Cutting The Deficit In Half

The big news coming down the pike is President Obama's intention to halve the deficit by the end of his first term:

After a string of costly bailout and stimulus measures, President Obama will set a goal this week to cut the annual deficit at least in half by the end of his term, administration officials said. The reduction would come in large part through Iraq troop withdrawals and higher taxes on the wealthy.

This is pretty obvious framing I think. Obama will allow Bush's irresponsible and ineffective tax cuts for the wealthy lapse and, preempting GOP charges of "tax and spend" - Obama seeks to label it deficit reduction. Of course the GOP will NOT go along, but that's not the point. Obama is trying to make opposition to allowing the lapse of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy be seen as irresponsible. We'll see what the Pete Peterson brigade has to say about it. I expect silence from the "cut entitlements" cabal, whose only concern is when government tries to help the non-wealthy.

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    I think it's the wrong time for this (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:49:13 AM EST
    We don't need Obama going all 1937 on us before we've even had close to enough spending. Now, if you could give very high income people special dispensation for one year to either spend big or be taxed big, that might be different.

    We can solve the deficit after we had off deflation and 20% unemployment.

    I think he knows it (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:51:10 AM EST
    I think this is all kabuki around the lapse of the Bush tax cuts.

    He wants that to be "deficit reduction." I think he knows that low tax rates for the rich is non-stimulative for the most part.

    He knows the one thing he has to do is let the Bush tax cuts go away.


    Well, the House was never (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:55:32 AM EST
    going to go for an extension of the tax cuts, and all parties know it. The Republicans have their "biggest tax increase in history" press releases ready to go.

    The Very Serious People will express shock that Obama doesn't try to "fix entitlements" first. Social Security is going bankrupt, doncha know.


    I don't see how the Repubs can call this the (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by steviez314 on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:00:41 AM EST
    "biggest tax increase in history" now that they are on record almost unanimously voting against the "biggest tax cut in history".

    But then again they are stupid and shameless, so of course they will.


    Well, they always say that (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:03:46 AM EST
    Dean Baker:

    [C]harging that a particular tax increase is "the largest in history" is a Republican ritual. There have been many proposals that they have labeled the "largest tax increase in history" over the last two decades.

    Last year (5.00 / 4) (#52)
    by MikeDitto on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:15:30 AM EST
    It was the budget. Anyone who voted for the budget authorization resolution (not even the spending bill) was labeled as voting for the largest tax increase in history because it didn't include a renewal of the Bush tax cuts.



    Isn't the big conference on (5.00 / 6) (#8)
    by Teresa on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:00:51 AM EST
    "entitlements" tomorrow? Am I the only one worried about this? Anything that makes Jim Cooper happy scares the crap out of me.

    From The Nation, Looting Social Security
    By William Greider, February 11, 2009:
    Governing elites in Washington and Wall Street have devised a fiendishly clever "grand bargain" they want President Obama to embrace in the name of "fiscal responsibility." The government, they argue, having spent billions on bailing out the banks, can recover its costs by looting the Social Security system. They are also targeting Medicare and Medicaid.

    Biggest deficit reduction in history (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:16:02 AM EST
    is the counter headline.

    This is one dimensional political chess.


    Maybe (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:18:10 AM EST
    Personally, it looks to me like he's putting Social Security on the table. That's unacceptable.

    He can try to (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:32:43 AM EST
    And personally, I do not think he is (this is more Paris is worth a mass" BS), but it just ain't going to happen.

    It is still the 3rd Rail.


    Maybe (none / 0) (#38)
    by ai002h on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:36:12 AM EST
    I'm also skeptical...but Obama does try weird stuff, like that whole bipartisanship thing..lol

    Look at what his budget director (none / 0) (#28)
    by ai002h on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:26:40 AM EST
    Orzag said regarding SS. He basically said it isn't even in a crisis. Obama isn't touching SS, he's trying to reframe the meaning of "entitlement reform".

    I'm with Teresa (5.00 / 5) (#31)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:29:57 AM EST
    WTF is the point of this "entitlements" conference, anyway?

    IMO there were 2 reasons (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by ai002h on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:34:43 AM EST
    First, it was a concession of sorts to the Blue Dogs in the House and second, its a pre-emptive strike against the attack on the upcoming Budget. If you read Axelrod's comments recently about how they view Healthcare reform as Entitlement reform, its pretty obvious they're attempting to use this summit to change the terms of the debate when we mention "entitlement reform". Whether they'll be successful, who knows.

    SS, Medicare and Medicaid (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:50:17 AM EST
    all need fixes, to one degree or another-- Medicare the biggest, SS the smallest and easiest.  M&M, on the other hand, will have to fit into health care reform somehow, so that relationship obviously needs to be thought through.

    We have to handle Medicare Part D (5.00 / 4) (#60)
    by MikeDitto on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:00:43 PM EST
    It was a massive giveaway to Big Pharma when it was passed, and it still is. The donut hole is cruelest to the people who can least afford to pay, the reimbursements to doctors are a joke, and as a result fewer and fewer doctors will accept new Medicare patients, and the costs of the program will destroy us.

    But despite its issues, on the whole it is one of the most successful programs we've ever had. It deserves to be fixed so that it can be saved. If we don't fix it now, it will be canceled or at least severely crippled in the future.


    I would be interested to see (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:29:13 PM EST
    if anyone has written about what lessons we can draw from Part D for implementing national healthcare (which would obviously have to have a prescription drug component).

    I'd scrap part D and make it legal (5.00 / 3) (#144)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:05:08 PM EST
    to buy drugs from other countries who regulate drug prices on the internet.  That's the political path of least resistance actually.  

    Big pharma's response would likely be to stop charging the very highest prices in the US.  Americans have been paying the highest prices because we have not regulated the industry pricing and so we in essence pay extra for what the drug companies perceive to be their loss in the other markets.  I think they are lucky to have other markets myself since approval in the US is a virtual free pass into most other markets in the world.

    I got the exact same prescription for antibiotics in this country and in another country.  Here the fee for the generic was nearly $300.  In the other country the fee was $15.  That's a big gap.


    It is a mass (none / 0) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:33:07 AM EST
    nothing more.

    Is the beltway "worth a mass?" (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:39:04 AM EST
    Maybe, but I think it depends on whether or not he commits to any destructive cuts.

    He won't (5.00 / 3) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:04:15 AM EST
    But more  importantly, Congress won't.

    Still the Third Rail.

    Count on the old folks on this one.


    You're probably right (5.00 / 2) (#55)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:23:17 AM EST
    that he won't piss off the old folks.

    Although 62 is the "new" (5.00 / 3) (#113)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:26:50 PM EST
    middle age, I hope you're right.

    BTD, the "old folks" demographic (5.00 / 4) (#115)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:29:45 PM EST
    didn't vote for Obama. He didn't court their vote during the primaries, he didn't get their vote; he won without it and he figures he still won't need it in 2012.

    Aside from his lack of rapport with the elderly, Obama is in flight from baby boomers. Even though they are his own generational cohort, he characterizes himself as a "young guy" and treats other boomers (i.e. Bill and Hillary) like they've got cooties.

    In fact, the Obama camp has strategically stoked resentment toward the boomer demographic - which is now in line for Social Security benefits. This generalized resentment will make it easier for Obama's biggest supporters (Gen X and Gen Y) to entertain Social Security "reform".

    Bottom line: Social Security is the "third rail" for boomers and the elderly, but not for subsequent demographic groups.


    This is exactly the fear (5.00 / 5) (#119)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:47:41 PM EST
    for those of us near oculus' new middle age -- those like me, born in the peak year of the boom.  It has had a price to pay all my life, from schools finally being built or expanded just after I get there -- to basic benefits scaled back just before I get there.  That's exactly what already happened to my pension fund, but I could console myself that all that money I never saw so could not save would come to me in Social Security to make it possible for me, despite the pension drop, to retire soon.  Of course, my home was my main investment, but that's dropping, too. . . .

    Now, no way I can get out of the way for Obama's emotional cohort.  They're just gonna have to defer that gratification -- and I'm in a career in which I don't have to leave for a long time.  

    That is the price they will pay if they follow the pied pipers on this idea, ratting out on us.


    Amen cream of the crop (5.00 / 6) (#124)
    by DFLer on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:03:26 PM EST
    I, for one, am tired of those who complain that the youths should not have to pay for boomer retirement when those very retirees have been paying for the  education etc. of those youths for all those years.

    Hope it's not revenge of the "yoots"... (5.00 / 1) (#153)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:33:47 PM EST
    for the next 4-8 years ;-)

    CC, I trust you love your work... (5.00 / 4) (#128)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:16:50 PM EST
    and that working beyond your eligible retirement age will yield some rewards and satisfaction.

    You're an educator right? I get a touch of glee from thinking that you will be out there for a while, imparting your distinct brand of critical analysis to all those young up-and-coming minds ;-)

    Carry on colleague! (They're not making 'em like you anymore.)


    Awww. Yeh, I love part of my work (none / 0) (#146)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:21:02 PM EST
    -- the teaching part, the advising part, the researching part . . . all the parts we get to continue but parttime after retirement, as I planned to do in a couple of years.

    Any educator who says they'll miss the massive part of our job that is committee work, though -- meetings, meetings, endless meetings -- must not be someone who loves teaching as much.  Me, chairing a couple of committees again this year, I look forward only to an end to those.:-)

    But with only one real raises for years now, and the gov announcing none for at least two more years, plus yet another increase in our health insurance -- meaning, I'll take home a lot less -- plus another cut in our pension fund . . . well, I'm just going to have more meetings.

    There is an upside: There will be far fewer meetings of hiring committees, since we won't be hiring any of the anti-baby boomers for a while.


    As far as I know (none / 0) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:46:27 AM EST
    Social Security isn't figured in the deficit one way or another, except that the SS "trust fund" is more or less "loaned" to the federal government.  But the point being that cutting SS benefits or other scary stuff would have no effect on the deficit because it isn't calculated in it.

    So yapping about the budget deficit is not, cannot be, as I understand it, cover for cutting SS.

    If I'm wrong on that, somebody please correct me.


    I fear the 2+ trillion dollar SS Trust Fund (5.00 / 2) (#154)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:39:24 PM EST
    is about to be pillaged. i.e. not just "borrowed", but misappropriated for some other purpose.

    Um, rubbish (5.00 / 1) (#156)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:45:47 PM EST
    Pour quoi, "rubbish"? (5.00 / 1) (#157)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:53:36 PM EST
    If there was a way to bet you on this, I would. I wouldn't mind losing the bet if you are right - that would be a bigger win for all of us.

    Seriously, what makes you so certain that the SS Trust Fund is inviolate?


    Happy to bet you a hypothetical (5.00 / 1) (#161)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:52:17 PM EST
    whatever you like.  They've been using accounting tricks to "borrow" from the SS fund for many years now, but they ain't gonna actually take money out of it.  But if you think anybody, even a Republican, is even going to suggest gutting it, you're not operating in the real world.

    You still haven't explained your reasons (5.00 / 1) (#162)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 08:04:09 PM EST
    for holding the opinion that SS won't be looted.

    I hold a differing opinion, in part, because I agree with the reasoning of this article by William Greider, February 11, 2009, from The Nation: Looting Social Security.

    I trust that you and I both live in the "real world" despite our difference of opinion on this issue.


    William Greider? Please (5.00 / 1) (#163)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:15:40 PM EST
    I like William Greider. He's a terrific polemicist.  But that's what he is, a polemicist. He states his conclusions as fact, but they're no more than (frankly paranoid) suppositions.

    This country would come apart at the seams if Obama or anybody else seriously tried to cut SS benefits, especially in this economy, with what's happened to all of our retirement investments.  Mine's been looted.  How about yours?  Not gah happen.

    I remain wary of the possibility that Obama may push the idea of extending the age of eligibility for SS benefits, but only wary.  I don't actually think he'd propose that.

    It's not just that it isn't politically possible to loot Social Security, it's not even faintly necessary.  There's no reason to even broach the idea outside of Greider's fevered brain.

    I say again, happy to make any hypothetical bet you propose on this.

    If we were talking about George Bush and a Republican-controlled Congress, there'd be something to discuss.  We're not.


    What are your crediantials re. William Greider? (5.00 / 2) (#165)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:41:49 PM EST
    Yes, William Greider is a polemicist; he makes his argument and he reaches the conclusion that there is a movement afoot to loot Social Security. You are unable, or unwilling, to present any substantive argument to the contrary.

    Bluster is no substitute for making your case and, besides, it's not pretty. Forget the bet - I'm at the end of my rope.  


    Make that credentials... (none / 0) (#167)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:21:46 PM EST
    We could increase spending and still acheive it (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by MikeDitto on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:02:15 AM EST
    To cut the deficit in half we only have to go to 2006 levels, which were an all-time high at that time.

    1. Let the Bush tax cuts lapse
    2. According to Obama's plan we'll be out of Iraq, so there's a couple hundred billion right there
    3. Carbon tax/cap and trade of some sort
    4. Etc.

    All of these are campaign promises that cut the deficit without taking jobs out of the economy (with the possible exception of the defense industry, though they'll likely see an increase in spending while we replace all the equipment that has been clobbered in Iraq).

    But we are stepping up our (5.00 / 3) (#109)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:06:32 PM EST
    activities in Afghanistan/Pakistan.  

    Details, details. (5.00 / 1) (#114)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:28:22 PM EST
    Pete Peterson (none / 0) (#5)
    by NYShooter on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:58:11 AM EST
    has been preaching to increase taxes on the rich for years.

    He has called the present tax structure "immoral."


    give me one link for that (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:15:18 AM EST
    That is not true.

    He has been preaching means testing "entitlements." that's it.


    Interview with Bill Moyers on NOW (none / 0) (#65)
    by NYShooter on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:24:15 PM EST

    PETER PETERSON: And now look at what's happened here. They're now advocating, not only these tax cuts, a lot of which does not go to the people who spend it, but they're greatly adding to the long-term problem, and they further insist, they further insist that they be made permanent, you see.
    BILL MOYERS: So that if you make tax cuts permanent when this big baby-boomer crisis hits--
    PETER PETERSON: You're making it much worse.
    BILL MOYERS: You'll not be able to pay for it.
    PETER PETERSON: You're making-- you-- it was already unsustainable. You're making it worse.

    "Interview in Mother Jones"

    Peterson...."Sir, I didn't say tax cuts were immoral. I said tax cuts for people like us, before you've solved the costs you're going to be passing on to your kids, is in my judgment immoral.


    Um (none / 0) (#123)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:01:12 PM EST
    Find me a link please. this is weak BS.

    I hope you don't mind (none / 0) (#170)
    by NYShooter on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 04:41:44 AM EST
    if I don't find you a link.

    I'm not a big fan of P.P. and I'm a little uncomfortable being pushed into a position of sounding like I support him, or his positions.

    My point was simply that he's one of the few billionaires who at least states publicly that the rich are under taxed. The flip side, of course, is that he feels we're also "over-entitled," and that's where the charge of "duplicity" comes into play.

    The difference between him and the rest of the Republicans is that he feels the rich should contribute something to balancing the budget, while the rest want to continue allowing the upper 5% to loot and plunder the treasury, while balancing the budget by decimating the entire lower 95%


    I know the argument (none / 0) (#15)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:10:26 AM EST
    but I always find the "trust him, because you know he's really lying" argument a little discouraging.

    Don;t trust him (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:14:39 AM EST
    Trust your own judgment.

    Obama may or may not want to let the Bush tax cuts lapse. He has no choice now. This is framing.


    He wants them to lapse in 2010 as the law says (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by MikeDitto on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:12:08 AM EST
    He's just not committing to eliminating the tax cuts a year early, which is what Nancy Pelosi wants.

    I think that's a reasonable position as it would take an act of Congress. I think Pelosi is itching for a fight that's not worth having, as it'll never get through the Senate. Silly when they expire next year if they do nothing at all.


    Well, let it NOT get through the Senate, then (none / 0) (#78)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:49:15 PM EST
    Push the blue dogs, Snowe, and Collins, further into the corner.

    Why take the onus on ourselves for not being aggressive in standing up for our interests and values? Let the ones who are truly responsible, and want to obstruct, take the onus. It's not kabuki, it's pushing and pushing and pushing until the other side breaks.


    I agree (none / 0) (#66)
    by esmense on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:27:24 PM EST
    The Republicans are attacking the stimulus on the basis of the deficit. Obama is doing something that is both necessary and that counters that attack. Republicans will still of course continue to attack any attempt to let Bush's tax cuts expire; but their hypocrisy in doing so is and will be glaring. Plus, their wrong-headed, over the top predictions of economic doom in the past make it easy to dismiss their doomsaying a second time around.

    Wrong time for what? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:07:21 AM EST
    It's a four-year plan.

    The timing of the announcement is obviously political, and probably good politics at that.

    The timing of the actual deficit reduction is up in the air.  Obama apparently has already come down in favor of letting the Bush tax cuts sunset rather than repeal them, which seems to fit squarely within the "don't go all 1937" mold you propose.

    Laying this plan out now is important to the people who fear that Obama may simply not care about deficits at all.


    IMO it's the wrong time (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:11:18 AM EST
    for even talking about balancing the budget. America needs lots and lots of greenbacks--fast.

    I understand his term is only 4 years, but is seems likely that there will be no point in the next 4 years when balancing the budget is a good idea.


    This is NOT talking about deficit reducton (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:17:20 AM EST
    This is talking about letting the Bsh tax cuts lapse.

    It so happens Obama is slapping the "DEFICIT REDUCTION" label on that.

    I think it is well timed personally.


    Well, I hope that's WORM (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:18:49 AM EST
    Look at the budget outline (none / 0) (#30)
    by ai002h on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:29:40 AM EST
    He's still going forward on Education, Healthcare and Energy...plus he's considering reducing the Medicare age to 55. That doesn't seem like a 1937 cutback-on-spending approach to me. You dont have to put a pretty picture on it, just look at the plans outline.

    Howard Dean was first (none / 0) (#110)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:11:12 PM EST
    I believe, to propose that healthcare be extended by granting coverage under existing federal healthcare program to an expanded group of people; I saw him talk about this on televised talks to college students.

    Dude (none / 0) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:31:23 AM EST
    That's politics.

    It is silly to explain away every Obama statement but just as silly to pretend that you can not read Obama any differently than any other pol.

    As I write below, this is ONE dimensional political chess.


    You write below where? (none / 0) (#100)
    by Upstart Crow on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:46:49 PM EST
    And what does "one-dimensional chess" mean in this context? I don't get the metaphor, quite.

    So, Obama's put the Republicans in the (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by steviez314 on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:27:06 AM EST
    position of arguing for tax cuts for the rich after voting unanimously against the largest tax cut in history, and against cutting the deficit after railing about "generational theft".

    Well played.


    A $500 billion deficit is nothing to sneeze at. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by steviez314 on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:23:54 AM EST
    And that's in 4 years.  It would still be bigger than any budget deficit before Bush.

    And nothing precludes more stimulus measures in the future (esp if we can get to over 60 in the 2010 election).

    Obama has to prepare a multi-year budget, and needs to show something besides $1T plus deficits for the foreseeable future.


    I thought THIS was (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:08:48 AM EST

    "Mr. Obama will suggest in his budget that expanding health coverage to the more than 46 million uninsured can be done without adding to the deficit, both by making cost-saving changes in the delivery of care and by raising revenues. Advisers declined to identify the tax source."

    I hope it's a hefty tax on drug advertising.

    Single payer is the answer (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:12:05 AM EST
    No new taxes needed. Just look at who's collecting a fat fee for getting in the middle of a transaction and adding no value, and cut them out. In this case, that's the insurance companies.

    Keeping in mind (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:14:07 AM EST
    that lots of people work for the insurance companies, and under your model (which is eventually the right one) they'd all have to be fired.

    I do not believe (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:05:26 AM EST
    that we will ever make private insurance illegal in this country.

    Oh I see (5.00 / 0) (#89)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:10:10 PM EST
    Andgarden was saying that all the people who work for the insurance companies would have to fired... but apparently we'd still have private insurance, managed by robots or something.  I didn't think of that possible interpretation.

    Steve, stop being ... (none / 0) (#96)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:27:33 PM EST

    You know full well that if any business shrinks, people will lose their jobs.

    And no one has suggested that UHC would make private health insurance illegal.  There is still private health insurance in the UK.


    I would rather see (5.00 / 2) (#104)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:52:06 PM EST
    jobs that do not promote the common good shrink as opposed to shrinkage of education or public protection jobs, but would supprt retraining.  Isn't our goal to increase jobs in areas that promote public goals, such as energy efficiency, infrastructure repair and modernization?  No one wants anyone to lose jobs in this economic climate, but job shifts by industry are the inevitable result of social/economic change.

    Please explain to me (none / 0) (#99)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:37:36 PM EST
    any scenario in which the insurance companies would fire all of their employees, other than the not-gonna-happen scenario where we make private insurance illegal.

    Not all ... (5.00 / 2) (#103)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:50:15 PM EST
    but when some of the jobs that insurance companies do become less needed, insurance companies will shrink, and some people will lose their jobs.

    There are private health insurance companies in the UK.  Some are quite large.  But obviously they're not as large as in the US.  And they aren't illegal.

    Of course, Obama isn't proposing single-payer, or even true UHC, so any reports of the death of health insurance companies is greatly exaggerated.


    So, you're saying... (none / 0) (#107)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:55:07 PM EST
    ...that in a single payer world with optional private coverage there's room for all the big players to continue as they do today?  

    Kaiser, Aetna, Anthem and United, et al are all going to carry-on as before?  Not very likely.  We've already seen an amazing amount of take-over and considation of companies with significant loss of jobs without single payer.  

    What about the small regional carriers?  There's certainly not going to be any room at the table for them.

    And please, stop talking about "insurance" companies.  Only a very small fraction of health care in this country is provided though an insurance/indemnity model.  HMO/PPO/POS are risk-sharing/managed care models, not tradional shifting of risk from one party to another.  


    No (none / 0) (#120)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:56:47 PM EST
    I am disagreeing with the suggestion that in a single-payer world all the people who work for the private insurance companies would have to be fired.  I mean, the comment I responded to is right there up the thread.

    Well (none / 0) (#121)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:57:31 PM EST
    if we're all in agreement, then, that private insurance will never be made illegal, then I see no scenario under which all of the people who work for the private insurance companies will have to be fired.

    Just half of the people will be fired? (none / 0) (#132)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:48:52 PM EST
    Or some other percentage?  

    Speaking for myself, I don't want to see drug companies go out of business either.  As a cancer survivor, I wouldn't be here without the US drug companies.  


    Like England? (none / 0) (#131)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:45:40 PM EST
    The British have a choice of paying for private insurance, using private doctors and hospitals, or using the government health care system.  Is that how you envision our health care system?  

    Check the text of HR 676 (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:39:49 PM EST
    And you will find that provision is already made for the administrative workers -- and we're agreed they're the only ones who matter, right? Not the CEOs?

    Further, while single payer is the correct answer for payment, it says nothing about the correct answer for information technology -- where Obama's electronic medical records solution is clearly the correct answer (although, under the current system, it will just be used as a more efficient way of denying care.

    There's an absolutely massive amount of data conversion to be done for ERM.  I would suggest that's an obvious place for any retraining to look, since people knowledgeable in medical coding with data entry will be, if anything, in higher demand. They'll be working with the same data, except in a system that keeps people healthy for less money, instead of killing them in a highly expensive way.


    There's a lot of space (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:46:18 PM EST
    between CEOs and clerical workers. I personally don't think that private health insurance makes sense for most people, but I think we would need to take care in the transition.

    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#82)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:53:51 PM EST
    And I'm pointing to the way that HR 676 (the single payer bill) addresses that transition, and giving an obvious and concrete way forward to address the transition.

    Well, there's the text: (none / 0) (#87)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:07:23 PM EST
    (e) First Priority in Retraining and Job Placement; 2 Years of Unemployment Benefits- The Program shall provide that clerical, administrative, and billing personnel in insurance companies, doctors offices, hospitals, nursing facilities, and other facilities whose jobs are eliminated due to reduced administration--
    (1) should have first priority in retraining and job placement in the new system; and
    (2) shall be eligible to receive 2 years of unemployment benefits

    Why is this necessary?

    (a) In General- It is unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act.

    It also makes funny policy choices, like paying for chiropractic quackery but not cosmetic surgery.

    Honestly, reading this tends to give me cold feet about single payer.


    chiropractic quackery? (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:11:24 PM EST
    Wow you have a lot to learn..

    About the "philosophy" of chiropractic? (none / 0) (#98)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:34:38 PM EST
    Sorry, but I would object to taxpayer money paying for that.

    Tax dollars to chiropractors is more (5.00 / 1) (#111)
    by wurman on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:17:04 PM EST
    useful & successful than payments to allopathic physicians for those patient issues typically treated by chiropractic care.

    New "To Your Health" iteration from Dynamic Chiropractic, 1990:

    The chiropractors, in their opposition to the AMA's request to have the Supreme Court review the case, were aided by numerous scientific studies that have found that chiropractic care is up to twice as effective as medical physician care for non-surgical, neuromechanical correction of problems related to the musculoskeletal system. As recently as June 1990, a lengthy, prospective, scientific study of chiropractic care in Great Britain, when measured against corresponding medical care at ten hospital outpatient centers, concluded that "chiropractic almost certainly confers worthwhile, long-term benefit in comparison with hospital outpatient management," particularly for those suffering with "chronic or severe pain."
    [my underline]

    Ah (none / 0) (#117)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:37:12 PM EST
    The inexperience of youth, and perhaps a few MD's in the family, is my guess that would allow someone as smart as you to make such a naive statement.

    Looking over chiro bills (none / 0) (#126)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:09:20 PM EST
    for patients who are plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit and who were referred to the chiro by their attorney:  you are so right.

    Yes (none / 0) (#127)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:15:36 PM EST
    A beancounter's abstract experience is qualitatively different from someone who actually gets helped by chriopracters.

    Not sure why you find the need to (none / 0) (#130)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:41:44 PM EST
    insert judgments such as "beancounter."  Anyway, if my tax dollar will cover chiropractic treatment, I prefer those expenses, as others, be monitored.  

    Well (none / 0) (#134)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:56:13 PM EST
    It appears to me that your experience with Chiropractic treatment is abstract, in that you are counting numbers, seemingly in an adversarial position that has nothing to do with physical experience. Beancounter seems apt in that it describes someone who counts beans rather than someone who benefits from cooking and eating beans.

    I can only assume... (none / 0) (#145)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:17:53 PM EST
    ...that you're talking about auto-related claims.  Much more opportunity for fraud with those type of claims, which is why most carriers have a SI unit to investigate them.  

    PPA coverage is a very different animal from utilization of health care coverage, which is subject to benefit limits, co-pays and UR.  Apples and oranges.


    WOW! (none / 0) (#133)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:55:27 PM EST
    I do NOT like that AT ALL.  I much prefer that we be allowed to chose private insurance, just like people in England and Alberta.  

    It kind of scares me for the government to be deciding what is health care and what isn't.  If my nose gets broken in an accident, I may need plastic surgery, even if some bureaucrat disagrees.  I hate to think that I wouldn't even have the choice.  Would I have to do to some other country to get it done?  

    I guess I am just too supportive of choice in all things, including health care.  I don't mind paying for the option of private health insurance but I do mind the government eliminating that option.  


    You'd be allowed to buy private (none / 0) (#140)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:29:04 PM EST
    insurance.  The idea is that the government policy would cover certain basic aspects of care that private insurers would not cover - things that they don't like to cover anyway like preventative care - annual check ups and the like.  Private insurers could compete for non-essential coverage like elective plastic surgery.  You would still have plenty of choice if you wanted to invest additional money, but the government would make sure that you and everyone else had access to basic care when you need it.

    There's plenty of dead wood (5.00 / 2) (#93)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:12:54 PM EST
    in the private insurance companies. I have worked for Blue Cross and would say the waste of the members premiums was astonishing and the staffing could easily have been cut by a good percentage just to achieve a much higher level of service and accuracy. They would be able to pay for numerous transplants just on the lunches they provide to any meeting that wants them, and the cake...OMG, the cake!! Christmas gifts for all employees, big catered event to hand them out, and, my all time favorite...BIG bonuses for every single exempt status employee. I had a Director who was making $125,000 a year and all she did all day was create PowerPoint presentations no one would ever see.

    The government would never have waste? (none / 0) (#135)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:56:45 PM EST
    Which government agency, from the county to the feds, is run efficiently, without waste?  

    I'm sure the Gov't option will be more efficient. (none / 0) (#136)
    by dualdiagnosis on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:57:02 PM EST
    No waste or bad employees there.

    All things considered, Medicare is (5.00 / 3) (#141)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:31:56 PM EST
    actually a pretty good system.  It is funny how people sort of pretend like we don't already have a national insurance system in place.  We do have one.  It is just not universally available right now.

    If we went to a single payer system, (5.00 / 2) (#138)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:11:35 PM EST
    there would be a greater need for more claims processors than there is now actually.  They just would not "all" work for an insurance company or HMO.  A number of those jobs would be government jobs paid for by SP premiums.

    It is odd how many people automatically assume that claims processors will become obsolete if we move to a national health system model.  Medicare does have their own administrative system to manage the coverage they offer.  They just don't have the option of making a claims officer spend their time blocking care that is promised under their coverage rules they way the private insurers do.  

    46 million "new customers" added to the mix will mean MORE jobs not fewer.  


    many might be fired (5.00 / 1) (#148)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:47:02 PM EST
    others might become civil servants processing doctors claims for payment for services rendered.

    They may need retraining to stop that reflexive deny every claim the first time it comes through impluse, however,


    Non-stimulative and a (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:14:47 AM EST

    It doesn't matter if that's the right answer...this administration isn't going there.  Hell, they don't even approve of mandates, remember?

    Besides, any idea how many people that would throw out of work?  Millions.


    It's true that it doesn't matter (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by hookfan on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:47:58 AM EST
    right now cause Obama isn't going there, and it's true likely millions will be displaced. However, it's also true billions of dollars would be freed up for businesses who wouldn't be burdened with providing healthcare payments for employees, and billions would be freed up for consumers to spend, possibly even saving their mortgages. So how many jobs would be opened up and preserved by doing it? I don't like the idea of all of us being used as the sacrificial lamb for the insurance industry.
       By the way, Obama's tax cut stimulus will result in a whopping 2 dollars/day reduction for me. I just received a notice that my health care insurance costs will be increased for this year that more than wipes that out by itself. Couple that with a reduction in the amount the employer will now pay out, putting more of a burden on the employees for their health insurance, and I'm in negative country on insurance factors alone. Add on to that a 20% reduction in take home pay due to hour cuts,  it's clear that tax cuts won't help out. But severe reduction in health insurance expenses for my family would. Single payer would offer that relief. What relief does the insurance industry offer?

    The Insurance industry (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:19:54 AM EST
    offers no relief to you unless you or a family member work for an insurance company.

    The 'relief' is a family-wage job.

    It's a very high price for everyone else, though.


    I doubt they see a job for the industry as relief (none / 0) (#56)
    by hookfan on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:41:30 AM EST
    Rather I imagine, based on personal experience (my wife worked as an underwriter for a large insurance company for many years) they view their employees as an opportunity to exploit. I would rather not be exploited. But in order to prevent that we need a viable alternative.
      If we're serious about getting out of this economic downturn, business needs to be supported to do legitimate business, and consumers need to be supported to spend. Freeing both from the shackles of the health insurance industry would be a big step toward that end.

    Actually, if you've checked the latest leaks.... (5.00 / 3) (#72)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:42:57 PM EST
    Kennedy's working group has moved toward a mandate, kicking and screaming, but moving there. Now, it's still a horrible plan, but I'm speaking to the question of fact here, which is "they don't even approve of mandates."

    Further, at this point, I don't give a rats ass about "politically feasible" (sounds like weasel) or any of that, which is what non-starter translates into. It's just Village conventional wisdom, therefore toxic.

    How about we focus on what's right and push for it, instead of accepting the words of Our Rulerz on what we have to settle for?


    You may be right! WORM (5.00 / 1) (#125)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:03:37 PM EST
    during the campaign(s) - including the primary against Clinton and her healthcare proposals - may turn out to be "whatever."

    I've been re-schooled about taking Obama at his word now that I get a better look at Holder and Obama's Justice Department.  Of course, I know the basic rule...'never mind what they say, watch what they do.'  So...

    ...since I've worked for SP for 50 years, I'll go on doing so...but I don't expect it to happen with this crowd, Kennedy working group or no.


    I'd say you'd be wrong in that assumption. (5.00 / 2) (#88)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:08:29 PM EST
    If the government is dictating benefits and prices, as well as who is covered (a key component of any "single payer" scenerio), that elimates the marketing, underwriting, UR, product development and actuarial functions.  As well as the brokers out there selling a company's products.

    They'd be left with claims processing/customer service and network/provider contractng units.  Functions that many large carriers already farm out to subcontractors.  These are all processes that the Feds already have up and running.

    It would also put all of the small/regional HC companies out of business altogether. Many of which are the largest providers of employment in their areas.  


    I'm not buying the whole... (5.00 / 2) (#112)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:25:34 PM EST
    ...its a matter of degree argument.  As I stated above, even with a private insurance market in a single payer world, the number of carriers offering such coverage is going to severly cut.  

    I'm simply saying there is going to be a significant job-loss impact.  The "price we have to pay" argument is another thing altogether.  It gets more to the issue of the whether SPHC is right or wrong in theory, not the real world impact of such a change.  

    I'm all for SPHC--even though it would adversely affect my own job.  It is the right thing to do even with a "price to pay".  It does, however, come at a cost in jobs and short term economic realities.


    You're kidding right? (5.00 / 4) (#142)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:42:33 PM EST
    A universal healthcare plan would be hugely stimulative on numerous levels.  Businesses in this country would finally be on a level playing field with every other industrialized nation - stimulative; individuals and families would pay less monthly for better care allowing them to spend on other things - very stimulative that; there would be more jobs not fewer in the healthcare arena including claims processing jobs - that's more stimulus; and over time the access to preventative care will likely reduce the cost of illness to our economy and make the economy stronger as a result.

    Personally, I think that enacting universal single-payer and making a real effort to pursue green technology especially in the energy sector could be the most effective approach to turning our economy around and re-starting growth.


    No doubt stimulative at (none / 0) (#168)
    by oldpro on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 12:26:37 AM EST
    some point but not initially, I think.

    My observation is that insurance is like education in that the greatest expense is for people...employees...from sales to claims and back again.  If savings are to be made, it will be through eliminating employees and the jobs they do.  Yes, many can shift to the new entity, perhaps even with little retraining, but not all or there would be no savings to government...only a cost shift!


    If a family's monthly premium (none / 0) (#171)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 08:48:09 AM EST
    goes from $1,000 a month to say $500 that's a HUGE amount of money freed up for savings, mortgages, groceries, flat screen TVs just in one month - over the course of a year that ranslates into $6,000 which is no small percentage of the mean salary in this country.  That would be immediate and way more stimulative than sending everyone a $300 check once in a year.

    Furthermore, the negative effects on the overall economy of medical bankruptcies is greatly reduced when we have decent coverage.


    Points well taken. (none / 0) (#173)
    by oldpro on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 08:59:56 AM EST
    Now, can you convince Obama and the congress?

    Count me in.


    I was heartened to hear Governor (none / 0) (#179)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 12:07:48 PM EST
    Granholm of Michigan make several of these points about the stimulative value of a national health system this weekend on Fox News Sunday.  Seems like someone in the party is starting to see the potential here.

    Andgarden, Your Gov. Ed (5.00 / 8) (#37)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:35:48 AM EST
    was out there on the front lines brilliantly (I think) fending off the 'raising taxes on the rich'  hysterics and weaving in the deficit busting theme:

    From Bloomberg:

    "Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Ed Rendell disagreed, saying on "Fox News Sunday" that the idea that "raising taxes on the richest people" will harm the economy is "rubbish." ...

    "We heard these same arguments when Bill Clinton raised taxes on the richest Americans, and guess what? He got rid of the deficit," Rendell said."

    "Rubbish" (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:54:49 AM EST
    that quintessentially dismissive British-ism is the perfect word to use.  I hope the rest of the Dems. pick it up.

    Personally, I prefer (5.00 / 0) (#54)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:23:07 AM EST
    'baloney, any way you slice it!'

    Let's use both.


    Baloney! (5.00 / 0) (#57)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:48:45 AM EST
    I think is the American version of rubbish. In more ways than one.

    I'm with you oldpro (none / 0) (#92)
    by DFLer on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:12:26 PM EST
    The "any way you slice it" part is especially eloquent.

    Not original with me... (5.00 / 2) (#139)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:16:08 PM EST
    can't remember where I first heard it, tho...maybe as a child, 60 years ago or so!

    "Baloney!" is familiar American slang to working class folks and will resonate across the void...everywhere, every time.


    In general, you are right... (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by santarita on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:42:59 PM EST
    however if it is a targeted tax on the wealthy, I wonder how that affects the equation.

    much during an economic crisis. As a rule, they hoard their money until the economy stabilizes. So, at a time of economic uncertainty, the surest means of getting their money into circulation is through taxation.

    Where do the hoard it? (none / 0) (#137)
    by BrassTacks on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:00:58 PM EST
    Where do the rich put their money during a recession?  

    Where do the rich hoard their money (none / 0) (#150)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:07:31 PM EST
    during an economic downturn? If I knew that, I might be rich too ;-)

    To clarify what I mean: during times of economic hardship everybody tends to save, rather than spend, whatever money they've got. Wealthy people have more money to hold onto - I have no idea where they keep it.


    Gold? Diamonds? (none / 0) (#169)
    by oldpro on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 12:31:17 AM EST
    Art?  Antiques?  Buying up those devalued estates for cheap when a neighbor goes broke investing with the 'in guy!'

    I gather things are pretty testy in Palm Beach just about now...even the Donald is in some trouble.

    Maybe it's only cash flow...


    Money is not fungible; dollars differ. (5.00 / 3) (#118)
    by wurman on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:47:15 PM EST
    The Federal Reserve officially labels four kinds of money.  M0 is currency or the monetary base.  M1 is currency & the demand deposits of checking accounts.  M2 is the M1 & the M0 & time deposits (savings & similar).  M3 is seldom separated out now, but basically comprises very large time deposits, money-market accounts & similar.

    Allowing tax breaks for people "earning" over $250K to sunset in 2010 gives them a long lead time to plan for the change.  It seems very unlikely that this would effect M0 or M1--which are the 2 types of "money" that have the quickest & biggest influence on jobs.  Some forms of research indicate that eliminating tax breaks for the well-to-do actually has the most effect on M3, which is CDs, ETFs, & brokerage money funds.

    When Bu$hInc gave these tax breaks to the haves & have mores it was claimed that the result would be an economic gain to the nation as the wealthy spent more, invested more, & saved more--thus generating jobs. They didn't.  It didn't work.


    It reduces investment.... (none / 0) (#172)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 08:52:34 AM EST
    or savings, which leads to healthy investment in the future.  

    This reminds me of a joke about the French (5.00 / 3) (#76)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:46:20 PM EST
    Told, I think, by Adam Gopnik in Paris to the Moon.

    The French intellectual, confronted by something that works in fact, responds: "Yes, but will it work in theory?"

    And so with intrepid one. Confronted with evidence that Clinton's tax hikes actually improved the economy and removed a deficit, intrepid one responds: "Think about it...." and then gives his theory.

    Hilarity ensues!


    I don't have the answer to this... (none / 0) (#84)
    by Pacific John on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:04:07 PM EST
    but looking thorough the historical tables, in WWII, federal taxes and spending were about 44% of GDP. Taxes otherwise peaked at the end of the Clinton administration, the year we ran the largest modern surplus.

    It seems to me, war is less productive than digging holes and re-filling them. So why is it good for the economy? And since it is, why wouldn't other programs with lasting positive results be at least as stimulative?


    Loved that book. (none / 0) (#116)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:34:00 PM EST
    What evidence? (none / 0) (#174)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 09:06:34 AM EST
    Are you really talking about GDP or real wages in an 8 year span?

    Tax increases did not stifle investment because we had tremendous m3 growth prompted by low interest rates.  Tech inflated resulting in too many projects with not enough resources available to finish them.  This caused a rapid overbidding of tech professionals and for example bay area real estate.  As we all know this did not last - but the tech recession was the first recession to not see a decline in housing prices...

    How can you possibly comment on the affect of Clinton's taxes on the economy?  It's clear these forces were much greater.  

    If you're argument is that tax increase don't prevent investment - well you're right when the interest rate isn't already at 0.  


    If what you say is true (5.00 / 3) (#129)
    by hairspray on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:23:24 PM EST
    how come it worked so well with Clinton?  Paper theory is one thing, human behavior is another. There are lots of variables in spending, saving, and investing and it isn't always so simple. What happened in the '90's blows your theory out the window.

    Funny. (5.00 / 3) (#143)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 04:49:12 PM EST
    If Mrs. Gottrocks keeps all her billions of dollars in Switzerland, how does that keep money in the US economy?

    There is a common misconception that if you let billionaires have a big bank accounts, they'll be pumping their cash into the US.

    Meanwhile, they are stashing cash and buying assets in foreign countries.

    The US government, on the other hand, generally focuses its spending here in the US; and if it is working properly that spending benefits us all reaching far more people than one billionaire's personal spending or investments ever really could.


    Obama never said he'll deficit spend (none / 0) (#86)
    by ai002h on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:07:12 PM EST
    for the sake of spending. He was responding to whether the economic crisis would alter his promises with healthcare reform, education, energy etc...and he said those things were too important and he was willing to deficit spend to get them accomplished, and that hasn't changed. BUT he has always said, even waaaay back in the primaries, that he would look to lower government cost in areas that were wasteful or unnecessary, most notably the iraq war, tax cuts for the wealthy, and healthcare. So far he's sticking to those promises.

    Something I Really Like to See (5.00 / 5) (#77)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:47:28 PM EST
    From the NY Times article above:

    "Yet Mr. Obama will inflate his challenge by forsaking several gimmicks that President Bush used to make deficits look smaller. He will include war costs in the budget; Mr. Bush did not, and instead sought supplemental money from Congress each year. Mr. Obama also will not count savings from laws that establish lower Medicare payments for doctors and expand the alternative minimum tax to hit more taxpayers -- both of which Mr. Bush and Congress routinely took credit for, while knowing they would later waive the laws to raise doctors' payments and limit the reach of the tax."

    Assuming his administration doesn't institute any 'gimmicks' of its own, it's a relief to see a president working with a more reality based set of numbers. Another pleasure after the last eight years of fantasy leadership.

    While being inclsive for budget (5.00 / 1) (#164)
    by pluege on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:50:49 PM EST
    accounting is generally a good thing, I suspect Obama's motives are more to make the budget worse to prop up the sky is falling shtick as part of the we must do something about entitlements crusade then any motive to be more honest with the American people.

    Pleasure... (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by lambert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:51:55 PM EST
    Reminds me of the old joke... "Why are you hitting your head with that hammer?" "Because it feels so good when I stop!"

    Meaning when we get pleasure from an administration that isn't obviously being run by insane thugs -- leaving Larry Summers aside, of course -- we're setting the baseline awfully low.

    Not Necessarily (5.00 / 2) (#95)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:15:31 PM EST
    Perhaps you are someone who only derives pleasure from enormous stimuli (excuse the term).

    To me, this (and Ledbetter and HRC as SoS etc. etc) is like the pleasure one can feel seeing a magnificent sunset or hearing the birds in the spring after a tough winter--common routine elements, predictable even, but infinitely pleasurable nonetheless.

    And feeling pleased about the little things doesn't preclude that there are bigger things coming to really swoon over.


    Ledbetter won't matter (5.00 / 4) (#97)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:32:29 PM EST
    much without enforcement, and that has not come as yet, according to a family member in one of the most beleaguered agencies under Bush.  And still waiting for any sign that it will be restaffed under Obama.  This has my family member quite concerned, as he worked hard for Obama based on promises that it would be (yet another, like FISA) of those first things that was going to be fixed.

    So I also celebrate the Ledbetter law with you -- but I also know how often in history that women thought they had things fixed with signing of a law but later found out that it was only a placebo to pacify them and get them to the polls again and again. . . .

    We have to watch this.


    Myself, I Always Think (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:47:32 PM EST
    we have to watch everything where politicians (Obama et al included) are concerned.

    But, yes, I celebrate each incremental step and plan to apply what little pressure I have to make sure progress like the Ledbetter move isn't just some paper thin symbolic gesture.

    If this came a year or two into a Dem administration, I probably wouldn't feel such sweet ecstasy at each tiny development.

    But in the first gleeful month after eight long horror saturated years, I am feeling, yes, pleased.

    That's not to deny my displeasure at other things.


    Good. Let's stay in touch here (none / 0) (#151)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:10:01 PM EST
    on whether we see the law get teeth again.  Sounds like you also have links into how it's actually working not on paper but in women's lives.

    Ledbetter (5.00 / 0) (#160)
    by indy in sc on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:46:15 PM EST
    will play out in private civil suits.  The thing to watch for is how suits brought forward using the Ledbetter law are treated in courts.  

    I suspect there will be a lot of private settlements that we will not hear anything about as companies get their acts together with respect to historical wrongs that they may now be held accountable for due to the law.  


    That sadly will be so if (5.00 / 2) (#166)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:05:57 PM EST
    the EEOC and other needed agencies continue gutted under this guy as they were under Bush.

    Sadly so because to rely on private lawyers is not realistic for the women who are least likely to be able to find those willing to take on their long and difficult cases.  That's why we have to hold Holder and Obama to bringing back not just the vision of what the gummint could do but the reality.


    That may or may not be sad. (none / 0) (#177)
    by indy in sc on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 10:25:33 AM EST
    If companies figure out that they need to address these things before they complete EEOC review and settle privately with a complaining party--that's a good thing.

    I recently attended a CLE course (continuing legal education) on this new law where the law firm providing the training actually recommended that companies audit their comp records and proactively providing some form of backpay in exchange for release agreements rather than letting the process play out through the agency.  The attorney who was speaking said he fully expected more rigorous enforcement at the EEOC under this administration.  The attorney speaking was very annoying as he kept savaging the law because it was so "anti-business."  


    Nationalize the Banks (5.00 / 1) (#152)
    by kidneystones on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:20:34 PM EST
    Former Clinton officials disagree. Doctor Doom argues that Summers and company have it wrong, badly wrong.

    The real cost of profligate lending under Bush means dramatic and urgent change: nationalizing banks to find and remove toxic assets. Health institutions are then re-sold in whole or in parts back to the private sector.

    Hope and change, change and hope, pull together, together pull, it will get worse before it gets better and it will get better after it gets worse isn't going to fix America's banking industry. And not much else is likely to improve until the financial sector is healthy. The longer America dithers, the worse things get.

    Greenspan and Graham have already signaled they understand the old way is dead.

    Time for real change. Don't hold your breath.


    The right wing (5.00 / 1) (#176)
    by CST on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 09:26:37 AM EST
    Agrees with BTD.  Or at least they do over at hotair...

    Course, they put a different headline up:

    "Obama plans soak the rich class warfare economics"

    Sounds good to me :)

    Indeed (none / 0) (#178)
    by daring grace on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 10:39:34 AM EST
    More and more in the last two weeks, I've been hearing these hand wringing conversations on the cable 'news' programs where reporters and pundits lament the coming potential for 'class warfare'.

    The fear seems to be that there will be calls for all these deserving affluent CEOs and executives to be winnowed out by some rapacious kneejerk unemployed and underemployed mob.

    What amazes me is that these tv folks actually question whether this is a conversation we should be having--about how much the people in charge of the policy at these failed banks and credit providers etc. deserve to make after steering the economy into the ditch?

    Not even saying whether anyone deserves anything they make, but just whether talking about it, questioning it, amounts to some socialistic scheme...No kidding. On MSNBC this AM a reporter or on air personality or whatever actually mused about whether this could be socialism creeping in...

    Sheesh. And I found myself wondering about everyone else's jobs and how few if any of us are underwritten in our employment by taxpayer dollars--unless, of course, we work in the public sector. And how when we make a mistake or exercise poor judgment repeatedly and cost our employer a LOT of money, how many of us get to stay in that job and suffer no consequences?


    Overly ambitious statement (none / 0) (#3)
    by Saul on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:53:43 AM EST
    Too early for such a statement.  That was the consensus on Meet The Press.  Those commenting felt this  could come back to bite him.

    Do I have to "west-coast watch" (none / 0) (#16)
    by oldpro on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:11:03 AM EST
    to find out how they expect it to "come back and bite him?"

    How bad does Obama need the Rep votes (none / 0) (#6)
    by Saul on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:59:30 AM EST
    in the Senate.  IMO I would not stir the pot against the republicans until I had most of my major legislation passed.  Of course if he can get his legislation passed without having to rely on 3 Rep than so much the better but is that a reality right now?

    The budget needs 0 Republican votes (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:01:55 AM EST
    There's nothing the Republicans can to to stop Democrats from raising taxes. Bwahahahahah!

    This isn't even raising taxes, it's just letting (none / 0) (#11)
    by steviez314 on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:03:46 AM EST
    the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011 as they were supposed to.  They wouldn't even need to vote on this.

    Correct (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:05:20 AM EST
    Sunset FTW.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#35)
    by Saul on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:34:03 AM EST
    However, is it smart for Obama to show his hand so early on how he is going to deal with the Bush taxes when he needs Rep to pass his bills?

    I feel that was the main reason he was against supporting Sen Leahy request to investigate Bush and his past administration.


    Well the budget is fillibuster proof (none / 0) (#91)
    by ai002h on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:11:53 PM EST
    Plus, I don't think republicans were holding out hope that Obama would extend the Bush tax cuts, its been well known that he would either repeal them or let them expire, so this shouldn't be a shock to anybody.

    Given that even if the current stimulus (none / 0) (#43)
    by tigercourse on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:54:43 AM EST
    and financial measures work we are still projected to enter into another recession in about 4 years, I'm not certain it's prudent for Obama to promise that. But I'm no expert.

    Still projected by whom? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:55:36 AM EST
    That's not something I've heard said before.

    I haven't seen anything (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by MikeDitto on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:06:44 AM EST
    And I wouldn't trust it if I did. Right now the Masters of the Universe(tm) are shocked week after week about how bad this one is getting and how it is getting worse faster and faster. I don't think they can legitimately project that we'll be out of the current recession in 4 years let alone project another one.

    I'm having trouble finding conformation (none / 0) (#49)
    by tigercourse on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:06:17 AM EST
    on the web but my source was a report on Bloomberg radio a month or so ago.

    Well, just so we all (none / 0) (#70)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:38:49 PM EST
    know that idea is in no way "conventional wisdom," which would really have suprised the heck out of me.

    Really? :-) Funny Freudian slip (none / 0) (#147)
    by Cream City on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:23:05 PM EST
    as the sheeple who fall into place in "conformation" are all over the web, as well we know.

    Thanks for the laff of the day!  Loved it. :-)


    Had to google "Pete Peterson." (none / 0) (#58)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:55:34 AM EST
    Wiki entry includes:

    In February 1994, President Bill Clinton named Peterson as a member of the Bi-Partisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform co-chaired by Senators Bob Kerrey and John Danforth.

    Also, must point out Peterson succeeded Maurice Stans as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

    BTW, this framing works. (none / 0) (#59)
    by Pacific John on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 11:55:50 AM EST
    Federal taxes peaked at 20.9% of GDP during a run of four surplus budgets.

    In other news, the administration's idea to allow 55 year olds to buy-in to Medicare is another of those wacky ideas, like deficit reduction, straight out of the partisan conflicts of the '90s.

    Two Minor Quibbles... (none / 0) (#61)
    by santarita on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:12:43 PM EST
    I think BTD is right in suggesting that "deficit reduction" is a way for Obama to frame letting the tax cuts expire.  

    I just wish that instead of promising 1/2 reduction Obama had used the term "significant" reduction.  Now the media will hold him to the 50% number and if he reaches 49.5% reduction, the media (and Republicans) will nail him.

    Secondly, an appeal to the better instincts of populism could be made about fairer taxation for the wealthy.  Instead of knee jerk reaction to the Republican mantra of "tax and spend", Obama could turn around that reaction by framing taxing the wealthy as one way of making sure that people who are highly rewarded whether they succeed or not don't get to keep all of their windfalls.

    If he'd said "significant" (none / 0) (#74)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:43:25 PM EST
    the media would have gone nuts for the next X years trying to get him to put a number on it or otherwise define "significant" and opining endlessly about how he must not be putting a number on it because he has no confidence he can do much, blah, blah, blah.

    I think he was better off in just flatly saying "half," especially if he really does think he can do it.  One of the things he really does need to do is take Bill Clinton's advice and start being a little bit more upbeat.  Announcing you're going to cut the deficit in half is confidence-inspiring, so that's a good thing.


    And "half" starting ... (2.00 / 0) (#106)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:54:04 PM EST

    When he took office?  Or when he first institutes the policy?

    Even the use of "half" can be fudged.


    The statement says (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:00:38 PM EST
    The president inherited a deficit for 2009 of about $1.2 trillion, which will rise to more than $1.5 trillion, given initial spending from his recently enacted stimulus package. His budget blueprint for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, will include a 10-year projection showing the annual deficit declining to $533 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, the last year of his term, officials said.

    While that suggests a two-thirds reduction, exceeding Mr. Obama's goal of at least half, advisers note that the current deficit as a starting point is inflated by one-time expenses to stimulate the economy.

    Robot, your cynicism (5.00 / 2) (#155)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:43:51 PM EST
    is now reflexive, which I can totally understand, but you might want to pry a corner of it up and let just a teensy bit of actual light inside.

    You know I'm no big fan of Obama, but he actually is doing at least some things really right, IMHO, and it makes no sense to start from the premise that it's all bull because at this point, enough of it hasn't been that it makes more sense to at least look at it before pronouncing, as per Steve M's post below.


    The usual pol nonsense (none / 0) (#63)
    by pluege on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:20:43 PM EST
    talking about "deficit reduction" is always deceptive, particularly the 'halving of the deficit'. All this ever refers to is reducing the annual GROWTH in the deficit. Obama is going nowhere near actually reducing the deficit. Only Clinton actually generated an annual budget surplus whereby "the deficit" could be reduced.

    allowing bush excesses to lapse is not sufficient to address the government's budget problems. Taxes on the wealthy, particularly the estate tax need to be increased and the "defense budget" axed. Someone, sometime must go after the gigantic republican pork project known as "defense" spending, most of which spending has little to do with defense and everything to do with lining the pockets of fat cat republicans atop the MIC. If Obama were serious about actual deficit reduction (which he is not) he must significantly cut defense spending.

    It is ridiculous for Obama to represent that there are "savings" to be had from troop reductions in Iraq since he is just relocating them to Afghanistan. Sounds like political slight of hand.

    Hm (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Steve M on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:13:47 PM EST
    There is a difference between reducing the deficit and reducing the debt.  Yes, you need a surplus to be able to pay down the debt, but less of a deficit is still less of a deficit.

    Wow (none / 0) (#68)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:30:51 PM EST
    Not a bad idea to read the linked article before commenting.

    Tax cuts for 95% of Americans (none / 0) (#149)
    by kidneystones on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:05:26 PM EST
    I don't know about the rest of the folks here, but isn't there something 'other-worldly' about a promise to halve the deficit in four years, given the fact that the economy is cratering with no end in sight?

    Two factors irked me particularly during the campaign: the lack of critical debate and the soporific response of the press to wholly implausible promises offered up by the candidate for change.

    Out of Iraq in 16 months? Did we not hear that? Transparency? Gitmo closed? (He promised, I know, but it's open for business today). Tax-cuts for 95% of Americans? That nonsense was still being peddled as late as November and from what I understand of the directions from the WH, Obama wanted a 60/40 mix of spending/reduction in the stimulus package.

    I'm spending a lot of time at Naked Capitalism and other economics blogs that were highly critical of the Bush years. 'Denial' is the word that appears fairly regularly.

    The last thing America needs right now is another speech. The wheels are coming off and 'I feel your pain' and 'We're all going to have to suck it up' aren't going to do anything but drive the mood further down.

    People are just starting to wake-up to the fact that words alone aren't going to do it. Obama, has been saying as much all along, but folks have been so dopey and glassy-eyed over basking in the glory they've bestowed on themselves (with some hints from you know who)that they haven't been listening. Now with the economy tanking, many are.

    People want answers, not promises. Of course, the higher the deficits are at the end of the first two years, the easier it will be to halve them by cutting out the most egregious waste and by cutting back emergency spending.

    Smoke and mirrors. America's children and the next administration will have an enormous bill to pay as things stand. Whether any real progress has been made preparing America for 21st century success remains to be seen.

    Right now, things don't look so hot.

    Where is the Beef (none / 0) (#159)
    by joze46 on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:44:04 PM EST
    Armando LIorens has a pretty impressive bio. Especially, working within one of my favorite areas of legal ease, false advertising. I say that with a giggle Armando. But consider what Obama has to do, one might have a wide range of respect for the problem after getting into the drivers seat. It is still going to take time to embrace the total extent of damage in the system.

    By that and with my instincts there is a huge host of problems that are likely streaming out of the wood work with this deficit issue. Everyone might guess that Bush and Company along with the complicit media have been less than honest for years. More like obnoxiously covering any detail that would give advantage to solve this economic bomb handed off to the Democrats.

    America we are not in free fall, it is more like Bush and Company knew the force is an economic black hole pulling everything in with tremendous force. Or the Republican vortex of "NO" is working hard in the background.  Then, Bush and Company along with the complicit media after the election claiming economic disaster is at hand. Exclaiming fear of complete banking failure if they don't get the money they needed. Then the Republican Neo-Con's blaming it on Obama. Then, dumping this economic hot potato on Obama and the American electorate. They, the media should be ashamed of themselves.

    Or as the Attorney General said we are a nation of cowards. For me reflecting on race relations is also at core but to me there is a curve here and it is not Black White stuff it is more like White, White stuff. The good old boy White network just let each other slide and make you and me the electorate be blamed for their mistakes. Plus we pay them bonus money for it. America we are not only cowards we are stupid cowards.

    With a giggle, Armando knows what I am driving at, that is the tort laws in America are widely interpreted wrong, and out of synch with how capitalism should work. Just trying to put John Doe or Joe Six Pack on the same playing field as JP Morgan, or Bloomberg is making floor traders like that Santini guy on CNBC whale cry and opine about unfair mortgage deals over the cable network.

    One should guess the risk management systems for the banks went totally hooey. You mean that band that dresses up like pirates playing their song about free credit .com is not working too well. Hee Haw. Or you can not read those very little letters on credit commercials that looks like about two hundred little letters barely readable flashed on for two seconds. The basic disclaimer for all the contracts we sign. Armando, would that be considered treachery in advertising?

    Armando, I am not a lawyer but kudos to you for your efforts, it is a tough gig.                

    Taxes and the Deficit (none / 0) (#175)
    by EVVJSK on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 09:15:38 AM EST
    Not sure if the information below has been posted before, but I found it interesting to see a listing of the Top tax rates paid over the last 100 years (see link).
    Seems to me that shortly after WWII was one of the heydays of the American Economy and that at that time the Top tax rate was much higher (and deficit was much lower). I know that we would all prefer to not to pay taxes, but seems that there were periods in the past when the American Economy "as a whole" was much healthier and it coinciding with taxes being at a higher level than they are now (that doesn't mean we should necessarily raise them too much, but I think back to the Pre-2000 levels would be a good start).