And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
At least they won it in every way possible that doesn’t involve, you know, actually winning:
[The GOP thinks] they lost because their get-out-the-vote technology failed on Election Day. They think they lag the Democrats in data mining and use of social media. They think media bias defeated them. They think they kinda-sorta won because they won the white vote and the elderly vote. They think a tiny number of anomalous, atypical Republicans spoiled everything for the rest of the party by scaring women with off-putting abortion rhetoric. They think they just haven’t found the right messenger who can explain to Hispanic voters that they’re “natural Republicans.” They think Obama and Democrats win among low-information voters who are too dumb to realize what’s really happening to them and what the two parties really stand for. Or those same voters are being bribed with “Obamaphones.” And, yes, Republicans are still claiming voter fraud.
Oh, and besides, they won the House (even if they lost the total House vote and won only because of gerrymandering, and even if Democrats retained the Senate), so 2012 was a split decision right? Heck, Paul Ryan won — he won reelection to his House seat.
So it’s all good for the GOP! Their ideas are what America wants! It’s obvious!
“First, in addressing global terror and violent extremism, we need the kind of comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy I called for last August. We need to strengthen security partnerships to take out terrorist networks, while investing in education and opportunity. We need to give our national security agencies the tools they need, while restoring the adherence to rule of law that helps us win the battle for hearts and minds. This means closing Guantanamo, restoring habeas corpus, and respecting civil liberties.”
Perhaps you are forgetting that Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, put the kibosh on any movement towards even beginning to wind down Guantanamo. Obama did exactly as he said he would and got the ball rolling on the Executive side; he is not a dictator (reports on FOXnews to the contrary). The onus is on all of us, the citizens in various districts, for not pressuring our individual representatives to drop their wrong-headed opposition to a return to rule of law. As FDR said (and Obama frequently quoted on the campaign trail) “You’ve convinced me… Now go out and make me do it.” Precisely. The Presidency is not a political-suicide pact. Underestimating the limitless potential for utterly craven demagoguery around this issue doesn’t in any way change the fact that he walked (partway) into a political chipper shredder trying to restore sensibility in this domain. There was never a broad based, citizen uprising in support of making this entirely sensible return to normalcy, so it died on the vine. Period.
We are getting precisely the government we deserve. We vote these tools into Congress and then blame all the rest of those tools in DC because our tool brought in some needless and destructive water management dollars to the district.
Without an educated and engaged electorate, nothing will change. Inventing supposed lies, “flipflops,” or failures on the part of Obama doesn’t educate anyone.
"I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years."
"The United States never had a debt ceiling until 1939, and doesn’t need one now. Congress can control debt by its control over revenues and expenditures; all the debt ceiling does is create the possibility that the government will not be able to borrow the money needed to carry out the laws Congress has already passed."
— Mark Kleinmansays what should be the first thing out of Obama’s (and every other Democratic) mouth every time a microphone is switched on. Or, perhaps, paired with the depressingly ever-present “God bless you and may God bless America” tagline. Whatever works for them.
Give the utter lack of any unified message on the issue, it’s genuinely remarkable that public opinion has turned so mightily in favor of what you could broadly call the “Obama position” on the debt ceiling. People still don’t seem to grasp what the hell the debt ceiling is or what purpose, if any, that it serves… but they’re beginning to dislike GOP demagoguery on it no matter what. At least we’ve got that going for us.
The [NBC/WSJ] survey — which was conducted Feb. 24-28 of 1,000 adults (200 reached by cell phone), and which has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points — also listed 26 different ways to reduce the federal budget deficit.
The most popular: placing a surtax on federal income taxes for those who make more than $1 million per year (81 percent said that was acceptable), eliminating spending on earmarks (78 percent), eliminating funding for weapons systems the Defense Department says aren’t necessary (76 percent) and eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries (74 percent).
The least popular: cutting funding for Medicaid, the federal government health-care program for the poor (32 percent said that was acceptable); cutting funding for Medicare, the federal government health-care program for seniors (23 percent); cutting funding for K-12 education (22 percent); and cutting funding for Social Security (22 percent).
So, the approach I laid out for the Democrats is not only popular, it’s the most popular. Well, that and people just have no fucking idea about earmarks and their relative proportion of the federal budget. Add that to the striking unpopularity of the GOP’s putative positions and you have a multifaceted issue about which you can be sure that The Democrat will make not one peep, will grudgingly accept the whatever the GOP’s demands are, and will be roundly slaughtered by voter fury about come 2012 but interpret said slaughter as implicit approval of the GOP message and most definitely not anything to do with The Democrat’s utter fecklessness. Optimism!
The recently House-passed continuing resolution only makes a government shutdown more likely by both caving to perceived GOP demands to “cut” while also exhausting the supply of low hanging fruit that Obama has already come out in favor of cutting.
The GOP has the media high-ground, as always, because serious people know that cuts must be necessary, and since the GOP is at dollar value X, and the Democrats are, for all intents and purposes, at dollar value $0 (spending freeze as opposed to new cuts), the serious person answer must be $X/2. That’s the “grand bargain” that Democrats wisely point out will still submarine the economy and the GOP flatly refuses to even discuss. See: shutdown and default in 2011.
Serious People furthermore agitate for deep cuts to Social Security, despite its dedicated funding source and minimal deficit impact in the near future, because, well, because that’s what serious people do. Acceding to the demands for cuts to Social Secuirty is 2012 suicide for the Democrats. It just is.
With all that in mind, what the Democrats need is a concentrated, coordinated effort that steals this idiotic media high ground surrounding the (perceived) absolute necessity of “cuts and a lot of them.” Karl Rove taught us nothing if not the fact that making your enemies’ strengths into their weaknesses is a potent political tool. Think Swiftboating. That The Democrat assiduously avoids the use of this tool is why they fail.
Therefore: the GOP is talking at least $100B in cuts, and immediately. Right or wrong, that’s going to have to be your number too. However, and critically, the GOP wants those cuts to come entirely from the non-military discretionary budget, somewhere around 14% of the whole government budget. This, then, is where and how you attack them. And you’re going to do it specifically and with dollar amounts.
You go down the list of GOP hobby horses: faith-based initiatives, the military, oil subsidies, agribusiness subsidies, general corporate welfare, abstinence-based education, all of it; but you don’t stop with spending, you also target revenue: capital gains taxes, estate taxes, social security taxes (as in: uncapped), and ultimately the tax code itself, which could use a few new brackets up top.
Secretary Gates can likely provide you with a long list of outdated or otherwise no-longer-needed military programs. Lots of them will seem ridiculous or hopelessly out of touch. Mock them and mock the GOP for continuing to support them.
Same goes for oil subsidies. These are the richest companies on Earth and the GOP wants to give them corporate welfare while asking for “shared sacrifice” from the poorest of the poor?
When you’ve run out of spending to cut from GOP programs, you go to work on revenue. That’s right, I said it. You need to too. First: revenue is revenue. Capital gains, management fees, bonuses, and everything else falls under regular pay. Next, you set about raising effective rates on corporations and the rich. The corporate side can be most effectively done by eliminating shelters and loopholes. Any country in which ExxonMobil pays $0 in taxes needs, needs corporate tax reform. Period. Still haven’t hit the number? New tax brackets. Still haven’t hit the number? Uncap Social Security. And so on.
You then pack the whole thing together and unveil it as the “alternative” plan and hoist the GOP upon it each and every day, all day. Because they are guaranteed to hate it. But will have to explain why they prefer to make these cuts on the backs of the poorest instead of the richest and furthermore call it “shared sacrifice.”
You’ve got less than two weeks to put this together. Recent history with the tax cut extension “fight” suggests you haven’t even considered something along these lines yet. But it’s how to win. That’s why it looks so strange to you. Yes, it’s simple minded. But simple minded is what works. You are the last few hundred people in America to come to this realization.
I’m not saying this bill would be what was passed, or that it would even reach the floor in a serious way…but it would drive the conversation in a way that benefits you, The Democrat, and not so coincidentally us the American people.
Currently you’re battling over the 14% that contains the most painful cuts possible. You shouldn’t be. You furthermore don’t even need to be. Change the conversation to terms that have the potential to benefit you. Right now revenue doesn’t even come up. It needs to. It needs to be the first question off the lips of the serious people. Until it is, you will fail.
That would be the number of Republicans that voted to end taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil. Companies that are enjoying record profits of ~$100 billion per year, often pay no taxes whatsoever, and receive taxpayer provided subsidies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars per decade.
But, by all means, let’s cut $100 over here that just gets wasted on food for starving children. Furthermore, let’s agree not to discuss any of this. Shrill.
Or: Why most of Congress could give a shit about unions, jobs, and generally thinks Social Security needs to be discontinued as soon as possible because who even needs that kind of small-potatoes stuff unless they totally screwed up or chose a bad accountant?
From the supplemental graphs section (seriously) of Kevin Drum’s excellent piece on Our Plutocracy and ever growing inequality.
"The Republicans are joining the Central Bank of China in criticizing [Fed Chairman] Ben Bernanke. This is really distressing to me. […] [complaints about currency manipulation from Chinese central bankers] is like being called silly by the Three Stooges.
And then to have Republican leaders in Congress [agree is] bizarre. The Republicans are arguing that the Fed should not even be concerned about unemployment."
— Barney Frank, letting other Democrats see how it’s done. Now say it every day for a few months. On your one millionth repetition, when you can’t stand to say it again: you will have reached somebody for the very first time.
(i) REQUIREMENT—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are—
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or
II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
(ii) DEFINITIONS—In this section:
(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS—The term ‘‘Member of Congress’’ means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF—The term ‘‘congressional staff’’ means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.
Music to Lemkin’s ears. By forcing Congress and their staffs onto the exchange, you can be quite sure that there will be a broad array of choices there and that the price will be, er, right. I’ve long said that most of the problem with getting healthcare reform done is that members of Congress simply have no clue what it’s like on the outside: they and their families have nearly-free, 24/7 access to what’s essentially a private physician, fantastically complete coverage with a wide menu of choices for care, and low to no co-pays when something really hits the fan. Plus they cant’ be dropped. Why wouldn’t they persist in calling such a setup “the best healthcare in the world”? It pretty much is. The trouble is that almost nobody outside Congress has access to even a part of a plan like that.
What reform is about is allowing the rest of us access to some of that. And doing it in a way that, even projecting out 20 years, will only be costing the taxpayer 1% relative to doing nothing. Thirty million people will have access to care on the basis of that 1%. And, of course, those same projections show a half trillion dollar savings to the overall budget. Frankly, that’s amazing given the compromised nature and inherently “around-the-edges” approach of this plan so frequently (and nonsensically) derided as “government takeover.” Any plan with a total monetary outlay on the part of the government amounting to ~90 billion dollars a year isn’t a takeover of anything. The Pentagon budgeted
“$52.1 billion [for ancillary items] such as ammunition, portable generators, cooling equipment, field medical supplies, hospital equipment, and night vision goggles”
in 2009. Nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, but that’s a military outlay of $50B a year and doesn’t even get around to, oh, I don’t know, guns.
We’re wasting well north of $40B a year on the plainly idiotic War on Drugs. Don’t even get me started on how many times over our little foray into Iraq could pay for healthcare in this country. But such context never matters to the savvy reporter. Who won today’s political horse race? Who played their press releases better?
Never: who lied? Whose facts were more accurate? What is the broader context of this decision?
Even more importantly, though: people won’t be making career decisions based solely on maintaining their and their families’ access to healthcare. Even if it fails in every other way, signing these reforms into law will let a million startups bloom.