THE COURT

Sunday was Justice John Paul Stevens’ 88th birthday. He is a magnificent, progressive voice on the Court.

Do you know what I want for his birthday? I want him to have the right to retire, if he so chooses, without fear of the Court’s lurching ever further rightward.

Which is the lurch it will take if John McCain, bless his conservative soul, is elected. To wit:

“I’ve said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I’ve said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I’ve said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito [as possible], and I am proud of my record of working to get them confirmed, and people who worked to get them confirmed will tell you how hard I worked.”

And so I suggest as I did last Friday: volunteer. Especially for the ‘door-to-door’ piece. And if you can, please: give $25 or $50 – or $500 – in honor of Mr. Justice Stevens’ birthday so we have the resources to win . . . to stanch the rightwing slide of the Judiciary . . . and to give Justice Stevens the option to retire, if he ever wants to.

OUR DEBT

Lisa Strong: ‘The National Debt is not a Republican issue, not a Democratic issue. It is an issue of America’s survival. We can stand and argue like Abbot and Costello about who’s fault it is that the ship is sinking, or we can break out the life boat and row. Start rowing. All nations rise and fall. I fear that we will collapse under the burden of our debt. Politicians buy votes with my money. It’s effective because both the politicians and the voters are greedy. Piling on debt for programs that would be ‘nice.’ We need to prioritize our list from needs down to wants, including paying off the debt. Match that with the money we have, and cut off the list where we run out of money. However, everyone seems to have their own untouchable pet program. Match the list of priorities to our income and stop there. That’s it. End of story.’

☞ We largely agree. Places we don’t:

1. There’s absolutely no need to pay OFF the debt, just to have it growing, most of the time, slower than the economy as a whole (so that it shrinks, relatively speaking). That way, in years of recession or special catastrophe, there will be room for it comfortably to grow faster than the economy (and thus, temporarily, grow as a proportion of the GDP).

When Reagan took over, the debt was about 30% of GDP. A good, conservative level. When Bush leaves it will be about 70%, a precarious level – and for what? Our bridges are in need of widespread repair, our ports need dredging (yes! yes!), half our kids are not graduating from high school, our returning veterans are not getting the health care and education benefits they need – and on and on.

2. All debt is not created equal. Debt incurred as an investment in the future can be urgently worth incurring. Debt incurred to lower taxes on the wealthy – or to blow things up – not so much. (It may sometimes be necessary to blow things up, as at Tora Bora in Afghanistan; but wars are generally financed by raising taxes on those best off, not lowering them.)

3. It does matter that so much of the debt (85%) has been racked up under Republican administrations, because Republicans routinely win elections by telling people THEY are the ones to be trusted with money. Not true.

 

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