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Obama goes to China
July 7, 2011 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Obama proposes Social Security cuts. Amid ongoing debt talks wherein the Democrats are seeking to raise the debt ceiling to prevent the default of Federal debt, "entitlement reform" has been a hot topic. This morning, Obama has taken the unusual step of proposing even larger spending cuts than Republicans have asked for, mystifying many. Has the Grand Bargain arrived?
posted by mek (363 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obama will be remembered in the future of the formulator of the "Bum Deal".
posted by dunkadunc at 9:33 AM on July 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


*as the formulator. argh.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:34 AM on July 7, 2011


In the future of the formulator, there is only war severe budget-gutting.
posted by griphus at 9:36 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Worst. Negotiator. EVAH.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:37 AM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


mystifying

Mystifying if you're not intersted in winning independent voters. No, there are not enough votes on the Left to make up for losing idependents.
posted by spaltavian at 9:37 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aaaand the largest lobbying group in the country just said the Democrats are dead if they try it. The usual suspects will soon be here to explain how this is all part of a grand great scheme that would, like, totally work perfectly if we all just weren't angry about it actually happening and now shut up and vote for him, hippie.

Oh, by the way, no president since the Great Depression has ever been re-elected with unemployment over 8 percent. But that's not important. It's totally all about debt reduction. Hope you all like looking at Mitt Romney's hair on the teevee.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Is he trying to throw the election?

I'm asking seriously here. Old people vote, they're the most reliable voters in the country and Obama just said "hey old people, don't bother voting for me I'll do even worse than the Republicans!"

WTF?

spaltavian Please link to polls showing that Americans desperately want Social Security to be cut. Last time I checked that was something voters didn't want.
posted by sotonohito at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Worst. Negotiator. EVAH.

He has not played his hand nearly as well as he could. But it is not over the cuts- getting to the standard "Democrat" vs "Republican" talking points that people here are asking for would not have made his position any better.

David Frum makes a far more powerful and accurate critique of Obama's negotiating:

Then, as Republicans discovered the power of their new tool, the president decided to assume they were bluffing, that they would never actually do anything so reckless. Waking up to the reality of the situation too late, he commenced bargaining by offering what he assumed would be an irresistible deal. Wrong again. The Republicans did resist. So Obama offered an even better deal -- which predictably only whetted the GOP appetite for still more.
Obama never publicly branded the debt ceiling as "if the Republicans force this country into bankruptcy." He issued no public call to constituencies like the financial industry to bring pressure to bear on the issue. He did not warn that he would manage any crisis in ways that Republicans would not like. ("If the Republicans in Congress deny me the authority to pay everybody, then I'm going to have to choose some priorities. I don't think it's likely that Texas-based defense contractors will find themselves at the top of my list.")
Instead, he appealed again and again to Republicans' spirit of responsibility.

posted by spaltavian at 9:40 AM on July 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


Anyone remember that he basically tried the same strategy with his health-care "reform"?

1. Propose terrible solution you think the Republicans will vote for.
2. Compromise with Republicans, who have even more extreme ideas about what a "good idea" is.
3. Give in to Republicans without saying a word in the name of "bipartisanship."

Hasn't the White House heard of the "Overton window"? Brief overview: propose much more extreme, radical idea than you actually want, then compromise towards the solution you actually desire. Either they haven't heard of this extremely basic piece of political strategy, or they don't have policy agenda that are significantly different from those of the GOP. I can't decide which would be worse.
posted by Electrius at 9:40 AM on July 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


Thus the Democrats will be blamed for cutting the lifeline of the elderly despite the fact that the Republican party has always opposed Social Security. SS was set up as an insurance program with people paying premiums during their working years. So denying the payoff of those investments is simply welshing.
posted by Cranberry at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Aaaand the largest lobbying group in the country just said the Democrats are dead if they try it.

So Obama's to the right of AARP now?
posted by goethean at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think he expects them to accept -- the teabaggers want to default, they want the government to fail. But with Obama having made this offer (which may not be sincere), it will be very hard for them to blame Obama when the default occurs and the markets crash. This is about putting Boehner in a squeeze.
posted by localroger at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Mystifying if you're not intersted in winning independent voters.

Kevin Drum, who would probably be the face used on the coinage if the concept of political moderation became its own independent nation, made the same point in a very polite version of "eat shit, hippies:"
This isn't what I want, and it's not what the progressive wing of the party wants. But the plain fact is that deficit cutting is pretty popular across the board, modest reductions in Social Security and Medicare will probably go over fine with independents, and anyway, liberals have nowhere else to go. A few might actually do what my friend threatens to do, but in the end it won't be many — especially after the Republican Party settles on a candidate and we've all had a year or so to get to hate him (or her). And Obama will raise a fantastic amount of money from wealthy donors who are OK with this kind of dealmaking regardless of whether the progressive blogosphere is happy with him. Like it or not, the sad fact is that Obama doesn't need us. We're mostly going to vote for him regardless of what he does, and he's going to get all the money and organization he needs without us. Lefties simply don't have much leverage these days.

So not only can the Democratic Party survive if Obama does this, it will probably flourish, electorally speaking. That's not a happy conclusion, but I think it's likely an accurate one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Thanks Obama for taking a stand against small government conservatives who want to throw a wrench in every social program and moving the government back towards center.

Oh, wait.

Shit.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:43 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


spaltavian Please link to polls showing that Americans desperately want Social Security to be cut. Last time I checked that was something voters didn't want.

He's not getting tagged with that. You know how Democrats are always, always better of security and foreign policy, but Republicans are usually seen as more trustworthy of those issues. Same thing applies here: the GOP will take that hit.

The hit Obama is trying to avoid is not doing anything about the deficit. So-called "runaway" spending, the debt and the economy (which have been inaccurately conflated in most voters' minds) are number one in the minds of independents.
posted by spaltavian at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2011


Regarding the thread title: wouldn't it be more acurate to say: 'Obama goes to Nazi Germany'? He's going to the right, not the left.
posted by goethean at 9:48 AM on July 7, 2011


Aaaand the largest lobbying group in the country just said the Democrats are dead if they try it.

Here's the thing: old people, including old democrats, abandoned Obama in both the 2008 primaries and the 2008 general. The price of taking your ball and going home is that he learned he could win without them.
posted by spaltavian at 9:48 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Regarding the thread title: wouldn't it be more acurate to say: 'Obama goes to Nazi Germany'? He's going to the right, not the left.

China is to the left of...whom?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:49 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most important problem facing the country (REP / DEM / IND)
53% Economy and jobs (55/57/50)
7% Budget deficit (10/7/6)
4% Health Care (7/2/4)
4% War/Iraq/Afghanistan (3/4/4)
posted by ofthestrait at 9:49 AM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, by the way, no president since the Great Depression has ever been re-elected with unemployment over 8 percent.

the important number is the rate of change of employment... which seems to be flat and to remain so....

He's not getting tagged with that. You know how Democrats are always, always better of security and foreign policy, but Republicans are usually seen as more trustworthy of those issues. Same thing applies here: the GOP will take that hit.

Same way he wasn't tagged with destroying Medicare with the health care reform proposal in 2010?

Unless the economy in the US starts adding jobs (starting with me) the election in 2012 is going to be seriously crazy.

So not only can the Democratic Party survive if Obama does this, it will probably flourish, electorally speaking. That's not a happy conclusion, but I think it's likely an accurate one.

Drum is wrong. The unemployment rate in the US is like when gas got up to $4.00/gal. People drive as usual until suddenly they stop. Voters may blame both parties for unemployment but there is going to be a .lot of blame to go around. Also, things didn't turn out so well in 2010 when the Democratic party stayed home: what's going to get D's to the polls in 2012?
posted by ennui.bz at 9:50 AM on July 7, 2011


Here's the thing: old people, including old democrats, abandoned Obama in both the 2008 primaries and the 2008 general. The price of taking your ball and going home is that he learned he could win without them.

Possibly, but didn't the droves of young people hopeful for change counteract this? It's my impression that this support has mostly evaporated into apathy, but I suppose we will see.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:51 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The title refers to the phrase "Nixon going to China"; only Nixon could go to China, only Obama could touch Social Security, as the analogy goes.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:51 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone actually have details on B.O's proposal?
posted by uni verse at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not surprised anymore. Historians are going to love this period.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I think it's time to take that Obama bumper sticker off my car. Besides the fact that the Republicans are worse, I don't think he deserves to be reelected.
posted by threeturtles at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Never, ever try to out-crazy the Republicans.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm incredibly suspicious of this uncited wisdom about "what independents want" that tends to float around in these discussions. Setting aside Bill Maher's rather accurate assessment of the decision-making process of the average American independent voter, this just reeks of typical Beltway groupthink. Most polls of undecided voters have indicated that they actually care about the economy more generally, and unemployment specifically. eg. this recent CNN poll.
posted by mek at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


but didn't the droves of young people

Nope. Young people have always been disappointed Democrats. Yes, the voted in larger numbers last time, but not as much as you'd expect for Obama.

Obama did get a lot of first time votes, but a lot of them were older, often minority voters, who do not have the same issue profile as 18-25 year olds.

Obama won because he got the professional class and the suburbs to vote for him. The Roosevelt coalition doesn't really exist anymore; a large number of votes came from people who would have been Republicans through a lot of the 20th century.
posted by spaltavian at 9:55 AM on July 7, 2011


A TPM reader had a good line:
The fact that someone is floating the idea that entitlement cuts are on the table and Pelosi and other senior Congressional Democrats inside the negotiations aren't going absolutely bonkers suggests an even scarier possibility. Specifically, it suggests that they've (very reasonably) concluded that the Republicans are so far around the bend that no deal is possible and, at this point, the "negotiations" are nothing more than mutual positioning to try to win what is seen as an inevitable post-apocalypse blame game.
What infuriates me is that this is so easy: just declare the debt limit unconstitutional and everybody goes home happy.
posted by gerryblog at 9:55 AM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Mystifying if you're not intersted in winning independent voters

Who are these independent voters, exactly? Most "undecideds" are undecided because they know jack shit, don't follow the news, etc.
posted by kenko at 9:55 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really glad I'm already planning to vote third party in 2012, because if I were still on the Obama bandwagon now, my head would be asploding from the cognitive dissonance necessary.
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


If I have to see that AARP commercial where old folks roll their eyes at pickle technology one more time, I might have to punch a grampa*. Not only is the commercial cynically disingenuous - the poetry in zoos is for kids to get exposure to poetry while they look at animals, not reading poems to giraffes! - but the amount of money spent on each of those "wacky" items is so, so small that it could hardly be an impact on anything at all. They just gloss over the "close corporate loopholes" bit and never get into the "repeal Bush tax cuts" stuff at all. Instead, they just sort of roll their eyes and Andy Rooney up the joint.

*This is a euphemism for taking a large dump. Do not harm elderly people.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, he's surpassed himself. Used to be his negotiation tactic was to start by offering the Republicans everything they want, and then go up from there.

Just when you thought he couldn't improve on that, he's moved up to making "more than you ever dreamed of" as his initial bid.

Here's an idea. How about challenging their narrative instead of joining it? How about pointing out that Reaganomics and supply-side economics and the whole free market as holy writ has let do nothing but a shrinking middle class, a hollowed out jobs and manufacturing base, Mexico-like wealth disparity? How about, I don't know, pushing back?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:58 AM on July 7, 2011 [23 favorites]


Specifically, it suggests that they've (very reasonably) concluded that the Republicans are so far around the bend that no deal is possible and, at this point, the "negotiations" are nothing more than mutual positioning to try to win what is seen as an inevitable post-apocalypse blame game.

I don't know, maybe a sleeper cell from the Baader-Meinhof infilitrated the Republican party 30 years ago and has been activated, but no way no how are the republicans going to force a default on US debt.

Obama has been signaling for years now that he wants to cut social security control entitlement spending.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I feel so fed up with Obama. I really hope this puts to rest the idea that "in his heart, Obama wants to do the right thing, but he just can't because he's constrained by [political reality/the economy/the Republicans in Congress/insert excuse here]."
posted by overglow at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


kenko, yeah. Exactly. To paraphrase a great thinker; you have elections with the voters you have, not the voters you may want.
posted by spaltavian at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2011


Is he trying to throw the election?

Looks that way to me.

If he wants to cut SS, then he should allow those of us who have put money into it to withdraw all of it, sans taxes & interest. It would be only fair since the "contract" that is implied with paying into SS is now being altered.

"Pray I do not alter it further".
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think a lot of people here are jumping to conclusions based on the headline. We certainly don't know any details about what's being proposed or what would be gained in exchange for a possible cut to Social Security, or whether, as gerryblog points out, this is merely a negotiating tactic. No need to freak out.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


ennui.bz -- but you have to explain why Pelosi isn't bashing this plan.
posted by gerryblog at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2011


How about pointing out that Reaganomics and supply-side economics and the whole free market as holy writ has let do nothing but a shrinking middle class, a hollowed out jobs and manufacturing base, Mexico-like wealth disparity?

Obama doesn't do any of that because he thinks that Reagan was right.
posted by theodolite at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


If anyone knows about an awesome third party candidate who actually stands for the things Obama said he did on the campaign trail, let me know.

I really don't think change is going to come to this country through elections and political parties, though. Certainly not directly. Why do all the sensible liberals think "Civil disobedience" means being polite?
posted by dunkadunc at 10:02 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


There is only one party in America and both Obama and John Boehnner belong to it. How much more proof does one need?

Obama's legacy could have been as the Martin Luther King of his generation but instead he will be remembered as the Herbert Hoover.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:02 AM on July 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think a lot of people here are jumping to conclusions based on the headline. We certainly don't know any details about what's being proposed or what would be gained in exchange for a possible cut to Social Security... but you have to explain why Pelosi isn't bashing this plan.

because he's probably proposed tinkering with the COLA/inflation adjustments for SS payments. but it doesn't matter what he actually proposes; he now owns that headline.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:04 AM on July 7, 2011


Exactly. I think this overture re: Social Security fits in with the expectation that Obama will exercise the 14th amendment option. If he's willing to do that, then suddenly the Republicans have no hostage to hold, and they will be much more cavalier about NOT making a final deal, forcing Obama to resort to the 14th amendment option. This lets them scream "Unconstitutional!" and begin impeachment proceedings, in order to give their base some red meat. I think the Dems know this is coming and thus want to appear as conciliatory as possible so that moderates continue to flock to (and hopefully turn out for) the Democratic party.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:05 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT IS THE BIGGEST ENTITLEMENT EVER. CUT THAT SHIT ALREADY. WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER AIRCRAFT CARRIER. THE 1979 SOVIETS ARE NOT GOING TO ATTACK US.

oh, and also,

TAX THE FUCKING RICH ALREADY!
posted by Afroblanco at 10:05 AM on July 7, 2011 [59 favorites]


Tinkering with SS inflation is nothing. DC still has no plan to deal with the cost of medicare. Long term budgets without major adjustments to health care spending are wishful thinking.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:06 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Innocents, skeptics and cynics--one does not successfully manage a government by ideology or wishes. Modifications to Medicare and Social Security are as essential as tax increases and revisions of the tax code for long term stability. I admire Obama for working to negotiate a balanced budget through extremely difficult times. This is a mean spirited time of substantial economic, social and cultural insecurity. The gap between the monied and most of us is embarrassing, destabilizing and an obscene social tragedy. Nevertheless, that does not lessen the need to better manage entitlements and strike a deal in an almost untenable political context. I wish him nothing but success and look forward to the all important details where life will be lived.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:07 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I assume it's merely a negotiating tactic, you give me increased revenues and I'm willing to cut entitlement spending.

This is knowing full well that the Republican base won't agree to revenue increases and the rest of the country won't agree to entitlement cuts (except maybe a postponement of the retirement age).

Obama looks like someone willing to compromise to get stuff done and when it inevitably falls through the Republicans seem like they were at fault.

It's just Clinton style political triangulation yet again.
posted by vuron at 10:07 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president” - Barack Obama
posted by mullingitover at 10:08 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'd never heard or read that fantastic speech by FDR (quoted at Digby's Hullabaloo) :

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

posted by straight at 10:08 AM on July 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


There's going to be a white house briefing soon on this issue. Link
posted by ofthestrait at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Obama-Keynes Mystery
posted by homunculus at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Democrats need to use every trick in the book to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. This is the thing the Republicans fear most, and it can be done if they have the will. This will bring them crawling and blubbering to the negotiating table.

But the Dems don't have the will, or the spine, and certainly not the solidarity to pull that off.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Exactly. I think this overture re: Social Security fits in with the expectation that Obama will exercise the 14th amendment option. If he's willing to do that, then suddenly the Republicans have no hostage to hold, and they will be much more cavalier about NOT making a final deal, forcing Obama to resort to the 14th amendment option

You still thinking he's playing three-dimensional chess? Because I think he's playing Monopoly and it's time to pay his rent to the people who own Park Avenue. Also, the White House has already signaled that they are not going to use the 14th Amendment Option.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is knowing full well that the Republican base won't agree to revenue increases
Several key members have made comments to the direct opposite of that if they were to get concessions on entitlements.
posted by uni verse at 10:12 AM on July 7, 2011


He's done it, finally. He's made me regret voting for him.
posted by tommasz at 10:12 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


“I don’t think that I want to get into speculation about what might happen if something does or doesn’t happen,” Carney said. “I am not aware of any analysis being done by lawyers here, and I have not heard the President discuss it.”

He's not saying that by any means.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:13 AM on July 7, 2011


Poet_Lariat, that headline is somewhat misleading (as befits a piece from the Daily Caller). They're actually being pretty coy about it, as they should. But if the GOP can't pass a debt ceiling I can't imagine Obama allowing the country to default when he still has this as a last-use option. It's on the table if only as a last resort.
posted by gerryblog at 10:13 AM on July 7, 2011


I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. I am not ashamed of this, and in fact I'd go back and do it again. I did so not because I thought Nader had a chance in hell of winning -- I'm not THAT stupid -- but because I looked at the Democratic ticket and thought "and I'm supposed to give THIS a mandate?" The selection of Joe Lieberman as running mate was the last straw, because it was a clear sign that Punch The Godless Fucking Hippies Season had officially opened.

I'm feeling like that again. If it ends up being Obama - Romney in the general, I'm debating whom I should write in (Pat Paulson's dead, alas). If it ends up being Obama - Bachmann or Obama - Perry, it STILL might make me write in Donald Duck.

If I could think of one good, solid progressive Congressperson to write in, someone who's unashamed of being a liberal and welcomes the hatred of the right and doesn't shit themselves with fear every time Fox News says their name, I'd write him or her in. Drawing a blank right now, though.
posted by delfin at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is a ridiculous proposal that will solve neither a policy problem nor a political problem. I'm tired of defending Obama from these mystifying decisions.
posted by Kwine at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


delfin: Bernie Sanders.
posted by gerryblog at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Poet_Lariat, read your link again. It doesn't say what you're claiming it to say. "Rejecting speculation" isn't in the same galaxy as saying they won't use it.

The story, in fact, is that he won't rule it out. He's obviously not going to say he thinks he should use an untried technique to make an end-run around Congress.
posted by spaltavian at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2011


Does anyone actually have details on B.O's proposal?

Why on earth would we need a thing like that just to discuss how we feel about these headlines?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


For those of you that support a cut in SS, please be aware that it will result in old farts like my self NEVER retiring and the only statement you'll ever hear from management will be "get off my lawn!" as we drag the world back into the comfortable '60's that we remember so well.
posted by tomswift at 10:16 AM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


When LBJ moved the social security funds into the general fund and that accounting trick turned the money from a the savings (kept in a trust) to a debt (much like state pension funds that disappeared into our housing bubble and threw the states into near default) a day was inevitable when the piper would need to be paid.

No one suggests a transaction tax on investments (to slow the quants and speculators) but as usual, the poor are made to pay the most.
posted by Bitter soylent at 10:16 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bernie would work. Or maybe Howard Dean. It's amazing how progressive interests in this country all seem to emanate from one state.
posted by delfin at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't politics so much as high school.

"If I talk shit about my friends, the cool kids will like me!"
*talks shit about friendS*
"Well, the cool kids still hate me, but at least I have my friends."
*has no friends*
posted by Legomancer at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


Wow, the press briefing is explicitly invoking the confidence fairy. I think the administration really is drinking the kool-aid.
posted by mek at 10:18 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assume it's merely a negotiating tactic, you give me increased revenues and I'm willing to cut entitlement spending.

What tactic? The offer is and still would be the worst opening bids ever. This is "hostage negotiations" on the level of telling the hostage-taker that in exchange for lowering one of the two guns in his hand we'll give him a box of ammo for the other.

Democrats need to use every trick in the book to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire.

This isn't personal or anything, but I am fucking sick of having to say this: there was no "trick" required. They had to do nothing. That's it. They failed at it, because they clearly want to continue the Bush tax cuts.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:19 AM on July 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


anyone else rewatch the John Adams doc on HBO this weekend? Remember how he gave up winning a 2nd term in office because he thought going to war with France was wrong? I can't remember the last time a President of the United States made a single fucking major decision based on anything other than what might get them elected. I'm so fucking sick of this Daily Kos attitude of the right decision being the decision that will advance the party as opposed to the nation. Thinking ahead only to the next election cycle is no different than corporate executives thinking quarter to quarter. Short term band-aids lead to long term gangrene.
posted by any major dude at 10:19 AM on July 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


I may be wrong here but it seems to me all politicians need to stop talking about cuts and start talking about being innovative. It did FDR and the whole Great Depression a good thing.

I mean, for Christ's sake, they're blaming the elimination of cursive in schools due to budget. Handwritting is not that expensive people.
posted by stormpooper at 10:20 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't need to say anything, do I?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to say that when I thought Obama would be the second Jimmy Carter I honestly believed that was a worst case scenario.

It sucks to be wrong.
posted by winna at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


spaltavian:It doesn't say what you're claiming it to say. "Rejecting speculation" isn't in the same galaxy as saying they won't use it.

Perhaps not the best link however White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Wednesday night, “Despite suggestions to the contrary, the 14th Amendment is not a fail-safe that would allow the government to avoid defaulting on its obligations.” (google it up) She said that yesterday. That's a pretty clear indication from the White House.

We can also look at the track record of this White House administration. When has this administration, in the past 30 months years, ever stood up to the wealthy or to the corporations? The caved on health reform. They cut a behind the scenes deal with Big Pharma guaranteeing continued high prices for Americans. They caved on strengthening Unions. They caved on ending our overseas wars. They caved on the Patriot Act. They caved on not continuing tax cuts for the rich. They're caving on Medicare as we speak.

Believing that Obama will not throw Social Security under the bus is what I call the audacity of hope.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Republicans have identified (correctly) that their success as a party, is in the current moment, with the welfare of Americans. They are not playing chicken so much as the game played by Kurt Russell during the beginning of Death Proof where they are not just safe but totally popping boners during the fatal car crash. Absent the media crying "Hey these people want to make your lives worse! They are terrible! Don't vote for them." Absent ordinary people realizing, in large numbers, that hey, billionaires do not pay enough, the word "earn" means something different than "receive", that the way to fight unemployment is not massive public sector layoffs, we are seriously fucked. The republicans need to be held accountable for their obstruction. Our system needs to be changed make it harder for relatively few voters to seriously fuck everything up unless we cater to their fringe preferences.
posted by I Foody at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


"The story overshoots the runway," said a senior administration official. "The President said in the State of the Union that he wanted a bipartisan process to strengthen Social Security in a balanced way that preserves the promise of the program and doesn't slash benefits."

The proposal is in a revision to the way COLA is calculated for SS benefit purposes. What impact the revision might have on benefits isn't clear to me, but the administration implies there isn't a major one; the reports don't say much about what specific adjustments to the COLA calculation method are being proposed. Also, reportedly, there's a corresponding change to the tax code as well, that would increase revenue on the other side. I don't know if the reality is nearly as dramatic as the headlines in this case. But I guess, as president, Obama should have expected that, and been wary of even appearing to capitulate on SS. But I don't know.

Maybe someone with the analytic chops to sort this out for us could chime in: Specifically, how would the proposed changes to the COLA calculation method actually impact SS benefits? I really don't know, but I'd love to be enlightened.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:27 AM on July 7, 2011


This isn't personal or anything, but I am fucking sick of having to say this: there was no "trick" required. They had to do nothing. That's it. They failed at it, because they clearly want to continue the Bush tax cuts.

Just because they had majorities in both houses and a freshly elected president with huge popular support doesn't mean they had the power to not pass a bill they don't like! Geez, hippies.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:28 AM on July 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


Here's what i don't get.

What the fuck am I supposed to do?

We did what they taught us in civics class, we fought hard in the primaries, we fought hard for a candidate promising what we wanted. And then when he was in office he stabbed us in the back and went and did nearly the complete opposite of everything we elected him to do.

I'm beginning to feel genuinely hopeless, and no I'm not making a joke about Obama's campaign slogan. It seems as if, no matter what we do, no matter who we elect, no matter what they say they will do when elected, what we get is always more of the same.

If you'd told me in 2008 that Obama would be the major force fighting to destroy social security I'd have laughed in your face and called you a lunatic. Social Security is the flagship Democratic program, it's the part that says "yes, the government really can work and do good". Part of the energy that put Obama into office came from the successful Democratic defense of Social Security in the face of Bush jr's attempt to demolish it.

I knew he was a centrist when I voted for him. I knew he wasn't really a liberal. I know he campaigned on expanding the war in Afghanistan. But I damn sure didn't know he'd be the first Democrat to give bipartisan cover to the effort to destroy Social Security. I didn't know he'd completely reverse his prior position on war powers and illegally and unconstitutionally start yet another obscenely expensive middle eastern war.

Do they have his children hostage? Or was he always a traitor?

And what do we do?

How can we vote for a candidate when we know from Obama's example that absolutely nothing they say has any bearing whatsoever on their actual behavior?

I'm all out of hope, at this point I'm pretty well convinced that the USA is done for. When the Republicans sweep in 2012, and after this I'll flat out guarantee that whoever they nominate will be the next president, they'll finish all of tasks Obama started and truly kill off Social Security, scrap the Constitution entirely, and then I don't know. But it won't be good.

Come November I'll vote against the Republicans, because I always vote and I know they'll do worse quicker. But I'm out of hope. Voting to do bad slower isn't what I want, it isn't why I worked my ass off back in 2008.

How do we affect positive change when the very people who explicitly said they'd do X then turn around and do anti-X? At this point I'm pretty sure that if we somehow got Sanders, or Kucinich into the Presidency they'd start trying to destroy social security and start a few dozen wars themselves. My faith in the system was never strong, but I think Obama has managed to completely destroy what little I had.
posted by sotonohito at 10:28 AM on July 7, 2011 [43 favorites]


The hit Obama is trying to avoid is not doing anything about the deficit. So-called "runaway" spending, the debt and the economy (which have been inaccurately conflated in most voters' minds) are number one in the minds of independents.

53% Economy and jobs (55/57/50)
7% Budget deficit (10/7/6)
4% Health Care (7/2/4)
4% War/Iraq/Afghanistan (3/4/4)


The hit Obama is trying to avoid is not doing anything about the deficit. So-called "runaway" spending, the debt and the economy (which have been inaccurately conflated in most voters' minds) are number one in the minds of independents.

53% Economy and jobs (55/57/50)
7% Budget deficit (10/7/6)
4% Health Care (7/2/4)
4% War/Iraq/Afghanistan (3/4/4)


Or maybe he's just a terrible president?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:30 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When has this administration, in the past 30 months years, ever stood up to the wealthy or to the corporations?

The trick is that a constitutional option on the debt ceiling BENEFITS the wealthy and the corporations. It benefits everyone. Nobody will benefit from national default, least of all those people who actually have money to lose in an economic crisis.
posted by gerryblog at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2011


If you'd told me in 2008 that Obama would be the major force fighting to destroy social security

This is a complete and total overreaction to this extremely vague headline.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's amazing. Just as Bush made Nixon look like a rational, thoughtful leader, the last 10 years have made the Reagan era look sober and responsible. I mean both Reagan and Bush I raised taxes, indicating that no matter how vehemently you might disagree with them on almost any topic, they at least had some desire for the country to continue on a solid footing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I guess we really aren't even the slightest bit interested in knowing just what specific manner of betrayal has got us all so angry and shouty, eh?

I'd still like to know what, precisely, I'm getting all red-faced and sweaty about before I go letting my blood pressure off its leash like that.

So, beyond the vague insinuations in these headlines, what's actually being proposed and how will it actually effect the bottom line for people who depend on (or will depend on) social security?

Any knowledge to drop out there? Anybody?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:33 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maybe it's the good kind of cutting social security!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:35 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I voted for Obama. But I think he is one of the worst Presidents in a long time. My basis for saying that is a comparison of what he has done with the expectations and populist fervor that drove him into office. Yes, he inherited some titanic problems, but they came packaged with titanic opportunities for reform. And he squandered all of it. If you listen to his campaign rhetoric against what he has actually done in office, they are exactly the opposite. I think Frank Rich of the NYT has a good synopsis of the situation.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:35 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


So I guess we really aren't even the slightest bit interested in knowing just what specific manner of betrayal has got us all so angry and shouty, eh?

Oh, come on. We all know how this story goes, this isn't our first time around the block, we've seen "entitlement reform" everywhere from Greece to Wisconsin to London, there aren't going to be any surprises here, Obama is not going to come up with a magical way to cut Social Security that is actually awesome and smart. The time comes when you need to be able to accept that you've gotten played.
posted by enn at 10:38 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Bush administration ran up the deficit because it would be easier to destroy SS and Medicare once budget cuts become necessary. The Republicans are just going along with the play book set in motion 10 years ago. If Democrats cannot see that then they are, as I have often surmised - complicit. Obama should be countering this Republican fear mongering with massively raising taxes on the rich and severe cuts to the defense budget. Why are these things not even on the table? Can someone explain that to me?
posted by any major dude at 10:38 AM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Don't we have to do something about entitlement spending to get the fiscal house in order? It's simply not possible to do it with tax increases and cuts to defense. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are about 40% of the federal budget. Non-discretionary spending in general is about 60%. Something has got to give.

I'm not happy about it, but what is the alternative?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:39 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman, the point of the red-faced sweatiness is that social security is a core liberal success story, is solvent for decades, and the country has myriad pressing problems that unrelated to the debt in general or to social security debt in particular. "Obama proposes Social Security cuts" shouldn't be any part of the news cycle here in July 2011, no matter what the details are. There are no details that could justify that headline.
posted by Kwine at 10:40 AM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, beyond the vague insinuations in these headlines, what's actually being proposed and how will it actually effect the bottom line for people who depend on (or will depend on) social security?


Ask yourself: saul, is the proposed COLA inflation adjustment going to increase or decrease SS payments?
Four senior congressional aides said lawmakers are discussing using an alternative yardstick to gauge inflation, known as the “chained consumer price index,” to determine annual cost-of-living adjustments for millions of Americans. The idea may rile both Democrats and Republicans, because it could mean paring Social Security by $112 billion over 10 years, raising taxes by $60 billion and cutting pension and veterans’ disability payments by $24 billion, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:40 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't we have to do something about entitlement spending to get the fiscal house in order?

Nope. Raise taxes, cut the military. Problem solved.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:40 AM on July 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


Maybe it's the good kind of cutting social security!

That's my point. What, if anything, is actually being cut on the receiver end of the program in this proposal? If the proposed change will save SS administrative costs or something without impacting the overall level of benefits offered on the receiver side, then it's not really a cut to SS benefits, but only a cut to the SS administrative system.

It's possible to have cuts to the SS program that don't cut SS benefits. I can't tell from the reporting on this which kind of cut is being proposed: is the proposed cut one that does or does not reduce benefits overall.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Easier than that. The deficit goes away if Congress doesn't do anything.
posted by gerryblog at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


ofthestrait & saulgoodman I don't have the will to argue anymore. I've got a script to memorize before rehearsal tonight and while that seems pretty pointless right now, arguing with you seems even more pointless.
posted by sotonohito at 10:43 AM on July 7, 2011


I don't need to say anything, do I?

Nah.
posted by Trurl at 10:43 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you ennui.biz: that's exactly the kind of specific information I was hoping someone could put out there. Now I know what to be angry about.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2011


saulgoodman:I'd still like to know what, precisely, I'm getting all red-faced and sweaty about before I go letting my blood pressure off its leash like that.

I hate to link to these guys but here is a chart that helps explain the impact of the proposed cuts.

To put the chart into perspective, they are proposing a 7% cut in social security benefits to 70 year olds (15K a month down to 14K a month) but NOT proposing in any manner to recover taxes from General Electric or Bank of America both of which paid ZERO Federal taxes last year. Also continued tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who make millions

But you're grandma is going to lose a grand in a few years. Wonder where that extra thousand to support your grandma is going to come from?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Don't we have to do something about entitlement spending to get the fiscal house in order?

Yes, we have to control health care costs in the US, for the budget and the economy as a whole.

Nope. Raise taxes, cut the military. Problem solved.

No, we actually have to control health care costs: 15% annual inflation in health care is unsustainable. But, any real solution would actually be a form of socialism. The vaunted Health Care reform bill has some paper proposals to control costs that essentially involve "death panels" and more shaving of medicare reimbursment... good luck on that being implemented.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do nothing and the deficit fixes itself.

But we're intent on fucking it up.

So how proper fucked are we when we default?
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry: that was.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2011


spaltavian: "Aaaand the largest lobbying group in the country just said the Democrats are dead if they try it.

Here's the thing: old people, including old democrats, abandoned Obama in both the 2008 primaries and the 2008 general. The price of taking your ball and going home is that he learned he could win without them.
"

But not without us. He's lost them, and now he's losing us. Sorry - every time I read more and more about this schmuck, I can't help but feel that in every fiber of his body he's just a complete right-wing tool who's a bit smarter than the other right-wing tools, and maybe doesn't mind throwing a bone to the rest of the dogs once in a great while when he needs to shore up support.

When Bill Clinton is to your left as a democrat, you know there's a problem.
posted by symbioid at 10:46 AM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]



Maybe it's the good kind of cutting social security!

That's my point. What, if anything, is actually being cut on the receiver end of the program in this proposal? If the proposed change will save SS administrative costs or something without impacting the overall level of benefits offered on the receiver side, then it's not really a cut to SS benefits, but only a cut to the SS administrative system.


Okay, now we see that it's not. Repeat after me: "Obama fucked this up, I should stop defending this."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:46 AM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Not even 'raise taxes' in an unprecedented way. Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire peacefully, cut military spending. Done.

The blood pressure spike is because the debt ceiling vote _is_ going to pass and Obama knows it, Mitch McConnell knows it, John Boehner knows it, there are as-of-yet undiscovered tribes in the heart of the Peruvian jungle who know it. There is NO REASON for the Democrats to do anything other than to tell Tea Partiers to go pound sand up their asses in this specific instance, much less sell any part of entitlements up the river.

The 'no tax increases, ever' stance of the Republican Party is visibly irrational and unworkable; Obama and Congressional Democrats can say 'No' to that without saying 'We know you don't want to do this, so we're giving you A and B and C as gifts to sweeten the deal, so that when you say 'no, A B and C aren't good enough, we STILL won't raise taxes' we can give you D, E and F as well, which will put you in position to say 'we STILL won't raise taxes' and we can compromise peacefully on just giving you A through F and maybe G too.'

But they don't MIND saying the latter. Therein lies the problem.
posted by delfin at 10:48 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, now we see that it's not. Repeat after me: "Obama fucked this up, I should stop defending this."

Oh, no worries. I've got no designs on defending this stinker of a move. The Big O's on his own here.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I feel like this is a case where the quickness of the media is doing harm. This is negotiation, and nothing's been decided. Shouldn't we withhold judgement on just how hyperbolically disappointed we are until something has actually been decided?
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:50 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


... that's exactly the kind of specific information I was hoping someone could put out there. Now I know what to be angry about.

the thing about this is that it doesn't actually matter what the proposal is because Obama and his advisors actually want to be seen cutting making a grand bargain with people who do want to destroy social security. i could be totally wrong, but that strikes me as being entirely out of touch with the US electorate. In an economy when many people in the over 50 bracket, but not retired are unemployed or trying to hang on until SS kicks in, the idea you could get a political advantage by pulling out the rug from under them strikes me as being frankly, insane. Or rather, an indication that team Obama just doesn't get out much.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:50 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mystifying if you're not intersted in winning independent voters. No, there are not enough votes on the Left to make up for losing idependents.

Independents do not care about the debt, and don't want cuts to medicare and social security.

It is a beltway myth that "the deficit" are big concerns of "independent voters" because commentators always think that independent voters believe what they believe. Cut medicare and social security, and Obama can kiss real "independent voters" goodbye.
posted by deanc at 10:52 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


here is some more (admittedly partisan) info. about "chained CPI"...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:55 AM on July 7, 2011


So, beyond the vague insinuations in these headlines, what's actually being proposed and how will it actually effect the bottom line for people who depend on (or will depend on) social security?

To get a bit more technical, my understanding is that the proposal (which has floated around a bit on and off for years) is to switch from calculating inflation using a set market basket of goods to one where the market basket changes to account for how people's buying habits change as relative prices shift. In other words, if the cost of eggs goes up by 30% one year, in reality people cut back on the amount of eggs they buy in favor of say breakfast cereal instead. The current way of indexing inflation for social security COLAs does not account for this, and so may be resulting in higher increases in benefits than what is really "needed" to keep pace with inflation.

I don't know enough about the subject to have a strong opinion one way or the other; there are certainly some costs (like Medicare Part B premiums) that I believe rise more quickly than the social security COLA and it's probably not realistic to say seniors and the disabled will just buy less medical care since it doesn't work like that, or at least shouldn't work like that in a perfect world. However, I do think this is getting a ton of media traction more because "Obama takes on the senior lobby" or what-have-you is the sort of political horse-race story that political reporters love to write, versus being a shocking piece of policy that guts social security.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:56 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is zero "fat" in SS administrative costs. The only possible actuarial solutions are to raise the FICA tax rate, reduce scheduled payments or move the full retirement age upwards. Any combination of these are directed at the long term problem of when SS revenues fall short of requirements and all the special government bonds in the Trust Fund have been redeemed. That is assumed to be in about 30 years. SS has no effect on the current deficits or debts...
posted by jim in austin at 10:57 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it would be useful to consider not just Obama's role, but the role of the 500 or so people who actually run the country/world. As long as we keep directing our fervor and disappointment with a cog in the machine, the machine keeps running as the cog gets replaced in a couple of years.
posted by chaz at 10:58 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


To get a bit more technical, my understanding is that the proposal (which has floated around a bit on and off for years) is to switch from calculating inflation using a set market basket of goods to one where the market basket changes to account for how people's buying habits change as relative prices shift. In other words, if the cost of eggs goes up by 30% one year, in reality people cut back on the amount of eggs they buy in favor of say breakfast cereal instead. The current way of indexing inflation for social security COLAs does not account for this, and so may be resulting in higher increases in benefits than what is really "needed" to keep pace with inflation.
FASCISM!
posted by Flunkie at 10:59 AM on July 7, 2011


We control two of the three stools of government and we're giving the right wing fodder for campaign ads on the one fucking thing we always had going for us.

Unless the top tax rates jump back to FDR rates this was a complete cluster.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:02 AM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a simplistic formula but I generally see it this way. 40% of the electorate is the rich (a couple of percent) and their shit-for-brains lackeys (the rest). 40% is, if questioned closely, more or less socialist, even if they don't recognize it by that name. 20% are the swing, who don't know what to think and are only able to remember the last thing they heard which spoke to their fear or hope. It's these last 20% that need to be told, in no uncertain terms, that THEY HAVE NO FUTURE IF THE REPUBLICANS GET THERE WAY.

Question my numbers if you like (they are indeed questionable) but I will stand by that last sentence.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Godddamn it. "THEIR" way. Sorry about the caps.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:04 AM on July 7, 2011


Yet another reason we need an edit window.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


feloniousmonk: "I feel like this is a case where the quickness of the media is doing harm. This is negotiation, and nothing's been decided. Shouldn't we withhold judgement on just how hyperbolically disappointed we are until something has actually been decided?"

Protip: If I'm negotiating with you on whether you get 50 dollars of my money or 100 dollars of my money - I do not begin negotiating with you by offering you 150 dollars of my money.
posted by symbioid at 11:08 AM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


This negotiation has been underway for months, and needs to result in a finished bill by August 2nd to prevent the government from defaulting. What we are seeing now is likely a near-finished agreement.
posted by mek at 11:11 AM on July 7, 2011


It's these last 20% that need to be told, in no uncertain terms, that THEY HAVE NO FUTURE IF THE REPUBLICANS GET THEIR WAY.

Unfortunately, most of those 20% either think they're already part of the rich 40% or will be joining them momentarily.
posted by delfin at 11:14 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


No one cares about the debt. Maybe Ron Paul. Republicans and Democrats both use the debt as a tool to attack the other side as irresponsible. The three reasons for the debt are taxes are too low (especially on the rich but also on the upper middleclass), Medicare is too fucking expensive (Obama actually tried to do something about this but he was attacked from the left by the far right who are now attacking Medicare from the far right), we keep fighting dumb wars against relative nobodies on behalf of lesser nobodies who are maybe less evil and are ambivalent at best about receiving our help.

The democrats might, in a vacuum be ok with addressing the tax issue (though they would probably still pretend that 250,000 dollars a year isn’t a ton of money). They might be ok with dealing with the war issue (but will remain convinced that supporting unpopular wars is necessary to avoid being called a pussy). They probably would not do anything that serious to control Medicare prices. The republicans would be willing to cut Medicare as long as democrats are hurt by this. That’s about it. The debt problem is actually politically intractable absent one party or the other acting against their own interests.
posted by I Foody at 11:14 AM on July 7, 2011


Obama's plan is if he gives Republicans even more than they could ever want, if he almost out-Republicans them, then they will finally, finally like him and quit saying so many bad things about him.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:15 AM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


"You old fuckers are gonna WISH we instituted death panels" Obama smirks.
posted by symbioid at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't worry guys, this is all to get re-elected, because if we don't back him Obama won't win and then the Republicans will do something even worse and that's when Obama's eleventh-dimensional chess moves will finally castle or something (I don't know from chess) and everything will be ponies and rainbows except that he'll still have the House and the Senate to deal with on top of SCOTUS and he'll have to let things slide to preserve his political capital until the last month of the second term AND THAT IS WHEN THE GLORY ERUPTS!
posted by adipocere at 11:17 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm sure this situation is so straightforward that it is easily broken into patronizing examples. I spent a few hours reading whatever coverage I could find, and there wasn't anything more than speculation about what was being discussed. I guess i am a naive negotiator for wanting to wait until I understand what has been negotiated before I start thinking about betrayals. Here, have all of my money!
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:18 AM on July 7, 2011


Hope you all like looking at Mitt Romney's hair on the teevee.

I will be traveling to Canada soon for a vacation. Does anyone have a link to their political asylum application forms?
posted by mecran01 at 11:23 AM on July 7, 2011


Don't worry guys, this is all to get re-elected, because if we don't back him Obama won't win and then the Republicans will do something even worse and that's when Obama's eleventh-dimensional chess moves will finally castle or something (I don't know from chess) and everything will be ponies and rainbows except that he'll still have the House and the Senate to deal with on top of SCOTUS and he'll have to let things slide to preserve his political capital until the last month of the second term AND THAT IS WHEN THE GLORY ERUPTS!

Ace of fours. Unbeatable hand. I assume. Never actually played cards, meaning to learn.

Quick question: if the leadership of both parties is pushing the same soak the poor agenda, aren't we just waiting for Lenin rather than the next election?
posted by Slackermagee at 11:26 AM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't know, maybe a sleeper cell from the Baader-Meinhof infilitrated the Republican party 30 years ago and has been activated, but no way no how are the republicans going to force a default on US debt.

Then that Baader-Meinhof sleeper must be Jim DeMint, because he said last night, "We're at the point where there would have to be some, you know, some serious disruptions in order not to raise the debt ceiling. I'm willing to do that.” There are at least two other senators I can think of without blinking who'd say the same thing. Probably at least 75 in the House.
posted by blucevalo at 11:27 AM on July 7, 2011


I will be traveling to Canada soon for a vacation. Does anyone have a link to their political asylum application forms?

Sorry, we just elected a right-wing majority government which is hard at work copying all the crap the USA has accomplished in the last decade.
posted by mek at 11:29 AM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


HS: Default? Woo hoo! The two sweetest words in the English language: de-fault! De-fault! De-fault!
posted by sswiller at 11:32 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


53% Economy and jobs (55/57/50)
7% Budget deficit (10/7/6)
4% Health Care (7/2/4)
4% War/Iraq/Afghanistan (3/4/4)


Obama’s Political, Economic Advisers Say Jobless Rate Won’t Matter in 2012
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:33 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


ennui.bz -- but you have to explain why Pelosi isn't bashing this plan.

From TPM:

"Multiple senior House Democratic aides tell TPM that caucus members were caught off guard by news stories about President Obama's push for deeper deficit and spending reductions -- and particularly about the White House's willingness to cut Social Security as part of a grand bargain to raise the debt limit.

"At a private caucus meeting Thursday morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told her members that if Obama's serious about putting Social Security on the chopping block, he'd left her in the dark about it. And after an at-times-contentious meeting about how open Dems should be to significant entitlement cuts, leaders departed to the White House to read Obama the riot act."
posted by blucevalo at 11:33 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


How do we affect positive change when the very people who explicitly said they'd do X then turn around and do anti-X? At this point I'm pretty sure that if we somehow got Sanders, or Kucinich into the Presidency they'd start trying to destroy social security and start a few dozen wars themselves. My faith in the system was never strong, but I think Obama has managed to completely destroy what little I had.

I used to believe that there was a meaningful divide between wealthy democrats and wealthy republicans - that wealthy democrats basically operated on the FDR model and as long as they could have leadership and relative wealth they would broadly enact the interests of the people, while republicans would actively seek to enrich themselves at the expense of those weaker than them. But either times have changed or I was wrong or a bit of both - they're all the same. Obama and his ilk have more in common with the bankers than with us.

As a result, I read popular demoralization as something actively desired by most politicians - if we believe we're helpless and beaten, then we won't even bother rioting in the streets when our food is tainted and our old folks die in unheated garrets. It's basically the same as having a fascist secret police destroying activists, but much cheaper and easier and harder to criticize.
posted by Frowner at 11:44 AM on July 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Long term it probably makes sense to address entitlement programs. Despite gloom and doom scenarios Social Security is actually in pretty decent rate. Sure all those damn baby boomers are going to start drawing Social Security before too terribly long but their retirements might actually free up upper level salary slots for the Gen X slackers to move up. In addition from a demographic standpoint the Echo Boom looks like it should be able to handle a decent amount of the slack.

Realistically we should probably eliminate or raise the cap on FICA, it would shore up revenues long term and should be done anyway in the interest of making the tax burden more equitable.

Raising the social security retirement age might be a worthwhile step as well, while increases in average life expectancy haven't been as great in the US as they should be, there is a substantial difference between average retirement age and average life expectancy.

Changing the COLA formula to actually be more responsive to actual consumer behavior probably isn't a bad thing. I do think that if you increase revenues in some way some part of that should be set aside as a permanent increase to benefits.

Medicare on the other hand is a massive problem, as others have said annual increases of 10% or more are simply not sustainable. We have to get a grip on cost containment because revenue increases simply aren't going to cut it. In the US the cost per patient is simply way too high and choices need to be made on whether it's economically sustainable to provide the current level of end-of-life care or if it would be better to reduce average costs by providing better prevention via universal health care. My personal preference is towards universal health care but it seems unlikely that anyone is going back to that fight anytime soon.

That being said incorporating substantive reform of the entitlement programs should not be done as a result of a debt limit vote. Further if boosting the economy is the top concern of lawmakers I'm not sure what use trimming entitlements would accomplish. If anything it seems like it would reduce money in the systems as benefits would almost certainly shrink to some degree or another.
posted by vuron at 11:59 AM on July 7, 2011


Modifications to Medicare and Social Security are as essential as tax increases and revisions of the tax code for long term stability.

Why did you neglect to mention defense spending?
posted by odinsdream at 11:59 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pelosi to Return to the White House Friday - "will meet with the president Friday at 10 a.m., people familiar with the matter said."
posted by mek at 12:03 PM on July 7, 2011


No, we actually have to control health care costs: 15% annual inflation in health care is unsustainable

Universal Medicare.
posted by mikelieman at 12:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


sotonohito, ISTR that before FDR became pretty decent and helped bring the US out of the Great Depression, there was tons of labor unrest (the number of strikes, for example, increased, despite a far more anti-labor legal situation than we have today, which is not great); jobless, homeless vets marching on DC; tent cities on the National Mall; agitating by socialists, communists, anarchists, etc.

I'd say good places to start nowadays would include: supporting your local anti-eviction/squatting group; starting a community bank, community farm, local barter/time bank and other self-sufficiency and alternative economy measures; strengthening organized labor, with a specifically political agenda; then working up labor actions toward a general strike.

I think there's not a huge separation between economic and political power in the US anymore, so the way to regain political power for ordinary people is to start by regaining economic power. Then campaign finance and electoral reforms that will actual enable/promote rather than restrict political participation (like switching to a voting system that promotes more than two-party participation, and getting rid of the Electoral College, and of course overturning Citizens United) will be easier to enact.
posted by eviemath at 12:07 PM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I support tinkering with the retirement age of Social Security, if that would be a) Something that would not cause great hardship and b) Helped keep Romney/Perry/Bachman out of the White House.

There are a bunch of crazy people in power threatening to hurt this country. Before I decide to vote for a third party candidate (who? where? could they beat Obama?) I'd like to see how this plays out. Christ, this particular drama will be over in a month.
posted by angrycat at 12:16 PM on July 7, 2011


Derren probably picked someone he could beat.

Yep, he admitted as such during the explanation.

Geesh, what about the psychic toll on the chess player who knows he was chosen because he's not that good? Has anyone read Robert Cormier's After the First Death?


Obama is gonna be fine.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:20 PM on July 7, 2011


I support tinkering with the retirement age of Social Security, if that would be a) Something that would not cause great hardship and b) Helped keep Romney/Perry/Bachman out of the White House.</em

Because Romney/Perry would start lobbing missiles at foreign countries, put the country deeper in debt for no good reason and cut social security?

(Yes, Bachmann would be legitimately crazy, that's why I left her out.)

posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:29 PM on July 7, 2011


Shit. I'm not going to be able to afford to keep pets on account of the increased prices from the run on dog food.
posted by stet at 12:30 PM on July 7, 2011


Long term it probably makes sense to address entitlement programs.

I completely agree.
We can start by removing tax entitlements from the rich then go on by removing corporate entitlements and corporate welfare and finish by reducing defense entitlements. Problem fucking solved.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:36 PM on July 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


Obama's smart, and maybe he's starting to see that smart Democrats, like Andrew Cuomo, know you can't increase prosperity while increasing the burden of government upon professionals and proprietors -- which very much includes a FICA uncap or restoration of the Clinton marginal tax increases). Cuomo recognized that New York can't compete against Texas that way now ... and presumably Obama is starting to see that the US won't be able to compete against rising foreign economies that way in the years to come.
posted by MattD at 12:53 PM on July 7, 2011


Warren Buffett was on CNBC this morning. Much of interest to say on the topic. Transcript here.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


We can start by removing tax entitlements from the rich then go on by removing corporate entitlements and corporate welfare and finish by reducing defense entitlements. Problem fucking solved.
Oh, problem fucking solved. That's great! Unexpectedly easy.

You should probably let Speaker Boehner know that the problem has been fucking solved.
posted by Flunkie at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama's smart, and maybe he's starting to see that smart Democrats, like Andrew Cuomo, know you can't increase prosperity while increasing the burden of government upon professionals and proprietors

Oh won't someone please think of the producers!
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Article: But others described it as primarily a bargaining strategy intended to demonstrate Obama’s willingness to compromise and highlight the Republican refusal to raise taxes.
Ahh. Yeah, he's got mad poker skills but, no. This is non-zero sum and I don't much like the metagame here. It's not Joe Republican it's systemic bias. Obama is tilting at windmills here.

"Republican intransigence on taxes looms as the biggest sticking point in the debt negotiations." is your problem right there. There's being irrational and there's ignorance of how to be rational.
The problem with going Crazy Ivan on something like this isn't that someone might call you on it and cause a crash, you can metagame that.
It's that they don't know how to do otherwise.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:00 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cuomo recognized that New York can't compete against Texas that way now

MattD-- hint, hint: praising the "Texas miracle" is soooo 2000s, alongside praising the wonderfulness of Ireland's low corporate taxes. Ireland crashed and Texas is facing a huge budget deficit and other economic problems.

You can't run a functional country when you basically isolate people from having to pay taxes. No one likes to pay taxes, but we're ending up as an empty shell of a country because we don't have enough revenue.
posted by deanc at 1:01 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Then that Baader-Meinhof sleeper must be Jim DeMint, because he said last night, "We're at the point where there would have to be some, you know, some serious disruptions in order not to raise the debt ceiling. I'm willing to do that.” There are at least two other senators I can think of without blinking who'd say the same thing. Probably at least 75 in the House.

Talk is cheap, especially in the Senate. The only reason this "negotiation" is happening is because Obama *wants* to do "entitlement reform." It's the 'third way'....
posted by ennui.bz at 1:01 PM on July 7, 2011


From IndigoJones' Buffet link:

BUFFETT: I can end the deficit in five minutes.

BECKY: How?

BUFFETT: You just pass a law that says that any time there's a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.
posted by bitmage at 1:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [27 favorites]


Behold the Texas Miracle
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The reason the Dems keep caving is that you keep voting for them.

The reason the GOP has become the tea party is the teapers made it very clear that if you did not toe the line, they woul run someone against you. Didn't matter that it might hand a seat to the Dems, they could fix that later. Once a couple of moderates were taken out, the rest of the party snapped to and toe the line, because they know that they will be challenged in the primary and the general, and they will lose their jobs.

Want Dems to move back to the left? Vote against them when they don't. It is that simple.
posted by eriko at 1:11 PM on July 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


The reason the Dems keep caving is that you keep voting for them.

Reposted in fat-ass italics for truth.
posted by rusty at 1:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


eriko: "The reason the Dems keep caving is that you keep voting for them.

The reason the GOP has become the tea party is the teapers made it very clear that if you did not toe the line, they woul run someone against you.
"

So perhaps the answer isn't to "not vote for Dems" as much as "vote for someone else during the primaries"?

What Obama needs is a Democratic Pat Buchanan (ala '92). Some left-leaning mother fucker who primaries him, does well and at least scares the hell out of him, if not beat him.
posted by charred husk at 1:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's okay because according to David Plouffe, voters aren't concerned about unemployment and the economy.

These fucking people.
posted by Legomancer at 1:23 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


While I fundamentally disagree with MattD, I do think he points out a major issue that I've been trying to grapple with is this issue.

Corporations have us by the balls. William Domhoff discusses this pattern on his site Who Rules America.

That pattern started with urban planning and incentivizing growth through "low tax rates" and the big corps would take their ball to another city if they didn't get what they wanted. Now it's moved up to the national/international/global stage.

And it's the pattern we're seeing. Blackmailed by global corporations into destroying more and more rights for individuals in the name of ever increasing profits for the super wealthy, and by golly if we don't give them that, then NOBODY can have any money except, of course, for the super wealthy who continue to get to do business wherever and whenever they want, regardless of conditions and human rights and all that other great stuff we've worked so hard for the past 200+ years -- every fucking inch a bloody struggle. And now we don't have the guts to struggle.

We've been indoctrinated since Reagan and even before then, that this is what's needed. That "Free Markets" and "Low Taxes" are the answer to every problem. Capitalism now has no check, no way to hold back. And greed festers and grows until it rots the global economy alive, and when that body starts to decay and the wounds fester, the maggots continue to feast on the flesh of its rotting corpse, delusional and ignorant that the body that once hosted them will no longer sustain them... But that's okay because they can morph and mutate and fly away to another body (China, India, developing countries)... And in the meantime, they get the brain cells of this rotting body to think that the enemy is another body over yonder, and not the parasite infesting within itself.

Actually - maybe it's less like maggots and more like Toxoplasma Gondii, slowly rotting our brains and making us become an ever more psychotic and self-destructive force. All because we kept eating those fat cat's shit.
posted by symbioid at 1:24 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


i'll wait for the details to be known, but if this is anything like the betrayal it seems to be, i'm through supporting democrats and will be voting for 3rd parties, after having given the dems a chance since 2006

they clearly want to run the country without us - fine, they can try running it without our votes, too
posted by pyramid termite at 1:27 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


charred husk That's large part, but ultimately the Tea Party has demonstrated that we have to be willing to lose seats in order to punish the worst offenders. A few DINOs have to be ousted to scare the others into compliance, and if that means losing a seat or two to the Republicans then so be it. Better a genuine enemy than a false friend.

We know, thanks to the past few years, that holding 60 seats in the Senate still won't get us our way, so I see no reason not to lose a few more. I think it'd be a very good idea to try to hold onto a simple majority if we can, but I'm willing to cut out the worst two or three Senate Dems in an effort to teach the others that liberals have teeth and they'd better knock off the hippie punching.

I've got three in mind right now: Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Harry Reid. Primary their sorry asses and if they manage to beat a real Democrat in the primary let a real Republican take their seats. They're the enemy, they need to go. Better a genuine Republican in those seats than a fake Democrat.

The same goes for the House.

Mostly, I'm of the "fight in the primary, hold your nose in the general" school of thought. But a few judicious bloodlettings will be necessary. The Tea Party taught us that, and it it's time we learned the lesson.
posted by sotonohito at 1:29 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Want Dems to move back to the left? Vote against them when they don't. It is that simple.

You've got to run against them, too.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:30 PM on July 7, 2011


I think we need to run someone in the primaries against him, and put the fear of the party base back into the party elite. Someone who's credible, charismatic, experienced and has a track record of success, and can pull in some Red states to boot.

Hillary is a contender, as is Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius. Hillary especially can get the moolah for a Presidential run literally overnight, and maybe Deval Patrick.

If Obama won't fight the Republicans, he's gonna have to fight the Democrats.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:37 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


bitmage: "BUFFETT: You just pass a law that says that any time there's a deficit of more than 3 percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."

Boy, what a beautiful cudgel to wield against the legislative branch. I don't see why it should be limited to the deficit, though.

Unemployment above 3%? All sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

Health care spending greater than 8% of GDP? All sitting members of congress are ineligible for re-election.

etc, etc. Awesome. And of course it'll happen approximately never.
posted by mullingitover at 1:43 PM on July 7, 2011


Mostly, I'm of the "fight in the primary, hold your nose in the general" school of thought. But a few judicious bloodlettings will be necessary. The Tea Party taught us that, and it it's time we learned the lesson.

Hm. I disagree. I think the lesson that the Tea Party taught us is that there are PLENTY of Americans willing to vote against their own best interests...i.e. cutting their noses off to spite their faces.

I don't recall any huge turnouts in favor of a single payer option or real universal healthcare in this country. And the fact that most 'lefties', progressives, democrats or whatever you want to call them are more comfortable bitching to their friends or from behind computer screens rather than actively, persistently and LOUDLY fighting for the things they say they believe in, just goes to show the monied and the powerful that they're really not much of a threat.

Conservatism should've been dead as Soviet Communism after the Bush years, but here we are playing the same old games and unfortunately, awaiting a Superman or Superwoman to come fix things for us.

You REALLY think Hilary is a better Democrat than Obama?! You should really take a hard look at that. Seriously.
posted by black8 at 1:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


GOP Congressman: House Republicans Have Privately Discussed Impeaching Obama Over Debt Ceiling
posted by homunculus at 1:49 PM on July 7, 2011


There's no difference between Democrats and Republicans.
posted by Flunkie at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2011


The only possible actuarial solutions are to raise the FICA tax rate, reduce scheduled payments or move the full retirement age upwards. "

Or raise the ceiling that it's capped at.

And honestly, social security's in pretty good shape, despite the sturm und drang from folks who have been yelling Ponzi for a century. Medicare is fucked unless it expands — which it should. It's a good program and very popular.

I'm not going to defend Obama on this — I think he's wrong. I do think a lot of the other pot-banging from folks in this thread is pretty silly. No matter who the Republicans run in '12, it's still going to be a worse choice for me than voting for Obama.

But remember how in '08, there were plenty of people here saying that the Republicans were finished for a generation? The ones that are left are crazy and desperate, and I feel like Obama keeps trying to treat them like they're not actually nihilists who will kill the entire country in order to manifest their insane philosophy.
posted by klangklangston at 1:51 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


You REALLY think Hilary is a better Democrat than Obama?!


Who cares if she is? She's a bright woman, she'll get the hint that playing ball with the party base is her only shot at a second term.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:56 PM on July 7, 2011


Unemployment above 3%? All sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

Health care spending greater than 8% of GDP? All sitting members of congress are ineligible for re-election.


These things aren't directly in the control of Congress, though, and unemployment isn't even indirectly in the control of Congress according to some. This is unlike the budget deficit.
posted by Electrius at 1:57 PM on July 7, 2011


I'm sure the current Republican controlled House would vote to impeach. It only takes a simple majority after all.

But there is absolutely no way there will be 66 votes in Senate to remove Obama from office.
posted by sotonohito at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2011


Hillary is a contender, as is Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius. Hillary especially can get the moolah for a Presidential run literally overnight, and maybe Deval Patrick.

The state of the Democrat Party in America:

"Primary Obama from the left!"
{looks around}
"Let's get Hilary Clinton!"
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


While a challenge from the left in the primaries would probably be useful in forcing Obama to tack back to the left, it seems unlikely that a serious contender would be able to mount an effective challenge.

Organizing and running a presidential campaign is incredibly expensive and requires substantial organizational support. While Obama was able to stage an insurgent campaign against the more politically connected Hilary Clinton, the ability to do that against a sitting president of your own party seems unlikely to win significant backing. Furthermore most of the viable candidates have further aspirations themselves, running in a primary against your own President seems unlikely to advance your political career long term. Even then I think it's unlikely that Hilary will be any less centrist than Obama.

So basically you need to have an left-leaning candidate who can likely self-finance to an incredible degree, is willing to run and insurgent campaign against the sitting President and who realistically has no further political aspirations.

In the absence of a billionaire left-wing candidate with movie-star good looks and and passion for putting his life under the microscope I'm not sure you are going to get someone who will be able to get much if any traction against Obama much less force him to actually you know move from a more centrist governing position.

A sustained push from the left across all levels of government (local, state and federal) not just at the presidential level can definitely succeed in shifting the Democratic party towards the left but it seems unlikely to have immediate payoffs in terms of electoral success.

The Republican party seems to be willing to suffer short term reversal in order to maintain ideological purity but I'm not sure that will work as well on the left as the Democratic coalition seems more ideologically heterogeneous.
posted by vuron at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2011


homunculus: "GOP Congressman: House Republicans Have Privately Discussed Impeaching Obama Over Debt Ceiling"

Jesus Christ - it's still going back to the fucking Civil War and the South... again? *sigh*
posted by symbioid at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Electrius: "These things aren't directly in the control of Congress, though, and unemployment isn't even indirectly in the control of Congress according to some. This is unlike the budget deficit."

Not directly, but Congress can definitely grease the hell out of the skids. For example, negotiating drug prices.
posted by mullingitover at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2011


black8: "You REALLY think Hilary is a better Democrat than Obama?! You should really take a hard look at that. Seriously."

Yeah - you're probably right. Democrats don't have spine, I think she'd have more spine than he does.
posted by symbioid at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2011


We should dig up Richard Nixon to primary Obama from the left.
posted by charred husk at 2:02 PM on July 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


I feel like Obama keeps trying to treat them like they're not actually nihilists who will kill the entire country in order to manifest their insane philosophy.

I used to feel that way - I thought Obama was acting as the adult, believing that surely the Republicans would see his willingness to negotiate and act in good faith. After years of having the open hand slapped away and the turned cheek hit again, it's looking more like willful blindness. Or collaboration.

If Obama hasn't realized that the GOP mantra is let the country burn, as long as Obama burns with it, then he is a fool. And I don't think he's a fool.
posted by bitmage at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This little dustup will all be over in a couple of news cycles, if not sooner. And really, no one is paying attention outside of those who already pay attention to such things. And they're not a big enough voting block to do anything anyway.

I'm going to crank my NOMEANSNO albums in the meantime and try not to let it get me down.
posted by black8 at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2011


There's no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

this is why i'm waiting to see what really happens - if the congressional dems tell obama that it isn't going to fly, then it's not going to fly - they will have stood up for us

and obama needs to understand that he can't lead without followers
posted by pyramid termite at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2011


I can see it's "Everyone Lose Your Shit at Metafilter Day", as it usually is about once every 18 hours.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:12 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Boy, what a beautiful cudgel to wield against the legislative branch. I don't see why it should be limited to the deficit, though.

Unemployment above 3%? All sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

Health care spending greater than 8% of GDP? All sitting members of congress are ineligible for re-election.

etc, etc. Awesome. And of course it'll happen approximately never.
"


As a foreigner I apologize for butting in on a domestic issue, and this is definitely not said in a neener neener "my country is better than yours" spirit ('cause it totally isn't. We don't even have fixed election dates!) - but maybe a cudgel is what's needed here.

Why should Congressmen and Senators keep getting reelected? Maybe four years is enough. The basic problem seems to be that a majority of your political class has been converted to this Reagan worshipping Supply Side mystery cult, and is more interested in furthering their belief system than doing what's right for the USA. So throw 'em out. And turn 'em over every four years, before the mystery cult can sink its hooks into them. If politics was less of a profession and more of a thing you did once in your life to help society (like the Peace Corps), it would be better for everyone.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:12 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


How Much Would a White House/GOP Social Security Deal Cost You?

The average retired woman receives $890 in Social Security benefits, so the "chained CPI" cut would slash her benefits by almost $500 by the time she's 80. Here's how the cuts work out overall: By the age of 75, benefits would be cut by nearly 4 percent. By 85 that figure would be 6.5 percent, and by 95 it would be 9.2 percent. It gets much worse for younger people, because the effect is cumulative.


Young people are so, so fucked.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:27 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think what really burns me up is that in the long run, whether or not Obama gets the cuts to Social Security he's wanting or not, he's fucked us.

Time was they called messing with Social Security the "third rail of American politics". It wasn't on the table. It wasn't part of negotiations. It was held apart and never in any danger because it was flipping Social Security and you don't mess with it.

But all that has changed. And it's changed entirely by Obama's choice. No one forced him to put Social Security on the chopping block. No one forced him to make it a bargaining chip instead of a program that doesn't get touched.

Once it's done you can't go back. From now on Social Security will be just another bargaining chip, just another thing to be negotiated away to satisfy the Republicans. Which means it will be whittled down to nothing sooner or later.

Up until now I was of the opinion that Obama was a bad Democrat. A right leaning Democrat. Possibly a Democrat without a spine and with really lousy bargaining skills. But now, now that he's started the eventual end of Social Security, I'm unsure if he's a Democrat at all.

As always the most important question is the question of what he did that he didn't have to. He didn't have to put Social Security on the chopping block, he chose to. And that tells us what his real motives, his real desires, his real intentions are.
posted by sotonohito at 2:31 PM on July 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Has anyone considered putting the old and weak on ice floes?
posted by Hoopo at 2:35 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the land of individual responsibility, they should put themselves on the ice. The government can't do everything for you.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:36 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is a really exciting time to be going to school for social work.
posted by fuq at 2:42 PM on July 7, 2011


Oh, and by "exciting" I mean [head asplodes].
posted by fuq at 2:43 PM on July 7, 2011


furiousxgeorge: "Young people are so, so fucked."

Oh, don't be such a pessimist. Just start training your palate to enjoy the taste of cat food, it's a great value. I think I'll be an Iams man, myself.
posted by mullingitover at 2:46 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


To those pointing to the need to appeal to "independents" as a reason to cut Social Security benefits - it would drive them away.

A clear majority of Americans, in both parties, prioritize maintaining maintaining benefits as they are over acting to reduce the deficit.

Of the changes that American's favor in order to reform entitlement programs, by far the most popular are measures that increase revenue such as lifting the cap on incomes subject to the payroll tax.



Support for keeping entitlement programs the same is highest among older segments of the population which reflects, in my view, the facts that the issue more directly effects them and that all young people have heard throughout their lives is a constant drumbeat of doom-saying about programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Here is the problem:

Democrats just won a special election, outright (there was a tea party candidate but the Democrat would have won with or without their presence) in a district that they hadn't won since the Civil War. They were able to do so because they campaigned against Republican plans to alter Medicare. Using similar arguments nationwide, the Democrats have a chance to not only retake the House, but increase their margins in the Senate.

That chance disappears if Obama pushes for cuts to Social Security (and the change in how COLA is calculated would amount to a cut). Republicans already used the reforms to Medicare meant to reign in costs included with the Affordable Care Act against the Democrats in the midterms. They will do the same during the generals to neutralize the Democratic advantage demonstrated in the New York special election.

At this point I'm not even sure who will come out to reelect Obama, although I would still bet on his reelection.

Old people? They never liked him much anyway. They sure won't like him now.
Young people? Too disillusioned for various reasons.
Progressives? Maybe because they fear the Republicans.
Independents? Who knows.

In the end you need a committed base to drive less committed people to the polls. Where is that going to come from?

I'm not sure what is driving Obama. To me it looks like he is genuinely trying to to tackle an issue that he genuinely believes needs to be addressed no matter what electoral consequences befall either himself or the Democratic party. If anything, I think that he plans to rely on a combination of his personal popularity, the ineptness of the his opponents, and whatever guardian angle has protected him throughout his life to secure him a second term.

It would be one thing if the deficit really were a huge pressing problem, and if the discussion around fixing it were reality based, but neither is true. There is nothing reality based about this discussion.

There is absolutely no evidence that there is a crisis of confidence in U.S. debt or that any kind of crowding out or other loss of confidence is occurring.

Even if deficits were a problem, right now, the solutions to eliminating them are simple. If we simply let the Bush tax cuts expire and continue to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the short term deficits will disappear.

If we simply raise the cap on earnings subject to taxation for Social Security, even on a "temporary" basis until baby boomers are done using it, the shortfall in social security, which won't even become an issue until at least 15 years from now, will disapear.

Medicare is an issue, and if the current discussion revolved around measures like allowing it to negotiate for prescription drugs the position of the Obama administration would be understandable. But it doesn't.

I don't think that a primary challenge to Obama would work, although I wouldn't have a problem if someone decided to mount one and would vote for them if they did.

I would, however, encourage democrats in the House and Senate to continue to stand up to Obama on this issue, and increasingly to chart an electoral campaign independent of him - much like how the Republicans basically dropped W.

I would also encourage people to write both Obama and their representatives to let them know that they are unhappy.
posted by eagles123 at 2:47 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


One thing that seems lost here is that the Republicans seem to have somewhere around 50% of the electorate supporting them. Perhaps we should ask what is it about their methods/message that is so appealing to half the country, because if you read this thread you'd imagine they have no popular support at all, and Obama is negotiating with the unelected.
posted by chaz at 2:48 PM on July 7, 2011


Not sure why my link didn't show up.

Here is another try: Link to Pew poll
posted by eagles123 at 2:50 PM on July 7, 2011


klangklangston:No matter who the Republicans run in '12, it's still going to be a worse choice for me than voting for Obama.

I don't disagree with you at all. It's not impossible that , were I making the 100K a year that I made in 2001, I'd be a lot less likely to vote for anything that destabilized the status quo - that jeopardized my income. But I'm not making that anymore. Because of economic and employment policies in the I.T. industry I am now making in the 30's - if I get lucky. So I have a lot less to lose when Republican's inevitably make things worse for the middle class. Frankly I don't even think that I am middle class anymore. So I don't have a dog in the Democratic race and my attitude is "screw those guys they've done nothing for me" .

I think what needs to happen is that a whole lot of people need to be more like me. More people need to lose a whole lot more before they are going to speak out a whole lot more, organize and strike a whole lot more and/or take to the streets in protest. When people have little to nothing to lose - that's when they become dangerous to the bankers and the industrialists.

So will not voting Democratic leave us with someone worse who will continue to decimate the middle class? Yes it will Klang Klangston. It will make a whole lot more people a lot more like myself. Angry and with a lot less to lose.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:52 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


As to why Republicans are popular:

Partly it is because they campaigned against Democrats for "cutting medicare" during the last election.

Partly it is because they know how to maintain a consistent message and to frame the discussion in a way that is friendly to the policies favored by their base.

Partly it is because they know how to maintain party discipline in order to get things done for their base.

Basically, things that Democrats, and Obama, don't do well.
posted by eagles123 at 2:54 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sources: House Dems Stunned By White House Debt Proposal, Read Obama The Riot Act. So there's that.
posted by gerryblog at 3:01 PM on July 7, 2011


I'm really glad I'm already planning to vote third party in 2012

i'm through supporting democrats and will be voting for 3rd parties

It's amazing how proud some people can be to vote for absolutely nothing. Absent a change to the voting system, that's all voting for a distant third-place finisher will ever be.

Fight it out in the primary, but in the general, anything other than a vote for the better (or less bad, depending on your point of view) candidate helps the worse one win.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:02 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I don't disagree with you at all. It's not impossible that , were I making the 100K a year that I made in 2001, I'd be a lot less likely to vote for anything that destabilized the status quo - that jeopardized my income. But I'm not making that anymore. Because of economic and employment policies in the I.T. industry I am now making in the 30's - if I get lucky. So I have a lot less to lose when Republican's inevitably make things worse for the middle class. Frankly I don't even think that I am middle class anymore. So I don't have a dog in the Democratic race and my attitude is "screw those guys they've done nothing for me" ."

I'm not making that and have never made that.

However, the stimulus has helped me, as have unemployment extensions and general social spending that Republicans, especially in California, desperately want to cut.

Given the slashing of public health spending, and social spending, and infrastructure spending, etc. that happens when Republicans take over, I can't ever think of a time in which it would be better for me, a generally poor person, to vote Republican. And if you don't think they've done anything for you, I'd suggest that you're being petty and bitter and not at all a good judge of what government has done, or that you're very lucky.

There're also things like supreme court justices and that I happen to enjoy having sex with someone who could accidentally get pregnant, and I believe in protecting her rights as much as possible.

I work for positive change through any number of small NGOs here, be they advocacy, organizing or charity groups; I vote only with the reasonable confidence that yes it can get worse and that the Dems in my districts are generally going to be better than their opponents. (Oh, and I vote for progressives in primaries, which works occasionally.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wonder where that extra thousand to support your grandma is going to come from?

Before August 2nd? I don't know.

After August 2nd? *fishes out Canadian $100 bill*
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:07 PM on July 7, 2011


gerryblog: Sources: House Dems Stunned By White House Debt Proposal, Read Obama The Riot Act. So there's that.

A tale as old as time: Obama gets to look like a centrist, Pelosi & co get to play to their base.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:07 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It will make a whole lot more people a lot more like myself. Angry and with a lot less to lose.

"Destroy the country to save it", incidentally, is a view you share with the Republicans. Difference is, they might actually profit off the apocalypse. No matter how many people share your station in life, you will not.
posted by spaltavian at 3:07 PM on July 7, 2011


We should dig up Richard Nixon to primary Obama from the left.

About the last president held to account by the public, no? Created the EPA, all that.

I think what really burns me up is that in the long run, whether or not Obama gets the cuts to Social Security he's wanting or not, he's fucked us.

Yeah, even if it works as a political tactic. I don't much like someone risking at that high a level with something they don't have a stake in.
Also from the Buffet link: "when you have somebody with a gun to your head, you know, do you really come out with the greatest— the most properly reasoned solution to something?"
In this case the gun points three ways. But it's only the folks getting the social security checks that are really in danger.
Hell, this move alienates me and I'm nowhere near on social security.

I can see it's "Everyone Lose Your Shit at Metafilter Day", as it usually is about once every 18 hours.

Metafilter: high in fiber.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's amazing how proud some people can be to vote for absolutely nothing. Absent a change to the voting system, that's all voting for a distant third-place finisher will ever be.

Some people vote for the best candidates even when they aren't polling well, and aren't actually trying to get something.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:34 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


theodolite: "Obama doesn't do any of that because he thinks that Reagan was right."

That misrepresents what he was saying at the time.

eriko: "The reason the GOP has become the tea party is the teapers made it very clear that if you did not toe the line, they woul run someone against you."

In the primaries. A credible primary challenge against a disloyal candidate is great leverage. Whereas opposing them in the general election is a great way to secure a candidate that's even worse.

Also, the Tea Party is not some spontaneous grassroots movement. They did exist prior to 2009, but as a ramshackle collective of libertarians and Ron Paul fans that nobody gave a shit about. They didn't become a force in American politics until they were co-opted by large, wealthy, and politically powerful lobbying groups with myriad influential connections that gave them millions of dollars, professional leadership, and hundreds of hours of free airtime on the most-watched cable news network in the country. And they did it for the sole purpose of providing conservatives a rehabilitated label and image distinct from the battered GOP brand.

I've said it before, but if the Tea Party had not received such focused and purposeful financial, organizational, and media backing by powerful political elites, they would be as influential in the GOP as Code Pink is in the Democratic Party. And thinking you can replicate their intra-party success without the same measure of shadow support from corporations and millionaire politicians is very naive.

As for the main story, I take a "wait and see" approach. Republicans are painting themselves into a corner with their inflexible position on taxes; if they maintain that position on Obama's offer of COLA adjustments, it makes him look reasonable and them look like irrational ideologues. And if they call his bluff? Well, it sounds from the (vague) stories that this offer is contingent on raising taxes, which is something that cannot be delayed for much longer. It remains to be seen how these varying concessions and demands will balance out in the end -- remember that supposed stinker of a deal with Boehner on the government shutdown that ended up cutting virtually no spending? The deal that enraged House Republicans and led them to their current untenable demands? You can't call these things before they've been worked out in full. It's too bad so many people want to fly into hysteria and cry betrayal based on rumors and half-inflated trial balloons.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


A young guy, hip, smart, they got to him early, it was Chicago after all. "We'll put you in the White House, set race relations ahead a couple decades, that's the payoff for you. The liberals will fall all over themselves. Fight hard but give us these few things at the right moments, Barry? We'll make it work. Teamwork, Barry. Everybody wins."

-- Obama, John le Carré
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:45 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't cut $4 trillion from the debt in administrative costs or waste or whatever. There isn't that much waste. This is going to be a massive kick in the balls and leave our citizens poorer. We have enough information to determine that.

Any concern Democratic water carriers are having about this should not be with those terrible third party voters who you insist have to vote party line for your party despite not being members of it. It should be with what this is going to do to the reputation of your party.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:47 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think third party voters are terrible. In the primaries, they can even be beneficial. In the general elections, I think it helps the concerns of the poor huddled masses about as much as pooping in the street.
posted by angrycat at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, for the love of good debate, can we cut it out already with this crap:

XQUZYPHYR: "shut up and vote for him, hippie."

XQUZYPHYR: "a very polite version of "eat shit, hippies:""

delfin: "Punch The Godless Fucking Hippies Season had officially opened. "

Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "Geez, hippies."

sotonohito: "they'd better knock off the hippie punching."

It's a dumb, hackneyed, and hostile phrase that gets posted multiple times by multiple people in virtually every political thread now. Disagreeing with the wisdom of the voting strategies of doctrinaire liberals is not equivalent to "punching hippies," no more so than critiquing Christian voters is "chokeslamming nuns." Spewing knee-jerk retorts like this is lazy, redefines what people are saying in a violent and contemptuous way, and stifles healthy discussion. Enough, already.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:57 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a well known phrase that refers to the constant blaming of the left for problems created by the center, and I'm not going to stop using it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:00 PM on July 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Unless of course, y'all stop blaming all the problems your party creates on everyone else.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


how about blaming the people who didn't show up to vote in '10? is that hippie punching?

cause those are the people i'd like to punch.
posted by angrycat at 4:04 PM on July 7, 2011


Maybe your party should have run a better campaign.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now now, we don't want to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Just punch a couple hippies over there, so we don't have to punch as many hippies over here. If there was a ticking time bomb and only a hippy knew how to disarm it, you'd punch them too.
posted by mek at 4:06 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe the people who stayed home were unhappy with how your party used the presidency and supermajority in congress they had been given.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: "It's a well known phrase that refers to the constant blaming of the left for problems created by the center, and I'm not going to stop using it."

If you want to rebuke centrists and pragmatists for misattributing blame for political woes, do it with thoughtful, original arguments that address what people are saying in the thread in a constructive way, not by recycling the same empty catchphrase over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over in every thread. It's combative language designed to annoy and eye-poke, not add to the discussion in a meaningful way, and that's not what the site is about.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:11 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


noooooooo I'm pretty sure they were people who were not being good citizens because of whatever reason
posted by angrycat at 4:12 PM on July 7, 2011


meaning people who didn't vote.

I failed to vote against Bush I his second term because of whatever reason. You can virtually punch me for that, if you like.
posted by angrycat at 4:14 PM on July 7, 2011


I plan on voting for Obama in 2012 out of disgust for the Republicans and concern over the implications of a Republican presidency on the composition of the Supreme Court and the judiciary, but ....

In the end, it is up to political parties to appeal to voters, not the other way around.

No political candidate is "owed" a vote. That is not how our system works.

With this latest compromise from Obama, and the embrace of volcano god economics by himself and his economic team, I don't blame people for wanting to "leave the table".
posted by eagles123 at 4:14 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh sorry first term. Bad memory, oldish lady.
posted by angrycat at 4:14 PM on July 7, 2011


If you want to rebuke centrists and pragmatists for misattributing blame for political woes, do it with thoughtful, original arguments that address what people are saying in the thread in a constructive way, not by recycling the same empty catchphrase over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over in every thread. It's combative language designed to annoy and eye-poke, not add to the discussion in a meaningful way, and that's not what the site is about.

No. It's a perfectly fine phrase. Take it to Meta.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


See here for said "volcano god" economics

Interviewer: All of the evidence points to the fact that what you are saying is not true.

Obama advisor: I don't need evidence. I know what I am saying is true.

Interviewer: okay ...........

http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/why-is-the-obama-team-embracing-hooverism/
posted by eagles123 at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2011


Oops, not used to the linking device yet:

Obama adviser being stupid
posted by eagles123 at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2011


Maybe the people who stayed home were unhappy with how your party used the presidency and supermajority in congress they had been given.
I am not unsympathetic to this argument in the general case. However, given the backdrop of the 2010 elections, with the right wing having gone completely apoplectic, bringing guns to meet with politicians who they are opposed to, literally shouting down people they disagree with essentially as a political strategy, nonstop threats of looming violence if they don't get their way, total insanity like "death panels", the vile racism of birtherism, the despicable anti-Muslim fervor that they whipped themselves up into, and more... yeah, I'm not sympathetic to this argument in this specific case.
posted by Flunkie at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2011


Yes, Republicans are bad too.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:28 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's clearly all that can be said about Democrats and Republicans. "Republicans are bad too". Not at all a simplistic false equivalence.
posted by Flunkie at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2011


furiousxgeorge, what is your position? That we should vote for a third party candidate at X point (primaries or gen)?

If so, who is that third party candidate who is better than a) Obama and b) Romney/Perry/whomever
posted by angrycat at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2011


I'm just sorry that the label "hippie" is now assigned to Unfun People on the Politics trip. Hippies can be fun ...
posted by Bookhouse at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's clearly all that can be said about Democrats and Republicans. "Republicans are bad too". Not at all a simplistic false equivalence.

Not judging either side right now, we are talking about why the Democrats get or do not get votes right? If that has to do with people not liking how they governed, angry Republicans aren't really going to play into it.

furiousxgeorge, what is your position? That we should vote for a third party candidate at X point (primaries or gen)?


You should vote for whoever you want.

If so, who is that third party candidate who is better than a) Obama and b) Romney/Perry/whomever

Might be no one. In that case I will seriously consider voting for the Republican. It is my theory that Democrats will return to opposing Republican policy once they are out of control of the presidency and senate. All they need to stop literally anything, as we have seen, is 40 votes in the senate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:38 PM on July 7, 2011


*41, I guess.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:41 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Young people are so, so fucked.

I'm edging into Old Lady Status, being about to smack into 34 AW (anno winn), but my personal plan for the last decade has been to prepare myself so that I could qualify to emigrate.

Fortunately, there are several places that have functioning health care systems which don't view a middle class as surplus to requirements. The only downside is that many of them require the speaking of mysterious foreign tongues! That is cool. Have dictionaries and grammar books, will travel.
posted by winna at 4:45 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Veto power != power to do anything for anybody (i.e., get legislation passed).
posted by angrycat at 4:47 PM on July 7, 2011


Veto power != power to do anything for anybody (i.e., get legislation passed).

That's fine but this country needs shit vetoed a lot more than we need new laws right now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2011


If you are a progressive, I would advise working to elect progressive members of the House and Senate, both in party primaries and the general election.

It is important the Democrats recapture the House, as well as maintain or build upon their majority it the Senate. At this point I am more interested in those elections than the Presidential election, although I would still advise voting for Obama.

It is also important that those elected to the Senate and House are willing to work towards progressive goals and not to sign onto deals like the one that Obama is proposing.

I would not advise falling all over yourself to defend every statement or decision made by the Obama administration - which seems to be becoming increasingly detached from both the desires of the American people and reality in general.
posted by eagles123 at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2011


Yeah, I'm sure that Republican presidential candidate who you're seriously considering voting for will veto all kinds of legislation that you think should be vetoed.
posted by Flunkie at 5:08 PM on July 7, 2011


First: I'm going to vote for Obama next year. As it stands, I'm definitely not going to enjoy doing it, as I did in '08, but I'm voting for him.

Second: I don't know where this idea came from that the 2010 results were solely the result of permanently disgruntled lefties not bothering to vote for Democrats, because it's simply not borne out by the data. All the turnout data available from the last midterm (not going to link to all of it this second, as I'm stepping out to run errands) states that Democratic turnout was on a level with historical levels.

What changed?

What changed was that Republican voters, after nearly two years of death panels/Muslim-socialists-are-gonna-getcha/&c, were incredibly fired up to vote.

Had the 2010 electorate borne more of a resemblance to the 2008 electorate, Republicans would've won 27 seats, as opposed to 65, and we'd still have a majority in the House, and maybe 1 or 2 more seats in the Senate.

Incidentally, the people who didn't turn out in 2010 were, paradoxically, among the President's biggest supporters - African Americans and young people. Their vote performance in 2008 was above the norm, whilst in 2010 it was slightly below the norm. Since they don't normally turn out in mid-term elections to begin with, because they're low information voters and thus rather averse to voting, period, the Republican effect was amplified even more.

Oh, and the disaffected 'hippies' people are blaming for not turning out & thus causing the Republican blow out? Turns out they actually turned out to vote.

But let's don't let facts get in the way of feeling righteous, now.

See this Nate Silver post for a brief exegesis of what the 2010 electorate looked like, among other things.

Apologies if these points have already been made, &c. Full disclosure: I'm a political professional, so this is of interest of me.
posted by arkhangel at 5:10 PM on July 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


I agree with the above.

I don't think people should worry about "hippies" not turning out because Obama cuts Social Security.

Instead, people should worry about older people, more inclined to vote anyway, either not turning out or voting Republican for other (cultural, ethnic, ect.) reasons, as a result of Democrats linking themselves with cuts to popular entitlement programs.
posted by eagles123 at 5:37 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure that Republican presidential candidate who you're seriously considering voting for will veto all kinds of legislation that you think should be vetoed.

Currently talking about filibustering.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:38 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"That's fine but this country needs shit vetoed a lot more than we need new laws right now."
posted by Flunkie at 5:48 PM on July 7, 2011


this is why i'm waiting to see what really happens

Wait no longer - latest news today:

"Obama will propose cuts in Social Security and major reductions in Medicare, which mark a major shift for the White House, The Washington Post reported late on Wednesday, citing people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal.
"
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:49 PM on July 7, 2011


About what I expected, from Obama and from progs.
Obama's key word has been 'compromise' since the 2007-8 debates.
Republicans will give with a lot of noise. Debt ceiling raised. Defense cuts, big time; Medicare COLA, small time. Interesting that AARP changed its complaisant position on indexing COLA to the chained index to a suddenly aggressive stance.
I'm a Democrat.
Democrat power brokers, pathetic lot, lose.
Obama 2012!
posted by nj_subgenius at 5:55 PM on July 7, 2011


It's Never Lurgi wrote: Don't we have to do something about entitlement spending to get the fiscal house in order?

Social Security isn't a huge problem. It's tractable through merely letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Medicare, thanks to continued runaway growth in health care expenses, is a problem. Of course, nobody mentions that Medicare's spending grows more slowly than private insurers, even though Medicare, by definition, has most expensive people, health-care wise, on its books.

That's what struck me as dumb about proposals to increase the Medicare eligibility age. Yeah, let's kick out the healthiest people Medicare insures. That's a great plan.

vuron wrote:

Raising the social security retirement age might be a worthwhile step as well, while increases in average life expectancy haven't been as great in the US as they should be, there is a substantial difference between average retirement age and average life expectancy.


That's a fantastic way to fuck the poor and minorities. You might want to look deeper than the overall life expectancy. ;)
posted by wierdo at 6:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Legomancer wrote: It's okay because according to David Plouffe, voters aren't concerned about unemployment and the economy.

These fucking people.


Look at the unemployment stats. Barely at 7% for white people generally. Less than that for well educated whites. Unemployment is back to normal for the chattering class and their friends, so of course the problem has been solved!
posted by wierdo at 6:23 PM on July 7, 2011


eagles123: "volcano god economics"

Fucking AWESOME! (well not what it means, but the name).
posted by symbioid at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


wierdo: "vuron wrote:

Raising the social security retirement age might be a worthwhile step as well, while increases in average life expectancy haven't been as great in the US as they should be, there is a substantial difference between average retirement age and average life expectancy.


That's a fantastic way to fuck the poor and minorities. You might want to look deeper than the overall life expectancy. ;)
"

Yeah - wanna know the scariest thing? Simpson (aka: Alan Simpson, he of the famed "Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission", aka: The Catfood Commissions)" doesn't understand this very fucking basic point.

How the FUCK do you expect a person to run a deficit reduction commission, that deals with Social Security reform when they don't even understand the easily understood basics of the concept of "life expectancy"? And, again, this is a man that Obama fucking appointed, and yet we're not supposed to criticize it? Shouldn't maybe some basic concepts be tested on, before we start appointing these assholes willy nilly to some very powerful and important positions?

Guess not. We elect clowns, why should we expect the clowns to appoint non-clowns to important positions. *sigh*
posted by symbioid at 7:10 PM on July 7, 2011


Shit, forgot to link... Alan Simpson doesn't understand Life Expectancy
posted by symbioid at 7:11 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, great point re: differing life expectancies.
posted by angrycat at 7:14 PM on July 7, 2011


Flunkie:

Me: Might be no one. In that case I will seriously consider voting for the Republican. It is my theory that Democrats will return to opposing Republican policy once they are out of control of the presidency and senate. All they need to stop literally anything, as we have seen, is 40 votes in the senate.

Angrycat: Veto power != power to do anything for anybody (i.e., get legislation passed).

^ Defines fillibustering as a way to veto, which it is.

Me: That's fine but this country needs shit vetoed a lot more than we need new laws right now.

^ Using the same language as Angrycat to refer to fillibustering. Conversations are fun, out of context quotes no so much!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2011


Ugh: In addition to his warnings about the cost of a default, officials said, Mr. Geithner told the lawmakers the White House did not believe it had the authority, under the Constitution, to continue issuing debt if it reached the debt ceiling. Nobody in the room disputed Mr. Geithner’s bleak assessment, the officials said.
posted by gerryblog at 7:36 PM on July 7, 2011


14th amendment, section 4: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void."
posted by neuron at 8:14 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge, you said that you were seriously considering voting for a Republican president, and you also said that you thought that this nation needs vetoes much more than new laws. Don't blame me for noticing both.
posted by Flunkie at 8:34 PM on July 7, 2011


Chokeslam nuns? Ridiculous.

You collar tie them to take advantage of the habit then go into a juji gatame to get them to drop the yardstick.

"We've got a unique opportunity to do something big," he said at a news conference, where he invited top congressional leaders to Thursday's White House meeting.

This phrase along with "Hold my beer"; "I pay your salary asshole"; and "Dude, watch this" have preceded every serious error I've ever witnessed.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


furiousxgeorge, you said that you were seriously considering voting for a Republican president, and you also said that you thought that this nation needs vetoes much more than new laws. Don't blame me for noticing both.

You are being intentionally obtuse as I have already reposted my quote, which was clearly referring to a filibuster of anything such a president would sign.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:51 PM on July 7, 2011


"Do something big" indeed... words of a hack. Might as well say its "about securing America's future", or even "It's about freedom".
posted by uni verse at 9:02 PM on July 7, 2011


furiousxgeorge, I understand, and always have understood, that your quote saying that you were seriously considering voting for a Republican presidential candidate was in the context of your awesome grand plan of having Democrats filibuster.

That does not change that you also said that you think that vetoes are important - more important than new legislation.

If you vote for a Republican presidential candidate, you're not going to get vetoes of the type that I imagine you want.

This is true regardless of whether or not you mentioned that you were considering voting for a Republican presidential candidate in the context of your awesome grand plan of having Democrats filibuster.

I am neither being obtuse nor taking you out of context; I am putting two of your statements together, which, to me, seem contradictory in a certain way. I don't know how I can make this more clear, and I frankly suspect that you understand this, so this will be the last thing that I say on this topic.
posted by Flunkie at 9:39 PM on July 7, 2011


Might be no one. In that case I will seriously consider voting for the Republican. It is my theory that Democrats will return to opposing Republican policy once they are out of control of the presidency and senate. All they need to stop literally anything, as we have seen, is 40 votes in the senate.

It is my opinion that with Democrats in the minority and facing a Republican president I would get strong opposition from Democrats to policies such as new wars, extending tax cuts for the rich, and cutting healthcare and social security spending. You are free to disagree, but there is no contradiction.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:45 PM on July 7, 2011


Fuck you Barry.

You're the reason people vote Nader.
posted by bardic at 10:01 PM on July 7, 2011


" It is my theory that Democrats will return to opposing Republican policy once they are out of control of the presidency and senate. All they need to stop literally anything, as we have seen, is 40 votes in the senate."

I think people are missing your point with the procedural questions, but I'd like to point out that Dems filibustered fuck all save some judges under Bush.

Obama's not good at wielding power. He consistently fails to use his agenda setting power and his bully pulpit, though I think it's fair to say that his cabinet's been pretty good (not without some failures, but successful on the whole).

But I'm not going to start hoping for an incompetent Republican again, and I sure as hell don't want someone like Tom Delay, someone who knows how to wield power and work the system, in there for the Republicans.
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the Buffett interview also linked above:

So if our medical costs are 17 percent of GDP, and other countries are 10 percent, that is the biggest problem we have.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:57 PM on July 7, 2011


Obama's not good at wielding power. He consistently fails to use his agenda setting power and his bully pulpit, though I think it's fair to say that his cabinet's been pretty good (not without some failures, but successful on the whole).

I disagree. I think Obama is actually pretty good at wielding power. He's managed to get quite a bit done during his tenure, e.g. Clinton couldn't get health care done at all. Obama did.
And considering that the political tone in this country is pretty damn rancorous, more so than in any presidency I can remember that's pretty amazing.

The problem, as I see it IS US. It's easy to sit back, watch the proceedings and do your Monday morning quarterbacking. But we're all too distracted by shiny, cheap things to more than bitch, when it's actually our LIFE, LIBERTY and MONEY at stake.

Our grandfathers fought for more rights, more fairness and more opportunity for all. And yet, when wages stay stagnant for decades, unemployment is double what it used to be and the rich and corporations continue to rake in the dough and find ways to shrink the pie, what would it take to get people out in the streets?

Too many of us are distant from the things that matter. We don't care about what's happening to the planet. We don't know where our food comes from. We don't know our neighbors and government serves only rich and powerful.

I don't have the answer, but man, I KNOW it's not as simple as blaming one politician and replacing him or her with another...
posted by black8 at 11:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where's my hand-basket? We're going on a trip!
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


You people who are bitching about non-voters are missing two points:

1) We DID get all fired up in 2008 and voted for what we thought was a progressive. What we got was more war, continued wiretapping/secret prisons/etc, weak-ass corporate-welfare health care reform, and pretty much whatever the GOP wanted, because it was decided that unless we had a supermajority, nothing was attainable or worth fighting for.

2) In return, over the past three years, we've been told that Obama is simply POWERLESS to enact any real change, that we shouldn't have expected him to, and that, essentially, the way to get what we want is to not get what we want and instead give the GOP what they want and somehow this will eventually equal a tiny fraction of a baby step towards progressive ideas.

And now you're telling us that unless we support Obama, a Republican might win and SOMETHING TERRIBLE will happen and we won't get what we want!

I'm an atheist and rejected this kind of magical thinking with regards to religion long ago. I now reject it with regards to politics. I will vote for someone who legitimately shares my ideals only. I will not vote for someone who holds slightly fewer of the ideals I abhor.

In other words, if I walk into a restaurant and the only options on the menu are a quart of raw sewerage or a pint of raw sewerage, I will not choose the pint because it's less. Even if this means that someone else will decide which one I have to eat, I will not contribute in any way to my own misery.

Obama has shown nothing but contempt for the actual people who elected him and an overwhelming willingness to "compromise" with those he supposedly opposes, even as they destroy the country in order to try to destroy him. What you're suggesting is that the best option we have in 2012 is more of what we have now. If that's the best option, then it really makes little difference to me what the worst one is. I'm fucking fed up.
posted by Legomancer at 6:23 AM on July 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


klangklangston wrote Obama's not good at wielding power.

I used to take that convoluted and extremely charitable viewpoint. I now think, especially after his proposal to slash social security, that he's extremely good at wielding power and has gotten exactly what he wants.

That, of course, is a terrible thing to think, but the only other option is to imagine that Obama is a combination of a complete and utter idiot and the worst negotiator who has ever walked the face of the planet.

The only rational thought is that he's gotten what he wants. That he wanted to protect the torturers. That he wanted to protect the banksters. That he wanted to solidify and increase the powers of an Imperial Presidency. That he wanted Health Care Reform that amounts to little more than a giveaway to the megacorporations and no public option. That he wanted to put Social Security up on the chopping block.

None of those are comforting thoughts but they don't require us to imagine that Obama, a man of demonstrated intelligence, is an moron.

And I'll still (pointlessly since I live in Texas) be casting my vote for the lousy, backstabbing, villain in 2012 because even given all that he's still a better choice than any Republican.

Though, at this point, I'm pretty sure that's entirely due to the Supreme Court.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will shit all over the Constitution and start a new and obscenely costly foreign war without even pretending to care about separation of powers? Nope, Obama (the Constitutional scholar!) already did that.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will slash social spending to the bone while increasing military spending? Nope, Obama already did that.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will decide that he has the power to imprison (forever and without even the possibility of charges and trials) any American citizen they declare to be a terrorist? Nope, Obama already did that.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will decide that they can order the CIA to assassinate American citizens merely on the presidential declaration that those citizens are terrorists? Nope, Obama already did that.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will attack whistleblowers while ignoring the crimes those whistleblowers report? Nope, Obama already did that.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will severely restrict abortion via executive order and legislation? Nope, Obama already did that.

Am I worried that the next Republican president will offer retroactive immunity to corporations which cooperate with blatantly illegal civil rights abuses? Nope, Obama alread did that.

The only thing I can see that differentiates Obama from Romney is who they'll appoint to the Supreme Court.

I can't be scared with dire threats that if Obama loses we'll be plunged into war, the economy will be fucked, civil rights will be trampled, and the safety net will be shredded. Obama's already done all that.

The single, solitary, only thing I see that makes Obama better than any Republican up to and including Palin, is the Supreme Court.

And on that basis I'll vote for him. It will hurt. It will make me depressed and wretched for weeks after. I'll hate myself for doing it, but I will because the Supreme Court is important.

But I can't keep pretending that the problem is that Obama just isn't good at wielding power. He's great at wielding power, and everything that has happened since he came into office is exactly what he wanted.
posted by sotonohito at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


And on that basis I'll vote for him. It will hurt. It will make me depressed and wretched for weeks after. I'll hate myself for doing it, but I will because the Supreme Court is important.

How are you going to feel when Obama continues his pattern and puts a conservative on the Supreme Court? Why wouldn't he compromise on that? EVERYTHING ELSE and you know there is no excuse how can you trust him to be different when it comes to the supreme court?
posted by fuq at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are a few things that really rub me the wrong way about how this whole spectacle is playing out right now.

1) Raising the debt limit should not be a political process. It's being raised to pay for commitments the legislature has already made, not to pay for new proposed spending. So congressional Republicans are basically threatening to make the US government flake out on paying existing debts they previously authorized just to squeeze the administration for further political concessions.

2) For most of US history (with the exception of the very recent past when the hard-line right-wingers in the Republican party started politicizing the process), the US congress has treated raising the debt limit as a routine but necessary apolitical function.

3) In effect, the Republicans are trying (and succeeding, apparently) to use what should be a non-political issue--a routine but essential bookkeeping duty of congress--to force gains in their political assault on public programs. They have shown willingness to throw the entire nation's economy into a long-term depression, if necessary, just to achieve their aim of making it harder for many Americans to endure and recover from unforeseeable hardships brought about by changing circumstances--like the broader economic collapse Republicans are at the same time threatening, as a political ploy, to bring about.

4) Why aren't the Democrats shouting at the top of their lungs about how the Republicans are abusing the trust of their elected positions and knowingly engaging in political games that could potentially plunge the nation into long-term economic ruin? Why aren't Obama and congressional Democrats demanding more forcefully that all of congress put aside politics over the debt limit matter, perform its duty, and vote to raise the debt limit already? Oh right. Here's why: apparently, they've decided they might be able to get some kind of big budget deal out of this political moment, too, and turns out they've been drinking the Kool-Aid (though a slightly weaker strain than the Republicans drink) on the need for at least some "entitlement reform" to balance the books, too. What a great opportunity a crisis like this presents to "do the hard thing" and enact some of those "moderate" cuts that the conventional, middlebrow beltway wisdom considers to be inevitable without really being able to explain why. So now the Dems are playing games, too, with even Obama going along with the obscene idea that this particular historical moment--with the economic health and prosperity of the US still hanging precariously in the balance--is the right time to treat an essential book-keeping task, the omission of which could bankrupt the US in an instant, like a political chit in a bid to reach a larger deal on other contentious issues.

Are Republicans to blame? Yes. Are Democrats to blame? Insofar as they're willing to let the Republicans treat this debt-limit debate like a political opportunity when it really should be held up as a basic duty of office, yes, they are. Insofar as the president is willing to play along in these farcical negotiations over the debt limit, as if the Republicans had a legitimate right to demand political concessions simply for performing their minimal constitutional duties, yes, he's to blame, too. But blame shouldn't necessarily be apportioned equally to everyone not held blameless. When this all plays out, the outcome might not bear out our initial impressions or assumptions about where the negotiations are headed. And don't be surprised if we later find out that some of the early reports on the particulars of the negotiations were misleading or wrong. Either way, there's really nothing to negotiate.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honestly? The Supreme Court's fucked already. Kennedy was supposed to be the last bulwark of sane judgment, and he's getting worse and worse by the year. Not to mention that it's only the sane minority that's in danger of resigning any time soon. Court-wise, the difference between Obama and Romney/Palin/Bachmann/my own leg hair is a bunch of 5-4 insane decisions versus a bunch of 6-3 or 7-2 insane decisions.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's my take on it: It's a hostage situation.

So, a crazy person abducts your grammy and holds a gun to her head. Said crazy person sez, "get your penknife out and cut your own arm off and I won't shoot her."

So, no, you don't saw off your arm. But maybe you get your penknife out and wave it around, maybe slice your flesh a bit, playing for time, strategically.

Anybody who supports an austerity program at this point is fucking crazy. But fucking crazy is supported by a very large portion of the population in the U.S. They also support fucking crazy austerity programs in the U.K. Their economy is suffering from it, but who cares what reality is.

It is not one person. It is stupid fucking crazy humanity.

So, you're Obama. I would say, file suit under the 14th amendment, but do any of you really think that if it was a slam dunk under the 14th they'd do it? There is no easy answer here.

And all this talk of voting third party (outside of the primaries), especially when there is no viable 3rd party candidate around, is like saying, "I know what I'll do to save gramma! I'll use my super powers to go back in time to prevent her from being taken hostage."

And you start waving your hands around because you think this evokes your magical imaginary power. Nothing happens, but the hostage-taker is like, "whoa, the guy's moving his hands! That is a sign from the Great God Glom to put a bullet in granny's head." And he does.

See that? Granny's dead and IT'S YOUR FAULT because you managed to delude yourself into thinking that if you did X all would be fine. You didn't acknowledge the reality that when a crazy motherfucker holds a gun to granny's head, you better be pretty fucking strategic.
posted by angrycat at 7:48 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


fuq I base my assumption that Obama will (probably) appoint non-crazy right wing justices on past performance. Neither Kagan nor Sotomayor are anywhere near my ideal for Supreme Court justice, but they aren't Republican crazy either.

There's no evidence to indicate that his next pick (assuming he gets one), will be much different from his first two.
posted by sotonohito at 7:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was trying to watch the shuttle launch on CNN, and I see Obama come out to talk about what to do about the jobs debacle. what does he say? Tax cut, tax cut, tax cut. Talking like a fucking Republican. Total unwillingness to fight. He needs to be primaried from the left so he will be made to answer for his capitulation.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:14 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Talking like a fucking Republican.

News flash: he's not talking like one, he is one.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:16 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love the part of the thread where we get to the terrible analogies. :)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: "I love the part of the thread where we get to the terrible analogies. :"

Obama's decision is like driving to work on a rainy day. You might get wet getting in and out of the car and the road conditions aren't very good.
posted by charred husk at 9:48 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


de nada

But for reals, I was trying to make a point without being all bitter and shit. I assume that there's going to be a lot more of these political threads in the weeks to come, and as a U.S. pol. junkie (although in no way an expert), I come to the threads wanting to hear interesting, nuanced discussion.

But there is a dominant tide of Obama = Republican = the biggest disappointment in the universe = the true leftists among us will vote for the United Workers' League, or something. And so, rather than be all FUUUUUUU I try to word-draw a little cartoon to illustrate what I see, upon reflection and consumption of the news, are some important points.

furiouxgeorge, to draw a local example of my frustration, look at what 2010 gave Pennsylvania. Fucking Tom Corbett (I hate that man so much fuck you to hell and back fuck your granny Tom). Motherfrucking Pat Toomey, who is more conservative than Rick Santorum.

Yeah we can argue whether 2010 was the result of liberal lack of enthusiasm or right-wing craziness. Let's call it even and say both played a factor. In fact, I'll say less than 10% of the losses were due to liberal bitterness.

Even so, that gave us Pat Motherfucking Toomey and Tom Motherfucking Corbett. These are evil people who are hurting poor children in Philadelphia.

You want more of this furiousxgeorge? You want more poor kids suffering? Cause that is who really suffers in crises like these. You want more of this? Keep telling people to vote purist ideology.

I do take this extremely seriously. I'm not angry at you but I think that your position -- and your propagation of them -- results in real world harms. I'd like to reason you out of it furiousxgeorge, but you and I are worlds apart, even though we are both far left.
posted by angrycat at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2011


"In an interview, Bachmann is asked about the dismal June jobs report from the Labor Department. The host asked Bachmann, “Does it strike you that as unemployment goes up, your chances of winning office also go up?” Bachmann responded by saying, “Well that could be. Again, I hope so.”

le sigh

At least she admits what all the other Republicans are thinking. It's just a fucking game to them.
posted by symbioid at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


angrycat is angry
posted by symbioid at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2011


I'm a big fan of Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak, and they got my votes. I haven't even taken the Sestak bumper sticker off my car.

I am definitely not a liberal purist. I would happily vote for a pro-life candidate, for instance. I have my own priorities and concerns.

Extending the Bush tax cuts was really, really bad. This isn't a perfect being the enemy of the good situation. There is no good. That move left us in the situation we are in today and the reverberations are going to be continued to be felt for decades.

That was my biggest fear for a Republican presidency, that and more wars, so you can't really scare me anymore.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Angrycat:

And under Obama and the like, the exact same shit happens. When there's some psycho threatening to shoot your grandmother unless you cut off your own arm with a chainsaw, you don't bleed to death and hope he'll keep his word, you fucking shoot him. Meanwhile, Obama shoots your grandmother himself, in the hopes that the psycho will be happy enough not to kill anybody else this week.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:13 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


After the fourth or fifth time grandma is held hostage, I start to think she might be scamming me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:14 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


and proposing cuts to social security, to use your analogy, then is to say I'm not gonna slice grannies head off with a knife, I'll just give her a thousand paper cuts. one by one. and it's not the person with the knife doing it, it's the person whose granny it is, who the hostage-taker is demanding to cut off their arm.

how do we turn ship? this is what I don't know and I don't think any of us know and I think we're frustrated and angry because NONE OF US HAVE THE ANSWER. Your answer is to not go full on crazy, but to us that just says slowly going insane. It says turn the water temp up just a little hotter. We're just circling the drain slower than being straight sucked in. We want to turn this fucking ship around, and we're told we can't.

And i get it. I get why you say that. And I have very real fears and lack of trust in American's ability to turn around. And I hope beyond hope there is some way to do so.

But to us, we only have one voice and one option.

The thing is this "hippie punching" thing. It's a way to blame those of us who want to find some way to turn around. Instead of blaming the guy who says "hey, lets fuck over SS while we raise the debt ceiling" when it wasn't even part of the fucking discussion... And then tell us it's OUR fault for him losing. Even though SS is the third fucking rail and now it's a democrat who's doing it. Just like it was clinton who fucked over the welfare system.

And you guys let them get away with it, because hey... they're not republicans.

And... The next part which is very true: We can't have an honest to god left in america because people are so fucking brainwashed. So if you think "let's just make sure we don't plummet but only enter matrix slow-mo mode" then go ahead. But that's all you've got. It's fear of the other. And it works. Look at the Tea Party. but the thing is. Until you have a real uprising on the left instead of complacent "OK, I guess I'll vote for him because he's not Bachmann" you're going to continue to get candidates who keep fucking us over.

I think we both see a problem, and we both have questions, and we just don't know what the answer is. Capitulating to a fucking bully that doesn't listen to reason isn't a really good way to do things, and when you aren't merely capitulating, but when you're offering up not only your lunch money but your ID and your...

I get it. Obama is the ultimate Christian. His enemies ask for a a mile, he goes the extra. Just like Jesus commanded. It all makes sense now.
posted by symbioid at 10:15 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


We had a near riot in my office because we got rid of paper cups. Shit got deep. My boss is a facking idiot for the way he handled it. If I was the boss, which I should be because I am smarter and more companssionate than him, I would have just kept the paper cups. He should have wielded more power. He should have looked into styrofoam!!! Problem fucking solved!!!!

Thing is.....my boss is twice as smart as me and is far more selfless and caring than I will ever be. And shit got deep over paper cups!!!!

Before you start reducing Obama's actions and intent to that of either malice, apathy, stupidity, or whatever in a job as complicated and as tough of that of the President of the United States, lets see how you handle paper cups. I suppose you'd just send an email and all would be solved. Now try handling 300 million people's livelihood.
posted by jasondigitized at 10:32 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you go easy on Bush too?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:46 AM on July 8, 2011


I don't go easy or hard on Obama, Bush, or any person with a lot of responsibility because I have never sat at the table. It would be like Obama telling Google they should have written MapReduce / BigTable differently.

I am going to paraphrase a quote I heard on AskMeFi: "When ordinarily smart and rationale people start acting stupid and irrational, you probably don't have all the information they do".
posted by jasondigitized at 11:17 AM on July 8, 2011


hating Bush was easy. He did shit that was so obviously, patently, wrong-headed. And he was the crazy man -- there wasn't a substantial portion of the populace, once it was clear that Iraq was fucked and we were there under sham principles, who was all, "Iraq was such a great idea! Let's do another!" In 2005, esp. following the horrible response to Katrina, I'd argue that most intelligent people knew that Bush was a disaster.

Here -- what have we got? We have the 2010 elections, which showed us that Americans will put crazy people in power. We have the crazy people in power going crazy. And we have an economic crisis that is almost four years old and several ongoing military interventions where, arguably (e.g. Libya) we're doing so because other folks (e.g., NATO, the UN, the Arab League) have asked us to.

I knew that Bush was a stupid motherfuck and Cheney was evil because if I, angrycat, had control of the U.S. executive branch back then, felt that I could make better decisions.

I don't know what the answer is now. But I do know that these are times of economic peril where poor people are getting squeezed bad, and I guess they're listening to some bullshit that claims that cutting taxes will make them rich. I don't know how you beat that.

I think that Obama is trying to do the best he can with the hand he's dealt. If he did what I, angrycat, would like him to do in the movie version of life, he would give press conferences every day explaining just exactly how horrible the proposals of the right are. In this movie, we'd cheer together and the leaders of the right would explode like the alien in the last season of Torchwood at the sound of our cheering.

But in the real world I wonder: What the fuck happens if Obama goes hard -- e.g., waves the 14th amendment around -- and the right calls his bluff? Would a conservative supreme court back him? I don't know the legal arguments behind it.

Beyond that, the man has to deal with these lunatics. I wonder if he's still not smoking.
posted by angrycat at 11:25 AM on July 8, 2011


Oh shit there's a Torchwood spoiler above. Sorry, I'm an asshole.
posted by angrycat at 11:29 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


they're listening to some bullshit that claims that cutting taxes will make them rich. I don't know how you beat that.

You can't beat that because the President, like his Republican predecessor, has signed massive tax cuts into law in the name of economic stimulus.

It was easier to explain why the Republicans were wrong about this before the Democrats decided they were right.

My personal opposition to Libya is just as great as my opposition to Iraq, so I won't be convinced on that part of it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2011


Pew: On the broad question of whether it is more important to reduce the budget deficit or to maintain current Medicare and Social Security benefits, the public decisively supports maintaining the status quo. Six-in-ten (60%) say it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are; only about half as many (32%) say it is more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit.

Even half of Republicans think maintaining benefits is more important than deficit reduction. This is why I just have to scratch my head when I'm called a purist for agreeing with half the Republican party on issues like this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:27 PM on July 8, 2011


furiousxgeorge: "You can't beat that because the President, like his Republican predecessor, has signed massive tax cuts into law in the name of economic stimulus. It was easier to explain why the Republicans were wrong about this before the Democrats decided they were right."

If Obama had waltzed out one day and said, "You know what's a great idea? Extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy!" then you'd have a point. But that deal was clearly a begrudging compromise with Republicans to secure the renewal of unemployment benefits that were about to run out for a whole lot of people, plus a package of other benefits for middle- and low-income workers. You can argue whether he fought effectively enough against the temporary extension of Bush's cuts, but acting like he was pushing for it to happen is disingenuous.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:35 PM on July 8, 2011


It would have been better to let the unemployment expire, but I have serious doubts grandma was actually going to be executed on that one. Regardless, you are still left with tons of stimulus tax cuts to explain. Straight up, you can't argue with Republicans on the economic benefits of tax cuts because your party agrees with them.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:48 PM on July 8, 2011


@angrycat: Yeah we can argue whether 2010 was the result of liberal lack of enthusiasm or right-wing craziness. Let's call it even and say both played a factor. In fact, I'll say less than 10% of the losses were due to liberal bitterness.

Even so, that gave us Pat Motherfucking Toomey and Tom Motherfucking Corbett. These are evil people who are hurting poor children in Philadelphia.

You want more of this furiousxgeorge? You want more poor kids suffering? Cause that is who really suffers in crises like these. You want more of this? Keep telling people to vote purist ideology.


If I can jump in...

As I stated above, there's no argument to be had, @angrycat. Liberal bitterness, whether it's deserved or not, was not a factor.

I've already told you what was: really enthusiastic turnout by Republican voters, coupled with slightly below-average turnout by young voters and African-American voters. That's par for the course with midterm elections; these kinds of voters are what are called low-information voters, which means they don't pay attention to news, and they really don't pay attention to politics.

They certainly don't feel motivated to vote, especially when voting is in competition with the 18,257 other things they have to do on Election Day. That means that campaigns have to do a superlative effort in order to get them to turn out to vote.

In a presidential election year, that's usually hard to do, but it's made slightly easier by the fact that it's virtually impossible to escape the fact that there's an election going on, and presidential campaigns usually have a ton of resources to devote to get-out-the-vote efforts.

That's not the case during mid-term elections. Instead of one massive campaign, you have 50 different campaigns, all conducted with variable amounts of money, resources, staff, and skill. That makes identifying your voters, and getting them out to the polls, much more difficult.

There's one other thing that hasn't been mentioned in this 283-comment thread: the loss of ACORN.

Now, ACORN was demonised by the Right Wing as some kind of crime syndicate, running amok, which was totally untrue. And once the James O'Keefe frame up took place, its days were essentially numbered, especially since Democrats refused to defend the organisation. To give you an idea, from my organiser's perspective - it was as if Republicans were refusing to defend the NRA.

What ACORN did, among other things, was really granular community organising among precisely the kinds of communities that don't turn out to vote in mid term elections. When it came time to get-out-the-vote, you could count on ACORN to turn out those communities to support progressive candidates with their votes.

That was totally missing in 2010. I'm not saying that it was the crucial factor - but it was definitely a factor. It was certainly much more of a factor than random angry lefties who chose to sit out - for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

So, you have a choice, @angrycat: you can continue to hold on to a false narrative of the 2010 election, which would be a waste of your prodigious energies.

Or you can devote those energies to actually doing something useful – namely, figuring out how to turn out those voters in 2012 who didn't turn out in 2010. Because, you know...I could really use the help.
posted by arkhangel at 7:27 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


DADT ended today. It should be noted that this is a result of the Log Cabin Republican's effort to overturn it by the courts. Had Obama not surrendered to the Republicans during Congress's lame duck session in exchange for DADT repeal, it still would have ended today. Had John McCain been elected President, it still would have ended today. The one thing Obama did that was an unmitigated good thing for America would have happened today no matter what he did.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:12 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge wrote: Regardless, you are still left with tons of stimulus tax cuts to explain. Straight up, you can't argue with Republicans on the economic benefits of tax cuts because your party agrees with them.

When tax cuts are targeted at people who spend the money as fast as they get it, it's almost as good as fiscal expansion as far as stimulus goes. When it goes to people who just end up saving it for a rainy day, it's useless as economic stimulus. Most of the stimulus-related tax cuts were at least intended to go to the former.

It may be that, politically speaking, it's better not to do tax cuts at all because the folks who can't see the nuance there have their "tax cuts = unmitigated good at all times" opinion reinforced, but that doesn't make it bad policy for technical reasons as you seem to think.
posted by wierdo at 3:15 AM on July 9, 2011


Right, but you did also give the tax cuts for the rich too so you can't credibly communicate the nuance.

Voters aren't particularly wowed by long lists of excuses for why you didn't do what you were elected to do,
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:09 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Senate Dems propse $4 trillion in cuts, 1:1 ratio of taxes/spending cuts including $900 billion cut in defense spending.

AKA, the plan they should have pushed through two goddamn years ago.

Nevertheless, this is, of course, a spectacular proposal in the parallel universe where it has a snowball's chance of getting past Congress.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:37 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weird. I could get behind a 1:1 ratio tax/spending cut (inc defence) plan. That must mean it will not pass.
posted by Justinian at 11:15 AM on July 9, 2011


" Had Obama not surrendered to the Republicans during Congress's lame duck session in exchange for DADT repeal, it still would have ended today. Had John McCain been elected President, it still would have ended today. The one thing Obama did that was an unmitigated good thing for America would have happened today no matter what he did."

That's pretty clearly counterfactual nonsense, in that the injunction against the repeal was lifted specifically because the Obama administration, through the DOJ, declared DADT unconstitutional and wasn't defending it (which is pretty much the tack that people were asking him to take prior to Congress repealing it, but it only took about six extra months and is a lot stronger through this process both politically and constitutionally).
posted by klangklangston at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2011


Which injunction are you talking about?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:15 PM on July 9, 2011


Sorry if I was unclear — I meant the stay on the injunction, but confused the terms. More here.
posted by klangklangston at 5:38 PM on July 9, 2011


furiousxgeorge wrote: Right, but you did also give the tax cuts for the rich too so you can't credibly communicate the nuance.

Voters aren't particularly wowed by long lists of excuses for why you didn't do what you were elected to do


I didn't give anybody any tax cuts, and I wasn't elected to office, thanks. Nevertheless, as I recall, the stimulus tax cuts and the others applied mainly to (Obama's inflated definition of) the middle class and businesses, not upper income individual taxpayers. It wasn't until the Bush tax cuts were extended that upper income earners got further relief.

Maybe I'm remembering incorrectly?
posted by wierdo at 6:03 PM on July 9, 2011


^ I am referring to the Democratic party, which has voted for and signed into law tax cuts for the poor and for the rich. This is why Democratic loyalists don't get to act shocked that people think tax cuts are the solution to our problems.

It cited as a reason the Obama administration’s recent position in another case involving same-sex marriage that it is unconstitutional to treat gay Americans differently under the law.

As far as I understand it the government was still fighting this case.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:09 PM on July 9, 2011


Here is a fun chart.

This is why you don't get to act shocked people are convinced tax cuts are the solutions to our problems. I know, I know, your party is full of wimps and centrists and the Republicans made you do it. I'll try and vote you out for that instead.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like how you blame Clinton for Republicans controlling Congress during most of his two terms. That's definitely the sign of rational disagreement. Clearly, a Republican controlled Congress will lean more toward spending cuts than tax increases.

No excuse for Obama, of course. Not that Obama seemed to have any interest in repeating the mistakes of the Depression until after the midterms, but that still doesn't excuse his presently giving cover to those who want fiscal contraction in the midst of a stagnant economy.
posted by wierdo at 6:57 PM on July 9, 2011


I think if you ask Bill Clinton he will take an good amount of credit for the decisions that were made on the budget. They did manage to balance the thing, after all.

The main point though is that it doesn't matter which party is in power, we aren't getting liberal policy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:30 PM on July 9, 2011


An interesting stream of unconfirmed late-night reports from an official CNN Twitter account:
BREAKING - GOP gave in on Bush tax cuts?: WH source tells CNN that Boehner agreed to let Bush tax cuts expire as part of tax reform.

DEBT TALKS more: WH source tells @YellinCNN GOP wanted tax reform to b only three income tax rates, all lower than now.

DEBT TALKS breakdown?: WH source tells CNN Dems were ok w broad GOP tax reform but didn't want any tax burden from wealthy 2% to others

Stressing - this is the game. Both sides giving us leaks to make other seem to blame. V EAGER to hear Boehner response on Bush tax cuts.

Good alert RTs guys. The s** is flying right now. We need to report what we're hearing but will spend next day at least sorting out truth.

DEBT TALKS next: WH will have Bill Daley and Tim Geithner on am talk shows. Expect more (maybe lots mo) from GOP. Talks at WH still Sun pm

DEBT More: WH source tells @YellinCNN in return for ending Bush tax cuts for wealthy, Dems offered big Medicare reform. But need details.

DEBT deal timing now: we're off the map for the moment. Hard to predict timing next. But feels like are in a more serious place. More...
posted by Rhaomi at 4:48 AM on July 10, 2011


If the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire I will enthusiastically campaign for Obama, even if it means Medicare cuts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:22 AM on July 10, 2011


Nope, everything collapsed last night because John Boehner couldn't convince the crazies to vote for it.

So now we're back to square one, it appears.
posted by angrycat at 8:36 AM on July 10, 2011


IMF Chief Christine Lagarde calls on US to raise borrowing limit.

I'd agree with Obama that the 14th amendment does not exactly give him the right to continue issuing new bonds, but ..

He could perhaps simply stop paying military contractors, while continue paying bond holders instead, pleading the 14th amendment.

Is doing so constitutional? No, not any more than issuing new debt. It'll force congress into openly voting for a default however, which they'll never do.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2011


The problem Obama is having is exactly what some of us said would happen back in... uh... the month when the Bush tax cuts were set to expire. Obama said that extending the cuts for the middle class was too important to let the whole shebang expire, so the Democrats voted to extend it all. This was a loud and clear signal to the Republicans that if they play chicken with the Dems, the Dems will cave. And that's what we're seeing now.

Once you pay the danegeld you never get rid of the Dane.
posted by Justinian at 1:28 PM on July 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nope, everything collapsed last night because John Boehner couldn't convince the crazies to vote for it.

The incredible shrinking Speaker
posted by homunculus at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2011


Can the GOP still say 'yes'?
Republicans are going to need to make a very tough decision over the next couple of weeks: Are they a party that's very good at saying "no" in order to get the best deal possible? Or are they a party that's incapable of saying "yes" even once they've gotten there?

Consider how far they've come: The Obama administration has agreed to a debt-ceiling deal that's 83% spending cuts and 17% tax increases -- mere inches away from the magic 83:15 ratio that the Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee asked for back in March.

The Obama administration has functionally agreed to redefine a "grand bargain" as a deal that trades lots of spending cuts and some entitlement reforms for a small number of tax increases. And as the taxes go up, so will the ambition of the entitlement reforms. In today's New York Times, Robert Pear reports that the "Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues."

The Democrats have agreed to limit tax increases to cuts in "tax expenditures" -- a category that no less eminent a Republican economist than Alan Greenspan says should properly be understood as "government spending" rather than "tax cuts" -- rather than the marginal-rate increases that Republican economists say are truly harmful to growth. That's given Republicans an out, if they want it: They can say they're cleaning the code rather than raising taxes.

But there's little evidence, at least as of yet, that Republicans are going to take the deal -- or even that they can take the deal. That raises the question of whether they've gotten here by being savvy, tough negotiators, or whether the reason they keep saying "no" is that they've lost the ability to say "yes." As David Brooks writes today, "If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right."
posted by Rhaomi at 5:58 PM on July 10, 2011


NY Times: The Mother of All No-Brainers
A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.

The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.

This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.
LA Times: 112th Congress is one of the least productive in years
The 112th Congress is on pace to be one of the least productive in recent memory — as measured by votes taken, bills made into laws, nominees approved. By most of those metrics, this crowd is underperforming even the "do-nothing Congress" of 1948, as Harry Truman dubbed it. The hot-temper era of Clinton impeachment in the 1990s saw more bills become law.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:07 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You realize they are still getting a bill that is massively tilted towards their goals, right?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:16 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


In Midst Of Debt Ceiling Standoff, McConnell Reaffirms That Defeating Obama Is GOP’s ‘Single Most Important’ Goal
posted by homunculus at 6:40 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]



That's pretty clearly counterfactual nonsense, in that the injunction against the repeal was lifted specifically because the Obama administration, through the DOJ, declared DADT unconstitutional and wasn't defending it (which is pretty much the tack that people were asking him to take prior to Congress repealing it, but it only took about six extra months and is a lot stronger through this process both politically and constitutionally).


Looks like we still may be waiting for Obama/The Pentagon, actually.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:38 PM on July 11, 2011


Actually, I think I may be starting to see the president's game plan on this, though I still don't agree with the approach. By offering to make the initial minor concession on SS that spawned this FPP, the president now feels he's able to call on Boehner and other Republican legislators to make concessions that might cause them to take political flack from their own base with some degree of moral authority. Basically, the president can now say that he's not calling on them to do anything he hasn't done already (through the surprising act of political self-sacrifice we've been discussing here), so they should be willing to step up and agree to some revenue increases in return. That might be how it worked if Republicans cared about fairness and were willing to let Obama succeed at bringing them to some point of compromise with the Dems.

I think Obama may actually be too idealistic to be a good negotiator. And I'm starting to think he doesn't get what this fight is really all about--that Republicans have been all too eager to let the US reach this desperate pass, economically, because their donor base has benefited all the same and they want a weak economy to help them reclaim the White House, at which point they can eliminate what's left of the odious Welfare State that Grover Norquist and his legislators have been openly plotting to shrink enough to "drown in a bath tub" for decades now. We need to be leading this debate by pushing for major expansions of social programs, progressive tax increases, and cuts in areas other than social spending.

This debate should never have been allowed to become all about cutting deficits (that perennial Republican bugaboo) rather than not repeating the mistakes that led Japan into its recent protracted era of economic stagnation (which economists usually blame on an insufficient economic stimulus regime), and about "raising taxes on the richest" rather than "letting Bush's extra tax breaks for the richest expire." The president needs to hold the line more often.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:53 AM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cantor: Taxing The Rich Is Off The Table, But Making Students Pay More Immediately Is Fine
posted by homunculus at 11:16 AM on July 12, 2011


"But after years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable," Mr. McConnell said in a Senate floor speech.

I really hope he's not suggesting what it sounds like he's suggesting.
posted by EarBucket at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep, earbucket. He's saying that, as far as the Republican party's concerned, the US will refuse to honor its existing debts until President Obama is forced out of office.

It's plain and simple political blackmail: Vote Obama out, or we'll continue to let the US economy collapse and force the Treasury of the United States of America into debt default, effectively destroying the nation's credit worthiness, and causing Treasury bond interest rate increases that will cause the national debt to balloon further out of control over time.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:38 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, this from TPM:

Senate Minority Leader has just suggested the GOP will give President Obama his debt limit increase without any spending cuts with a legislative maneuver that in essence allows Republicans to say it's all Obama's fault.

Weird. Deeply weird.
posted by EarBucket at 11:45 AM on July 12, 2011


More from TPM on this latest development..

My take: It's a sleight of hand. The president said earlier today he wouldn't go along with any agreement that didn't put this issue to bed once and for all--no more short term extensions, only a final deal of some sort. Republicans are trying to use that position to blame the failure to raise the debt limit on the Dems.

I think McConnell, Cantor and Boehner are all playing slightly different games here, but the underlying intent is to draw the Dems by degrees into a position they can't defend and then try to shift the blame for the failure to raise the debt limit onto them should that be the outcome.

McConnell knows full well that the president has already threatened to veto any compromise that provides only a short-term debt-limit agreement. This is just more cynical political maneuvering on the part of McConnell, I suspect.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:23 PM on July 12, 2011


I mean, wouldn't the president's statements below apply to this latest proposal, which would cause the debt ceiling issue to come up again just in time for the election season?
The president said he would refuse to accept stopgap legislation. "It's not going to get easier; it's going to get harder," Obama said. "So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas."

He said he would refuse to sign into law a short-term extension of the debt limit, which technically left open the possibility that it could become law without his signature. The White House later confirmed that Obama meant he would veto such a bill.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:31 PM on July 12, 2011


I'm not seeing much support anywhere else online for my initial impression that this latest suggestion from McConnell only amounts to a stop-gap solution, so maybe I'm off the mark there.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:54 PM on July 12, 2011


Obama said in an interview with U.S. television network CBS before the meeting that checks to recipients of the Social Security retirement program may not go out in early August if he and congressional leaders do not agree on a debt deal.

this is getting to be a bit much
posted by pyramid termite at 1:39 PM on July 12, 2011


Here's what appears to have been in the $4 trillion deal they offered the Republicans: A two-year increase in the Medicare eligibility age. Chained-CPI, which amounts to a $200 billion cut to Social Security benefits. A tax-reform component that would raise $800 billion and preempt the expiration of the Bush tax cuts -- which would mean, for those following along at home, that the deal would only include half as much revenue as the fiscal commission recommended, and when you add the effect of making the Bush tax cuts a permanent part of the code, would net out to a tax cut of more than $3 trillion when compared to current law.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:43 PM on July 12, 2011


God, Obama's the kid who always swapped his cupcakes for celery and thought he was getting a good deal, wasn't he?

This is fucked, will make the country more fucked, and will still result in better chances for Republicans to unseat him.

Should have let them shut the government down last winter. And by now, he should be saying "Won't someone rid me of these meddling priests?"
posted by klangklangston at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well it appears that the Republicans couldn't accept Obama's deal so Obama wins without having to follow through. Apparently the president is a better strategist than I am.
posted by rdr at 8:11 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Won't someone rid me of these meddling priests?"

Given the history of the phrase, this sounds like advocating political violence.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2011


Apparently the president is a better strategist than I am.

Except that by putting Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table, they can never again be removed. Every time this happens again, or any other budget cut measures are suggested, this fight will have to be fought, with the ultimate losers being the millions of Americans who depend on these programs. The President is an idiot for even going there.
posted by winna at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


winna: In our legislative process, it's the House of Representative's responsibility to determine what is or isn't on the table when it comes to most budget matters. The president doesn't have the option to stop the House from making cuts to SS and Medicare part of their budget proposals, other than through veto at the end of the process; once the House flipped to the Republicans, setting the agenda on all spending became the exclusive domain of the Republicans.

Like I said when the house first flipped, Obama and the Democrats do not have any real agenda setting power in the legislative process anymore on most budget matters. In this case, the voters are more to blame than even the worst Dems for the fact that the president cannot effectively set the agenda on budget issues, period.

He's the president of the US--not the president of the Democratic party. And currently, the US legislature is a predominately right-wing body.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't pretend Obama's support for those cuts has not set a precedent.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:36 AM on July 13, 2011


How did it set a "precedent"?

President Bill Clinton advocated cuts to SS and medicare and still does. When he was president, it was only congress that kept him from achieving those policy aims.

With so many on the "low information left" lazily proclaiming how much they miss the Clinton-era, is it really surprising that the president has embraced more Clinton-like policies?

After all, it was Clinton in the 90s who first ushered in the friendlier financial system regulatory environment that still persists to this day (and that accounts in part for the fact that we aren't seeing as many referrals for prosecution as we did back in the S&L scandal days and at previous points in history).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:56 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think SS cuts will go back on the table unless Obama puts them there. The republicans just finished getting spanked after overreaching on cutting Medicare. They're not stupid enough to move first on proposing changes to Social Security.
posted by rdr at 1:37 PM on July 13, 2011


With so many on the "low information left" lazily proclaiming how much they miss the Clinton-era, is it really surprising that the president has embraced more Clinton-like policies?

this is why i didn't want hillary as president, because i didn't miss the clinton era at all and didn't want clinton, term 3

i'll admit it, i was fooled
posted by pyramid termite at 2:24 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight ran some Gallup polling numbers on what proportion of spending cuts to tax increases Americans prefer and came to a pretty surprising conclusion -- the ideological gap between the average Democrat and the average Republican on that question is *smaller* than the gap between the average Republican and the House GOP. That is, even Republican voters would like to see some tax hikes on average, on the order of a dollar for every three dollars in spending cuts, while the House is taking a hardline stance against any increases whatsoever.

Obama's proposals may be at or slightly to the right of the average Republican, but the Republicans in the House are so radically out of step with even their own party with their "zero taxes" stance that they can't even accept that deal. This is starting to look like a smarter negotiating tactic -- if the debt limit is hit, public opinion should side with the president against recalcitrant House members for stonewalling anything close to what even Republican voters want.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:25 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Robert Reich: Why Mitch McConnell will win the day
posted by homunculus at 4:29 PM on July 13, 2011


News from this evening:
Obama walks out of tense US debt meeting - aide
WASHINGTON, July 13 | Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:09pm EDT

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama abruptly ended a tense budget meeting on Wednesday with U.S. Republican leaders by walking out of the room, a Republican aide familiar with the talks said.

The aide said the session, the fourth in a row, was the most tense of the week as House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, dismissed spending cuts offered by the White House as "gimmicks and accounting tricks."
posted by Rhaomi at 6:37 PM on July 13, 2011


Saul, if you actually follow those links all the way you end up with:

“You shouldn’t draw the conclusion that the New York race means that nobody can do anything to slow the rate of Medicare costs,” Mr. Clinton said at a budget forum sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “I just don’t agree with that.”

Instead, he said: “You should draw the conclusion that the people made a judgment that the proposal in the Republican budget is not the right one. I agree with that.”


Agreeing that we need to slow the rate of growth is not the same thing as proposing benefit cuts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:14 PM on July 13, 2011


In that case, furiousxgeorge, should we just overlook these bits that contradict you:
It would have been worth reminding readers that Clinton is a big proponent of cuts to Social Security. At the deficit conference that Peterson sponsored last year, Clinton boasted that he had wanted to cut Social Security but congressional leaders from both parties blocked him. The cuts that he wanted would have reduced benefits by approximately 1 percent a year. This means that retirees in their 70s, 80s, or 90s, would be getting almost 15 percent less in Social Security benefits today, if President Clinton had gotten his way.
I was narrowly responding to your comment (emphasis mine):

You can't pretend Obama's support for those cuts has not set a precedent.

It hasn't. Unfortunately, playing political football with SS is nothing new.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:24 AM on July 14, 2011


China says US is spending too much on its military amid its financial woes

China Urges U.S. to Protect Creditors by Raising Debt
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on July 14, 2011


This is crazy. Are the Republicans really going to force a US default? I still can't quite believe that they would go so far just to score political points.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:23 AM on July 15, 2011



In that case, furiousxgeorge, should we just overlook these bits that contradict you:


I didn't ignore it, I just think what Clinton actually says is a bit more subtle than the summary in your article.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:39 AM on July 15, 2011


It's not just what Clinton says--it's what he's actually done that I'm talking about.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:26 PM on July 15, 2011


You linked me to a Yahoo Answers...that isn't about benefit cuts...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:28 PM on July 15, 2011


It doesn't matter whether the republicans would ever force a default, merely playing this game discredits the dollar.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:48 PM on July 15, 2011


So now Obama is offering a trillion dollars in cuts:
"Obama was signaling, loud and clear, that he would be willing to agree to a trillion dollars worth of spending cuts over the next 10 years, in return for raising the debt ceiling by a sum large enough to cover all expected government borrowing through 2012 -- a figure calculated, not uncoincidentally, at $2.4 trillion."
But without much in the way of new revenue to balance them.

What I don't understand is why he feels the need to offer anything at all. Why does he want to do ""something big" that would "solve the underlying problem of deficits and debt,"" at this juncture, which would seem to be the worst possible time. Just tell the Republicans to raise the damn ceiling or suffer the consequences.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:30 PM on July 15, 2011


Because he thinks the cuts are a good idea.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:33 PM on July 15, 2011


Republicans Turn to Incoherent Blog Post for Debt Ceiling Advice
posted by homunculus at 2:33 PM on July 15, 2011


Ending Bush cuts for the 1m+: 81% support
Eliminating Un-necessary Weapons projects: 76%
Ending Tax Credits for Oil/Gas: 74%
Phasing out cuts for 250k+: 68%

Cutting Student Loans: 39%
Cutting Medicaid: 32%
Cutting Medicare: 23%
Cutting Social Security: 22%

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:34 PM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Paul Krugman: Getting to Crazy
posted by homunculus at 3:51 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oookay, I get it. Obama wants to deal with debt and spending issues now, so he won't have to keep dealing with them later. Thrash out this crap with the Republicans right now when they're so obsessed with it, so everybody can work together later in the term to make some progressive investments in infrastructure and schools and all that stuff America really needs. Trim the fat, then put some more meat on the bone. It's a good, sensible strategy for dealing with your honorable enemy.

But it won't work if he's dealing with raving lunatics, and so far that's all the GOP has shown itself to be. They're not going to look back on this and say "Well, he compromised and helped us out when we really wanted it, so we should compromise and help him next year." They don't care about the economy or all those millions of unemployed people. All they care about is victory. America is just a prize to them.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:39 PM on July 15, 2011


You're almost there. The reality is that all anyone cares about in these negotiations is the takeaway sound byte for the 2012 elections; the actual deal is incidental to how it can be spun to voters. Even Obama doesn't care; he just wants to be able to run on a record of fiscal responsibility, while Republicans want to run on his record of causing another Depression. It's all about the narrative; nobody gives a shit about policy anymore.
posted by mek at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2011


Oops, someone take away my semicolon privileges.
posted by mek at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2011


The People's Budget: Budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Fiscal Year 2012
The People’s Budget eliminates the deficit in 10 years, puts Americans back to work and restores our economic competitiveness. The People’s Budget recognizes that in order to compete, our nation needs every American to be productive, and in order to be productive we need to raise our skills to meet modern needs.

Our Budget Eliminates the Deficit and Raises a $31 Billion Surplus In Ten Years
Our budget protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and responsibly eliminates the deficit by targeting its main drivers: the Bush Tax Cuts, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession.
So it can be done.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:00 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but it might raise taxes, which means building a nanny-state! BAA BAA BLEAT BAA BAAA
posted by dunkadunc at 7:05 AM on July 16, 2011


That's pretty clearly counterfactual nonsense, in that the injunction against the repeal was lifted specifically because the Obama administration, through the DOJ, declared DADT unconstitutional and wasn't defending it (which is pretty much the tack that people were asking him to take prior to Congress repealing it, but it only took about six extra months and is a lot stronger through this process both politically and constitutionally).

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration Thursday evening asked a federal appeals court in California to reconsider its order last week temporarily blocking the U.S. military from enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in the military.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2011


House Republicans Pass Around Incoherent Blog Post for Inspiration
posted by angrycat at 2:59 PM on July 16, 2011


The GOP Has Double Amnesia: As Republicans obstruct Obama on a debt deal, they seem to have forgotten they and Bush ran up huge deficits, and that they helped spur a crisis by not properly regulating big business and financial markets
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on July 18, 2011


Politics at its most exalted
posted by homunculus at 9:13 AM on July 20, 2011


Future of Nation Depends on Grover Norquist’s Definition of ‘Tax Increase’
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2011


Anybody know the details of this supposed compromise? Grover Norquist apparently thinks it's okay, which scares the fuck out of me.
posted by angrycat at 12:04 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


TPM: A Congressional aide briefed on ongoing negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama says the two principals may be nearing a "grand bargain" on to raise the debt limit which would contain large, set-in-stone spending cuts but only the possibility of future revenue increases.

"All cuts," the aide said. "Maybe revenues some time in the future."

posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:19 PM on July 21, 2011


aw fuck
posted by angrycat at 12:22 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Politico: After weeks of winding negotiations, the White House and GOP leaders are discussing a deal worth more than $3 trillion with changes to entitlements and a promise to do tax reform, according to people familiar with the talks.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:32 PM on July 21, 2011


Klein: What set off yesterday's debt-deal panic among congressional Democrats wasn't so much information about a new deal as a better understanding of the old deal. What Boehner and Obama appear to be discussing is the $4 trillion deal they were discussing a few weeks ago. In that deal, $1.5 trillion in immediate cuts would be followed by processes for making a further $1.5 trillion in deeper cuts -- many of them to entitlement programs -- and reforming the tax code to raise a trillion more dollars than it does now. The plan would also include some sort of enforcement mechanism that would make sure the future spending cuts and tax increases manifested.

Congressional Democrats spent much of yesterday complaining that this plan doesn't really have revenues while the White House spent much of yesterday swearing that it did. On this, congressional Democrats are mostly right. The revenue in this plan is approximately equal to the revenue from letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire -- which is something Democrats could do with zero Republican votes in 2012, when the Bush tax cuts are set to expire automatically. In other words, Democrats are demanding, as part of this deal, that Republicans agree to let them do...something they could do even if Republicans refused to agree to it.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:07 PM on July 22, 2011


Not the Onion: Boehner began a conference meeting Friday morning by deadpanning that Republicans, the White House and Democrats had reached a deal, according to a lawmaker in the room. The response from his conference was nervous silence before Boehner eased the tension by letting them know he was only joking.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:17 PM on July 22, 2011


"Andrews also said Democrats would not be satisfied with passing a bare bones debt-ceiling increase without achieving any significant deficit reduction.

"I do think there is an understanding [within the caucus] that this deal has to convince the markets that we're going to do something serious about deficits," he said."
Yes, now is the perfect time to slash the budget. It'll tank the US economy, but by God those markets will know they're serious.

It's like they've all taken crazy pills. Just raise the darn debt ceiling and build your shining city on the hill next time.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:38 AM on July 24, 2011


Wow:
As of Thursday, Obama and Boehner had been working on a grand bargain that would produce roughly $3 trillion in savings over 10 years, the officials confirmed. But talks broke down along three major differences: the two sides were $400 billion apart on taxes, Obama rejected a last minute demand from the GOP that the deal include a repeal of the individual mandate in healthcare reform, and the two sides were still haggling over a difference of $40 billion in cuts to Medicaid, according to the White House.
What the hell was Boehner smoking?
posted by Rhaomi at 1:26 AM on July 24, 2011



In addition, the two sides could not figure out what to do if that aspirational tax reform package wasn't achieved. The White House, at various points, proposed that the fallback option be the actual expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans demanded that they have something as bluntly frightening to Democrats. On Thursday, GOP leadership proposed that the penalty for inaction on tax reform be the repeal of the health care law's individual mandate as well as the newly created Independent Advisory Board, which has been set up to find cost savings in Medicare. The White House balked at the offer.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:00 AM on July 24, 2011


Krugman: What Obama Was Willing to Give Away
posted by homunculus at 9:35 AM on July 24, 2011


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