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.
Do nothing, Congress. Ezra Klein and EJ Dionne both write today about the benefits of simply letting various existing policies expire…doing so would net $7.1 TRILLION in deficit savings over the same decade that the “Super-committee” can’t find a way to reliably extract $1T. This path requires no votes, it requires no legislation, it requires no GOP assistance of any kind. Gridlock is all that’s required to make it happen.
So why is it no Serious Person (to whom deficits are, always have been, and always will be the preeminent policy question come-what-may) ever talks about the biggest deficit reduction plan currently out there, a plan that outstrips all other extant deficit plans by several orders of magnitude? Because they don’t actually care about deficits. None of them do. Because deficit reduction is not the goal. The GOP and their media enablers do not care about deficits. They care about eliminating social spending in this country to lower taxes on the richest 1%. Period. Everything and anything else that happens is collateral damage to that desired policy outcome.
Gridlock works. Gridlock will help America. Relying on gridlock is the best possible negotiating tool for Democrats. Period. Be prepared to end the Bush tax cuts. All of them. Be prepared to end the “doc fix.” All of it. Be prepared to end it all. Then you begin to drive policy decisions and have actual governing authority to get jobs bills and other things done.
Instead, they will, of course, continue to negotiate with themselves and parrot right-wing talking points. This is why they fail.
Just sit there quietly and let it all expire. Whenever the GOP talks about deficits, you bring up the $7T you are cutting deficits by over the next decade.
When the GOP gets tired of that, realizes you are serious about this, and is ready to talk, they’ll come to you. Then you set the terms. Then you begin to govern. This is how politics works. The Democrat seems to have largely forgotten this. Again: this is why they fail.
E.J. Dionne posits that the coming “Ryancare” enforced destruction of Medicare will either be Obama’s defining moment or the final end of progressive government in America:
Americans are about to learn how much is at stake in our larger budget fight, how radical the new conservatives in Washington are, and the extent to which some politicians would transfer even more resources from the have-nots and have-a-littles to the have-a-lots.
And you wonder: Will President Obama welcome the responsibility of engaging the country in this big argument, or will he shrink from it? Will his political advisers remain robotically obsessed with poll results about the 2012 election, or will they embrace Obama’s historic obligation — and opportunity — to win the most important struggle over the role of government since the New Deal?
And that’s exactly what this is. If you “privatize” Medicare, you are in effect creating a real live death panel for those individuals who cannot afford to pay the difference between the arbitrarily low payments (pegged to the dollar circa 2010) that will be made in the name of “cost containment.” Scare quotes there because such a move is categorically not cost containment; it is payment containment, or total government outlay containment, if you will. Costs will still rise, whether that rise is at the rate of inflation or at some other rate doesn’t really matter: the payments are locked, now and forever, to roughly today’s value. It is therefore only that fraction of individuals that are capable of paying the difference between real cost and subsidized value that will be “contained.” This number of individuals will, of course, be diminished day by day, year after year after year, as the subsidy represents lower and lower actual healthcare buying power. This is how Ryancare “works.” Hope you’ve been rather aggressive and uniformly successful with your by then privatized “Social Security” 401(k). Because you’re going to need it. Cat food doesn’t buy itself, after all. Otherwise, kindly go die in the streets.
In a decade or two, yes, even the very wealthy will begin to feel that pinch and there might be some movement to address the issue. But, by then, assuming all goes to Ryan’s master plan, tax revenue will have ratcheted to such historic lows (the other part of this “plan” is to limit next year’s spending to a fractional percent of the previous year’s, regardless of inflation and actual vs. projected economic output or overall economic conditions) that the federal government will have drowned itself in a teacup and will be laughably incapable and plainly impotent relative to doing anything about it. Problem solved! Think of how free we’ll all feel on that wonderful day!
And but so: do I think Obama will rise to this particular challenge? No I do not. Nothing coming out of the administration leads me to believe he or his advisers have any interest whatever in fighting for the future of Medicare, much less Social Security (which, having its own funding source, is utterly secure for decades to come: so Serious People all know that we must act now to destroy it because otherwise it won’t be there! This makes sense to our Beltway Punditocracy.). The administration and, by and large, The Body Democrat will remain in their defensive crouch, trying not to “screw up” 2012 with a lot of progressive mumbo-jumbo, because, as any Serious Person can tell you, those dozens of Tea Partiers that showed up in DC the other day are the ones that run the country, now and forever, without any regard to election results, polling data, or the stated wishes of the American People at large. Those 100k that showed up in the tundra of Wisconsin? Just out of town Union thugs. No reason to pay attention to them at all. They’ll only win in 2012 if ACORN steals the election for them.
"On the budget, by contrast, it’s hard to know what the president’s bottom line is, what deals he would regard as reasonable or when he will even join the fray.
The White House is so determined to keep the president antiseptically distant from the untidy wrangling on the budget that it will not even allow its allies in Congress to cite the administration’s own analyses of how harmful some of the Republican cuts would be. They can use the facts but not let on that the administration put them together. What’s up with this?"
— E.J. Dionne, remaining blissfully unaware of The Third Thing.
Seriously, I’d enjoy living in the dimension inhabited by Our Beltway Punditocracy. Must be really nice in there.
Newsflash, E.J., if Obama came out to the Rose Garden this PM in favor of cutting the non-military discretionary budget to $0, the GOP would immediately balk and say it’s not enough. Just how is he supposed to get involved in a “debate” on those terms? Furthermore, such a step would still not solve the budgetary issues the GOP claims to be so very concerned about. For that, we’d need the thing of which nobody speaks: revenue.
That the GOP systematically and categorically ignores revenue proves that they are not serious about deficits. Never have been. Never will be. You’d think a serious person would start to pick up on this at some point.
But, far be it from me to talk. I’m shrill and out here on drugs with the rest of the pajama wearing naysayers who know nothing of your dimension and its needs.
Lori Montgomery reported in The Post last week that a bipartisan group of senators thinks a sensible deficit reduction package would involve lifting the Social Security retirement age to 69 and reforming taxes, purportedly to raise revenue, in a way that would cut the top income tax rate for the wealthy from 35 percent to 29 percent.
Only a body dominated by millionaires could define “shared sacrifice” as telling nurses’ aides and coal miners they have to work until age 69 while sharply cutting tax rates on wealthy people. I see why conservative Republicans like this. I honestly don’t get why Democrats - “the party of the people,” I’ve heard - would come near such an idea.
Absolutely right. I’d only quarrel with the title: “The Tea Party is Winning.” Nope. It is the plutocrats and banksters that invented the Tea Party out of whole cloth to gather useful drones to advance their preferred distraction campaign that are winning. The folks that make up the broader Tea Party itself are losing right along with the rest of us filthy proles. And once they undermine the entire non-military discretionary budget to their own detriment, then they hope to get serious and finally eliminate their own Social Security, after which they will go lie down in the streets to die, free from all unnecessary governmental inconveniences.
"All the social and national elements of the civilized world are represented in the new land, their peculiar characteristics are to be blended together by the all-assimilating power of freedom. This is the origin of the American nationality, which did not spring from one family, one tribe, one country, but incorporates the vigorous elements of all civilized nations on earth."
— Carl Schurz, German immigrant and Republican leader, speaking in 1859; he became a leading backer of the 14th Amendment. (via EJ Dionne)
So, we’re entering week two of an event that, thanks to quick thinking, White House officials nipped in the bud and transformed into a one day story.
On the plus side: this OpEd from EJ Dionne is superlative. I don’t share his optimism, but he points out what strikes me as the key facet linking the Sherrod narrative to a much larger issue:
The Obama team did not question, let alone challenge, the video. Instead, it assumed that whatever narrative Fox News might create mattered more than anything else, including the possible innocence of a human being outside the president’s inner circle.
The Facts Do Not Matter. While still folding like a cheap suit, at least the administration seems to have internalized (and fumblingly tried to act upon) this basic tenet of today’s media complex. And that’s the thing that really differentiates the Sherrod dust-up: the fairly counter-intuitive notion that the true facts of the story not only emerged but were covered and became the ongoing core storyline employed by the MSM. This rarely happens.
I’d argue that this is because the truth was suitably damaging to the administration while the “lie” in the matter rather inconveniently put on display the deeply dysfunctional brand of “news” that FOXnews peddles and furthermore highlights a larger media establishment that not only ignores but frequently rushes to defend such behavior.
A truly agile administration would have used this rare opening. Indeed, they should be waiting for such an opportunity, with tightly produced packages ready to drop at the first sign of FOXnews’ exposed flank. Instead, they fired Sherrod. This is why they fail.
But, getting back to the novelty of having a truth emerge from the fiction and actually manage to become the narrative, for how long have we lived with other convenient lies like:
Al Gore says he invented the internet
Unlike Americans, Al Gore wears four-button suits
Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal
Al Gore says he was the basis of Love Story
Al Gore wore earth tones because a woman told him to
That the first of these is actually mentioned by Dionne is as shocking as it is unusual. Polite people never mention these facts.
Admittedly, these examples are merely a smattering from the Al Gore section of the Convenient Media Storybook. There are many more, and innumerable sections; Social Security is soon to be insolvent, tax cuts have always paid for themselves, and etc… Al Gore makes an interesting case because the man has been out of Presidential politics since he was elected President back in Campaign 2000. These and other lies about him still appear on a daily basis in the mainstream press. But, of course, these things cut both ways. The Church of the Savvy tells us that both houses are always equally flawed. False equivalency is the stock and trade of the business. So let’s give equal time and run down all the manifold lies that are repeated daily about disgraced former Speaker Newt Gingrich:
The typical evolution of stories like Sherrod’s goes something like this:
Wrong but convenient and story-making non-fact is put “out there.”
Serious people like Cokie Roberts and Juan Williams pick it up and uncritically repeat it
Truth of matter emerges on A19. Is ignored. Derided as too complicated, booooo-ring, or “old news.”
When directly challenged with (3), serious people like Cokie will haltingly agree with its ultimate veracity, but continue to treat (1) as fact because it’s “Out there.” And then proceed to recall (1). Forever.
The Sherrod case is playing out very differently. Not only did the reality emerge, it was accepted and propagated. Dionne continues:
The traditional media are so petrified of being called “liberal” that they are prepared to allow the Breitbarts of the world to become their assignment editors. Mainstream journalists regularly criticize themselves for not jumping fast enough or high enough when the Fox crowd demands coverage of one of their attack lines.
This is true to a point, however he’s either forgetting or just avoiding the key lie. The key myth that makes it all possible: that the MSM is, in and of itself, liberal. A false attribution, but one that is (surprise, surprise) frequently repeated. This is what movtivates the fear of being called liberal. It’s the frame that drives NPR to run stories worrying over three hours of clearly differentiated msnbc editorial programming alongside 21 hours of straight news (three of which are dominated by a former Conservative member of Congress) whilst merrily whistling past the fact that FOXnews runs a 24/7 propaganda mill, complete with “serious” stories like the entirely false notion that the Obama Justice Department categorically refuses to prosecute black men; it would be one thing if this nonsense was limited to FOXnews, but it is not. Dionne picks up this thread:
Thus did Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander ask this month why the [Washington Post] had been slow to report on “the Justice Department’s decision to scale down a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party.” Never mind that this is a story about a tiny group of crackpots who stopped no one from voting. It was aimed at doing what the doctored video Breitbart posted set out to do: convince Americans that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites.
Now, [Bush Justice Department official J. Christian] Adams is accusing the Obama Justice Department of being “motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law.” This is racially inflammatory, politically motivated nonsense — and it’s nonsense even if Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh talk about it a thousand times a day. When an outlandish charge for which there is no evidence is treated as an on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other-hand issue, the liars win.
Again, Dionne soft-pedals it. It’s not just Hannity saying this during “editorial” hour; it’s the entire “news” operation on FOXnews doing it. Presenting it as fact. Repeatedly. Which, for unclear reasons, positively compels the rest of the MSM to do likewise and ponder why they didn’t report on this falsity more aggressively and sooner without ever pausing to consider that the story is baseless and more often than not invented out of whole cloth. Thus do people like Drudge, Limbaugh, Beck, and O’Reilly become the assignment editors for the MSM. Many say the world is round. Others say it is flat. Opinions differ.
Thus does the nation die at the hands of invincible ignorance.