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.
Can we please at least agree that vaguely worded letters sent to the President do not constitute a legislative proposal? Or did the CBO start scoring letters that are 90% vacuous talking points; add to that the fact that these very empty talking points were soundly crushed by plebiscite just weeks ago?
Likewise, slightly less vague details provided on background do not a serious proposal make. These details are provided on background precisely so they may be disavowed at any moment. This is not “Boehner’s Proposal.” It is bullshit. But, even then, the GOP proposes extracting from the backs of the poor, elderly, and infirm a dollar value less than half of what Obama attains by slightly inconveniencing the very rich. Apparently this fact was not worth noting, background or otherwise.
Our media entertainment complex finds none of this worth noting. Math is hard and so very boring, but can’t we at least admit the vacuity and shady sourcing of this “plan” when reporting it? Apparently not.
"Obama ignored vast swaths of his agenda [while campaigning], barely mentioning climate change or education reform, but by God did he hammer home the fact that his winning would bring higher taxes on the rich. He raised it so relentlessly that at times it seemed out of proportion even to me, and I wrote a book on the topic. But polls consistently showed the public was on his side."
— Jonathan Chait, who may as well be yelling at the clouds because, even though he’s right, it seems the forces of the status quo (MSM and GOP alike) can and will move heaven and earth if need be to preserve the current Bush-Obama tax cut rate for the very richest ~2% of Americans rather than simply revert to current law and let those rates on income above $250k move up by (gasp) ~2.5% to the Clinton era rates. Far better to memory hole all that Romney/Obama debating, claim the election was shockingly “idea free,” that nearly 4M extra popular voters and 332 electoral votes isn’t a mandate, and demand the ever-popular grand bargain, which, if course, is only grand or a bargain for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, many or most of whom likely did not vote for Obama. The rest of you: go die in the streets.
"The lesson here is simple. At a deep ideological level, Republicans believe that federal bureaucracies are inherently inept, so when Republicans occupy the White House they have no interest in making the federal bureaucracy work. And it doesn’t."
— Kevin Drum, making a point that I’d take even further: The GOP not only has no interest in “making it work,” they have a vested interest in the federal bureaucracy looking as ineffective as possible. That’s the only way to feed the larger narrative that government is bad in every instance, in every venture, and must never be tried as a potential solution for anything. Thus Mitt’s “just let industry clean it up” blather; he knows there will be no challenge, there will be no “so what’s the business model there, exactly and in detail?” question from an ever-pliant media. He can say it with impunity because the GOP has been peddling versions of this line for 20 years now and people have essentially stopped thinking about or even really hearing it. This is also why the Post Office is being run into the ground with malice aforethought; no program major, minor, or indispensable can be seen to work. At best, government programs can only be tolerated. This is why there’s no interest in actually managing defense procurement (which would seem to be a GOP darling on its face). The GOP does want the weapons the better to kill people with; but any overruns are just excellent evidence as to the inability of government to do anything. So why bother actually reigning anything in? Forget those damnable statistics showing the decline in bureaucrats in military procurement exactly tracks the explosion in cost overruns and delays. That’s just numbers. They lie. Follow your gut and most of all your basest fears: government can do nothing and must be eliminated wherever possible. Therefore, more in sadness than in anger, the time has come to eliminate Medicare and Social Security.
Government can do nothing. Go die in the streets. This is who they are.
"Romney won’t have 60 votes in the Senate. But if he has 51, he can use the budget reconciliation process, which is filibuster-proof, to get rid of the law’s spending."
— Ezra Kleinreflects on President Romney’s potential chances and methods should he try repealing the ACA.
I’m not sure when, if ever, the DC Commentariat will get this through their heads: the next time the GOP holds the Presidency and a non-supermajority in the Senate, the filibuster will be eliminated approximately 30 seconds into the new Congress. Period, the end, carve it in stone.
Reconciliation won’t even be an issue with ACA repeal. It will be a simple majority vote, no filibusters allowed because there aren’t any allowed for any reason. Same with the functional elimination of Medicare, Social Security, and all the other Glibertarian wonders that await us under the Ryan budget plan when and if Romney wins. There’s simply no other way to get their preferred policies through, and the next time they have control of these levers of power they will get their policies through, no matter what it takes. Eliminating the filibuster will be among the more minor procedural changes and will be lost in the shuffle that heralds the end of the New Deal and basically all of the legislative 20th century.
Those are the stakes. Just when, exactly, will anyone in DC realize it? Sometime six to eight years after it all transpires, apparently. I’m assuming David Brooks already has an editorial in the can praising the end of filibusters. For Democrats, anyway.
Matt Yglesias makes a strong case re: the likely philosophical underpinnings of Roberts’ joining the more liberal members of the court to uphold the mandate. Namely that, in the absence of mandate, the Democrats would begin campaigning for Medicare for All. And they’d get it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but almost certainly within a millennium or two, and then for a long time.
But! I don’t think nearly that long of a game is needed, though. Presuming Roberts was never going to gut the whole bill, knocking out just the mandate within the political system as currently figured does nothing so well as guarantee the end of the private insurance system we all know and love within 5 or 10 years. This is because, without a mandate, healthy individuals would have powerful incentive not to buy insurance until they are sick. Since the ACA already prevents insurers from refusing coverage for any reason, you’d simply buy insurance on the day you started needing it. That is, to say the least, an unsustainable business model. Some even called for a “poison pill” in the original law designed to create this situation such that even a GOP government would be forced into extending Medicare to all the moment even their constituents could no longer afford insurance premiums.
Roberts knew all of this. He knew he likely couldn’t simply gut the law without adversely affecting the public’s opinion of the Supreme Court in general and the Roberts court in particular, knew he furthermore couldn’t simply kill the mandate without also killing private insurance (gridlock essentially ensured this outcome), and decided the least of these was simply keeping the mandate and letting Congress sort it out. Which, as it happens, was exactly the right decision by any reading of the Constitution and precedent that my not-a-lawyer eyes can detect. Huzzah for democracy.
I’m not sure how many times the Republicans have to say the same stuff, plainly and in modern English, before it begins to sink in to the minds of those in the media that they, the Republicans in Congress, want Obama to fail in his bid for reelection and to achieve that goal, they need the American economy to fail.
You, as a GOP House mover-and-shaker (aka Tea Klan fanatic), are faced with the newly rising popularity of Obama (e.g. he’s in the 50s for the first time in a while), the first positive news on housing starts in a long, long time (driven more or less entirely by huge demand for apartments, since vanishingly few folks can qualify to buy houses anymore, at least not considered relative to the bubble excess and the fact that home foreclosures are still relatively high), a suddenly more optimistic public attitude re: the economy, and none of your own GOP candidates for the nomination are exactly setting the woods on fire, and may well be instead burning down the house relative to your broader chances both up- and down-ticket come 2012.
All that considered, do you, the rank and file Tea Klan fanatic, feel comfortable handing that same Obama you want to fail a sure-fired way to boost the economy even more as 2012 rolls along? Or do you want to apply the emergency brakes? With this most recent nonsense, I think no sensate being could still deny that we have our answer.
Now, of course, there is some subtlety to their position. They don’t want the extension of this particular tax break because it a) doesn’t help their prime audience in any way (aka the 1%), because those folks either don’t draw traditional paychecks and/or said pay is a relatively tiny fraction of their entire portfolio, so they could care less and won’t notice either way b) it legitimately does help the broader economy and quickly since we’re in an aggregate demand slump and this is cash in the pockets of the 99% who actually create that aggregate demand in, uh, aggregate, and c) is a quick and relatively easy way to sand the gears of the economy, and they think they can sell it to their crazed idiocratic supporters through ever-willing conduits like FOXnews and the Wall Street Journal (The latter of which is already overboard) using such time-honored tools as goalpost moving and poison-pill additions. No one will ever know, and if they do, we can convince them to blame “Democrat leaders in the Senate.” Who, for once, have grown a pair and are doing their part to (rightly) hang this on the GOP. They even have a “Tea Klan tax hike” style meme going. It’s like they’ve finally gotten hip to the way the other side messaged in, oh, 1992.
But frankly this is a pretty simple calculation for the GOP. Braveheart and all the rest are just window dressing that, as usual, the MSM is lapping up. The real story, the one far too shrill to actually report: Anyone or anything getting in the way slowing the economy can kindly go die in the streets. Tax proposals benefiting the 1%: always welcome. Wedge issues that reliably bring this or that fractional percent of old white voters to the polls in November: always welcome. Anything that might actually help the economy and, by extension, Obama: forget about it. And they have.
"On top of the terrible politics, they even admit that [Ryan/Wyden] dismantles Medicare but achieves no budgetary savings while doing so — the worst of all worlds. Thanks for nothing."
— A “Very Senior” Democratic Aide weighs in on the Ryan/Wyden “plan” to save Medicare by dismantling and replacing it with a system already shown to be at least 25% more costly. The problem here is that Serious People know that Medicare must be destroyed. The only thing they are more certain of is Social Security’s imminent end. Therefore, anyone favoring Medicare as it stands (or, gods save us, the atheistic but sharia-mandated nightmare that would be Medicare for All) is going to be fighting the GOP, some non-trivial number of Democrats, and the always totally objective, non-partisan MSM “referees” running this rotten discourse of ours.
So get ready. They’re coming for this. This is who they are. All the deficit whinging is merely prologue for a pitched fight to end every part of the already dwindling social safety net.
I’d also advise anyone who thinks voting doesn’t matter to go ahead and take the long position on stock in whatever company is going to clear the dead from the streets. Halliburton, presumably. Once your vote didn’t really matter because there’s no difference anyway, there’s going to be a lot of business in that particular sector.
In all the rush to cast a pox on both houses, most Serious People seem to be missing the underlying point here.
The Republicans want tax rates to remain at current (i.e. Bush/Obama tax cut) levels or to be lowered. To do that without collapsing the Federal Government, they have to end Medicare. Period, the end, no other way to do it. Zero the non-military discretionary budget and you still aren’t getting particularly close. Thus, this:
…committee Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health-care entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid—based upon the reforms included in the budget the House passed earlier this year [this is what is commonly referred to as the “Ryan plan”; it ends Medicare but leaves in place a voucher system which seniors would use to try to buy coverage on the open market. Good luck with that, seniors. Anyone paying attention will recall that this is the issue Medicare was created to solve. At any rate, under Ryan’s plan everyone that fails to find coverage they can afford with regard to the differential between voucher and actual cost: go die in the streets.]
Republicans on the committee also offered to negotiate a plan based on the bipartisan “Protect Medicare Act” authored by Alice Rivlin, [which would allow seniors to] choose from a list of Medicare-guaranteed coverage options, similar to the House budget’s approach—except that Rivlin-Domenici would continue to include a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan among the options.
So, the GOP “choices” here are: completely voucherize and functionally end Medicare under the Ryan plan, or vastly extend Medicare Advantage and get to Ryan’s plan stepwise. After all, Medicare Advantage has bee such a smashing success; it’s the plan that delivered a ~14% more costly version of Medicare, the program it sought to “revolutionize.”
Democrats, on the other hand, believe that a return to Clinton era tax rates fundamentally solves the near- to mid-term budget issues. This is widely known to be true; it is also known to be true by Republicans, who are simply using the current “crisis” (which, not coincidentally was invented by them during the run-up and denouement of the debt ceiling “crisis”) as an excuse to attempt various long-held policy goals, most notably: ending Medicare.
Long term issues in our budget do indeed exist, these can only be handled by bringing health care costs under control; Democrats wish to work towards that goal, Republicans choose to address the issue by simply ending that program entirely. This is the point at which it’s worth noting that, if we paid for medical care the per-capita rates that our next-nearest “competitor” pays, we’d be facing surpluses as far as the eye can see. Right now.
But, a massive step in that “solvency” direction would, in fact, be Medicare for all. Instead, the GOP demands Medicare for none or they blow up the country. Those are your two GOP-approved choices. They simply don’t want to talk about it in public, because eliminating Medicare is a wildly unpopular position to hold. You’d think someone in the media would mention something as explosive as this from time to time. Doesn’t ever seem to come up.
Clearly, though, both parties are equally at fault here. Truly a triumph of 21st Century Journamalism.
"Frankly, half of [the automatic cuts] is aimed at national security. Leon Panetta, our Secretary of Defense says that will hollow out our defense. So number one I would be committed to keeping the $1.2 [trillion in automatic cuts]. We’ve got 13 months to find a smarter way to do it."
— Jeb Hensarling, (R, TX) GOP chair of the “Super-committee” reassuring everyone that the automatic cuts scheduled by the all but inevitable failure of the “Super-committee” will, in fact, be coming out of Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare. The latter two are the only places left to get this kind of money, assuming the non-military discretionary budget isn’t simply zeroed. Medicaid will be included simply out of spite.
Anyone bothered by this funding structure can (and will) kindly go die in the streets.
But Obama sure uses a lot of drones!!!! Drones, everyone, DRONES!!! Must vote for Ron Paul or other meaningless candidate because there’s no moral imperative at all implicit in keeping a social safety net in place for millions by keeping the semi-sane in charge of at least some part of the government post-2012.
It’s almost as if our media aristocracy of inbred Serious People have a vested interest in seeing to it that the middle class, and only the middle class, gets soaked in any economic “compromise.” Amidst reacting to a particularly poor NYT Magazine piece, Dean Baker nails it:
…the piece too quickly dismisses the possibility of getting substantial additional tax revenue from the wealthy. It presents the income share for those earning more than $1 million as $700 billion, saying that if we increase the tax rate on this group by 10 percentage points (from roughly 30 percent to 40 percent), then this yields just $70 billion a year.
However, if we lower our bar slightly and look to the top 1 percent of households, with adjusted gross incomes of more than $400,000, and update the data to 2012 (from 2009), then we get adjusted gross income for this group of more than $1.4 trillion. Increasing the tax take on this group by 10 percentage points nets us $140 billion a year. If the income of the top 1 percent keeps pace with the projected growth of the economy over the decade, this scenario would get us more than $1.7 trillion over the course of the decade, before counting interest savings. Of course there would be some supply response, so we would collect less revenue than these straight line calculations imply, but it is possible to get a very long way towards whatever budget target we have by increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Shocking. And but also, Baker smartly includes the most important issue in any truly serious discussion of American economics and the proper balance of same: the cost of health care:
We pay twice as much per person as people do in other wealthy countries. Since more than half of the tab for our health care is paid by the government, our broken health care system becomes a budget problem. If we paid the same amount per person for our health care as people in other wealthy countries, we would be looking at long-term budget surpluses rather than deficits. The reason that we pay so much more is not that we get better outcomes – we don’t generally. Rather it is that we pay too much to drug companies, hospitals, medical specialists, and others in the health care industry.
Baker’s being generous. We spend as much as five times more per capita than the best performing countries do, all of which achieve uniformly better outcomes than we do. Obviously, the only possible answer here is just get Big Guvmint out of the way so the poor can kindly go die in the streets. It’s the only serious answer to the problem. Well, that and lowering taxes on the wealthiest 1% of the country.