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.
"It is as if the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination was about to fall into the hands of Paul Wolfowitz. What happened?"
— Jonathan Chaitcontemplates the seemingly quite favorable strategic position Mitt Romney (suddenly?) finds himself in despite being an occasionally outspoken pro-choice Mormon tightly associated with Taxachusetts and “Romneycare” and yet working to curry favor from an increasingly lunatic “base” that seems quite willing to start Civil War II over any and all of those issues.
Most important MSM/Serious Person fact about Romney: he once strapped a dog, inside its carrier, to the top of the family truckster. So you know.
"We’ve known from the beginning that bombing the moon would be a poison pill to any debt-reduction proposal,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. See? Or: “President Obama needs to decide between his goal of bombing the moon, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit,” said McConnell and Sen. on Kyl in a joint statement. Or: “First of all, bombing the moon is going to destroy jobs,” said Speaker John Boehner. “Second, bombing the moon cannot pass the US House of Representatives — it’s not just a bad idea, it doesn’t have the votes and it can’t happen. And third, the American people don’t want us to bomb the moon."
Dana Milbank: Romney has what might be called an Al Gore problem: Even if he’s being genuine, he seems ersatz. He assumed a professorial air by delivering a 25-page PowerPoint presentation in an amphitheater lecture hall – but the university issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with the event, for which the sponsoring college Republicans failed to fill all seats. His very appearance – a suit worn without a necktie – shouted equivocation. His hair was so slick that only a few strands defied the product.
Jon Chait: This is a perfect demonstration of an Al Gore problem, but I'd define the problem differently. An Al Gore problem is what happens when the media forms an impression of your character and decides to cram every irrelevant detail of your appearance and behavior into that frame, regardless of whether or not it means anything. Thus Romney's hair and lack of tie are now evidence of a character flaw, as is his decision to give a detailed policy lecture in a university town without being officially sponsored by a University. An Al Gore problem results in the media ganging up on a candidate like cool kids mocking a geek, with literally everything he's doing serving as more evidence for the predetermined narrative.
Lemkin: Indeed. I suppose it's progress that some handful of journalists now see the pathology inherent in forcing everything into a pre-existing media frame come-what-may...and but also we can't seem to make the media connection between "Clinton is a murderer, Clinton ran drugs out of the governors office, Gore said he invented the internet and etc..." and their modern-day exponents "Obama is from Kenya, Obama didn't write his books, Obama's school was paid for by shadowy Mid East backers, and etc..." It's all the Lee Atwater style of politics, none of it is anything new, we just are forced to live in it Groundhog Day style, over and over and over again anytime a Democrat wins high office. The MSM, apparently, is not and never will be broadly aware of this.
"You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We’ll have that debate. You’re not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?
Put [measures like defunding Planned Parenthood] in a separate bill. We’ll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don’t try to sneak this through.
When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he’s just being America’s accountant … This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill — but wasn’t paid for. So it’s not on the level."
— President Obama in semi-private remarks to “supporters” as reported here.
I, for one, welcome the arrival of feisty candidate mode Obama. Next thing you know he’ll grow a beard. An action beard.
Plain and simple truths. America craves them. This urge to “look forward” is a self defeating one. You should have been and still need to be to opening every speech with the details of GOP-lead bed shitting from 2000-2008. Even use a chart or two. It’s the only way America will ever learn about what happened and why.
Kevin Drum wonders what drives Ryan to produce such a uniquely partisan budget document:
I don’t know what motivates Ryan, but it’s certainly not a genuine search for plausible grounds for negotiation. Instead, he’s produced a document carefully crafted to produce a universally negative reaction from Democrats, presumably because he thinks that will make Democrats look intransigent while the Beltway press is praising Ryan for his courage.
Sorry, but that’s just wrong. Ryan crafted his document to produce a Beltway press that praises him for his courage and demand that The Democrat must now compromise based on that starting point. This is why the Democratic party needs to come out with its own pie-in-the-sky progressive budget. Then you could compromise in a way that would represent a legitimate compromise of opposing ideas and not just yet another rightward lurch at the hands of the ever-triangulating Democrats.
Instead, what seems likely to happen is the Democrats will counter with the deficit commission document and then compromise to the right of that. Which is precisely the outcome Ryan likely considers “worst but acceptable.” The sad reality, of course, will be that in the absence of a GOP President, a GOP Senate, and with only a fractionally lunatic GOP House they will have delivered the biggest far-right reshaping of American budgetary priorities (and politics) ever achieved in anyone living’s lifetime. And the Democrats will have only themselves to blame.
This Pelosi post got me thinking about just what a Democratic response to a Ryan-style plan on Medicare should even be. After all, if you work from Ryan’s far right starting point and counter with “well, let’s just privatize x% of Medicare for this set of individuals” or some other “sensible middle” type compromise, then you’ve already lost. You’ve advanced the GOP’s idea of the program (which is a bad one) significantly and at the expense of the better solution: Medicare as it stands or Medicare plus substantial improvements.
It is a fact that the real driver of deficits in this country are healthcare expenses. Don’t take it from me, here’s the CBO’s report (PDF link):
Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for 80 percent of the growth in spending on the three largest entitlements over the next 25 years and for 90 percent of that growth by 2080.
But if we could achieve the per patient healthcare cost of most of the other developed nations in the world, we’d be facing yawning surpluses in this country, not deficits, and we’d very likely have better individual health outcomes to boot.
Therefore: the Democratic response to Ryan’s “privatize Medicare” should in fact be: Medicare For All. Period. We don’t want to reduce this program. Like 87% of all Americans, we think it should at the bare minimum stay just as it is. Preferably, we’d like to massively expand it. This has the dual benefit of covering medical expenses for everyone in the country and relieving the number one deficit driver in the economy: everyone’s medical expenses. Plus this means we eliminate the dread ACA and its totalitarian horrors. Everyone wins!
Now, of course, I don’t really think Medicare For All has any particular chance of becoming law; what using this sort of proposal does do is set the limits of the debate more appropriately and in ways that tend to favor outcomes preferable to the Democrats.
On the right: Eliminate Medicare and let the wealthy fend for themselves.
On the left: not only keep Medicare, but make it the healthcare provider for all, with tremendous humanitarian benefit but also knock-on budget benefits. Then you’d be down to arguing about whose plan actually saves more money long term and how that impacts health outcomes in America. Which is precisely where the debate needs to be.
Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes….His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion….This budget tackles just about every politically risky issue with brio and guts….Paul Ryan has grasped reality with both hands. He’s forcing everybody else to do the same.
Courageous. Serious. Gutsy. I imagine that within a few days this will be the consensus view of the entire Beltway punditocracy. A plan dedicated almost entirely to slashing social spending in a country that’s already the stingiest spender in the developed world, while simultaneously cutting taxes on the rich in a country with the lowest tax rates in the developed world — well, what could be more serious than that?
I think I’m going to be sick.
He’s right, but it didn’t take a few days and it’s not just Our Punditocracy; here’s the generic Democrat legislator last night on Hardball (sorry, no transcript yet):
[it was] “courageous” [for Paul Ryan to put up a plan to abolish Medicare and other federal social programs]
This is deadly serious. It’s easy to say we drugged bloggers out here are simply another example of the smelly hippies flying off the handle on something. Rest assured: We are not. You are going to be fighting 100% of the GOP caucus, some non-zero percent of the Democratic caucus (exactly 100% of the Democrat caucus), the entire Beltway elite media, and the do-nothing defensive crouch of the President and his administration heading into 2012. Keep in mind where that “sensible compromise” is going to land when the Overton Window has been set far, far to the right. Every possible outcome other than status quo within the current frame of the debate is going to be a major GOP win, far beyond anything that’s happened in recent political history. And that’s with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President faced with a politically daunting 87% public approval of either continuing or increasing Medicare coverage relative to today’s levels. This is why they fail.
"Shortly after the Democrats’ “shellacking” last November, I phoned a friend in the White House who had served in the Clinton administration. “It’s 1994 all over again,” he said. “Now we move to the center."
— Robert Reich: Why Obama Isn’t Fighting the Budget Battle.
This is, to say the least, deeply troubling. The administration (and the Beltway media as well) have been all-too-willing to lap up the standard FOXnews and talk-radio line about Obama governing from the “far left” and being a “radical socialist” and so forth. Has not and is not.
In fact, he’s been governing from the center, or even center right all along. That’s simply how it is. Look at the record. Lowered taxes, passed a previously GOP-pushed version of health care reform, pushes previously GOP position on environment, GOP position on torture, GOP position on Guantanamo, GOP position on everything. It’s just that the GOP (wisely, from their viewpoint) promptly disavows these positions and moves the Overton Window ever further to the right. Thus, Obama’s “move to the center” described here will conceivably locate him somewhere to the right of Reagan. Which is what the GOP would certainly enjoy (and but simultaneously of course still criticize his supposedly socialistic positions), but it’s not what the voters who elected Democrats in three straight elections culminating with Obama’s own election want.
The sad fact is that Democratic “strategists” took exactly the wrong message from the “shellacking,” as usual, and are telling all Democrats to forget their ideas, get as far into a defensive crouch as possible, and “weather the storm.” When they lose again in 2012, it’ll me more of the same: this isn’t an example of voter fury with no clear outlet or focus or unifying leader to channel it one way or another (beyond “throw the bums out!”), this isn’t the fault of our lack of strong positions, of not fighting for the will of the people, of not presenting a compelling and alternate vision for America, it’s because we weren’t far enough to the right.
The problem is that it’s not true, hasn’t been true, won’t be true. Ever. This is why they fail.
Digby nails it…and gets the result into The Hill, where the intended audience might actually have to face the facts:
Even worse […] is the common assertion by these millionaire pundits that “we all” must sacrifice for the greater good and allow Social Security to be slashed. This is usually spoken with such a tone of lugubrious forbearance that one imagines they would like us to believe that while they might be forced to become Wal-Mart greeters in their elder years, patriotic duty demands we all pitch in. They seem to have no idea that the median wage in this country in 2009 was $26,261 — sadly, lower than it was in the year 2000. (Even when you average in the billionaires, it was only $39,269.) Clearly, the average political TV host takes home many times that wage, so this idea that “we” are all “sharing” in the proposed sacrifices is a bit much, particularly in light of the recent extension of the Bush tax cuts, hailed in the media as the greatest piece of legislation since the founding of the republic.
Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing. They are paid for with payroll taxes collected from workers and their employers throughout their careers. These taxes are placed in a trust fund dedicated to paying benefits owed to current and future beneficiaries.
For years, the surpluses in the Social Security trust fund have helped to mask our deficits elsewhere. Now that we are paying Social Security back, the problem is not with Social Security, but with the rest of the budget. In 2001 and 2003, Washington cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and later expanded Medicare without paying for it. Blaming Social Security for our fiscal woes is like blaming you for not saving enough in your checking account because the bank lost all depositors’ money.
Replace “Washington” in the second-to-last sentence with “Republicans and the Bush Administration rammed through” and we are in full agreement. Now if we can just get serious people talking in these terms on the serious Sunday morning shows (and etc…) every week for the next 20 or so years, the logical argument can finally begin on equal footing.