist idea to pass out free money to people”.

    As for Trump, yet another fine knee jerk political calculation mess. Trump will have actually outflanked Dems from the left after he takes precious time away from Mar-a-lago to ensure his ‘vision’ passes, or, if he gets reasonable traction blaming whatever left after his conservative comrades prevent it.

  10. S Brennan

    As I have said all along, Trump is to the left of neoD’s on a number of serious issues. Since, at least the 90’s, [though not a politician] Trump has been consistent on a number issues in his public speaking engagements.

    That is why you can hear the neoDs above bleeting like sheep before slaughter, why you hear an endless stream of ridiculous accusations harmoniously coming from both neoD’s and R’s singing in concert.

    The key to moving the country back towards the middle has always been to get an R willing to move back to center.

    Which is why the neoD’s bleet about Trump, it has been Al From’s realized dream [founder of the DLC, director of the House Democratic Caucus from 1981 to 198] to annihilate FDRism and to return the Democratic party to the cesspool it once was before it annexed the goody-goodies of the Progressive Party. Hence my use of the term “neoD” it is an attempt at creating a rhetorical shorthand to bifurcate the party of FDR from the D party of today.

    Looks like we will have to face an endless stream of Hugh/Willy commentary spinning why Trump flanking neoD’s to the left is really the work of [insert an ad hominem here] head faking to enact [insert nutty conspiracy theory here].

    As I have said many time before, had the genuine left/liberals/D’s treated Trump on an issue by issue basis rather than accepting verbatim the neoD’s/3Letter-Agencies/MediaCorp’s comic-book cutout of a villain that rivals the worst of the 30’s the nation would have marched forward on some critical issues.

    And if that wasn’t bad enough, I can hardly wait to hear 10-feathers to opine on his favorite Russian Spy [Tulsi-Gabbard] refusing to vote for either of Pelosi & McConnell’s vile concoctions, the NDA [w/BigTech immunity] and the Obama inspired, Covid-Relief-Bill.

    Now I gotta go get me some popcorn and come back in a few hours and read the DNC’s lickspittles endless apoligia for Pelosi’s vile machinations.

  11. Ten Bears

    Yes Tulsi, you’re still my favorite Russian stooge. No one will replace you.

    Thanks again for the compliment, for your recognition of my status within my community. I realize it’s an American thing, and you are fundamentally incapable of getting it, but thanks again anyways!

  12. Hugh

    If this was 1945, SB would be telling whoever was left about how smart the Führer was suckering the Russian army into attacking Berlin. At best, true believers are these odd, funny, opposite side down people. At worst, they are a dead end if there is a real problem to be solved. They don’t want a solution. They want the rest of us to follow their whack leader over the cliff.

  13. js

    Whether Trump’s proposal, though a head fake, would even represent an increased stimulus is unknown, remember he blabs about offsetting it by cutting “unnecessary spending”, whatever that is, probably conflating the covid bill with the budget bill. So

  14. js

    Whether Trump’s proposal, though a head fake, would even represent an increased stimulus is unknown, remember he blabs about offsetting it by cutting “unnecessary spending”, whatever that is, probably conflating the covid bill with the budget bill. So

  15. js

    ugh sorry, internet behaving badly.

  16. S Brennan

    The other day after Hugh was back footed in an argument and he did what he always does…change to a new line of attack.

    Hugh’s DNC-supplied line of attack emphasized how villainous Trump was abusing the power of Pardons and Commutations. Fine. But since Hugh job here is to endlessly repeat lies..I took the trouble to find out how deceitful Hugh was being on the “pardons issue” and it turns out that Hugh outdid himself.

    As this graph shows,[ ] to date, Trump has the fewest pardons of any US prez.

    Let that sink in. Hugh’s lie was to convince you that Trump has pardon more than any Prez in History and by chance, the exact opposite is true. Now we all that Hugh will claim that he might have left that impression but, he did explicitly say that…not only that even if he did you don’t have a court ruling that would convert evidence in to “proof”.

    Remember that when you see Hugh’s name, he deals in deceit, his currency is ad hominem, he offers up the neoD’s swill to those scrofa domesticas unwilling to notice they are being fattened to provide frying grease for the plantation.

  17. Z

    Pretty easy to outflank the DC democrats from the left: just don’t hold hands with them as they f*ck over the U.S. workers and poor.


  18. Hugh

    Thank you, SB, for illustrating my point.

  19. Mark Pontin

    Merry Christmas — or a minimally unpleasant Christmas, anyway — to Ian and everybody else.

  20. S Brennan

    Should have been written as:

    As this graph shows,[ ] to date, Trump has the fewest pardons of any US Prez.

    Let that sink in. Hugh’s lie was to convince you that Trump has [used the] pardon more than any Prez in History and by chance, the exact opposite is true. Now we all [know] that Hugh will claim that he might have left that impression but, he did explicitly say that…not only that, even if he did, you don’t have a court ruling that would convert evidence in to “proof”.

  21. NR

    The problem isn’t the number of pardons, it’s *who* Trump is pardoning: actual, literal war criminals. Care to comment on *that,* S Brennan?

  22. NR

    Whether Trump’s proposal, though a head fake, would even represent an increased stimulus is unknown, remember he blabs about offsetting it by cutting “unnecessary spending”, whatever that is, probably conflating the covid bill with the budget bill.

    It seems as though all throughout Trump’s presidency, the idea that he would move to the left of the Democrats is something Ian desperately *wants* to be true, but never actually ended up being true.

  23. different clue

    When I heard Trump’s latest action, I thought he just wanted more attention. If HEEeeeee can be the one to stop something, then HEEeeee can be the one people are paying attention to yet again.

    I don’t think Trump cares whether I get a $600 check or a $2000 check or a shut-down Federal Government.

    I think Z and Purple Library Guy have made some pretty good predictions for some pretty good reasons.

    I think Trump will go into silent sulk for a little while after the Joemala Inauguration, but then come back into view. He and his movement will refer to Biden as the ” Fake President”. Maybe he will award himself a fancy title like President In Exile. Maybe he will call Mar a Lago the White House In Exile. Several Ten Million Trumpists will look there for leadership and inspiration.

    Joemala and McConnell will conspire to make the Kamalanuchin Tax cuts permanent just as Obowelmovement and McConnell conspired together to make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. Joemala and McConnell will also conspire to revive Barak Obowelmovement’s Catfood Commission to advance the Catfood Conspiracy against Social Security.

    Wouldn’t it be something if Trump spoke up from his White House In Exile to defend Social Security and try to sabotage the Joemala-McConnell Catfood Conspiracy against Social Security?

  24. ella

    Trump never had Bernie Sanders intentions. I know because he always ends up taking Republican actions. And who gives a fuck anyway when he has deliberately hamstrung the Federal governments power to mitigate the epidemic? He caused that to happen; so many more deaths than there had to be.

    Yeah, A $600 one-time payout is an insult. A $2,000 one-time payout is an insult. Anything other than a plan to support individuals, small businesses, city and state governments over an extended period of time is an insult. Also trying to sell the idea that Trump and his enablers are capable of taking a progressive position to own the libs is an insult. At most he planned to con his supporters into donating a lot of that $2,000 to his election scam PAC. But we’re supposed to twist ourselves into knots thinking that it goes deeper and more calculating than that. It doesn’t.

  25. NR


    Great comment. Absolutely spot-on.

  26. js

    Ha, who gives a F anyway at this point is right.

    I mean if more money is added without strings great, but if Trump plans to run on it and people are instructed to ignore 4 years of actual governance, 5 months in which he could have pushed for real changes to the stimulus, and do for the sake of some last minute bloviating promises, then they fully deserve whatever they get. Truthfully I don’t even believe Trump wants office ever again though, he’s just wants to grift and evade punishment.

    The countries that did stimulus better, it doesn’t seem it was so much a difference of how much was spent, but how it was spent.

  27. nihil obstet

    Political party is not the most important aspect of government. Policy is. Trump apparently has no concept of parties, only of his own wishes. He wants taxes cut not because it’s Republican or to own the libs, but because he wants not to pay taxes. He babbles all over the place.

    His babbling is useful. It breaks the veneer of nonpartisan-ship by which rich members of both parties assure the proles of the realism and virtue of their own policies. The divine blessing is bi-partisan-ship. An ax needs to be taken to that altar.

    Trump is a very, very bad man. An entire government full of self-styled public servants serves him. It’s hard for me to make a case for the members of that government because they have the good taste not to like golden toilet fixtures.

  28. Willy

    S Brennan has predicted that his beloved TrumpHitler will see his vision through. For real this time. So let it be written, so let it be remembered. Let’s see what happens.

  29. S Brennan

    “Care to comment on *that,* S Brennan” – NR

    No, I am not a fan of your/neoD’s use of false dichotomies [see TINA]…and see no reason to respond to those who wish to constrain political discussion to parameters outlined by elites within the DNC’s. But thanks for asking.

    FYI – NeoD’s is my shorthand for post FDRist-Ds such as Hugh/Willey/NR et al…

  30. Z

    If Trump gets us $2K and pardons Assange and Snowden, I’m buying myself a MAGA hat and writing a thank you letter to Putin.


  31. S Brennan

    It’s fun to watch “liberals”/”progressives”/”neoDs” perform intellectual somersaults. One week ago, Bernie Sanders made the same observation that Trump did yesterday [crickets], the same observation that prompted Ian’s post.

    Why is it when Bernie says something in line with what the DNC “claims” it wants…it’s pure gold? But when Trump expresses the same desire…well…every Tom, Dick and Sally DNC poster is OUTRAGED ? As I’ve said, neoD’s intellectual dishonesty is so over the line…it’s amusing, not to be taken seriously…just something to be laughed at.

    In the Christmas spirit, it’s good to see Tulsi Gabbard has regained herself after being treated worse than $#!t by the neoDs. Go Tulsi [!] you were too good for today’s neoD party and…it’s sycophantic minions, go have a good life, leave these neoD wastrels behind.

  32. NR

    S Brennan – So, you have nothing to say about Trump pardoning war criminals, then. Okay, got it.

  33. S Brennan

    NR, either you are a knave or, your ignorance knows no bounds, only flag officers were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes; and…because you choose willingly to display your studied ignorance in public, if true, an indication of near illiteracy, let me cite for you the final judgement at Nuremberg:

    The Tribunal’s final judgment said:

    “The charges in the Indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

    Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, George Bush [the 2nd], Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton are all war criminals as are their financial backers, they all waged wars of aggression for which you have not expressed the slightest concern…oh that’s right, George Bush [the 2nd], Dick Cheney were Republicans so they could face charges under your warped sense of morality…NR, you willingly serve the devil…and he will have his due in the course of time.
    Now again, for those that understand the meaning of the American Christmas story, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

    “As this graph shows,[ ] to date, Trump has the fewest pardons of any US Prez.

    Let that sink in. [The] lie was to convince you that Trump has used the pardon more than any Prez in History and by chance, the exact opposite is true.

  34. Willy

    Maybe TrumpHitler’s pardoned war criminals are all with him down at Mar-a-Lago working out the details of our new and improved covid relief plans?

  35. Z

    Bloomberg News drug out Robber Rubin’s and Epstein’s old pal, Larry Summers … he who has overseen the financial market rape and pillage of multiple countries, including this one … to start preaching the ridiculousness and hysterics that $2K checks threaten to overheat the economy.

    Creepy Joe also brought in Rahm Emanuel’s buddy Bruce Reed, a notable SS and Medicare cut ghoul, into his prospective Administration last week.

    Considering Creepy Joe wants us to get as little as possible … he was in favor of NO CHECKS … and is spitting into his palm and talking about reaching across the aisle and “Let Them Eat Shit” Mitch is getting that greedy little grin reverberating on all four chins of his face again, it would hardly be surprising if Creepy Joe’s handlers plan to use him during his short time in office to ramrod through some sort of Grand Bargain bs with limited student debt cancellation, some minor cash infusion to desperate U.S.ers in need of food and shelter, and some other unemployment benefits in exchange for a minor tax on the rich (drag out the “shared sacrifice” branding from the Obama-nible days in which some meaningless, minor digits are deducted from the rich in exchange for taking food of the table of the U.S. worker and poor) along with permanent, long-term SS and Medicare cuts of some sort, maybe sold as an SS early payout in order to temporarily rescue U.S.ers from the consequences of the horrible U.S. economy that Creepy Joe has played such a big part in rigging against the U.S. worker and poor and to try to balance the all important budget that only matters when our rulers want it to.

    It’s what four decade long amphetamine enthusiast Creepy Joe has been doing his entire political career: selling out U.S. citizens for the dopamine ping of being told by his sponsors how smart, wise, and responsible he is to bring the U.S. budget in order and U.S. worker and poor to heel. Creepy Joe has always had his eye on SS and Medicare cuts. It’s been an obsession for this freak. It would also insulate his soon to be successor from the deed, the deplorable doped up power pleaser Kamalala who didn’t even win one single delegate in the democratic party primary and was slated to end up 6th in her own home state before she dropped out of it.


  36. StewartM

    Ya, know, if Trump really wanted to “outflank Dems from the left” he’d have floored the accelerator before the election. He could have told McConnell “either pass it, or I’m rescinding all my judicial appointments” (the only thing McConnell apparently cares about) and moreover have told McConnell he’d got to Kentucky to *campaign against* McConnell* if he stalled. The only thing that McConnell understands is hardball, so play it.

    Hell, he would have started back in 2017; instead of the Paul Ryan-crapcare bill he allowed to go through he could have vastly improved Obamacare (I doubt he could have gotten MFA, though) and instead of going through just Ryan and McConnell he could have included Schumer and Pelosi and threatened to bypass the Repug Congressional Leadership from the get-go. The problem is that Trump trusted the Rs to keep his back but the Rs aren’t motivated by loyalty to Trump, but by fear of him.

    So this latest stuff is just grandstanding. Like in everything else, he’ll change his position.

  37. NR

    S Brennan continues to deny, deflect, and simply ignore the fact that Trump has pardoned war criminals. This is one of the mercenaries he just pardoned:

    One of the Blackwater contractors continued shooting civilians in the crowd even as his colleagues shouted over and over for ceasefire. One had to pull a gun on him to force him to stop. One of the people he shot was a mother clutching her infant.

    Since S Brennan apparently cannot bring himself to say that Trump’s pardoning of this individual was an evil act, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that he has no problem with mothers and infants being gunned down in the streets.

  38. Seattle Resident

    Thanks Ella. Trump couldn’t care less about tacking left and helping the 99%.

    This move by Trump is not outflanking the dems but more like punking McConnell and the GOP for not helping him steal the election. McConnell wants those Senatorial seats in GA and getting something /anything passed period will supposedly help them. Now he’s in the position of getting his herd to go along with a bill he doesn’t like lest he put the GA seats in peril. $2000 isn’t enough for the suffering, but it’s better than $900.

    Hopefully some sane dems will get the ear of the Biden camp and tell him that if he proactively pursues austerity in the next four years, the next medicine show of a GOP candidate selling the faux elixir of populism will make him a one term president.

    I tend to doubt Trump will run 2024. The combination of his diet, his obesity, his age, and his laziness will not leave him in condition to do so.

  39. Quite Likely

    I don’t see how this is supposed to be an outflanking. He’s coming around to the Democratic position at the last minute in a way that makes it very awkward for the congressional Republicans who have been the party stopping the Democrats from putting out a larger stimulus thus far.

  40. Hugh

    Re SB, the initial Nuremberg trials were against 24 high ranking German political and military leaders and 7 German organizations. So not against just “flag officers”. The trial lasted from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. This first trial was presided over by the Four Powers: France, the UK, the USA, and the USSR. The USA held further trials at Nuremberg through 1949. Nuremberg was in its zone of occupation. Various war crimes trials relating to WWII, not just flag officers, were held over the years and, of course, many others covering other wars and conflicts.

    SB’s quote comes from page 422 of the judgment of 1 October 1946, in The Trial of German Major War Criminals. Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal sitting at Nuremberg, Germany, Part 22 (22nd August, 1946 to 1st October, 1946) in a section entitled The Common Plan Or Conspiracy And Aggressive War. I do not see its relevance to any comment made by NR.

    A result of this first trial was the subsequent development of the Nuremberg Principles which do define war crimes. Interestingly, while the German General Staff and High Command was not found to be a criminal organization in this first Nuremberg trial, the US in 1949 at Nuremberg did try 12 of its members.

    You can wiki Nuremberg Principles if you are interested. Principle VI, part 2 defines war crimes as follows:

    “Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”

    I would note that those involved in the Nisour Square massacre whom Trump pardoned were guilty of murder of civilian population and are war criminals.

  41. js

    Yes if this is flanking it’s not out flanking, since both this and say the Hero’s act would have to pass the Senate. Thus they both seem two proposals that will never go anywhere, one for which I could credit Trump and the other for which I may as well credit Nancy Pelosi. Trump indeed has the veto, but what is the probable result of that: 1) Trump caves and signs the existing stimulus or 2) no stimulus passes at all or 3) Congress overrides a veto and passes the existing stimulus or 4) Congress makes it 2k and passes it. I have no idea why I should think the last is the most likely outcome. I do think passing no stimulus at all wouldn’t be something they’d want, as it might tank the stonks or something, even though they care very little about most of us.

    And it doesn’t seem to me that Trump has much more leverage over the Senate than say House Dems. Most of the leverage he had was BEFORE the election. He has a rabid base of 1/3 of the voters but more than 1/3 of the Republican party (many who voted for Trump are not of his base they were just R party line voters). Can and will they pressure Senate Republicans for this though?

  42. Willy

    Maybe somebody would have the time to discern why Larry Summers appears criminally insane to the typical progressive. Is he that scared of plutocrats? Is he yet another well-connected crony idiot who’s faked all his credentials? Does Larry simply never get out, besides to other gated communities or yacht marinas, and for him those are the things which make up “the economy”?

    On the other, far side, the wealthy Pelosi and the even wealthier Trump claim they want $2000 checks. Completely the opposite. No nuance here. The evidence sure seems to suggest that everything public figures say is a political calculation. Maybe nobody keeps score anymore.

    Theoretically, one can lie 20,000 times, routinely break promises, and consistently demonstrate mediocrity or even insanity, yet still be carefully listened to with applause and cheers.

    I’m aware that the conservative operatives primary goal was to change all of American culture. But were they aware, or did they even care, that a sociopathically political survival culture could emerge?

  43. Hugh

    Larry Summers is an Establishment economist. He has spent his whole career running interference for the rich. He was one of the architects of the 2008 Great Financial Meltdown. As president of Harvard, he helped its endowment lose billions. He was one of the guys that pushed post-Soviet Russia to privatize into oligarchy. I’m sure he’s been right about something somewhere but he usually isn’t just wrong but catastrophically wrong. Why would he change now?

  44. bruce wilder

    Reuters reported from financial disclosures released in 2009 on Summers 2008 income, after leaving Harvard and before joining the Obama Administration:

    Summers, who was a part-time managing director of D.E. Shaw after stepping down as Harvard president, had speaking fees of $67,500 from JP Morgan, $45,000 from Citigroup, $135,000 from Goldman Sachs and $67,500 from Lehman Brothers. Altogether, Summers was paid $2.7 million in speaking fees by a range of organizations and companies. Lawrence Summers was paid about $5.2 million by hedge fund D.E. Shaw.

  45. Willy

    So Summers belongs in a category with Kristol and the Kardashians, people famous for being famous? That anybody takes anything these fools say as anything other than curious comedy is beyond me. In my little world everybody gets the benefit of the doubt, everybody gets a chance, until they prove themselves irredeemably stupid. And I don’t even set that bar all that high, forgiving fool that I am.

    Yet millions do take anything these fools have to say, seriously. Sad commentary about our current cultural state. So I guess some of us now know what happens when the personal-social responsibility equilibrium gets pushed too far in the objectivist-libertarian direction. We don’t really get more meritocracy. We get hordes of bimbos speaking in arrogant vocal fry, to talk down to other hordes who’ve become powerless, hungry, and desperate through no fault of their own.

  46. nihil obstet

    Summers wins by making the right people happy. He lost the Harvard Endowment billions, but his friends in the hedge funds where he put the money got very high fees. Rich Americans got richer investing in his plans that privatized Russian national assets. He’s Larry on the Spot for any U.S. administration that want to fire the money cannon at the very rich and immiserate the rest.

  47. Hugh

    Larry Summers was pedigreed. His father was a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania. His father changed the family name from Samuelson. So Larry’s uncle was Paul Samuelson. His mother’s maiden name was Arrow. She was also a professor at UPenn and her brother was Kenneth Arrow. You see the picture. His dad a professor of economics at an Ivy and two of his uncles had won the Nobel Prize in economics, Samuelson in 1970 and Arrow in 1972. Went to MIT, then Harvard, then taught and got tenure there at 28. Awards, etc. Robert Rubin was a mentor. Did his part to screw over Russia in its privatization. Culminated as Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury after Rubin left. Larry helped deregulate derivatives and repeal Glass-Steagall. What could go wrong? Other than blowing up the financial system. President of Harvard where he said women weren’t in top positions in science and engineering because they weren’t smart enough too. Pushed the Harvard Endowment to invest more aggressively which eventually lost it $1.8 billion. And with all that, Larry never earned his own Nobel. (And yes, I know the Nobel in Economics isn’t a real Nobel, and that it is given out by Sweden’s neoliberal central bank “in memory of Alfred Nobel.) But that’s Larry.

  48. bruce wilder

    As Hugh says, this is an economics cast as thinly disguised monarchism, where we are expected to defer to and honor the Crown Prince and never take notice of his debility or corruption. One of the mysteries to me is how people who encounter him in person are not instantly suspicious or simply repulsed. He is physically ugly: he just looks degenerate, his arrogance drips off of him and he is remarkably ill-mannered. But, that was always a hazard with royalty and the pretty ones were rarely better at governance than the in-bred imbeciles.

    The fault must be found in the institution of economics not in its Princes, or even in that nobility conferred by reactionary Swedish bankers with their faux Nobels.

    What makes economics so impenetrable that people would even consider deferring to the judgment of a serial incompetent like Larry Summers? What makes it possible to gain political advantage for bankers and financial managers that they would consider buying a Larry Summers?

    I think it has to do with the impenetrability of economics for most people. So much effort goes into reducing economics either into over-simplified precepts (e.g. “no such thing as a free lunch”, ” trade-offs”) or paradoxes (e.g. “paradox of thrift”, “fiat money is inherently worthless”) while largely ignoring the baseline issues for an economic system (how do you create and manage a system of deep specialization in production, without squandering all the surplus in disputes, frauds, waste and predation?)

    I do not know that Larry Summers actually lacks insight into how “the system works” on some very high (gross or macro) level. He might. I know he does not share that insight with the hoi polloi honestly and plainly. He speaks in the coded language of the noble lie, aiming to manipulate this audience or signal subtly that other audience.

    Left to their own devices, informed by fear and anxiety but not by deliberate consideration, people do not do well with economics. The political governance of economic systems is prone to bonehead errors as well as subversion by hostile political forces, both endogenous and exogenous. (Terms like “endogenous” creeping into the exposition is a clear warning that the writer cannot escape his own training in economics.) The failure rate of intentional community suggests that ideals are insufficient guides to building societies with the crooked timber of humanity and our fathomless ignorance.

  49. S Brennan

    How come so many come here to profess their ignorance of recent history?

    “I don’t see how this is supposed to be an outflanking. He’s coming around to the Democratic position at the last minute…” – December 25, 2020

    Pelosi at least got the facts right, Trump wanted to put his name on a whole package of benefits prior to the election. Pelosi knew the polling numbers were being faked again, it was a close election and helping the American people could help Trump win.

    Pelosi in 2020, did as she did in the 2006-8 period, she wanted to make ordinary people suffer to help turn out voters for neoD’s. Condemn her extortion all you want, it appears to have worked; it might sink the economy but, for her donor base, that’s a feature, not a bug. Deep recessions allow the monied class to pick-up “bargain” as out of work people are forced to sell in a market with few buyers. So fucking over the American people to get at Trump was a win-win for that witch.

    Oh but McConnell is such a powerful meany; neoDs are powerless before his evil genius !!!

    Yeah sure, that’s what Obama apologists say…Barak was the saintliest of men, it was those mean R’s that stop him from being another FDR. Bullshit.

    Trump held the whip hand over R’s prior to the election, had Pelosi pushed the bill out, the Senate would have been in a politically precarious position to refuse the House and President. They, [Rs], would have caved to save their seats. Now? No. That’s how politics works, you hold Pols feet to the fire BEFORE THE ELECTION…not after.

  50. Mark Pontin

    Re. Summers, what nihil obstet and Bruce W. say.

    Bruce W: ‘The fault must be found in the institution of economics … What makes economics so impenetrable that people would even consider deferring to the judgment of a serial incompetent like Larry Summers? … I think it has to do with the impenetrability of economics for most people.’

    I think it has as much to do, frankly, with the impenetrability that’s _not_ inherent, but deliberately _created_. That is, the deliberately-maintained edifice of lies.

    After all, it ain’t just Summers. We have a Nobelist, Paul Krugman, much feted and regularly holding forth in outlets like the NYT and the NY Review of Books, who is apparently so stupid and ignorant that he doesn’t know how money is created.

    Two old, obvious quotes come to mind.

    ‘The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.’

    ― John K. Galbraith

    “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

    ― Henry Ford

    All becomes clear once one grasps that Summers et are in fact promoted as experts to help ensure that the people continue to _not_understand the banking and monetary system.

  51. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    I will express my understanding of your explanation of bank-created money. If I got it wrong, please feel free to let me know.

    The banks ( and any other extenders of credit) emit play-money which is regarded by the rest of society and all the people in it as being real money . . . having real value. And we, all of we who are not personally emitters-of-credit, have to do real work to be paid in money which began life as play-money invented by credit-emitters ( banks or whomever else) but becomes functionally “real” when filled up with “value” by having been worked for.

    The work we do is real. We have to do real work to get paid the play money. We all treat the money as real because we all know we all have to work to create the value to imbue into the money. But the banks and other credit-emitters get to buy us and our work and whatever material anything we extract or refine or produce with their play money.

    And just lately the government has given several trillion dollars of play money to the uppest classes to buy distressed real-assets and real-people with.

    Do I get it?

  52. Mark Pontin

    @ different clue.


  53. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    Thanks. I feel smarter already. And validated, too.

    So now I have a further question. When the Department of the Treasury emits Federal Reserve Notes and issues them into circulation, are they strictly backed ( and must be pre-permitted) by play-credit decreed into existence by the Federal Reserve Bank System?

    And on the other hand, when the Department of the Treasury’s division of United States Mint
    makes solid metal coins, can it make them and issue them out into the society without any Federal Reserve Bank System pre-permission-credit or even any Federal Reserve Permission at all? In that sense, are solid metal coins the U.S. Mint’s very own Separate, Free and Equal play money?

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