Plausible Deniability

One of the strange conceits Beltway pundits have is that most politicians actually give a fig about policy outside of how it affects their political prospects. Consider this from Ezra Klein:

So far, the lame-duck session has managed to pass an $850 billion tax-cuts-and-stimulus deal, the repeal of DADT, the Defense Authorization bill, a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government, the START treaty, the food-safety bill, and probably a few more pieces of legislation I'm forgetting. [. . .] The question is why the Republicans didn't just drag their feet and let things expire and then come back to everything in 2011,The answer, I think, is that there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren't too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010.

The answer actually is that Republicans took credit for the things that help them politically (tax cuts, stopping the spending bill) and avoided blame for things they do not want to be attributed to them. Let's consider Ezra's list of "accomplishments:

The 850 billion dollar "stimulus" is basically extension of the Bush tax cuts. The GOP got precisely what it wanted there. That there are additional tax cuts is gravy. That the extension of unemployment insurance benefits was forced on them by "spendthrift" Democrats is icing on the cake -- they won't be hammered for not caring about the jobless.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a better bill for Republicans in this lame duck Congress than The Deal. The GOP drank Obama's milkshake.

The repeal of DADT was obviously not a GOP goal, but its passage over their opposition in a lame duck Congress does not hurt them politically. More importantly, it HELPS Republicans like Scott Brown and Susan Collins who are up for reelection in 2012. The political advantages are mixed here though, as it clearly helps Dems as well as they delivered on an important promise.

Passage of the Defense Authorization bill seems like a no brainer. I'm not seeing why or how this would be blocked by anyone in the Beltway.

The passage of a continuing spending resolution through March is a HUGE victory for the GOP. Now they get to craft the spending for most fiscal 2011. And they get the added bonus of having stopped "feckless" government spending by the Dems. A clear cut and huge win for the GOP.

In terms of the START treaty, blocking it was a clear loser for the GOP because, in the end, they were going to pass it anyway. better it be passed on the perceived Dems' watch now than on the GOP watch later. Plausible deniability. The political calculus was obvious imo.

I do not know anything about the food safety bill in terms of substance, but I'm pretty sure it did not have any political resonance. Maybe this was one where they actually cared about the policy. I doubt it though.

After all, pols are pols, and do what they do.

Speaking for me only

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    Ezra shows (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 10:21:40 AM EST
    Once again, his lack of experience in how this all works.

    Seems to be a common theme these days.

    Ezra's not the only one (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by smott on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:17:02 PM EST
    ...on the Hill who could have used a bit more experience...

    I wonder (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 10:23:08 AM EST
    if Obama knows that he has set himself up to be played continually by the GOP? Nah, it's all probably what he wants anyhow. This is a win/win for him until election time comes around and everybody abandons ship.

    Polls (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:31:51 AM EST
    I wonder what the response to this will be:


    I think Ezra is on to something in that the GOP is now seeing concrete evidence that obstructionism is going to make them look bad at some point.  Obama has shown a willingness to bargain and the fact that the left has killed him for it adds to his legitimacy.

    Ironically, his the left's criticism of him over taxes and his harsh response may have the effect of decreasing the GOP's bargaining position.  

    The polls seem to indicate that.

    They also indicate that Obama will likely gain as much support from the middle as he loses from the left.  That support is more valuable, and he's obviously taking that into consideration in terms of the politics.

    I also am not sure I would trust the CNN poll. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Buckeye on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:51:04 AM EST
    Jay Cost has a piece on this (he is of the right but I think he is correct on this one).

    ABG (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:53:06 AM EST
    First, I want to thank you for continuing to comment here and provide your perspective. I think it is unfortunate that you face a good deal of unnecessary invective in response.

    While our views on the political strategy and, in many cases, the substantive impact of certain occurences, in particular with regard to The Deal, diverge significantly, I truly enjoy on honest intelligent exchange of opinions. You provide that.

    Second, the vinegar, it is hard for me ot understand the notion that Obama's "compromises" somehow strengthen his bargaining position. But, to make the best case for that pont of view, let's flesh it out.

    Suppose, for example, Obama intends to make a stand in February on spending cuts. The argument would go,look, I've demonstrated how conciliatory I am by giving the GOP what it wanted on taxes. So if there is an impasse, it is not my fault, it will be their fault. So far so good.

    But then what? There is no instant election in February to vote out the GOP for their intransigence with the "reasonable" Obama.

    As I have stated many many times, people focus too much on the moment in politics. Elections are in November every 2 years. The next one is November 2012. GOP intransigence in February 2011, even if it was a negative politically (and I do not think it is), won't decide the elections of 2012.

    The economy will. And to improve the economy, or at least avoid making it worse, Obama must avoid spending cuts this February.

    At the least, if Obama had not given in on the tax cuts, he could bargain them away in February when negotiating on spending with the GOP.

    In short, The Deal was a terrible mistake.


    BTD (none / 0) (#14)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:13:01 PM EST
    Much appreciated.  This place is great and I have a thick skin. At some point, I will get angry and will expect some leeway when I slip up, so no harm no foul here.

    To your example:  The pressure point is not elections, it is the looming budget deadline in March.  The elections are irrelevant I think.  The real inflection points come at times of forced choice.  Do we go to war or not.  Do we pass healthcare or not. There will be a very simple choice the American people will have to make:

    Are the republicans responsible for keeping fed employees from getting their checks or are the dems and Obama?  Whoever they side with will win the battle. It will be one of those inflection pointss. You seem to disagree because the election isn't for a few years.  I don't think that matters. Why do I think that?  Because it didn't matter when Clinton won this exact same battle before. What mattered was who the public sided with and the fact that it was an inflection point. They sided with Clinton.

    Now let me say again now (because I want to go on record clearly): I think Obama will cut things I love like social security.  I think we aren't going to escape this without our pound of flesh being taken. If that is your standard of success, let's just agree that you're going to hate Obama even more shortly.

    But overall, I think he will win the war.


    I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:23:51 PM EST
    The elections are irrelevant I think.

    They are always relevant to a politician, and especially this go around, where the focus will be entirely on the Republican candidates, who will be jockeying for as much airtime as possible.  Let's face it - the primary season fro 2012 has started. The Democratic primaries will be an afterthought, even on the days they happen.  Everything done between now and then is all about the elections.

    Because it didn't matter when Clinton won this exact same battle before.

    Irrelevant.  Different time. Different media exposure. And definitely different person with a different temperament.

    But overall, I think he will win the war.

    Me may win some battles (DADT), but unless things drastically improve with the economy, he's already lost the war.


    What war are you fighting? (3.50 / 2) (#47)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:06:34 PM EST
    The problem is that we are all fighting different wars and declaring victory based on our pet issues.

    BTD is a good example.  Nothing can erase the damage of the tax compromise to him. I get his position.

    But not everyone defines the war in that way.


    SS is now a "pet" issue? (5.00 / 4) (#51)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:10:45 PM EST
    Funny, I thought it was a central part of Democratic policy.

    I stand corrected.


    Pet Issues (3.50 / 2) (#101)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:16:40 PM EST
    What is more important to a new hispanic immigrant?  Immigration reform or social security.

    If he chooses immigration reform, is he no longer a democrat.  What if a woman chooses the right to choice over universal healthcare?  What if a young democrat chooses education of social security?

    There are a number of central planks of the democratic ideal. It's complicated.

    That's why we are better than the republicans.


    What the heck are you talking about? (5.00 / 1) (#154)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:39:29 AM EST
    This is utter crap.

    What if a woman chooses the right to choice over universal healthcare?  What if a young democrat chooses education of social security?

    And no wonder you don't see a problem with O's so-called negotiation skills.

    It's true that choices must be made.  I get that.  But a Leader doesn't bargain away fundamental principles (did I say bargain?  I meant give away). Emphasis?  Sure.  Focussed expenditure of political capital?  Absolutely.

    But, rather than ignoring the left arm, give it up in favor of the right just because I'm right-handed?  I don't think so.  And I certainly don't amputate it myself and hand it over to you on a platter in advance because I think you're probably going to be asking for it.

    Those are bullsh!t choices you're offering.  

    But I have to say:  I'm glad you stuck around and make lots and lots of comments.  The picture of where you really stand gets clearer and clearer.

    And BTD?  I respect your observations and agree with your statement that there should be an

    honest intelligent exchange of opinions

    But as I look at ABG's comments in toto, I don't think that they rise to that level.  

    And yet.  I keep finding myself responding to them.  ::walks away, shaking head::


    A point you seem to have missed (5.00 / 3) (#157)
    by MO Blue on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:10:24 PM EST
    What if a woman chooses the right to choice over universal healthcare?

    Under the Obama administration a woman can not chose either option. Choice has been to all extents and purposes been eliminated for women without an ample amount of money. Obama has taken universal health care off the table and has replaced it with a future promise of providing supplemented insurance for a portion of people who need health care. Whether or not this future promise will ever materialize or if it will provide actual health care rather than insurance that people cannot afford to use is debatable.    


    Ummm (none / 0) (#163)
    by CST on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:05:07 PM EST
    "Choice has been to all extents and purposes been eliminated for women without an ample amount of money"

    Ever heard of the hyde amendment?

    That's been true for a while now.  Medicaid does fund abortion coverage with federal money, and if you are broke, you can't afford regular insurance anyway.  The Obama administration did not fix this problem.  But they also didn't cause it.


    Look (5.00 / 5) (#52)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:15:07 PM EST
    I consider myself a centrist, a moderate - whatever you want to call me. I have more liberal views on some issues, and a little more conservative leanings on others.  The fact that I think Obama has made too many concessions to the Republicans on issues such as torture, indefinite detention, reproductive isses, tax policy, the inevitable SS cuts, etc. should tell you what war I'm fighting - the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

    I agree that probably everything has to be on the table, at  least for honest discussion purposes - but we don't see that actually happening, do we?  We see capitulation after capitulation on the part of this president, and yet there are people out there like you who want to clap loudly and proclaim this "the most progressive administration ever", even though the facts just don't match the rhetoric. You want to give him bonus points for speaking in complete sentences.  That's part of the problem - if enough people buy into that, then we have certainly moved the progressive position to the center-right, and true progressive action will not happen because that will now seem out of the norm, or fringe.

    Excusing this administration for the exact same things that, had his name not been Obama, but Bush, or McCain, or Palin, or Romney, or Huckabee, you would be screaming your head off for.  It does no one (inlcuding Obama) any good to not face facts and to make excuses for his shortcomings and failings as an executive.


    Jbindc, I have to say (5.00 / 2) (#105)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:30:08 PM EST
    that while I disagree with you on some issues, you have hit the nail on the head.  Thank you.

    Tally it up (2.00 / 1) (#102)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:18:06 PM EST
    Take the last 6 months, remove the tax cuts and tell me that is the work of a conservative.

    i double dog dare ya.


    I double-dog dare you (5.00 / 2) (#106)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:39:37 PM EST
    to explain how the tax cuts bill isn't the most significant negative action on the economy this president has taken. In either the last six months or the last two years.

    Indefinite Detention EO (5.00 / 0) (#129)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 04:24:47 AM EST
    Faux financial regulation (none / 0) (#175)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 05:00:50 PM EST
    and refusing to make the best person head of the consumer protection board.

    And I should learn how to type (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:25:01 PM EST
    and proofread.



    So it's ultimately fine with you (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:38:07 PM EST
    that SS will be cut?  I'm hearing "sigh, too bad about SS, but see how good Obama looks?"

    I see the cuts coming, too, but I'm kicking and screaming to anyone who will listen that it's wrong.  It's wrong and unnecessary. Completely unnecessary which makes it even wronger.  

    I know my comments -- here or in real life -- don't change a thing in the process, but dang, I will take Robbie Robertson to heart and continue "Making a Noise"

    My pound of flesh will hopefully heal, but taking it from the elderly and disabled is wrong, wrong, wrong!

    Regarding elections and their importance, I sit in the middle between you and BTD.  I think in terms of bettering our society, in terms of the Public Good, that good policy will have the electoral consequences that BTD is talking about.  Good policy has a heartened and motivated base AND center and elected officials win a "Thank you, and I'll have more of that."

    If, however, one is not concerned with the Public Good, then the space between elections is where the REAL work is done.  With a bit of damage control just before the elections, because squeaking by electorally is just as valid as a landslide.

    That's where Obama screwed up.  He didn't do his damage control immediately before the election.  He could have pressured Congress to extend UI benefits, spoken out about DADT or some other [traditional] Democratic issue.  

    Or he didn't screw up, and he is as brilliant as you continue to assert and he got exactly the result that he wanted:  an even weaker Democratic party.


    If I were King (2.00 / 1) (#46)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:04:20 PM EST
    No cuts to social security.  We'd start by cutting defense spending by a third, end all of the wars, raise the estate tax to 65% starting after the first million and raise everyone's tax rates to Clinton levels.  SS cuts would be a last resort if at all.

    But I am not king and neither is Obama, and, like it or not, the SS issues looming are real. I acknowledge that as important as SS is to me and the liberals, defense is to conservatives. As important as medicare is to seniors, financial aid is equally important to younger voters.

    We all have our interests and why we think that our interests are tantamount.  I think the default position should fairly be that everything is on the table. Defense, SS, everything.  If we are going to get this thing in order that's the only fair way.

    The issue is the proportions and how much. We never get defense cuts. If we get meaningful defense cuts in exchange for relatively modest SS cuts, I'll take that deal. If we get rid of some farm subsidies in exchange for raising the retirement age a year or two (set at a time in the future), so be it.

    Of course I don't want it, but I want people going into this realistically.  We are going to lose some battles. That does not mean we will have lost the war.


    But defense cuts (5.00 / 3) (#69)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:05:59 PM EST
    are never on the table.  Never.  Show me the Simpson-Bowles Commission generating interest in serious defense cuts.  It's not happening.  You're writing as though defense was truly on the table and it simply is not.  

    In reality, the knives are only out for programs Dems care about.  What are you are saying is hardly different from the Beltway vision of bipartisanship.  Do you think Obama is going to say "I cut SS AND Defense!  Woohoo!" and somehow get re-elected in 2012?

    SS might just be a distraction anyway (unless the GOP really wants to edge Obama into making cuts there).  The GOP will certainly go after education and Medicaid.  It's important that they don't succeed, but...


    Social security does not contribute (5.00 / 12) (#74)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:15:08 PM EST
    to the deficit. At least, not until the payroll tax holiday goes into effect, and that is partially and temporarily.   My worry for the apparent willingness to reduce social security benefits or to "reform" them as suggested by Paul Ryan is that these are ideologic proposals masquerading as economic policies.  

    Indeed, even the failed Deficit Commission recognized that social security did not affect deficits and the "savings" from their proposed cuts would stay with the program. As Commission member Jan Schakowky acknowledged, social security did not even need to be a consideration of the Commission, given its presidential charge.

    The urgency of social security "issues" are not looming especially when contrasted with managing the $4 trillion  addition to the deficit over the next ten years, owing to continuation of the Bush tax cuts. And, then there is the estate tax bonanza in both threshold and rates.

    Social security "issues" are probably the easiest of all domestic program problems of the federal government to resolve given the time line and modest nature of changes that could be made to assure solvency for the next 75 to 100 years.

    It is difficult for me to countenance any American, young or old, greeting cuts to a bedrock social safety net with eagerness or even resignedness without even a basic grasp of the program or the distinctions between deficit and debt.  The economic and philosophical foundations need to be understood, and  protected.  Social security should not be a bargaining chip or belt-tightening bipartisanship we support so as to help President Obama or any other presidential candidate.


    I would give this comment 1,000 (5.00 / 4) (#75)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:25:35 PM EST
    rating if I could.

    Well said, Dan - should be read over and over until it negates the GOP talking points too many Democrats have taken up for no other reason than that Obama's saying them, too.

    Bad policy is bad policy, no matter who is behind it.


    If a Democrat is the one (5.00 / 2) (#84)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:20:11 PM EST
    who cuts Social Security then the war is already lost.

    Agreed. If I felt President Obama (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:40:43 PM EST
    were not indifferent to social security, I would have little worry. But he seems to have been captured by Pete Peterson, Nixon's Secretary of Commerce. Peterson and those he runs with have no need for social security and would be quite happy to see it become, for starters, means-tested.  A good and quick pathway to the political vulnerability of a welfare program.

    Peterson does not like the idea of FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) as an insurance program, so it has to go in the name of deficit reduction, which it isn't.    Medicare, a more difficult cost issue, is probably not as vulnerable as social security since even the very wealthy know that a catastrophic illness can easily wipe them out.

    President Bush's plan to move full steam ahead to  privatize social security shortly after his re-election (when he vowed to cash in on his "political capital") ran aground; President Obama's comfort zone of silence would be enough to call off the dogs.


    I'm afraid that (none / 0) (#110)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 07:01:06 PM EST
    we're in the the same mind-set as "Only Nixon could go to China."  And "Only Obama can cut Social Security."  Very sad, and very unnecessary.

    You do realize that the Republicans (5.00 / 1) (#158)
    by MO Blue on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:20:06 PM EST
    want to actually raise the amount that the Pentagon and Homeland Security receive while slashing all domestic spending to the bone.

    A little bit of information you might want to consider. Obama's tax cuts add $4 trillion dollars to the deficit and the Cat Food Commissions deficit reduction plan (which includes cuts to SS even though it isn't part of the deficit) which further cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy has been estimated to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion dollars. IOW Obama's even more generous tax cuts to the wealthy wipe out any actual deficit reduction and without Obama's generous tax cuts to the wealthy there would be no need implement even ONE Cat Food Commission recommendation to reduce the deficit.


    I think the elephant in the room is (none / 0) (#119)
    by hairspray on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:44:06 AM EST
    the ever widening gap between the rich and the middle/lower classes.  Before we start removing the last vestiges of middle class life support, i.e., social security, and home mortgage deductions we should look at the wealth distribution range.  Our country is broke because of unfunded wars, tax cuts for the rich, and skewing of the tax base.  There is no real middle class left (they maxed out their credit long ago) to consume our country back to solvency.  

    How does this (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:12:35 PM EST
    prevent spending cuts?  The GOP position is going to be to completely gut the government; the Obama position is presumably going to be not to gut the government.  Cutting spending is going to the Blue Dog position.  So far he has allowed the Blue Dogs to run wild...they're going to end up giving cover in this situation to the GOP.  And spending will be cut.

    The dems will agree to spending cuts (none / 0) (#15)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:14:24 PM EST
    That simple.  I don't think it is realistic to believe otherwise.

    I wonder (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:20:37 PM EST
    how you can be so sanguine about social security being cut, or any other spending cut you can name.  Cuts that will hinder the economy's recovery and make Obama unpopular.  Imagine the poll when he cuts Social Security.  Do you think that's going to get him elected in 2012?  "Cutting" Medicare helped destroy Dems in 2010.  Social Security isn't on the table yet and you are not only putting it on the table but sliding it across the table to the trashbin.  At some point you have to fight for these programs.  At some point you have to find some things unacceptable from a Dem President.  IMO.

    Few people care about policy (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by waldenpond on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:50:19 PM EST
    The fact is most in this country could care less about policy.  With the retreat of liberal intellectuals and the collapse of journalism, voters no longer get facts freely.  It takes work to be informed.   Both bases are hearing nothing but talking points based on a failed ideology.  If Fox/CNN/MSNBC millionaire talking heads tell people that tax cut is a good deal, very few are going to bother to learn basic economic theory.  Ho hum, as long as their side 'wins'

    I find many things (2.00 / 1) (#48)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:07:44 PM EST

    But if I were to draw a circle around all of the things that I deem sacred without any view of the realities of the situation, I am no better than the FoxNews folks.


    maybe so (none / 0) (#86)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:21:06 PM EST
    but at least you would be using your powers for good instead of evil.  Because some things are worth fighting for.

    That's not me (none / 0) (#93)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:17:19 PM EST
     . . . and this isn't a movie.  I don't want the medal after dying for putting up the good fight.  I want to live with the less shiny, prestigious medal.

    Putting up a good fight is only appropriate when it results in a better outcome.

    Fighting just to say you are fighting is a waste of time and resources.


    A losing battle of principle... (5.00 / 2) (#94)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:33:44 PM EST
    ...is better than no battle.  A scarred opponent is a better outcome than an unscathed opponent.  And maybe I'll lose this fight, but maybe, just maybe, my opponent will be weakened enough to fall next time.

    Without a fight, one just becomes a collaborator.

    I don't collaborate against my interests.  Nor will I, ever again, vote against them.


    Obama DOES fight on some issues-- (none / 0) (#97)
    by observed on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:53:26 PM EST
    DADT,START,Afghanistan---which puts the lie to ABG's entire line of argument.

    Sorry - that's crap (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by smott on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:14:30 PM EST
    Don't tell MKS.... (none / 0) (#128)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 04:19:17 AM EST
    Well as long as the spending cuts are (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:43:51 PM EST
    good for Obama politically, helps him raise that billion dollars he wants and gives him the opportunity to slap the left around, that is all that counts.

    If those spending cuts hurt real people; more jobs and homes are lost, more people lose the very basic needs of survival, it is a small price to pay if Obama benefits. It is unrealistic to believe that the spending cuts will not have this result.  But hey, the outcomes of his and the Dems policies are no big deal as long as Obama can rack up a win. :-(



    To be fair (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:48:09 PM EST
    I think ABG's argument is that the spending cuts are inevitable, not necessarily that it is to Obama's maximum advantage. I think he is arguing that Obama is doing political damage control.

    Perhaps he is. My fundamental disagreement on the politics with ABG is that The Deal will be the main culprit for the spending cuts of February and that The Deal was a monumental mistake, obviously in terms of policy, but also politics.

    ABG argues that it would have been political suicide to let all the tax rates rise in January. I simply do not believe that.

    As I have written before, Clinton raised taxes, indeed, imposed the veyr tax rates that would have gone into effect in 2011 and he won reeletion in a landslide.

    The election was not in 1994, it was 1996.

    The election for Obama is not in 2010, it is in 2012.

    To sum it up, The Deal was a terrible mistake.


    Let's look at what ABG says (5.00 / 3) (#36)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:34:41 PM EST
    Here he is saying that what is important is who people blame for their misfortune (misery).

    Are the republicans responsible for keeping fed employees from getting their checks or are the dems and Obama?  Whoever they side with will win the battle. It will be one of those inflection points. You seem to disagree because the election isn't for a few years.  I don't think that matters. Why do I think that?  Because it didn't matter when Clinton won this exact same battle before. What mattered was who the public sided with and the fact that it was an inflection point. They sided with Clinton.

    And here that even though necessary programs will be sacrificed, it will be alright because Obama will IHO win in the end.

    Now let me say again now (because I want to go on record clearly): I think Obama will cut things I love like social security.  I think we aren't going to escape this without our pound of flesh being taken. If that is your standard of success, let's just agree that you're going to hate Obama even more shortly.
    But overall, I think he will win the war.

    Cutting SS and needed domestic programs will change the lives of real people by taking away income and services that the working poor and lower middle class need to survive. Yet ABG's remarks only deal with whether or not Obama can get a political win from his policies and never whether the policies are beneficial to real people.


    This is not my position (none / 0) (#54)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:17:55 PM EST
    It is not about the political win.

    It is about a view of this, not just in the next 5-10 years, but over the course of the next 50 to 100.


    Direct quotes from your previous comment (5.00 / 3) (#66)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:58:07 PM EST
    Leaving the lower 98% at the mercy of the stock market and their rich overlords was not a good idea prior to the New Deal, is not a good idea now and I can not conceive of how it would be good in generations to come.

    According to the false history that was written about Reagan, he was one of the great presidents of all times. Obama definitely seems to want to follow in his footsteps by increasing the gap between the rich and the poor through deploying the same tickle down economics that always seem to just stay at the top increasing the income gap to obscene levels.

    Don't think that the people without the necessities of life now should be made to sacrifice even more when the politicians and their wealthy friends are given more and more by this government. Personally, I am not willing to sacrifice real people now so that Obama's savvy business friends can keep more of their multi million salaries and bonuses.


    That is exactly what GOP "thinkers" (5.00 / 4) (#68)
    by Pacific John on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:04:26 PM EST
    say about Iraq.


    Forget it, bub. Every child I see at my local food bank will remind me of Obama.


    Any benefit of the doubt (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Pacific John on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:49:53 PM EST
    ... I give to this week's 11-dimensional chess goes right out the window when I see things like this catch.

    It was at this meeting one of his two top economic advisers (Jarrett) learned the term supply-side economics. Days later Obama agreed to the tax cuts.

    Oh my (none / 0) (#82)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:05:53 PM EST
    Nothing personal... (5.00 / 4) (#121)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 03:43:57 AM EST
    ...but you strike me as someone who really just doesn't have a clue. The next 50-100 years are simply not predictable, and anyone who is arguing about the politics of what is going on in the here and now with an eye towards the politics of five or ten decades from now just has no foundation. None.

    You want to argue in the abstract. Unfortunately, a lot of us are faced with reality, not the abstract.

    From reading your posts, I can't conclude anything other than that you have some sort of emotional investment in Obama. What's good for Obama is your be-all and end-all, and if people have to suffer in order for Obama to "succeed", that's a sacrifice that you are willing for them to make.

    Screw that.


    50 to 100 dimensional ... (none / 0) (#150)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:22:15 AM EST
    ... chess?

    Frankly, it's just easier to make the "50-100 years from now argument", since you can't be proven wrong.


    I think there is certainly (none / 0) (#43)
    by CST on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:00:55 PM EST
    an argument to be made that spending cuts were coming down the pipeline either way - now that republicans won the house.  I really don't see how the tie-in to the deal will be made, other than as an excuse.  But I just don't see that they have ever really needed much of an excuse to go after spending.  That's what they do.  Deficits never really mattered.

    That being said, that while I do think "the deal" was a political win for Obama, I also think that's somewhat irrelevant right now.  If there is ever a time to put your foot down and do what's right policy-wise - elections be d@mned, it's now. Bottom line, I don't think this is good policy.  Although I do admit I was concerned about unemployment.  The best case scenario is obviously if they don't extend after two years.  I don't reasonably see that happening.  I would love to be wrong, in which case I'd give Obama a "win" on this.  Otherwise it's clearly a loss.

    But I do think the spending cuts were coming either way.  Deal or no deal.


    Obama (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:03:38 PM EST
    Didn't do the "brave" or right thing (IMO) when he had all the political capital in the world and large margins in both houses.  

    He certainly won't do it now that.


    And this is the real point ... (5.00 / 4) (#49)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:08:24 PM EST
    and the real shame.  The rest irrelevant point scoring.

    Both Obama and the Dems were given all the cover they needed to pass progressive policies.  They didn't.  And a lot of us will never forget that.


    I don't know (none / 0) (#55)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:19:34 PM EST
    how to address the repeal of DADT, Obamacare, etc. as non-liberal policies.

    Obamacare = liberal? (5.00 / 4) (#63)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:42:24 PM EST

    Thank you for today's laugh.


    Obama (5.00 / 4) (#73)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:10:48 PM EST
    care is a piece of crap that came right out of the American Enterprise Institute. It's Bob Dole's policy prescription from the 90's.

    As it is, it's probably going to have it's funding taken away so it's really a moot point. And that will make it way worse than it is now.


    If Obamacare looks great (5.00 / 4) (#76)
    by Pacific John on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:37:18 PM EST
    "...not just in the next 5-10 years, but over the course of the next 50 to 100," imagine what a God Romney would be in the eyes of historians.

    It occurs to me... (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:20:22 PM EST
    ... that this point (plan is R re-hash) has been made several times to ABG.  I don't believe I have ever seen him acknowledge it.   Just the next comment on how progressive Obamacare is.  

    He reads and responds too many comments/observations.  Never that one, though.  


    DADT repeal was a major (5.00 / 2) (#78)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:41:11 PM EST
    accomplishment of President Obama.  It certainly would not have happened without him setting the tone both in his presidential campaign and as president, including in the state of the union address.  While congress repealed DADT, the president deserves and takes credit (which undermines the previous storyline that the president was powerless and that it was up to the congress to undo the law they did).  

    Moreover, action on DADT repeal may be instructive for other areas of concern. Progressives  and liberals kept the president's feet to the fire, with grassroots efforts such as  Dan Choi and others chaining themselves to the White House fence, and activists calling him out on his promises at fund raisers and the like, which was not always greeted graciously.    And, of course, holding back and threatening to hold back on campaign support.  My feeling is that without such pressure, DADT would continue for several more years as an administrative goal.

     DADT is a civil rights policy, in my view, not a liberal policy.   Illustrative of that point, is the yea vote of Senator Burr (R. NC), a very conservative politician who explained his position as being "generationally right".  The timing was also right, and the president contributed to that as well and for that I thank him.


    I'm not clear on why... (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 03:47:09 AM EST
    ...Obama is getting credit for repeal of DADT. Reid and Lieberman did the heavy lifting in the senate. As much as it pains me, Joe Lieberman deserves a great deal of credit for getting this through. What exactly is it that you think Obama did?

    Uhhhm, easy (5.00 / 3) (#151)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:25:17 AM EST
    The repeal of DADT is now supported by a large majority of the public, including the majority of Republicans.  It's a no-brainer.

    "Obamacare" is the Republican/Insurance Co. plan from '94.


    The (5.00 / 3) (#70)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:08:43 PM EST
    "deal" so to speak takes money out the government and gives the GOP even bigger excuses to cut spending and make larger and deeper cuts.

    Mark my words, there will be no expense spared on dumping trillions down the rabbit hole in the middle east but we'll have to all take the cuts because the millionaires won't have to and neither will any of the other GOP pet projects.


    Why is support from the middle more valuable? (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Radix on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:59:47 PM EST
    Are those in the middle the one who knock on doors for you? Do those in the middle stuff envelopes for you? Do they make phone calls? In short, are those in the middle going to be their to help organize and carry out your campaign?

    Easy (none / 0) (#92)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:14:42 PM EST
    Support from the middle and independents is more valuable because every vote added from that pool counts as on vote for the dems and also on vote that the GOP could have received that they would not have.  A new vote from the far left counts only as an addition for the dems.  They were never going to vote for the conservative anyway.

    Although get out the vote efforts are extremely important, they are less so in a presidential election these days. The publicity is high. The tension are high. People are engaged.

    You need the middle to win.  That's the way the numbers work now.


    Have you factored in... (5.00 / 2) (#95)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:45:50 PM EST
    ... votes lost from the Left?

    It used to be one needed the middle to win.  That was when both parties had a good handle on their base.  

    Have you thought about what a base is?  It's a foundation.  It is what one builds on.  It is real citizens with real priorities and real votes.  Without them, the mushy middle must become your new base.  

    And they (the mushy middle) are courted because they aren't particularly committed to one thing or another and are therefore courtable.  That means they aren't committed to you.  They're easier to lose than they are to get.  Good luck making them your new foundation.

    I can't believe how many smug middle of the roaders there are out there who think they are more important than the foundation.  Do they stuff envelopes?  Do they make phone calls?  Do they at least cast two votes?  

    No.  But, I suspect, they do flood blogs.


    But now I'm curious (none / 0) (#96)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:47:23 PM EST
    Do you do GOTV?

    I do not think the GOP is seeing anything (none / 0) (#8)
    by Buckeye on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:48:59 AM EST
    different but I agree with the rest of your post.  However, if I am the GOP, I would take that trade off everyday of the week.  If their bargaining position weakens and Obama's polls increase because he pushes the policies Repubs want, why would they care?

    The answer (none / 0) (#11)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:56:23 AM EST
    is because although they are winning some points, Obama is winning more of them.

    Obama is winning things that do not help him (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Buckeye on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:00:15 PM EST
    or hurt the GOP, the opposite is not true.

    Yes,but Obama's gains came (none / 0) (#16)
    by observed on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:14:43 PM EST
    at a cost for Dems,as Nov. showed. And what kind of coattails will ReaganII have for Dems in 2012?

    You know what? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:19:48 PM EST
    I really don't think the polls are right when it comes to Obama. No one with his rating should have lost as many seats as he did in November. They seem to be really off when it comes to the actual voting.

    Politicians (5.00 / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:38:32 AM EST
    are in it for themselves? Who knew? ;-)

    I don't think there is a single sign that (5.00 / 5) (#24)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:41:03 PM EST
    Obama intends to hold the line - any line - on spending cuts; he's "serious" about the deficit, you know, was quite impressed by the Deficit Commission's majority report, and is quite emphatic that "everything" is on the table.

    And worse, maybe, is that the much-stronger conservative coalition in the Congress is singing the same song, so I don't know that we can or should expect more than the usual noise being made by quasi-progressive contingent before they completely capitulate to GOP demands.

    If he cuts Social Security, you can be sure that the segment of the population that does not have other income or assets to fall back on will not vote for Obama in 2012; they may not ever vote for a Democrat ever again, but I think Obama has written off that demographic and simply doesn't care if they vote for him - as long as he can make up for their votes from another sector.  Maybe he hasn't considered the trickle-down effect of cutting SS - I imagine there will be more than a few children of the SS generation who will withhold their votes if they end up having to help support Mom and Dad as a result - how much more mental and economic strain does he think people can take before they walk away from the Democratic party?

    The Deal has helped secure the economic futures of many whose futures looked pretty damn good, but I think it has put the economic futures of millions more on much shakier ground - two years is a long time to teeter on the brink, and not enough time to make such a significant improvement that it is likely to be felt by average people; the numbers always lag behind what people are feeling as they try to pay bills and keep food on the table.

    If you see any signs that Obama is not fully on board with an austerity program, I'd love to be enlightened.

    The recommendation (none / 0) (#29)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:58:59 PM EST
    was to raise the retirement age for full benefits from age 67 to age 68 by 2050 and to age 69 by 2075. Whether they opt for such a move or not, I sincerely doubt such a move will create an extreme hardship for anyone.

    Probably wouldn't (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:09:04 PM EST
    create too much of a hardship for most of those with desk jobs.  It would create a huge hardship for many who have physically demanding jobs.  I know that the argument is that these workers could go on disability if they could no longer do their jobs, but they're starting to talk about cutting disability, too, or making it even harder to get.  It's already very difficult to get on disability, and it often takes a long time (if you can get it at all).

    So are you a white collar worker? (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:21:46 PM EST
    Or have you not yet reached the age where the body is beginning to break down?  

    Only one if at least one of those factors were true, would this statement be made:

    raise the retirement age for full benefits from age 67 to age 68 by 2050 and to age 69 by 2075 ... I sincerely doubt such a move will create an extreme hardship for anyone.

    If you're 60-ish right now, and feeling you're age (as some friends AND relatives of mine are) then that road to 66 is already looking pretty long.  And dicey.

    Heck I'm not close to that, and it looks long and dicey.  

    And then there's the societal impact.  For every employee just hoo-o-olding on for retirement there are probably ten college grads out looking for a job.  (Yes, I pulled that number out of ... the air).


    I bet (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:25:57 PM EST
    if someone works on a manufacturing line, they would certainly feel it by age 67.

    I agree (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:34:10 PM EST
    I'm also thinking of such workers as miners, construction workers, sanitation workers, heck, even cooks.  I'm 62, and although I don't cook for a living, I do a whole lot of cooking for our church's food festivals and food sales, and even have catered some weddings/showers/etc for friends.  After one or two weeks on my feet all day, every day, I'm about ready for a wheelchair.  I cannot imagine doing it year-round, until I'm 67 or, God forbid, 69.

    Honestly (5.00 / 4) (#34)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:31:00 PM EST
    Do you honestly believe that working until nearly the age of 70 wouldn't create hardship?

    You have fvcking got. to. be. kidding. me.

    Not only do you have to worry about the body breaking down, especially if you work in a REAL job.  You also have to worry about the fact that ageism is alive and thriving in the United States, and you likely couldn't get or keep a job until the age of 70.

    Shaking my head.  Compassion doesn't seem to be a strong suit with "progressives" anymore.


    Well lets do a little math (2.00 / 1) (#38)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:46:53 PM EST
    70 isn't the number. It's from 67 to 69 over the next 65 years. This means those most effected by this change from 67 to 69 are less than 4 years old today. They aren't laboring in their 60's trying to figure out how they will last another few years on the job.

    Scratching my head (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:56:41 PM EST
    So you're saying it doesn't matter in the future because they are young and helpless right now?  Are you saying that when they do hit their early sixties it will magically not be a hardship for them?

    And you're saying (none / 0) (#56)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:20:59 PM EST
    that 65 years from now everything will be exactly as it is today?

    The average life expectancy in the US in 1940 when Social Security monthly payments began was 62.9. Today it's 78.4. If we keep the same pace, in 65 years, the life expectancy in the US will likely be closer to 90.


    So you're assuming that (5.00 / 2) (#60)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:31:17 PM EST
    an increase in "life expectancy" means that people who work physical jobs -- cooks, carpenters, drywallers, etc. -- will be able to still do those jobs until they're, what? 60? 70? 80? Ridiculous. And you're not even taking into account Teresa's point about age discrimination, which is a HUGE part of the problem in finding work after age 50.

    Break that down by income (5.00 / 3) (#61)
    by waldenpond on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:38:11 PM EST
    There is what 5 years difference in life expectancy for those under/over $250k?  The average expectancy for those under is flatlined.  The average for those over has increased.

    You are proposing limiting the ability of the most vulnerable to provide housing and food.L  ife expectency just took a slight dip and record numbers are now uninsured and you estimate life expectancy will climb?  

    I think the difference between progressives and liberals has become clear.


    You have to make the math fit (none / 0) (#65)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:57:23 PM EST
    We could always change when different groups of people are paid. If we break it down and want to adjust when payments begin by job, sex, and race, I wish you the best when opening that can of worms.

    Personally I'm for taking in more money by upping or eliminating the cap from the current $106,800 and lowering the 6.2%, thereby balancing the percentage for all, lowering the hit on the lower income folks, and increasing the SS fund all at one time. But I'm not going to get in a tizzy over a 2 year increase over 65 years either.


    I certainly agree with eliminating the cap (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:09:57 PM EST
    but I don't necessarily want to 'adjust' the ages, unless the ages are lowered.

    Making full benefits available at 60, for example. Why should someone have to work further at a low-wage job?

    Changing the age isn't the only thing, but there's so much more to this. I think we should look at age and say, After X, you'll get this. You don't have to work any more.

    I won't throw out anecdotes right now, but I will if need be. As a suggestion-- not to you, personally, coralgables-- go to your local Walmart, to the deli. What do you think is the average age there?

    Is this a 'demanding' job? It's a lot more than running a slicer.


    Lumber mill (5.00 / 0) (#83)
    by waldenpond on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:16:33 PM EST
    My stepfather worked in a lumber mill all his life.  He's a mess.  He didn't make it to 65.  He had a system of medical leave and early retirement.  Between he and my mother, they meet basic expense.  They don't travel or anything.

    If one of them dies, they know they won't have the income/savings to maintain the home on their own.  We are lucky to be able to be upfront about money.


    mathy stuff (5.00 / 3) (#89)
    by huzzlewhat on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:36:06 PM EST
    The main reason that the average life expectancy is going up is not because more people are living to extreme old age, but because fewer people are dying of childhood illnesses, etc. When you don't have a high infant and child mortality rate to drag down the average, things are going to naturally skew higher. That doesn't account for it all, of course -- more people living through illnesses that would have killed them 20 years ago, no doubt. But that doesn't mean that they'll be physically fit enough for full-time work at those advanced ages.

    Very True (none / 0) (#91)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 05:01:32 PM EST
    We aren't necessarily living to a higher max age. There is just a higher percentage living to be that age due to the reasoning you state, thus raising the average expectancy.

    Actually the U.S. infant mortality rate (none / 0) (#177)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 05:25:33 PM EST
    is much higher than in other industrialized nations.  

    Comparison (none / 0) (#178)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 09:06:52 PM EST

    Comparison of infant mortality rates is problematic as there is not a common standard for a for what counts as a "live birth."  In some countries the child must survive at least 24 hours.  The US counts some cases as infant mortality what other countries would count as stillborn.

    No, they're not. They've already had to quit (5.00 / 4) (#42)
    by shoephone on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:57:14 PM EST
    the longtime physical jobs because their backs and their knees are, literally, breaking down. Ask me, I know. I shut down my painting business two years ago because of serious longtime injury to my body. And no, I am not eligible for disability. And no, I have not been allowed to receive any UI benefits, beause I ran my own business. Except for three temporary writing/editing gigs, I have not worked in two years. I won't bore you with all the money and time I've spent "retraining" and going back to school. I won't bore you with the number of jobs I've applied for, the number of resumes I've sent out. I'm in my 50's and have come to the realization that I may never work a fulltime job again. So, please, don't tell me that the current age for receiving benefits (67) isn't already a hardship for those of us who have been doing the backbreaking work.

    I won't be alive in 2050, so the increase to age 68 or 69 won't affect me directly. But it will affect some of my younger compadres in the contracting businesses. It's a phucking hardship NOW and it will be more of a hardship later.


    What's equally important is that (none / 0) (#176)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 05:24:01 PM EST
    changing social security has NO effect on deficits.
    Why are we having this conversation or allowing anyone on here to lump deficit cutting together with comments on Social Security?  This is a tact taken by those who want to cut Social Security as part of the effort to dismantle government.  Let's not play into the myth-making.

    The committee also (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:39:15 PM EST
    recommended changing how benefits would be calculated reducing the benefit amount received.

    Yes, the Commission did more than (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:48:10 PM EST
    move the age eligibility to 69 by 2075. It instituted progressive price indexing to cut scheduled benefits for middle incomes, it indexed the cost of living increases to inflation rather than wages, and it increased the payroll taxes to capture 90 percent of wages rather than 86 percent.  Of course, that is what the Commission would have recommended if it  actually voted. But we do have a "majority report" of those who did not actually vote but would have voted if they voted.

    The thing you have to keep in mind... (5.00 / 2) (#124)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 03:55:02 AM EST
    ...when it come to indexing according to inflation is that the numbers are...well...fuzzy.

    Inflation calculations are designed to exclude or minimize the impact of things that retired and lower income people spend most of their money on. Food, medicine and housing are all "massaged" heuristically to arrive at a bottom line inflation number that is lower than reality.

    Check out chapter 16 of Chris Martenson's Crash Course for more: Fuzzy Numbers


    There are other recommendations (5.00 / 4) (#39)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:49:18 PM EST
    that, at first glance, seem not too bad, but upon further analysis really just amount to cuts.

    Here are the recommendations from the report, if you or anyone is interested.

    Careful attention needs to be given to how benefits are being proposed to be calculated going forward; income indexing is another term for "benefit cuts."

    Regardless of whether the changes might not begin until (as early as) 2017, as the majority report reflects, the uncertainty of not knowing where one stands is a burden people just do not need to add to the growing list of burdens and sacrifices they are being subjected to or "asked" to make.

    I would not be quite so cavalier about how little this will impact people; let's not forget that the SS-haters are not planning for this to be their only bite at the apple.


    For anyone? (5.00 / 4) (#123)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 03:49:29 AM EST
    You are aware that not everyone works in a climate controlled office where they get to sit, yes? I suggest you work in a warehouse or on a construction site or on a boat for a while. After you do that, get back to me on raising the retirement age.

    Nutty (none / 0) (#179)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 09:10:06 PM EST
    This is one of the big reasons why a one size fits all retirement age is just plain nutty.  

    Age of retirement...SS... (5.00 / 6) (#59)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:29:37 PM EST
    I just (and I mean JUST) spent 24 hours in the hospital because my blood pressure went through the roof. I don't have a physically demanding job any more. But if my BP hadn't decided to lower, I would have been left unable to do my non-demanding job. If I had had a stroke, I wouldn't be here today.

    My thoughts on any rollback of SS or other safety nets...

    Ils ne passeront pas. Same phrase used in 1915 by the poilus around Verdun. The battle of Verdun was supposed to, in the words of Ludendorf, "Bleed the enemy white."

    The French, however, didn't concur, and didn't pre-agree to give up.

    ABG, here's my worry, my huge and overarching worry. President Obama negotiates terribly. I might go further and say he has his specific policy areas over which he's concerned, and Social Security, for one, isn't an area of concern. He doesn't seem motivated by reasonable spending cuts. Look at SDI and its continued funding. No question, it gets funded this year... it's part of 'Defense.'

    No question Iraq, Afghanistan, ethanol, 'new' tankers for the military, continued war on drugs and concommitant with that prisons, will continue to be funded.

    ABG, and also BTD, I do not know what this administration fights FOR. I lost the notion that this administration fights for 'me and mine' in 2009.

    The issue ought to be what's done for the least of Americans.  Ought to and are don't equal.

    Since the end of Clinton years, the democratic 'leadership' in the legislative branch has been inside-the-beltway directed, instead of main-street-directed, in my opinion.

    In other words, the congress has worked for its self-interest, not for the interests of the people.

    President Obama was anointed by the inside-the-beltway crowd. He works for THEM, in my analysis, not for me, not for those here in the margin who don't spell too well or express themselves too adroitly, the folks who go to work, have children, want a better life for their kids, and want to keep taking care of their parents and, if living, grandparents.

    I fear that the current administration doesn't even KNOW what's going on in daily life here. I have no confidence in this administration.

    I know, Bill Clinton is in many ways anathema here. But Bill Clinton could explain complex issues so that people where I live could understand why he would choose a certain solution. Yes, lots of the folks I'm talking about reviled him, but if polls are to be believed, he had tremendous approval ratings at the end of his terms.

    Simply because folks had peace and prosperity? Hardly. He explained his positions, and he fought for the little folks.

    Yes, welfare reform is an example to the contrary. He'll never be able to take that one back.

    But Obama is handing the keys of the bank to the same folks that owned the bank (and the grocery store, and the land, and the factory) before 1933.

    ABG, I fear. I fear that 75 plus years of social legislation is "on the table," but the military-industrial, prison-industrial complexes are not on the table.

    I keep reading posts to try to find something to assuage or beguile my concerns. I find either abandonment or potential for abandonment of certain fundamental issues instead. I find strengthening of the sick, incestual, corrupting relationship between government and corporate america growing stronger.  

    I'm actually trying to say something here, so I'll close for now. I'll provide examples to specifics, if available, and explain where my 'feelings' come in, also.

    I'm glad you're okay, Jeff (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:39:47 PM EST
    I'm so sorry about your blood pressure.  May you be well, in this season and in the coming year.

    I wasn't even upset, Zorba... (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:45:25 PM EST
    but if anyone gets blinding headaches, check the blood pressure. Do what I say, not what I do...

    Oh my! (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by sj on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:31:04 PM EST
    It was this headache?

    You're feeling better, I trust?


    That one, and continuing. (none / 0) (#90)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:46:31 PM EST
    I was lucky it didn't improve. I thought it would go away.

    Will do (none / 0) (#87)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:25:09 PM EST
    I take blood pressure meds myself (although my bp is well under control and I keep close track of it, it's something to keep in mind).

    START & 9/11 (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:57:23 PM EST
    coast through in the Senate today with a 71-26 vote for START (66 needed for passage) and the 9/11 Bill sails through on a voice vote after the GOP gets pummeled from all sides for the delay.

    13 (none / 0) (#111)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 07:09:47 PM EST
    Republicans voted for the new START with two Republicans not voting and Wyden absent due to surgery. Depending on your perspective that's either bi-partisan approval or 13 whimpy Republicans caving in on a Dem issue.

    As expected, ever the contrarian if he can't receive credit for something moving forward, McCain voted against.


    WOW! Klein gets stupider by the minute (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by pluege2 on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:55:55 PM EST
    "continuing resolution" - that's a pure abrogation of duty on the part of the Senate, which had, and should have passed an actual budget that funded the laws the vewry same Senate passed like heathcare reform and Wall Street reform.

    the $850 billion billionaires deficit exploder, another defeat of sanity. Holding employment payments hostage to give ever more yachts to the yacht set - absolutely disgusting; an "achievement" of pure indecent evil.

    DADT and START - slam dunks, long overdue made into torturous self-indulgence in vapidity.

    All of it completely forgettable if it wasn't so outrageously awful.

    Our expectations of accomplishment have become so despicably low as to be inverted.

    Corrections (none / 0) (#109)
    by pluege2 on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:59:36 PM EST
    "...like heathcare reform..." => heaLthcare reform

    "Holding employment payments hostage..." => Holding UNemployment payments hostage...


    Theory o' the Day (2.00 / 1) (#98)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:02:27 PM EST
    I've hinted at this above, but let me just throw it out there for ridicule:

    Obama and the dems cannot win as the party of flaming liberals. I hate that that is the case, but our opponents are better at marketing and more unified.  Might change in the future, but let's assume that that is the case. In this environment, dems have to win with the middle while conservatives CAN win with their extremists. That's just the demographic numbers.

    I think a lot of anger on the left is generated by the frustrating and infuriating fact that although many of our policies individually are supported in large majorities, there are still more conservatives than there are progressives (or heck, "liberals", let's take the word back).   In short, we want to act like the right does. We want to dig in our heals. We want our leaders to give no ground.   But unfortunately, reality does not allow that.  The numbers and demographics don't yet allow it (although they will thanks to my latino/a brothers and sisters who are making their presence felt).

    But right now, we can't do what the republicans and their base does.

    And it pisses us off.  Rightly so.  But that doesn't change the facts.  And it shouldn't make us less angry about our situation necessarily.  We should fight harder to get our message out.

    But it does explain why Obama caved on taxes when a conservative might not have if faced with the same choice. The wave that washed Obama and others into DC was fueled by a lot of votes by those who disagree with us on a number of issues.  I honestly think that this tax concession and some of the other concessions that Obama has made (and let's be clear here, will make again) reflect the pragmatist in him seeing that state of facts and making a decision to deal.  Others could see that and decide to fight.  Some here argue that Hillary would have. But I don't think either call necessarily signals weakness or stupidity or lack of faith in the progressive ideal or whatever.

    It simply reflects two reactions to the fact that 36-46% of the population identifies as conservative while 19-30% of us identify as liberal.

    I think that if you view the world as 50/50, conservative to liberal, then darn right. That Obama guy is screwing it all up.  He should be battling it out up and down the line.  But if you view the numbers I give above as roughly accurate, it generates a different set of "correct/acceptable" choices. Especially if the goal is not only to pass good law, but also to remain in power so the conservatives don't pass even more horrible laws.

    I tend to get yelled at a lot on various liberal forums and one of the things that gets people most fired up is the concept that liberals are the minority.  We don't want to hear it. It's the one thing sure to get you kicked off of some of the more sensitive sites.  It's funny, because you can state that you are conflicted by the Wikileaks stuff and even the most liberal of free speech supporter will debate the issue, but if you tell that same person that liberals are in the minority, he's going to eventually start calling you George Bush and questioning your identity as a liberal.

    I think Obama is hated because he's conceded a bunch of stuff, but he's particularly irritating to many of us because he's fairly honest about the fact that we are outnumbered. Not just in congress but generally.

    When I read through these comments, I come away with the idea that if you don't think we are in the minority these days, I (and more importantly, Obama) probably DOES look like a Republican.

    Obama is to the right of Reagan (5.00 / 2) (#104)
    by observed on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:22:42 PM EST
    economically,and his war policies--esp. wrt detainment and assassination---are at least as bad as Bush's. He's a FAR right Republican except on a few issues.

    Obama's HIR (none / 0) (#113)
    by observed on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 07:28:29 PM EST
    is a Gingrichy-Dole bill---not liberal at all.

    People (5.00 / 2) (#112)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 07:11:50 PM EST
    are angry because Obama pulled a con job on them. They actually believed a lot of what he said in the primaries but they didn't pay attention to the fact that Obama told every group something they wanted to hear and said different things sometimes in the same day.

    You know what's amazing? Obama is even worse than I ever imagined. I never had much faith in the guy because the whole evangelical preacher-man act creeped me out but I thought at a minimum he might do something besides DADT. I never thought he would see out women's rights at a minimum but boy even the floor I had he has sunk beneath.


    This point (none / 0) (#131)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:35:01 AM EST
    I will take issue of.

    If you believed that Obama was going to be a flaming liberal, you didn't read his books or listen to his speeches.

    From day one his motto and selling point has been negotiation and bipartisanship.  It's how he got so many conservatives on board.

    They weren't voting for a lefty, they were voting for a pragmatist.

    The current poll numbers reflect that.  He's up 9-10% amongst the moderates and independents who came out for him in huge numbers.

    It may no be what you wanted but it is what they wanted.


    I'll let Ga6thdem speak for him/herself, ... (5.00 / 1) (#152)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:35:30 AM EST
    If you believed that Obama was going to be a flaming liberal, you didn't read his books or listen to his speeches.

    ... but Ga6thdem never said he/she believed that.  Many other people did, however.  The reason they believed it (apart from their desire to believe it) was because of: 1) the lack of a record when it came to voting on specific issues and 2) the fact that Obama gave vague, often conflicting statements on issues, rather than specifics, depending on his audience.  He did this intentionally, so as to appear to be all things to all people, allowing them to interpret vague answers in the way that would allow him to garner their support.  Not to mention that in the few instances he gave specific answers or made specific campaign promises, he later decided he didn't need to keep those promises.

    That's why people feel betrayed by Obama.  It may have gotten him elected, but it's a double-edged sword.


    I never (none / 0) (#160)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:42:52 PM EST
    believed he was going to be a "flaming liberal" but lots of other people did. They hung on his every word. I was always worried that he didn't have the experience to handle the job and no core beliefs which my ideas have been proven right over time.

    His selling point of capitulation to the GOP is why I never was a fan of his but I never thought he would capitulate on literally everything and that is why I say he is worse than I ever imagined.

    Obama isn't even a pragmatist because a pragmatist is willing to walk away from negotiations. Obama will never walk away. He will sit and beg the hostage takers to not threaten him again.

    The poll numbers are off for Obama. There's no way with his poll numbers that the party would have lost 60+ seats in the house if they were right. His poll numbers at the time reflected a loss of about 40 seats but he lost over 50% more than that.


    Obama is pushing conservative (5.00 / 4) (#115)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 08:56:14 PM EST
    ideology and passing it legislatively against the preference of the majority of voters in the U.S.

    The majority of Americans state that job creation is their top priority and not deficit reduction. The majority of voters did not ask Obama cut SS and Medicare. They are against those cuts.


    If job creation (none / 0) (#132)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:36:08 AM EST
    and not deficit reduction is your top priority, then you shouldn't care about the tax cut for the rich.  

    Tax cuts for the rich (5.00 / 3) (#135)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:04:32 AM EST
    do not create jobs; if they did, we should be at or near full employment, don't you think?

    What creates jobs is an increase in demand for goods and services, and that is where the government should be stepping in with jobs programs, infrastructure projects and the like that will put more people to work, will produce a corresponding increase in demand in the local communities, and that will, in turn, spur private-sector job creation.  With sustained growth, the government can pull back.

    This belief that not cutting taxes for the rich will stifle job creation is a full-on Republican talking point - and factually a myth of fairly significant proportion, and one that you have clearly swallowed, hook, line and sinker.  

    I continue to be puzzled by the benefit of trying to make bad policy look good so that you can make one individual - Obama - look like some kind of genius.  And I find it extraordinarily sad that you seem more than willing to jettison whatever core progressive beliefs you have for no other reason than to ensure Obama "wins" at whatever he does.

    With all due respect, it invokes the question I often ask about Obama: is there anything you believe in strongly enough to be willing to fight for?  And if so, what are these beliefs?  If everything is subject to compromise, if there is no line you aren't willing to draw, the conclusions I come to about you - and about him - are not particularly flattering.

    Just be aware of one thing: those whose actions are driven by self-interest will not hesitate to throw you under the bus if it's to their benefit - and it won't matter how vigorously you supported, how much of your own belief structure you were willing to sacrifice.


    I believe (none / 0) (#142)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:54:52 AM EST
    conservatives far overstate the concept that tax cuts for the rich create jobs and stimulate the economy.  However, I think the argument that they have zero effect is false.  They have some job creation/stimulative effect.  I believe all economists agree on that. The differences arise over degree of effect.

    To your second point, as I have said many times, Obama fought for healthcare reform. He fought for it for over a year and expended almost all of his political capital in th process.

    Now at the end, the public option wasn't included and there were other concessions, but the the elmination of preexisting condition limits, etc. was real.  And it was something he staked his presidency on getting through.

    It's easy to argue that the man fights for nothing if you are willing to ignore the fight that dominated the first year and a half of his presidency.


    Good grief (5.00 / 1) (#161)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:46:36 PM EST
    Obama could have gotten a preexisting conditions bill passed his first week in office. He didn't fight for over year, he diddled for over a year chasing the skirts of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins constantly changing the policy to get them to vote for it and in the end they didn't. I don't call that fighting.

    No (none / 0) (#165)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:20:40 PM EST
    He could not have and he wouldn't have wanted to.  It would have destroyed the already ridiculous health premium structure in the country.

    FYI (5.00 / 1) (#166)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:30:25 PM EST
    as someone who has had to buy her own insurance policy for about 10 years now, the price structure was already destroyed.

    My premiums quadrupled between 2001 and 2010 and the last price increase I got was 13% from my insurance company. When you're already paying 10K a year for insurance there's nothing good in the Obama policy for you. It's a win/win for the insurance companies. They get to make price increases and blame Obama for it whereas before everybody was mad at the insurance companies. Obama makes a brilliant fall guy.


    And what protection do people (5.00 / 2) (#167)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:34:11 PM EST
    with preexisting conditions have against rate increases under Obamacare--oops,I mean BobDoleCare?

    Some statements are so exact and so true (5.00 / 3) (#168)
    by MO Blue on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:35:19 PM EST
    they need to be repeated as often as possible.

    Good grief. Obama could have gotten a preexisting conditions bill passed his first week in office.

    He spent the summer of 09 in back room deals with the insurance and medical industries trading away every vehicle that would have actually reduced costs for people and the government. The additional 18 months was spent on kabuki theater trying to justify why he substituted overpriced insurance that may never provide affordable health care when people wanted and needed affordable universal health care.

    He fights real hard for conservative policies that benefit corporations and his savvy friends. The fact that the lower 98% have to pay for his give aways is not important to either him or you.


    Obama fought like a dog ... (5.00 / 3) (#171)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 02:42:13 PM EST
    to make sure single-payer never saw the light of day, to make sure the precious private turf of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries received both protection and a huge windfall, to make sure Wall Street was happy with the deal, to make sure implementation was delayed long enough that he might be able to ride his great "accomplishment" all the way to victory in 2012.

    But fight for the people whose insurance premiums are still going up and up and up?  Who get for that increased cost less coverage and higher co-pays and deductibles?  Who still cannot afford actual care?

    No.  He didn't fight for them.  

    What kind of crisis can you think of that can wait four years to be addressed?  

    The pre-existing conditions thing?  They're fighting that tooth and nail, coming up with "sure, we have to cover you, but not under your existing policy - we have to write a new one" as one way to squeeze even more from people desperate for relief.

    "Public option" was a bumper sticker, something that meant different things to different people - kind of like Obama himself.  It was never real.

    Obama wasted precious time lobbying for legislation the best parts of which could have been done on a stand-alone basis, but he chose - just like he did with tax policy - to throw a bone or two to those most in need while guaranteeing a windfall to his BFF's - the rich and savvy ones.

    If Obama was going to spend political capital, he should have done it on jobs and the economy; put people back to work and a lot of the problems we're facing now wouldn't loom nearly as large.  It would have made a mockery of the need to "fix" Social Security.  It would have put the lie to deficit hysteria.

    But did he apply himself to that crushing problem?  Not in any substantive way.

    Obama fights for what he wants - he fought for insurance companies, the financial industry, for Wall Street and the rich, for a deficit commission stacked with entitlement-haters; he fights for power, for the erosion of civil liberties and he protects people who have certainly committed war crimes.  And don't get me started on the foreclosure fraud mess, or "his" HAMP program that has transformed a lot of lives for the worse - much, much worse.

    You can keep refusing to see these things, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.


    No liberal would make this statement (5.00 / 2) (#139)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:48:12 AM EST
    Says you (none / 0) (#143)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:55:49 AM EST
    Yep. Says me (5.00 / 3) (#147)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:03:18 AM EST

    Flaming Liberal.


    If tax policy reflected only the deficit (5.00 / 1) (#141)
    by waldenpond on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:49:27 AM EST
    What was that?  Let's say naive, although it's obvious it's all about motives for you at this point.  

    Tax policy is income distribution.
    Tax policy defines whether you live in an oligarchy or a democracy.
    Tax policy is economic power.
    Tax policy is polical power.
    Tax policy is opportunity.


    I think that you have definitely swallowed (5.00 / 3) (#144)
    by MO Blue on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:56:13 AM EST
    the Obama Reaganomic BS. (You know it is bad when even Jesse Jackson, Jr. compares Obama's economic policy to Reagan's.) The cuts to the domestic programs are going to also going to result in jobs cuts. The $4 trillion dollars cost of Obama's tax cuts could have been much better spent fixing our infrastructure which would have created jobs. It could have been spent developing and producing green technology here in the U.S. And I don't mean spending stimulus money building factories in China to produce wind tunnels either.

    You do realize that the rich corporations and individuals are spending their government sponsored welfare money on investments in other countries and not at home. Oh, maybe you don't because that would not fit in with your obsessive need to see everything through the prism of how Obama is truly awesome rather than looking at reality.  


    nonsense (5.00 / 2) (#169)
    by The Addams Family on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:57:47 PM EST
    If job creation and not deficit reduction is your top priority, then you shouldn't care about the tax cut for the rich.

    the rich do not create jobs with their tax cuts

    & the richest of the rich have been staging a CAPITAL STRIKE for almost two years

    but go ahead & lick their boots if that makes you feel better


    I stopped reading at (5.00 / 5) (#116)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 08:59:28 PM EST
    "flaming liberals;" that told me all I needed to know.

    Kind of wish you had used the term earlier, so I could have saved myself some time and energy responding to your comments.


    Thin Skin (none / 0) (#145)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:59:28 AM EST
    I am proudly a flaming liberal. That's what I call myself.

    If you take "flaming" or "liberal" as an insult, that's on you.


    You're a Newt Gingrich (5.00 / 2) (#148)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:09:27 AM EST
    Republican who is proud that Obama looks to be the Republican who will finally take down FDR's legacy.

    [Note to self: (5.00 / 3) (#149)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:15:02 AM EST
    add "flaming liberal" to a long list of words and phrases that no longer mean what they used to.]

    It's not that I take "flaming liberal" to be an insult - far from it - but your insistence that you are one, in the face of comment after comment after comment that reveal you to be anything but - renders the rest of your comment pure BS.

    If flames have to be involved, perhaps you would consider identifying as a "flaming bag of dog poo," so that those of us who are liberal, who have a belief system that doesn't revolve around one person of questionable ideology, can continue to use "liberal" in the best and truest sense of the term.


    You showed your cards awhile back (5.00 / 0) (#174)
    by shoephone on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 06:07:24 PM EST
    and your hand doesn't add up to "liberal" in any sense of the word, flaming or otherwise. What you are is a lying fake.

    What is this "we"? (5.00 / 3) (#120)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:53:02 AM EST
    Do you have a mouse in your pocket?  You keep saying "we" as if you were a liberal.  I don't see you advocating for liberal policies -- only for an individual.

    You think I don't know that my completely liberal views are held by a minority?  Every sector and sub-section is a minority of some sort.  The mushy middle is a minority if it has to stand alone.  Every group needs an alliance or a coalition to make a difference or have an impact.  So what's your point?

    The question is: with whom do we (every type of "we") ally?  And all of O's alliances are with the most conservative.  He's a Dem because he came out of Chicago and he's ambitious.  I have no problem with ambition in and of itself.  But how is all that ambition and energy channeled? That's the tip-off.

    There is no "probably" in "DOES look like a Republican".  I have a memory.  I have a history.  I'm not pulling my observations out of thin air.  He can't even bring himself to say he's a Democrat.


    I'm Liberal (none / 0) (#133)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:38:16 AM EST
    I just see no need to wave around a flag saying that I am.

    The fact that I am willing to make concessions that other liberals are not says nothing about the principles of policy I believe to be correct.

    They are two different concepts.

    Again, if I were king, we'd have single payer healthcare and a lot of other communist goodies, but I am not.

    I am a pragmatist and a realist and I am focused on what can actually be accomplished.


    Baloney (5.00 / 1) (#140)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:48:23 AM EST

    I'm Liberal (none / 0) (#133)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:38:16 AM EST

    does not gibe with this:

    and a lot of other communist goodies,

    And that's from the same comment, no less.

    You're not a realist, you're an apologist.  


    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#153)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:38:25 AM EST
    if I were king, we'd have single payer healthcare and a lot of other communist goodies

    Strange how all of us "flaming liberals" don't call single-payer HC a "communist goody" ...


    OFA needs to hire better (none / 0) (#156)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:10:10 PM EST

    One possibility (5.00 / 0) (#159)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:40:07 PM EST
    The other, of course, is that he's one of the true believers.  Either way, he needs to figure out where the line for silliness starts, ...

    ... and avoid crossing it.


    Wow (none / 0) (#162)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:53:18 PM EST
    LOL (none / 0) (#164)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:11:07 PM EST
    I don't even know how else to react to that.  It was eyebrow-raising/eye-rolling in 2008 but, I dunno, fine for a' that.  Now?  I would like to see this Mark Morford guy in person...

    He's kept the faith (none / 0) (#170)
    by Yman on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:58:44 PM EST
    The Age of Obama has brought both a terrific upswelling of general positivism and a concomitant grand lightening up/toning down of outrageous verbiage and ranting extremism among the hotheaded-dictator set, and with it the strangest thing of all: an apparent global decline in overt, easily identifiable flameballs of tangible evil.

    Still hitting the Hopium ...


    Whatever Morford is smoking, (5.00 / 1) (#172)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 02:51:55 PM EST
    needs to be recriminalized---and fast!!

    or passed around (5.00 / 1) (#173)
    by sj on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 03:05:16 PM EST
    You're a conservative... (5.00 / 3) (#126)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 04:05:25 AM EST
    ...or at least what passes for a conservative these days. That's the bottom line. You have no use for liberalism much less the inclination to defend it or pursue its aims because you are opposed to it. No wonder you like Obama so much.

    DLC (5.00 / 1) (#130)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 08:28:26 AM EST
    thinking.  "We have to move to the center."

    I don't put a ton of stock into self-identified labeling.  A lot of people that say they are "Independents" and yet attend Tea Party rallies have a clear history of voting GOP.  If there are so many people out there who are conservative (46%!) how on Earth did Dems ever win elections?  How do you explain the tax cut in that way when most people approved raising taxes on the rich?  You can cherry pick polls to the left and right to get the result you want.

    You're basically saying the United States is a center-right nation.  And yet more people are Dems than Republican (we had a 15 point advantage in 2007).  (see Digby)  Ezra addresses this point as well:

    For instance: We know that self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals, and appear to have done so for as long as we've been polling the question. But we also know that self-described Democrats outnumber self-described Republicans -- even when conservative pollsters are asking the question -- and that's been true for decades, too. So we're a conservative country ... that leans towards the Democrats? Huh.

    We are also apparently a conservative country that agrees with many of the proposals Obama has made but did not follow through with (the middle class tax cut plan, the public option).

    The one thing I think about Obama is that he does want to be "transformative."  I think he is choosing to be so by taking on issues that need a change in direction (healthcare, DADT).  I don't think he is particularly interested in changing our view of government.  In 2012 is he going to travel the country and explain progressive taxation?  I doubt it.  For those of us who view transformative change in that light, Obama has been a great disappointment, and his failings there are the reason people are concerned about possible cuts to Social Security.


    DLC (none / 0) (#146)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:02:29 AM EST
    You stated:

    The one thing I think about Obama is that he does want to be "transformative."  I think he is choosing to be so by taking on issues that need a change in direction (healthcare, DADT).  I don't think he is particularly interested in changing our view of government.

    I completely agree with this point.  That is exactly it.  I do not believe that he sees the transformation of our view of government as achievable.  However, he does see the movement of certain fundamentals policies to the left as possible.

    You may not be supporting my points (and hate that I am referencing you) but I think you stated it better than I could.


    Haha (none / 0) (#155)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 11:49:11 AM EST
    no I don't mind that you are referencing me.  I was trying to illustrate what I think is a pretty clear difference of opinion in liberal circles as to whether Obama has essentially succeeded or failed expectations.  Obama has done a lot, but the way he's done it hasn't really pushed back at right wing narratives that continue to hurt our ability to achieve progressive goals.  Maybe in 2016 or whenever people will look at the healthcare act and draw some positive conclusion about the value of regulation and Democratic policy, and we'll shift the country leftward.  In the meantime all we have to examine is what has so far occurred, and in the case of the stimulus and now tax policy, Obama has not taken on the right-wing mentality.  He's trying to get things done despite it.  

    The piece I always like to refer to is Kevin Drum's The Great Persuader.  I mean, recall in 2008 that OFA had a huge influence on the election, that Obama won big-time, and that he was known for his public speaking.  You couldn't really be blamed for thinking and hoping he was going to step up to the bully pulpit and take on some right wing tropes.


    yup, nothing here (none / 0) (#1)
    by NYShooter on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 10:15:18 AM EST
    move along.

    The GOP drank Obama's milkshake (none / 0) (#4)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 10:41:26 AM EST

    Alrighty then. I've learned my "something (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:29:47 AM EST
    new" for today:  Drink your milkshake

    Of course, Ezra doesn't believe ... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:25:01 PM EST
    any of that nonsense he's spouting.  He says stuff like this because it helps (god knows why) him advance in the journalistic profession.

    He's just like the pols.  Self-serving.  End of.

    There's no denying (none / 0) (#22)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:35:41 PM EST
    that both START and the 9/11 First Responders Bill will pass before the Senate goes home for the holiday.

    Guess I prefer the upbeat outlook on this lame duck.

    To me (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 12:42:13 PM EST
    it;s not a question of preference but rather a question of analysis.

    If you believe that Dems "won" the lame duck session because START, DADT, the food safety bill, the 9/11 Responders bill and some nominations were approved, despite the fact that the Bush tax cuts were extended and we are set up for massive slashing of government spending in February, well that is your analysis.

    My analysis is that the tax and spending issues were the fundamental issues at play and that START would have been passed no matter what (in case anyone did not notice, there has been no START in place for over a year).

    The best case for the "success" of the lame duck Congress are the extension of the UI and DADT. UI, becaus help NOW was imperative (but of course the 99eers were NOT helped) and DADT was not going to pass at all if it did not pass now.

    That's a decent argument. I do not agree with it.

    START is a nonissue in that argument for me.  


    Obama's "Aw, shucks..." (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:09:53 PM EST
    ...about low taxes for the wealthy and corporations being a pillar of Republican economic theory told me all I needed to know about how "itching" he is for a real fight, or whether he even particularly disagrees with it. That he couldn't even make the logical and moral case against that crumbling pillar, but instead just shrugged and said he'd deal with it later, wow, the emperor has no skin, much less clothes.

    And I wish Clinton had taken Obama to the woodshed on this issue, or else just kept his trap shut. For sh*t's sake, couldn't Bubba have just said, look, this is what WORKED for me, and for the country, factually worked, just DO it, push back, fight, something, anything.


    Not if he (none / 0) (#53)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:17:18 PM EST
    still thinks his wife wants to run for President someday (even if she says she doesn't).

    Otherwise, we will re-live the insanity and lies of 2008.


    Why do you assume (none / 0) (#58)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:23:50 PM EST
    that Bubba stood up and told you a bold face lie about what he believed was the right call?

    Politicians don't lie, they (5.00 / 5) (#72)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:10:05 PM EST
    parse and compartmentalize.  So, it's not that Clinton lied when he took the podium for Obama - he just didn't really discuss the Deal in a big-picture way - a way I'm pretty sure he could have easily done, but that would have killed it.  He didn't caution that the Deal wouldn't work to stimulate the economy if the next phase included spending cuts, did he?  He didn't lay out a road map for how to maximize the Deal's rather weak stimulative elements - he couldn't do that because he knows the next phase is going to start moving us in the wrong direction.

    His job was to sell the Deal - just the Deal - nothing more, nothing less.  And he did his job, bless his heart.  

    His Good Democratic Soldier act is wearing thin, as is whatever respect I had for him; I am weary of the effort to ensure Obama's success that comes at the expense of all else.  I'm tired of counting for nothing, and being treated as if I am too dumb to know what's going on.

    I'm not old - yet - and I'm not poor - yet - and I'm not sick - yet, but I am beyond offended at the growing attitude that those who are just don't count - they're liabilities.  Period.

    That Democrats are contributing to the prevalence of that attitude is unconscionable.


    No (none / 0) (#99)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:09:31 PM EST
    Clinton said:

    " I really believe this will be a significant net-plus for the country. . . And you know how I feel.  I think the people that benefit most should pay most.  That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons; for reasons of fairness in rebuilding the middle class in America.  But we have the distribution of authority we have now in the Congress and what we're going to have in January, and I think this is a much, much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January.  And I think it will have a much more positive impact on the economy."


    His support was clear and unequivocal.  There was no parsing. He said this was the best deal.

    Either you believe Clinton was lying or you believe he agrees with Obama.  Doesn't matter to me either way, but what is not valid is the concept that Clinton took some middle ground that allows one of the choices above to be untrue.

    Your choice.


    Now you are just being mendacious-- (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by observed on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 06:19:34 PM EST
    Clinton's support was anything BUT unequivocal.

    Your turn then (none / 0) (#134)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:40:31 AM EST
    Give me any quote that indicates th unequivocal nature of his support.

    Two things: (5.00 / 3) (#137)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:30:31 AM EST
    Clinton leads by saying this is the wrong direction for tax policy; later,he says this was the best bipartisan deal possible. It was a masterful veiled takedown,worthy of Marc Antony's "but Brutus is my friend"

    Here's a handy annotated version: (5.00 / 1) (#138)
    by Anne on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:39:53 AM EST
    " I really believe this will be a significant net-plus for the country

    [I won't mention the spending cuts coming in 2011, the possible cuts to entitlements, because those are going to kill the effect of extending these rates, and they're going to hurt those with the least the most] .

    And you know how I feel.  I think the people that benefit most should pay most.  That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons

    [oh, man it's just too bad the bulk of the benefit in this deal is for those who have the most];

    for reasons of fairness in rebuilding the middle class in America

    [what middle class?  does this guy know anything about what's been happening to people?].  

    But we have the distribution of authority we have now in the Congress and what we're going to have in January, and I think this is a much, much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January.

    [hey - this is a president who compromises when Republicans look at him funny, so the chances of getting the right deal in 2011 are slim to none, so this might be the best he can do before he makes it worse - and I'm not sure I can save him when it happens]  

    And I think it will have a much more positive impact on the economy.

    [if you live in Backwards World, maybe, and maybe if this is all we were doing, sure, it might help, but whatever you do, don't mention the spending cuts!  Even though Barack left for the party, he'll find out if I tell the media the truth - and then I won't get back to this podium until hell freezes over!]"

    There - see how easy it is to figure out what Bill didn't say?  He stuck to the script, like a good soldier.

    But he's done us no favors by doing so.

    And, by the way, I think what you wanted to ask for is evidence of "equivocal" support.


    First, learn to read; second,write (none / 0) (#136)
    by observed on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:22:20 AM EST
    what you mean.

    "This" being just The Deal, with no (5.00 / 3) (#114)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 07:54:15 PM EST
    discussion of how spending cuts will tank it, and quickly.

    And I think it is important to note that there is some disagreement about just how significant that net-plus would be, even if there were no spending cuts.

    So, as near as I can tell, Clinton stuck to the only talking point he was trotted out to talk about: the snapshot of just The Deal, and assuming there were no other options.

    I believe, as I stated, that Clinton went out there to save Obama's bacon, and not to discuss the overall plan, which doesn't end with The Deal, but which continues with what Obama has already stated he wants to focus on: deficit reduction - which, after passing some $4 trillion in tax cuts, isn't going to happen without spending cuts.  And since Obama refuses to be honest - or maybe he just doesn't understand - about the fact that Social Security is not a deficit-affecting program, and seems set on "fixing it," I think it's hard not to believe it isn't on the chopping block.

    Clinton sold out.  Period.  I do not for one minute believe that Clinton doesn't know what tax cuts plus spending cuts will do to this economy -and he specifically avoided that discussion.

    You can give me whatever choices you want - seems like the ones you've offered are designed only to support what you believe - so I will have to pass on playing this the way you want.

    Just look at what's actually happening, and try for one minute not to see this as having to come out to Obama's benefit.  This is really, when all is said and done, about us, about the policy that will benefit the most people over the long haul.

    I get that it's hard to admit that Obama is going about this all wrong, but it is what it is.


    I love Bill Clinton (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 04:15:19 AM EST
    But let's be honest here.

    He certainly has the experience of looking the camera "in the eye"  completely lying to it. I'm particularly thinking of one infamous intern.

    The man is a gifted politician and knows how to be believable when he needs to be.


    Because it runs absolutely COUNTER... (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 03:38:00 PM EST
    ...to what concretely worked during his presidency. Clinton was full of faults and never acheived his promise, but at least he relished the political battle to get something reasonably progressive passed, and did so without the 60 votes Obama clings to -- which tells me he only wants as easy ride, he doesn't want to HAVE to fight for what is right.

    I have concluded, from the sum of his actions, that this President is simply quite conservative in his personal leanings. I don't see any other explanation. Some grand plan? Please, that's just delusional, IMO. When he said he was itching for a fight...in two years...you could hear the suppressed laughter. This guy is a wet dream for Repubs. He is fairly conservative to start with, and on top of it he has this deep need, it seems clear, to please his abusers. It's an ailment, it really is.


    As someone (none / 0) (#40)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:49:24 PM EST
    that believes in balanced budgets, I was definitely not in favor of extending the tax cuts and agree with you completely. As for potential spending cuts, I believe both you and I could find plenty of places to begin with the scalpel.

    The antithesis of budgeting and dieting reveal their simplistic commonality. The best way of dieting involves taking in less while burning more and the easiest way to balancing a budget involves taking in more while burning less.


    NOT the time for scvalpels (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:02:56 PM EST
    Time for MUCH MORE government spending, not less.

    Depends on how you spend (2.00 / 2) (#57)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 02:23:14 PM EST

    The wars are keeping a lot of people employed who would not otherwise be.


    The wars... (5.00 / 4) (#125)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 04:02:34 AM EST
    ...are keeping people employed? Jumpin' Jesus on a Pogo Stick! Are you out of your mind? Do you not think that we could employ many more for much less and do more good without the wars? Are you saying that war is something we should pursue because it's good for the economy? If so, you can go straight to...listening to some Bob Dylan.

    Why do you support (none / 0) (#118)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:12:45 AM EST
    balanced budgets? What do they accomplish? As a matter of accounting, given that the US runs a large trade deficit balanced budgets mean increasing debt in the private sector. There is simply no other way to balance the federal budget and maintain a huge trade deficit. Why do you support ever increasing private debt?

    Susan Collins is not up for re-election (none / 0) (#117)
    by Demi Moaned on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 11:16:41 PM EST
    ... in 2012, but Olympia Snowe is.