Chained CPI and the Fiscal Cliffs of Insanity

I’m not an economist. Math and I don’t get along. So I don’t have anything intelligent to add to the specifics of the current Progressive Freakout™ over the fiscal cliff negotiations. But one thing I’ve learned over the past couple years is that those screaming loudly about President Obama caving on this or that tend to be wrong, and embarrassingly so.

The biggest example is the Bush tax cut deal from December 2010. Mainstream progressives screamed that Obama had sold us out, totally ignoring that Obama made the deal with an obstructionist GOP in order to extend unemployment insurance that millions of American relied upon to, you know, live. (Notably, those screaming the loudest had no skin in the game.)

Another example is the debt ceiling negotiations from last summer. Again, mainstream progressives yelled that Obama put Social Security on the table and cited that as proof that he was trying to stick it to his base. Outrage! Betrayal! (One noted “Bold Progressive” even attacked Gabby Giffords for daring to vote for the debt ceiling compromise on her first day back to Congress after recovering from her shooting injury. Classy. That same “Bold Progressive” began fundraising for his organization based upon a misrepresentation of what Obama was trying to negotiate. (Joy-Ann Reid wrote about it here and Extreme Liberal wrote about it here.) Even Lawrence O’Donnell got fed up with these shouty progressives, pointing out that “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”) And, of course, once everything was agreed to, these shouty progressives were left standing with their asses hanging out — again. Same as it ever was.

Oh, and the biggest example is the Great Public Option Freakout™. Remember that? No, me neither. That’s because I’ve blocked that period of time from my memory.

So the fact that Adam Green and Bold Progressives are screaming about the fiscal cliff and demanding three dollars for whatever it is that they do is simply more of the same. They are yelling about Obama cutting Social Security because of something called chained CPI. Noticeably absent from their screaming is any discussion of chained CPI as part of the larger deal that President Obama is currently negotiating. Also noticeably absent from their screaming is any discussion of negotiation strategy itself. They want Obama to walk up to the table and say, “This deal or no deal.” Welp, that’s not how negotiating works. Trust me. I’m a lawyer. And of course, absent from boldly progressive screaming is any discussion of GOP chaos or the fact that Boehner does not have control of his caucus.

So considering that mainstream progressives don’t know what the full fiscal cliff deal is, and that they don’t seem to have a clue as to how negotiations work, and that no one seems to have a clue as to what the fuck Boehner is doing, let me pose a few questions: Is it possible that President Obama’s negotiating strategy is aimed at revealing Republicans to be the fail parade they are? Is it possible that he intends to protect the downtrodden from any pooch-screwing effects chained CPI will have? (To the extent you believe that chained CPI has a chance of becoming part of the deal — I don’t, because Boehner is incompetent.) Is it possible that people simply don’t know enough to be freaking out as much as they are?

I think it’s highly likely.

Considering that it is unclear how the chained CPI will dovetail with other policies that are on the table (which are as yet unreported), I’d say it makes sense to calm the hell down a little bit. Whether or not you view chained CPI as a “cut” (as most do) or as a reduction in total lifetime benefits (as Deaniac at The People’s View does), as long as the outcome of the fiscal cliff deal, chained CPI and all, won’t screw seniors or the poor in the pooch, won’t you be satisfied? How about if I tell you that President Obama favors such non-pooch-screwing deals (as Deaniac has written here and here) and as Greg Sargent points out here:

However, according to an official familiar with the talks, the White House continues to insist on various ways of softening the blow of “chained CPI” that are supported by progressive economists, though the details are still unclear. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is willing to support “chained CPI” if it is offset with a small increase in Social Security benefits for longtime beneficiaries and an exemption of of Supplemental Security Income, which is geared towards the poor and disabled. And so, a lot will depend on what the final agreement on Social Security looks like.

So, even assuming that chained CPI is a cut, it won’t have the effect that Grayson and PCCC and the others screaming about this shit say it will have because it will be coupled with other mechanisms that will offset any bad effect chained CPI will have, as Deaniac explains here:

Let’s keep in mind that the president would accept such a deal, only if seniors and other recipients closest to poverty can be protected from adverse effects, while boosting benefits for the most needy. And, as with each of the previous iterations of this proposal, it will likely come with a new special minimum benefit to ensure that for the first time ever, no senior on social security has to live in poverty. Actual liberal policy think tanks (as opposed to screamtastic loudmouths) like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for American Progress have endorsed approaches exactly along these lines.And Leader Pelosi, who has more progressive bona fides in her left toenail than all the howling “Left” groups combined, just let the cat out of the bag:

Asked whether she considers chained CPI a benefit cut, Pelosi told reporters Wednesday, “No. I don’t. I consider it strengthening of Social Security.”

But but but… won’t this still reduce the total lifetime benefit of a senior? Yes, insofar as each additional year lived is an increase in one’s lifetime benefits. The only way you can honestly term the Chained CPI measure a “cut” is if you are willing to also make the case that every additional year lived is an “increase” in benefits. Which of our beloved defenders of Social Security would like to make this case to seniors, please step forward.

Chained CPI is not a cut in baseline benefits in Social Security. Even Paul Krugman – the Professional Left’s greatest self-proclaimed bearded professor – admits that initial benefits are determined by one’s earnings, but that chained CPI would reduce the rate of growth of those benefits by about 0.3%. For every “progressive” who believes that such slowing of the rate of growth is a “benefit cut,” I would like them also to step forward and with a straight face, tell me that cutting the rate of growth of defense spending is a “cut” in defense spending. If you think you’re a liberal, go ahead and try to say that. Out loud. With a straight face. You can’t do it, can you?

Yes, I know — I just threw a lot of wonky political jibber-jabber at you, and you probably didn’t read it, so I guess the bottom line is this: We don’t know what the final agreement will look like, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. Sign petitions. Make your opinion heard. Scream at someone you don’t know on Twitter. But when you start dipping into the “Obama Caved He Sold Us Out OMG What’rewegonnado?!” pool, it might be time to slow your roll. When you start accusing people of having no idealogical core (as one “Bold Progressive” did to me last night because I had the temerity to tweet Deaniac’s above-quoted post), you might need to reevaluate some things, because screaming about Obama selling out his base and Obamabots when you’re not even discussing the full deal because no one knows what the full deal even is?

That’s horseshit.

Ultimately, I think Chris Savage of Eclectablog nailed it in July of last year when he wrote about the debt ceiling shenanigans:

But, hey, it all goes back to the whole preemptive whinging thing I wrote about before. To recap, here’s how it goes:

  1. Read the day’s headlines.
  2. Determine a spin that characterizes the President and his administration in the worst possible light.
  3. If such a spin does not exist, postulate what the President and his administration’s response will be. Make sure that it is as negative as possible, even if it contradicts his past behavior.
  4. Write endless blogs on how the President has once again sold his “base” down the river and kicked hippies in the teeth (after punching them, of course.) It is not necessary for him to actually have done this. Your prediction that he WILL do this is sufficient.
  5. When what you predicted turns out to be quite wrong, ignore that and focus on the next day’s news item. No point in issuing a mea culpa. Just raise a fuss about something new and nobody will notice.
  6. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Indeed.

Right now, emails are flooding my inbox demanding that I sign this or that petition expressing my outrage about “Obama’s proposed Social Security Benefit Cut.” Right –except the cut is part of a package, and we don’t know what that package is. (If Greg Sargent doesn’t know what it is, it’s safe to say that nobody does.) So while I’m happy to stand up and shout “no cuts to Social Security,” if the ultimate deal “cuts” Social Security in a way that doesn’t measurably harm seniors, the middle-class, or the poor, then I’m fine with it.

Freak out if you like, but I’m going to wait and see.

[cross-posted at ABLC]

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174 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    Denial. It’s not just a…

  2. 2
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Unemployment runs out for 2 million people on 29 December.

  3. 3

    You know, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last four years, it’s that I can trust President Obama. I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many Democrats to do the same.

  4. 4
    4tehlulz says:

    Boehner trolls himself:

    The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation’s crippling debt. The Senate must now act.

  5. 5
    Lolis says:

    I agree. I bought into some of the past progressive freakouts and donated money to the cause. If you notice in the freakout emails they always ask you to give money. I am not a fan of chained CPI but I also read that Obama proposed changing something that would increase benefits for low income seniors who need it most, which is why Boehner was not going for it. We don’t have the full story. The president has earned some trust from me and I am saying that from the rational part of my brain. I am not against pressure or advocacy of the president. I am just unwilling to assume the worst about his negotiating skills and leap to the conclusion that he is betraying me and everyone who needs him.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S.: Why would you choose to trust any politician?

  7. 7
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    I would like them also to step forward and with a straight face, tell me that cutting the rate of growth of defense spending is a “cut” in defense spending.

    I agree with pretty much everything you said about negotiating and all, but I will tell you with a straight face that cutting the rate of growth is a cut in defense spending.

    It might not reduce next year’s payment below this year’s, but yes, it is a cut in what we had expected to pay. That means we’ll have money left over in the budget to spend on something else.

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @Lolis:

    I am not a fan of chained CPI but I also read that it would change something that would increase benefits for low income seniors that would need it

    And I’m a French model.
    Bonjour!

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    Boehner pulls Plan B from a vote because he doesn’t have the support.
    This should be a very, supremely, clear marker to the WH at this point.

  10. 10
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Thank you, ABL. With all the potential ways “the least of these” could be impacted by a bad deal, I think it’s important to remember the real victim here is Obama.

  11. 11
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @4tehlulz: Wonder how soon Boehner will be replaced by a T’Bagger. Just don’t see him hanging on much longer. He cannot control the crazies in his own party.

  12. 12
    chopper says:

    @Lolis:

    If you notice in the freakout emails they always ask you to give money.

    aint no mark like a whiny progressive. easier pickins than religious conservatives, but not by much.

  13. 13
    dmsilev says:

    @Corner Stone: So what does John Boehner do now? Besides drink heavily; that’s a given.

  14. 14
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    i think that the WH knows a great deal more about all the comings and goings of this whole process than you do.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Did Boehner just get his balls handed to him on a plate?

  16. 16
    chopper says:

    @dmsilev:

    what he’s been doing the whole time. try to put all the blame on obama. it isn’t working, but he’s gotta keep trying.

  17. 17
    JustAnotherBob says:

    If moving to “chained CPI” is the cost of killing the Party of NO and their 100% stance against tax increases, so be it.

    A slightly lower rate of Social Security payout growth won’t harm middle class people for a couple of years.

    Then, if we really care, we can show up at the polls, take back the House and make adjustments as needed.

    If we had shown up in 2010 we wouldn’t have this problem now.

  18. 18
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Sounds a bit defensive, and nervous in the service, ABL.

    Let’s wait and see how this dust-up settles. Then, let the outrage begin.

  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:

    @chopper:

    i think that the WH knows a great deal more about all the comings and goings of this whole process than you do

    Holy fuckballs, I mother scratching hope so. Please FSM, let it be so.
    But there aren’t a lot of facts in evidence to this point. And sticking your head between your legs and hoping for a smooth landing isn’t exactly a plan.

  20. 20
    General Stuck says:

    You know, it would all be amusing at worst, but the trouble is long term building of urban myths about how Obama has gone about dealing with the wingnuts has taken root in various quarters of the msm, largely coming from prominent liberal blogs. Myth based on political rhetoric, rumors, and mysterious unnamed sources talking to eager beaver reporters and bloggers who cheerfully, and almost always wrongly bleat the latest fear of betrayal by Obama. It has become a cottage industry with the internet, and I can’t find any way that is a good thing for democrats liberals and progressives. It is okay to question what is happening, and to ask reps what is going on, and giving your opinion about this or that policy preference. It is not okay to manufacture one meme after another that Obama is caving, capitulating, surrendering, or whatever the judgements are based on nothing factual. That is not helping.

  21. 21
    ABL says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): outrage delayed is no outrage at all… or something…

  22. 22
    Regnad Kcin says:

    Is Boehner using the same wind we’re using?

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @dmsilev:

    So what does John Boehner do now? Besides drink heavily; that’s a given.

    Besides drink and cry, he doesn’t have many cards left to play.
    But, what is obvious to almost everyone, is that he never did in the first fucking place.

  24. 24
    Joe Buck says:

    There is no reason to bring Social Security into these discussions at all. It is not contributing to the deficit in any way.

    Since you admit that you and math don’t get along, please allow me to explain the issue. Chained CPI is a gimmick to allow benefits to be raised more slowly than inflation. The idea is *not* to measure inflation more accurately, because if they really measured what seniors need to spend they would see that it’s going up *faster* than the standard CPI. Chained CPI is based on the idea that people substitute cheaper products for more expensive ones, so we should pretend that the cheaper products are just as good. Taken to the extreme, we could pretend that cat food is just as good as tuna fish, so if seniors resort to eating it because they can no longer afford tuna, no problem, just pretend cat food is tuna.

    One of the current proposals on the table is that chained CPI would kick in after you retire, so your benefits rise more slowly than inflation. No matter that an 85 year old typically will have higher co-pays than a 65 year old, the proposal is that her real income would be lower. If the difference is 0.5%, compounded over 20 years, that comes to a 10% cut (actually more like 10.5% because of compound interest).

    Most elderly women of color have nothing to live on but Social Security, and it is barely enough for survival. We can’t accept that it goes down, not even a little bit. Unfortunately, too many of Obama’s financial advisers hail from Wall Street or plan to go there when they leave public service. I think that Obama cares about the poor, but he has surrounded himself with people who clearly do not.

  25. 25
    efgoldman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    This should be a very, supremely, clear marker to the WH at this point.

    To do what, exactly?
    I’d send Jay Carney out for the press gaggle tomorrow to say, specifically, that the Speaker has no control over his own party caucus and can’t deliver anything he negotiates. Fuck ’em. Orange Satan’s going to be fricasseed by Granny Starver and Cantor the Weasel anyway. Might as well make it as ugly and public as possible.

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Did Boehner just get his balls handed to him on a plate?

    What balls?

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Did Boehner just get his balls handed to him on a plate?

    Like a couple olives in his martini glass.

  28. 28
    Paul says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    If moving to “chained CPI” is the cost of killing the Party of NO and their 100% stance against tax increases, so be it. A slightly lower rate of Social Security payout growth won’t harm middle class people for a couple of years. Then, if we really care, we can show up at the polls, take back the House and make adjustments as needed. If we had shown up in 2010 we wouldn’t have this problem now.

    Indeed. Democrats can’t complain. Not voting in 2010 is what caused this.

    But I’m not OK with a cut to the SS. We are already spending more on our defense than the rest of the world combined. Why should we cut SS when we can easily cut defense and still be safe. By the way, most folks 55+ vote Republican. If informed about I would assume they aren’t OK with it either.

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    @efgoldman: That is some version of what they should have been doing the entire time. There was an election. People spoke loud and clear.
    Why do people in the WH keep expecting, or making moves, like there’s a rational actor on the other end of the line?
    There isn’t! He can’t make the waitress bring him the right Merlot at this point. Why are we chipping SS benefits and debt ceiling raises in the mix?

  30. 30
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Will the Soldier of Orange survive?

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    I wouldn’t trust Steve Benen to handle my dry cleaning. Guy looks like a supreme weasel.

  32. 32
    ABL says:

    @Joe Buck: I understand what chained CPI is, at least to the extent that you explained it. If you read the post, the point is we don’t know what other things will be done to make sure that poor elderly women of color (seriously?!) don’t get screwed.

    That kind of was the whole point of my post.

  33. 33
    Richard Fox says:

    Several times over the past two days I have contemplated responding to various hysterical posts over at Daily Kos, only to refrain from sending out any pearls of wisdom. Wading into the stream of invective seems so pointless and depressing a prospect that I hold back. I know there are plenty of folks who don’t jump from buildings at every perceived weakness on the President’s part. I am sure the vast majority of Democrats support what he is trying to do and believe (as I do) that he is an honest broker in a difficult bind. I do wish those who shout loudest would simply stop, but know that is not in the cards. Never was and I suspect never will be.

    Regardless I like the fact the President keeps the larger picture in view, and actually has a pragmatic approach. And frankly it is so hard to care about Plan B or Plan A or Fiscal slope or orange Boehner being dropped by a golden eagle off a cliff or whatever the hell else is going on. Wake me up when they are done and then I’ll read up on it and figure what to think. Just glad he got reelected is my feeling. All the rest is static.

  34. 34
    efgoldman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    He can’t make the waitress bring him the right Merlot at this point.

    Maybe they don’t sell screwtop or boxed wines where he drinks.

  35. 35
    Djur says:

    It is fine and good to see Boehner have his ass handed to him by his own caucus. I wouldn’t bet on his retaining the Speaker’s gavel.

    At this point, I’m not going to assume that Obamar is going to SELL US OUT OMG, but Social Security cuts are not acceptable. And ‘chained CPI’ is a cut — a reduction in planned growth is absolutely a cut. Nearly every ‘spending cut’ is a reduction in growth, because spending almost always increases every year.

    And yes, reducing the expected rate of growth of defense spending would also be a defense cut. I don’t see why I should be unable to say that.

    Rep. Pelosi is a fine politician and I think we owe her a debt of gratitude for her work leading the Democrats in the House. However, she’s a politician and a party leader, and I don’t feel compelled to defer to her authority on what is or is not a cut.

    Social Security has nothing to do with the sequester. It has nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts. It has nothing to do with the payroll tax. It has nothing to do with unemployment benefits. Social Security has nothing to do with the ‘fiscal cliff’ and it should not be on the table.

  36. 36
    Neil says:

    I also have no clue what the impact of going off the cliff would be, but the ad hominim in this post… All I have to say is that a stopped clock is right two times a day. We need facts, not “well these guys were wrong about this and this and this.” why the hack should we allow something like this to happen when we don’t really have to? Especially if we dont’t know what will happen… Why play Russian roulette?

  37. 37
    Corner Stone says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): Who else would want his position at this point?

  38. 38
    efgoldman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Who else would want his position at this point?

    Oh, I think Cantor the Weasel is already measuring the dagger.
    Not that I think anything more will be accomplished, but at least he can speak for the TeaHadis.

  39. 39
    General Stuck says:

    As predicted, Plan b yanked. Just go home and try to enjoy Christmas, and put up the FUBAR sign on the Capital steps. If you can’t even pass this piece of shit for an alternative, then there is nothing but letting nature takes its course on what were always meant to be TEMPORARY tax cuts. I don’t buy the fiscal cliff stuff, and predict just the opposite as a period of hiring and average growth.

  40. 40
    Liberty60 says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S.: Thats where I am at.
    I can’t follow all the minutia about the chained CPI and whatnot, but guess what?

    I don’t have to.

    Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have all earned my trust in dealing with the GOP.

    Those freaking out have not.

  41. 41
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    just as much a plan as ‘losing your shit on the internet’.

    we’re all looking at this from outside based on anonymous leaks of information which are far from complete, and half i’m willing to bet are made up entirely.

    step back and consider what you actually know. boner can’t get the house to approve anything that would get through the door of the senate, much less past the president’s desk. right now it’s all about figuring out who’s going to take the blame, and obama is doing a pretty good job of hanging this around the neck of the GOP.

  42. 42
    Djur says:

    @efgoldman: I think Obama should embrace Boehner to the Kenyan bosom. Praise him for his efforts to bring his party to the negotiating table, and sorrowfully remark about how unserious elements in the GOP refused to work even with their own Speaker.

    I’m sure Boehner would appreciate the support during such a hard time…

  43. 43
    Holden Pattern says:

    If I understand the point here correctly, everyone is supposed to just trust the preznit with the sekrit negotiations, and ignore the stuff that is leaked.

    Until the deal is done, and then the same people who told us to just ignore the leaky stuff tell us that we shoulda speaked up earlier, because now it’s too late.

    Also, if this is a whole “deficit” thing (which is a problematic framing in and of itself), why, exactly, again are we dealing with SSRI, which can’t add to the deficit? To cut a deal? Which is sekrit except for the leaked stuff, of course.

    I wonder if it occurs to the trust-the-preznit-an-shutup crowd that the Chained CPI thing might be leaked precisely to give the cranky progressives something to howl about, so they can shut it down (or maybe, allow the serious centrists something to pivot against to show their serious centrist bonafides). It’s all so meta. Kremlinology!

    For the record, I voted for Obama with the full expectation that he was going to fuck over a lot of people, marginally less than Romney would. This is the choice: maximal suffering, or marginally-less-than-maximal suffering. But voting for the lesser of two evils given that choice doesn’t necessarily require that you cheer for any evil.

  44. 44
    Dr. Squid says:

    So who won Emoprog Buzzword Bingo with the latest fundraising letter?

  45. 45
    Baud says:

    @General Stuck:

    I’m looking forward to the cliff. It’s become a part of me now.

  46. 46
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    ABL, wtf are you doing here with your reasonable thoughts on this situation when ‘progressives’ are in full Kermit the Frog panic mode? Have you no shame?!

    Until they get down to brass tacks, it’s nothing but kabuki theater. Personally, I think Boner has little choice but to go off of the ‘cliff’ if he wants to save his speaker position. With the Teahadists like Erick, Son of Erick calling for his head on a rusty platter by having seventeen House Repubs give him the thumbs down on the speaker spot, doing anything even remotely reasonable before the House election is impossible/suicidal.

    If this is true, Obama could be pushing up his bargaining ‘cred’ with the public while knowing that nothing is going to happen. IOW, Obama is fucking with Repubs, which would be just fine by me. In the end, until there is something on paper being agreed to, it’s nothing but two cats circling each other, testing and assessing each others strengths and weaknesses.

    My money is on the black cat. :)

  47. 47
    General Stuck says:

    If Boehner is screwed as Speaker, then maybe a dead chicken will land on his head and bring the light to pass a clean fiscal cliff bill with dem votes.

  48. 48
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I think he’s the closest thing to a friend to Obama, right now.

  49. 49
    General Stuck says:

    @Baud:

    The fiscal cliff is my personal savior. I give my life and will to it.

  50. 50
    SST says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: Yeah. This. This right here.

  51. 51
    jl says:

    @Corner Stone: We need a film noire elegy for Johnny Bones, cheap two-bit hood who got too big for his britches in a bad neighborhood where hop heads smoke tea.

    I have no idea what this episode says about Obama, despite all the yelling the last few days. Did he want to cave? Want some BS grand bargain. I don’t know. Whatever. He needed something to cave-in to.

    How would a landslide get started if the rock underneath kept sinking faster and faster?

    If the House GOP disintegrates under its own lunacy, and the inept and gutless leadership of Johnny Bones, what any Dem wanted or was willing to do is moot. We get the fiscal cliff.

    When a bunch like the House GOP have a big say in what happens, a lot of people are likely to get hurt no matter what anyone else does, or wants to do.

    Maybe nothing to do at this point but enjoy the black humor of the House GOP post-punk slapstick kabuki.

  52. 52
    Dr. Squid says:

    @Baud: The balls that got cut off during the debt ceiling negotiations and fed to Mr. T.

  53. 53
    Lizzy L says:

    Chained CPI does reduce Social Security benefits. It’s a bad idea. (I’m a woman in my late 60s, so this is very personal.) However, it is possible to discuss the issue, even write e-mails to the White House about it (did that) or make calls to Nancy Pelosi’s office (did that too) without freaking out and going all Obama-Has-Sold-Us-Out-OMG. I think it’s a negotiating ploy and I think it’s stupid and objectionable, but the loud screaming coming from the left side of the room is embarrassing. State your position calmly and firmly, and keep stating it.

  54. 54
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    because going over the fiscal cliff isn’t going to be painless. some people are gonna get boned.

    obama doesn’t want to sit back and say ‘i won the election bitches, no deal’. he wants to set it up so the GOP takes the hit over it. part of that is coming off as the guy willing to come to the table and deal even if he knows it isn’t going to actually happen.

  55. 55
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You’re a French model in Texas? I take it you like to live dangerously?

  56. 56
  57. 57
    Corner Stone says:

    @chopper: Bullshit. Fucking bullshit.
    He’s set 4 years of being “the adult in the room”. He has multiple ways to continue being reasonable without backtracking what he said on debt ceiling and also putting SS benefits in play.
    That’s not reasonable. That’s not showing he’s an adult about the deficit. The deficit and SS have NOTHING to do with each other.

  58. 58
    Cassidy says:

    @Dr. Squid: Holden Pattern. He got all the buzzwords, except DROOOOOOOONNNNNNNEEEEEEZZZZ!, and kept it concise.

  59. 59
    gf120581 says:

    @chopper: You got it. And after tonight, he has pretty much won, since it’s clear now the Drunk Weepy Oompa-Loompa doesn’t have the ability to pass anything.

    The DWOL’s tenure as Speaker is officially on deathwatch as of tonight. We’ll see if Cantor finally buries the knife.

  60. 60
    NR says:

    The reason that now is the time to raise a racket about the chained CPI is that because once the final deal is made public, you and plenty of other people like you will be out there claiming that the chained CPI deal is nothing major, that it’s only minor cuts that no one will notice, and thank God that Obama was able to protect us from bigger cuts. Hell, you’re already doing it in this post.

    Then, when the Republicans retake the Senate in 2014 as a result of this deal, you and plenty of other people like you will once again blame liberals for staying home, and scream once again that Obama was betrayed by disloyal liberals who created a harmful narrative about him because they just couldn’t see how awesome he was for selling out the poor and the elderly.

    I’d rather not go down that road, thanks. And the way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to kill the deal before it happens.

  61. 61
    lumpkin says:

    We should not reflexively support the president. In fact, we should express our objections to everything we object to. And lots of people who supported BHO and contributed to his election, etc….still can be allowed to think that:

    a) Any cuts to SS are a really dumbass move that hurts people who have little just to soothe the feelings of people who have lots.

    b) Is politically toxic for the democratic party. Why take the first steps to destroy the very best example of liberal governance? This whole thing with Obama preemptively agreeing to cut SS is mind boggling. He is willing to make permanent cuts for poor people for some sort of temporary changes to tax shelters now. And the worst thing is it sets a precedent. SS is on the chopping block in every budget discussion from now on. Bad move.

  62. 62
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    look, going over this ‘cliff’ is going to have negative side effects. economic growth will slow down. unemployment will go up. it might not be too bad, or it could be enough to push us into a double dip recession (tho a mild one).

    do you think obama wants to be the guy who takes the blame for this shit because he was all ‘no deal, fuck you’? remember, this is america, where the electorate craves ‘bipartisanship’. even fake going-through-the-motions shit will do. look like you’re trying the hardest and make the other guy look like a buffoon when the nasty side effects come to pass.

    i shouldn’t have to explain this. it’s politics 101.

  63. 63
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You’re a French model for Oui? Now hold it a sec…

  64. 64
    NR says:

    @chopper: The way to make sure that the GOP takes the hit for unpopular cuts is to make sure that it’s actually the GOP that proposes the unpopular cuts.

    But Obama has decided that it’s better to propose those cuts for them. Go figure.

  65. 65
    Paul says:

    @Lizzy L:

    Great point. I already called my Democratic Senator and told them I objected strongly to a future cut in SS. The Democratic senate can stop this. Calling your representatives accomplishes something. What’s the point of yet once again calling Obama worse than bush on dailykos? And how did 2010 work out for that crowd?

  66. 66
    jo6pac says:

    I don’t want or need any chains, if you are confused on this please step away from your computer or better yet look into it for yourselves. The anyone collecting SS ( I’m doing that) will loose money and since I’m new please think about the ones in their 80s. I’m sorry that you miss the big picture but 0 is not on the side of us little people or on Main Street side and neither was the bat shit crazy person on the repug side.

  67. 67
    AxelFoley says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Denial. It’s not just a…

    Ni[CLANG!] in a woodpile?

  68. 68
    AxelFoley says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S.:

    You know, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last four years, it’s that I can trust President Obama. I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many Democrats to do the same.

    This.

  69. 69

    Didn’t the Mayans predict the Fiscal Cliff?

  70. 70
    jl says:

    As a oommenter earlier today said, only thing the House GOP can pass at this point is gas.

    So, yeah, I was officially concerned that Obama had any proposal at all concerning Social Security, especially since he, IIRC, explicitly took it off the table just a few weeks ago, and I sent an email about it.

    And a simple adoption of chained CPI would be over time a significant cut in Social Security payments.

    But the fact is that the topic is technical, it is possible to manipulate the way the chained CPI was used to redistribute benefits among retirees rather than cut them for the poorest.

    Fact, is, IMHO, we do not know enough details about what the WH was actually offering or would have settled for, or even what their reasoning behind it. So, I see no point in trying to dissect it to death in detail since we simply do not know.

    The signs that the House GOP could not do anything have been growing over time. It is certainly possible WH was doing some of its own kabuki.

    Edit: Recall, if the WH had decided some time ago that the House GOP could do nothing at all, then that meant fiscal cliff, and they had to plan on how to deal with the fiscal cliff garbage. Some day some egghead will write a history about it, and we might know enough details to dissect the WH moves to death then, or maybe not.

  71. 71
    Corner Stone says:

    @AxelFoley: Unlike you, troll, I knew about Remus and the sometimes misused phrase including a woodpile.
    Now go work on your puzzle question for the travelers that need to cross your bridge.

  72. 72
    Ken says:

    @Djur: It is fine and good to see Boehner have his ass handed to him by his own caucus. I wouldn’t bet on his retaining the Speaker’s gavel.

    It would be hilarious if Boehner were nominated and the Tea Party bolted to another candidate, or just sat out the vote, and Pelosi became Speaker. But I don’t think their party discipline has slipped that far.

  73. 73
    ShadeTail says:

    The alleged “liberals” who keep screaming about the President “caving” are no better than Faux “News”. They keep ignoring or even outright rewriting history to support their agenda.

  74. 74
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Give him a couple of pennies for the ride over River Styx.

  75. 75
    Corner Stone says:

    @chopper: You’re deliberately missing the point. There’s zero problem with Obama running the political game and saying, “Hell, I’m moving my $250K to $400K and I might look for higher targets if it makes sense! Let’s talk!”
    And him stepping back on the debt ceiling and also for some unknown and Godforsaken reason even hissing the words “social security” during this negotiation.
    No reason for either. The fiscal cliff is about deficit spending.

  76. 76
    chopper says:

    @NR:

    the president isn’t trying to get the GOP to take the hit for unpopular cuts. he’s trying to get the GOP to take the hit for going over the cliff. cause that’s what’s happening.

  77. 77
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @NR:

    Raising a racket is warranted and a good thing to do, no argument there. The problem is that the progressive fundraisers, I mean true progressives, at Kos and the like are in full fundraising mode, I mean Kermit the Frog panic mode. What they are doing is not productive, it’s deliberately inflammatory. They can’t just state the facts and push for citizen action in a way that doesn’t make themselves look like fools, noooo, that just won’t do for them. They want people RILED! People that are RILED DO SHIT!

    And donate to the cause, can’t forget that.

  78. 78
    ShadeTail says:

    @AxelFoley: Good call. Said commenter exposed himself as a white supremacist quite a while ago with his “people only support Obama because they hate white people” bile.

  79. 79
    Regnad Kcin says:

    @jl: RIchard Widmark, down by the wharves, with the gat

  80. 80
    azlib says:

    I did not like it when Obama made his what seemed to be unilateral concessions to the GOP. The problem with that is not technocractic. Even Paul Krugman said it is a close call whether the offer was an acceptable deal. It does depend on the other elements of the package. What is disturbing is the politics. Now the GOP has the cover to say the Dems cut SS. If you do not think they will use that line in 2014, remember the “death panels”.

    We progressives get into the policy and weigh tradeoffs. The Republicans only see the politics and simple, but effective messaging. Think about it. The Repub message in 2014 will be “Dems cut Social Security”. The Dem message will be what? “Well we sort of cut Social Security, but we mitigated it with unemployment benefits and some stimulus spending, plus some adjustments to benefits”. What message do you think will resonate with voters?

    We on the left do not play this game very well. Of course it may all be moot what with Boehner’s failure to pass “Plan B”. Now who does the WH negotiate with at this point in time? What happens when one of the lead negotiator quits the field? What a mess.

  81. 81
    Paul says:

    On MSNBC they just quoted a poll saying that 24% would blame the GOP, while 19% would blame Obama if they couldn’t strike a deal. And the rest would blame both equally.

    Just stunning numbers! So 76% of the American people are adamant that we don’t raise taxes on people making more than $250,000. Boy, we have an awful lot of millionaires in this country or an awful lot of people who, as always, vote against their own economic self-interest.

  82. 82
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    I don’t know why people are so stoked up about this shit when the world ends tomorrow.

    I plan on sleeping through it.

  83. 83
    PeakVT says:

    Freak out if you like, but I’m going to wait and see.

    The people who are freaking out are right in that waiting passively is not a good plan. We know there are plenty of Democrats out there who aren’t terribly liberal, and calling them up to push back on ideas that Pete Peterson types like is a good idea. For that matter, even calling up the craziest wingnut is worth the effort on big issues, because you never what might happen.

    What the people who are freaking out have wrong is making any of this personal to Obama. Maybe that’s what it takes for them to get motivated – a feeling of betrayal. But it’s wrong for them to feel betrayed by Obama because it’s very likely he never said what people think he said. And, of course, the President is not a dictator (unless Congress lets him be, which isn’t the case here). At some point in any negotiation it’s highly likely Obama will have to compromise.

  84. 84
    Raven says:

    @azlib: What’s all the WE shit?

  85. 85
    Regnad Kcin says:

    @azlib:

    I did not like it when Obama made his what seemed to be unilateral concessions to the GOP.

    Did you like with with the House?

    Did you like it with a mouse?

    Say, do you like it anywhere?

  86. 86
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chopper:

    He is indeed.

    It is glorious.

    The deserting coward tax cuts are toast. Time to hear the sweet, sweet wails of the 1%.

  87. 87
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Paul: Now you understand why Obama had to go through the motions, and make it painfully obvious that the wingnuts in the House would never say yes.

  88. 88
  89. 89
    guachi says:

    My take is that the whole reason to use chained CPI is to cut Social Security without making it really look like you’re cutting Social Security.

  90. 90
    Corner Stone says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Now you understand why Obama had to go through the motions, and make it painfully obvious that the wingnuts in the House would never say yes.

    Everyone on the planet knew this!! We’ve had 4 straight years to grok this!! It isn’t a fucking surprise to anyone. I hope.

  91. 91
    AxelFoley says:

    @General Stuck:

    You know, it would all be amusing at worst, but the trouble is long term building of urban myths about how Obama has gone about dealing with the wingnuts has taken root in various quarters of the msm, largely coming from prominent liberal blogs. Myth based on political rhetoric, rumors, and mysterious unnamed sources talking to eager beaver reporters and bloggers who cheerfully, and almost always wrongly bleat the latest fear of betrayal by Obama. It has become a cottage industry with the internet, and I can’t find any way that is a good thing for democrats liberals and progressives. It is okay to question what is happening, and to ask reps what is going on, and giving your opinion about this or that policy preference. It is not okay to manufacture one meme after another that Obama is caving, capitulating, surrendering, or whatever the judgements are based on nothing factual. That is not helping.

    Bingo.

  92. 92
    Corner Stone says:

    Please stop telling me Obama has to “appear” to be reasonable. he was ultra reasonable for four years and it got him nothing, over and over. The whole country saw that, recognized it, and came out to re-elect Obama when they saw the bullshit crazy the other side presented. Obama himself ran at times against the R side, and the crowds loved him for it.
    He does not have to prove those reasonable bona fides at this point. To who? Who’s left that needs to see this proof? Obama was solidly elected. Who’s left that can be persuaded?

  93. 93
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Corner Stone: Did you read the post I replied to? The vast majority of the country will blame both parties, despite the House being batshit crazy.

  94. 94
    Corner Stone says:

    @Hill Dweller: And I’ve seen repeated polls saying the president has a two to one advantage if we don’t get a deal.

  95. 95
    sylvan says:

    @Paul:

    It depends on how you ask the question. 53% pro Democrat seems to be the consensus.

    MSNBC has a habit of citing dubious outlier polls so they can invite some Republican hack onto Morning Joe without hurting his feelings.

  96. 96
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Paul:

    If you don’t have control of both houses and the administration then you’re likely to have to give up something you really want in order to get other things you want.

    Republicans are going to have to bend on taxes, and they hate that.

  97. 97
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    obama has to appear reasonable.

  98. 98
    Bill Arnold says:

    Is it possible that President Obama’s negotiating strategy is aimed at revealing Republicans to be the fail parade they are?

    Yes, it appears so. Takes some serious nerve and a better understanding of the Republican House than Republicans, though.

  99. 99
    AxelFoley says:

    @Corner Stone:

    @AxelFoley: Unlike you, troll, I knew about Remus and the sometimes misused phrase including a woodpile.
    Now go work on your puzzle question for the travelers that need to cross your bridge.

    Oh, juicy, sweet irony. I see projection is not just a Republican trait.

  100. 100
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Am I the only one who’s sick of the fact that SS is ultra-untouchable, and that’s why we continually get massive slashes in every other program year after year after year?

    I mean, I get it, I’d rather not cut anything too. But we really don’t need to cut everything else by 10% just because SS might take a 2% haircut otherwise.

  101. 101
    AxelFoley says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    @Corner Stone:
    Give him a couple of pennies for the ride over River Styx.

    Save your change, fuckwad.

  102. 102
    NR says:

    @chopper: Any points that Obama earns for “appearing reasonable” will be more than cancelled out by the fact that he tried to cut Social Security.

  103. 103
    Ruckus says:

    @Joe Buck:
    This is my problem with the chained CPI as well. Taken to it’s logical end the amount one receives will never keep up with inflation. The cheapest things are not necessarily good value but if one is forced to only be able to purchase the minimum price and quality what are we telling people on SS and all the other federal programs this would effect? That their lives are not worth even staying even? From an already pretty low bar. That’s the message that I get out of this, someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

  104. 104
    Corner Stone says:

    @AxelFoley: Whatever troll. Shouldn’t you be practicing your “jump out from under the bridge and yelling Boo! move” ?
    Oh wait, your record here where you show up in dead threads and quote people and say “this.” or call someone a “racist” or say something poignant like “fuck you, seriously” pretty much shows you’ve got the bridge troll thing down pat.

  105. 105
    PeakVT says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: SS has a separate budget. Cutting SS won’t do anything for the rest of the government. That’s why including it in current negotiations is wrong.

  106. 106
    different-church-lady says:

    I’ma just wondering when today’s progressives are going to light on to helpful distinctions between things like “applying pressure” and “freak out screaming.” Because they’re only the same if you’ve turned your thinker down to minimum.

  107. 107
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ruckus:

    That their lives are not worth even staying even? From an already pretty low bar. That’s the message that I get out of this, someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    It’s closer to say they would spend less and less on items they could “substitute” and more and more on medication and health care. Which is impossible to exchange for something else.
    What people like ABL and Martin don’t want to acknowledge is that the people on fixed costs aren’t equal to the average sample. People who need meds see their rate of inflation rise at a greater pace than the average sample.

  108. 108
    Ruckus says:

    @FormerSwingVoter:
    Then let’s find a way to fix all those programs and the fiscal problem.
    The reason cutting SS is a problem is that is all many people have to live on and it ain’t much. Try being over 60 and unemployed. SS is all you probably have left. And if you are in your early 60’s you have paid into SS your entire working life with the understanding that it would be there when you needed it. Now some are talking about, if not destroying it, working on making it even less than the minimal safety net that it is. It may not be politically possible to get it done but as Krugman has on numerous occasions pointed out it is a pretty simple process to fix the deficit. We don’t have to kill anything, just fix the bush tax bullshit and stimulate the economy and we are there. Of course it wouldn’t hurt to cut the last 100-200 billion of the defense budget while we are at it.
    After seeing what the President has done in the last 4 yrs I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt right now.

  109. 109
    Ellyn says:

    @Joe Buck:
    Thank-you for your comment. I was thinking about a reply to the writer. I don’t agree with him. I think it’s very dangerous to chip away at SS, especially during a time of recession when the gap between the rich and the poor has widened so much the US is looking a lot like a banana republic. Social Security does not contribute to the deficit and the Social Security surplus is what keeps the country going. About 40% of all monies the federal gov’t takes in come from payroll taxes. And the chained CPI won’t save much according to Mr. Krugman. In fact, it looks to me like a human sacrifice designed to prop up congressional republican egos. If they wanted good public policy they could allow medicare to bargain for drugs as the VA does. They could raise the payroll cap. There are a lot of good things they can do that won’t hurt old people. But the president is bargaining with trolls who don’t care about good public policy. In fact, good public policy is the last thing they want. Which is why I always scream like the progressives the writer described with such disdain. I put pressure on my Congressional rep, who is a good rep as reps go. I write letters. I comment here and elsewhere because I believe I, we have to help the Democrats to do the right thing. I even call Boehner’s office. He’s the speaker, after all. I sing songs at rallies and demonstrations with other Raging Grannies and I belong to CARA and to NCPSSM which are groups whose sole purpose is to protect SS and Medi/Medi. I listen to what they say because I don’t trust politicians to always do the right thing.

  110. 110
    Ellyn says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Very true and the older you get, the more likely it is that your health will deteriorate and you will spend more and more on copays and meds.

  111. 111
    mclaren says:

    You don’t have to know any math to realize that the chained CPI scheme merely strips out the cost of living adjustment for Social Security.

    Therefore as inflation rises, social security payments won’t. That’s a cut.

    Wake up and smell the latte. Obama is, as predicted, cutting social security. Obama already called Paul Ryan’s insane scheme to voucherize (privatize) medicare “a legitimate proposal,” medicare cuts are a done deal.

    Next up: nationwide curfews and military checkpoints all over the country manned by soldiers who “indefinitely detain” all citizens failing to show the right papers.

    1935 came early this year.

  112. 112
    Ruckus says:

    @Ellyn:
    This really is the crux of being a good citizen. One doesn’t have to act or be crazy to get attention for issues that affect the majority of us. But not speaking up is like not voting, you get what out of it what you put in.
    We are supposed to have a representative government but many congress people only represent themselves and those willing to pay them. So we have to make ourselves heard and our presence felt. We do that by contacting our reps and by voting. It doesn’t hurt to hit those paying for bills and votes against our needs in the pocketbooks either.

  113. 113
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Corner Stone:

    People who need meds see their rate of inflation rise at a greater pace than the average sample.

    This is a good point. Making med costs a part of the CPI for social security adjustment purposes should perhaps be part of the progressive agenda. This would put pressure on med costs (good), and is also an argument against chained CPI.

  114. 114
    different-church-lady says:

    @mclaren:

    Next up: nationwide curfews and military checkpoints all over the country manned by soldiers who “indefinitely detain” all citizens failing to show the right papers.

    The tells in your trolling are getting a little too obvious lately. This one practically screams “Problem?

  115. 115
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @Ruckus: Krugman’s fix involves letting ALL the cuts expire. I mean, yeah, the deficit is solved without touching entitlements if we go over the cliff permanently, totally screwing over the millions who are still unemployed for another couple years. Whoo-hoo, I guess.

  116. 116
    Lojasmo says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Show a SINGLE quotation attributable to Obama that speaks about decreasing social security benifits.

    JUST ONE. Or shut it.

  117. 117
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Whether or not you view chained CPI as a “cut” (as most do) or as a reduction in total lifetime benefits (as Deaniac at The People’s View does),

    This is incoherent. How is a reduction in total lifetime benefits different from a cut? Are we dancing on pin heads now to justify this?

  118. 118
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @Lojasmo:

    Show a SINGLE quotation attributable to Obama that speaks about decreasing social security benifits.

    Welp:
    “Social Security is structurally sound. It’s going to have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and Speaker — Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill. But it is — the basic structure is sound”

    That would be the deal passed in the Greenspan commission. The one that, among other things, cut social security by increasing the retirement age to 67.

  119. 119
    dollared says:

    @Lojasmo: Jay Carney, Obama’s OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON: It’s a “technical fix” to better track inflation. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/.....aspx#page1

    OK? Or do you prefer Nancy Pelosi’s direct endorsement?

  120. 120
    dollared says:

    The real tell is when ABL feels the need to lie her way around the issue. Then you know it’s part of the Offical Obama Plan to Present Himself as a True Centrist.

  121. 121
    Lojasmo says:

    @NR:

    That’s not a “fact” chief. If Obama had wanted to cut SS, it would have been cut tonight.

    ETA: Not ONE conservadem voted for plan B.

  122. 122
    dollared says:

    And guess what? Every swing voter is a middle class person who doesn’t give one shit about protecting the very poor. But the real middle class is who Obama fucks hard with this proposal. You see, I paid in near the limit every year. So I get the full 10% cut on the largest base. About $50,000 in the first 20 years. Fifty. Fucking. Thousand. Dollars.

    And the best part? The next Republican president with apply Chained CPI to food stamps, and fuck the poor even harder. Thanks to Obama.

  123. 123
    dollared says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: No, we fucking cut defense, because it is DOUBLE what it was 8 years ago. We could cut it $100B tomorrow and not have to cut anything else. We could cut it $200B and fund an incredible amount of stimulus, and fund every green energy program we need. We are fucking the middle class to protect defense fucking contractors.

  124. 124
    Lojasmo says:

    @dollared:

    None of those people is Obama.

    @The Tragically Flip:

    A debate quote? really. Also, why don’t you past the rest of the damn thing for me?

  125. 125
    Tonal Crow says:

    Ah, that’s proper BJ trolling, that is. Pass out the guns and get the circular firing squad humming. Hmm, I wonder who benefits from that?

  126. 126
    dollared says:

    @Lojasmo: Now you’re being a complete as$wipe. His official spokersperson is exactly that. Are you too stupid to understand agency?

  127. 127
    PST says:

    If the President and the Democrats have to make some concession, chained CPI is a good one because it is so easy to repair. The reduction in the rate of increased benefits starts out very slowly. Any time the Democrats get a majority or the mood of Republicans changes this can be quickly corrected. And I would expect the mood of Republicans to change because seniors are their biggest supporters. If we were cutting food for children or something else Republicans hate we might never get it back, but social security is just exactly the program I would expect them to reverse themselves on down the road.

  128. 128
    Keith G says:

    @Tonal Crow: Since these are just comments on a blog, can’t say if anyone benefits, or doesn’t.

    ‘Tis interesting to see a few so exasperatedly defensive.

    It does look like it is very possible that a final deal will limits rates of growth to below what some will face as real inflation, but we will see.

  129. 129
    Fwiffo says:

    Freaking out may be a necessary part of the negotiating process. With the left flank freaking, Obama can say “see, there are people on my side who are really mad at me for these concessions! I’m giving stuff up and being reasonable!” If everybody on our side was happy, it would be easier to extract even more concessions.

  130. 130
    NR says:

    @Lojasmo:

    That’s not a “fact” chief. If Obama had wanted to cut SS, it would have been cut tonight.

    Um, no. Obama wanted to cut Social Security. Boehner said no. Sure, he said no because the deal wasn’t shitty enough, but the fact remains that if he had said yes, SS would have been cut.

    Trying to deny the facts of the situation is pretty pathetic.

  131. 131
    jamick6000 says:

    To summarize: it’s far too early (of course) to criticize Obama, but it’s never, ever too early to praise Him for His negotiating strategy, wisdom and alleged concern for the vulnerable.

    The only thing we can know for certain is that the president will protect the elderly, until we don’t and then we’ll know that he did his best and it’s the Tea Party’s fault.

  132. 132
    NR says:

    @Lojasmo:

    None of those people is Obama.

    So Obama’s official spokesperson doesn’t speak for Obama now? What the fuck is his job, then?

  133. 133
    Carl Nyberg says:

    What’s wrong with telling the GOP?

    “I tried to negotiate with the GOP. The House Republicans delivered much complaining, but few solutions, and notably, no bill.

    “I encourage Speaker Boehner to call the Senate Democrats bill for a vote. If the House fails to pass this bill, it will be because Republicans almost entirely refused to vote for it.

    “While the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ is not an optimal solution, it is a solution that the Republicans insisted upon earlier in 2012. There will be deep cuts in military spending. Some of this will have to be replaced. But some of these cuts are healthy.

    “Either Speaker Boehner should provide the Republican votes to pass the Senate bill or he should acknowledge the House Republicans forced the federal government to have a ‘fiscal cliff’ and then forced the government to go over the fiscal cliff’.”

  134. 134
    NR says:

    @jamick6000: Yep. Voltaire satirized these kinds of people perfectly 250 years ago. God is good, therefore this is the best of all possible worlds, therefore any evil that happens is both absolutely necessary and the least that it could possibly be.

    All you have to do is replace God with Obama. Hell, lots of people here already have.

  135. 135
    PLH ~ NYC says:

    The fact that Nancy Pelosi backed up Pres. Obama yesterday is pretty good proof that he did actually offer chained CPI. The reflexive defense of the President does not help the progressive cause. I voted for him twice but he has done a lot of bad poker playing and I want him to stop. He doesn’t have to negotiate anything here but he is offering stuff that really looks like he breaking campaign promises. Chained CPI COLA for Social Security is a decrease in benefits over time. The President promised he would not cut Social Security. I want to make him keep his promise so I am going to make as much noise as I can and get other to so he doesn’t sell the New Deal down the river for another crappy debt deal that there is no reason to cut.

  136. 136
    jamick6000 says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: 85 year-old women will have $80 a month less for groceries, but some people are saying mean stuff about Obama on twitter, so He is also suffering …

    SHARED SACRIFICE, SEE. QED PROGS.

  137. 137
    jamick6000 says:

    As a trained lawyer, I know the best way to negotiate: Make concession after concession to the other side, while extracting nothing in return.

    hashtag get money

  138. 138
    dollared says:

    @PST: Yes, and on what fantasy planet would it be repaired? Instead, it would next be applied to food stamps, then applied to military retirement benefits, then to whatever else is currently indexed.

    After all, those Bush Tax Cuts were temporary and went away like a puff of smoke two years ago. Right?

  139. 139
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Ah, something just occurred to me. If you simultaneously move to chained CPI *and* create a more generous minimum benefit, what both of those end up doing together is effecting a new kind of means-testing. You’d be capturing all your savings from the high end, without robbing from the low end. I bet that’s the idea.

  140. 140
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    ‘Tis interesting to see a few so exasperatedly defensive.

    Fix’d. If you don’t remember having this exact same conversation during the health reform negotiations, during the DADT negotiations, during the lame duck negotiations, during the debt ceiling negotiations, you must have a very short memory.

    But, hey, I’m sure that this time will totally be the one where Obama sells us all out that you’ve been promising us for 4 years. At this point, you guys have cried wolf so many times I’m not even sure wolves really exist anymore or if you just made them up.

  141. 141
    Michael Dresslar says:

    Your friend Deaniac links to Krugman (for some unknown reason, as it does not support his/her argument), who has this to say about Chained CPI in the post:

    But then there’s the Social Security cut.

    Switching from the regular CPI to the chained CPI doesn’t affect benefits immediately after retirement, which are based on your past earnings.What it does mean is that after retirement your payments grow more slowly, about 0.3 percent each year. So if you retire at 65, your income at 75 would be 3 percent less under this proposal than under current law; at 85 it would be 6 percent less; there’s supposedly a bump-up in benefits for people who make it that far.

    This is not good; there’s no good policy reason to be doing this, because the savings won’t have any significant impact on the underlying budget issues. And for many older people it would hurt. Also, the symbolism of a Democratic president cutting Social Security is pretty awful.

    Deaniac then goes on to say:

    ” For every ‘progressive’ who believes that such slowing of the rate of growth is a ‘benefit cut,’ I would like them also to step forward and with a straight face, tell me that cutting the rate of growth of defense spending is a ‘cut’ in defense spending. If you think you’re a liberal, go ahead and try to say that. Out loud. With a straight face. You can’t do it, can you?”

    The sheer idiocy of this analogy is truly staggering. There is no law that controls levels of defense spending in relation to CPI, GDP, or any other economic factors. If there were such a law, and we changed it to reduce the rate of increase of defense spending, then emphatically “Yes”, I would consider it a cut in the defense spending for the years following that change. I don’t know of any reasonably intelligent person who would not.

    Benefits will less be LESS under this CHANGE IN THE LAW than they would be if that CHANGE did not occur. That is a benefit cut. So, please, any liberal, conservative, libertarian, or person with an IQ above 50, tell me (metaphorically), “Out loud. With a straight face.” that it isn’t. Please. I would love to read it.

    Reasonable and intelligent people can have differing (and valid) viewpoints on whether Chained CPI is necessary to get to a greater good somehow. But the argument that it is, by itself, not a cut in benefits, is just ignorant.

  142. 142
    NA says:

    @lumpkin:
    See Lizzie L.

  143. 143
    dollared says:

    @Mnemosyne: You mean where he sold out the public option and cemented the insurance companies in place forever, and also agreed to not negotiate pharma prices? Yeah, I remember that – I’m paying $25,000 a year in health care for my family right now because of it.

    And who gives a shit about DADT? The money guys don’t care about that. You think debt ceiling was a win? Tell me how it made the carried interest deduction go away.

    Show me some bankers that took the perp walk. How’s that LIBOR thing coming along?

    it’s about the fucking money. And I haven’t seen Obama win one of those battles. Ever.

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Last crazy thought before bed — if you wanted to put a kibosh on a deal between yourself and the House Republicans, is there any way to do it more guaranteed than having Nancy “She-Devil” Pelosi come out in support of the specific thing that the Republican Speaker has said is his non-negotiable point that must be in any plan that he brings to his caucus?

    That’s not even 11th-dimensional chess. More like poking the caged tiger in the ass with a pointy stick.

  145. 145
    dollared says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Actually, no. You are screwing everybody above $50k/year. It’s just like the perennial complaint about college that drove millions of middle class families to become Republicans: the Rich can afford college, the poors get financial aid, the middles get fucked. It’s sooooooooooooo stupid.

  146. 146
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dollared:

    Yeah, I remember that – I’m paying $25,000 a year in health care for my family right now because of it.

    How much would you have been paying if the status quo had remained? Have you gotten your Medical Loss Ratio rebate yet? Mine went directly to the company I work for, so nothing in my pocket.

    And who gives a shit about DADT?

    Lots of GLBT people and their friends and families. But I guess civil rights aren’t really your thing since you can’t put a dollar value on them.

    You think debt ceiling was a win? Tell me how it made the carried interest deduction go away.

    So — just to be clear — the debt ceiling and all of these other things only count as wins if you got the one, very specific thing that you personally wanted from them.

    Show me some bankers that took the perp walk.

    So, again, Angelo Mozilo agreeing to pay $67.5 million in fines and agreeing to never be an officer of a public company again doesn’t count because you did not get the one, very specific picture that you wanted to see on your teevee.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sensing a pattern here.

  147. 147
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dollared: it depends on where you set the minimum, I suppose. But if the intention is to raise the SS benefits of the lowest people on the totem pole, that pretty much ends the “grandma has to eat cat food” point. It could still be bad politics and bad policy, in that it has long been said that means-testing has the effect of turning social programs into “welfare” that can be demagogued against, but it would be aimed at a different target. I’ve never much liked the idea that one-percenters get a generous SS benefit based on their already ample lifetime earnings. I see why it was designed that way, but I’d rather see Senior Welfare than pay back rich people from the public treasury. But of course I say all this well aware that SS is not driving any fiscal problems these negotiations are supposed to be addressing.

  148. 148
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @FlipYrWhig: you could even call Senior Welfare the Bob Dole.

  149. 149
    dollared says:

    dupe

  150. 150
    dollared says:

    @FlipYrWhig: @FlipYrWhig: You don’t get it. For every 1 rich person who made 500k or $1M/year, there are 10,000 people like me who just made it into the top 10% of income, and had one good paycheck every year in December when we finally didn’t have to pay FICA, for one lousy pay period. And Obama is taking $2-3,000 per year from us. Not fixing the funding by lifting the cap. Not cutting the fuc*&ing F-35. Not fixing carried interest. No, they all got lobbies and he’s a f$#king p*&;sy. But for those of us who got just a bit lucky, he’s going to have us fuc@#ing pay for it. And it will cut my standard of living to lose 3-5% of my overall retirement.

    Me. Not any of the goddamn thieves. And 10 million more like me, the bottom half of the upper middle class. His educated base. We get to pay for Obama’s vanity, while the fundamental problems of our finance and our inequality remain completely unsolved. Tell me how that makes sense.

  151. 151
    Tim I says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    More like a saucer than a plate.

  152. 152
    Tim I says:

    @dollared:

    You poor baby. You’re only making $125,000 a year. I pity you for being so fucking unfortunate.

    What I really want to say is: Kiss my royal Irish ass, you ingrate!

  153. 153
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @NR: “All you have to do is replace God with Obama. Hell, lots of people here already have. “

    Hey birdie, your right wing is showing. You might want to tuck it back in if you want us to keep thinking you’re a firebagger.

  154. 154
    dollared says:

    @Tim I: Yeah, you’re not so good at math, are you? Maybe that’s why you don’t make much money.

  155. 155
    dollared says:

    @Mnemosyne: You are an amazingly dishonest person. 1) Angelo Mozila is still a multimllionaire, or didn’t you know that. And you know it’s the big banks and the hedge funds that really matter, and Obama/Geithner is protecting them. But you know that. 2) my point about DADT is that of course Obama won that fight, because the big money doesn’t care. 3)And the carried interest thing is an example – you know what those are? I mention it because it’s the least defensible tax break on the planet, but you could use many other examples – unnecessary aircraft carriers, subsidies to oil companies, tax rates, estate tax, etc. But you knew that – you just like to argue disingenuously. 4) and on that $25,000 in health care, it would be $2000 less if we could negotiate with pharma. And it would be $5000 less from a public insurance entity. But then you knew that – you just like to make dishonest arguments.

    Face it – Obama hasn’t done anything except buy reelection by buying off the big money. He has never won a battle with the money. That’s why DADT and gay marriage is such a big joke – it was the easy one, and I’m glad he went in for the layup. But it’s such a sign of weakness that that’s what we’re celebrating, when this Chained CPI proposal will be the biggest contribution to inequality since the Bush

  156. 156
    Quiddity says:

    Re:

    Trust me. I’m a lawyer.

    Very funny. That’s the “argument from authority” much beloved by the right. I suppose we should trust Scalia for the same reason.

    Nice to see that Balloon Juice is O-bot central when it comes to the debt/tax negotiations. Lot’s of ad hominem, which is par for the course, of course.

    … even assuming that chained CPI is a cut, it won’t have the effect that Grayson and PCCC and the others screaming about this shit say it will have because it will be coupled with other mechanisms that will offset any bad effect chained CPI will have …

    If we are going to offset it so that it’s effectively non operational, why introduce it in the first place?

  157. 157
    The Tragically Flip says:

    If Pentagon spending grew more slowly than inflation and thus shrank as a share of GDP, I would call that a cut, yes. Chained-CPI will shrink Social Security as a program, it is a cut too, even if the nominal dollar figure grows every year, it will grow slower than inflation.

  158. 158
    Paul says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    If you don’t have control of both houses and the administration then you’re likely to have to give up something you really want in order to get other things you want. Republicans are going to have to bend on taxes, and they hate that

    .

    Yup. But so do the Dems. And people don’t seem to like it as per a number of postings here. And this is what happens when you take every two years off from voting.

  159. 159
    Paul says:

    @dollared:

    That’s why DADT and gay marriage is such a big joke – it was the easy one, and I’m glad he went in for the layup. But it’s such a sign of weakness that that’s what we’re celebrating, when this Chained CPI proposal will be the biggest contribution to inequality since the Bush

    If DADT and gay marriage are so easy, then why didn’t Jimmy Carter,Bill Clinton and, George W Bush get them passed? Heck, if gay marriage is so easy, then why did it lose 32 times in a row in state referendums?

    It is so easy so sit behind a keyboard after the fact and claim that something was easy. But it is not so easy to actually accomplish something in real life. Big kudos to President Obama who actually did it!

    I am as against the chained CPI as the next guy. I called my Democratic senator and told him that. The Democratic senate can stop this. Did you call yours? Or is this only about (once again) giving Congress a completely free pass and blaming Obama for everything on the planet. Just like FoxNew do.

  160. 160
    xian says:

    @mclaren: “You don’t have to know any math.”

    That’s right, dearie.

    (pats head)

  161. 161
    xian says:

    @dollared: another petty tyrant

  162. 162
    Lojasmo says:

    @chopper: @dollared:

    Excellent. Ad. Hom. attacks. How about re-reading my initial request.

  163. 163
    different-church-lady says:

    @dollared:

    I’m paying $25,000 a year in health care for my family right now because of it.

    Yes. And you’d still be paying that much without it too. Except you wouldn’t have the protections you’re about to have. And there wouldn’t be any exchanges for you to consider, which (personal experience in MA) make it hella more affordable, except for the fact that they don’t fucking tell anyone about them.

  164. 164
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    How much would you have been paying if the status quo had remained?

    Funny how if the rate SS payments increase is less, that’s a cut in benefits, but if the rate insurance premiums increase is less, that’s not a cut in rates. Ain’t it?

  165. 165
    patrick says:

    would be hilarious if Boehner were nominated and the Tea Party bolted to another candidate, or just sat out the vote, and Pelosi became Speaker. But I don’t think their party discipline has slipped that far.

    speaker needs an outright majority, not a plurality..only way Pelosi gets the gavel is if you can convince 18 republicans to vote for Pelosi

    the issue with Chained CPI from an optics issue is it needed to come from Boehner’s mouth. that albatross has to FIRMLY be hung around the rethuglican’s neck. with Obama proposing it (or making it sound like Obama proposed it), it gives the rethuglicans something to weigh down dems on in the mid terms, like obamacare/death panels did in 2010. as it is due to redistricting/gerrymandering, you need 1.4 dem votes to 1 republican vote to elect a house member. it’s gonna be work to take back the house.

    the only saving grace with chained CPI is that it is back loaded, so there is time to fix it, if you trust a future congress to be able to do it….

  166. 166
    kay says:

    For myself, I think there’s some confusion between advocacy and information going on.
    Advocates push. They have an agenda. They anticipate. They try to move the conversation in their direction. It’s a perfectly respectable role, but it isn’t a dispassionate recitation of information. That isn’t what the job is about.
    I feel as if this confusion comes up again and again, but the best ( recent) example was when people were quoting Boehner saying he got “98% of what he wanted” as if John Boehner had sat down and done a score if his percentage win. That’s ridiculous. He’s not out there reciting statistics. He’s promoting himself and his Party. It’s FINE, but it isn’t “information”.
    We quote these people like they’re under oath and being deposed or something. It seems like a basic misunderstanding, a weird conflation of 2 very different roles that manages to damage and discredit BOTH advocate AND the dispassionate presentation of facts.

  167. 167
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dollared: yeah, we’ll, if you’re in the top 10% of income, even only just barely through pluck and gumption and talent, that’s quite a bit of complaining in pretty bad faith. It sounds like you’re saying that a shift in policy shouldn’t hit you, it should hit those _really_ privileged people conveniently just above you. You know who else complains in similar terms? Banker types in NYC. “Sure, I do well, but it’s not like I’m RICH.”

  168. 168
    different-church-lady says:

    @kay: Very good points. But myself, I’m not as concerned about the border between advocacy and information as I am about the one between advocacy and propaganda. ‘Cause lately there doesn’t seem to be any line of demarcation at all.

  169. 169
    different-church-lady says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Hey, at least he didn’t threaten to fire the gardener.

  170. 170
    Kay says:

    @different-church-lady:

    It’s frustrating, because it happens again and again and again. One I see a lot is labor advocates quoted as if they’re reading from a police report, when what they’re doing is their job, which is DIFFERENT than reading from a police report.

    When Richard Trumka says labor will punish Obama if Obama if Obama doesn’t do X, Y and Z, Richard Trumka is acting as an advocate. He’s pushing. He’s using leverage. Richard Trumka pushing Obama is NOT a factual representation of the relationship between labor and the Democratic Party. It’s just not. That’s not what he’s doing. I can’t use those quotes as “truth”. It damages advocates and it damages “truth”.

  171. 171
    patrick says:

    IMHO any solution that “strengthens” social security without a lifting or elimination of the payroll tax cap (which has everything to do with SS, since it’s the funding mechanism) is going to be a benefit cut from current law.

  172. 172
    NR says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Nice try. If I were a right-winger, I’d be arguing in favor of Obama’s Social Security cuts.

  173. 173
    Hunter says:

    OK — maybe one of your favorite level-headed analysts will discuss why Social Security is part of budget/deficit negotiations to begin with — it’s not part of the budget or the deficit. Is this some sort of strategic move — like, baffle them with irrelevancies?

  174. 174
    Ellyn says:

    @Ruckus:
    :-) Exactly.

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