White House Position on Social Security is Unchanged.

It must be really fun for WaPo and NYT to cause a Massive Emo Freakout simply by quoting anonymous sources who are “familiar with the President’s thinking” (or whatever), innit?

White House spokesman Jay Carney several times during Wednesday’s press briefing criticized a report in the Washington Post, saying the reporter “overwrote” it and questioning the motives of the story’s sources.

[snip]
When asked what Carney and the President mean when they say the White House is opposed to “slashing” Social Security benefits, Carney would not characterize their interpretation of what level of cuts or modifications would be acceptable.

“The President is interested in strengthening Social Security in the long term in ways that preserve the promise of the program and don’t slash benefits…,” Carney said. “I’m not going to get into line items and how you achieve that.”

“Slash it’s like that,” Carney said, bringing down his arm in a downward movement, “A significant whack…I think slashing is pretty sharp. It’s not the same thing as cut, it’s a slash…and I don’t mean the guitarist.”

How are people not smarter than this by now? Didn’t we just go through this in April with the Massive Budget Freakout? And didn’t the reports of Obama pre-caving and pre-selling us out turn out to be dumbassery?

Crikey.

P.S. Someone tell Josh Marshall that the “Stunned Dems” screaming headline seems like overkill given the facts that are trickling out about the BS nature of the WaPo and NYT articles.

[It’s mah birfdeh, so I’m not going to be around to play in the comments section. HIDIDDLY HO! -ABLxx]

[cross-posted]






294 replies
  1. 1
    Svensker says:

    HBD, ABL!

  2. 2
    Arclite says:

    On the other hand, I’m glad that TPM, Raw Story, etc. headlined the SS story. It’s always a good idea to remind politicians that screwing around with people’s retirement planning is playing with matches in a garage full of leaky gas cans.

  3. 3
    Linnaeus says:

    Happy birthday, ABL.

    I think it’s okay to be concerned about where this is going, but I’ll agree that a freak-out is premature. That said, Jay Carney’s wordplay is a bit too clever.

  4. 4
    taylormattd says:

    Happy birfday ABL!

  5. 5
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Shorter Carney: ’tis only a flesh wound.

    Sweet Jesus, they need to fire that guy. If the goal was to throw cold water on this thing he just failed in Weineresquely spectacular fashion.

  6. 6
    yeahyeahwhatevs (Studly Pantload, once upon a time) says:

    Well, then, many, uh, hididdly-ho returns!

  7. 7
    Han's Solo says:

    But if we aren’t going to rely on unsourced articles from the NYT and WP what will we rely on?

    Hell, how would we have known about the imminent “Mushroom Clouds” heading our way from Iraq without the NYT and the WP?

  8. 8
    MBunge says:

    I had a little e-mail exchange with Josh Marshall over the whole “Obama is a weakling who doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing” assumption that’s all the rage in the Village. While he’s far from the worst purveyor of that meme, he is absolutely part of the lefty horde who are convinced they know more about politics than the black guy with the funny name who got himself elected President of the United States.

    Mike

  9. 9
    WyldPirate says:

    When asked what Carney and the President mean when they say the White House is opposed to “slashing” Social Security benefits, Carney would not characterize their interpretation of what level of cuts or modifications would be acceptable.
    __
    “Slash it’s like that,” Carney said, bringing down his arm in a downward movement, “A significant whack…I think slashing is pretty sharp. It’s not the same thing as cut, it’s a slash…and I don’t mean the guitarist.”

    As someone pointed out in an earlier thread, “paging George Orwell, paging George Orwell”

    Exactly why the hell is Carney having to fucking tap dance, ABL? Hmmm? WTF is so hard about saying “cutting SS benefits now or in the future of this Presidency is off-the table”? Why the fuck doe they have to dress it up as “double-speak”?

  10. 10
    stuckinred says:

    Happy Birthday lady.

  11. 11
    Trollenschlongen says:

    Happy Birfdeh, ABL! :D

  12. 12
    Baud says:

    Here’s my prediction on how this will play out:

    Some deal will be reached.
    Social Security will be preserved.
    Republicans will get something out of it.
    Whatever they get will be cast as an Obama sellout.
    The current brouhaha will be viewed as an intentional attempt to distract the left from such sellout.

    Edit: Oops, almost forget. Happy Birthday!

  13. 13
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Happy Birthday, ABL!

    How about a picture of you in your birthday suit?

  14. 14
    Martin says:

    How are people not smarter than this by now?

    They are, they just don’t want to be. Obama is a limp-dicked DINO that is selling their gay, progressive pony to the glue factory in exchange for Wall Street blowjobs and right-wing narratives, and nothing that actually happens in the real world will change the I-gotta-be-a-victim-of-something cartoon that’s on an endless loop through their brain.

  15. 15
    MattR says:

    From what I can tell, the unchanged White House position is that Social Security might be cut but it won’t be slashed. Is that correct?

    PS. Happy Birthday ABL.

  16. 16
    Warren Terra says:

    Happeh Bifdeh – er, Happy Birthday, ABL. Have fun, and do something wildly irresponsible.

    (Glad that silly Not! ABL moniker is in retirement).

  17. 17
    burnspbesq says:

    It’s ABL’s birthday?

    Parents, lock up your sons. There’s a wild woman on the loose.

    All kidding aside, have a great one.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    pete says:

    Hey, ABL, dont you go and get all mature on us now!

  20. 20
    Wiesman says:

    Cue the professional left: “We did it! Obama caved to us!”

  21. 21
    Butch says:

    All that aside, there has been some strange reporting at TPM lately; there’s a story about Michele Bachmann and her foster children (and pointing out quickly that I don’t like Bachmann) that’s the weakest attempt to make something out of not very much that I’ve seen in a while.

  22. 22
    LorenzoStDuBois says:

    Anyone have any insight into how SS will be “strengthened”? “Strengthened” signals change, albeit in some happy newspeak. strengthening:cuts::kinetic military action:war? Win the Future?

    If I were the WH Press Office I would be concerned about the spin and sources and official position and whatnot. OTOH, If I were anybody with skin in the SS game, I would be concerned about all the noises coming out of the administration about changes to the 70-year old program. Why is all the posting here so concerned about the angle on the former?

  23. 23

    WATB alert!

    Boehner announced that Republicans were seeking to further cut office allowances as part of the Legislative Branch appropriations bills, sparking anger from several Republicans. GOP leadership already imposed an across the board cut earlier this year.

    Yes let’s cut Medicare and Social Security instead of the toner and travel budget.

    Assholes.

  24. 24

    happy birthday ABL. I don’t agree with you on this one, but whatevs. I love the way you inspire so many angry freakouts here.

  25. 25
    WyldPirate says:

    And while we are on questions of the economy, ABL, perhaps you can explain why Obama is embracing Hooverism?

    To those defending Obama on the grounds that he’s saying what he has to politically, I have two answers. First, words matter — as people who rallied around Obama in the first place because of his eloquence should know. Yes, he has to make compromises on policy grounds — but that doesn’t mean he has to adopt the right’s rhetoric and arguments. The effect of his intellectual capitulation is that we now have only one side in the national argument.
    __
    Second, since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.
    __
    The question then is why. As I’ve tried to show many times, the facts overwhelmingly refute the anti-Keynes talking points. Neither the invisible bond vigilantes nor the confidence fairy have made an appearance. So why is Obama talking up those talking points?

    Looking forward to the “Obama can to skull-fuck kittens and do the GOPs dirty work for them” O-Pologies from the usual suspects.

  26. 26
    bemused says:

    I have a suspicion that anonymous sources “familiar with the President’s thinking” are the same people who appear on Fox as experts in reading the President’s body language.

  27. 27
    DonkeyKong says:

    Any reason is a good reason to let the beltway and Obama know, to quote Tyler Durden…..

    “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not… fuck with us.”

  28. 28
    Quiddity says:

    Great. No “slashing” of Social Security. But there will be “strengthening” of the program, which means cuts in benefits – that’s what the word means these days. A change in CPI calculation will result in a 5% to 7% cut in most scenarios. That’s not slashing, so why not be cool with it?

    Kudos to the White House for not getting the position – whatever it is – clear before talks or even letting House Democrats know what their thinking is.

    ABL dismisses the earlier story-floats followed by a retreat as if there is no responsibility on the White House’s part for good messaging. People have been repeatedly scared by these stories and today’s statement by Carney does not assuage.

    I guess ABL buys into Paul Ryan’s proposals when he talks about “strengthening” Medicare and “broadening the tax base”. Those expressions sound good to people totally ignorant of the vocabulary of budget policy, but in reality they mean serious, and painful, changes to the safety net.

    This week’s performance by Obama has seriously damaged him with the base. Very seriously. They won’t go Republican or Independent for the most part, but boy, the enthusiasm for the guy has vanished.

  29. 29
    Bobby Thomson says:

    I had a little e-mail exchange with Josh Marshall over the whole “Obama is a weakling who doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing” assumption that’s all the rage in the Village. While he’s far from the worst purveyor of that meme, he is absolutely part of the lefty horde who are convinced they know more about politics than the black guy with the funny name who got himself elected President of the United States.

    Josh thinks of himself as a liberal? Funny.

  30. 30
    Han's Solo says:

    @Martin: That is harsh, but a fairly accurate assessment.

    Matt Taibi has a piece up at his website about the Frank Rich article that says almost exactly what you said, but without the flair and with way more words.

    Taibi is pissed because Obama didn’t throw Wall Street in jail when he got into office. This brought a few things to mind:

    1) Throwing the heads of Wall Street in jail in the middle of a global economic melt down would be poor timing. It would be cathartic as all get out, but would only make things worse.

    2) Most of the shenanigans (though by no means all) that Wall Street did to melt the system were legal. The way it works is Wall Street hires lobbyist who write laws Wall Street wants, then convince politicians to pass those laws. Sometimes lawmakers write the laws themselves, but after they do they tend to quit and go work for Wall Street (Phil Graham.)

    3) You can’t throw people in jail unless they’ve broken a law.

  31. 31
    Derf says:

    ha…John Galt Cole moderating his threads now. What a dickless wanker.

    A reminder:

    Last month poor jobs report and our hero John Galt Cole was there to breathlessly report it. Apocalyptic terms and all.
    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....e-we-come/

    This month good jobs report and nothing but crickets from John Galt Cole. No, he would rather focus on the latest feined outrage from the pro lefties being the Greenwald reading libertarian sympathizing concern troll that he is. Stay classy John Galt Cole. I have nothing but contempt for your sorry ass excuse for a blogger!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....rowth.html

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....8-000.html

  32. 32
    Martin says:

    From what I can tell, the unchanged White House position is that Social Security might be cut but it won’t be slashed. Is that correct?

    We all agree something, even small needs to be done, but heaven forbid Obama talk about doing something, even small. As soon as he does, he’s embracing right-wing narratives and selling out progressives and presiding over the death of Social Security.

    Can someone hyperventilating over the supposed ‘cuts’ kindly explain what cuts are being proposed? Because I don’t think you have a fucking clue.

  33. 33
    Svensker says:

    Did I hallucinate a post about Newt G? And I had such a great comment, too!

    Also, what Butch said at 21. I thought that was weak-ass sauce, as well.

  34. 34
    stickler says:

    If Social Security is “strengthened” by lifting the FICA cap, then I’m all for it. If it’s “strengthened” by cutting COLA formulae, then it’s a cave and the Dems will fully deserve the shitestorm that will hit them in 2012.

    Devil’s in the details, people. None of which we know right now.

  35. 35
    TBogg says:

    Happy birfdey ABL. Mine is tomorrow.

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @Svensker

    I saw it too. I’m all tingly with anticipation.

  37. 37

    “familiar with the President’s thinking”

    That phrase always makes me suspicious. It’s hard to know what another person is thinking, planning, or motivated by.

    So I assume that the person familiar with Obama’s thinking is lying because I probably doesn’t know any more about that than I do.

    Now you can be familiar with a person’s actions and we might reasonably expect this or that action in the future. But not thinking.

    Happy birthday, ABL. You look great. Now that you’ve survived to this landmark, what are you going to do between now and your 26th birthday?

  38. 38
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    But they can trust these rumors because Obama always caves, like when we didn’t get the ACA or fin-reg and he gave the Republicans all they wanted in the budget and abandoned DADT. There’s a pattern!

    MattR:
    The administration’s stated position is that they’ll *discuss* anything. Beyond that they’re pro ‘strengthening’ but against cutting benefits. Apparently this is all a Secret Code instead of just not wanting to be specific mid-negotiation?

  39. 39
    WyldPirate says:

    @Quiddity:

    Kudos to the White House for not getting the position – whatever it is – clear before talks or even letting House Democrats know what their thinking is.

    Doublespeak is doubleplus good, doncha know?

  40. 40
    Tone In DC says:

    Happy birthday, ABL.
    The usual suspects will freak out (as is their wont) in your absence.

    Where are Stuck, El Cid and Kay when I need them.

  41. 41
    Baud says:

    From TPM:

    Pelosi Draws Line in the Sand: We won’t support a debt limit bill with Medicare or Social Security cuts.

    There, problem solved.

  42. 42
    Trurl says:

    Don’t you Naderite pony-wishing racists get it? When Obama goes behind Dem legislators’ backs to make a deal with Republicans to reduce SS payouts, he’s not cutting Social Security – he’s strengthening it.

  43. 43
    Han's Solo says:

    My understanding is that “Strengthening” social security involves raising the Cap.

    If that is correct, I’m all for it.

  44. 44
    liberal says:

    Martin wrote,

    We all agree something, even small needs to be done

    Yawn. Why should anything be done, as long as it’s clear that the Republicans consider the Trust Fund a fiction and will view increased SS inflows as inflows to the unified budget, allowing them to cut (or not increase) taxes on the filthy rich?

    Of course, given your pathetic rationalization of why “cuts” aren’t cuts, I’m not surprised.

  45. 45
    UncertaintyVicePrincipal says:

    “Slash it’s like that,” Carney said, bringing down his arm in a downward movement, “A significant whack…I think slashing is pretty sharp. It’s not the same thing as cut, it’s a slash …and I don’t mean….”

    Whew! Glad to hear everything’s okay and they won’t condone touching Social Security. Because you know otherwise, that could sound like some world-class prevaricating on the subject, to use the polite term, to walk that fine line between “These reports are completely false” and “Okay by false I mean mostly true, but, here let me use hand puppets to demonstrate the difference between a cut, a whack, and a slash…”

    Yeah I think we get it. Significantly whacked is the term that comes to mind here also, thanks.

  46. 46
    Quiddity says:

    @stickler: I have read that position multiple times in comments at various blogs today. FICA cap Yes, COLA change NO.

  47. 47
    NR says:

    Pelosi Draws Line in the Sand: We won’t support a debt limit bill with Medicare or Social Security cuts.

    Yeah, just like they wouldn’t support a health care bill without a public option.

    Social Security cuts are coming, they will be fully embraced by the Democratic leadership, and most people here will be hailing it as a great progressive victory.

  48. 48
    liberal says:

    Han’s Solo wrote,

    My understanding is that “Strengthening” social security involves raising the Cap. If that is correct, I’m all for it.

    Right, because in order to keep taxes low on the truly filthy rich, we need to pretend that anyone earning wages above $106K/yr is “rich”.

  49. 49
    WyldPirate says:

    @Han’s Solo:

    Most of the shenanigans (though by no means all) that Wall Street did to melt the system were legal. The way it works is Wall Street hires lobbyist who write laws Wall Street wants, then convince politicians to pass those laws. Sometimes lawmakers write the laws themselves, but after they do they tend to quit and go work for Wall Street (Phil Graham.)

    This is pretty much a catch-all BS statement. Documented evidence exists of the SEC not only ignoring illegalities but firing their own investigators for looking into some of the Wall St. pooh-bahs.

    There is pretty solid evidence that many of the Wall St. pooh-bahs lied their asses off before Congress as well.

    Funny how Roger Clemens is catching shit over lying to Congress over steroids and the Wall St fuckers skate.

  50. 50
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @Derf:
    You haven’t posted this information — the exact same information that you’ve already posted in most of today’s threads, much to everyone else’s annoyance — in the doggie-cancer-op bleg post one thread up. I’m worried about you, friend. Is everything OK?

  51. 51
    Martin says:

    A change in CPI calculation will result in a 5% to 7% cut in most scenarios.

    5% to 7% cut in what? Not in benefits, but in the COLA adjustment to the benefits. It’s actually about a 0.2% cut annually moving from CPI to C-CPI. And that’s horrible why?

    Keep in mind that CPI currently overstates inflation by about 50%, so seniors aren’t getting a COLA, they’re getting a COLA+50%. This would change it to a COLA+35%. Even accounting for the fact that seniors aren’t urban workers (who the CPI is modeling) and have slightly higher inflation rates because health care costs are increasing faster than inflation, they’re still getting about a COLA+25% increase with the C-CPI. Relative to inflation, even with the adjustment, they get MORE each year to spend than the year before. Their benefits don’t get cut, they simply increase faster than inflation at a slower rate.

    How is this some catastrophic dismantling of SS?

    And yes, that 0.2% savings amounts to about $250B in savings over 10 years, and is enough to push SS solvency out about 3 decades, which is about all it needs. A modest raise in the payroll cap would finish off the deal for the foreseeable future.

  52. 52
    Quiddity says:

    @UncertaintyVicePrincipal: You are wrong. No hand puppets were used. It was a pure, naked, unadulterated hand in this case.

  53. 53
    kdaug says:

    Go girl, and have fun. Congrats on one more orbit.

  54. 54
    EconWatcher says:

    Slightly OT, but when Josh Marshall evolved from a thinker and commentator into a media entrepreneur, he lost his edge and mostly stopped being interesting.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    But there will be “strengthening” of the program, which means cuts in benefits – that’s what the word means these days.

    Weird how adding revenue — say, by increasing the FICA cap — is completely off the table in your estimation. No, you think that you can’t possibly “strengthen” Social Security by increasing its revenue, so they can only be talking about cuts.

  56. 56
    superfly says:

    How are people not smarter than this by now?

    Pure projection.

  57. 57
    LorenzoStDuBois says:

    @Stickler: Which do you think will happen? Have you been paying attention the last 2 years? the last 30 years? When these snakes use newspeak like “strengthen”, it’s not because they want to surprise you for your birthday. They’re going to take your money.

    @Linda Featheringill: Those are interesting and thoughtful concerns in a philosophy seminar. They are silly and pedantic when talking about political maneuvering. Obviously the sources, if telling the truth, are referring to who BO has been listening to and what he has been saying. Sorry, but the source, whether he’s lying here or not, knows far more about the president’s thoughts than you do.

  58. 58
    meh says:

    ok so here’s what I don’t get – isn’t the absolutism of not at all looking at cutting things like SocSec the equivalent to saying there is no discussion of raising taxes? So if the CoLA is reduced from whichever formula it is (CPI or chained CPI) makes a marketed difference in expenditures without removing an annual increase, how is it unreasonable to look at doing that? This freakout seems like the progressive version of the anti-tax religiosity on the right…

    (full disclosure – I’m 35 so SocSec is more an abstract notion farther down the line for me as opposed to someone who is cresting 60)

  59. 59
    liberal says:

    Frankensteinbeck wrote,

    But they can trust these rumors because Obama always caves, like when we didn’t get the ACA or fin-reg…

    ACA isn’t very good, except if you view it as a work in progress. Fin-reg as passed ranks about a C+.

  60. 60
    Judas Escargot says:

    I wish we knew this “leak source”– was this a bona fide trial balloon to rally the left around SS? Was someone on the right trying to ratfvck the administration by causing trouble on the left flank? Or just some idiot journalist trying to generate clicks from the (predictable) freakout>

    I can’t form an opinion until I know.

  61. 61
    Baud says:

    @Martin

    How is this some catastrophic dismantling of SS?

    It is because it has to be.

  62. 62
    MattR says:

    @Martin:

    We all agree something, even small needs to be done, but heaven forbid Obama talk about doing something, even small.

    I completely disagree that anything needs to be done to Social Security right at this moment. If we want to have a completely independent conversation about fixing Social Security once the debt ceiling has been raised and a budget is passed, that is fine. But there is absolutely no need to bring it up in this context.

    Also, I am not hyperventilating about it. I am just trying to understand exactly what range of options the President is willing to accept. Carney’s language doesn’t clear it up at all and gives people on both sides the ability to say they were right – leaving Social Security unchanged and making modest but noticeable cuts are both within the range of possibilities that Carney outlined.

  63. 63
    aisce says:

    people are freaking out because they don’t have a place in these negotiations. that frankly may or may not even be happening.

    because we don’t know. we have no clue. it’s the ultimate, non-transparent, backroom bit of business between the president and the speaker, with actual congressmen and senators completely in the dark. and if they’re in the dark, how uninformed and misinformed do you think the media (and sadly, definitionally, us) are?

    and so the bullshit artists come out and play. unnamed sources in the washington post and nyt. hacks and liars in diaries on dailykos or whatever the republican equivalent is spinning lies and falsehoods.

    like today’s tour de force from somebody at kos completely misrepresenting the chained-cpi policy idea (that may not even be on the table, because we don’t know what’s on the table whatsoever). complete nonsense. mathematical nonsense. http://bonddad.blogspot.com/20.....chain.html

    thirty thousand blogs and bloggers run with it. everybody’s preconceived notions gotta remain preconceived, you see? gotta get that pushback going, because a hundred thousand blogs and bloggers are busy calling the president a pu$$y who wants to sell out the new deal. just shut up. it’s become a game of fucking telephone, and nobody. knows. anything. nobody knows.

    it sucks. live with it. shut up. and wait and see. is that depressing? yes. can you do anything about it? nope. in the future, i would hope our congress wouldn’t invent fake crises, push the nation to the brink of financial calamity, and then lie day and night about what they’re doing (or not doing) to avert disaster. that shouldn’t be too much to ask. but republicans are nihlists. and the president’s caginess can sometimes devolve into shiftiness. we’ll just have to see.

  64. 64
    Han's Solo says:

    @liberal: Your reading comprehension needs work.

    Right, because in order to keep taxes low on the truly filthy rich, we need to pretend that anyone earning wages above $106K/yr is “rich”.

    I’m not even sure what you are trying to say. We shouldn’t raise the cap?

    I’ve read several of your posts today, you seem hell bent on throwing a tantrum, but you’re doing a piss poor job of explaining why.

    Did Hamsher and her crew of faux lefties send you over here for cyber-babysitting?

  65. 65
    LorenzoStDuBois says:

    “Naderite pony-wishing racists”.

    Awesome.

  66. 66
    liberal says:

    meh wrote,

    ok so here’s what I don’t get – isn’t the absolutism of not at all looking at cutting things like SocSec the equivalent to saying there is no discussion of raising taxes?

    No. Income taxes are an integral part of General Budget flows, which is the part of the budget which is out of balance.

    If you think SS should be on the table, you’re agreeing that SS outflows should be viewed as part of the unified budget, and not separate.

    It’s not an entirely incorrect view in some ways, but in the current context it’s just part of an effort to erase the obligations in the SS trust fund by pretending they don’t exist.

  67. 67
    SpotWeld says:

    Hey, another 7/7 birthday.
    Happy Birthday!!

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    Social Security cuts are coming, they will be fully embraced by the Democratic leadership, and most people here will be hailing it as a great progressive victory.

    Tell ya what, NR — let’s put some money on it. If there are actual cuts to Social Security, I will donate $50 to the charity of your choice. Please note that increasing the FICA cap does not count as a “cut.” The COLA adjustment being discussed is a cut in future COLA increases and not a cut in what people are receiving right now, so we could call that a partial cut and I’ll donate $25. If I’m right and there are no cuts, then you donate $50 to a charity of my choice.

    Deal?

  69. 69
    liberal says:

    Han’s Solo wrote,

    We shouldn’t raise the cap?

    Fine. Why shouldn’t we apply SS to capital gains? People earning more than $106K are already getting a crappier deal on SS, so any logic that ways we should raise the cap a little bit says we should raise it to +infinity on both wage income and cap gains.

    Furthermore, as I’ve written multiple times, where are the extra incoming dollars going to? The SS trust fund. But the Republicans don’t think it exists, and it’s clear that they just want to raid the fund. So anything that makes the fund bigger just makes more regressively raised tax dollars available to them, now or in the future.

  70. 70
    Martin says:

    Actually, the best thing about this SS COLA index argument from the people freaking out is that if I applied the very same math in reverse to the top marginal tax rate or the AMT, they’d be going ballistic that even though it was a tax increase, the rich would still be getting richer because the index didn’t precisely match inflation. But when I apply it to SS benefits and show that the benefits are paying out too quickly relative to inflation and that’s why the system is slowly bleeding money, well, touching that would be destroying the institution!

    In real dollar terms, we’re talking about a total reduction in benefits of about $.11 per month moving from CPI to C-CPI. That’s everyone’s idea of ‘slashing’ and ‘destroying’ Social Security. Eleven cents per month.

  71. 71
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I don’t like the implications this has for The Base. I mean, they were already upset about the impending war with Iran, all those assassinations of American citizens, and the new humiliations visited upon gays. And now this! Ain’t no rage like fruitless hypothetical rage, that’s what I say.

  72. 72
    liberal says:

    aisce wrote,

    because we don’t know. we have no clue. it’s the ultimate, non-transparent, backroom bit of business between the president and the speaker, with actual congressmen and senators completely in the dark. and if they’re in the dark, how uninformed and misinformed do you think the media (and sadly, definitionally, us) are?

    But we’re not entirely uninformed. We know that Obama says “everything is on the table,” and we know tthat the Republicans don’t think that’s true on their side. We also know that Obama could have just refused to negotiate and instead demanded a clean bill. Which he didn’t do.

  73. 73
    lou says:

    from what I’m reading, the SS cuts are on the table only if the Republicans agree to $1 trillion in tax hikes. it looks as though he’s actually trying to paint them in a corner.

  74. 74
    WyldPirate says:

    @NR:

    Social Security cuts are coming, they will be fully embraced by the Democratic leadership, and most people here will be hailing it as a great progressive victory.

    Of course they will. President Obama Immaculate Perfection is allowed to skull-fuck kittens. In their fevered rush to O-pologize, that’s perfectly normal behavior, too.

  75. 75
    askew says:

    I had a little e-mail exchange with Josh Marshall over the whole “Obama is a weakling who doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing” assumption that’s all the rage in the Village. While he’s far from the worst purveyor of that meme, he is absolutely part of the lefty horde who are convinced they know more about politics than the black guy with the funny name who got himself elected President of the United States.

    Josh Marshall has really become a Politico style hack since Obama became elected. Not sure what his problem is but he has been spreading a ton of misinformation at that blog for sometime now. The only good news is that their site page views are plummeting as they embrace the HP/Politico style of smear first, fact-check later.

  76. 76
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Judas / 60 :

    Was someone on the right trying to ratfvck the administration by causing trouble on the left flank?

    Those rats came pre-fvcked.

  77. 77
    TimmyB says:

    So, every other cut to S/S that doesn’t fall under Obama’s definition of “slashing” is OK? So now we can expect the “cutting,” “hacking away at” and even “dismembering” of S/S. But than goodness “slashing” is off the table.

    How any thinking person can be fooled by Obama’s bullshit quibbling over semantics is beyond me. This is so 1984. For fuck’s sake, can’t anyone speak by using clear English? We are being intentionally kept uninformed by Obama, and that ain’t good.

  78. 78
    Han's Solo says:

    @WyldPirate: I’d love for some of the Wall Street Poobahs to spend time in jail. Truly I would. And my comment makes it clear that I realize laws were broken, but much of what melted the system was legal.

    Are you denying that?

  79. 79
    NR says:

    5% to 7% cut in what? Not in benefits, but in the COLA adjustment to the benefits. It’s actually about a 0.2% cut annually moving from CPI to C-CPI. And that’s horrible why?

    TPM talked about this recently:

    But on the benefits side, this means money out of people’s pockets, even current retirees and pensioners. Responding to a letter of concern from House Democrats’ top Social Security guy the program’s chief actuary explained that moving to “chained-CPI” would constitute an immediate 0.3 percent benefit cut. That may sound small, but the effects would compound, and “[a]dditional annual COLAs thereafter would accumulate to larger total reductions in expected scheduled benefit levels of about 3.7 percent, 6.5 percent, and 9.2 percent for retirees at ages 75, 85, and 95, respectively.”

  80. 80
    aisce says:

    @ martin

    In real dollar terms, we’re talking about a total reduction in benefits of about $.11 per month moving from CPI to C-CPI.

    no, you’re wrong. your math is wrong. you’re off by an order of magnitude. this is the game of telephone i was talking about.

    http://bonddad.blogspot.com/20.....chain.html

    nobody even knows what the policies being debated are, and yet we already have misunderstandings. all heat and no light. this has been a massive blogosphere fail.

  81. 81
    meh says:

    @ Liberal

    I sort of get that, but my broader point was (and I understand some of the pushback on this) isn’t this intransigence to even discussing SocSec cuts eerily similar to the intransigence of the GOP when discussing taxes? I am talking more about ideological intransigence, not the distinction of what may or may not be an actual General Budget line item debit/expenses. Additionally, if they were to do something like this, wouldn’t the debt ceiling hostage scenario be a great cover for it? Let’s say they feel that while SocSec is self-sustaining, its on a downward curve. If they assume that fixing the CoLA adjustment formulas make a long term, and as they see it, needed correction to maintain or “strengthen” SocSec, isn’t the “gun to the head” scenario of the debt ceiling give them a huge win in a number of places? One for being willing to compromise, another for looking like the adult in the room, third – cutting the “debt” (which like it or not a vast, vast majority of Independents want whether they can articulate specificities or not).

  82. 82
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Happy Birthday.

    I wish there were more girls who like Laphroaig. In my experience, they mostly go “ew”

  83. 83
    Trollenschlongen says:

    Oh please, McTease.

    People are freaking out about what might be going on in Obama’s super secret negotiations in the most transparent administration in history because they don’t trust the shady , republican ass-kissing motherfucker to keep his word or live up to the spirit of his soaring (fake), inspirational campaign speeches.

    WHY don’t people trust him? Well, even the dead ender Obots know the answer to that, so I won’t rehash. But please let us not pretend we don’t all know why people are freaking out today.

  84. 84
    MattR says:

    @Martin:

    In real dollar terms, we’re talking about a total reduction in benefits of about $.11 per month moving from CPI to C-CPI.

    How do you figure? Using your figure of a .2% difference between them (which I think is a bit low), the difference in COLA for a starting monthly benefit of $1000 would be $2.00

  85. 85
    WyldPirate says:

    @Han’s Solo:
    No I’m not. I misread your comment initially and didn’t catch your qualifier about laws being broken in parentheses.

    My apologies.

  86. 86
    aisce says:

    @ trollenschlongen

    i’m not sure you could get more offensive if you tried. maybe some racial slurs for full effect?

  87. 87
    Derf says:

    A lovely Moooahhh (blowing kisses) to all my groupies who continue to have such an interest in everything I say even if I keep repeating the same thing. Your interest is an inspiration for me to do even more of what I am already doing. Thank you for the motivation and support.

    reminder:

    Last month poor jobs report and our hero John Galt Cole was there to breathlessly report it. Apocalyptic terms and all.
    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....e-we-come/

    This month good jobs report and nothing but crickets from John Galt Cole. No, he would rather focus on the latest feined outrage from the pro lefties being the Greenwald reading libertarian sympathizing concern troll that he is. Stay classy John Galt Cole. I have nothing but contempt for your sorry ass excuse for a blogger!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....rowth.html

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....8-000.html

  88. 88
    kay says:

    Josh Marshall has really become a Politico style hack since Obama became elected. Not sure what his problem is but he has been spreading a ton of misinformation at that blog for sometime now. The only good news is that their site page views are plummeting as they embrace the HP/Politico style of smear first, fact-check later.

    I love Talking Points memo for developing the US attorney scandal story. That was dismissed by all serious journalists, and it was actually huge. The US AG resigned. That’s pretty damn big.

    Jeez, but you guys are fickle. You’ll abandon a (mostly) worthwhile and earnest person in a heartbeat. One screw up, and you Just kick him to the side of the road :)

  89. 89
    Han's Solo says:

    @liberal:

    Why shouldn’t we apply SS to capital gains? People earning more than $106K are already getting a crappier deal on SS, so any logic that ways we should raise the cap a little bit says we should raise it to +infinity on both wage income and cap gains.

    A couple nitpics – Don’t focus just on Capital Gains. It’s called “unearned income” and it includes dividends, interest and misc other kinds of income. If you focus just on capital gains, then investor types will hire assholes like me to figure out how to get those capital gains classified as other forms of unearned income.

    Second, I agree a tad. If you have AGI over a certain threshold and X percent (I’d say over 50%) of your income is from unearned income, you should be treated as if all your unearned income is ordinary income subject to self employment tax.

    as I’ve written multiple times, where are the extra incoming dollars going to? The SS trust fund. But the Republicans don’t think it exists, and it’s clear that they just want to raid the fund. So anything that makes the fund bigger just makes more regressively raised tax dollars available to them, now or in the future.

    Yeah, will, Republicans believe a lot of stupid shit, so what? Policy is policy, and the debt the SS fund is owed can’t be ignored just because the GOP is reality impaired.

  90. 90
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Furthermore, as I’ve written multiple times, where are the extra incoming dollars going to? The SS trust fund. But the Republicans don’t think it exists, and it’s clear that they just want to raid the fund. So anything that makes the fund bigger just makes more regressively raised tax dollars available to them, now or in the future.

    @”liberal”: Why are you arguing against making the structure less regressive? You do realize that’s what raising the cap does, right? Moreover, taken to its logical conclusion your argument supports eliminating FICA and Social Security altogether since Republicans will just take any money raised from the poor and give it to the rich. I call ratfucking shenanigans.

  91. 91
    Martin says:

    That may sound small, but the effects would compound, and “[a]dditional annual COLAs thereafter would accumulate to larger total reductions in expected scheduled benefit levels of about 3.7 percent, 6.5 percent, and 9.2 percent for retirees at ages 75, 85, and 95, respectively.”

    But that’s bullshit math because it still fails to acknowledge that the current COLA formula is higher than actual inflation. Let’s make this really simple. Hypothetically, let’s say we have annual inflation of 3%. Every year it’s 3%. But the feds, being idiots, set the SS COLA rate at 5%.

    Seniors aren’t actually seeing a 5% increase in cost of living each year – they’re seeing a 3% increase (inflation) – and they’re getting a 2% increase in base benefits on top of this. For a defined benefit program like SS, a miscalculation in the actual COLA rate can bankrupt the program because the contributions (which automatically increase with real inflation at 3%) aren’t sufficient to cover the 5% payout.

    Aha! The feds declare! We have this wrong! We’ve been giving seniors not just a cost of living increase, but a 2% raise on top of that! Well, we can’t afford that, so (because we’re still idiots) let’s reduce the COLA rate to 4%. That’ll solve the problem!

    [from the audience]: No! You can’t do that! That 1% cut will compound and after 30 years we’ll be getting 50% less! You’re cutting our benefits in half!

    Even though the COLA is still 1% higher than inflation, everyone is still determined to call this a cut, and with the compounding, call it a HUGE cut. In fact, relative to inflation, this isn’t a cut in benefits at all. It’s simply getting smaller raises *above* inflation than you were getting before. Seniors’ buying power under the C-CPI will go UP every year. It’ll just go up more slowly. But it’s still increasing. It’s not a cut in benefits, not in any honest sense of the word. It’s a cut in the rate of increase ABOVE inflation.

  92. 92
    Han's Solo says:

    @WyldPirate: No biggie.

  93. 93
    Georgia Pig says:

    In real dollar terms, we’re talking about a total reduction in benefits of about $.11 per month moving from CPI to C-CPI. That’s everyone’s idea of ‘slashing’ and ‘destroying’ Social Security. Eleven cents per month.

    Yeah, which is what is so great about the emo outrage on this. It makes it look like this is a big deal, that Obama is actually offering something that causes a lot of pain to his constituency. Most folks won’t get the difference and the media is too lazy to inform them otherwise. If that locks in SS for three decades, I’m all for it. If they trade an AMT fix for axing some loopholes, all the better. Obama may have managed the republicans into actually making some good policy choices, all without having to sign on to extending the upper income Bush tax cuts. That will come up with next year’s budget.

  94. 94
    Cain says:

    Happy Bday, ABL! Happy Early Bday, Tbogg!

    I want to see some twitter pics!

  95. 95
    Martin says:

    no, you’re wrong. your math is wrong. you’re off by an order of magnitude. this is the game of telephone i was talking about.

    Ok, I did the math myself and you’re right. But the $4 per month or so difference between CPI and C-CPI still leaves seniors about $10 or so ahead of inflation. So long as they remain ahead of inflation, I don’t understand the outrage.

  96. 96
    Amir_Khalid says:

    Almost forgot to say this — selamat harijadi, ABL.

  97. 97
    WyldPirate says:

    @aisce:

    i’m not sure you could get more offensive if you tried. maybe some racial slurs for full effect?

    Oh fucking puh-lease. It’s offensive to point out that Obama has adopted Republican talking points WRT to the economy? That he is embracing neo-Hooverism?

    He fucking hired the guy that pimped the hell out of Gramm-Leech-Bileley to be on his economic team. Now he is embracing the Austerian austerity model when all evidence –both past and present–indicates that it is a massive failure.

  98. 98
    Trollenschlongen says:

    @aisce #86:

    i’m not sure you could get more offensive if you tried.

    maybe some racial slurs for full effect?

    Oh my. Suddenly, tender and delicate sensibilities have been discovered among the Obots. Am I the first to use the MF term at BJ?

    How does one get from MF to racist? I don’t know, but apparently that is how your mind works.

  99. 99
    MattR says:

    @Martin: I don’t know that anyone is calling it a huge cut. It seems more that they are refuting your claim that the cut is miniscule.

    As I said last night, you may not be cutting the dollar value of benefits but making a change so that they grow at a slower rate over time leads to a reduction in benefits compared to the status quo. Even if they would still be getting more than they deserve, they are also getting less than they would have had no change been made. I don’t see how you can deny that making the change reduces the benefits they would receive.

    EDIT: But then again, Obama said during the campaign that he won’t cut the cost of living adjustment so I guess this whole conversation is moot.

  100. 100
    askew says:

    Kay

    I love Talking Points memo for developing the US attorney scandal story. That was dismissed by all serious journalists, and it was actually huge. The US AG resigned. That’s pretty damn big. Jeez, but you guys are fickle. You’ll abandon a (mostly) worthwhile and earnest person in a heartbeat. One screw up, and you Just kick him to the side of the road :)

    Huh? It hasn’t been one screw up. It’s been years of screw-ups at TPM. Their reporting has become really shoddy over the past couple of years. They were dead wrong during the ACA fight, the budget fight and now they seem to be just rumor mongering during the debt ceiling fight.

    What I find weird is the netroots inability to call progressive pundits on the carpet when they do crappy work. Josh’s work on the attorney scandal was good but that doesn’t give him a lifetime pass to publish poorly sourced bullshit.

  101. 101
    Trollenschlongen says:

    i’m not sure you could get more offensive if you tried.

    I’m pretty sure I could…

  102. 102
    Pangloss says:

    Happeh birfdeh, you.

  103. 103
    Strandedvandal says:

    Dear sweet Derf

    If I throw you a stick, will you go get it?

  104. 104

    Hau`oli Lā Hānau, ABL!

  105. 105
    WyldPirate says:

    @Han’s Solo:

    Second, I agree a tad. If you have AGI over a certain threshold and X percent (I’d say over 50%) of your income is from unearned income, you should be treated as if all your unearned income is ordinary income subject to self employment tax.

    Here’s a concept (and it may be what you are sort of getting at), how’s about we get rid of the concept of “unearned income” altogether? How’s about we treat it all the same?

  106. 106
    Martin says:

    Even if they would still be getting more than they deserve, they are also getting less than they would have had no change been made. I don’t see how you can deny that making the change reduces the benefits they would receive.

    Because you’re missing the situation where there’s 0 inflation, which is what we had last year. There’s no difference then. Benefits are NOT supposed to increase. They’re supposed to stay level relative to inflation. That’s ALWAYS how the program was supposed to run. You’re saying that they’re entitled to extra benefits, where ‘extra’ is defined arbitrarily. They’ll have more buying power next year than they do this year. And you call that a cut in benefits. That’s crazy. Under those rules, you could give them a 100% COLA, threatening to bankrupt SS in 5 years, and reducing it to a 50% COLA would therefore be slashing benefits, all the while they’d be getting rich beyond the dreams of any of us here. That’s insane. That’s Republican math.

  107. 107
    boss bitch says:

    @Quiddity:

    But there will be “strengthening” of the program, which means cuts in benefits – that’s what the word means these days.

    Says who?

    I guess ABL buys into Paul Ryan’s proposals when he talks about “strengthening” Medicare and “broadening the tax base”.

    and people say Obama has bought into Republican framing?

    This week’s performance by Obama has seriously damaged him with the base. Very seriously. They won’t go Republican or Independent for the most part, but boy, the enthusiasm for the guy has vanished.

    Oops! My bad. This whole post is snark. I can’t tell these days.

  108. 108
    RalfW says:

    Strandedvandal @103

    Well, he likes extremely predictable, boring repetitiveness, so stick-retrieval seems right up his alley.

  109. 109
    RalfW says:

    Oh, and Grattis på födelsedagen, ABL!

  110. 110
    dogwood says:

    Well, it seems to me that there was some push-back by Republican insiders like Brooks. This made for a bad news cycle or two for the GOP. So voila, today we’ll print some crap to suggest the President wants to cut SS benefits. People who report on politics know nothing about what goes on in the White House. They have sources with axes to grind or causes to champion from each party. They decide what the slant of the days story will be and they call the appropriate unnamed source. Outside of Fox news the media isn’t particularly anti-democrat, but repbublicans have ruled Washington for quite awhile and they have more sources with them. The whole business of political reporting is a joke.

  111. 111
    Han's Solo says:

    @WyldPirate: I don’t think that would be a good idea.

    The thing is we want people to save money and invest, but that isn’t the same thing as running a hedge fund or being a day trader. If I sit at my desk doing tax analysis for a client my net income is taxed as ordinary income subject to self employment tax. Why should someone who sits at their desk buying and selling investment vehicles get a tax break?

    Look, it goes way beyond this. If you really want to make a change what you need to do is give the self employment tax a steroid injection. Get rid of the S Corp shareholder-employee loophole. I know people who’ve made tens of millions of dollars in a single year and paid ZERO self employment tax.

    Also too, as long as we’re fantasizing over potential tax changes, how about we give the Accumulated Earnings Tax a make over. Corporations are sitting on 2 trillion, make them use it or lose it.

  112. 112
    boss bitch says:

    @NR:

    Yeah, just like they wouldn’t support a health care bill without a public option.

    Social Security is NOT the public option. People rely on and have paid into it and expect it. It is decades old, established, ingrained and extremely popular. The idea of a public option was also popular and…..yeah that’s pretty much it. Quickly forgotten except for a teeny fraction of the left.

  113. 113
    boss bitch says:

    @LorenzoStDuBois:

    Sorry, but the source, whether he’s lying here or not, knows far more about the president’s thoughts than you do.

    everyone and their mother has claimed to be familiar with Obama’s thinking. Just look at this thread.

  114. 114
    MattR says:

    @Martin:

    Because you’re missing the situation where there’s 0 inflation, which is what we had last year. There’s no difference then. Benefits are NOT supposed to increase. They’re supposed to stay level relative to inflation. That’s ALWAYS how the program was supposed to run. You’re saying that they’re entitled to extra benefits, where ‘extra’ is defined arbitrarily.

    What you are missing is that while they may not be supposed to be receiving an increase in real benefits, that does not change that they have been receiving that increase as a result of the way that Congress set things up. I am not arguing that they are entitled to those extra benefits. I am saying that taking those extra benefits is a reduction in the total benefits they receive.

    They’ll have more buying power next year than they do this year. And you call that a cut in benefits. That’s crazy. Under those rules, you could give them a 100% COLA, threatening to bankrupt SS in 5 years, and reducing it to a 50% COLA would therefore be slashing benefits, all the while they’d be getting rich beyond the dreams of any of us here. That’s insane. That’s Republican math.

    This is not Republican math. It is basic math. If the current formula says that I should receive X and you change the formula so I receive Y. If Y is less than X then I have seen my benefits reduced as a result of that change. That is true even in the extreme case that you outline. I would add that bringing up such an extreme case conflates whether something is a cut/reduction in benefits with whether that cut is a good idea.

  115. 115
    WyldPirate says:

    @Han’s Solo:

    I’m way our of my league talking about this issue, but It pisses me off royally that HFM get away wi8th paying a 15% rate on their earnings.

    I’m all for the loop-hole closure’s on the corporations and the ending of their off-shore sheltering of money (of course that may force them all off-shore).

    To me, there is a fundamental unfairness about the tax code. People fundamentally have the same sort of needs and folks on the low-end of the earnings scale get hit pretty hard on the “nickle and dime” taxes of daily life (sales, gas, tires, etc., ad nauseum). Yeah, there is a difference in scales of consumption and value of consumed items, but it pales after a certain point; particularly if you are a trust-fund baby paying 15% on unearned income.

    But again, I’m way the fuck out of my league talking on this subject.

  116. 116
    TK-421 says:

    While I agree it’s premature to officially freak out about this, let’s not pretend this is coming from way out of left field (and therefore should be dismissed entirely). It’s not like we haven’t previously seen signals from President Obama that he wants to “reform” Social Security- remind me, again, who created that Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission?

    Look, I support and will vote for President Obama because obv. But again, let’s not pretend that the Obama Administration is doing a good job on the economy here. The Administration was overly cautious at first/best, then apathetic when he/they realized that, and now we’re witnessing Herbert Hoover 2.0. These negotiations are just farcically becoming more of that last.

    And before anyone jumps all over me about hysterically claiming “he’s worse than Bush!,” please make special note of the fact that I am only referring to this Administration’s performance on economic matters. He’s been satisfactory to good in a lot of other areas. Unfortunately, as any poli sci major with half a lick of sense will tell you, economic matters are the best and pretty much only indicator of incumbent reelection success. 2012 is going to be far more difficult than it has to be.

    It’s sad, because IMO Barack Obama has so much more potential/intelligence than we’ve seen. But Democrats…they always have to make it harder on themselves than necessary. I wish I knew why.

  117. 117
    Tsulagi says:

    @Martin:

    We have this wrong! We’ve been giving seniors not just a cost of living increase, but a 2% raise on top of that!

    I hear you, Martin. All those strapping (probably held up by straps) old bucks been buying branded Metamucil like there’s no tomorrow. Make those spendthrift old farts buy generic. Isn’t that what chained CPI encourages and assumes?

    You would think not having a COLA benefit increase the past two years they’d have learned that lesson by now…

    The government is projecting a slight cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security benefits next year, the first increase since 2009. But for most beneficiaries, rising Medicare premiums threaten to wipe out any increase in payments, leaving them without a raise for a third straight year.

    So just in case some of those sneaky bastards might fall through the cracks actually getting a benefit increase next year, yeah, let’s tag ’em with C-CPI to reduce that risk. At an average monthly SS benefit of $1177 they can afford it.

  118. 118
    Ben Cisco says:

    Happy Birthday ABL!

  119. 119
    JC says:

    I don’t think that SS will be on the table.

    Still, for holding the Senate and the White House, the ‘offer’ is incredibly slanted towards Rethug priorities.

  120. 120
    Lolis says:

    If we end the wars, cut the military drastically, end the Bush tax cuts and still have debt problems I will gladly listen to changes for Social Security, but not till then.

  121. 121
    burnspbesq says:

    @WyldPirate:

    “Looking forward to the “Obama can to skull-fuck kittens and do the GOPs dirty work for them” O-Pologies from the usual suspects.”

    You’ve lost it. Not wasting any more time on you.

  122. 122
    Spokane Moderate says:

    Happy Birthday ABL!

    (please don’t cut me)

  123. 123
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    he Administration was overly cautious at first/best, then apathetic when he/they realized that, and now we’re witnessing Herbert Hoover 2.0*.

    Once again, you can’t discuss “this administration” without talking about Congress, this one and the last one. Obama hadn’t been inaugurated, the economy was still in a Wall Street caused freefall, when Evan Bayh tried to form a designated (I typed official but I’m not sure of the terminology) caucus to ensure that Wall Street would have a friendly voice in the new Democrat-dominated Washington. It was Democratic Senators who led the way in paring down the stimulus. Obama tried to pass a $50 billion jobs/infrastructure program in October (I guess that was in what you call the “apathetic” phase?), Democrats up for re-election couldn’t denounce it fast enough.

    Then the American electorate voted for people who have been ever more intensely determined to kill the New Deal for the last twenty years. And not voting is a vote.

  124. 124
    exhausted white woman says:

    Did Carney say we’re leaving SS alone? No he just said “we won’t slash” and made an arm gesture. So what’s their definition of “strengthening” SS? What exactly does that mean? What he’s saying is the WH is against totally gutting SS, not necessarily against cutting SS payments. Until we get details, Dems have every right to be uneasy.

  125. 125
    BillinGlendaleCA (aka 10amla) says:

    Happy B-day ABL!

  126. 126
    quannlace says:

    John Galt Cole

    Oh, the ‘wit’, it stings!
    ***********
    Re: whatever the hell is going on in the budget talks. It’s too damn hot to work up the level of eye-popping outrage that the bloggers seem to want.
    Went out in the garden to pick some lettuce, and in five minutes I was dripping in sweat. Think the humidity is 130%
    *********

    Oh, and ABL, Happy, Happy Birthday. Yay!

  127. 127
    TK-421 says:

    my broader point was (and I understand some of the pushback on this) isn’t this intransigence to even discussing SocSec cuts eerily similar to the intransigence of the GOP when discussing taxes? I am talking more about ideological intransigence, not the distinction of what may or may not be an actual General Budget line item debit/expenses.

    Again, NO. Saying “let’s not discuss X in the middle of the Great Recession while Teapartiers are trying to blow everything up, but maybe we should talk about it later” is actually a sign of flexibility, not intransigence. It shows willingness to explore options, provided that higher priorities are dealt with first.

    To me it appears that “reforming” Social Security NO MATTER WHAT THE CURRENT SITUATION is a sign of intransigence. Opposing that intransigence seems sensible.

  128. 128
    Another Bob says:

    The President is interested in strengthening Social Security in the long term in ways that preserve the promise of the program and don’t slash benefits…,” Carney said. “I’m not going to get into line items and how you achieve that.”

    Is this supposed to be some kind of unequivocal statement of bedrock principles? Because it sounds to me like typical beltway double-talk. I’m not much good at reading tea leaves, but doesn’t Carney’s statement still leave wiggle-room to cut Social Security? Does “preserve the promise of the program” mean no cuts? Does “don’t slash” mean no cuts, or just no totally devastating cuts.

    This is what I find kind of annoying. Even if only as a good bargaining position — let alone to stop freaking out your political allies — wouldn’t it make sense to make a more unequivocal statement? One like, “No, we will under NO circumstances agree to any cuts to Social Security! Social Security is sound and any issues it has are long-term issues that can be addressed over the long term without any need for cuts.” Why create all of the unnecessary angst and confusion? It sounds to me kind of like all of their reassurances about the Public Option, and we know how THAT ended up.

  129. 129
    les says:

    @MattR:

    EDIT: But then again, Obama said during the campaign that he won’t cut the cost of living adjustment so I guess this whole conversation is moot.

    I don’t know; this is probably too lawyerly (a professional habit), but adjusting COLA to, you know, the cost of living (or something closer to, but still greater than, cost of living) doesn’t translate to a cut, to my mind.

  130. 130
    exhausted white woman says:

    All of those here who were so happy about gay marriage passing in NY have those horrible, nasty liberal lefties to thank for that. Yup, naughty lefties, stay in your corner and shut up! You’re just impeding progress. :)

  131. 131
    WyldPirate says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Oh, you’re breaking my heart, burnspbesq.

    That Mexican dude dead yet? Laws don’t matter a whit to the SCOTUS or Obama unless they are applied harshly to the powerless.

  132. 132
    bourbaki says:

    @Martin

    I’m wondering where it is that you got the idea that CPI overstates inflation?

    Because according to Dean Baker one major proponent of this was noted “maestro”
    Alan Greenspan.

    (here is the original article if you want to avoid the GOS)

  133. 133
    les says:

    @Han’s Solo:
    Silly boy (generic reference not intended to offend). You start trying to impose rationality on the upper income end of the tax code, and all of our hedge fund managers and day traders will go Galt, and then where would we be? What? A more rational economy, no deficit and gradual paydown of the debt, and a stronger safety net? Pshaw. Who would want that?

  134. 134
    dogwood says:

    @Troll…

    they don’t trust the shady , republican ass-kissing motherfucker to keep his word or live up to the spirit of his soaring (fake), inspirational campaign speeches.

    This sounds like you’re auditioning for the viral email brigade in the next election. You’ll have to tweak it a bit. You know, find a word to replace “republican”, but you’re definitely on the right track with “shady.” Keep working that “shady” angle and remember to misspell a few words and say something nice about Jesus.

  135. 135
    HyperIon says:

    How are people not smarter than this by now?

    It’s not about intelligence. It’s about an irresistible impulse to shoot one’s mouth off. If you eliminated all the porn and folks shooting off their mouths on the ‘tubes, what would remain?

    Why don’t we just wait and see what happens?

  136. 136
    OzoneR says:

    This week’s performance by Obama has seriously damaged him with the base. Very seriously.

    If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I could buy the Presidency myself

  137. 137
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    Why all the fuss, filthy firebaggers? Fortunately, President Obama is simply keeping his powder dry for some future BIG issue. This Social Security and Medicare and $4 Trillion in social spending cuts stuff is small-time potatoes, so quit trying to micromanage this brilliant leader from afar – he’s about 29 quinzillion steps ahead of you all. I mean to say, he’s already at the 19th hole chugging Merlot with his buds. So do the tighten up, Archie Bells!
    .
    .

  138. 138
    MattR says:

    @les:

    I don’t know; this is probably too lawyerly (a professional habit), but adjusting COLA to, you know, the cost of living (or something closer to, but still greater than, cost of living) doesn’t translate to a cut, to my mind.

    And it is the mathemetician in me that says if a number gets smaller it is a cut. Obama did not say that he would make sure that the cost of living adjustment was at least equal to the actual changes in the cost of living. He said he would not make changes to cut the COLA, which is exactly what is being discussed now.

  139. 139
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    curiouser and curiouser

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Thursday that the Constitution may trump the debt ceiling, allowing the administration a way out of the default impasse.

    from HuffPo

  140. 140
    OzoneR says:

    “No, we will under NO circumstances agree to any cuts to Social Security! Social Security is sound and any issues it has are long-term issues that can be addressed over the long term without any need for cuts.” Why create all of the unnecessary angst and confusion? It sounds to me kind of like all of their reassurances about the Public Option, and we know how THAT ended up.

    yeah, passing the House and dying in a Republican filibuster.

    But seriously, are there really liberals who keep denying that Social Security has a problem? I’m pretty far left and even I think cuts to SS are going to need to be considered or taxes are going to have be raised.

  141. 141
    Tonal Crow says:

    As Carney implies it, “slashing” is off the table, but “cut[ting]” is not. Hmm. We will see.

    Meanwhile, is it better to (a) sit back and say nothing in the hope that Obama will do the right thing or (b) up the pressure on all the participants — including Obama — to do the right thing?

  142. 142
    Another Bob says:

    If you eliminated all the porn and folks shooting off their mouths from the ‘tubes, what would remain?

    I dunno, a bunch of sanctimonious scolds? But wait: without someone to scold, the sanctimonious scolds would be like the sound of one hand clapping. Maybe they too would no longer exist. So, yeah, maybe you’re right after all. ;-)

  143. 143
    HyperIon says:

    ABL wrote:

    Someone tell Josh Marshall…

    that his site looks like a fucking tabloid sometimes.

  144. 144
    bourbaki says:

    Here is a more recent Baker piece on this:

    The rationale for the benefit cut is the use of an alternative measure of inflation, the chained consumer price index, that assumes substantial substitution between consumption items in response to prices changes. The Post asserts that this index is a more accurate measure of inflation.

    Actually, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has an experimental elderly index that measures the rate of change in the basket of goods and services consumed by people over age 62. This index shows that the inflation rate experienced by the elderly increases by an average of 0.3 percentage points more than the overall CPI to which Social Security benefits are indexed.

    While this is an experimental index that does not track the actual purchasing patterns of the elderly (e.g. examining the specific retail outlets where they shop and the items they purchase), those who are interested in an accurate cost of living adjustment would advocate a fuller elderly index. Those who want to cut Social Security benefits advocate using the chained consumer price index, which we know will show a lower measured rate of inflation.

    The point being that there is no “true rate of inflation”.

  145. 145
    TK-421 says:

    Once again, you can’t discuss “this administration” without talking about Congress, this one and the last one.

    Actually, I can and I am, and my Herbert Hoover remark simply notes the consistent language Barack Obama has used to fetishize balanced budgets in the middle of a f–king recession. No one is forcing him to talk like Herbert Hoover. That’s his own choice.

    There are tools available to the Administration (and the Fed, who can arguably be strongly influenced by the Administration) that do not require Congressional approval. Yet the Administration is not using those tools. Jared Bernstein, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Duncan Black, and a few others went over this a month ago. You want specifics? Let’s start with this. Money passage (emphasis mine):

    Just so I can help the cause, here’s an doable could: Have local municipalities and states use eminent domain to purchase underwater mortgages at market prices and then immediately sell them to the GSEs. Harvard law professor and financial regulation expert Howell E. Jackson promoted this during the TARP debate and Congressman Brad Miller has argued a version of this program for the Federal government. The same principles can work at the state level. The GSEs can prearrange the buys so there’s little risk to local balance sheets. The GSEs can then mark down the debt to a manageable level above the purchase price. There can be an equity clawback for the GSEs if we are worried about unfair windfalls and moral hazard for homeowners. Notice Congress is not required here. No Republicans, no 60th Senator. If the Obama administration is worried about owning this, responsibility is diffused with the state and local elected officials who pull the first trigger. It can be targeted to the weakest parts of the nation.

    There are other suggestions and other links inside that post, so enjoy.

    To be clear, I am not suggesting that Barack Obama has the power to fix everything instantaneously. I am simply reminding everyone here that in an utterly anemic economic environment with official unemployment at a level that is worse than the Administration’s worst-case forecasts, the Administration has tools available, and for somewhat unknown reasons has chosen not to use them. Feel free to excuse or condone that, but I think President Obama deserves to be criticized for this.

    I don’t think we should hold George W. Bush, Republicans, Blue Dogs, etc. responsible for the choices made solely by this Administration. On economic matters, IMO they have earned the scorn they are getting and will get through 2012.

  146. 146
    les says:

    @MattR:
    I get what you mean–you expect something in the future (assuming recipients actually project inflation and anticipate the actual dollar amount of increases), you get something less in the future, you have a “cut.” On the other hand, if you expect your benefit to go up with cost of living, and it goes up with cost of living, do you experience a cut? And if the move extends the program a few decades, is it negative? A shitload of words, on a rumor from an unnamed source. Yikes. By the way, I’m not trying to dispute what I take to be your main assertion, that this (a COLA change/cut) ain’t the best way to dicker with SS.

  147. 147
    Trollenschlongen says:

    I’m pretty far left and even I think cuts to SS are going to need to be considered or taxes are going to have be raised.

    Yeah…you’re about as “far left” as the far right edge of my asshole.

    Nice way to adopt right wing talking points, tool. You have just outed yourself as a republican troll/ratfucker.

  148. 148
    les says:

    @bourbaki:

    The point being that there is no “true rate of inflation”.

    My god, are you trying to destroy pointless argumentation on the intertubes???

  149. 149
    Another Bob says:

    @OzoneR

    But seriously, are there really liberals who keep denying that Social Security has a problem? I’m pretty far left and even I think cuts to SS are going to need to be considered or taxes are going to have be raised.

    I keep hearing that Social Security will be sound for at least the next 25-30 years, and only after that would run into some shortfall if nothing is done in the meantime. That leaves plenty of time. And why can’t we ever under any circumstances consider raising taxes? We’re not talking about massive tax increases, but rather, tweaks, which would undoubtedly be less painful the earlier they are implemented. Even if you leave out Social Security, it’s ridiculous to consider not being able to raise taxes ever again under any circumstances. The terms of this debate need to start changing.

  150. 150
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @bourbaki: Any good fan of The West Wing knows that things like the cost of living, and the poverty level, and the rate of inflation, are all constructs.

    Good night, Mollie Orshansky, wherever you are.

  151. 151
    TK-421 says:

    But seriously, are there really liberals who keep denying that Social Security has a problem?

    I use to think Social Security needed to be fixed, and I ironically held to this belief while Dubya was trying to sell his BS. Since then, I’ve noticed mounting evidence that the people who express “concern” about Social Security (both on the left and the right) don’t have a f–king clue what they’re talking about.

    So…yeah, I guess I’m one of those libtards that believe Social Security doesn’t have a problem. But I like to think I’m open-minded, so if you’ve got some compelling evidence that irrefutably shows we must do something about Social Security NOW NOW NOW, then I’m all ears.

  152. 152
    MattR says:

    @les: It really is a matter of perspective and whether you are you comparing things to the status quo or if you are comparing them to actual inflation?

    I am not dead set against a COLA change (or anything else that could be considered a reduction in benefits), but I would need to see more convincing evidence that the change actually makes things more accurate. It seems like the Experimental Elderly CPI would be a better indicator – though it may need some tweaking. But either way, I don’t see why Social Security changes should be brought up in the context of a deficit reduction package.

  153. 153
    Allan says:

    @aisce:

    nobody even knows what the policies being debated are, and yet we already have misunderstandings. all heat and no light. this has been a massive blogosphere fail.

    In other words, this is Thursday.

  154. 154
    exhausted white woman says:

    I think cuts to SS are going to need to be considered or taxes are going to have be raised.

    It’s my understanding that SS is completely paid for with the payroll tax. If they cut SS, it will be like raising taxes on all working people (and unemployment recipients whose benefits are taxed) anyway.

  155. 155
    les says:

    @MattR:

    But either way, I don’t see why Social Security changes should be brought up in the context of a deficit reduction package.

    Well, that’s just because you’re not insane. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for some of the major players at the table.

  156. 156
    dogwood says:

    All of those here who were so happy about gay marriage passing in NY have those horrible, nasty liberal lefties to thank for that. Yup, naughty lefties, stay in your corner and shut up! You’re just impeding progress. :)

    If by “liberal lefties” you mean the Firedoglake/Kos/Greenwald crowd, or the lefties who bitch and moan on this blog, then you would be wrong. If you think the obnoxious rantings of these people is what got the few Dems and Reps. in the NY Assembly to change their minds, you are delusional. Andrew Cuomo isn’t a leftie . But if you mean the kind of “lefties” who work their tails off to lobby and coherce and convince, who face setbacks with grace and accept compromise and live to fight another day, then yes, lefties are responsible for this.

    My disgust for the firebagger brigade goes back to the repeal of DADT. On the first day of school after the repeal, a young woman in my last period government class told me – You were right; government can make a difference. She’s a great kid with tons of potential and absolutely no parental support either financially or emotionally. She lacks discipline and structure in her life. She told the class that as a younger child she knew that she could get a college education if she joined the military and she was eager to serve. But of course as she reached adulthood as a young lesbian woman, she knew the military was probably not an option. There were some tears shed in that classroom that day. Lots of hugs and congratulations. It was one of the more memorable moments of my very long teaching career. Lots of people worked hard for that outcome, and I don’t think any of them belong Jane Hamsher’s democratic base.

  157. 157
    exhausted white woman says:

    Are we going to cut Medicaid also or not? I can’t keep track of all the bedrock social programs we’re considering putting on the chopping block.

  158. 158
    exhausted white woman says:

    dogwood

    : ? I’m not a Hamsherite

  159. 159
    TK-421 says:

    Obama tried to pass a $50 billion jobs/infrastructure program in October (I guess that was in what you call the “apathetic” phase?), Democrats up for re-election couldn’t denounce it fast enough.

    Also, too, such as, I am fascinated by this either/or mindset that seems to dominate the arguments of those who would defend President Obama on his economic performance. To wit: President Obama tried to do something that required Congressional approval, failed, and oh well there’s nothing we can do #thepresidentislesspowerfulthanasinglesenator.

    There’s nothing that says the President should only advocate for actions that require Congressional approval. That’s especially true in an economic recession- ALL options should be pursued, and ALL actions should be tried.

    So yes, solely advocating for something that required but didn’t seem likely to gain Congressional approval seems like apathy to me. Timothy Geithner’s “Welcome to Recovery Summer” s–t didn’t help break the apathy, either. And oh BTW, for a more topical example, David Plouffe’s “unemployment won’t really matter in 2012” statement from a day or so ago seems incredibly apathetic (and IMO cruel) too.

    I’m not making this up. These statements and (in)actions are out there. This Administration has had a very problematic response to the economy, and they deserve the criticism.

  160. 160
    Martin says:

    I’m wondering where it is that you got the idea that CPI overstates inflation?

    The overstating of inflation came out of the Boskin Commission back in the 90s. They estimated that CPI at that time suffered from at least 4 biases that tend to overestimate:

    + Substitution bias occurs because a fixed market basket fails to reflect the fact that consumers substitute relatively less for more expensive goods when relative prices change.
    + Outlet substitution bias occurs when shifts to lower price outlets are not properly handled.
    + Quality change bias occurs when improvements in the quality of products, such as greater energy efficiency or less need for repair, are measured inaccurately or not at all.
    + New product bias occurs when new products are not introduced in the market basket, or included only with a long lag.

    They determined that the CPI at the time tended to overestimate by between 0.8% and 1.3%.

    C-CPI-U is designed to eliminate the first bias – substitution bias. Other changes to the CPI were made after that commission to try and minimize some of the other biases, but the CPI is still designed to serve as an upper bound on the measure of cost of living and should still overstate by a certain degree, though be lower than the range stated above. The commission overlooked other biases in the CPI such as discount pricing (coupons, specials, etc) that consumers would take advantage of but which CPI overlooks, and a variety of other things that consumers routinely do but are difficult to capture in an index.

    CPI-U (and C-CPI-U) for SS have at least one bias that causes them to underestimate inflation for seniors and that is that senior costs of living tend to be overweighted with health care expenses which increase faster than inflation. They have an experimental CPI index called CPI-E that measures it by increasing health care in the overall index, and it runs slightly higher than CPI, but they’re still studying it from what I understand. All of the health care changes from Medicare D to PPACA are making it difficult for actual out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors to stabilize. The best solution might be to eventually develop a C-CPI-E, but that could take some time.

    Another area where all of the CPI measures gets a bit shaky for seniors is on shelter. The CPIs all use a rental equivalence in their calculations to correct an earlier flaw where CPI would bake in asset appreciation as a ‘cost’. Since it’ll eventually fall under the category of unearned income, it shouldn’t be considered a cost at all, and so they eliminated it.

    Seniors tend to commonly fall into two categories that you don’t see for workers – those that own their homes outright and have no rental equivalence to pay (other than taxes, utilities and upkeep) and those that are in care facilites, where the costs are significantly higher than the rental equivalence in the CPI. The former case only causes CPI to further overstate, and the latter case isn’t really appropriate for CPI to try and measure. On a case by case basis for seniors, CPI could be quite significantly overstating COLA (if you have no rent) or quite significantly understating COLA (if you’re in an assistant living facility).

    Generally speaking, CPI feels like its understating inflation only because we expect our standard of living to increase over time. If you take that expectation away, it should slightly overstate inflation, even with the adjustments.

  161. 161
    RalfW says:

    Nate Silver thinks liberals in the House have some leverage on the debt deal. Curious.

  162. 162
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Have local municipalities and states use eminent domain to purchase underwater mortgages at market prices and then immediately sell them to the GSEs. […] The GSEs can prearrange the buys so there’s little risk to local balance sheets. The GSEs can then mark down the debt to a manageable level above the purchase price.

    Interesting idea, but I think a little more problematic than the blogger makes out. Just to start with, IANAL, but is that valid use of eminent domain? Secondly, getting the states et al to go along with it. I don’t know enough about the way the GSEs are run to get into that, but can the President really just “have them” take part in this? It doesn’t seem to me to be the simple arrangement of dominoes rortybomb suggests

  163. 163
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I do agree with you about Obama’s rhetoric. That “balance our budget just like you do” is stupid and a meme that needs to die. And I am disappointed he doesn’t talk more about unemployment..

  164. 164
    exhausted white woman says:

    no that is not who i am talking about, i don’t even consider myself a liberal, but they’ve helped society progress in many positive ways, and have a right to express disapproval for the administration like anyone else – it seems at times the left blogosphere is misinterpreted as traditional media when actually, voices of the left are marginalized in traditional media so i don’t know why some here feel threatened by their complaints of the administration, who out there is really paying attention besides us?

    i’m not talking about Jane Hamsher, I haven’t read FDL in some years now

  165. 165
    HyperIon says:

    The point being that there is no “true rate of inflation”.

    Kevin Philips says that the CPI has been modified many times to make the inflation rate seem smaller.

  166. 166
    Martin says:

    And it is the mathemetician in me that says if a number gets smaller it is a cut.

    The number doesn’t get smaller though. The number (the benefit check you receive) goes up. The first derivative of that function, the rate of change, is still going up because it’ll still be higher than inflation. The second derivative of the function, the rate at which it increases above inflation, is what is going down.

    If you’re in a rocket sled, engines going full blast so that you’re accelerating, increasing velocity at every moment, and then throttle back 5% so that you’re still accelerating, just at a slower rate, you’d be the yahoo would would scream ‘I’m stopping! See, my acceleration is finally going down!’

  167. 167
    exhausted white woman says:

    Jim, Foolish Literalist

    Sorry to be so cliche but he needs to focus like a laser beam on jobs and yes i’m tired of the belt-tightening homilies, my belt is tight enough, thanks. I’m not the one who blew a fucking $236 billion surplus and ran it $1.4 trillion into the ground.

  168. 168
    Martin says:

    is that valid use of eminent domain?

    The Court held in a 5–4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    With this court, I’m thinking they could probably pull it off.

  169. 169
    Colleen says:

    Happy Birthday ABL! Love you!

  170. 170
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ TK / 159 : Plouffe didn’t say that at all. He said the number was less important than the experience of reality the number describes.

    Also, the “but he didn’t fight hard enough!” point seems IMHO to rely on a notion that when a president goes to the mat for something _and loses_, that thing is now more likely to pass at some future point. I don’t think it works that way. If you fight all out for something and lose the fight, that thing gets deemed toxic and it _loses_ support among politicians.

    My sense is that Obama keeps trying to fold talk about reviving the current and future economy into talk about reducing the _long-term_ deficit, and to use Republican mania for “cuts” to address genuine problems with the sustainability of a humane welfare state, but the media and the blogosphere act like they don’t understand, and maybe they actually don’t.

  171. 171
    MattR says:

    @Martin:

    The number doesn’t get smaller though. The number (the benefit check you receive) goes up.

    The number I am referring to is the cost of living adjustment. That number becomes smaller because of the change

    If you’re in a rocket sled, engines going full blast so that you’re accelerating, increasing velocity at every moment, and then throttle back 5% so that you’re still accelerating, just at a slower rate, you’d be the yahoo would would scream ‘I’m stopping! See, my acceleration is finally going down!’

    Ah. This is the perfect example to illlustrate how we are talking past each other. You keep focusing on the real value of the Social Security benefit and whether that is increasing or not. I am focused on the difference between the current plan and the new one. If one rocket throttles back at 5% and another one throttles back at 10% you are saying that I cannot state that one rocket is slower than the other since both of their velocities will still be increasing.

  172. 172
    Johannes says:

    Happy birthday, ABL. As to the freak-out brigade, I’m keeping my powder dry, until something worth freaking about about appears on the horizon. Selah.

  173. 173
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Jim / 163 : I disagree. I think the household analogy is useful and can be turned in favor of liberal/Keynesian/stimulative policies. For instance, when times are tough, do you pull your kid out of college, or do you swallow hard and borrow more money to make it happen because _in the long term_, a college degree will be good for the kid’s future? When times are tough, do you save money by skipping meals, or by brown-bagging your lunch? When times are tough and you get laid off from work, do you just sit at home, or do you put some equipment on your credit card and start a new business? All of us are accustomed to adjusting spending when less money is coming in — but you can reduce it _intelligently_. Etc.

  174. 174
    TK-421 says:

    Interesting idea, but I think a little more problematic than the blogger makes out. Just to start with, IANAL, but is that valid use of eminent domain?

    Well, IANAL either, but honestly who is going to raise an objection to the use of eminent domain here? Unless eminent domain is actually challenged (usually with a lawsuit), then it is de facto “valid.” The property owners would like a principal mod, the banks would gladly offload their most troubled loans, and the government has a clear and compelling interest in spending money to avoid foreclosure, improve homeowners’ and banks’ financial situations, and stimulate the economy. Other than insane Congressional Republicans, who IMO have no real ability to get in the way of this, I can’t think of a stakeholder who would object. I would also point out that a Harvard law professor and financial regulation expert was the first one to suggest this, so it’s not exactly a from-the-hip blogger rant.

    Secondly, getting the states et al to go along with it.

    Again, the states and especially the municipalities would be glad to get the help. There are towns that are cutting police and fire, fercrissakes. Do we really believe they’d turn their nose up at federal assistance, even if it didn’t directly help their own balance sheets? It’s worth trying regardless.

    I don’t know enough about the way the GSEs are run to get into that, but can the President really just “have them” take part in this? It doesn’t seem to me to be the simple arrangement of dominoes rortybomb suggests.

    I don’t think rorty or anyone suggests this would be easy, and I agree with you that this would be complicated and difficult.

    But that woefully misses my point. This is my point: “hard” is not the same as “impossible,” and in this economic recession even hard things should be tried because, and this cannot be overstated, we’re in a very big recession and Congress is insane/unreliable and doing nothing is quite frankly inexcusable. Everything is worth trying at this moment in time regardless.

    Effectively doing nothing because the only things that could be done are hard and complicated is an incredibly cruel and lazy/apathetic/cowardly attitude that is unbecoming of a Presidency. It’s condoning a massive amount of unnecessary economic pain and suffering. Yet that is what we see the Obama Administration doing.

    Thank God the best the Republican Party has to offer is Mitt (or Bachmann? srsly?), because otherwise 2012 would be extremely dicey…and it might still end up dicey anyway.

  175. 175
    Martin says:

    This is the perfect example to illlustrate how we are talking past each other.

    I realize that.

    If one rocket throttles back at 5% and another one throttles back at 10% you are saying that I cannot state that one rocket is slower than the other since both of their velocities will still be increasing.

    But the question isn’t whether one rocket is slower than the other. The question is whether the rocket is slower than it was previously. That’s what a ‘cut’ means in this context. And it’s not even that the rocket is slower, because even with the ‘cut’ the rocket will be faster. You’re ‘cutting’ an undelivered benefit – something that people can’t even see or even factor into their planning. If inflation this year comes in at 2% instead of 3%, and seniors only get an extra $20/mo instead of $30/mo that would be a ‘cut’ by your reasoning.

    Forget it. I know what you’re trying to say. Fine. It’s a travesty that people will not receive the increase that they didn’t know they were going to receive, and instead will only receive the increase that they do receive, which is more than sufficient to cover their cost of living. I don’t know how they’ll possibly carry on, as even tender vittles will become too expensive once we amortize over 173 years. Someone teach me WyldStallions secret handshake, because Obama is clearly destroying America.

  176. 176
    AAA Bonds says:

    I’m pretty sure that quote demonstrates Carney confirming that they are proposing cutting Social Security benefits, as much as he can, and then weaseling around with the word “slash” to make it sound like perfectly accurate stories are inaccurate.

    Pretty goddamn sure.

    I mean, really? Carney moved his arm in a chopping motion to show what the White House is accused of, and refused to go into details about the difference between a “cut” and a “slash”? This proves the stories wrong how, exactly? Seems like it confirms them, from the horse’s spokesman’s mouth.

    What’s next, is he going to say “Republicans want this” and make a little fly fishing motion “and Obama wants this” and act like he’s a mime pulling a rope?

    None of that told me anything, except that it confirmed that cuts are coming and that the Obama administration is going to try to spin the media that they’re really not that bad.

  177. 177
    Elie says:

    Happy b-day ABL! And many more. Also.

  178. 178
    MattR says:

    @Martin:

    Forget it. I know what you’re trying to say. Fine. It’s a travesty that people will not receive the increase that they didn’t know they were going to receive, and instead will only receive the increase that they do receive, which is more than sufficient to cover their cost of living. I don’t know how they’ll possibly carry on, as even tender vittles will become too expensive once we amortize over 173 years. Someone teach me WyldStallions secret handshake, because Obama is clearly destroying America.

    This actually has nothing to do with what I am trying to say. I have made zero judgement about whther this is a good idea or a bad idea. I have been focused on the point that Social Security beneficiaries will see a reduction in benefits according to the new plan when compared to the current plan.

    To go back to the rocket example, my point would be that because you throttled back the rocket is now going to take longer to get to point X than it would have if you had not throttled back. That increase in the travel time is the equivalent to the reduction in benefits that SS recipients will see.

  179. 179
    TK-421 says:

    Plouffe didn’t say that at all. He said the number was less important than the experience of reality the number describes.

    Yes, I was paraphrasing, but his comment is still cruel, shockingly out of touch, and nonsensical. “The number doesn’t matter, what matters is the personal experience and feeling blah blah blah” (and again I’m paraphrasing).

    Well, that’s true, but when 1 out of 10 are officially unemployed, 1 out of 5 are underemployed, and god knows how many are in job-lock and/or underwater on their mortgages…uh, the personal experience and feeling is going to match the awful economic statistics. So, what was David Plouffe’s point again?

  180. 180
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    This is my point: “hard” is not the same as “impossible,” and in this economic recession even hard things should be tried because, and this cannot be overstated,

    “We choose to do these not because they are easy, but precisely because they are hard”, or words close to that? I agree. Here’s where you lose me:

    Effectively doing nothing because the only things that could be done are hard and complicated is an incredibly cruel and lazy/apathetic/cowardly attitude that is unbecoming of a Presidency.

    Nothing? Like PP/ACA? Like the Stimulus bill? Like the auto bailout? Like extending UE benefits? Like trying to get the top-tier Bush tax-cuts repealed? Obama has done things, and those things have cost him, and us. Could Obama have done more? I’ll agree with that. But refusing to recognize that he has done a great deal, against the odds and at odds with his own party as often as not, undercuts your argument. Using words like “lazy” and “cowardly” kill it.

    And 2012 is going to be dicey, barring a Bachmann miracle.

  181. 181
    Elie says:

    Martin@166

    Don’t waste your breath…. you cannot make an argument that they will accept no matter how rational or factual. Thanks for trying though…

  182. 182
    Dee Loralei says:

    Happy Birthday, ABL!!!

  183. 183
    AAA Bonds says:

    @dogwood:

    If by “liberal lefties” you mean the Firedoglake/Kos/Greenwald crowd, or the lefties who bitch and moan on this blog, then you would be wrong. If you think the obnoxious rantings of these people is what got the few Dems and Reps. in the NY Assembly to change their minds, you are delusional. Andrew Cuomo isn’t a leftie . But if you mean the kind of “lefties” who work their tails off to lobby and coherce and convince, who face setbacks with grace and accept compromise and live to fight another day, then yes, lefties are responsible for this.

    Look, I’m just going to point out for the millionth time: just because you don’t like someone’s point of view on the Internet doesn’t mean you can magically divine what they do with the rest of their time.

    I regularly come on here and lay out liberals left and right WHILE doing the sort of things you describe as the actions of sainted, good lefties.

  184. 184
    OzoneR says:

    but when 1 out of 10 are officially unemployed, 1 out of 5 are underemployed, and god knows how many are in job-lock and/or underwater on their mortgages…uh, the personal experience and feeling is going to match the awful economic statistics. So, what was David Plouffe’s point again?

    so when unemployment is at 4 percent, the personal feelings of those 4 percent and those with dead end jobs suddenly don’t matter.

    The reaction to Plouffe’s comments just proves one thing to me, the left is way too emotional, paranoid and reactionary to ever really function as a movement in politics.

  185. 185
    Ron says:

    @Baud: They don’t need Pelosi necessarily. They just need enough dems to vote yes to make up for the teabaggers who will vote no whatever the leadership says.

  186. 186
    bourbaki says:

    @Martin

    I thought more about what your point and realized it is actual total bullshit on a mathematical level (the second derivative bit was a good indication in this direction). This very interesting article by Dean Baker also helped.

    Let me quote the relevant part:

    Yet, virtually no economists were willing to discuss this point and its implications. If the true annual rate of real wage growth is 1.1 percentage points more rapid than is indicated by the current CPI, then workers will be far richer in the future than had previously been projected. In fact, they will be far richer in the future than we could have even hoped possible when we were looking at the world with our overstated CPI. Looking out from 1995, if the true annual rate of inflation was 1.1 percentage points less than the CPI in existence at the time, then the real wage projected for 2030, would be more than 45 percent higher than was being projected with the overstated measure. By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the impact of a large increase in saving, sustained over 35 years, would increase per capita income in 2030 by just 1.7 percent (see Figure 3) (1996, p 90).

    Basically, even if you accept you statement that CPI overstates inflation then that necessarily means that wage growth in the recent past has been understated. In particular all forecasts for SS shortfalls are massively too pessimistic.

  187. 187
    MattR says:

    @Elie: I really want to understand this. If the current system says I will receive $10000 in year 1, $11000 in year 2, $12000 in year 3 and $13000 in year 4 and we change the system so that I will now receive $10000 in year 1, $10500 in year 2, $11000 in year 3 and $11500 in year 4. (Let’s further assume inflation was so low that a true cost of living adjustment would have paid $10000 in year 1, $10250 in year 2, $10500 in year 3 and $10750 in year 4) How can you say that changing the system will not reduce my benefits? I would have gotten $46,000 over four years without the change, but now I am getting only $43,000. Sure, you can say that since the cost of living was lower in real dollars I only needed $41,500 to break even and $43,000 is clearly more than that (and yes, my total benefit did increase every year). But it is still less than the $46,000 I would receive if the status quo is maintained.

  188. 188
    OzoneR says:

    They just need enough dems to vote yes to make up for the teabaggers who will vote no whatever the leadership says.

    They’re gonna need Pelosi to deliver them, there aren’t really anymore Blue Dogs.

  189. 189
    licensed to kill time says:

    I just called to say

    ♪♫ Heavy Bird Day to Ewe, ABL ♪♫

    Hididdlyho! :::smile:::

  190. 190
    LT says:

    This kind of stuff is steering BJ toward irrelevance. IMFEO. Writing these reports off completely? Huh?

    Ai yai yai.

  191. 191
    dogwood says:

    exhausted white woman :

    I didn’t suggest you were a Hamsherite and don’t care if you are or aren’t. Your original post seemed to suggest that people here and elsewhere don’t appreciate the “left” when it comes to recognizing the role they have played in advancing social and economic justice in this country. I don’t think that’s true. I consider myself a liberal, yet I know that my views aren’t shared by a majority of the country. I think many liberals on this blog and others who support the president with varying degrees of intensity are tired of being called sell-outs, and enablers because we refuse to see the president as worse than Bush. Maybe we are at cross purposes over semantics, but the crowd who congregate at Firedoglake, Kos, and Glenn Greenwald’s joint consider themselves the liberal base of the democratic party. I simply disagree with that because to be a member of this club you must pass their litmus test – hate the president with fierce intensity. They complain about the pres. using republican “framing” in his language which drive me nuts as well, but they use republican “framing” when they discuss him. He’s “shady”, you know. What I do know is that those people don’t give a damn about the young woman in my class who has a shot at a future because there was a democrat in the White House. To her, the president isn’t the same as Bush. Those are the things that really matter and I’m proud to call myself a liberal and support that progress.

  192. 192
    AAA Bonds says:

    @LT:

    To be fair, that is what the White House wants. If you trust your politicians absolutely, then this makes perfect sense.

  193. 193
    OzoneR says:

    remind me, again, who created that Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission?

    Congress

  194. 194
    AAA Bonds says:

    @dogwood:

    Can I point out how fucking stupid it looks when you sling blog-war terms like “firebagger” and bring up Jane Hamsher’s little blog every few lines as representative of the left (sweet Lord, liberals have really lost it) and then act standoffish like you don’t care about Jane Hamsher and aren’t actually talking about anyone real or anything at all?

  195. 195
    OzoneR says:

    All of those here who were so happy about gay marriage passing in NY have those horrible, nasty liberal lefties to thank for that. Yup, naughty lefties, stay in your corner and shut up! You’re just impeding progress. :)

    No, you don’t, Andrew Cuomo told you to shutup because you were ineffective and sent SKD Knickerbocker, a private PR firm, in to manage the message because LGBT groups were sucking at it royally.

  196. 196
    TK-421 says:

    Also, the “but he didn’t fight hard enough!” point seems IMHO to rely on a notion that when a president goes to the mat for something and loses, that thing is now more likely to pass at some future point. I don’t think it works that way. If you fight all out for something and lose the fight, that thing gets deemed toxic and it loses support among politicians.

    First, please note I’m referring to options available to the Administration (and relatedly, the Fed) that do NOT require Congressional approval. This isn’t a “he didn’t fight hard enough!” argument, this is a “you know you can do stuff without Congress, right?” argument.

    I understand the options are not ideal, or easy, and I understand your point that some of them may not be possible and may foreclose those options for future Presidents. And my response is, so what?

    What’s the alternative then? We’re in the midst of a huge economic recession- failing to try something because it might not work or it might be difficult is inexcusable. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say “it’s going to take some time so everyone suck it up while I work out a deal to cut a whole bunch of benefits so I can say I balanced the budget” (which is essentially what the President said yesterday). That’s just wrong on so many levels, and it’s arguably political malpractice.

    It’s depressing watching this Administration become complete morons on the economy.

  197. 197
    AAA Bonds says:

    IT’S A GOOD THING THAT KNICKERBOCKER WAS THERE TO SAVE US MASSUH, YAAAAAAAAASSS SUHHHHHHH

  198. 198
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Several things, in no particular order:
    1) Any cut to SS or Medicare is politically disastrous because outside conservative groups will run endless ads about how “Obama slashed granny’s SS.” There is no threading the needle on this. Voters will not care about Obama’s finesse tweak to the COLA formula. They will hear how he “slashed” SS.

    2) SS benefits and funding have no place in a debt limit debate and bringing them in only strengthens the myth that SS contributes to the deficit.

    3) What several other said: The article is accurate, Carney cannot deny that cuts are on the table. Debating the magnitude of how much a Democratic president will cut SS is painful to watch. SS should if anything be more generous, and should start sooner. Lower the eligibility age to 60.

  199. 199
    AAA Bonds says:

    I don’t really think I can sum up the problem of worship of wealthy liberal elites any better than a statement attributing the victory of the Stonewall struggle to a Cuomo and his PR firm, thanks OzoneR, do you clean boots as well?

  200. 200
    dogwood says:

    AA Bonds:

    j

    ust because you don’t like someone’s point of view on the Internet doesn’t mean you can magically divine what they do with the rest of their time.

    You are absolutely right about this.
    However:

    I’m pretty sure that quote demonstrates Carney confirming that they are proposing cutting Social Security benefits, as much as he can, and then weaseling around with the word “slash” to make it sound like perfectly accurate stories are inaccurate.
    Pretty goddamn sure.

    Just because you don’t like the president’s point of view doesn’t mean you can magically divine what he’s thinking and doing at all times. Just saying.

  201. 201
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Oh, look, 2008 Obama promised explicitly not to reduce COLA.

  202. 202
    pluege says:

    and anyone who doesn’t think obamadmin is testing the waters to measure how much they can get away with implementing the plutocrat agenda is quite the fool.

  203. 203
    Midnight Marauder says:

    ACA isn’t very good, except if you view it as a work in progress. Fin-reg as passed ranks about a C+.

    Serious question: Who doesn’t view the ACA as a work in progress or a foundation to further build upon?

    I mean, what are you even trying to say with this comment? This is like someone back in the 1930s saying that Social Security “isn’t very good, except if you view it as a work in progress.” For fucks sake, what programs of this nature are not perpetual works in progress?!

  204. 204
    Bruce S says:

    “To her, the president isn’t the same as Bush. Those are the things that really matter and I’m proud to call myself a liberal and support that progress.”

    I think there is a false dichotomy being set up. I don’t follow FDL, Kos and rarely Greenwald – although I’m glad he’s making his civil libertarian case against the administration. It seems that whenever any concern is raised about compromise coming from the White House, a faction here hauls out the accusations and claims that we are actually living in the best of all possible worlds. I have been a big supporter of the President since well before he was President – going back to the beginning – and gave a lot of money and hours to keep him viable when the “inevitability of compromised Democrats” crowd were touting Hillary. But what’s been missing from the scene since the inauguration is an energized base holding the President’s feet to the fire – as he asked people to do once he was elected. The organized “Obama movement” got folded into the DNC and most of the “base” rested on the laurels of having elected an unlikely candidate. We blew it. The Tea Party proceeded to set the terms of debate and we laughed at them. But, in the big picture, they won because even Obama speaks the language of deficits as a major problem in the midst of deep recession and the weakest recovery in memory. The only spending problem the country actually faces is long-term health care costs, for both public insurance systems and private markets. The only truly efficient health care delivery the country has is the “socialized” VA system. Reality dictates that the entire system move more in that direction. That’s the only issue worth talking about related to long-term deficits as % of GDP. That and letting the Bush tax cuts expire – all of them – according to current legislation. Deficit hysterics are bullshit and Obama echoes them, albeit in muted and relatively sane terms.

    If it’s all inevitable and the public is too stupid to be engaged in anything better, why are we even wasting our time discussing any of this. Obama is in most ways the best President in my memory – and I’m old – but he’s not my Daddy and he needs an active grass-roots base that’s out there doing something more consequential than applauding his every move. He’s stronger with a left flank that pushes him and makes some demands beyond inevitable compromise. Otherwise every inevitable compromise will be from the soft center swinging to the right.

    Sycophants are not helpful to the President – actually in some respects it’s worse than Glenn Greenwald’s kvetching. At least Greenwald cares passionately about his issues. Should he just shut up? Is Obama so lame that he can’t handle those critiques and can’t take anything other than cheering him as some sort of pragmatic genius who always makes the right call? Does anyone have any idea of how impossible it is to be President and always stick with one’s better angels.

    Is any push from within the party to help demarcate issues, draw some lines and push back more aggressively against GOP talking points than the White House can appropriately do out of order and an insult to Obama? He’s a politician and a good one – he’s neither a fragile figure who needs to be insulated from criticism from the base nor a superman who can save us singlehandedly. This concern that the “base” not voice anything other than adulation is a lazy attitude and won’t make things any better for the next generation or keep more Democrats in office.

    If Josh Marshall’s reporting on this is “the enemy” and any concerns about a White House performance as deliberately slippery as Jay Carney’s posing “cuts” vs. “slashes” are beyond the pale of “good Democrats”, God help us.

  205. 205
    TK-421 says:

    Could Obama have done more? I’ll agree with that. But refusing to recognize that he has done a great deal, against the odds and at odds with his own party as often as not, undercuts your argument. Using words like “lazy” and “cowardly” kill it.

    I apologize for letting my rhetoric get out of control.

    I don’t mean to say that the Obama Admin has done nothing during its entire first term. I recognize that ARRA helped. I recognize that PPACA, whenever it goes into effect, will help.

    What I mean is that the Admin has from Day One made mistakes on the economy borne out of an economic philosophy that didn’t properly represent Democratic principles, and refusing to acknowledge or correct those mistakes is lazy and cowardly. Further, refusing to explore economic options that are still available to you, even if they are less than ideal, is lazy, cowardly, and cruel.

    Most experts agree the Stimulus was too small, except President Obama, who nonsensically claims that it superduper helped but we shouldn’t do that again and instead should balance the budget. And since the Stimulus, there has been a consistent tone of apathy (or caution, if you prefer a kinder term) from the Admin on the economy that has made neither political nor economic sense.

    When I use the terms lazy and cowardly, I think of:

    – David Plouffe when he goes on the Sunday shows and sighs and throws up his hands (from like a YEAR ago) and oh well it’s not like the unemployment number itself matters anyway (from a day or so ago).
    – Timothy Geithner, who welcomed us to Recovery Summer a year ago and who is apparently driving the Admin towards balanced budget crap.
    – Rahm Emanuel, who for some reason thought $1 trillion was too big a number, no matter what the facts on the ground were.
    – Gene Sperling, who believes in bond vigilantes and the confidence fairy.
    – Larry Summers, who is Larry Summers.
    – Barack Obama himself, who somewhere in the middle of (or in advance of, I can’t remember) the Stimulus debate complained to his staff that none of the economic proposals were “jazzing” him. Or something like that, it was in the NYT. I don’t think he understands economics, honestly.

    This isn’t about one person per se. But it is completely reasonable to hold the President responsible for the moronic and yes, lazy/cowardly/cruel behavior of his staff.

    And, most importantly, I’m only interested in past actions as they indicate the likely behavior going forward- this Admin has been consistently trending in the wrong direction on the economy, and with the continued refusal to try everything in their power, they are in for a well-deserved world of political hurt from now through the 2012 elections.

    I had a pretty good record on political prognostication in 2006-2010. But I’m trying to not make predictions about 2012, because lordy the entire political scene and the country are going to be in huge messes. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen, but I still have difficulty imagining Mitt or Bachmann defeating Obama. I still don’t see that happening.

  206. 206
    LT says:

    “It seems that whenever any concern is raised about compromise coming from the White House, a faction here hauls out the accusations and claims that we are actually living in the best of all possible worlds.”

    Egg-fucking-zactly.

  207. 207
    Bruce S says:

    I’m so happy to hear that a PR firm designated by Andrew Cuomo has been the driving force behind the movement for gay marital rights. It’s too bad Martin Luther King didn’t think of this strategy…would have saved a lot of pain and sacrifice.

  208. 208
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Happy Birthday notABL! I hope it’s a good one.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  209. 209
    Midnight Marauder says:

    IT’S A GOOD THING THAT KNICKERBOCKER WAS THERE TO SAVE US MASSUH, YAAAAAAAAASSS SUHHHHHHH

    This was just wholly unnecessary.

  210. 210
    The Tragically Flip says:

    TK-421: well said. I recall well when a few lonely voices, like Chris Bowers at Open Left complained about Obama’s neoliberal economics team, and we were shouted down because of a few token progressives in less influential positions. I think the policy choices speak to who Obama really listens to. A “team of rivals” doesn’t help much when you already know what kind of advice you want and only listen to the people you know will give it.

  211. 211
    Bruce S says:

    “This is like someone back in the 1930s saying that Social Security ‘isn’t very good, except if you view it as a work in progress.’”

    But of course, that’s exactly what needed to be said, it was the truth and if someone wasn’t saying what needed to be done to make it, among other things, not reflective of the extreme racism of the era in the classes (or more accurately “castes”) of workers it covered, it would still be “not very good” and leave millions of elderly behind in poverty.

    The notion that these things get changed and pushed forward without anyone raising any criticisms is absolutely childish and crazy. I’m beginning to think that some of the commenters here have never, ever been part of a social movement and are almost completely ignorant of history. I’m shocked at some of the glib, lazy blather…

  212. 212
    OzoneR says:

    The notion that these things get changed and pushed forward without anyone raising any criticisms is absolutely childish and crazy.

    There’s a difference between “it’s a good start” “It’s good, we need more” and “This is a good thing that we can build on” and what the professional left does

    “Complete failure”
    “Corporatist legislation”
    “Right Wing Republican policies”

    etc.

  213. 213
    Steeplejack says:

    @ABL:

    Happy birthday, you tendentious harpy.

  214. 214
    NobodySpecial says:

    MM:

    Serious question: Who doesn’t view the ACA as a work in progress or a foundation to further build upon?

    Oh, I won’t say you CAN’T work on it.

    Of course, that would presuppose that you better elect more liberals in 2012 and 2014 than you had in 2008 and 2010, since those ones could only get a weak sauce bill through.

    And, of course, everyone knows that ain’t happening as long as Dems are perfectly happy to let the Nelsons, Reids, and Lincolns run the debate and vote however they want without arm twisting.

    So, in short, I put the odds of a major overhaul to the good of ACA on par with the odds of the Cubs winning a World Series by 2014.

    EDIT – Happy Birthday, ABL.

  215. 215
    OzoneR says:

    I keep hearing that Social Security will be sound for at least the next 25-30 years, and only after that would run into some shortfall if nothing is done in the meantime. That leaves plenty of time. And why can’t we ever under any circumstances consider raising taxes? We’re not talking about massive tax increases, but rather, tweaks, which would undoubtedly be less painful the earlier they are implemented. Even if you leave out Social Security, it’s ridiculous to consider not being able to raise taxes ever again under any circumstances. The terms of this debate need to start changing.

    yeah I heard that same thing…in the 1990s, eventually hat 25-30 years will be here and we’re going to have to make drastic devestating cuts then or dump the system entirely.

    I’m not against raising taxes to save SS, in fact that’s my #1 choice, but its out of the question with a teabagger Congress and the longer we move toward the 25-30 timeline, which is probably down to like 10-15 now, the worse the cuts are going to have to bed, or the higher the taxes are gonna have to go.

  216. 216
    OzoneR says:

    I don’t really think I can sum up the problem of worship of wealthy liberal elites any better than a statement attributing the victory of the Stonewall struggle to a Cuomo and his PR firm, thanks OzoneR, do you clean boots as well?

    Boy are you testy when people tell the truth.

  217. 217
    OzoneR says:

    http://nycapitolnews.com/2011/.....e-edition/

    Jennifer Cunningham — The powerhouse consultant behind SKD Knickerbocker resurrected Cuomo’s career after his disastrous run for governor in 2002, and she’s been the wizard behind the curtain rolling out the campaign for the marriage bill. Longtime warriors in the gay marriage fight grumbled when she and her colleague Stefan Friedman parachuted in this spring to elbow them out of the way at Cuomo’s urging, but they can’t argue with the results. If the governor makes a bid for the White House in 2016, we imagine he’ll do it with her help. Like King Midas, everything Cunningham touches turns to gold.

  218. 218
    Ash Can says:

    Ever get the feeling that certain folks in this thread would actually be happy if Obama really did slash SS benefits, just so they could say they told us so?

    Happy birthday, ABL. Long may you fling lighted cherry bombs at random.

  219. 219
    Bruce S says:

    Ozone – frankly, after your PR firm offering vis. gay marriage, you have zero credibility on how to proceed to make any gains on any issues.

  220. 220
    Mnemosyne says:

    Just so I can help the cause, here’s an doable could: Have local municipalities and states use eminent domain to purchase underwater mortgages at market prices and then immediately sell them to the GSEs.

    And what money will those local municipalities and states use to buy those mortgages? States have their own budget deficits and are slashing services left and right. I read about a town in Texas that just laid off its entire police force due to budget cuts. California has a huge budget problem right now.

    I agree it sounds like a great idea … if you can explain how states will have money to spend on this new program when they can’t keep their schools open five days a week.

  221. 221
    OzoneR says:

    frankly, after your PR firm offering vis. gay marriage, you have zero credibility on how to proceed to make any gains on any issues.

    funny how telling the truth gives you no credibility. What is it you guys are afraid of, that it’s proof of how ineffective groups on the left are? Is that what you’re all afraid of? To admit you needed outside help because all your organizing and petition signing and moaning on blogs did shit?

  222. 222
    Bruce S says:

    Jesus – Now Ozone is telling me that “Social Security was a good start…” but now we need less of it in order to save it from itself. With friends like these, who needs Paul Ryan.

    As for your pathetic sniffing of a PR firm’s butt as the key to the gay marriage movement’s gains, you need to just live with that BS. I can’t help you. Ignorance of history is apparently bliss.

    Ash Can – I don’t think you get the irony of your attempted snark. The “certain folks in this thread” who want to see Obama cut Social Security benefits are apparently the same ones who are on the side of “Don’t worry! The WH will never do it” finger-wagging at…Josh Marshall because he reported reports that it might be under discussion (reports which Jay Carney actually confirmed are not baseless, despite the cockeyed headline to this post.)

  223. 223
    OzoneR says:

    Jesus – Now Ozone is telling me that “Social Security was a good start…” but now we need less of it in order to save it from itself. With friends like these, who needs Paul Ryan.

    I also said my primary idea for saving it was to raise taxes, but I understand you have a problem with me, after I made your butt hurt by forcing you to see how loser left groups got owned by an outside PR firm.

  224. 224
    NR says:

    Once again, you can’t discuss “this administration” without talking about Congress, this one and the last one.

    This “helpless bystander” bullshit has got to stop. Over the last two years, the White House got most of the bills passed that it wanted to pass. They twisted arms to get things done. Saying their hands were tied by Congress is just a bunch of bullshit that has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

    When it came time to block drug imports from Canada as part of their deal with Big Pharma, they went out and got the votes. When it came time to pass their Big Insurance giveaway, they went out and got the votes. When it came time to extend tax breaks for the megarich, they went out and got the votes. When it came time to suspend FOIA and keep citizens blind to atrocities committed under the color of our American authority, they went out and got the votes.

    There are just too many examples that prove how ridiculous the “The White House wanted to do good but was blocked by mean ol’ Congress!” idea is for anybody to take it seriously at this point.

  225. 225
    OzoneR says:

    Ignorance of history is apparently bliss.

    so you’ve proven so perfectly.

  226. 226
    Bruce S says:

    The sum of this discussion re: Ozone is that cuts are necessary to SS so the sooner the better (because we’ll apparently have GOP congressional majorities for decades and can never raise the salary cap to compensate.) BUT anyone who suggests that the White House might be considering cuts as part of a deficit ceiling deal is part of a “professional left” that is very, very bad and always, always wrong and engaged in some sort of vicious slander.

    Go figure…

  227. 227
    DFer says:

    @Bruce S

    Let me just chime in here for a second. As someone who helped out on New Yorkers United for Marriage, Ozone is absolutely right.

    Cuomo, rightly or wrongly, blamed the disorganization and lack of communication between HRC, Empire State Pride Agenda, New Yorkers for Marriage Equality and the other groups. Knickerbocker brought Log Cabin Republicans on board, they had basically be ostracized in the disastrous 2009 campaign.

    Jennifer Cunningham and Stefan Friedman coordinated the messaging. They were the ones who came up with the plans to run ads features people like Barbara Bush endorsing marriage equality. They were the ones who came up with the plan to target certain Senators by going to Senior Centers, Community meetings and other events where they can reach out to people who may be opposed or on the fence, rather than just try to get out those who are already in support. It was their idea to pitch stories to the media about gay couples living in NY married elsewhere, and gay couples who want to marry.

    It was all them. LGBT groups openly admits they were responsible for it.

    I don’t really understand why this is hard to admit. Cuomo did exactly what many on the left complain Obama doesn’t. He got directly involved and used his resources to coordinate the campaign. It was brilliant.

  228. 228
    WyldPirate says:

    @NR:

    There are just too many examples that prove how ridiculous the “The White House wanted to do good but was blocked by mean ol’ Congress!” idea is for anybody to take it seriously at this point.

    Preach it, brother. This helplessness schtick form the Opologists is getting real fucking old. One minute he is their all powerful Superman, but when their arguments fall apart, they retreat to “well he wants to do go, but that mean old Congress won’t let him” or “he can’t be seen as an angry black man”.

    Horse. Fucking Shit. In . Big. Steaming. Piles.

  229. 229
    Suffern ACE says:

    @OzoneR 212 – Can you think of ONE liberal organization that has organized to garner support the gains made in ACA to prevent the rollback and then fight for further reform? Anything on the level of AARP? I’m having a tough time believing that affordable healthcare is actually a core value of the left. The decision has been made for single payor in one big step or else complaining to everyone you know that the reform is really a shit sandwich. It’s amazing that anything ever passes at all. It’s actually amazing that any progressive reforms lasted through the bush years given how disorganized the progressives appear to be.

  230. 230
    OzoneR says:

    Ozone is that cuts are necessary to SS so the sooner the better (because we’ll apparently have GOP congressional majorities for decades and can never raise the salary cap to compensate.) BUT anyone who suggests that the White House might be considering cuts as part of a deficit ceiling deal is part of a “professional left” that is very, very bad and always, always wrong and engaged in some sort of vicious slander.

    No dear, the WH may or may not be eyes cuts to Social Security, I don’t know, my only source of information is an anonymous source who isn’t even part of the discussions, so unlike you, I refused to jump to conclusions.

    But i know you need to feed your lust for outrage.

  231. 231
    Bruce S says:

    Ozone – I’m not part of “the left” other than being a moderately aggressive liberal Democrat. I don’t know what “professional” means in this context. I do now there are a lot of Professional Democrats who suck big-time and always are on the make, the take and sell out the little guys. I also know that if it wasn’t for organizing, and sign-up sheets, and passing out pamphlets and knocking on doors and making phone callse and raising money at the grass-roots for many months on end, Obama wouldn’t be President. My guess is that at the time you were yammering about how a black guy with a funny name could never get elected…polls show…blah, blah…back in ’07,

    Characters like you are a dime a dozen…and frankly, rather sad.

  232. 232
    OzoneR says:

    Can you think of ONE liberal organization that has organized to garner support the gains made in ACA to prevent the rollback and then fight for further reform? Anything on the level of AARP?

    Not off the top of my head, no

    I’m having a tough time believing that affordable healthcare is actually a core value of the left

    It is, the problem is the concept is vague and everyone has a different idea on how to do it. The left should really put together a group dedicate specifically to single payer and build it up. Call it OneHealthUSA or some shit. At least then we’ll be fighting for something specific “single payer system” rather than the notion of “affordable health care for all.”

    It’s amazing that anything ever passes at all. It’s actually amazing that any progressive reforms lasted through the bush years given how disorganized the progressives appear to be.

    Part of why they’ve lasted is Republicans have always been afraid of the blowback if they fuck with it, plus until the Reagan era, many Republicans supported those progressive reforms. A Republican authored Medicare, Nixon created the EPA. I’m not sure these are those same Republicans anymore.

  233. 233
    Corner Stone says:

    @DFer:

    Let me just chime in here for a second. As someone who helped out on New Yorkers United for Marriage, Ozone is absolutely right.

    Really?? Are you fucking kidding me? I mean, again?

  234. 234
    OzoneR says:

    I also know that if it wasn’t for organizing, and sign-up sheets, and passing out pamphlets and knocking on doors and making phone callse and raising money at the grass-roots for many months on end, Obama wouldn’t be President. My guess is that at the time you were yammering about how a black guy with a funny name could never get elected…polls show…blah, blah…back in ‘07,

    Who said anything about Obama? i was talking about the battle for gay marriage in New York, that’s what you attacked me over. I never said lefties were ineffectual at electing a President, I said they were ineffectual in passing marriage equality in the state of New York, how did you take it as a broad thing?

  235. 235
    Bruce S says:

    I haven’t jumped to any conclusions – but I am aware enough of what’s happened regarding these “compromises” over the past two years not to dismiss this as some sort of crank hysteria. Carney said “cuts” – so you know that much.

    And your proposals and alleged “knowledge” about what we need to do to Social Security are a signal that you are on the Blue Dog end of the Democratic spectrum. What’s wrong with the party. Why we are in the weak position we’re in. If you can sling “professional left” dismissing the entire gay rights movement as something from outer space that couldn’t tie their shoelaces without being saved by a PR firm, I’ll dismiss you as another bullshit Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson “Dem” that makes the party look ridiculous in the eyes of voters – who DON’T want to see Social Security cut. Why not just shoot every Democrat in the foot before the next election.

  236. 236
    liberal says:

    Martin wrote,

    The overstating of inflation came out of the Boskin Commission back in the 90s.

    Yes, of course—like all well-known economists, Boskin is an entirely unbiased source of knowledge!

  237. 237
    dogwood says:

    @Bruce 204:
    Thanks for the post. I think it’s more than reasonable to hold the president responsible for the things he controls. I’m pretty comfortable with disagreeing with the president’s Afghanistan policy, but thinking he was right when it came to the auto industry. Those are his calls and he owns the results. Someone earlier in the thread called me “fucking stupid”, and while that’s a bit hyperbolic, he may very well be partially right. I don’t think I’m stupid, but I have no doubt I can say stupid things. I know that I can have some strong opinions about policy that are essentially well-informed, but I’m not well-informed enough to advocate with absolute certainty that I am right. But I’m not stupid about everything when it comes to politics. I think the last 3 democratic presidents have had difficult times with Congress for a couple of reasons. Jimmy Carter had a democratic congress that was full of star power brokers who were confident in their majorities. They didn’t much like him, and they knew they’d outlast him. Those were the days when you didn’t need a democratic president to pass some liberal legislation. Republicans were used to cutting deals and republican presidents would sign off on a good deal of it. Clinton faced the same challenge. He came in disorganized and a bit cocky. Democrats on the Hill weren’t very cooperative. Thus you got the healthcare and DADT fiascos. Obama faced a different situation. He had large majorities, but they weren’t the confident majorities of the past. They were skittish, afraid of losing majorities that were tenuous. The shock of the ’94 mid-terms informed them they could lose power easily. Their last 2 Senate majority leaders were essentially from red states. Do I blame Obama for not pushing a better economic policy, of course. But I hold Congressional democrats equally liable. George W and Obama have faced the worst challenges of any president in my 57 years. The advantage W had was that he didn’t have to add political problems to the myriad of man made and natural disasters that befell the country. He had a compliant republican caucus and many democrats who were willing to vote his way. Like it or not, Obama doesn’t have that luxury. He’s got an obstructionist republican party, and plenty of dems willing to join them if they think it’s to their advantage. Good grief, we had democratic senators vote against cloture on the Dream Act.

    How al this plays out, I have no idea. Of that I am certain.

  238. 238
    Bruce S says:

    Well, since I’m not a “leftie”, I will be the first to say that IMHO “lefties” are remarkably ineffectual at electing Presidents. Your history seems weaker with each comment!

    As for the gay marriage movement, they don’t need my defense. They have done an incredible job of legitimatizing the issue within a relatively few short years…

  239. 239
    OzoneR says:

    And your proposals and alleged “knowledge” about what we need to do to Social Security are a signal that you are on the Blue Dog end of the Democratic spectrum. What’s wrong with the party. Why we are in the weak position we’re in

    Well, I’m sorry people like me who advocate raising taxes to protect entitlements are “what’s wrong with the party.”

    I’m sure you’ll have an easier time protecting Social Security when you’re getting your 30% of the vote after you’ve run all the more moderate people out.

  240. 240
    liberal says:

    Midnight Marauder wrote,

    I mean, what are you even trying to say with this comment?

    That given the likelihood of Republican control for the next few years, it’s not going to progress much, and hence isn’t all that wonderful.

  241. 241
    OzoneR says:

    As for the gay marriage movement, they don’t need my defense. They have done an incredible job of legitimatizing the issue within a relatively few short years…

    No Bruce. I’m sorry, but they have not. Demographic changes have done the job of legitimizing the issue.

  242. 242
    OzoneR says:

    As for the gay marriage movement, they don’t need my defense. They have done an incredible job of legitimatizing the issue within a relatively few short years…

    No Bruce. I’m sorry, but they have not. Demographic changes have done the job of legitimizing the issue.

  243. 243
    liberal says:

    OzoneR wrote,

    Well, I’m sorry people like me who advocate raising taxes to protect entitlements are “what’s wrong with the party.”

    How is raising taxes going to protect Social Security? If inflows are greater than outflows, then the excess will go into the Trust Fund. But the Right (and even not-obviously-fascist people like Allan Sloan) argue that the Trust Fund is a fiction. So what’s the point? Not that I agree it’s a fiction—far from it.

  244. 244
    OzoneR says:

    Well, since I’m not a “leftie”, I will be the first to say that IMHO “lefties” are remarkably ineffectual at electing Presidents.

    until 2008, sure.

  245. 245
    Bruce S says:

    DFer – I’m not saying that a PR firm couldn’t help in the stretch, but the derision of the gay rights movement is unconscionable. It was NOT all Knickerbocker. The issue would not have been on the table if not for the movement. This is elementary and anyone who claims that a PR firm was primarily responsible for gay marriage in NY is insane. It’s like saying that LBJ was responsible for the Civil Rights Bill. Well, uh, yes BUT… And the story is mostly in the “But”, not the final legislative strategy. This isn’t even arguable, except as pedantry.

  246. 246
    OzoneR says:

    How is raising taxes going to protect Social Security? If inflows are greater than outflows, then the excess will go into the Trust Fund. But the Right (and even not-obviously-fascist people like Allan Sloan) argue that the Trust Fund is a fiction. So what’s the point? Not that I agree it’s a fiction—-far from it.

    I don’t agree that the trust fund is a fiction. When inflows are greater than outflows, we have the ability to pay out more or avoid cuts in tough economic times like now.

  247. 247
    Bruce S says:

    “Lefties” did not elect the President in ’08. You are apparently dealing with some alternate reality. I don’t even know what you’re talking about…I actually supported Obama because he WASN’T the farthest to the left on most issues. Obama was elected because he gained the support of my recovering Republican sister in Missouri (where he nearly carried the state – razor thin split.) It’s a GOP fiction that Obama was a creature of “the left” – sort of like the need to “cut” Social Security in order to save it.

  248. 248
    OzoneR says:

    It was NOT all Knickerbocker. The issue would not have been on the table if not for the movement. This is elementary and anyone who claims that a PR firm was primarily responsible for gay marriage in NY is insane.

    I think anyone who claims otherwise is insane. The gay rights movement may have put the issue on the table, but they repeatedly failed miserably is getting it enacted. For that, they needed Knickerbocker.

    Give the gay rights movement credit for bringing their issues to light, yes, but passage goes entirely to Knickerbocker.

    It’s like saying that LBJ was responsible for the Civil Rights Bill.

    This is remarkably funny because this is what the left says ALL THE TIME.

  249. 249
    OzoneR says:

    “Lefties” did not elect the President in ‘08.

    Really

    I also know that if it wasn’t for organizing, and sign-up sheets, and passing out pamphlets and knocking on doors and making phone callse and raising money at the grass-roots for many months on end, Obama wouldn’t be President.

    so it wasn’t the left that did that?

    Good, now they can stop pretending they’re his “base”

    I actually take back what I said earlier about the left being effective in electing presidents. You’re right, they wanted John Edwards and they couldn’t even get him past New Hampshire. they’re not effective in ANYTHING.

  250. 250
    Bruce S says:

    “Demographic changes have legitimatized gay marriage.”

    I am dead certain you’ve never taken the slightest risk in the political arena for an idea you cared about – because you clearly believe that everything that happens, happens according to the psuedo-sociology in some David Brooks column…

    “(LBJ)..this is what the left says ALL THE TIME.”

    Uh…no. Not even well-informed liberals who lived through the history. It was the movement that made the moment possible – and gave LBJ the impetus and the moral suasion to turn it into legislation. But without LBJ, it would have been some or another President eventually.

  251. 251
    OzoneR says:

    I am dead certain you’ve never taken the slightest risk in the political arena for an idea you cared about – because you clearly believe that everything that happens, happens according to the psuedo-sociology in some David Brooks column…

    Actually, concerning stuff on the left, yeah I do. I’ve never seen any evidence of any effectual left wing movement on any single issue in my 32 years on this planet.

    Uh…no. Not even well-informed liberals who lived through the history. It was the movement.

    what? no arm-twisting of Senators? You just burst the biggest DailyKos bubble right now.

  252. 252
    Bruce S says:

    “Really?” Yeah, really. You have some weird notion of “the left” and you obviously hold that concocted idea in contempt.

    This go-round has gone beyond any benefit to anyone here…

  253. 253
    Suffern ACE says:

    Good lord. There is nothing wrong with using a PR firm. I was expecting another Maryland or New York 2010 loss. It hadn’t seemed like our kids was learning. I hope they learned something. It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge what was successful when compared with two very recent prior legislative losses. It’s not as if Cuomo is demanding to take credit for every gay rights win ever.

  254. 254
    Bruce S says:

    “32 years on the planet.”

    Well, I’ve been around 65 years and participated in the civil rights movement. So it’s now clear to me why I find your offerings so shallow and useless in perspective. The steady straw man of “the left” – really a hobby horse in your discourse – is part of your problem. You’ve got a fixed idea and little knowledge or experience of history.

  255. 255
    dogwood says:

    Giving credit to a PR firm for passing gay marriage in NYC is a bit of a stretch. If they were effective, great. But it seems they were nothing more than a tactical tool. Gay rights advocacy groups worked tirelessly to pass gay marriage in NY. They failed many times, but wisely changed tactics this time. They got some help from a slick ad agency and it helped. Good on ’em. Don’t make heroes out of the agency. They could be hired by republicans in Minnesota next year to promote same sex marriage. They’re hired guns.

  256. 256
    Midnight Marauder says:

    Oh, I won’t say you CAN’T work on it.
    Of course, that would presuppose that you better elect more liberals in 2012 and 2014 than you had in 2008 and 2010, since those ones could only get a weak sauce bill through.

    I guess we’re on the same team then.

    And, of course, everyone knows that ain’t happening as long as Dems are perfectly happy to let the Nelsons, Reids, and Lincolns run the debate and vote however they want without arm twisting.

    And like that…it was gone.

    I mean, what are you even trying to say with this comment?

    That given the likelihood of Republican control for the next few years, it’s not going to progress much, and hence isn’t all that wonderful.

    The towel. Do you want some help throwing it in?

  257. 257
    TaosJohn says:

    Does the author not see the benefit of reacting as loudly & violently as possible? I mean, WTF?

    Such preciosity bewilders me. Don’t you wanna bust heads, inflame the masses???

  258. 258
    El Cid says:

    I’m a “leftie” and I don’t give a fuck whether or not my views help elect a President.

    That’s not why you hold views. You hold the views which seem most logical and evidentiary supported. Whatever they might be. Including that capitalism need not be the main organizational basis of society for time everlasting until we all become nanobot memory echoes. Even if nothing different ever happens.

    You choose whatever actions you make consistent with whatever goals you have. But you don’t give the slightest fuck whether someone thinks that holding certain reasonable goals makes you a ‘leftie’.

    You discover the convincing analyses and arguments first, and then let other people apply whatever fucking labels they prefer, if need be.

  259. 259
    Harvey says:

    funny how Obama picked the people on the Cat food commission. and not a word of support for or brazenly defending Social Security

    all “entitlements” on the table. Does that include Defense, not a word spoken there.

    it amazes how little pushing Obama has done. no Bully pulpit here.
    nor any consequences for doing “republican things”, like Extending bush Tax cuts which helped give us the deficit.

    and why not counter the Deficit meme. not a word blasting the folly of austerity in a time of huge unemployment. takes money to pay taxes and pay off the deficit if that really matters.

    and why no stark and hard Defense of Social Security, maybe infer that raising the cap on the 1st 106,000.00 could “save” Social SEcurity.

    of the Stupak Amendment, no blowback there.

    but must be of the Professional Left, here. i see more than just one way to fight the Republican “way” that Obama seems to be following, rather than leading the Conversation.

    Nasty thoughts here, i must prepare to be called a friend of Hamsher, TPM and all those other “bad” lefties” who do nothing but criticize Obama for taking the Republilcan BS/talking points and sucking them down har.

    too bad i can’t criticize Obama for being an Angry Black Man, that’s not okay today and excuses all of Obama’s faults.

    yes the left sucks big time and that is why the Republican use the Left to whip itself into circular firing squad. the Right doesn’t have to blame the Left. that helps when the Right does stupid things like Paul Ryans destruction of Medicare.

    the Left has Obama to open the door to destroy Social SEcurity and Medicare, like Nixon in China, only a “Democrat” can destroy Social Security.

    oh but dare i criticize Obama than i am being ungrateful for all that he has done. save me Jesus, i repent, save me i take back all those nasty words about what an effectual REpublican Obama appears to the Professional Left.

    god forbid anyone talk like this so i’ll just stop

  260. 260
    Bruce S says:

    Dogwood – thanks for a great, thoughtful and “proportional” response at “237.” There are some ways in which the President is one of my favorite people on the planet, and other ways in which he drives me crazy. Which is probably as it should be. But at this point I think he needs me more to stand up and speak out for what I believe to be right than to simply ratify his awesomeness. I’m sure it’s what he would do if all of that weight wasn’t on his shoulders. Worst. Job. In. The. World. That said, I’ll defend him against the Right and do my best to nail their asses and create more space for the White House to do it’s level best. But, frankly, it’s not all about the President. Most of my energy and money in the coming election is going to focus on congress – whatever I can do to help in swing districts, etc. Since I live in CA, that’s an easy call. My assumption is that GOTV focusing on congressional races – via phone bank or whatever – will help the Prez but will also be better targeted toward the day after he wins.

  261. 261
    TK-421 says:

    @Mnemosyne

    And what money will those local municipalities and states use to buy those mortgages? States have their own budget deficits and are slashing services left and right.

    My understanding is that Treasury has the ability to temporarily nationalize housing finance. If I’m correct (big if), then the money would come from the federal government. Regardless, these aren’t proposals coming out of bloggers’ butts- esteemed economic experts are suggesting this, not dirty hippies.

    And yes, the towns of Alto, TX, and Wilmington, NC, are on my mind when I rant and rave about what the Obama Admin could do right effing now (without Congress) but for some reason is not doing.

    My own wild speculation is that Barack Obama himself personally believes these right wing economic talking points, and either doesn’t understand Keynes or doesn’t believe it. He is a Boy From Chicago (bad pun, sorry), after all, and that would explain the turnover of his economic staff. Again, this is all wild speculation, but it would explain a lot. And if our Democratic President and de facto leader of the Democratic Party actually believes in conservative economic philosophy (facts be damned), then I think it’s BOHICA time.

  262. 262
    OzoneR says:

    They failed many times, but wisely changed tactics this time.

    No, they were FORCED to change their tactics this time, they didn’t want to, they had initially resisted it, it was Cuomo who said “we do it this way or no way”

    They could be hired by republicans in Minnesota next year to promote same sex marriage. They’re hired guns.

    Yes, they could, that was my point. It took hired guns who did it just for the money to actually get gay marriage in New York. That’s pathetic.

  263. 263
    OzoneR says:

    Again, this is all wild speculation

    How about we stop doing that?

  264. 264
    dogwood says:

    Ozone:

    No, they were FORCED to change their tactics this time, they didn’t want to, they had initially resisted it, it was Cuomo who said “we do it this way or no way”

    Ok, then it was a good call by Cuomo. Still doesn’t mean we can discount decades of activism by gay rights groups as being crucial to the result.

    Yes, they could, that was my point. It took hired guns who did it just for the money to actually get gay marriage in New York. That’s pathetic.

    I guess I’m lost on why this is “pathetic” So the groups resisted at first, and had to be drug along. It’s natural (not pathetic) that people who fight in the trenches resist turning the movement over to a new governor and a Madison Avenue ad agency. I hope this serves as a model in other states. It worked out.

  265. 265
    jimbob says:

    I’m hoping all you people are drugged.

  266. 266
    TK-421 says:

    Ever get the feeling that certain folks in this thread would actually be happy if Obama really did slash SS benefits, just so they could say they told us so?

    I actually get the opposite feeling- that certain folks here love opportunities to mock “manic progressives” for their “emo freakouts” over things that may or may not happen*. Because everyone knows the AARP is full of manic emo progressives, and their freakout was totally unjustified lulzy.

    *sometimes I wonder what this blog would have looked like if we took all the writers and commenters and their philosophies on progressives today and timewarped it back to 2002-2003, when we were running up to a stupid and pointless war and the only ones that seemed alarmed about it were progressives. My, the laughs some people would have had at all those stupid people marching in the streets to protest a war that hadn’t even happened yet! It is a truly weird phenomenon to watch a group of people be consistently mocked and ignored because they have this annoying tendency to be right about a lot of stuff.

  267. 267
    ABL says:

    Does the author not see the benefit of reacting as loudly & violently as possible? I mean, WTF?

    reacting to what exactly?

    It is a truly weird phenomenon to watch a group of people be consistently mocked and ignored because they have this annoying tendency to be right about a lot of stuff.

    right about what exactly?

    (thanks for the birthday wishes. “tendentious harpy” was my favorite! i had to look that word up, which is always a bonus for me, since i’m a word nerd.)

  268. 268
    Yutsano says:

    Hee. I lurve how you can’t help yourself sometimes hon. And happy birfday. A little late. Also.

  269. 269
    ABL says:

    hey, i said i wasn’t gonna play in the comment section, not that i wasn’t gonna read the–

    aw heck, you’re totes right. :)

    thanky!

  270. 270
    kay says:

    I actually take back what I said earlier about the left being effective in electing presidents. You’re right, they wanted John Edwards and they couldn’t even get him past New Hampshire. they’re not effective in ANYTHING.

    I don’t know why this has to be so reductive. Activists and organizers do two different things. Activists push and organizers build bridges and hold the whole thing together.
    In my opinion, based on personal (and local) experience, activists are not great at organizing and organizers are not great at moving outside the group. There’s some overlap. Some people can do both, but generally it’s two different personality types and they clash all the time. I think they’re supposed to have conflict. It doesn’t matter what I think anyway: they inevitably clash, because activists can’t stop pushing and organizers can’t stop fretting that the coalition, group, whatever, will implode. Activists pat themselves on the back for Big Ideas and changing minds and organizers pat themselves on the back for holding people together and completing whatever it is they set out to do. They’re BOTH RIGHT.
    Can we not have both? They’re both valuable. Alternately, since both exist, and since each are unlikely to completely change personality and temperament and/or focus can we not just accept that we have/need both?
    It’s two different things, that they’re doing. Because you value the organizer end doesn’t make the other extraneous or useless or “ineffective”. They’re effective (or ineffective) at what they do, but they do two different things.

  271. 271
    The Tragically Flip says:

    ABL:

    reacting to what exactly?

    Don’t be obtuse. Carney admits cuts to SS are on the table. The NYT/WaPo stories are accurate. The admin will not “slash” SS but anything deemed less than “slashing” is possible. Even the possible change of the COLA formula to “chained CPI” will represent a noticable benefit cut for current and future seniors.

    Pelosi and suprisingly Reid have been explicit that SS should not be involved in this mess, so yes, the Admin voluntarily including SS cuts in supposed “deficit” talks about raising the debt ceiling is of concern.

  272. 272
    kay says:

    Pelosi and suprisingly Reid have been explicit that SS should not be involved in this mess, so yes, the Admin voluntarily including SS cuts in supposed “deficit” talks about raising the debt ceiling is of concern.

    I agree with you, for what that’s worth. I go back to the deficit commission. There was a concerted (and successful) effort by two members of the commission to partition off SS from any deficit reduction plan. They’re right, too. It’s two different debates. They wanted that distinction to be clear, and they got it. I think this is a legit issue, simply because SS was partitioned. I think Pelosi et al will prevail, though, ultimately, and I also think media (well, Talking Points Memo, which I like) over-stated her “shock and outrage”. I think she’s lobbying, so some of this is theatrics, and I’m fine with that.

  273. 273
    WereBear says:

    I think a LOT of this is theatrics; and why not? It works.

    Sadly, it’s the drama that persuades people. Sadly for those of us who love a well-reasoned argument and solid gold facts… but one of those facts is how alone we are in that love.

  274. 274
    MattMinus says:

    I’m not sure how quoting Carney talking about how they dont want to slash , they just want to cut helps to advance ABL’s argument. This seems like when they explain that it’s not hostilities if we are only killing people with robots.

    Compare the crap coming out of the WH with Pelosi’s statements on the matter. I know who I trust.

  275. 275
    kay says:

    The Tragically Flip

    I’m reading her really carefully, though, and I’m paying particular attention to the whole “partition/funding/deficit reduction” idea, and if I do that, what she’s saying doesn’t mean she wouldn’t consider some changes:

    Pelosi argued at her press conference that any savings wrung from Social Security and Medicare should be rerouted into strengthening those programs, not toward reducing deficits.”Any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table,” Pelosi warned.

    This was the same argument liberals were using during the deficit commission convening, or whatever. They don’t want it applied to deficit reductions, or put in the context of deficit reductions. If you read the AARP statement carefully, they’re saying the same thing. They’re also qualifying their opposition with words like “harmful” and “benefits” and that wouldn’t preclude cuts from Medicare to providers. They don’t want beneficiaries harmed. That leaves a whole (possible) universe of cuts to providers.

  276. 276
    kay says:

    Sadly, it’s the drama that persuades people. Sadly for those of us who love a well-reasoned argument and solid gold facts… but one of those facts is how alone we are in that love.

    I think there’s a substantive difference here. She doesn’t want SS put in the context of deficit reductions, because that opens SS funding to piggy-bank raiding. She can’t have that. There’s a political argument, too, and she makes it all the time. She doesn’t want the budget balanced “on the backs of seniors”. She can’t have that perception (or reality), politically.

    I love her as a legislative leader because she doesn’t make a rhetorical move if she’s powerless or going to fail, so she must think she has genuine (tangible) clout here, in terms of votes.

    We’ll see, I guess, but I do think it’s a legit fight and a real issue.

  277. 277
    kay says:

    Six of the eight expressed their support for the biggest deal, the aides said. But Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, favored the midrange $2 trillion, voicing doubts about how they could sell a $4 trillion deal to their rank and file, officials said, since it would involve tax increases.

    I think this is important, too. There’s two ways to look at the 2 T to 4 T jump. Cuts or revenue. Because Cantor and Kyl opposed the larger deal, and the Democratic leaders supported it, I think making the jump may have been about forcing the GOP to add revenue (taxes), and adding to the whole could change the percentage of cuts/revenue. So if it was 85 cuts to 15 tax increases at 2 T, it could be substantially more balanced at 4 T, if most of the additional 2 T is revenue (tax increases).

  278. 278
    dogwood says:

    I love her as a legislative leader because she doesn’t make a rhetorical move if she’s powerless or going to fail, so she must think she has genuine (tangible) clout here, in terms of votes.

    I agree. She’s not a great spokesman for the party, but she’s an expert at herding cats and counting votes. Boehner? Not so much. There’s a lot of strange stuff in this debt ceiling drama. Last week McConnell, I think, floated the idea of a temporary extension, and Obama said publicly – no. I thought this might be good for the reps politically. They could come back in a year in the middle of a Presidential campaign when more people are paying attention. If they think deficits and spending are their winning issues, you’d think they would have drawn the line in the sand there. Though there are a lot of mind readers on the internet, it’s pretty hard to tell what any of the players are thinking.

  279. 279
    kay says:

    Boehner? Not so much.

    Conservatives are so completely full of shit on budget-balancing. Both Cantor and Kyl balked at 4 T and chose the 2 T option because they’re afraid of Grover Norquist and the Tea Party. Democrats should take that NYTimes account of the meeting and blast it far and wide. “Bold and Brave” conservatives choked when it came time to talk about revenue. Cantor whining that he can’t “sell” anything to his members is just perfect.

  280. 280
    OzoneR says:

    Can we not have both?

    On the left we apparently can’t because activists hate organizers and don’t think highly of them, think they step on their toes and refuse to give them any credit for what they do

  281. 281
    kay says:

    Though there are a lot of mind readers on the internet, it’s pretty hard to tell what any of the players are thinking.

    True. I’m guessing, but I love that wrangling stuff. I don’t really see what’s so catastrophic about a dispute or debate between Obama and Pelosi/liberals in the House. I think the divide is more subtle than TPM made it to be, but I think it’s there. I would hope that’s how it would work, if there’s legit disagreement, wrangling and fighting and such, and I think there is.

    There’s also the possibility that all of them are posturing, I’m way off, and nothing Big or Bold gets done:)

  282. 282
    kay says:

    On the left we apparently can’t because activists hate organizers and don’t think highly of them, think they step on their toes and refuse to give them any credit for what they do

    I lean more your way, towards organizers, which is why I raised it with you, I’m sympathetic to your frustration, but that’s partly my temperament and personality, that I would go more that way. I see that there are two approaches, two roles, both valid. I think we can have both, because we do have both, here locally, and we manage not to kill each other. Just barely, but still. I know this is kumbay-ish but it could work. Mutual respect, or whatever.

  283. 283
    OzoneR says:

    I see that there are two approaches, two roles, both valid. I think we can have both, because we do have both, here locally, and we manage not to kill each other.

    except we do. Activists will attack organizers because they see them as sellouts, not willing to fight for an even more progressive position even at the risk of failure, because organizers want to get shit done, even if it doesn’t go as far as they want, because progress is better than perfection. Activists want to keep pushing the line even if they fail.

    But beside that, I don’t think many activists are truly activists, I think they’re anarchists and cynics who disguise themselves as activists to prove their cynical point about government. They push for unrealistic things knowing they’ll fail so they can use that failure as an excuse to justify their cynicism. These people are infiltrating the activist end.

    Generally, I think the #1 issue with Obama is he’s an organizer that got elected by activists, many said cynics, obviously the two are clashing. A lot of Obama’s “supporters” elected him with the idea that he’ll flop on certain things so they can justify their pre-Obama cynicism. That’s my primary reason for not support his candidacy over Hillary, I did not think he had a realistic base of support to carry him past the election.

  284. 284
    rickstersherpa says:

    As for our economic problems, this is best 4 pargaraph explaination for the fundamental U.S. economic problems and note, it they do not involve the Federal Deficit, Social Security, or Medicare.

    I am not so unhappy about the freak out as ABL and JC as I don’t think it is such a bad thing for the Administration e-mail accounts and phone banks to light up with messages from the base about defending Social Security. As was pointed out Olbermann’s show I think, President Obama’s desire to reach a “Grand Bargain” on the deficit at the expense of Social Security has been evident for sometime, particularly in the choice of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as the co-chairs of his Deficit Commission.

    “Dean Baker On: Bill Clinton and Mrs. O’Leary

    Friday, 08 July 2011 04:37
    According to legend, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was started when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over a latern in her barn setting it on fire. While Mrs. O’Leary certainly didn’t set the fire on purpose, she is probably not the person we would consult on fire control. In the same vein, it is reasonable to ask why anyone would consult Bill Clinton about the country’s current economic problems.

    While the economy performed well during the second half of the Clinton administration, it was building up the imbalances that laid the basis for the current crisis. The late 90s growth was driven by a stock bubble which led a consumption boom. When the bubble burst, the economy went into a prolonged downturn. It did not not create any jobs from March of 2001 to September of 2003. The jobs lost in the downturn were not gained back until the beginning of 2005, at the time the longest period without job growth since the Great Depression.

    Furthermore, when the economy finally did begin creating jobs it was driven by the housing bubble. While the bubble itself cannot be blamed on the Clinton administration, it is responsible for the imbalances that laid its basis. Robert Rubin, Clinton’s treasury secretary, consciously pursued a high dollar policy. He used the U.S. control over the IMF to bring it about.

    A high dollar makes U.S. goods less competitive in world markets. If the dollar rises by 20 percent it has roughly the same impact as putting a 20 percent tariff on all our exports and giving a 20 percent subsidy on all our imports. This sort of increase in the value of the dollar has way more impact on trade flow than any trade agreement possibly could.

    Rubin’s high dollar policy meant that the U.S. would run a large trade deficit. If the country has a trade deficit, then it absolutely must have negative national savings. (This is an accounting identity, it has to be true.) Negative national savings means that we must have either large government budget deficits or very low private savings, as was the case at the peak of the housing bubble, when the savings rate hit zero.

    It is likely that President Clinton does not understand this basic economics. He recently lectured the public on how to create manufacturing jobs through trade, apparently not realizing the country was losing manufacturing jobs due to the soaring trade deficit during the last three years of his administration. This means that he may not know that he is giving bad advice, but that still doesn’t mean that there is any reason for the media to want to seek it out.”

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/.....e+Press%29

    Similarly, as Paul Krugman finally acknowledge, the President actually probably believes in the wrong economic ideas he expresses about “austerity” and the “confidene fairy.” It is consistent with his speeches starting with his address to the Brookings Institution Robert Rubin and freinds funded “Hamilton Project” in 2005. http://www.brookings.edu/event.....ation.aspx

    In one sense, Rubin and Geithner remember the 1990s as being very successful econmically after they reduced the deficit in 1993 (not so good for the Democrats politically, but this has never been a big thing on their agenda) then loosened regulaitons on banks and finance. (Of course, a large portion of that was an Internet stock bubble that they refused to prick.) Obama, because of his own coming of age in the 1980s and 1990s, and his time in stewing in the “Freshwater” economics of the University of Chicago, imbided many of the ideas even “liberal” and “Democratic” economists in the Clinton, and now the Obama, administration believe to be the truth.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....elong.html

    Dean Baker often snarks about the Obama people not knowing about the Housing Bubble. But the fact is Tim Geithner, by the price he was asking when he was trying to sell his home in New York back in 2009, showed that he believed in his bones that the price rise in housing during the oughts was “real” and “supported by fundamentals” and that house prices would “bounce back” once banks stop being afraid to lend and had liquidity. The HAMP and other programs were suppose to just be temporary firebreaks until the “bounce back.”

    And when one of these nutter “Tea Partiers” propose things like the Balance Budget amendment or a “reduction of the debt ceiling” with no tax increases, we Democrats should ask reporters to ask them how much will current social security and medicare benefits have to be cut as a consequence of such an amendment or change.

  285. 285
    OzoneR says:

    we Democrats should ask reporters to ask them how much will current social security and medicare benefits have to be cut as a consequence of such an amendment or change.

    yeah cause they’re going to definitely take question advice from Democrats.

  286. 286
    rcman says:

    The Obamabots have all the smugness of boiling frogs. Happy to believe that Obama won the budget fight by reneging on a major campaign promise in return for avoiding a fight over unemployment insurance. “Quit yer bellaching and stop your hyperventalating” they say while the President brings the pot little by little to a boil with one eye on his 3d chess board and the other on his copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence no one. So anxious to have the Republicans play with him, he not only is willing to agree to their starting demands, he feels compelled to go above and beyond. “2 trillion, hell, I’ll give you twice that if you’ll just come back to play on Sunday and, what the heck. lets slash, er…cut Social Security while we’re at it”. Yeah, he’s a wily one. Just a few more crafty “wins” and the frogs will be ready for serving.

  287. 287
    Paul W. says:

    AMEN ABL!

  288. 288
    ABL says:

    Don’t be obtuse. Carney admits cuts to SS are on the table.

    i don’t subscribe to the point of view that all cuts are bad cuts. folks have absolutely no idea what is going on yet we’re supposed to react violently? really? that seems to me to be absolutely ridiculous.

    folks want to flip out about shit, that’s fine. but i’m not going to. all the folks who freaked out in april ended up looking like idiots. it’s just wave after wave of outrage. don’t you get tired?

    christ.

  289. 289
    The Tragically Flip says:

    i don’t subscribe to the point of view that all cuts are bad cuts.

    SS is a trim and efficient program with low administrative overhead. Almost all the money goes to beneficiaries. What kind of cuts are not “bad” cuts in that scenario?

  290. 290
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @ ABL – it’s just wave after wave of outrage. don’t you get tired?

    Clearly not. Have you read the jobs report thread?

  291. 291
    Rob says:

    Sen. Whitehouse is being emo I guess.

  292. 292
    TK-421 says:

    i don’t subscribe to the point of view that all cuts are bad cuts.

    ABL, I like you, but cut the bulls–t. “Not all cuts are bad cuts” is a fundamentally different assertion than “White House Position on Social Security is Unchanged.”

    Even if you want to continue to insist that we don’t actually know what is really being negotiated (e.g. are there “cuts” or will they be “slashed?”), then by definition we don’t actually know that the White House’s position on Social Security is unchanged.

    “Good/small cuts” is NOT the same thing as “nothing has changed.” You were wrong to make such an absolutist statement off of slightly weaselly remarks from Jay Carney. Just admit it in an update and move on. Otherwise, you’re going to end up looking stubborn and slightly dishonest.

  293. 293
    Admiral_Komack says:

    “Funny how Roger Clemens is catching shit over lying to Congress over steroids (…)”
    Compared to the venom that Barry Bonds caught for years, Roger Clemens ain’t catching shit.

  294. 294
    Admiral_Komack says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ABL!
    GIVE ‘EM HELL!

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