Obama is not going to slash Medicare or Social Security, so CTFD already

He’s got this.

Check out this interview Obama did with Jean Enersen in Seattle.

[via The Obama Diary]

[cross-posted]






261 replies
  1. 1
    WereBear says:

    But wait, I sense a lack of wailing in the left-o-sphere…

  2. 2
    LarsThorwald says:

    A part of me would love to think that Obama is as weak and disinterested in protecting the core of the New Deal as much as progressives would like, but I can’t buy into it.

    He is dealing with — and I mean this literally — people who are clearly insane and have absolutely no love for this country. The Republicans are worse than the Know-Nothings before the 1860 election. I suspected they may be back in 2008, but holy f*ck. They are batshit crazy.

    In that circumstance, he has played this well, politically. And I can’t help but think that whatever he gets out of this will not lead to the destruction of Social Security or Medicare. It may tweak it and revise it a bit, but if he gets the grand bargain he wants, those programs will be ensconced so deeply and entrenchantly that they may be immune from this kind of insanity going forward for decades.

    He is playing a long game here. That’s what my gut tells me.

  3. 3
    retr2327 says:

    Shouldn’t that be CTFO? And doesn’t that belong in the lexicon?

  4. 4
    Brian R. says:

    I don’t know, I’m more inclined to trust a reporter with a record of playing loose with her sourcing who has an anonymous statement from “a Democratic official who’s familiar with the White House’s thinking” than a direct quote from the president.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Brian R. says:

    Shouldn’t that be CTFO?

    I need to refer you to the precedent case of Chill the Fuck Out v. Calm the Fuck Down

  7. 7
    Svensker says:

    OT sort of, can anybody help me out?

    I’m trying to find the screed by the Wall Street guy from about a year ago talking about how he kills his dinner with his bare hands in between making huge deals and being a stealth uber-cool hunter capitalist.

    Anyone remember the guy’s name or have a link?

    Mucho thanks!

  8. 8
    Linnaeus says:

    CTFD=Calm The Fuck Down

  9. 9

    What is CTFD? Cut The Fucking D…????

  10. 10
    overeducated says:

    He basically held a press conference and where he said:

    “Do it, shut down the government. I have bent over so far backwards for you and made so many concessions that everyone is going to blame the republicans when it happens. Remember how well that worked for you in 1996?”

    There is no 11 dimensional chess going on here. Obama (correctly) assumed that the conservatives were so intransigent he could make absurd offers and have them be turned down. So now he looks like the reasonable centrist while the Republicans look like out of control lunatics.

    Now the Republicans are completely stuck. They have 2 choices, both of which are terrible:

    1. Raise taxes and get creamed in the primaries by angry tea-tards or
    2. Shut the government down, take all the blame and deal with the electoral consequences.

  11. 11

    Oh, thank Linnaeus….

  12. 12
    cleek says:

    @Brian R.:
    i was thinking Cut The Fucking Drama.

  13. 13
    jman says:

    Atrios says the presser proves Obama belives the austerity bullshit and that we are doomed. Why don’t you get into it with Atrios or Krugman or the people you are telling to CTFO instead off raising these one-sided hissy fits at BJ.

  14. 14
    Lolis says:

    Sometimes the things President Obama says make me nauseous, but to some degree he has to play to the masses and to the Village. There is no way that there are enough Dem votes in Congress to harm the safety net. Nancy Pelosi would not let that happen.

  15. 15
    David in NY says:

    “2. Shut the government down, take all the blame and deal with the electoral consequences.”

    This is not shutting the government down. This is requiring default on government debt. What the latter does for sure, is raise future interest rates. The last time it almost happened, the rate rise of about 0.6% lasted for years and cost over $100 billion. This time, given the deliberateness and irresponsibility of their actions, it will be far worse. But they want to reduce government spending!

  16. 16

    This post hurt my fee-fees. [Sulk]

  17. 17
    Trurl says:

    You know you’re in Obot-land when someone can still say “He’s got this” with a straight face.

  18. 18
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Huh. I’m looking for a “hissyfit” in this post. I just can’t see it. Maybe my O-Bot blinkers are set too high.

    The video was hinky for me, it just up and quit playing right when Obama was talking about the infrastructure bill he has before Congress, that the government could be spending money to create needed jobs by doing needed infrastructure work.

  19. 19
    gwangung says:

    Atrios says the presser proves Obama belives the austerity bullshit and that we are doomed.

    What’s typical in punditry is that there is no difference between evidence “proving” a position and evidence “supporting” a position.

  20. 20
    Martin says:

    Fuck! Why is Obama adopting this right-wing framing that peas taste bad! I love peas! Fuck you, Obama, you corporatist peaophobe!

  21. 21
    Lolis says:

    @cleek:

    Maybe Calm the Fuck Down? These abbreviations are more trouble than they are worth.

  22. 22
    Wag says:

    @Brian R

    I think its this guy, who recently bought $700 worth of pinot for Rep Ryan. Name is Cliff Asness, an name straight out of Dickens, if ever there was one.

  23. 23
    joes527 says:

    overeducated

    The republicans are obviously going for door #2.

    Boy are they going to look bad. (Nelson voice) HA-HA (/Nelson voice)

    Of course there is the whole failure-to-raise-the-ceiling-will-be-Armageddon thing.

    But at least we will be able to point and laugh from the craters that the economic meltdown will leave.

    Or are we shilling the “It won’t be all that bad” line this week. (I often can’t keep up)

  24. 24
    Trurl says:

    Besides, we all know that when Obama does it, it’s not “cutting” SS – it’s “strengthening” it.

    BTW, how’s the “kinetic military action” in Libya going? Should be wrapped up in days, not weeks, yes?

  25. 25
    overeducated says:

    This is not shutting the government down. This is requiring default on government debt. What the latter does for sure, is raise future interest rates. The last time it almost happened, the rate rise of about 0.6% lasted for years and cost over $100 billion. This time, given the deliberateness and irresponsibility of their actions, it will be far worse. But they want to reduce government spending!

    If we default most likely there is going to be at least a temporary shutdown. in addition to the panoply of other horrible things that it will trigger. The issue isn’t how bad things would be if this happens (it will be catastrophic), the issue is who is going to be the fall guy. The Republicans have gone out of their way to make themselves the fall guy.

    It will suck for everyone, but you can’t say Obama doesn’t understand the political calculus.

  26. 26
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    I swear to FSM that ABL could come to your house, cook you dinner, serve you wine and clean your entire house and you guys would still complain about her. Don’t read her fucking posts if they offend you tiny wittle feelings.

  27. 27
    BTD says:

    No slashing, just a “trim.” At least that’s what I heard.

    Didn’t see it myself.

  28. 28
    Martin says:

    This is not shutting the government down.

    It gets pretty close though. Assuming that we pay our debt obligations, we’ll come up about $100B per month short on revenues if we can’t borrow. Assuming that we keep paying out on SS and Medicare (which have their own backing funds and are revenue positive still), and assuming that we pay our debt obligations (as to not default), then we pretty much only have money left for defense. Everything else would need to be shut down. Or we keep open some critical services (FBI, IRS collections, etc.), shut down everything else and cut defense spending by 50% or so.

  29. 29
    RalfW says:

    Cue The Firebag Drama?

  30. 30
    Martin says:

    Cue The Firebag Drama?

    That’s every thread, even the kitteh ones. Saying it would just be redundant, so that can’t be it.

  31. 31
    4tehlulz says:

    So when does Fitch pull the trigger? Friday or Monday?

  32. 32
    Linnaeus says:

    I can CTFD for the most part, but I do think there’s a justifiable level of concern whenever possible cuts to Medicare and SS come up, especially when we don’t know how those cuts will play out.

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    Or we keep open some critical services (FBI, IRS collections, etc.)

    My office will most likely stay open, as I’m in collections. But there’s going to be staff trimming everywhere. And since I was last hired, I could get laid off. There will be a HUGE economic implosion as the largest employer in the country goes into layoffs. To call this a mishegas is an understatement.

  34. 34
    Bruce S says:

    I don’t think Obama is going to “slash” Medicare or SS. (Of course the word “cut” was used re: Medicare by his press secretary.)

    But anyone who gets pissed off at “the left” of the Dems for making noise and pushing back in an environment where the White House is dealing totally from a “deficit reduction” frame – which is literally insane in the current economic terrain – needs to “CTFD.” Not people who are pointing to the political realities and making the point that we’re moving totally in the wrong direction – and this administration is, at the least, in thrall to this bullshit “conventional wisdom.”

    Frankly, I’m getting sick of folks who think that complacency about Obama’s intentions is serious political analysis or a sufficient “agenda” for Democrats.

  35. 35
    Zifnab says:

    @overeducated:

    So now he looks like the reasonable centrist while the Republicans look like out of control lunatics.

    You say this now. Wait till next November, and tell me what everyone actually “believes”.

    It is going to be wall-to-wall “Blame the President” come 2012. The Citizen United guys are going to be saturating the airwaves. The media stenographers are going to be gleefully reporting on the failed Obama Presidency. The Tea Party will be marching. Every blog on the right and half the blogs on the left will be howling. Wall. To. Wall.

    There are going to be so many lies and faux scandals and screeching banshee talking heads that Obama is going to look like Stalin McHitler by election day.

  36. 36
    overeducated says:

    But at least we will be able to point and laugh from the craters that the economic meltdown will leave.

    Or are we shilling the “It won’t be all that bad” line this week. (I often can’t keep up)

    That is a preferable option to entirely unwinding the New Deal. Things will suck badly for a few years after a default, we will lose our reserve currency status, our standard of living will dramatically decrease and most likely never recover.

    But in the long, long term we may be better off.

    We have been headed for a crash for 30 years. There is no way to stop this train, best get it over with.

  37. 37
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Oh noes, not Atrios! He always carefully justifies his views!

  38. 38
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @overeducated: That esteemed macro-economist, Dr. Egon Spengler, concurs. “There’s definitely a very slim chance we’ll survive.”

    I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! Let’s do it!

  39. 39
    salacious crumb says:

    hey ABL, did you read Frank Rich’s latest piece in New York magazine criticizing Obama for letting Wall Street off the hook? so is like, Frank Rich racist for criticizing a black man? is Matt Taibbi racist?

  40. 40
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I do think there’s a justifiable level of concern whenever possible cuts to Medicare and SS come up

    I agree it’s valuable to raise hell at moments like this, support Nancy Pelosi and progressive Dems and sign petitions and make enough noise that maybe people will look up from Dancing With the Stars and gluing glitter on the angels’ wings of the shrine their building to that girl who was killed in Florida and notice that the Republican they voted for last fall because those smart people on TeeVee said Obama had over reached and that’s why their cousin got laid off? That Republican isn’t actually doing anything about jobs.

    But it’s hard not to mock the rolling justifications of the endless “Why can’t you people just admit Obama SUCKS!” tantrums

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    this administration is, at the least, in thrall to this bullshit “conventional wisdom.”

    Would you at least acknowledge the possibility that using _rhetoric_ about austerity, pain, belt-tightening, living within our means, and the whole nine yards might not be entirely in earnest? That it may be an attempt to smuggle in a different set of issues under cover?

  42. 42
    Corey says:

    Hey, ABL, honest question: do you believe that the President’s focus on deficit reduction is correct, on the merits (as opposed to the politics)? If so, why?

    If you believe that his insistent calls for deficit reduction and austerity are politically motivated feints designed to isolate Republicans on the ideological fringe, what’s the logical progression of events that you envision will lead to progressive outcomes?

    1) President positions himself as “centrist” by calling for deficit reduction.
    2) Republicans freak out because of limited tax hikes in debt reduction package
    3) ????
    4) The poor don’t get screwed and US doesn’t default

    What’s step 3?

  43. 43
    Nutella says:

    Linnaeus

    Yes, no need to panic but lots of reason to worry. Keep calling and faxing Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Boehner, McConnell, your rep and senators. They need pressure from us telling them to do the right thing.

  44. 44
    Linnaeus says:

    @Jim:

    I agree on the “Obama sucks” part; that gets tiresome.

  45. 45
    overeducated says:

    That esteemed macro-economist, Dr. Egon Spengler, concurs. “There’s definitely a very slim chance we’ll survive.”I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! Let’s do it!

    HA! That’s an excellent way to put it.

    We will survive. Most folks survived the great depression when technology and infrastructure was far worse. It will not be pleasant by any means. More of us are going to have to learn how to fix things ourselves, grow more of our own food. Go without TV, computers and tablet devices.

    Get to know your neighbors and be nice to them. you may be relying on them a lot more in the future.

    (By the way, I’m as scared s-less as anyone else, I have a Fed gov job that will most likely be deemed “non-essential” and an immense amount of unpaid non-dischargeable student loans.)

  46. 46
    jcgrim says:

    Someone please expand on these phrases uttered by Obama:
    “Trimming benefits” and “increasing revenues.”

    “Social Security is not the source of our deficit problems, but it has to be strengthened in the out years. “If you’re going to take a bunch of tough votes, you might as well do it now.”

    Does trimming benefits mean SS and Medicare? What is Obama’s plan to “strengthen” SS?

    What was the purpose of Obama’s handpicked deficit commission other than to cut the deficit and what components of their recommendations is he proposing? We don’t know the answers to these questions.

    When the president speaks in euphemisms and the fact that his entire economic team is composed of neo-liberal deficit hawks, does not calm the citizens who depend on SS. His actions will speak louder than his words.

  47. 47
    Trurl says:

    Frankly, I’m getting sick of folks who think that complacency about Obama’s intentions is serious political analysis or a sufficient “agenda” for Democrats.

    Your mistake is still believing that the Democratic Party still stands for anything besides its own political power – of which Barack Obama is the personification.

    Seriously, what does “the brand” stand for now? Unions? Not after Obama left Wisconsin hanging out to dry. No wars for oil? Not after Libya. Civil liberties? Obama is worse than Bush on them. Pro-choice? Not after Obama used abortion rights as a bargaining chip to pass his health insurers bailout.

    So don’t be hard on ABL. She understands the Democratic Party and its agenda far more clearly than you do.

  48. 48
    joes527 says:

    overeducated

    Get to know your neighbors and be nice to them. you may be relying on them a lot more in the future.

    My neighbour flies a “Don’t tread on me” flag. I don’t think that relying on him is going to end well.

  49. 49
    PurpleGirl says:

    Svensker @ 7: An article on the e-mail can be found at:

    http://www.wallstreetoasis.com.....at-we-kill

    There was no writer named.

  50. 50
    Corner Stone says:

    @Svensker: If you haven’t already found it, it was an e-mail. Here’s a good repro:
    We eat what we kill

  51. 51
    aisce says:

    when is the last time anyone in the blogosphere actually managed to talk to, instead of past, one another? 2007?

    don’t you guys get tired of playing the same roles day in and day out?

    the internet’s generally supposed to be a pleasant timewaster during the day, instead it’s just another way for people to show off how bile filled and condescending they can be.

  52. 52
    Corner Stone says:

    Jinx poke coke!

  53. 53
    Eric k says:

    As someone who grew up in Seattle in the 70s watching Jean Enersen every night on the local news I’d just like to ask where is the painting that ages?

    Seriously, I’ve aged 30 years while she still looks the same!

  54. 54
    ABL says:

    hey ABL, did you read Frank Rich’s latest piece in New York magazine criticizing Obama for letting Wall Street off the hook? so is like, Frank Rich racist for criticizing a black man? is Matt Taibbi racist?

    you’ve been malkinized. ’tis a pity.

  55. 55
    Jay B. says:

    That is a preferable option to entirely unwinding the New Deal. Things will suck badly for a few years after a default, we will lose our reserve currency status, our standard of living will dramatically decrease and most likely never recover.

    But in the long, long term we may be better off.

    I’ll admit, that’s a new excuse for supporting Obama. Sure, it’s pre-emptive chemotherapy, but we have to protect ourselves against the possibility of having cancer in the future!

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @LarsThorwald:

    will be ensconced so deeply and entrenchantly

    I’m a fair hand at liberal usage of modern vernacular, so don’t take this as poking you.
    I’ve been considering for some 3 or so minutes now the different ways to employ “entranchantly”.
    Obviously there’s the “entrenched deeply” connotation. But the “trenchant” part intrigues me. I’m intrigued.

  57. 57
    Lolis says:

    Plum Line has a great article right now about how the media labels Republicans as “fiscally conservative” and “deficit hawks” even as they refuse to raise any taxes or revenues. This is what we are up against and why the White House is always on the losing side of this issue no matter what they do. It just sucks.

  58. 58
    Judas Escargot says:

    Your mistake is still believing that the Democratic Party still stands for anything besides its own political power

    NO political party stands for anything besides its own political power: That’s why any party would exist.

    To believe or expect otherwise is foolish.

    Seriously, what does “the brand” stand for now?

    Preserving as much of the New Deal as possible in the face of globalization, climate change and peak oil.

    Are those goals too small and petty for you, Trurl? Or are you just here to try and make us all feel bad?

  59. 59
    ABL says:

    Would you at least acknowledge the possibility that using rhetoric about austerity, pain, belt-tightening, living within our means, and the whole nine yards might not be entirely in earnest? That it may be an attempt to smuggle in a different set of issues under cover?

    no, because obama is pre-caving and pre-selling you out and you’d have to be stupid not to see that!!!11 obama should be ripping john boehner’s arm off and beating him about the head and chest with it! only then will we know he’s serious about not weakening Medicare and SS!!1

  60. 60
    Jennifer says:

    It must have occured to others that perhaps what is going on here is an attempt to negotiate Republicans into closing tax loopholes in return for some pretty much insubstantive “cuts” to Medicare & Social Security. And it’s likely to work.

    How do I get that? First of all, as others have said, Pelosi and Senate Dems aren’t going to allow any radical slashing of social programs. That would hurt them more electorally than raising taxes, and they know it. Secondly, the Republicans may be talking about it, but it’s not likely they would actually vote for it in Congress if it were presented to them, for the same reasons. If they lose the old white people vote, they go out of business. Third, there isn’t going to be a default, for the simple reason that if we go another week to week-and-a-half without an agreement, the GOP’s corporate and financier overlords will bring down the hammer. “If you cause a catastrophic default on the debt, you can forget about any more campaign contributions. We will crush you with the little money we have left.”

    And here’s where the GOP’s nuts are in a sling much more than the president’s: they don’t have a choice at this point that doesn’t involve pissing off their sugar daddies or their base. Their best chance for survival rests on accepting closing of tax loopholes, which in and of itself is going to piss off their sponsors, but nothing like a default would.

    What this means is, they’re going to have to agree to shut down tax loopholes in advance of the higher tax rates for the wealthy that are going to come back in 2013. So instead of preventing ANY tax increases on the wealthy, they’ve bargained into more of them than they would have had to otherwise. And arguably, the tax loopholes are harder to close than the rates are to raise – those rates are sunsetted and the loopholes were not. This will also hurt their popularity with their base of corporate and wealthy sponsors, who won’t fail to recognize that the incompetent gits bargained them into even more tax increases than they would have seen otherwise.

    Could I be wrong? Of course. I don’t have any inside info, but…all of the above is demonstrably true, and all of it is more plausible than “OMG teh President is gonna sell us all down the river just like he did teh gheys!”

  61. 61

    Keep up the good fight, ABL.

    My crystal ball is broken and still in the shop but I will predict:

    1. We will survive this crisis and have some kind of deal and go forward.
    2. The jobs report was terrible and until/unless we get some federal investment in something [infrastructure? energy?] a lot of us may see really rough times.
    3. Global climate change, peak oil, and all that stuff is marching along, taking no notice of the noise we make. Economic negatives will probably occur.

    Quality of life can still be good. That will be up to us.

    But in the meantime, ABL is correct. Our coming apart at the seams won’t help the current situation and might well make it worse.

  62. 62
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @overeducated

    So it’s better to learn how to best wok your dog sooner rather than later?

  63. 63
    Dave says:

    HAHA, ABL telling people to CTFD.

  64. 64
    Lol says:

    I see we’re back to the “just words” phase of the firebagger cycle after repeated calls for him to “use the bully pulpit”.

  65. 65
    ABL says:

    So don’t be hard on ABL. She understands the Democratic Party and its agenda far more clearly than you do.

    i understand that no one ever got a favorable settlement or negotiation by revealing to the other side one’s pressure point. that’s why boehner failed this weekend.

    but hey. if i’m wrong and obama slashes social security or medicare, i will happily eat humble pie with a side of crow drizzled in STFU.

    deal?

  66. 66
    Ben Cisco says:

    @aisce: __

    the internet’s generally supposed to be a pleasant timewaster during the day, instead it’s just another way for people to show off how bile filled and condescending they can be.

    Obviously, you weren’t a USENET user back in the day. I’m afraid it was always thus.

  67. 67
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Plum Line has a great article right now about how the media labels Republicans as “fiscally conservative” and “deficit hawks” even as they refuse to raise any taxes or revenues

    Along those same lines, TPM has a reader e-mail that describes the playing field we’re on

    Just a quick ground-level view. This morning Diane Rehm had on a couple of DC pundits, including the Cook Political Report guy, and all of them were lamenting the failure to get a deal through because of elements on the extreme left and extreme right that opposed a compromise. At no point did it seem to occur to any of these savvy political brains that only one of the two negotiating parties was refusing to sign on the dotted line — for a deal much larger than anything they were demanding only a couple of years ago.

    Everybody got that? Preserving Social Security and the Clinton-era tax rates are “the extreme left”. For good measure, I gather Fred Hiatt has a concern trolly op-ed scolding Democrats for engaging in “Mediscare” politics.

  68. 68
    Tom Hilton says:

    @Lolis: Yeah, definitely TAAMTTTAW.

  69. 69
    Yevgraf says:

    I personally loved all of last years focus on the evils represented by blues dogs and impurely liberal democrats. That really helped bring.things home in November 10.

  70. 70
    Tone In DC says:

    “…Obama should be ripping John Boehner’s arm off and beating him about the head and chest with it! Only then will we know he’s serious about not weakening Medicare and SS!!1!”

    Big props for the Mortal Kombat™®© reference, ABL.

  71. 71
    Jman says:

    Would you at least acknowledge the possibility that using rhetoric about austerity, pain, belt-tightening, living within our means, and the whole nine yards might not be entirely in earnest? That it may be an attempt to smuggle in a different set of issues under cover?

    No, Obama isn’t playing political games. WYSIWYG

    I get that he wants to take the Republican deficit issue off the table by resolving it. Then we can deal with jobs. Problem is, the Republicans don’t care about the deficit.

  72. 72
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Ben Cisco

    Hell’s bells, I go back to BBS days. Maybe I’m just too damned old but I fail to remember any sort of halcyon days of elevated discourse. If you want a pleasant time waster on the Internet join Stumbleupon, play games, or look at pr0n. Do not go to a political blog.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    Preserving as much of the New Deal as possible in the face of globalization, climate change and peak oil.

    I’ll settle for “in the face of a psychotic Social Darwinist party bent on tearing it down at all costs,” which is the proximate threat even if there are long term ones.

  74. 74
    boss bitch says:

    @jcgrim:

    His actions will speak louder than his words.

    Here are his actions:

    THREE TIMES, THREE TIMES already Obama was supposed to have gutted entitlements and it never happened.

  75. 75
    Yevgraf says:

    Oh, and remember how in 2009 the paid progressive activists declined sitting in front of their computers and showed up to town halls conducted by Democratic House members to chat up health reform and counter the wingnut crazy?

    No, I don’t either. Sure would have been nice….

  76. 76
    BO_Bill says:

    Obama is so fucking smart, it is hard to figure out what he is doing. I mean, this guy went to Harvard.

  77. 77
    joes527 says:

    Linda Featheringill

    1. We will survive this crisis and have some kind of deal and go forward.

    What kind of deal do you see going forward.

    The options on the table are:

    1) dismantle the new deal
    2) drive the economy off a cliff.

    This is NOT a criticism of Obama. He hasn’t saved us from this choice, but it isn’t likely that _anyone_ could have.

    He is not an evil anti-progressive, but he DOES. NOT. HAVE. THE. VOTES. for an eleventy dimensional third way.

    This is all the Republican/Tea Party (a totally owned subsidiary of Koch enterprises) fault.

    But knowing that isn’t going to keep anyone warm at night.

  78. 78
    ABL says:

    I see we’re back to the “just words” phase of the firebagger cycle after repeated calls for him to “use the bully pulpit”.

    and if obama punks boehner like he punked him during the Great Shutdown Threatdown, firebaggers will be claiming that they were totes the ones who got Obama to keep his word and not slash Social Security and Medicare.

    see how it works?

  79. 79
    boss bitch says:

    @jcgrim:

    Someone please expand on these phrases uttered by Obama:
    “Trimming benefits” and “increasing revenues.”

    find out when the transcript is available.

  80. 80
    Montysano says:

    @Trurl:

    Civil liberties? Obama is worse than Bush on them.

    Bush passed the Military Commissions Act, which allows the President to lock up (indefinitely) your sweet gray-haired grandma if he doesn’t like the color of the dress she’s wearing.

    Sweet jabbering Jesus, make it stop.

  81. 81
    Kane says:

    Halperin’s Take
    The president used a full-length press conference to make his case (again) for a grand bargain. He praised John Boehner, said he would reject a short-term fix, and pointed out that he is “willing to take significant heat” from Democrats to get a deal — in order to try to control the center. He also made his usual equity case for why tax cuts for the wealthiest should be part of any package. And/but with no new proposals or dynamic-changing rhetoric, it is hard to see right now how this appearance could become a game-changing moment.

    Hey, at least he didn’t call the President a dick.

  82. 82
    ABL says:

    Big props for the Mortal Kombat™®© reference, ABL.

    i actually saw the mortal kombat movie in the theater. ha!

    FINISH HIM!

    (edited to add “FINISH HIM!”)

    ok i’m being silly. i’m going to go watch the presser.

  83. 83
    Martin says:

    THREE TIMES, THREE TIMES already Obama was supposed to have gutted entitlements and it never happened.

    Ah, but it did happen. The problem is that you’re living in the Matrix where the obot programmers have hidden the real truth from you. Out in the reality based world of liberal bloggers, they can see that Obama has turned old people into batteries and is sending his Wall-Street Sentinels out to attack your safety net.

  84. 84
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    ABL telling people here to Calm the Fuck Down? Bwahahahahahaha, that’s an example of the pot calling the kettle…er, um…nevermind.

  85. 85
    baxie says:

    ….those programs will be ensconced so deeply and entrenchantly that they may be immune from this kind of insanity going forward for decades.

    Or at least until the the next budget ‘negotiations’.

  86. 86
    cyntax says:

    I’d like to think Obama is setting the Repubs up for another punking but I think Atrios makes a good point:

    We can’t read minds, so at some point we have to judge people by their words and actions. This press conference tells us that the austerity crap isn’t some bit of political posturing, it’s a belief.

    If that’s the case, that ain’t good.

  87. 87
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Dennis SGMM: That was the point I was trying to make, but you did it better.

  88. 88
    ABL says:

    It must have occured to others that perhaps what is going on here is an attempt to negotiate Republicans into closing tax loopholes in return for some pretty much insubstantive “cuts” to Medicare & Social Security. And it’s likely to work.

    sign me up.

    also, closing tax loopholes is not raising taxes and therefore papa norquist will be less likely to be upset with these asshats.

  89. 89
    DBrown says:

    I do not believe in the idea the sky is falling about the debt or default – if interest on bonds is paid, most military pay holds, and SS/Medicare/cad is met (not 100% but mostly) and most Gov Civilians are temporarily not paid (that will meet most the missing revenue) the government does not fold – we have survived such a “shut down” before and this one would be no different – little will happen except some markets will, for a very short time freak – big deal; remember, this is not a default that the rest of the World will dare acknowledge as end of the World or they will suffer more; wallstreet and backer parasites will come down on the thugs and after a few weeks at worse, days most likely, the debt ceiling will be raised. Big F’ing deal. All I hear is the same story – the markets will go insane – right; even if true, that has no real impact; all that free money that banks are handing out interest free will dry up (hate to tell you but that has already happen.) Dollar will drop big time in value (right – China and OPEC will just give up trillions in value because the US falls a 100 billion short and cheats its civilian workers – yeah, that’ll happen.) Please, there isn’t a credible action that will occur long term (after the first two days) that will really impact – wait how big corps buy up any under valued stocks asap and banks realize that the Fed does pull their strings. Not the issue everyone is acting.

  90. 90
    goblue72 says:

    The left is never satisfied. Believe me. Out here in the Bay Area, we don’t have any Republicans. We have center-left Democrats and the left. San Francisco has universal healthcare, a living wage ordinance, rent control, sanctuary city policies, “transit-first” policy built into the City charter, bike lanes everywhere, nation-leading green policies, and the City’s political power centers are gays, Asians, Latinos and the occassional hippie. Even Sacramento, in the state legislature, SF is represented by two Asians (one of each gender), a gay standup comic and a gay yuppie with nice teeth who defeated a lesbian for his seat. And the top three leading candidates for the Mayor’s race are all Chinese.

    And STILL the left here never ceases to whinge and moan non-stop.

  91. 91
    Ben Cisco says:

    @ABL:

    also, closing tax loopholes is not raising taxes

    true.
    __

    therefore papa norquist will be less likely to be upset with these asshats.

    Sadly, not so much..

  92. 92
    Yutsano says:

    @ABL:

    closing tax loopholes is not raising taxes and therefore papa norquist will be less likely to be upset with these asshats

    You must not have gotten the memo. Grover has now stated that ANY kind of revenue adjustment that is not a decrease is a tax hike and therefore verboten.

    EDIT: Damn you Cisco!

  93. 93
    different church-lady says:

    [checks progressive call-and-response chart]

    [LEFT column: “Blogger has told you to calm down]

    [RESPONSE column: “Call poster a shitty blogger”]

    [flings progressive instruction manual to ground, goes out to garden]

  94. 94
    Jennifer says:

    Hey, remember 2 weeks ago when the president was history’s greatest monster because he wouldn’t give a prime time speech about how much he loves gay marriage and the activist “base” went nuts?

    And remember a week after that, when his DOJ filed a brief in a case where a federal employee was suing for benefits for her wife, arguing that DOMA is unconstitutional, in spite of the fact that all the president ever promised to do w/r/t DOMA was stand down and not defend it, and the activist “base” went *crickets*?

    Gosh, seems like so long ago now…

  95. 95
    ppcli says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Everybody got that? Preserving Social Security and the Clinton-era tax rates are “the extreme left”.

    I get depressed when I see this seemingly inexorable trajectory from “consensus” to “extreme left” position, and I then think about what the village CW will call “extreme left” in ten years. Opposition to debtor’s prisons? Opposition to punishment by drawing and quartering? Opposition to imprisoning women who have abortions?

  96. 96
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    There are a few people here who need to take a tip from Winston Wolf.

    People tend to get so excited about Barack Obama’s words– what they think he is planning to do– that they don’t bother to wait and see what he does. I mean, this is the fellow who, since accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, has more than doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan, is about to break his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq, is fighting a war without Congresional approval, and is using drones in any country he frigging feels like bombing.

    As of this moment, (a) the debt limit has not been increased and (b) we don’t know what promises Obama is willing to break to get it. So all this talk about great tactical victories and 11th-dimensional chess and “I got this” is naively premature.

  97. 97
    Svensker says:

    Thanks Purple Girl and Corner Stone. Much appreciated!

  98. 98
    Corner Stone says:

    @Montysano:

    Bush passed the Military Commissions Act, which allows the President to lock up (indefinitely) your sweet gray-haired grandma if he doesn’t like the color of the dress she’s wearing.

    I’m really not sure where you’re going with this rebuttal, and I’m not sure you know either.

  99. 99
    Bruce S says:

    Hysterics over Jane Hamsher, et al, is a straw man. We NEED to push back against the “defict reduction” frame that has taken over the White House – even if one thinks they are in a box and have little or no alternative. If we assume “He’s got this,” he won’t have shit to play his hand with. It’s already clear the Tea Party has won the terms of this “debate” (it’s not really a debate any more – just a negotiation over “how much do we cut and do we even raise revenue a little bit?” which is a disastrous approach to policy.)

    The Oval Office is in many ways a trap. The Democratic base needs to stand for something – and “deficit reduction” is BS and totally insane as a core agenda in the current economic climate. “Calming down” in the face of this crisis isn’t helping anything or anybody. I refuse to feel smug because Jane Hamsher – or somebody on “the left” – says something that’s over-the-top. Frankly, what’s coming from their direction isn’t any crazier or farther off-the-mark than the crap coming from Tim Geithner or even the President that prioritizes deficits – and they actually matter, unlike FDL.

  100. 100
    Poopyman says:

    no, because obama is pre-caving and pre-selling you out and you’d have to be stupid not to see that11 obama should be ripping john boehner’s arm off and beating him about the head and chest with it! only then will we know he’s serious about not weakening Medicare and SS!!1

    Uh, this is a little too close to my dream scenario, so it’d probably help if you were even more hyperbolic. IOW, the current reality is yesterday’s hyperbolic scenario.

    Looks like I could pick this week to give up drugs and not even notice.

  101. 101
    Suffern ACE says:

    O.K. I think I have a compromise. To appeal to one side, we can say that “Obama has control of the political situation. The policy outcomes won’t be good, but they could be worse.” To appease the other side can we say: “Obama BARELY has control of the political situation. The policy outcomes won’t be good, but they could be worse.”

    Would “BARELY” be enough to settle the discussion while the negotiations go on this week?

  102. 102
    Matthew says:

    okay. i give up. it’s happened slowly, but this website has (perhaps unsurprisingly) devolved into a place where smug wannabe centrists go to bash the left. enjoy your country without us, because when we go away, the entire country will become alabama. go blue attacks the left for whining too much. abl attacks anyone who doesn’t fall in line behind obama. cole smugly condescends to anyone who has the audacity to point out that obama isn’t a progressive on most issues. you’re probably too cocooned to notice, but the tone here is nothing more than a modified version of the msm’s stance against the american left. you just hide behind a self-applied democrat label to make yourselves feel better about writing your smut.

  103. 103
    kay says:

    Kane

    Is that actually what Halperin wrote?

    He also made his usual equity case for why tax cuts for the wealthiest should be part of any package.

    That’s why we need him. For that excellent, accurate reporting.

  104. 104
    Yutsano says:

    enjoy your country without us, because when we go away, the entire country will become alabama

    Are you going somewhere?

  105. 105
    cat48 says:

    @cyntax:

    He did make the case for extending payroll taxcut thru 2012, unemployment benefits, & Infrastructure Bank now pending in the Senate. But whatever Atrios & everyone else wants to believe or hear. (He covered these things TODAY in the same presser.

  106. 106
    Josie says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I like the way you summed it up. Peak oil and climate change, among other things, will hurt us much more than this manufactured crisis going on now, and we blithely ignore all that. I think we should cultivate our family and neighborly ties and support local businesses. Both will become more important as time passes than anything that Washington does.

  107. 107
    Strandedvandal says:

    enjoy your country without us, because when we go away, the entire country will become alabama.

    Don’t tease us like that.

  108. 108
    Martin says:

    This press conference tells us that the austerity crap isn’t some bit of political posturing, it’s a belief.

    I think its important to differentiate a few things here:

    1) Most of Obama’s ‘austerity’ talk has centered around entitlements. He even campaigned on that, so it’s not new. And it’s not terribly controversial. Anyone who can do 7th grade math can see that there are problems with entitlement spending – not necessarily the problems the GOP will screech about, but there are both short and long-term problems in all programs. And he’s never suggested that these should be solved entirely by cutting benefits, or in some cases (like Medicare) by cutting benefits AT ALL. The entitlement budget situation is structurally different from the non-entitlement budget situation, and even though everyone likes to mash them up, I don’t see evidence that Obama is doing that except when the confusion over the issue benefits his position. He’s has reliably treated entitlements as independent of the general budget.
    2) It further seems apparent that you’re looking at the campaign mode Obama here. The GOP has convinced most of the country that the deficit is a problem. You can fault the Dems for not messaging well enough there, but it’s a difficult thing to message against since the deficit is an actual problem, just a smaller problem relative to jobs, etc. That’s a really difficult message to deliver. So Dems are on defense here. The GOP is doing a pretty shitty job of selling their solutions to the problem that they created, most of their own party hate one or another of their solutions, but the Dems seriously haven’t offered anything (and they do, if the public has accepted that there is a problem needing solving). And I think this is intentional because the GOP solutions are unpopular. Instead of offering more moderate solutions, the GOP has doubled down and are offering ever more unpopular solutions. Why should the Dems get in the way of that? I think Obama’s plan here has been to let the GOP wind themselves up, offer a centrist, but big solution that on the surface sounds like a good solution to what the GOP wants, and then rely on the Senate and House Dems (along with his threat of veto) to keep the solution well contained, while controlling much of the solution narrative, where the GOP has been controlling the problem narrative. This is what happened during the budget fight back in March – and everyone was sure that Obama was giving away the farm, but the end result was a pretty clear win for Dems. Dems didn’t really gain any ground – new programs, etc, but their proposals won out and the GOP walked away with basically nothing. The bigger the GOP winds up the problem with the public, the more pressure is on them to accept the solution that the public supports, and I’d bet anything that the public (including most Dems) will favor Obama’s solution over anything the GOP offers. And the Dems in Congress will keep the GOP from getting much of anything.

    If the GOP winds the deficit problem up large enough with the public (and right now, polling suggests that cutting the deficit and raising taxes are both polling well) then I suspect that Obama is making a bargain of giving up two quite small measures on entitlements (COLA and Medicare costs, while retaining benefits – basically more of what PPACA did), both of which most Dems in Congress will agree are likely inevitable, in return for permanent tax increases and some tolerable spending cuts. The GOP will declare victory over the entitlement and deficit reduction, and the Dems will have given up very little that they otherwise would have had to give up, and strategically gained quite a bit. This is looking like a repeat of the budget fight.

  109. 109

    ABL:

    obama should be ripping john boehner’s arm off and beating him about the head and chest with it!

    I want to see Obama drink Paul Ryan’s milkshake $350 bottle of wine and then piss it all over Cantor’s shoes.

    Jennifer @60, that’s a very plausible and well-thought-out scenario, but it assumes that the Republican backbenchers are capable of rational judgement. So I kinda think we’re fucked.

  110. 110
    Dennis SGMM says:

    It must have occured to others that perhaps what is going on here is an attempt to negotiate Republicans into closing tax loopholes in return for some pretty much insubstantive “cuts” to Medicare & Social Security. And it’s likely to work.

    Work for whom? A few “insubstantive” cuts this time, maybe a few more when the administration wants a UI extension, a few more for the next budget and perhaps a few more after that for the next debt ceiling increase. Reminds me of the old story about boiling a frog without him noticing.

  111. 111
    susan says:

    When Obama talks about the need to “eat our peas” I don’t think the caviar consumers have anything to worry about.

  112. 112
    Citizen_X says:

    enjoy your country without us, because when we go away, the entire country will become alabama.

    Well, I hope you find your shift key.

  113. 113
    Martin says:

    And STILL the left here never ceases to whinge and moan non-stop.

    Circumcision is torture!
    Selling goldfish is no different than a slave market!

  114. 114
    Trurl says:

    Bush passed the Military Commissions Act, which allows the President to lock up (indefinitely) your sweet gray-haired grandma if he doesn’t like the color of the dress she’s wearing.

    And guess what, dipshit? Obama formalized indefinite detention without trial as the “bipartisan consensus” for handling terror suspects – something no Republican could have done.

    As for ABL’s offer to eat crow when Obama sells out SS, I’m afraid her word is as meaningless as her idol’s. When the time comes, she’ll blame the Republicans for “forcing” her hero to do it – with an extra helping of hate for the “racist firebaggers” who didn’t clap loud enough.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    Someone please expand on these phrases uttered by Obama:
    “Trimming benefits” and “increasing revenues.”

    Sure — “trimming benefits” = reducing payments to Medicare providers (note, not patients, providers) and “increasing revenues” = closing loopholes and increasing taxes on the rich. Possibly even taking the recommendation of the deficit commission and raising the FICA cap.

    Though it does amuse me how many people on the left are now totally rejecting the idea of increasing the FICA cap from $100K to $250K just because the deficit reduction commission recommended it. Yeah, we’re so much more reasonable and reality-based than those tribalistic right wingers.
    /eyeroll

  116. 116
    cyntax says:

    @cat48:

    Well, as Krugman and others have pointed out, extending the payroll tax holiday won’t hurt, but its stimulative effects are negligible. Actual stimulus would be something much more robust. And let’s not characterize criticism of focusing on the deficit as simply something firebaggers do. The bond market doesn’t think it’s a good idea either:

    In a prospectus for clients, Bill Gross, a co-founder of investment management giant PIMCO, says members’ of Congress incessant focus on deficit — and in particular, the manner in which they obsess about deficits — is foolhardy, and a recipe for disaster. What the country needs, Gross said, is real stimulus now, and a measured return toward fiscal balance in the years ahead.

  117. 117
    Martin says:

    Though it does amuse me how many people on the left are now totally rejecting the idea of increasing the FICA cap from $100K to $250K just because the deficit reduction commission recommended it.

    Ah, but raising the cap would make it more like an entitlement program and less like a defined benefits program, which would make it easier for the GOP to demonize it in the future. Don’t you understand?! If we make any change to SS, the GOP might attack it in the future! We have to prevent that from happening!

  118. 118
    dogwood says:

    hey ABL, did you read Frank Rich’s latest piece in New York magazine criticizing Obama for letting Wall Street off the hook? so is like, Frank Rich racist for criticizing a black man? is Matt Taibbi racist?

    This line of thinking has always perplexed me. For 12 years the Republican majorities in Congress, with plenty of Democrats helping, passed legislation that made highway robbery legal on Wall Street. Now people like Rich and many here want the Obama DOJ to prosecute them. I doubt they could get many if any convictions; the outrage in all of this is that most of these bankers didn’t break any laws.

  119. 119
    FlipYrWhig says:

    He did make the case for extending payroll taxcut thru 2012, unemployment benefits, & Infrastructure Bank now pending in the Senate. But whatever Atrios & everyone else wants to believe or hear. (He covered these things TODAY in the same presser.

    Atrios — and he’s not the only one in the liberal blogosphere but he’s the quintessential case of it — is like that boss we’ve all had who only reads the first line of every email.

  120. 120
    artem1s says:

    I don’t have any problem with the WH talking about deficit reduction if it means having a serious conversation about cutting the military.

  121. 121
    kay says:

    Mnemosyne

    “trimming benefits”

    I disagree with you there. That’s a word with a specific meaning and Obama speaks carefully. If he didn’t mean “benefits” he wouldn’t have said it. Pelosi and the Democrats have been very careful to exclude cuts to “benefits”.

    The Biden deal, on the other hand, does not cut “benefits”, at all, it’s all providers, and since Boehner can’t raise taxes, I think we end up with some variation of Biden.

  122. 122
    lacp says:

    It may not wind up mattering very much what the President does. If the semi-insane Republicans are too chicken to make a deal with the Democrats (and we already know the fully-insane ones won’t), the government will default without Obama having been able to affect the outcome at all. Doesn’t matter what you think of him.

  123. 123
    Jennifer says:

    We all know that deficit reduction shouldn’t be on the front burner right now and that jobs creation should be top priority.

    That having been said, if anyone here can tell me how the president can force the loonytunes in the house to pass a jobs bill, I’m all ears.

    The sad fact is that he can’t. Like it or not, his agenda is being held hostage by reactionary infants. His choices are to continue talking about the need for jobs while the nutjobs talk about debt, or to work on the problems the nutjobs are at least willing to work on.

    I’m going to risk the wrath of the “true” leftists here by noting that our debt IS a problem that we do need to address. It’s not the biggest problem we face at this moment, but the president isn’t going to be allowed to deal with the biggest problem we face at this moment. So his choice is one of solving nothing vs. making progress on at least something. And if the deal that’s been floated out there looks anything like what ultimately gets done, it’s going to accomplish some debt/deficit reduction at the expense of raising taxes on hedge fund managers and corporations, perhaps lowering payments to medical providers and perhaps adjusting Social Security COLAs to the rate of actual inflation rather than inflation + 1 or 2%, none of which will cause the sky to fall and some of which will actually make things fairer and help slow down the galloping increase in debt.

    It would be nice to see some grasp of the reality, that no matter how much the president uses the “bully pulpit” to talk about the need for jobs, if he can’t get the reactionaries in the house to go along, nothing is going to get done on it. Add to that that the media doesn’t give a shit if every ordinary person in this country is out of work because they see their job as supporting the GOP line. As to how things came to such a pass, we can thank the Dems in congress for punting on the tax cut extensions – had they forced a vote, they would have had an issue to run on in 2010 – and to some extent the president for not pushing harder for a vote…but we can also thank the “true” leftists for help in spreading the “Obama is no better than Bush” meme, which certainly didn’t help in turning out the base.

    Shit is what it is, folks. The president isn’t a dictator and he can’t do a lot of the stuff you demand. FWIW, he has continued to talk about the need for job creation, but you know, that’s really ALL he can do with the Congress he has to work with right now. If he doesn’t talk about it as much as you’d like, perhaps it’s because he knows it’s a waste of breath when he could actually be accomplishing some things in other areas.

    I’m sure this makes me a full-on “Obot” but, whatever.

  124. 124
    Yutsano says:

    the outrage in all of this is that most of these bankers didn’t break any laws

    And no one is paying attention: according to my Reuters business feed every morning there’s a story about either a case being pursued or a settlement being negotiated by any one of the bankstahs. Yes they’re buying themselves out of it but they are feeling heat.

  125. 125
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Actual stimulus would be something much more robust.

    Try to get something “robust” through the Republican-controlled House. Nah guh happ’n.

    Or you could take the idea of “cuts” endlessly talked up by the Republican-controlled House and leverage it into an attempt to address “bending the cost curve” in vital social programs.

    But, no, probably the point is to sabotage the entirety of liberal governance for shits and giggles and rub it in the face of the liberal blogosphere because they’re so hardcore and energetic that they must be stopped by any means necessary.

  126. 126
    FlipYrWhig says:

    IMHO “trimming benefits” probably means some kind of indexing, slowing the rate of growth, etc. I’m with Kay on that interpretation.

  127. 127
    LarsThorwald says:

    I want to marry you and have your babies.

    As for the comment above about my use of the word “entranchantly” in my first post, I meant “deeply entrenched,” but that sang better.

  128. 128
    cyntax says:

    @Martin:

    The GOP has convinced most of the country that the deficit is a problem. You can fault the Dems for not messaging well enough there, but it’s a difficult thing to message against since the deficit is an actual problem, just a smaller problem relative to jobs, etc. That’s a really difficult message to deliver. So Dems are on defense here.

    Well, we might be getting into a chicken and egg argument here, but I’m having trouble recalling the Dems and or the president doing much in trying to combat that message.

    You’re right it is tricky and non-intuitive, but both parties seemed to have embraced the (false) idea that austerity now is what’s important. So maybe now that we’ve already given up that much ground, and now that it’s polling well, something along the lines of what the president described is the best that we can do. Still, reducing government spending will have an anti-stimulative effect which I’m having trouble seeing how that will be of any help to Obama in 2012.

    Like I said earlier, he may be able to punk them again–that would be great.

  129. 129
    Pat says:

    Words vs. deeds. Loyalists cling to the former, realists wait for the latter.

  130. 130
    Lydgate says:

    Oh geez.

  131. 131
    Martin says:

    but both parties seemed to have embraced the (false) idea that austerity now is what’s important

    You see the Dems embracing the idea that austerity is what’s important? I don’t see any evidence of that. I see that they may be willing to tolerate it, and may be willing to accept some as part of compromise, but the message out of Congress and the WH has been quite reliably ‘we want tax increases’.

    I think too many people are jumping past what the Dems are actually asking for, and taking the pessimistic view of what they’ll be forced to accept and ascribing a possible (and unlikely) end state as what the Dems actually want. Honestly, this is the same reasoning as Norquist employs when he says that any compromise is a defeat.

  132. 132
    cyntax says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    You’re right–probably impossible at this point. It is too bad that first stimulus wasn’t structured differently but then we can say the same thing about that as well–the Republicans fault. However, it should be noted that Obama has said he didn’t think the recession was as bad as it was, so we’re back to Atrios’ point that he may actually be asking for what he actually wants/believes will work. Occam’s Razor and all.

  133. 133
    IrishGirl says:

    @Jennifer Dear FSM, I hope you’re right!

  134. 134
    NR says:

    but hey. if i’m wrong and obama slashes social security or medicare, i will happily eat humble pie with a side of crow drizzled in STFU.

    And what if, instead of “slashing” Social Security and/or Medicare, he just “cuts” it? What will you do then?

    Also, it would probably be helpful to define exactly what constitutes a “cut” versus a “slash.” You know, since the White House has explicitly said they are open to the former.

  135. 135
    Pat says:

    *Like it or not, his agenda is being held hostage by reactionary infants.*

    “My husband only beats me coz’ I’m such a bitch…he really doesn’t mean it”

  136. 136
    Bruce S says:

    “Anyone who can do 7th grade math can see that there are problems with entitlement spending”

    Boy – that’s exactly the kind of buy-in to GOP bullshit we don’t need. The only “entitlements spending” problem is the rising costs of health care – and that won’t be fixed by cutting “entitlements” but by furthering reform of the health care insurance and delivery systems. I repeat – rising health care costs as a % of GDP is the ONLY fiscal problem the country faces that requires anything more than slightly more rational tax structures (eliminating the Bush tax cuts covers all deficits for the next decade UNLESS Congress decided to actively increase them via legislative initiative, NOT because of anything currently built into the existing “entitlements” budgets.)

    Health care costs pose a problem for the country in both public and private insurance markets – and the private insurers have a worse record, so insane shit like the Ryan plan actually makes aggregate costs higher.

    There is so much bullshit in circulation, it drives me crazy to see anyone this side of the TeaBaggers blaming “entitlements” for our deficit problems or talking like the relatively cost-effective Medicare system itself is unsustainable and at issue – rather than the overall inflation and inefficiencies of our health care costs, which are a problem unique to our f-ed up system, compared to all other wealthy countries.

    This isn’t a “7th grade math” question. It’s a public policy question that can only be addressed by discrete reforms in health care. This issue has absolutely nothing to do with the reasons for our current deficits (loss of revenues due to profligate tax cuts and deep recession, unfunded GOP initiatives, and the need for stimulative spending and state supports in response to economic crisis. That’s it. “Entitlements” didn’t get us here and it’s wrong to target any social programs in this context.)

    We need to stop talking like Republicans…

  137. 137
    cyntax says:

    @Martin:

    Honestly, this is the same reasoning as Norquist employs when he says that any compromise is a defeat.

    I think you’re over-ascribing my answer by quite a long shot if you’re saying my point of view amounts to compromise = betrayal.

  138. 138
    kay says:

    IMHO “trimming benefits” probably means some kind of indexing, slowing the rate of growth, etc. I’m with Kay on that interpretation.

    I’ll wait for the transcript, but he’s ordinarily a precise speaker, as far as individual words or terms. Pelosi came back with “no harm”, so that’s HELPFUL, right? I have no idea what she means :)

    I’ve always thought the best protection re: cutting provider rates for Medicare or Medicaid was not liberals or Obama or even politicians, but was instead provider lobbying groups, of which there are many, and Republicans are completely full of shit on that-they listen to them, because they all donate to Republicans.

    It’s why Paul Ryan’s plan shifted the whole cost to beneficiaries. He made sure to hold providers harmless.

  139. 139
    FlipYrWhig says:

    both parties seemed to have embraced the (false) idea that austerity now is what’s important.

    I don’t think that’s true. I think Obama is trying to push “bending the cost curve” in order to address _long-term_ budgetary problems. I don’t think he has any interest in short-term “austerity.” To the contrary, he keeps talking about stimulative ideas (like a payroll tax holiday, like infrastructure), only without using words like “stimulus.”

    He’s trying to redirect rather than call out and fight back — probably because he’s still holding out hope that the short-term / long-term tradeoff could fly with both kinds of Democrats (liberals and moderates) and just enough cut-happy Republicans. But there’s a bit of sleight-of-hand involved. And the liberal blogosphere is getting all het up about why his hands are waving around. CTFD.

  140. 140
    MattR says:

    You will have to forgive me for recognizing that President Obama has a history of saying one thing and then doing another (like all politicians). I might be more reassured about entitlements if I didn’t remember telecom immunity.

  141. 141
    Bruce S says:

    “our debt IS a problem that we do need to address”

    “Our debt” was deliberately created by the Norquist Right precisely in order to get us into this kind of a “debate” that targets government spending.

    As I noted above, there is no “deficit crisis” long term. There is only a “tax cut crisis” that’s intended to continue to make the apparent problem worse, and there’s a long-term health care costs crisis that can only be addressed by MORE reform along the lines of the various Western European approaches. Beyond that, to talk about “our debt” as the problem, rather than sociopathic GOP politics that are winning at the level of “political paradigm” just makes the TeaBaggers seem less crazy and the GOP less sociopathic and destructive.

    Let’s talk about real issues, not what they’re trying to shove down our throats.

  142. 142
    Kane says:

    @Kay That’s why we need him. For that excellent, accurate reporting.

    Yes, that’s Halperin’s take, word for word at The Page. And another example of his accurate reporting, the post about today’s press conference is logged under the date Sunday, July 10, 2011.

  143. 143
    bcw says:

    You do realize we’re talking social program cuts now for tax increases later? Right, the checks in the mail too, along with we believe in the rule of law, and we need to protect leakers and it is wrong to use national security to block habeus corpus and I support the public option and we will have the most open government in history and we do not have a goal of regime change will be out of Libya in a few weeks.

    @FlipYrWhig: “indexing, slowing the rate of growth” sounds so benign until it means you can’t pay your medical bills. A cut is still a cut, and if you’re poor it doesn’t matter by what formula you get screwed.

  144. 144
    cyntax says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But there’s a bit of sleight-of-hand involved. And the liberal blogosphere is getting all het up about why his hands are waving around. CTFD.

    I hadn’t realized I was freaking out, but through your clever use of abbreviations, you’ve convinced me.

    ::golf clap::

  145. 145
    dogwood says:

    Martin@117

    Nice. We’ve reached a point in this nation where raising taxes on anyone is virtually impossible. I live in a small working class/middle class community of about 60,000. There are a few very wealthy people, but very few. Our schools are crumbling, roads are a mess. Yet, you can’t pass a bond levy to build a new high school to replace a 100 year old structure that is impossible to update any further. We’ve tried 3 times; the richest among us were on board big time. But reading letters to the editor during the campaigns you heard the same meme over and over – the middle class can’t afford higher taxes. The average property owner would have seen their taxes go up $200 per year. This crap occurs in part because in my state you need a super majority to pass a bond levy. In our three elections we got 48, 57, and 51 percent. It’s tyranny of the minority. They only need 40% to win; and they love winning more than anything else.

  146. 146
    Martin says:

    I think you’re over-ascribing my answer by quite a long shot if you’re saying my point of view amounts to compromise = betrayal.

    Sorry, I wasn’t ascribing that to you – rather to what you described as ‘both parties seem to have embraced’. They haven’t, but to listen to the vocal folks on the left, you’d think they had. That’s why it ‘seems’ they’ve done what you describe.

  147. 147
    kay says:

    Yes, that’s Halperin’s take, word for word at The Page.

    I’m so glad you read him and posted an excerpt because I am to the point where I think he’s hysterical, so I enjoy that.

    He’s like a cartoon of a horrible, soul-dead pundit. He’s a pundit parody. That’s he’s INACCURATE just makes it funnier.

    I watched him once, leaving a really expensive restaurant in Denver, in 2008. He’s deeply uncomfortable in his own skin. He’s a goddamned wreck of a person.

  148. 148
    Tuttle says:

    And STILL the left here never ceases to whinge and moan non-stop.

    Stupid sexy left should shut up and stop reminding us that they’re right about everything. I mean, we gave them all this cool stuff that did wonders for the economy and the citizenry and they want more!?!? The very gall of them!

    Not like centrism’s greatest hits. You know. Vietnam. Blacks are 3/5ths of a person. Don’t ask don’t tell. Those were the days!

  149. 149
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    They only need 40% to win; and they love winning more than anything else.

    That sounds vaguely familiar….

  150. 150
    cyntax says:

    @Martin:

    Fair enough. Part of the problem is that the Dems haven’t been communicating effectively about what’s at stake and what’s being proposed by whom. Here’s hoping that Obama’s presser will help clear up just how extreme and obstructionist the Republican position is.

  151. 151
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ cyntax: Sorry, I didn’t actually mean you — I started out replying to you but meant my answer to apply to the same easily freaked-out people ABL addressed in the original post.

  152. 152
    Brian R. says:

    Atrios—and he’s not the only one in the liberal blogosphere but he’s the quintessential case of it—is like that boss we’ve all had who only reads the first line of every email.

    Christ, that absolutely nails it.

  153. 153
    different church-lady says:

    @ Brian R: I do remember a time when Atrios was actually a writer instead of a set of rotating shticks.

  154. 154
    signifyingmnky says:

    Thanks for the vid ABL.

    I had a feeling since this cluster began last week that once the president had an opportunity to address the SS/Medicare cuts claims himself, his position would be unchanged.

    President Obama’s goal is a simple one: To work for the American people and deliver concrete changes to the status quo. Every single action he’s taken as President is predicated on this, no matter what obstacles he’s encountered.

    From his 2004 DNC Speech to Audacity of Hope, to his 2008 campaign to his rhetoric now, Barack Obama has enunciated this as the vision that leads his judgment. It’s not hidden away in some old position survey or his college records, he’s laid his ideals right out in plain sight.

    So pundits and critics claiming he’s some kind of dark horse or ideological enigma have either not paid attention to his words and actions over the years, are being disingenuous about it, or are opposing him for other reasons.

    I think much of the consternation surrounding President Obama and his actions comes from the fact that he IS driving change.

    The right wing hates change and that’s why they oppose him.

    The media/beltway pundits make their money off the “horse race/both sides are guilty” drivel so they’ll feed off any outrage they can get or can create.

    The far left are driven mad by the idea that progress can be made without following their absolute policy positions.

    Third parties in general are pissed because they’ve argued for years that no change can be delivered from either party.

    These factions all fear becoming irrelevant should Washington change and actually start to get things done. That why they stay “outraged” with this administration. It’s why “Progressives” who just so happen to be former Republicans or libertarians get represented in the media as “the base”. It’s why there’s a freakout every single time a negotiation occurs.

    It’s the fear of anything getting done, the fear of anything changing.

    And that’s why I’ve tuned most of these people out. Anyone who’s either selling the meme that President Obama wants to destroy SS or Medicare or buying into it haven’t paid any attention to the man.

  155. 155
    cyntax says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    No problemo. Sometimes I get my hackles up too easily on the intertubz.

    On this topic I’m ideologically not completely in the president’s camp (I think Atrios and Krugman have some fair points), but I’m conscious of how hard it is to get meaningful stuff down with the Congress we have. Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see what the details are.

  156. 156
    FlipYrWhig says:

    “indexing, slowing the rate of growth” sounds so benign until it means you can’t pay your medical bills. A cut is still a cut, and if you’re poor it doesn’t matter by what formula you get screwed.

    I don’t think it’s “benign,” but if, for instance, it were possible to find savings within the program that outpaced or reversed rising medical costs, “cuts” to beneficiaries wouldn’t actually hurt. Cuts to beneficiaries are painful as costs continue to increase. Rein in those costs and you could also, in theory, rein in benefits. The point shouldn’t be the sheer size of the reimbursement check, but the effectiveness of the procedure being reimbursed. In a scenario like that, it’s not too hard to imagine “cuts” that only deprive rent-seekers of their trumped-up profits.

    HCR kicked around a lot of ideas like this, e.g. the independent Medicare expenditure review board (whatever its actual title is), “comparative effectiveness research” and such. Those would be ways to cut medical costs and medical expenses without harming beneficiaries’ health and well-being. IMHO that would be a nominal “cut” that would be unambiguously good all around. (It might, however, be susceptible to demagoguery, as were the “Medicare cuts” in HCR.)

    I think Obama’s technocrat/wonk streak leads him to gravitate to stuff like this. It’s not the swashbuckling crusader, it’s the Al Gore efficiency expert.

  157. 157
    Mnemosyne says:

    For 12 years the Republican majorities in Congress, with plenty of Democrats helping, passed legislation that made highway robbery legal on Wall Street. Now people like Rich and many here want the Obama DOJ to prosecute them. I doubt they could get many if any convictions; the outrage in all of this is that most of these bankers didn’t break any laws.

    Just wanted to emphasize this — the banksters were very careful to make sure that what they wanted to do was technically legal before they started. There will probably be some prosecutions around the edges where they got greedy and overstepped even the laws they wrote themselves, but 90 percent of what they were doing was legal.

  158. 158
    Martin says:

    Boy – that’s exactly the kind of buy-in to GOP bullshit we don’t need. The only “entitlements spending” problem is the rising costs of health care – and that won’t be fixed by cutting “entitlements” but by furthering reform of the health care insurance and delivery systems. I repeat – rising health care costs as a % of GDP is the ONLY fiscal problem the country faces that requires anything more than slightly more rational tax structures (eliminating the Bush tax cuts covers all deficits for the next decade UNLESS Congress decided to actively increase them via legislative initiative, NOT because of anything currently built into the existing “entitlements” budgets.)

    Well, the Social Security and Medicare board of trustees disagrees with you:

    While the combined OASDI program continues to fail the long-range test of close actuarial balance, it does satisfy the conditions for short-range financial adequacy. Combined trust fund assets are projected to exceed one year’s projected benefit payments for more than ten years, through to 2035. However, the Disability Insurance (DI) program satisfies neither the long-range nor short-range tests for financial adequacy. DI costs have exceeded non-interest income since 2005 and trust fund exhaustion is projected for 2018; thus changes to improve the financial status of the DI program are needed soon.

    The worsening of HI’s projected finances is primarily due to lower HI real (inflation-adjusted) non-interest income caused by a slower assumed economic recovery, and by higher HI real costs caused by higher assumed near-term growth in real economy-wide average labor compensation. The resulting increases in HI real deficits are concentrated in the near term, which is why trust fund exhaustion occurs five years earlier than was projected last year despite a relatively modest increase in the 75-year actuarial deficit.

    The changes needed to OASI (Social Security) are quite minor, but DI is a big drag on the overall program. The DI trust will be empty by 2018 – 7 years, and then disability insurance is going to start ‘stealing’ dollars from retirement.

    On Medicare, the problem is more complex. Parts B, C, and D are all fine, from the government’s point of view (from the citizen’s point of view, that’s a different matter). Parts B, C, and D all have provisions to raise premiums to meet costs in the following year, so those programs never run out of money. They might get impossibly expensive, but that’s a different problem to solve and has nothing to do with the deficit. Part A is where all the trouble is because that’s the actual entitlement program. Part A has loads and loads of room for fixes that won’t impact recipients, and some room for fixes that will, but probably should anyway (unnecessary care, etc.) So there is quite a bit of legitimate room to cut both Medicare costs (to providers) and services (to recipients) that everyone should agree with without having to get into cutting services that are *real* service cuts or that kind of thing.

    Bush tax cuts do nothing to solve SS or Medicare. Different source of funding.

    My personal preference would be a COLA change for SS benefits, which would probably solve the OASI problem and put it in compliance with it’s 75 year requirement. SS has been paying out faster than inflation (even while factoring in out-of-pocket health care expenses faced by those 65+) and slowing that down won’t leave future retirees in worse shape than past retirees. Because SS contributions are automatically indexed to inflation, the only way to keep the program solvent if it pays out faster than inflation is to find a way to get rid of 65+ year olds faster (before they can claim what they’ve earned) or to increase the payroll contribution % slightly each year for all workers. I prefer the COLA solution because it preserves what the program was intended to do.

    For DI, increasing the payroll cap and funneling that entire increase to DI, and anything more you can get into HI. And then doing more of what PPACA sought to do to get HI costs down.

    I think it’s ironic that people here understand that Medicare can be saved by just getting Medicare costs paid to match inflation, but they can’t understand that SS has the same problem and can be solved with the same solution.

  159. 159
    Georgia Pig says:

    I don’t get the mindset that thinks there’s something magic about “not using the rhetoric” that is commonplace in DC and the media. Like it or not,that’s the rhetoric of the day. You can’t make it go away by wishing it away or refusing to speak it. You might as well say you’re only going to speak in Esperanto. Seems to me that Obama is trying to do here is to use the rhetoric surrounding the debt ceiling showdown to show certain elites the true cost of relying on or believing too much in their own rhetorical framing.

  160. 160
    Pliny says:

    What is it going to take for you guys to realize that when Barack Obama says things that paint him as a center-right corporatist and then follows through with appropriate center-right corporatist actions, it’s not because the mean Republicans made him say and do those things, but because he is actually a center-right corporatist who believes in the things he does? I mean when it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck why do you keep insisting that it is a secret progressive forced into pretending to be a duck?

  161. 161
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Damn, sorry about the shitstorm, spent the day at the beach. Going back shortly so it could get very interesting here.

  162. 162
    kay says:

    HCR kicked around a lot of ideas like this, e.g. the independent Medicare expenditure review board

    It’s just going to happen, one way or the other, because there isn’t any other way to “bend the cost curve”.
    Medicare + Medicaid have huge clout, because they’re so big. Really, is it realistic to say providers can choose NOT to participate those two programs because they don’t reimburse enough? They’re just going to opt out of treating the heaviest (insured!) health care users (the elderly) because they didn’t get the rate they wanted?
    I don’t think they can do that, as a practical matter. What does that leave them with, as an “insured patient” base, if they refuse to treat Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries? People who are (fully) insured through their employer? There are fewer and fewer of those people every year.
    So, to wrap up, I’m okay with looking at Medicare, less okay with looking at Medicaid, but I think Obama including SS right now in any discussion is just stupid. It’s just going to scare people, and they’re scared enough.

  163. 163
    TK-421 says:

    I have not fully read through the comments, so I apologize if this has already been dealt with:

    but if he gets the grand bargain he wants, those programs will be ensconced so deeply and entrenchantly that they may be immune from this kind of insanity going forward for decades.

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! I can’t believe someone who ostensibly follows politics actually believes this. There is no “taking SS/Medicare off the table” for Republicans or Villagers. You “fix” it today, tomorrow the CBO comes out with a new report with a new OMG DISASTER year, and this whole nonsense starts up again. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will never be “immune” from Republican/Villager criticisms and attacks. Never.

  164. 164
    Nemesis says:

    The pres wants us to CTFO…so now I can sleep at nights with the assurance the social safety net is off limits to them ebil goopers.

    BTW: the goopers are ebil and the Dems are down with the plan to take social programs to the woodshed. But Congress will always prefer “we werent even consulted on this..” to “we support this shit bill” because Congress is made up of serial liars who are damn good actors.

    Congress gets a bad bill with hours left to pass before the default occurs. Congress does what it always does-whines and signs.

  165. 165
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I don’t get the mindset that thinks there’s something magic about “not using the rhetoric” that is commonplace in DC and the media.

    It’s because for most of us the only way we can participate in politics is by talking, writing, and arguing. So we enjoy backseat-driving how politicians talk, write, and argue, because that’s the part we fancy ourselves to be pretty good at.

  166. 166
    Nemesis says:

    Uhmmm…

    Fair enough. Part of the problem is that the Dems haven’t been communicating effectively about what’s at stake and what’s being proposed by whom.

    The failure of Dems to coherently communicate opposition to gop talking points is a feature of this process, not a bug.

  167. 167
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I think Obama including SS right now in any discussion is just stupid. It’s just going to scare people, and they’re scared enough.

    I think the intention is probably that, if what’s needed is something minor, let’s just go ahead and do that along with everything else. But, you’re right, I don’t love it from a tactical standpoint. I think a lot of what Obama does is attempting to get the ball rolling for the large structural issues we need to deal with in the next, what, 50 years or so — and I’d include the efforts to deal with climate change in that too — and he’s willing to take the heat politically because it’s too important to keep waiting. That could well be electorally naive… and it’s certainly more technocrat than populist-progressive.

  168. 168
    dogwood says:

    I don’t get the mindset that thinks there’s something magic about “not using the rhetoric” that is commonplace in DC and the media. Like it or not,that’s the rhetoric of the day.

    Exactly. You choose your rhetoric to match the audience and purpose. The rhetoric the president uses isn’t just commonplace in DC and the media, it’s commonplace among the electorate as well. The president’s audience is very broad, thus his diction reflects that restraint. When someone at FDL refers to the president as an “Uncle Tom” they are targeting a very narrow audience, thus their language can be more provocative. Heck, Ralph Nader went on Fox News the day after the election and used the term “Uncle Tom.” He didn’t care what anyone thought of the slur because his real audience was very small. He was speaking to the same people FDL addresses.

  169. 169
    kay says:

    That could well be electorally naive… and it’s certainly more technocrat than populist-progressive.

    I’d rather have Obama and Pelosi “tweak” SS than have the GOP be able to announce a Social Security crisis, but I still think his timing sucks, and it does make me wonder if he’s out of touch.

    It doesn’t matter if people in DC are “ready” to have some “roundtable debate” on something or other. No one out here is “up for this”, so he shouldn’t have brought SS in. I don’t think old people who are wholly dependent on that program need this stress right now. Enough, already. They watched the entire economy collapse, and they’re always very focused on financial security. Just give them a breather, for God’s sake. I think I see what he’s doing, but he should consider how this collapse actually felt to people. They were scared.

  170. 170
    Nemesis says:

    People on this thread actually accepting of a needless default crisis-saying its overdue and will be unpleasant?

    Im down with the DC kabuki theatre but rolling over for unnecessary financial destruction is not something it take quite a cavalierly as some here.

  171. 171
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    President Obama’s fierce words indicate that he will never cut the Integrity of Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, which is what balloonbaggers value above all else, including Benefits. Problem solved.
    .
    .

  172. 172
    Georgia Pig says:

    @kay:

    It doesn’t matter if people in DC are “ready” to have some “roundtable debate” on something or other. No one out here is “up for this”, so he shouldn’t have brought SS in. I don’t think old people who are wholly dependent on that program need this stress right now. Enough, already. They watched the entire economy collapse, and they’re always very focused on financial security. Just give them a breather, for God’s sake. I think I see what he’s doing, but he should consider how this collapse actually felt to people. They were scared.

    Yeah, but evidently there are plenty of old folks on SS and Medicare that are not scared enough to not vote for Republicans who really want to gut those programs. Sometimes you need to let people know the potential consequences of their actions. If you want to “cut runaway government spendin’,” that means Defense, Medicare, Social Security and Tax Cuts. The rest is chump change. Obama is throwing SS in there to drive home the point you can’t have your cake and tax cuts, too.

  173. 173
    Bruce S says:

    Martin – A reality check for you. The tweaks needed to fix SS long-term are very minor. The question, however, is why the F you’re talking about that in this context? Second, regarding Medicare, the problem IS NOT MEDICARE but overall inflationary health care costs that are a feature of our screwed up system. Medicare is more efficient than most of the rest of it – except for the socialized VA hospitals. So the discussion needs to be about more health care reform that is all-encompassing. Isolating Medicare is buying into the same bullshit that made the “serious people” not recogonize Paul Ryan as a dangerous lunatic who was making the cost of health care for seniors more expensive, rather than solving any problems.

    It is totally dysfunctional to bow and scrape before this bullshit “context” that has slipped the deficit debate from the fact that Bush tax cuts (which of course I know aren’t related to Medicare or SS, which is precisely MY POINT) along with the earlier Reagan/Bush tax cut profligacy CREATED THE INCREASE IN DEFICITS AS % of GDP. And this was INTENTIONAL.

    There are minor long-term social security issues that can mostly be solved by taxing all salaries the same, not just those below 106K, for SS. And the Medicare problems are part of a much bigger issue that needs to be addressed for what it is – a messed up health care system that can be reformed. Again, Medicare is one of the few relatively efficient pieces, behind VA.

    If you keep talking about these issues the way Grover Norquist would like you to talk about them, we’re all screwed. And, no, Obama doesn’t have our back on that one. He’s echoing bullshit about deficits being central to our economic problems. They’re not. If the broad electorate is confused and misled, it’s at least partly the fault of anyone who thinks Alan Simpson might be part of the solution or that this rancid old fart doesn’t hate Social Security. He’s not as insane as Michele Bachmann, but in tandem with the corporate Democrat Erskine Bowles, he does little or nothing but keep the waters muddied. As does Gene Sperling, et. al. They’re full of shit on this stuff.

  174. 174
    Bruce S says:

    Martin – I recognize that you agree with some of these more rational solutions, but my biggest issue is why allow these issues to even be on the table in the context of a debate over deficits that were generated by profligate GOP policies regarding general fund revenue. Talking about Medicare or SS in the context of a TeaPartyized “debate” is beginning to wave a white flag, rather than pushing back and putting the central problem behind the so-called “deficit crisis” on the table. It’s a damned tax cut crisis.

  175. 175
    lawguy says:

    Ok, Georgia Pig how often does it have to be said that SS, Medicare or Medicaid are not part of the problem. Out of control medical costs are.

    Second, the deficit is not a problem. No jobs are a problem, no attempt to do anything about creating more jobs is a problem. If you think that cuting government spending will creat more jobs you are just silly.

    If there were more jobs more people would pay taxes and that would impact the deficit if you are really worried about that.

  176. 176
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Bruce S:

    There are minor long-term social security issues that can mostly be solved by taxing all salaries the same, not just those below 106K, for SS. And the Medicare problems are part of a much bigger issue that needs to be addressed for what it is – a messed up health care system that can be reformed.

    Why don’t you think that this is precisely what Obama has been talking about? That is, if you want to talk about “cutting spending,” let’s stop dicking around with earmarks for bear DNA but instead get serious about the long-term issues both minor and major. I haven’t heard Obama “echoing bullshit about deficits being central to our economic problems.”

    I hear him saying very much what you’re also saying: let’s have a comprehensive discussion of the revenue picture, including tax revenues diminished by cuts for the wealthy and a tax code strewn with loopholes, and do it in such a way that we reduce the long-term debt while not devastating social safety-net programs or R&D for next-generation technologies (among other things).

  177. 177
    Mnemosyne says:

    Since when did we on the left decide that we agree with Dick Cheney that deficits don’t matter? I must not have gotten the memo.

    I can see the sense of saying that it’s more urgent to stimulate the economy right now and we can worry about the deficit later, but I’m not getting this growing meme that deficits are no big deal and can be ignored.

  178. 178
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ lawguy: What if “cuts” to “government spending” were a way to combat “out of control medical costs”? Or what if combating out of control medical costs afforded the opportunity to reduce government spending? Would you still be worried about the implications then?

  179. 179
    Admiral_Komack says:

    “That having been said, if anyone here can tell me how the president can force the loonytunes in the house to pass a jobs bill, I’m all ears.”

    -I seriously doubt the Republicans are working toward a jobs bill; they don’t want to fix anything, they’d rather fuck stuff up.

  180. 180
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Mnem: I think it’s gotten even weirder than that. It’s like we can worry about the deficit later, but we shouldn’t start talking about later until even later.

  181. 181
    kay says:

    Georgia Pig

    Obama is throwing SS in there to drive home the point you can’t have your cake and tax cuts, too.

    Is he? That seems a little…stern and fatherly of him :)

    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too soft on the oldsters, or whatever, but I’m not sure punishing them for their insane flirtation with the Tea Party in 2010 is what he’s about here. I hope not, anyway.

    I think he’s looking to long-term solvency, which is fine, in ordinary times, but these aren’t ordinary times. Again: I’d accept some savings on Medicare, I haven’t figured out the “blended” Medicaid formula that is being bandied about, so I don’t know about that yet, but, I, myself, would have left SS alone. I disagree with him there.

  182. 182
    Suffern ACE says:

    It’s a damned tax cut crisis.

    True. I expect the middle classes, whose cuts left a big hole in the revenue picture, will be clamoring soon to increase their taxes any day now, once the recession is over.

  183. 183
    Valdivia says:

    I’ll get to the point of the thread soon but first and totally OT–dept of how our media fails: WaPo has an article now about how Michelle Obama is a hypocrite for having a 1500 at the Shake shack, cause she wants everyone else to go on a diet. Wanna bet this is going to play and play and play? Shoot me now.

  184. 184
    Jay B. says:

    People on this thread actually accepting of a needless default crisis-saying its overdue and will be unpleasant?

    Yes. No one here wants a ginned up crisis to go to waste without doing something stupid.

    Since when did we on the left decide that we agree with Dick Cheney that deficits don’t matter? I must not have gotten the memo.

    Right. Fiscal austerity has always been what economic liberalism has been all about. Especially in a dismal economy. Obama has been suckered by idiots to talk about austerity and deficits because either a) He’s too stupid to know it’s the opposite of what he should be talking about or b) He agrees with it.

  185. 185
    Georgia Pig says:

    Second, the deficit is not a problem. No jobs are a problem, no attempt to do anything about creating more jobs is a problem. If you think that cuting government spending will creat more jobs you are just silly. If there were more jobs more people would pay taxes and that would impact the deficit if you are really worried about that.

    Regarding the deficit, I’d echo what Mnemosyne says above before deciding who is silly. I’d add that “The Problem” is a dysfunctional political system that can’t have a reasonable dialog about complex, interdependent issues because everyone thinks they know what “The Problem” is and it’s always somebody else. Yes, you’re so right, SS is not a “problem” of anywhere the scale of Medicare. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it and why not include it in a global discussion of the whole budget picture, instead of pretending that all of these things aren’t interrelated? For example, the taxes that are paid to the SS trust fund could be used to fund other things (e.g., education, research, that might lead to more jobs). The president is trying to get some acknowledgement that the priorities of the US government shouldn’t be resolved by bumpersticker and monomaniacs like Grover Norquist.

  186. 186
    Bruce S says:

    FlipYrWhig – What was that touted Deficit Commission about if Obama isn’t, in effect, echoing the bullshit that deficits are a problem that need to be on the table in the midst of this jobs crisis? I know his approach is on a significantly different order compared to the GOP’s, but the Democrats are currently proposing a spending cuts/revenue formula of 85/15, which is what was proposed by the American Enterprise Institute.

    The Republicans have won this one. The only issue is whether they’re smart enough to take their prize or if their insanity allows Obama to win some eleventy-seventy dimensional chess game that makes him look like an adult in comparison, vis 2012.. But I do know that the Obama economic team is not leading on this in any direction that is serious or “liberal.” They’re playing footsie with some “confidence fairy” bullshit when in fact corporate profits have soared and interest rates are flat.

    The wrong-headedness of this entire “debate” is stunning. But since Jane Hamsher is shouting too loud from the back of the room, I guess I’ll just affirm that everything is okay, the notion of Grand Bargain over deficits isn’t fundamentally bullshit in this distorted context and the White House is ever and always leading me into the best of all possible worlds.

    I’m a big fan of Obama in a dozen different ways, but he’s locked in the Oval Office and all that means. His best hope, if he really does choke on what his political instincts and/or advisors tell him that he’s got to say for the cameras and regrets being forced into jiujitsu with crazy GOPers, is having more people on his left flank trying to push the debate in a sane direction. “Calm down” isn’t a plan to save the country from the triumph of a bunch of sociopaths.

  187. 187
    Bruce S says:

    Right now, “deficits don’t matter.” That’s a fact. What matters is jobs. Deficits only matter over the long term and the reason Dick Cheney said what he said was because it’s all part of the GOP’s Starve the Beast strategy. They had to attack the “Clinton surplus” which they defined as a “problem.”

    When the GOP is saying “deficits matter”, you can bet your ass it’s precisely when Democrats should not be focused on deficits. And when they say “deficits don’t matter” – as they effectively have throughout every GOP administration since Reagan got that ball rolling – it means some Democrat was fiscally responsible and their plan isn’t working.

    Deficits aren’t inherently bad or good. It depends. Over the long term, without bullshit like the tax cuts Cheney squeaked through Congress with his vote, they would not be an issue. But when the economy is in the dumpster, deficits matter in so far as we need to use them the way a family uses credit to deal with long-term viability (as in financing a home with a mortgage, which is “deficit spending.”)

    Again, check out what the GOP is saying about deficits and if you find yourself saying the same thing at the same time, you more than likely have your head up your ass – or theirs.

  188. 188
    JC says:

    ABL,

    I hope to God you are right – but to the degree words count, there has been enough words ‘in principle’ agreeing with reforming SS and Medicare, in a way to reducing them, that it is of concern, and needs to be highlighted.

    Is it just political positioning? Perhaps, and I hope so.

    But, really, this entire thing is crazy, right?

    That anyone in the press takes Rethugs seriously, when Rethugs passed debt limits without complaint every single year til now?

    That they passed the last go-round of tax cuts?

    I just don’t understand how anyone in the press can take the Rethugs seriously, but I keep reading faux ‘both sides equally to blame’ articles, everywhere.

    Supremely frustrating.

  189. 189
    MazeDancer says:

    @Martin:

    Your excellent thoughts about this is Mr. Campaign Obama in action has given me a little firefly flicker of our old friend hope.

    Because, as you say, if Repubs get to define The Problem – and they do, because the media parrots whatever Repubs say – then we’re all stuck with The Problem. And it’s got to be solved. Because the public now knows There’s A Problem.

    In this case, The Problem is the deficit. So Obama does the only thing a clever guy can do: He REALLY solves the problem. Goes BIG. And gets permanent tax raises on the rich. And with The Problem solved, the next Problem is Jobs.

    Now we all know the first Problem is, was and will be, Jobs. But the media won’t focus on Jobs is the New Big Problem until their shiny Deficit War is over. And the second the media focusses on Jobs, the Repubs are in trouble. Because the only way to create Jobs is what Mr. Obama said again today: Spend on Infrastructure.

    With Mr. Obama now owning “I’m offering the Big Solution” don’t see how the Repubs get out of this one with everything they want. They may force Mr. Obama to use the 14th Ammendment. Which he will. It would be irresponsible of him not to use it.

    That will allow the Repubs to yell about his Tyranny and King Obama. But they’re going to yell repulsive lies about the President anyway.

  190. 190
    Jim C. says:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....hp?ref=fpb

    Gosh, I can’t understand how some people might get the impression that cuts to major entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are being considered by President Obama.

    Look, I get it. He’s a Democratic president who, frankly, has an amazingly good record so far. But that does NOT give him blanket immunity when we’ve been watching, for weeks, his talking about putting these things on the table.

    This isn’t just a matter of repeating some right-wing scare tactic or Frumesque concern trolling. The reason liberals are reacting with concern from this is because the idea of these programs getting cuts is coming directly from President Obama’s mouth.

    Now, it is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that the changes to these programs that Obama is considering are stuff like what was done with the Affordable Care Act where we reduced overpayments and found $500 billion in savings. It’s also possible that Obama is playing “rope a dope” or some 11th dimensional long-game of chess with the Republicans.

    But Obama has put big cuts to Entitlements out there as a possibility within some “Grand Bargain” time and time again. Fear that he’s genuinely considering it is justified enough that folks like Pelosi and Sanders have been reacting to it.

  191. 191
    sixers says:

    I’m reversing course and now hoping Obama dips into entitlements just to see ABL spin that pile of shit in Obama’s favor.

  192. 192
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Bruce S:

    What was that touted Deficit Commission about if Obama isn’t, in effect, echoing the bullshit that deficits are a problem that need to be on the table in the midst of this jobs crisis?

    Deficits are, in fact, a long-term problem. Even progressives in Congress like Michael Capuano and Barbara Lee agree with that premise. I don’t have any problem incorporating discussions of how to reduce the deficit _in the long term_ at any point. The problem would be addressing deficits in too short a time frame. That’s what “austerity” is. I don’t perceive a tradeoff the way you do. I don’t see addressing the deficit instead of jobs. I see an attempt to shift the discussion of cuts from here-and-now “austerity” to long-term structural reforms.

  193. 193
    TK-421 says:

    I think Obama is trying to push “bending the cost curve” in order to address long-term budgetary problems. I don’t think he has any interest in short-term “austerity.” To the contrary, he keeps talking about stimulative ideas (like a payroll tax holiday, like infrastructure), only without using words like “stimulus.”

    I don’t know what public statements from the Obama Administration you’re seeing, but on a near-daily basis from Admin staff or the President himself about “just as families tighten their belts, so must government…” and “we will create jobs by balancing the budget and improving confidence…”

    Given the repetition and consistency of these talking points, it’s completely reasonable to ascribe these things as beliefs. IMO, the Obama Administration believes that cutting spending will create jobs, and believes that austerity == recovery.

    As long as the Obama Administration continues this rhetorical/policy asshattery, it is a complete lie for anybody to implicitly or explicitly say there’s “nothing” the Obama Administration can do for the economy. At the bare minimum, they can stop talking like Herbert Hoover. Regardless of whether you believe it will matter or not, that is something completely within their power, and wouldn’t hurt them politically.

    Yes, they still have things they can do, so please stop with the fatalism.

  194. 194
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Jim C:

    Gosh, I can’t understand how some people might get the impression that cuts to major entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are being considered by President Obama.
    __
    This isn’t just a matter of repeating some right-wing scare tactic or Frumesque concern trolling. The reason liberals are reacting with concern from this is because the idea of these programs getting cuts is coming directly from President Obama’s mouth.

    What about these programs is “getting cuts”? Is it benefits? If not, I don’t give a flying fuck, neither should Josh, and neither should you.

  195. 195
    aisce says:

    @ mnemosyne, flipyrwhig

    while you two hipsters are done with your self-congratulatory game of grabass, you might want to test your theory of “deficit hypocrisy” with the actual fucking price of us debt at the moment.

    oh, and if you happen to see any bond vigilantes or confidence fairies around, say hello for me, ok? i love those guys.

  196. 196
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Given the repetition and consistency of these talking points, it’s completely reasonable to ascribe these things as beliefs. IMO, the Obama Administration believes that cutting spending will create jobs, and believes that austerity == recovery.

    Or he’s using hackneyed, tried-and-true rhetorical devices (ones you don’t like) in order to make a different point about the need for a long-term strategy to cut what actually needs cutting because of, for instance, runaway medical inflation. Where’s the support for short-term austerity? What is he saying needs to be cut ASAP? I think you’re getting bogged down in the rhetoric, then presuming the rhetoric leads to only one conclusion, instead of keeping track of what he’s trying to _do_ with the rhetoric.

  197. 197
    Jim C. says:

    @FlipYrWhig

    Been reported all over the place that Obama put a deal on the table that was 85% cuts and 15% tax increases that the GOP rejected. I highly doubt those 85% cuts were all coming from the DOD.

    I also doubt that these programs are SO bloated that trillions of dollars in pure waste can be found without reducing benefits. (Particularly after the fix to Medicare from AFA)

    Do you want to explain how you can cut $3.4 trillion dollars (85% of the 4 trillion dollar package that Obama is proposing) from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid over the next decade without at least some of it being benefits?

  198. 198
    Jim C. says:

    @FlipYrWhig

    Been reported all over the place that Obama put a deal on the table that was 85% cuts and 15% tax increases that the GOP rejected. I highly doubt those 85% cuts were all coming from the DOD.

    I also doubt that these programs are SO bloated that trillions of dollars in pure waste can be found without reducing benefits. (Particularly after the fix to Medicare from AFA)

    Do you want to explain how you can cut $3.4 trillion dollars (85% of the 4 trillion dollar deficit reduction package that Obama is proposing) from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid over the next decade without at least some of it being benefits?

  199. 199
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ aisce: Just because Republicans blatantly lie and whip up hysteria by using the word “deficit” to mean “overly generous spending on social programs for undeserving moochers” doesn’t mean that there isn’t an actual problem we can _also_ call “the deficit,” which names things like long-term issues with continuing to fund vital social welfare programs. Medicare is the most famous example. If we want to be able to continue to support vulnerable people in crisis, it seems to me we should do what we can to make sure that it can be funded. That’s also folded into concern about the deficit… or it could be if people would just pay some goddamn attention.

  200. 200
    Bruce S says:

    “I don’t see addressing the deficit instead of jobs.”

    I guess I missed that big, important Jobs Commission…

    There’s little to nothing on the table to stimulate jobs, while the President is actually suggesting that Social Security and Medicare fixes – which have nothing to do with any current budget issues – be debated in the context of a TeaPartyized GOP temper tantrum over a debt ceiling that should be raised clean – like it’s always been.

    Anyone who doesn’t see that the GOP is driving this bus is blind…

    Obama may win tactically because the GOP is in thrall of some truly insane wingnuts in Congress, but we’ve already lost this debate strategically because we’re debating the wrong things. And in the midst of a terrible jobs crisis.

  201. 201
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Do you want to explain how you can cut $3.4 trillion dollars (85% of the 4 trillion dollar deficit reduction package that Obama is proposing) from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid over the next decade without at least some of it being benefits?

    I can’t, no. That’s a worthwhile point. But the word and concept I would accordingly want to be extremely vigilant about is “benefits,” not “cuts.” I would then suggest that even cuts to “benefits” would be tolerable IF IF IF there were ways to lower the costs of services without jeopardizing their effectiveness (e.g., if you could reimport drugs or shift people to generics instead of brand-names, you could pay out less in nominal “benefits” without wrecking anyone’s well-being). Is it possible? I have no idea. But IMHO being hypersensitive about the word “cut” is putting pressure on the wrong point.

  202. 202
    Bruce S says:

    Also, leaving aside health care costs because those problems have nothing to do with Medicare in-and-of-itself or the government’s somewhat less calamitous share of paying that piper than generic inflation in the overall system, there is no “deficit problem” long term. There has been a cynically manipulated tax cuts problem long term – tax cuts which were instituted precisely so we would be forced into this stupid debate about ways to “shrink government” on the GOP’s intended terms. Without making the context of this BS crystal clear, it’s a game for losers.

  203. 203
    susan says:

    According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations — including both Republicans and Democrats — the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues.

    Obama Offered To Raise Medicare Eligibility Age As Part Of Grand Debt Deal.

  204. 204
    Jim C. says:

    @FlipYrWhig

    Excellent point there on the policy issue of possibly making the program more efficient. The drug reimportation from Canada item in particular was one that I remember hearing (and speaking) a lot about back in 2007-2008 when I was volunteering for Obama locally.

    Haven’t heard a lot about it since then. It is, though, one example of how the total dollars spent on the programs could be “cut” without benefits being harmed.

    At which point, if the policy mechanisms could be found to achieve such an end, the messaging would have to be VERY carefully handled. We all saw what a disaster that $500 billion reduction to Medicare was in the 2010 elections when the Republicans ran on being the “protectors” of Medicare. (What a fucking joke.)

    I’ll give our president this though, he’s a cool one. If there’s one person who I think isn’t likely to panic on this it’s our Barack “Spock” Obama. For better or for worse, he doesn’t rattle easily. For every time I’ve found myself wishing that he’d get a little angry and throw a bit of elbows out there on the basketball court of politics, there’s been another when I’ve been grateful for his composure and even-temperament in the face of a potential disaster.

  205. 205
    TK-421 says:

    Where’s the support for short-term austerity? What is he saying needs to be cut ASAP?

    Well, first the support for short-term austerity is at least in Congress. Republicans are all for that, and they control the House and have effective vetoes over anything in the Senate. Second, there’s only so long you can go by ignoring a politician’s frequently and consistently repeated talking points before you either A) accept he’s expressing a belief, or B) absolutely full of shit 24/7. Regarding President Obama, I’m not willing to believe the latter, so I’m left with the former. Thus, therefore, and hence, if I am to accept Barack Obama is a generally honest man, then his consistent rhetoric tells me that he also supports short-term austerity.

    When the President is asked point blank by a reporter (paraphrase) “what do you think we should do to create jobs?,” and he immediately responds by saying “we need to get government on a more sound footing and that will create the confidence needed to invest in new businesses etc…,” well, I don’t know on what basis I’m supposed to believe that the President is pursuing the opposite of what he’s saying. That happened last week in an interview. Please don’t make me go find the link, because I’m not very good at that.

    When you suggest I should ignore his rhetoric and only pay attention to what he wants to do with the rhetoric, I get confused. I get confused because a lot of people insist (correctly) that right now Congress will not let President Obama pursue any stimulative policy…yet you’re saying that somehow he’s going to be able to “do” something with his rhetoric. How?

    Congress is intransigent and insane, the Beltway Media are letting their sadistic sociopathic freak flags fly, and the local media aren’t smart/quick/big enough to tell a different story. That all makes for a very bad situation to try and improve the economy, and one could argue that it’s borderline impossible. Fine, I get that. But then, even in that reality the Herbert Hoover rhetoric (regardless of what he’s going to “do” with it) is unnecessary. I (and a lot of economists) would argue it’s also counterproductive, but even if you completely discount the importance of the rhetoric then there is still no reason to engage in bad rhetoric.

    I repeat this, because apparently everyone’s missing my major point: unless and until the Obama Administration cuts the Hooverist s–t, there is at least one simple thing they can do that could possibly be helpful to the economy. Don’t bulls–t people by implying or claiming otherwise.

  206. 206
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Jim C.: Thank you for that sweet paean to Obama. I gotta tell ya, you were coming off a little firebaggerish and it was making me very uncomfortable.

  207. 207
    TK-421 says:

    Now we all know the first Problem is, was and will be, Jobs. But the media won’t focus on Jobs is the New Big Problem until their shiny Deficit War is over. And the second the media focuses on Jobs, the Repubs are in trouble. Because the only way to create Jobs is what Mr. Obama said again today: Spend on Infrastructure.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is essentially the Pivot Argument: give Repubs what they want today so we can take the issue off the table and talk about politically advantageous things tomorrow.

    There is a tremendous flaw in this argument, however: if Republicans effectively control the debate (through the media), then it is foolish to think they’ll ever let the debate shift to an area that doesn’t benefit them.

    What, you think once this deficit fever is gone the debate will just naturally (i.e. magically) shift to JOBS JOBS JOBS, against the wishes of Republicans? Good luck with that.

  208. 208
    Jim C. says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead
    Obama has been an, overall, excellent president. He inherited a truly disastrous situation and has done an amazingly good job of helping turn us around. I know some folks get a little disappointed because of the sky-high expectations they had for him as a result of the 2008 campaign, but for me…he’s clearly exceeded what I could have possibly hoped for him to accomplish in his first term. The small caveat is that he was blessed with very large majorities and I sometimes wish he pushed harder and did a bit more “pounding of the bully pulpit” where folks like Lieberman, Baucus, Nelson, etc. were concerned.

    I fully plan on donating and campaigning again for him when the time comes.

    He’s got a list of accomplishments that are truly worth celebrating and I don’t forget it even when I sometimes get a little exasperated with him on specific issues and the way he approaches things.

  209. 209
    kc says:

    @TK-241 #204

    unless and until the Obama Administration cuts the Hooverist s—t, there is at least one simple thing they can do that could possibly be helpful to the economy. Don’t bulls—t people by implying or claiming otherwise.

    Amen.

  210. 210
    MGLoraine says:

    Politicians will say anything their handlers tell them to when engaging with the media. The very next day, they will quite cheerfully do the opposite. Political verbiage is just hot air. The only thing which counts is the policy which gets implemented.

    0bama’s campaign rhetoric turned out to be about 95% lies. So he can stand in front of the nation and swear that he will never cut our social programs if he wants to, but that is no reason to believe him. HE is the one who is eagerly offering up our safety net to the enemy in exchange for cooperation on a mundane procedural vote. Why? Because he WANTS to.

    How many betrayals does it take for people to understand? 0bama is not interested in the plight of ordinary citizens. His only concern is soliciting funds from fat-cats for his re-election campaign. Everything he has done as president is consistent in this way only: everything for fat-cats and nothing for working people. He is the servant of the wealthy, and the rich man’s friend is America’s enemy.

  211. 211
    kc says:

    @Bruce S #199

    There’s little to nothing on the table to stimulate jobs, while the President is actually suggesting that Social Security and Medicare fixes – which have nothing to do with any current budget issues – be debated in the context of a TeaPartyized GOP temper tantrum over a debt ceiling that should be raised clean – like it’s always been.

    Yep. It’s getting increasingly hard for me to believe that Obama has “got this.”

  212. 212
    CaliCat says:

    HP is reporting that five – count em’ FIVE – unnamed sources (both Republican and Democrat-ooooh) have told them that PBO was planning to offer a raise in the age of Medicare eligibility to Republicons as part of the deal…

    Well, if it’s a bi-partisan collective of unnamed sources, then IT MUST BE TRUE.

  213. 213
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ TK: IMHO what he wants to do is capitalize on a moment in which politicians and political observers want to talk about _one_ kind of cut into talking about _another_ kind of cut. For simplicity’s sake, short-term vs. long-term. He’s borrowing familiar rhetoric (like belt-tightening) in order to shift the conversation to something slightly different. I _don’t_ think he thinks any of that will improve/stimulate the economy in the short run, or that it will create jobs. There are other things he wants to do, and talks about relatively frequently, that are supposed to work on that track, like investing in infrastructure. If haggling out a bargain to address the long-term deficit can also provide some cover for other kinds of spending/investment, or for reorienting some here-and-now spending into here-and-now benefit, great.

    In the end, I think there are a lot of moving parts and we need to watch all of them, rather than getting suckered into thinking that all cuts are aimed at the same thing, suck money out of the economy, or represent Republican priorities. I think he’s been trying to combine long-term cost control and short-term stimulus for pretty much his whole term, and doing so in such a way that Republicans and Democratic “deficit hawks” can feel like they’re getting something in the bargain — in other words, by _sounding_ more like a deficit hawk than a Keynesian while sneaking the Keynesianism through a back door. That’s pretty wonky and not going to satisfy anyone’s bloodlust, but I think that’s what we’ve been getting, and what we can continue to expect.

  214. 214
    ABL says:

    As for ABL’s offer to eat crow when Obama sells out SS, I’m afraid her word is as meaningless as her idol’s. When the time comes, she’ll blame the Republicans for “forcing” her hero to do it – with an extra helping of hate for the “racist firebaggers” who didn’t clap loud enough.

    herein lies the problem, as i see it. no matter what people say, you believe they are lying.

    that’s a shitty way to live, friend.

    my word is meaningless? whatdieverdotoyou?

    i am telling you that i will eat crow on this blog if Obama goes back on his word and “sells out SS.” i have two caveats: (1) no dick pics or nudity; (2) we need to define what “selling out” would be.

    and seriously? the sarcastic calls of racism are so very malkin. i know you can do better than that.

  215. 215

    @TK-421 206:

    TK-421, why aren’t you at your post?

    TK-421, do you copy?

    Sorry….just had to geek out a bit. But on a more serious note:

    “What, you think once this deficit fever is gone the debate will just naturally (i.e. magically) shift to JOBS JOBS JOBS, against the wishes of Republicans? Good luck with that.”

    Yep. Won’t happen. The Repubs are against bringing up a jobs bill, and they’ve shot down every attempt by the Democrats to address creating a workable jobs bill. Then again, the Rs are in control of the House thanks to 2010 (thank you, all of you who “sat it out”….) and so long as they see it as a chance to deny President Obama a chance at re-election in 2012, they’ll do everything to keep a jobs bill off the table, no matter what the President tries to do.

    It’s a cold, blunt truth.

    I am po’d at the throat-cutting and foot-shooting and teeth-gnashing that comes from the FDL-types, but my anger is directed at the right target–the Republicans. It is they, not Obama, who wants to send the whole country over the cliff, and the sad thing is that they have the MSM in their corner, plus control of the House. It’s going to make things very difficult.

  216. 216
    TK-421 says:

    For simplicity’s sake, short-term vs. long-term. He’s borrowing familiar rhetoric (like belt-tightening) in order to shift the conversation to something slightly different. I don’t think he thinks any of that will improve/stimulate the economy in the short run, or that it will create jobs. There are other things he wants to do, and talks about relatively frequently, that are supposed to work on that track, like investing in infrastructure.

    A loooooooooooong time ago (3-4 months), Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Minority Leader McConnell, and pretty much in the Democratic Party and the Obama Admin unanimously publicly agreed that raising the debt limit was going to happen, no question. That no matter what, the debt ceiling was going to be raised.

    So…if everybody on both sides publicly agreed that this was going to happen no matter what, then we are forced to conclude that these negotiations to attach strings to that vote are happening because both sides wanted it to happen, President Obama included. Otherwise, the better political strategy would be for the President and Democrats to loudly and repeatedly call for a “clean upperdown vote” on the debt limit and “why are Republicans going back on their word?” and etc.

    I think your point is that President Obama wanted to have a deficit reduction talk because then he would be able to address long-term deficits & debt. Um, okay, I suppose that’s possible (we’ll never know), but in the middle of the Second Depression that’s very destructive. It is consciously spending time, energy, and political capital on policy that will not create jobs, at the expense of time, energy, and political capital that could have been used on policy that would create jobs.

    Remember, from all those unanimous and unequivocal previous statements that nobody was “forced” into these debt/deficit negotiations. This was a choice made by both sides. (Digby has been very good at documenting this, so head over there to peruse her archives from the past few months.)

    So when you say he frequently talks about other, better policies, and imply that he would like to pursue other stuff, that assertion does not square with all the repeated pronouncements from both sides that raising the debt limit will absolutely happen, no problem.

    President Obama chose to engage on this, necessarily at the expense of other stuff that might have been more helpful. And I speculate (again, we’ll never know) he chose to engage on this because he believes it will help and be good for the country. He will get creamed for this in 2012, and he will deserve it.

  217. 217
    ABL says:

    I hope to God you are right – but to the degree words count, there has been enough words ‘in principle’ agreeing with reforming SS and Medicare, in a way to reducing them, that it is of concern, and needs to be highlighted.

    Here’s what he said in his presser this morning:

    What I emphasized to the broader group of congressional leaders yesterday is now is the time to deal with these issues. If not now, when? I’ve been hearing from my Republican friends for quite some time that it is a moral imperative for us to tackle our debt and our deficits in a serious way. I’ve been hearing from them that this is one of the things that’s creating uncertainty and holding back investment on the part of the business community. And so what I’ve said to them is, let’s go. And it is possible for us to construct a package that would be balanced, would share sacrifice, would involve both parties taking on their sacred cows, would involved some meaningful changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid that would preserve the integrity of the programs and keep our sacred trust with our seniors, but make sure those programs were there for not just this generation but for the next generation; that it is possible for us to bring in revenues in a way that does not impede our current recovery, but is fair and balanced.

    i’ve been watching the twitteratti freak out because he supposedly has sold out by recognizing that we have to handle our debt.

    except he didn’t say that. he is expressing what the GOP has been saying for months about how important the deficit and debt is. boehner was all about the Big Fucking Deal — he wanted a ton of spending cuts. obama called his bluff. boehner blinked.

    i understand why people are nervous. i just don’t think it’s necessary to freak out right now.

    and i love how people chime in with “ABL is punching hippies.” if you read the post, which consists primarily of “CTFD” and you took offense to it — if you took it personally — then you have a problem. you’re probably one of those people that got all offended about the emanuel/fucking retarded business.

    if you read every post of mine and think that i’m calling you a racist firebagger? you have a problem.

    if you feel tghe need to respond to every one of my posts with “yeah, but is it racist to say X, Y, or Z”? you have a problem.

    if i call you a racist firebagger, you’ll know that i’m calling you a racist firebagger. trust.

    if you feel the need to act like a dumbass on every one of my threads even though you know damn well i have you pied now (ahem), then you have a problem.

    for those who are not acting like assholes but who simply disagree with me, i really think that i’m right on this. i really hope so. and if i’m not, i will eat a big pile of crow. pinky swear.

    and hey, that’ll give the assholes another thread to tell me how shitty of a blogger i am. :)

  218. 218
    ABL says:

    i’m a little fired up right now after having battled some asshat on twitter for a couple of hours, so apologies to whomever i block quoted — the tone of my comment was not addressed to you! it was addressed to the room — those whose comments i can see as well as those who have been summarily pied.

    i haven’t eaten all day. i need to go get some lunner.

  219. 219
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    Fortunately, all this has happened before.
    .
    .

  220. 220
    TK-421 says:

    I think he’s been trying to combine long-term cost control and short-term stimulus for pretty much his whole term, and doing so in such a way that Republicans and Democratic “deficit hawks” can feel like they’re getting something in the bargain—in other words, by sounding more like a deficit hawk than a Keynesian while sneaking the Keynesianism through a back door.

    Again, it’s difficult to read people’s minds, and I suppose it’s possible that this is what Barack Obama has been trying to do. But even when the Dems controlled both Houses and President Obama had a (relatively) “free hand” to pursue his objectives, he wasn’t injecting Keynesianism into our economy. So…I’m unconvinced that President Obama is a closet Keynesian that is working some political jiujitsu on everyone*.

    Krugman just wrote about this. Now, this isn’t a critique of ARRA per se. It is simply pointing out that, on its best day (i.e. in its peak quarter), ARRA was predominantly tax cuts and stabilizers. That’s all good and it did help, but Keynesian this is not, snuck in through the back door or otherwise.

    *but…it would be totally awesome if you were right and I was wrong. Barack Obama’s Politics-Fu + Keynesianism == America F–k Yeah!

  221. 221
    TK-421 says:

    @Mark

    TK-421, why aren’t you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?

    So, do you think you were the first to get the reference, or did everyone else get the reference and decide not to reward my star wars geek asshattery by engaging with me on that? Just curious.

  222. 222
    Karen says:

    He knows that Boner is in a trap where he can’t accept anything and will not cooperate. That’s why he can offer these things, knowing Boner and his doghouse won’t jump at it. He looks Presidential and the GOP show that they just want to protect billionaires. Do you think billionaires or even just millionaires should get Medicare or SS? Can’t we means test so the poorer seniors can get more if they need it and the seniors with a million or more in assets get less Medicare? Why is means testing so horrible? Of course, I admit, I can say that because my parents would still qualify for Medicare since they are far from millionaires but I also know that in twenty years or so, when I’d have started to collect on SS and Medicare, both will be gone and I’ll be SOL.

  223. 223
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    @217 cABLeguy

    Here’s what he said in his presser this morning

    I thought President Obama said this –

    Republicans gave me this list at the – at the beginning of this year as a priority, something that they thought they could do. Now I’m ready to do it

    Is there any one of us here that doesn’t appreciate how President Obama, the most powerful Democrat in the world, has worked tirelessly all year to prepare to do his masters’ bidding, right on schedule?

    Don’t tell me this is not a Wise and Good Man. Hope is still alive!
    .
    .

  224. 224
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ TK: I don’t want to overstate the “Keynesian” claim, but my chief point is that when Obama uses the language of cuts he means something different than what Republicans mean. To me it’s reminiscent of the Al Gore “Reinventing Government” initiative under Clinton. I think he _truly is_ concerned about the long-term fiscal picture and wants to improve it; and, on top of that, I think he is prepared to work on these kinds of problems because, at least in theory, Republicans and deficit-hawk Democrats should all agree on the nature of the difficulty — whereas, when it comes to stimulating the economy, there isn’t enough support in either house of Congress to make the outline of a deal visible.

    But this gets back to the long-running dispute here and on other blogs about the value of a futile fight — whether it helps Democrats and/or liberals to make a strong case for a progressive approach _even knowing_ that the votes aren’t going to be there because it gives the public a sense of where the parties stand. A big push for a new stimulus would be rhetorically pleasing to progressives, but it would definitely lose, and then where would we be? Better off, or worse off? The blogosphere is divided on that question, and it’s most of what we’re actually fighting about, IMHO.

  225. 225
    Another Bob says:

    I’m sure these hysterical know-nothings, these firebagger ninnies, are just overreacting to some Karl Rove agitprop passed along through the progressive fifth column:

    Top Democrats in charge of keeping the Senate in Dem hands and maintaining the political health of the party — DSCC chair Patty Murray and messaging chief Chuck Schumer — have privately expressed frustration that deep Medicare cuts risk squandering the major political advantage Democrats have built up on the issue, people familiar with internal discussions say.

    Jeez, whatever gave them that idea?

  226. 226
    biznesschic says:

    Just came over from shark week at HP. Apparently, the reporter in the know, Sam Stein is reporting that 5 unnamed sources has confirmed that President Obama is willing to raise the retirement age to collect social security to 67 years.

    The problem is, this “information” came one hour after Sam was allowed to ask president Obama a question at the press conference, never mentioned the age requirement, yet ran to HP to tout unnamed sources. The professional left needs to be called on this nonsense, if we don’t, will succeed in becoming another Fox News.

  227. 227
    NR says:

    i am telling you that i will eat crow on this blog if Obama goes back on his word and “sells out SS.” i have two caveats: (1) no dick pics or nudity; (2) we need to define what “selling out” would be.

    Yes, that would be very helpful. Because in the title of this post, you kind of give the game away by adopting the same language that the White House is using. It’s okay if Obama cuts Social Security and Medicare, so long as he doesn’t “slash” them.

    “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.”

    So what’s the difference between a cut and a slash? Because right now, I have a feeling that the view around here is that any amount that Obama cuts is a “cut,” and therefore okay. A “slash” would be more than whatever it is Obama ends up cutting.

    And by the way, next year? When you’re talking to all those voters who depend on Social Security and Medicare? Somehow, I don’t think you’re going to have a lot of success trying to convince them that their real problem is that they just don’t understand the difference between a cut, a slash, and a whack.

  228. 228
    stinkdaddy says:

    Ok, help me out with this idea of Obama now looking like the responsible one. Looks like we have another strategy vs. tactics issue here: short-term, yeah, Obama looks like the one who was more willing to cut a deficit-reduction deal but at what cost?

    Obama ’12: I tried to cut Social Security and Medicare, but the Republicans wouldn’t let me.

    And it’ll be true! Maybe putting the entitlements on the table was all a bluff, but he still did it. Expecting people to grasp the nuances of this is a rather Democratic(-party) way of thinking; we aren’t a nation of 300 million political junkies.

  229. 229
    stinkdaddy says:

    Of course we can sit down with each of the people who is/will be angry after reading that Obama put SS on the table and calmly explain to them why no, see, the current CPI (maybe) overstates inflation by some tiny marginal amount, therefore if you really think about it, and turn your head sideways and squint just right we can decrease the amount of money you get in the future without actually cutting your benefits! Isn’t that neat?

    And the Republican counter will be, “Obama tried to cut your Social Security and raise your taxes. We stopped him.” I wonder which version of the argument will win.

  230. 230
    boss bitch says:

    @stinkdaddy:

    Obama ‘12: I tried to cut Social Security and Medicare, but the Republicans wouldn’t let me.

    First of all Obama would never say that. He would point out as he did in the press conference today, that he was willing to work with Republicans to address the deficit numerous times but they never stepped up to meet the challenge. He would of course be more eloquent than that but not even the least experienced pol would use your sentence.

    and no, the pay off isn’t short term. it can have positive effects on the rest of the party and future Dem prez candidates.

  231. 231
    stinkdaddy says:

    @ boss bitch, 230: Wow, really? Obama wouldn’t explicitly come out and say that the Republicans stopped him from cutting SS? The Democratic attack ads wouldn’t blame the Republicans for preventing cuts to SS?

    Look, I don’t know if you’re trying to be patronizing or if you’re coming from a place where for some reason the things you said aren’t taken for granted. I’m talking about competing messaging. I’m asking what message Obama can craft from this that defeats the GOP’s take on it that I provided above, ie: “We stopped Obama from cutting entitlements and raising taxes.” How does this help long term? If he tries to brag about the big deficit deal he almost got, the GOP will remind the voters that he put up SS and Medicare on that vote. People here are ecstatic about Boehner ‘blinking’ the last couple days, as though being the one to walk away from a deal that cuts SS and Medicare is such a clear-cut losing position.

    What went down is that Obama extended a hand that contained Medicare and SS cuts. The GOP slapped it away — not because they’re the great defenders of those programs, but because they would’ve had to accept some paltry tax increases in exchange. The finer details would be bullshit, but “Obama offered a deal that would have cut SS and Medicare and the GOP refused” is a true story. If you really think that’s a story that helps the Dems going forward, more power to you.

  232. 232
    No one of Importance says:

    All the ‘progressive’ trolls here remind me of the lady in this anecdote:
    http://notalwaysright.com/eave.....orse/12463

  233. 233
    Another Bob says:

    @No one of Importance

    All the ‘progressive’ trolls here remind me of the lady in this anecdote:

    Sorry, but I couldn’t be bothered to click on your link. Maybe you could tell us in so many words why, for example, it’s wrong to give credence to multiple reports coming from multiple reputable sources that Obama offered to raise the eligibility age for Medicare in his negotiations with Republicans, and that a lot of senior Democrats like DSCC chair Patty Murray and messaging chief Chuck Schumer are worried about the message it sends. What are your highly placed sources telling you?

  234. 234
    stinkdaddy says:

    @ ABL, 65:

    “if i’m wrong and obama slashes social security or medicare, i will happily eat humble pie with a side of crow drizzled in STFU.”

    Yeah right. If Obama does in fact cut SS and/or Medicare you’ll prevaricate on the distinction between ‘cut’ and ‘slash’ and then get into why this is really about the dysfunctional Senate and intransigent GOP.

    (and btw: up to this point, Obama’s pressure point is looking a helluva lot like ‘whatever it takes to get a deal done’)

  235. 235
    No one of Importance says:

    I couldn’t be bothered to click on your link

    Then I can’t be bothered answering your inane question. I’m really not interested in the minutiae of the political ratfucking in a foreign country. You give me your informed views about Clive Palmer, Tony Abbott and Bob Katter first.

  236. 236
    stinkdaddy says:

    @ 233– It’s about a lady listening over someone’s shoulder in an adult book section for 15 minutes straight, then complaining to the employees that she didn’t like what she was hearing.

    So apparently being concerned that the Democratic POTUS is going to help dismantle the safety net == being some nosy busybody in a porn store. Or something.

  237. 237
    Another Bob says:

    @No one of Importance

    Then I can’t be bothered answering your inane question.

    OK, I clicked on your link. See, I go the extra mile to have a good-faith discussion. Now please tell me why you can’t handle an honest debate without hiding behind dismissive terms like “troll” and “ratfucking,” and what highly placed sources you have that say that Obama didn’t really offer cuts to SS and Medicare in his negotiations?

  238. 238
    Shade Tail says:

    stinkdaddy: If you really don’t see how Obama’s campaign could easily make hay of that, then you need to brush up on how politics work in this country. “I offered a bipartisan compromise that would protect your benefits while cutting waste, fraud, and abuse. The GOP decided that protecting abuse was more important than protecting you.” It hits two of the most important points: compromise/bipartisanship, and benefits.

  239. 239
    LT says:

    “Yeah right. If Obama does in fact cut SS and/or Medicare you’ll prevaricate on the distinction between ‘cut’ and ‘slash’ and then get into why this is really about the dysfunctional Senate and intransigent GOP.”

    Ouch.

  240. 240
    No one of Importance says:

    Now please tell me why you can’t handle an honest debate without hiding behind dismissive terms like “troll” and “ratfucking,”

    Hey, if it lives under a bridge, I’m calling it as I see it. You ratfucker of a troll

    and what highly placed sources you have that say that Obama didn’t really offer cuts to SS and Medicare in his negotiations

    You obviously missed the part of my reply which said very clearly “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE MINUTIAE OF THE POLITICAL RATFUCKING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY”.

    Me Australian. Me no care about how your obscenely corrupt and evil politicians are managing to destroy your country. (I mean, I care, but I see it as a trainsmash I have no power to influence, so I can only watch.) Me just here to point and laugh at turds who come to a site hostile to their views and persistently post to irritate the denizens. Kind of like the lady bitching about ‘adult conversations’ which she had to eavesdrop to hear, you’re making yourself look stupid. Which, to be fair, isn’t hard, given the material.

    Am I being too subtle for you, sport? Let me make it easy for ya – you idiot, me pointing and laughing at you.

  241. 241
    Another Bob says:

    @No one of Importance

    Me just here to point and laugh at turds who come to a site hostile to their views and persistently post to irritate the denizens.

    Sorry, mate. I mistakenly thought I was dealing with someone who could hold up their end of a discussion. I guess your inexplicable hostility is a sort of over-compensation on your part.

  242. 242
    No one of Importance says:

    I mistakenly thought I was dealing with someone who could hold up their end of an argument.

    I’m not having an argument, you pathetic drongo. You’re the one trying to start one, and I’m saying “bugger off, I don’t give a shit”. You’re the internet equivalent of a chihuhua on a leash barking its fool head off at the labrador asleep on its porch, and trying to look like it’s winning…something or other. Mostly the right to crap on the footpath.

    You keep on with that strategy, bobbie. For my part, I’m pieing you. You’re too stupid to even skim over.

  243. 243
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Another Bob: Sounds like Schumer and Murray are concerned about _the politics_ of anything that could be tagged as “cuts.” They’re not wrong about that. Even if what was cut was fat and waste in the program, not benefits, it could still be portrayed as “Medicare cuts” or “Social Security cuts” or what have you. That’s what happened with HCR, after all.

    BUT that’s NOT the same claim as saying that Obama wants to wreck social programs because deep down he’s a soulless corporate whore who thinks Republicans are right and wants to bring down the Austerity Apocalypse as soon as possible.

    It could be a smart, efficient technocratic fix and still be politically volatile because of the way it’s depicted in the media and in campaign ads. That’s exactly how HCR’s “Medicare cuts” unfolded. It _does_ step on the idea that the Ryan budget puts into effect genuine Medicare cuts. That’s true! Is it worth doing anyway in order to take care of long-term issues with financing Medicare? Obama seems to think so.

    (Note that the logic of most steps to take to fix climate change is similar as well: it may be politically unpalatable, regardless of what the number-crunching shows; but by acting sooner than later there’s less of a jolt coming, and the tradeoff is less short-term pain in order to prevent more long-term pain. Would fixing Medicare [which everyone used to agree needed fixing] involve something similar? Probably.)

  244. 244
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    @232 One of impotence

    All the ‘progressive’ trolls here remind me of the lady in

    All the “Australian” trolls here remind me of trolls. Remember, trolls have to have the last word. Isn’t that right, impie?
    .
    .

  245. 245
    Another Bob says:

    @No one of Importance

    You’re the one trying to start one, and I’m saying “bugger off, I don’t give a shit”.

    No, clearly you DO give a shit. What bizarre hostility. Why would an Australian be so concerned about American politics to lose their cool about it to such an extent?

  246. 246
    Bruce S says:

    Incidentally, if Obama is engaged in some absolutely genius interplanetary chess game with the GOP and winning it, as Lawrence O’Donnell suggests this evening, he absolutely needs his “base” to be kicking and screaming at the implication of “entitlement cuts” in order for him to maintain credibility. If we all kick back and say, “Cool – he’s taking these guys to the cleaners and Democrats have nothing to worry about because the guy in the Oval Office is ten times smarter than the douchebag GOPers,” whatever the plan is, it won’t work. Without a deeply concerned base, there’s no “pain” on our side for him to parade at press conferences.

    Regarding this infinitely complex “destroy them with offers of compromise” strategizing and brinksmanship jiujitsu, I have no idea how it works or if its working because I’m just an average jerk without a third eye of Infinite Wisdom who is so old-fashioned he thinks that deficit-mongering in a steep downturn is wack and that “entitlements” have zilch – as in “nada” – to do with the actually-existing deficits created by decades of tax-cut profligacy, exacerbated by Great Recession.

  247. 247
    Another Bob says:

    @FlipYrWhig

    BUT that’s NOT the same claim as saying that Obama wants to wreck social programs because deep down he’s a soulless corporate whore who thinks Republicans are right and wants to bring down the Austerity Apocalypse as soon as possible.

    Was I saying that? No, I was just saying that reports DO seem to indicate that he’s really been willing to discuss actual cuts to the programs — such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare by two years — that can’t be dismissed by semantic games (is it a “slash” or merely a “cut”?). It makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I’m actually pretty angry that he’d apparently mess with the crown jewels of liberalism like that, but your own “Austerity Apocalypse” language is trying to make fair and reasonable questions seem hysterical and unhinged. You can dismiss it however you want to, but the reports do seem to hold water.

  248. 248
    Quiddity says:

    Obama is panicking. He knows that he messed up when he didn’t get a debt-limit agreement back in December of 2010. It was obvious from the previous Congress that the Republicans were going to do the maximum to put him in jeopardy. And given the November election results it was obviously going to get worse. And it has.

    So, with a weak hand, he’s raising the stakes in a misguided attempt to save himself. But that’s foolish. Any “Grand Deal” should happen at a later time when (a) the economy is more robust, and (b) when the composition of Congress changes for the better – which it will since the Teabaggers will most likely burn out fairly quickly.

    Bringing in Social Security is most foolish and reassurances that he won’t “slash” that program is con-man talk. Same with “strengthening”. Face it, Obama is a conservative Democrat and he most definitely won’t make any effort on behalf of progressives. This was clear from the beginning when he brought in Summers et al, and was reinforced with the ludicrous Simpson Bowles commission.

    The most likely outcome is some deal that will have entitlement cuts, but there won’t be any explicit Obama fingerprints on it, so ABL and like-minded Obots can remain in denial as to what kind of politician he really is.

  249. 249
    Another Bob says:

    @Bruce S

    Incidentally, if Obama is engaged in some absolutely genius interplanetary chess game with the GOP and winning it, as Lawrence O’Donnell suggests this evening, he absolutely needs his “base” to be kicking and screaming at the implication of “entitlement cuts” in order for him to maintain credibility.

    Dammit, man, now you’ve ruined everything. I just hope to God that no Republicans read your response just now, or they’ll be totally on to us.

  250. 250
    lacp says:

    I’m a bit puzzled at the assertions that ABL responds to criticisms of the President by calling commenters racists. I don’t think that’s true. Perhaps the problem is in defining what is criticism and what isn’t. Permit me to illustrate.

    Suppose I post a criticism that went, say, “Sorry, ABL, but your guy’s deficit policy sucks limp dick. He’s gonna fuck Social Security like it was a two-dollar whore.” ABL might reasonably reply (a) I was making a truly nasty, misogynist analogy, (b) I’m an idiot, (c) I’m an asshole, (d) I’m insane, (e)I’m just wrong, or (f) all of the preceding. I very much doubt, though, that she would call me a racist.

    Now suppose my criticism of the President was a photoshopped pic of him with a bone through his nose. I think it would be a fairly safe bet that she would at least speculate that I had racist intent.

    See the difference?

  251. 251
    Marc says:

    Quiddity: I’m sorry, but at this point I refuse to engage with anyone who uses the Obot label.

    What I see, very clearly here, is that there is a contingent of people on the left who hate Obama past the point of reason. The hate is so deep that they simply can’t conceive of anyone decent supporting him; thus any supporters have to be blind cultists. Every action that he does must be interpreted in the worst possible way; nothing deserves credit.

    We’ve seen people in this thread rooting for terrible things to happen because it would prove them “right” and those “obots” wrong.

    This is deeply pathological. The Obama critics have settled into a deeply intolerant litany of beliefs that can’t be questioned. All government spending is good. Any talk about a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit is evil. Any changes to entitlements are automatically wrong. Obama is at fault because he doesn’t say the right things…except when he does, in which case it’s “just words”. Even if he doesn’t endorse something I can cook up a strained analogy where he looks bad….therefore it’s exactly the same.

    It’s mindless and infuriating to those outside of the echo chamber. No error, no doubt, no need to listen or engage supposed allies.

    People who act this way might as well be working for the Republicans, because their every word and action supports them. They sure as hell make it impossible to organize online against republican outrages…because it’s the insufficiently pure democrats who are the true objects of their hate.

    I can’t stand it any more, and thank God there are some folks here who are willing to stand up to this.

  252. 252
    signifyingmnky says:

    @Quiddity

    Obama is panicking. He knows that he messed up when he didn’t get a debt-limit agreement back in December of 2010. It was obvious from the previous Congress that the Republicans were going to do the maximum to put him in jeopardy. And given the November election results it was obviously going to get worse. And it has…Bringing in Social Security is most foolish and reassurances that he won’t “slash” that program is con-man talk. Same with “strengthening”. Face it, Obama is a conservative Democrat and he most definitely won’t make any effort on behalf of progressives. This was clear from the beginning when he brought in Summers et al, and was reinforced with the ludicrous Simpson Bowles commission.

    I’m sure this was meant to sound like a thoughtful analysis, or at least an educated criticism, but it makes absolutely no sense at all.

    You suggest that President Obama’s a conservative Democrat who’s intentions have always been to play a long con on the party to slash Social Security, and at the same time assert that he’s going this route because he’s panicking.

    It smacks of the same ridiculousness of the right wing meme of the president being both a Radical Christian and a Muslim, at the same time. That’s not criticism, it’s ignorance.

    Either President Obama is a conservative Manchurian genius who successfully infiltrated the Democratic Party to become President (as a black man no less) to destroy the New Deal, or he’s an inexperienced, ineffective, incompetant, he can’t possibly be both.

    Unless your disapproval is really about something else completely…..

  253. 253
    stinkdaddy says:

    @ Shade Tail, 238: You mean like when the Dems reduced ‘waste, fraud and abuse’ via PPACA and were so well-rewarded at the polls last fall? Yeah, they’ve probably recovered from that message fail well enough to whip something into shape in time for ’12. Obviously the fact that Senate and House Dems are in open revolt over this demonstrates how thoroughly well-planned this all is.

    Come on now. There’s a saying about doing the same thing and expecting different results.

    “Obama tried to cut your Medicare and Social Security and raise taxes. We said no.”

    It’s a simple message, and stated that way it’s true. (As in, not “your” taxes.) They did pretty well last time when they were lying, how much of an additional leg up do you think the truth adds?

  254. 254
    Another Bob says:

    @Marc

    What I see, very clearly here, is that there is a contingent of people on the left who hate Obama past the point of reason . . . The hate is so deep that they simply can’t conceive of anyone decent supporting him . . . This is deeply pathological . . .

    Are you seriously equating criticism of Obama for, let’s say, proposing cuts to Social Security, with your comments above? Do you have to invoke dark pathological motivations for people making claims that are perfectly reasonable and based on reports from multiple reputable sources? I bet the vast majority of liberal or “progressive” critics of Obama voted for him and are simply disappointed in what they’ve seen so far. Does that have to be based on some pathology? Can’t it just be that you disagree with him and have perfectly fair and reasonable reasons for doing so?

  255. 255
    FlipYrWhig says:

    It makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I’m actually pretty angry that he’d apparently mess with the crown jewels of liberalism like that

    It used to be taken as given that Medicare really was a timebomb; when people would say, “the _real_ thing that we need to get a handle on is Medicare.” If it was possible to do the equivalent of the Greenspan ’83 (IIRC) maneuver that socked away extra money for the Social Security “trust fund,” only for Medicare, that would be a positive development — at least from the standpoint of shoring up an important program that is going to need help.

    Now, the problem with that is political. It can be characterized as a cut. Depending on how it’s done, that characterization could be fair or unfair. The SS “trust fund” turned into a slush fund that didn’t stop Republicans and deficit-hawk Democrats from manufacturing crises anyway. Something like that could happen again.

    What I want to suggest is that there are clearly scenarios where things-that-could-be-called-cuts could be better for the program both in the short term and, even more so, in the long term. _Depending on what is cut and when_.

    I think it’s totally legitimate to raise questions about both the merits and the optics of doing something like this. But the offending concept, or the sin against liberalism, would _not_ be “cuts” nebulously defined. We need to be more specific about it.

    FWIW, I don’t particularly like the sound of raising the eligibility age, especially when during the HCR debate it very nearly came to pass that the eligibility age was lowered.

    But we can argue about these things without the “Aha! Obama unmasked as conservative who always dreamed of dismantling the Great Society” bullshit being peddled on these threads.

  256. 256
    stinkdaddy says:

    I don’t know who these liberals are who say deficits are meaningless and all government spending is good. I suspect they’re a convenient figment of certain posters’ imaginations (seen this claim from several in this thread alone… or maybe multiple times from one person, I’ve lost track) but maybe they read different sites than I do. What I see people saying is that deficits don’t matter right now but they should be dealt with once the economy gets back on the right track.

    This gets transformed into “so you’re with Dick Cheney, eh?” when it’s time to defend austerity and entitlement nibbling (we won’t use the “c” or “s” words) in the middle of a recession. You’d forgive me if it seems that the real #1 goal here is to defend Obama at all costs, and that there seems to be an awful lot of projection and mindreading going on about the mental states of people who hate Obama personally and on and on. When you start from a false premise (‘you say deficits don’t matter!’) and use it to conclude that the personal has insufficient personal appreciation of the politician in question, it ought to be a warning sign. This isn’t coming out of nowhere.

    Obama, 2008: “Everything thing should be on the table” including raising the SS retirement age.

    2010: Bowles-Simpson; didn’t secure debt ceiling raise during tax cut debate

    2011: We start the year off with the leaders of both parties agreeing that a default cannot happen. 6 months later, entitlement cuts are being offered to secure the same increase. At no point anywhere in the debate has Obama attempted to use the GOP’s previously-stated position that default is unthinkable as leverage.

    It’s not like there’s no pattern, Marc. If you disagree with my interpretation of this stuff, or you say “Hey those are only 3 datapoints” or whatever, that’s fine. Feel free. But suggesting that only a crazy person would look at a 3-year-long track record of being in favor of or at least looking into entitlement cuts, combine it with the rhetoric of the last few weeks and conclude that the President sincerely wants to cut entitlements, then you really might want to think about who is behaving pathologically here.

  257. 257
    stinkdaddy says:

    BTW, I remember Obama saying some really nice stuff in opposition to the FISA Telecom Immunity bill during the primary. He said he’d filibuster the bill if it came to that.

    It came to that.

    He didn’t filibuster it.

    That’s true no matter how many firebaggers you call crazy.

  258. 258
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ stinkdaddy: It is probably true that Obama wants to find savings in “entitlement” programs (a phrase I abhor). He’s probably even eager about it. And many of the methods for doing so could be construed as “cuts.” By that standard, following that particular chain, sure, “the President sincerely wants to cut entitlements.”

    BUT BUT BUT the key bit is _what kind of cuts_. If you sincerely, genuinely, want to address the long-term deficit, that’s where the money is. That’s true whether you want to get started now or 20 years from now — but if you start now, as is the case with climate change, you might start to get ahead of the problem faster than if you keep waiting.

    I keep coming back to the same point. If it’s possible to make cuts that don’t harm beneficiaries, I don’t think that would be a policy problem. Far from it. It might be a _political_ problem, insofar as it could be mischaracterized as “billions in Medicare cuts,” which is exactly what happened the last time.

  259. 259
    stinkdaddy says:

    @ Flip, 255:

    But the offending concept, or the sin against liberalism, would not be “cuts” nebulously defined. We need to be more specific about it.

    Well, what way of phrasing it would lead you to accept people being outraged by the possibility? Or if that isn’t what you meant, what was?

    I would suggest that part of the problem with things being nebulous has to do with this whole thing being done behind the scenes, by the way. We have no idea what’s going on, and every day there’s some new horrible-sounding report about what new concession Obama has put on the table. Maybe they’re anonymous ratfucking — maybe they’re true. Either way they’re one of the consequences of the chosen approach.

    FWIW, I don’t particularly like the sound of raising the eligibility age, especially when during the HCR debate it very nearly came to pass that the eligibility age was lowered.

    There are so many messaging screwups inherent in cutting Medicare/Medicaid here that it’s unreal. You can no longer beat the GOP with the Ryan Plan hammer, obviously, but it also undercuts your own message about ACA which relies on Medicaid expansion for something like 15 million new insured.

    Obama ’12: I expanded healthcare access, then I reduced it because I’m flighty and inconsistent!

    And then you have the one I mentioned earlier:

    Obama ’12: I tried to cut Medicare and Social Security, but the GOP didn’t let me!

    (And to save one poster the trouble, no I’m not saying they would literally make an ad with that content. I’m saying that’s the message it sends to voters.)

    But we can argue about these things without the “Aha! Obama unmasked as conservative who always dreamed of dismantling the Great Society” bullshit being peddled on these threads.

    Right, but what if we say the same thing without the sinister spin? What about “Obama has been saying he wants to cut entitlements since before he got elected, and now it looks like he’s going to do it. I don’t see how you square that with him being a progressive.” Is that out of line? It sounds like you’re talking more about tone.

  260. 260

    To continue with what Marc @251 was saying…

    And when Michelle Bachmann ascends to the White House, and Social Security and Medicare are wiped out completely (not just chained-CPI adjusted), Roe v. Wade is overturned and women are forced out of the workplace (in the name of “protecting the children”), DADT is re-instituted and discrimination against gay people is actively encouraged (hell, maybe Michele Bachmann’s husband will set up mandatory “re-education centers”), and Grover Norquist starves the government to little more than defense spending…they will welcome their new Bachmannian overlords.

    After all, they won’t be in the mode of the “Worst President Ever.”

  261. 261

    @TK-421 221

    “So, do you think you were the first to get the reference, or did everyone else get the reference and decide not to reward my star wars geek asshattery by engaging with me on that? Just curious.”

    Hmm…well, I can’t (and won’t) speak for everyone else, but in my case, yeah, it was a response. Then again, perhaps you can say that a lot of people just do not know that line. Not much anyone can do about that….

    (And why call it Star Wars geek asshattery anyway? Just asking…)

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