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.
"Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he’s willing to do what they consider Serious — which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he’s reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.
But it won’t happen. Watch the Washington Post editorial page over the next few days. I hereby predict that it will damn Obama with faint praise, saying that while it’s a small step in the right direction, of course it’s inadequate — and anyway, Obama is to blame for Republican intransigence, because he could make them accept a Grand Bargain that includes major revenue increases if only he would show Leadership (TM)."
— Paul Krugman gets it right on the rumored Obama budget. This is the classic misstep; sure, it’s purely symbolic, but it moves the discussion to the right, damages what should be a through-line about the worth (and therefore the inviolability of) Social Security, and sets the stage for a Grand Bargain that is even further to the right than this “symbolic” proposal. After all, this is now Obama’s starting position. Any “compromise” will by necessity “hurt” Obama a little more in exchange for exactly zero GOP concessions and, additionally and without regard to any possible outcome, hands the GOP a readymade 2014 advertising campaign about Democrat cuts to your Social Security. It’s just the way Washington works now. And Obama’s people still haven’t figured it out and, apparently, never will.
There’s no mystery as to why the National Republican Campaign Committee hates Nancy Pelosi, but their dislike for San Francisco is a bit puzzling.
Almost directly, and seemingly without realizing it, Matt Yglesias also provides the answer:
[San Francisco is] an enormous economic success story. The San Francisco metropolitan area has the fourth-highest median household income in the country, with its Bay Area partner San Jose coming in at number three. Metro San Francisco is in a tie for having the third-highest-pay for low-wage workers, its fourth in median wages, and third in 90th percentile wages.
GOP orthodoxy requires “government” of any kind to be an abject and self-evident failure. Few citizens of the US would dispute the sense that San Francisco is the liberal bastion of the United States. Therefore it must be an urban hellhole and not be visited by any kind of success. Where success exists, it must be ignored. Similarly, old Taxachusetts must be forever suffering under the yoke of ludicrously high taxes (and one must never acknowledge the reality: that MA’s effective tax rates and collective tax burden generally trend lower than those of old Live Free or Die itself, that glibertarian heaven called New Hampshire).
Much like the Post Office and many other examples, any functioning example of government, large or small, must be (at a minimum) denigrated. If possible, it must also be actively undermined such that it may then be pointed to as an example of the impossibility of government intervention, large or small. All evidence to the contrary must be marginalized. And that is why the GOP “hates” San Francisco and largely assumes it to be barely survivable smoking ruin.
"[The Hastert] rule is completely dead. The Democrats now effectively control the floor because nothing ‘big’ will come to the floor without knowing in advance that lots of Democrats support it. That gives the Democrats tremendous power in a body where the minority is not designed to have much power."
Unnamed Republican Aide, likening the appropriate and intended function of the House to “tremendous power.” How we can have an MSM that drones on and on about “reaching across the aisle” in the face of a reality that includes a de facto rule stating that nothing moves unless it will pass with only majority votes is and long has been beyond me.
Even still, former Speaker Hastert’s own reaction to the weakening and even ending of his “rule” is all the more telling:
Maybe you can do it once, maybe you can do it twice, but when you start making deals when you have to get Democrats to pass the legislation, you are not in power anymore.
So, then, making a deal at all is tantamount to surrendering all power. Breathtaking.
To see what the Boehner rule means, consider the following facts. Based on projections done last August by the Congressional Budget Office, the national debt will increase over the next decade by about $12 trillion under current law. To cut spending over the next decade by $12 trillion, it would be necessary to cut annual spending by an average of $1.2 trillion a year. Since total non-interest spending over that period will average $4 trillion a year under current law, about 30 percent of projected spending would have to be eliminated. Because big cuts are impossible next year or the year after, the required cuts toward the end of the decade would have to approach 50 percent to satisfy the Boehner rule. As it happens, no one in either party—and, most tellingly, none of those insisting on the dollar-of-cuts-for-a-dollar-of-increase-in-the-debt-ceiling trade-off—has indicated where spending cuts of even one half this amount should come from. Even so, they have declared that they will oppose any increase in the debt ceiling unless these terms are met. And they have the votes to make their commitment hold.
My only real complaint is calling any of these “rules” in the House rules. Hastert, Boehner, what-have-you: they have no force of law and only exist as a “rule” in the sense that washing one’s hands after using the toilet does. If one does so, one is following the rule. If not, well, uh not much really. The Boehner Affectation, or the Boehner Most Dangerous Strongly Held Opinion. Whatever, just not a “rule.”
But: yep. And the reason no one “has indicated where spending cuts of even one half this amount should come from”? Because they don’t give a shit about the deficit. This whole “crisis” was created and continues to exist as a useful cudgel to extract tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor. Period, the end. Positive deficit impacts of said policy, be they large or small, are purely coincidental and entirely unintended.
"What Apple understands and its critics did not (and still do not) is that many people, from all walks of life, simply appreciate nice things. They accuse Apple of pretension and elitism, but it’s they, the critics, who hold that the mass market for phones and tablets is overwhelmingly comprised of tasteless, fickle shoppers who neither discern nor care about product quality. That Apple’s lead in these categories is simply because they were first out of the gate in them, not because their products are so good."
— John Gruber writes what must be his most incisive, accurate paragraph in years. And he happens to write a lot of good paragraphs. There’s a lot more than a few thoughts about Apple in here; many, many segments of Our World could take a lot of useful advice by refiguring this conceptual framework into their own purview. Looking at you, Democrats. The great unwashed are a hell of a lot smarter, more engaged, and just plain interested than you ever give them credit for. Start acting like 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.
"It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.
This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old. […] I realize that the GOP’s up-is-downism puts news reporters in an awkward position. It would seem tendentious to point out Republican hypocrisy on deficits and Medicare and stimulus every time it comes up, because these days it comes up almost every time a Republican leader opens his mouth. But [journalists are] not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day."
— Michael Grunwald writing for Swampland because such things just aren’t said in the polite company of mainstream journalism or even journalistic criticism like that on offer at Reliable Sources. Still: Huzzah. That anyone says it, even a lowly blogger out here on drugs, is a small victory. And, just as he concludes, it will take people screaming about this, every day, for decades, because that’s exactly how the GOP has done it since the late 70s. And it’s worked out pretty well for them.
"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.