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.
Supposedly this is a compelling cartoon that shows how ‘crazy’ those public sector unions are.
Indeed, but the failure here is in getting the message into the head of Joe Private Sector that he’s the one getting the raw deal and the answer to that is most definitely not making sure that everyone has all benefits stripped from their job too.
The GOP and their media enablers have spent over two decades convincing him that, in fact, he shouldn’t be getting any benefits and neither should anybody else, regardless of whatever contracts those parties have entered into. Unless and until Unions and The Democrat figure out that it will require a similarly sustained, unyielding, and focused message to undo any of that, nothing will change. And, assuming the staus quo prevails or worsens, sooner or later, everyone will end up losing pensions, health care, weekends, limited hours, paid vacations, and anything else they can pry from a working populace all too eager to hand over anything and everything for a simulacrum of a chance at actual advancement. You know, lotteries and such.
But, man, think of the efficiencies our Galtian overlords will have achieved. That will be something to see.
"[You] can constantly rationalize a deeply anti-democratic system on grounds of imagining scenarios where a brave minority of progressive senators are the only barrier to horrific right-wing policies. But you don’t have to imagine how a filibuster-wielding Republican minority can bring the country to a virtual standstill. We’re living in that world right now."
— Ed Kilgoreis right, but the real root of the problem is that only some of the country is living in that world. So far as I can tell, FOXnews watchers are convinced that it’s the Democrats who are bringing the country to a standstill by not offering to “reach across the aisle.” Look no further than this NewsHour discussion of Dick Lugar’s defeat and its broader meanings. Turns out he was run out of town because “he’s commended by many as one that does reach across the aisle, but, unfortunately, in our mind, that’s a one-way road. The other side, the Democrats, don’t seem to do that. And, in fact, they advocate that, but in their mind, that’s we surrender, we being the Republicans, would surrender to their ideals.”
When, exactly, did that demand for surrender happen? Because I remember nothing but repeated pleas on the part of The Democrat: please, take our Social Security, our Medicare, our Whatever, but just don’t blow up the country today Mr. GOP.” And, in return, the numerous GOP counteroffers (aside from Ryan-plan mandated elimination of these programs) were? …
This belief in Democratic intransigence, though, is amazingly widespread and typically accepted as fact (cf. Ifill’s complete non-reaction to this preposterous statement. One can only conclude that it must be pretty close to 100% accurate). Then you get to the proportion of “serious person” type folks that think both parties are equally at fault for gridlock. Then and only then do you get to the sad lunatics who think the GOP has been sanding the gears and bears most of the blame for inaction these past few years that just happen to coincide with Obama’s presidency and just happens to coincide with a similar and explicitly stated purpose on the part of GOP leadership in both the House and Senate (to sand the gears and hurt Obama). But why bring pesky facts into this?
And so, because of all this and more, the only political party that’s going to eliminate the filibuster in my lifetime is the GOP. It’s been so for a very long time now.
And, as I’ve said many times, the filibuster will be eliminated exactly 30 seconds after a new Congress convenes in which the GOP holds the Presidency and fewer than 61 chairs in the Senate. And that’s 2012 in a nutshell. If you like the social safety net, you’d better goddamned well get out and vote. Early and often. The ACORN way.
Newish TNR man Timothy Noah weighs in on Politico, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Obama, and reporting in general (emphasis in original):
The main problem with the Politico piece is that its central example is Daley’s mishandling of the scheduling of Obama’s jobs bill speech. Obama wanted to give it in the House of Representatives on a Wednesday and Boehner said no dice, you have to give it on a Thursday. This somehow became a two-day story and a referendum on Obama’s impotence and the House Republicans’ incivility. I don’t care about how Daley handled this trivial scheduling conflict. I care about how Daley advised Obama during the disastrously drawn-out debt-ceiling negotiations, in which Obama really did look impotent and the House Republicans looked not merely uncivil but bent on destroying the economy. But Politico has nothing on that except a passing reference to Daley cutting Senate leaders out of the loop during the negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently called Obama to complain that Daley keeps him in the dark. That’s interesting.
This simply isn’t done. In one short paragraph, we have Noah pointing out the vacuity of a competitor, sure, but to me this reads as broader indictment of the Beltway style of political “reporting” in general. Noah actually seems aware of objective reality, makes not one “pox on both their houses” hedge, and points out a real point of contention between a Democratic power center (Reid) and the White House, all while noting that none of this gets covered in the “who won the day” obsessed political press and what does get mentioned is not only often plainly wrong but in a different zip code than anything approaching reality. More please.
There are few or no historical instances in which saying clearly what you are for and what you are against makes Americans less divided. But there is plenty of evidence that attacking the wealthy has not made them more divided. After all, the man who said of his own day’s plutocrats, “I welcome their hatred,” also assembled the most enduring political coalition in U.S. history.
The Republicans will call it class warfare. Let them. Done right, economic populism cools the political climate. Just knowing that the people in power are willing to lie down on the tracks for them can make the middle much less frantic. Which makes America a better place. And which, incidentally, makes Democrats win.
"We’re seriously talking about defaulting on our debt, and cutting Medicare and Social Security, so that Google can keep paying its current 2.4 percent effective tax rate and GE, a company that received a $140 billion bailout en route to worldwide 2010 profits of $14 billion, can not only keep paying no taxes at all , but receive a $3.2 billion tax credit from the federal government. And nobody appears to give a shit. What the hell is wrong with people? Have we all lost our minds?"
— Matt Taibbi (via paxamericana)
No, Matt, we haven’t lost our minds. Instead, we’ve all been told for twenty years that government can do nothing right, that taxes are the root of all evil, and that anyone else receiving so much as one red cent of guvmint money is a freeloader and likely a sub-human of some variety.
Where’s the Left’s Grover Norquist, out there day in and day out agitating and extracting oaths over Social Security or Medicare or in favor of single payer health care? Where have they been for twenty years, messaging relentlessly, and not just when their pet subject is “in the news” for a week or two (and we’re lucky to get that)? Where have the folks been who organize guaranteed primary challenges of Democrats and Republicans who stray from their oaths? Where is the Progressive News Network, the most popular national news organ on television, daily vomiting outright lies and relentless spin tuned to the broader national political message and aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator?
Until some version of one or all these things show up: we will fail. This is why.
"Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York will step down from office amid intense pressure from congressional Democrats following his admission of risque online chats and photo swaps with multiple women and lying about it."
— ABC Newsreports, you decide. What’s remarkable here is the “intense pressure from congressional Democrats” bit. A member of the GOP caucus could strangle somebody to death on the floor of the House and you’d have little more than an annoyed shrug on the part of either leadership. But let a Democrat sext somebody not-his-wife: hell to pay (though, presumably the same faux pearl clutching outrage would have been mustered if he were still single).
Meanwhile, Tom Coburn orchestrated illegal payoffs to Ensign’s cuckolded friend and, well, I’m sure he was working in the best interests of his Personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let’s just leave it there. Keep walking. Some things in life are meant to be mysterious.
"The national debate over economic policy is way off track and the stakes are as high as can be. In every important area of economic and social policy—health care, fiscal policy (deficits, debt, taxes), public investment, retirement security, climate change, education, job growth, income distribution—there’s so much misinformation, so many false assertions, that it is impossible for anyone paying attention to evaluate the choices with which they’re faced.
Democrats lately seemed to be trapped in a position that amounts to: “sure, we have to cut and shrink—just not as much as the other guys want."
— Jared Bernstein, former White House staffer, on why he left Biden’s office. Thusly does the Overton Window move ever rightward. Bernstein claims he’s come outside to “widen the debate,” but I just don’t see how that’s possible without better Democrats and a major media outlet at one’s behest.
But: welcome to the forever drug addled world of dirty hippie blogs, my friend.
"When Republicans reached basic consensus about what they wanted to do [relative to Ryan’s plan], they then delegated the details to a small group of people who fleshed out the plan, it was then presented to the caucus and within a week they had the vote. Democrats, by contrast, put their health reform plans through an agonizing months-long process of public intra-party disputes. That gave people who didn’t care about the details tons and tons of time to organize a backlash while tending to signal to low-information voters that Democrats were doing something controversial even among their own partisans. The backlash against Medicare privatization is overwhelmingly likely to grow over time, but it’s also the case that between today and November 2012 other events will intervene and crowd the agenda space possibly letting members off the hook for an unpopular vote."
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.