Lowered Expectations

The NYTimes Caucus blog asks "Why would the left be so accepting of the presidentís budget?" Were they?I didn't pay much attention. I was critical, but in a fairly clinical way.

Meanwhile, CNN says "Left is livid over budget safety net cuts." I doubt anyone is livid. The reason is no one really expects that much from this Administration anymore.

Speaking for me only

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    Here's a blogger conference call (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:54:44 PM EST
    with the White House about it.  Susie Madrak put it up and also took part.  I gotta love her, she can always make the suits say Uhhhh and Ummmmm a lot.

    The Wingnuthood is powerful (none / 0) (#13)
    by jondee on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:41:30 PM EST
    and thier noise machine, once it settles on a simple-minded narrative, is a nearly perfectly synchronized, repetitive chorus. And in a down economy, the many who are barely above water are emotional/intellectual sitting ducks for the scaremongering. An increased stimulus? Thats nothing but big government tring to take MORE money out of YOUR pocket. "Entitlement spending"? ditto. Raising taxes on the wealthy? ditto. Increased financial regulation, or (heavan forbid) a little much needed latter day trust-busting? The American people can't afford it..

    Meanwhile, neither Obama or anyone close to him, has the intellectual-moral chops, vision and guts to look beyond 2012 -- and help the citizenry to see beyond thier present pain -- and publicly articulate a set of democratic priorities that isn't the deeply compromised result of conservative badgering and intimidation.  


    It was very discouraging listening to the (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:57:27 PM EST
    bull about how in 2012 the economy will hopefully be stronger and perhaps some of this stuff will not happen or will be soon turned around.  They bought us an economic lost decade.  It's like watching a trainwreck, the masses are huge and the momentum is giant, if I step in the middle of it the only thing that can happen is that I will be smashed to death.  So I'll stand here and watch I guess.  What else is there to do?

    I think this administration is hell bent (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:02:45 PM EST
    on cutting our spending though because with what the Fed is doing, they are afraid they will crash our currency if they don't.  And they might, that was always a risk with what they have chosen to do.

    I don't for one minute think they are doing this though because Republicans are wearing them down about it.  We can't deleverage with how much we were leveraged by running the Fed printing press and continue to deficit spend.  It will crash our currency. Hell, it's probably going to crash anyway.


    I think many of us on "the left," (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Anne on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:04:17 PM EST
    are plenty livid, but we are also unsurprised by these policies and decisions; how could we not be?  I mean, Obama's been beating this drum for a long time, and he's made it quite clear that he has no intention of looking to the wealthy to sacrifice anything.

    The poor and downtrodden, about whom Obama claims to be so concerned about, are held hostage for only as long as it takes to extract protection for the wealthy; as soon as that is secured, the hostages become the targets.

    Many of us have lowered our expectations to the point where we expect nothing - and somehow, we get less than even that.

    David Dayen sums up the problem with the budget quite well:

    This is the problem with the entire budget. It's having a different conversation than people and policymakers are having across the country. It talks about investment when the investment is too low to make a difference. It talks about austerity when the austerity is misplaced (and focused on far too narrow a slice of the budget, magnifying the austerity in those areas). It talks about challenges and competitive grants when the real problems go basically unaddressed. It seeks a middle course on virtually everything and ends up satisfying no one. And by accepting the argument that cuts are necessary even during a jobs crisis, it makes it nearly impossible that the worst cuts can be stopped.

    And this is just the 2012 budget - this isn't even what's coming in March that's going to take us to the 2012 budget.

    Its all about winning the next election. (none / 0) (#51)
    by hairspray on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:35:15 PM EST
    I think (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 07:24:13 AM EST
    that Obama will win the next election unless he is faced with the type of challenge that Johnson faced. Right now, that seems unlikely. The wars are not even mentioned - by anyone.

    And left-leaning blogs will rally to his side when we are again faced with a choice of the devil we know or someone who is portrayed as even more devilish.

    Palin, Boehner and others who can barely put a coherent sentence together will be presented to us as the alternative.

    One problem we have is that people on the left still think that they have a home, or at least a crumb or two, in the democratic party.

    So we have no place to go.
    No expectations.
    No hope.


    I think many underestimate (none / 0) (#71)
    by rennies on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:33:03 PM EST
    Republican cunning and lust for power in thinking that they will field a Presidential candidate who will force independents and pissed off Democrats to crawl back to Obama with the "look how worse the alternative is."

    I think that (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:04:20 PM EST
    there are people who are way behind you with respect to their expectations of this President, BTD.

    You were never the kind of person who was going to fall into the trap of loving a politician and believing in promises. But there's a whole bunch of people who did and some of those folks are feeling betrayed on a whole host of issues.  That's sort of the problem with being "loved".  Betrayal is a pretty powerful and intense emotion in the other direction that is much more likely to emerge when someone loves you and feels that you've let them down.

    The President's budget is, of course, just a political statement.  It is meaningless except for its being a statement of ideology.  The House will write the budget it wants and the President will be compelled to sign whatever Congress sends to his desk.  I am not sure what the White House thinks the campaign politics are  that they are playing to, though.  The reality is that announcing that you're in favor of cutting heating oil assistance in the midst of one of the roughest winters for most of the country - including the South - seems pretty tone deaf.

    "True love dies hard" (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by lambert on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:11:43 PM EST
    But I really don't know what to say to anybody who's still in love with Obama, who thinks "he'll change," or is in it for the sake of the children, or whatever. Intervention doesn't seem possible.

    The (none / 0) (#61)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 08:01:44 AM EST
    most frequent response I see to any criticism of Obama is something to the effect that McCain/Palin would have been worse.

    At this point in time I'm not at all convinced of that.


    Izvestia has confused "the left"... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by lambert on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:09:26 PM EST
    ... with people who'd consider voting for Obama, or the Democrats, ever again.

    Did Shear listen to the conference call? (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:37:55 PM EST
    Bloggers needed information first.  They didn't ask softball questions and they wanted to hear what was really happening and what defense the White House was going to come up with.  This all only began yesterday.  Did Shear think that bloggers were going to actually work very hard to figure out everything that was going down (and it is still very sketchy what is going down right now), and then break out cussing and swearing during the conference call?

    Is it because they didn't immediately write an I hate the White House post on all of their blogs?  Most of the bloggers who took part in that conference call are very astute, none of them are the Rush Limbaugh of the Blogging Left and anything they do write up is going to be an argument that the White House doesn't want to have because it is going to be well researched, verified, and it is going to hurt!  When I listened to that conference call the silence I heard was wheels grinding like mad :)

    Remember BTD's question/dissertation on (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:24:33 PM EST
    a blogging call with Hillary Clinton?  Maybe that's why he isn't included now.  But, wouldn't be nice if that changed?  The man doesn't mince words.

    He's the future of American politics :) (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:36:23 PM EST
    After these yahoos blow everything up.  He's our ElBaradei :)

    You think he broke out swearing (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:29:15 PM EST
    in the middle of the conference :)  I would die laughing

    He didn't. Ms. Clinton complimented (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:55:12 PM EST
    him--once she got a word in edgewise.  Quite impressive.

    I need to find it (none / 0) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:05:45 PM EST
    I don't remember hearing it though I probably did.  I seem to remember something about her complimenting him, there was so much going on then.

    I searched but can't find it. (none / 0) (#50)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:27:57 PM EST
    I stopped expecting anything (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:51:50 PM EST
    from him in the fall of 2007. And yet I still didn't think he would be this terrible.

    Yes, well (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:35:02 PM EST
    I am originally from the St. Louis and Southern Illinois area, and have spent tons of time with relatives in Chicago.  I was always leery of him because he came up so quickly in Chicago politics (which you virtually cannot do without being beholden to the the Chicago Machine).  I voted for Kucinich in the Primary because I'm a real leftist, but I voted for Obama in the General- with enormous reservations.  Unfortunately, he has been even worse than my worst fears.  

    DFA Roe v. Wade! (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:55:58 PM EST
    That was right after his (none / 0) (#32)
    by observed on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:39:23 PM EST
    camp said Hillary would nuke Pakistan if elected. Those were the days.

    Because (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:57:22 PM EST
    They don't want to criticize him too badly and make him look weak for 2012.  Never mind that he actually IS weak - it's all about optics.

    Every frigging thing (none / 0) (#30)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:37:11 PM EST
    is always about politics, jb.

    I know (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:56:54 PM EST
    The Secretary of Labor just had an op-ed last week about how great union workers are and how they help our country, yada yada yada.  It was printed in the Detroit Free Press ahead of her visit.  A family member works for the DoL - I asked why that wasn't posted in papers in cities where it wouldn't be preaching to the choir.  I was told it was politically smart to do it in Detroit.

    Um, no.  I think that message needs to printed in Southern papers and in the WaPo, the NYT, etc.

    Makes me sick.  These are people's lives we are talking about!


    The message (none / 0) (#41)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:02:52 PM EST
    gets "massaged" depending upon whom "they" think the recipient is.  Always has been, always will be.  Unless there are enough of us to change things.

    funny (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:50:08 PM EST
    I think the "official" left has seemed to be pretty accepting.  I have seen and read people saying things like how wonderful that education spending was increased.

    The "official" left (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:06:36 PM EST
    may be pretty accepting, but as far as I'm concerned, they're not the "real" left.  I am, and I'm not happy.  But then, I'm "the left of the left," I guess.

    Well, the Obama budget (none / 0) (#5)
    by KeysDan on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:06:35 PM EST
    will not "slash or cut" social security, although my guess is that he does not consider raising eligibility age to be a slash or cut, giving a weaseling out.   And, it does not seem as if he is really opposed to slashing and cutting social security benefits, he is just not going to do it all by himself--a nice bipartisan commission on the other hand....

    Boehner says that Social Security (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:10:02 PM EST
    and Medicare are on the table.  Obama doesn't really have to do a thing in his budget.  All he has to do is sign the budget bill when it gets to his desk.  Keep that in mind.  

    I sure wish he would :) (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:16:12 PM EST
    who knows, he probably does.  He sits in some backroom some place with Geithner and Bernanke and discuss how you can save our currency when the Fed is doing what it is doing.  You will have to make America look like a good investment to investors and we have too much debt, we must cut cut cut spending everywhere.

    With that single goal in mind Obama then meets with his reelection crew, and they figure out how to best accomplish that while making the Republicans look like the villains.  We will start out being angry with him, but in the end if Boehner does his part Obama will end up looking like the lesser of two evils and hopes to get reelected on that.


    I don't think that an intra-party (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:14:58 PM EST
    revolt is an impossibility, though.  How that plays out is anyone's guess, but I am pretty sure that no Democrat can win an election without a large majority of base support and GOTV.

    And, I think, cuts to Social Security really would be touching the third rail because Democrats are definitely not the only voters who care about that program.


    I have such a bad feeling about (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:22:05 PM EST
    what these yahoos have overarchingly done and are determined to do, I have no clue what to expect anything to be like this same time next year :)

    According to Mr. Axelrod, Pres. Obama's (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:22:49 PM EST
    job is to be the front man for what the guys in the back room decide is the best posture:  LAT

    Yes, I have posted this interview at least twice already.  


    Well he's doing a phucking smashing job of (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:26:34 PM EST

    He came out one day after being prepped by one backroom "Winning the Future" and educating our children, and the next week he came out after being prepped by the Fed and Goldman Sachs and now we are all going to be home schooled :)

    I wouldn't ever let me home school my kids.  That's just asking for a revolution :)


    I know that there are people (5.00 / 5) (#38)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:57:58 PM EST
    who are offended by those of us who don't believe that home schooling is a good idea, but the reality is that for the vast majority of people all home schooling does is perpetuate ignorance and poor education in families that could give their kids a better shot by sending them out to be taught by people who really know the subjects that they are teaching - and not for nothing - also know how to teach.

    The thing is that it is a reality that everyone comes across at least one bad teacher in their travels through a traditional education, but most people have had the good fortune to come across a few excellent folks too.  I went to some pretty good schools with some extremely smart people, but I can't think of a single person that I knew who possessed both the ability to teach and the ability to do well enough in every subject to cover the vast wealth of subjects and training that a kid needs to be well educated.


    I couldn't agree more (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:35:25 PM EST
    Some people lack adult self confidence though IMO, and I guess they feel better if other walking talking versions of themselves are nearby.  If your child gains expertise and knowledge that you don't have, that disturbs the power structure.  If your child chooses to have different values than you do, that disturbs the power structure.  If your child learns important things from someone else, you aren't as significant and as in control as you once thought you were I guess.

    Oh, I think Josh is getting quite some (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:00:12 PM EST
    "home schooling," based on some of the stuff you report he says and is interested in.  Good job.

    BTW, tutoree awarded me an "A" last night, based on my translating his Spanish heart candies.  


    I think his sister would disagree (none / 0) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:13:53 PM EST
    He has a very keen social intellect though.  Someone will say something on the tube or the radio in the car and he'll say, "Hey, that's racist or sexist" while I stumble along.  I'll stop for a minute and listen and sure enough, I'm old and thick skinned I guess, he isn't.

    I don't know if you have ever seen the movie The Waterboy, but the character in it is named Bobbie Boucher and he starts many sentences with "Momma says"

    Joshua seems to be very left leaning in his life philosophy.  When he shares that though his sister says, "Okay Bobby Boucher".  She got tired of my political activism streak.


    Obama was appreciative (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by waldenpond on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:41:00 PM EST
    that Boehner did in his press conference for putting SS, MCR and MC on the table.

    It allows Obama an opportunity to try and blame Repubs for doing what he wants done.  It's a win-win.


    And anyone who is surprised (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:13:52 PM EST
    hasn't been paying attention.

    I always think it's important to parse (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Anne on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:13:28 PM EST
    what the WH says:

    The only reform that the White House really takes off the table is privatization. He doesn't want to reduce benefits for current beneficiaries, but doesn't want to slash benefits for future generations. That's a key shift in language there. The President doesn't define "slash," and presumably anything that gets negotiated will be described after the fact as necessary to saving the program without "slashing" those benefits. There's also a nod to strengthening retirement security for low-income individuals and maintaining disability and survivors' benefits.

    Nothing in this approach deviates from what Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson recommended on Social Security. They called for raising the retirement age over time; the President may not see that as "slashing" benefits, though they do amount to a reduction over time. Bowles and Simpson included a progressive price indexing component, that raises the benefit for those at low incomes modestly and cutting them for moderate and high incomes. That's in line with what the White House expresses as principles. I'm sure that the White House would call any deal as simply slowing the growth of Social Security, not a benefit cut.


    If there's one thing we should have learned by now, it's that you can't take anything at face value, or, you can, but at your own peril.


    About that "slash" thing (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by cal1942 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:35:39 PM EST
    Obama says he won't cut Social Security on people 55 and older and that he won't 'slash' Social Security for future generations.

    The meaning is clear to me.

    He intends to CUT Social Security.  

    Another bit of screwing around with words.  By slash, IMO, he's saying the cuts won't be a gouge.  I don't trust him there either.  He'll never be specific about what he considers to be slashing and what's a slash to Obama will probably be a gouge to people who need Social Security to have a chance at living in some kind of dignity during their most vulnerable years.

    Any cut of any kind is not acceptable.

    Then only sacrifice that Obama can countenance is on the most vulnerable in our society.  His "regrets" are, IMO, feigned.  If he really regretted such policies he'd dig in his heals and refuse.

    The really ridiculous part of the whole Social Security matter is that the solution to insuring promised benefits is so simple.


    The solution (5.00 / 6) (#31)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:38:55 PM EST
    is to take the cap off of Social Security withholding.  Period.  Neither side will do this.

    Donut hole (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:50:16 PM EST
    Keep cap in place until you reach 250k.  

    That way, no middle class taxes have been raised....


    I wouldn't object (5.00 / 3) (#36)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:56:19 PM EST
    to that, MKS.  I would also, at the same time, increase the top marginal tax rate on general income, tax estates more highly, and treat the incomes of all those "hedge fund" managers as actual income, not capital gains.  Among other things.

    Sounds good to me (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:13:06 PM EST
    The Donut hole and the Clinton tax rates are actually do-able.....even if your other suggestions are harder...

    I would also (none / 0) (#82)
    by cal1942 on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 02:46:38 AM EST
    put dividend income back into the regular income stream.  Taxing dividends alone at a flat 15% is nothing short of a crime.  While we're at it raise the capital gains tax to something more reasonable like say 30% and tax very short term capital gains at something like 50-60%.

    And.  Forget the Bush tax cuts, let's rollback the Reagan tax cuts.  The Clinton top rate on the surplus over $375,000 is a joke, far too low.


    Yes (none / 0) (#80)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 02:22:43 PM EST
    That's the simple fix, or at least extending it to 250 or 375K, I was alluding.

    Further, even that fix is not immediately necessary.

    All of the Social Security fix thing angers me but the fact that it's a program paid for by the recipients and has nothing to do with deficit spending is a level of injustice that, IMO, is morally reprehensible.


    For anyone who thinks the these (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:57:53 AM EST
    programs are not firmly in Obama's sight, or that the Republicans aren't all but drooling over Obama's continuing pathological need to please, they really should start paying attention.

    From the NYT:

    But, Mr. Obama said at a news conference, any such compromise to address Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the tax system is months away and will first require an effort to build bipartisan trust -- even as Democrats and Republicans battle intensely over how much to cut from the current year's domestic spending.


    Now some Democrats and Republicans are re-examining whether the political risks of raising revenues and curbing the most popular social programs might be outweighed by the urgency of addressing the looming budget impact of an aging population and rapidly rising medical costs.


    The White House has already opened back-channel conversations to test Republicans' willingness to negotiate about the soaring costs of Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security's long-range solvency and an income-tax code riddled with more than $1 trillion a year worth of loopholes and tax breaks.

    The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, all but invited Mr. Obama on Tuesday to start huddling about the issues, and a bipartisan group of senators held a third meeting to write debt-reduction legislation based on the recommendations in December of the majority of a bipartisan fiscal commission established by the president.


    After much internal debate about the political risks, House Republican leaders announced that their own budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins Oct. 1, "will lead where the president has failed and include real entitlement reforms" in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

    But in the Senate, Mr. McConnell signaled a different approach. He indicated he is ready to negotiate now with Mr. Obama to curb entitlement program costs, which, along with military spending and interest on the national debt, are driving projections of unsustainable debt in coming decades.

    "It doesn't have to be in public," he said. "We all understand there are some limitations to negotiating significant agreements in public. But we're still waiting for the president to lead."


    Mr. Obama, on the defensive at his news conference, said it was wrong to say the fiscal commission's majority report "has been shelved" and said "it still provides a framework for a conversation" between the parties.

    But Mr. Obama also noted that while the commission majority was bipartisan, the dissenters included all three House Republican leaders who were members of the panel, including the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

    "He's got a little bit of juice when it comes to trying to get an eventual budget done," Mr. Obama said of Mr. Ryan. "So," he added, "I'm going to have to have a conversation with him -- what would he like to see happen?"

    How is it not clear to people that, just as with health "care," this will all be done and agreed to behind closed doors, and the Obama campaign people will then skitter out into the media like the cockroaches they are, putting their best spin ever on the travesty that will result.

    It may be time to take to the streets.


    What about raising the cap, tho? (none / 0) (#48)
    by christinep on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:03:24 PM EST
    Durbin and Conrad are working (none / 0) (#63)
    by MO Blue on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:55:47 AM EST
    hard lobbying in the Senate for the implementation of the Cat Food Commission's recommendations. The end result IMO will be that Obama will <snark> reluctantly <snark> be forced to adopt those that effect SS, Medicare and Medicaid.

    It will not be his fault. :-(


    Durbin may be to entitlements what (none / 0) (#64)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 10:09:49 AM EST
    Baucus was to health "care."

    I think it's time to snap out of it, stop gawking at the train wreck in disbelief, and mobilize.


    He's the Trans Man: (none / 0) (#18)
    by KeysDan on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:14:13 PM EST
    The transformational candidate that was transmogrified with election into the transactional president. He is now transfixed on transferring leadership in the service of compromise and deal making.

    A functioning Left Flank (none / 0) (#25)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:33:40 PM EST
    It would seem the best way to have a Left Flank that has influence is to revisit the reasons why the Left is correct on economic issues--based on its values.   Too much horse race coverage leaves the arguments too abstract.

    But Harry Reid led the way when he said Social Security was fine.  Showing why that is so is important.

    Showing that cuts in spending now--means cutting jobs now too.  Boehner helped when he said today he doesn't care if spending cuts lead to job cuts.

    Maybe everyone here knows the "basics" but it would not hurt to be reminded....And repetition, as the conservatives have shown, is all.

    More people need to make the Bernie Sanders' arguments.  "1937" conveys a lot to the insiders....But laying out the argument again and again needs to be done....

    The conservative model is:  the think tanks churn out content, the blogs repeat it, Rush and Glenn repeat it, Fox repeats again, the Republican pols repeat it.

    We need more think tank stuff--or for that content to have a wider audience.....

    Or short version (none / 0) (#29)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:36:28 PM EST
    the Left needs to be more pedantic and repetitive....

    Everytime tinkering w/Social Security (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:58:08 PM EST
    comes up, well-informed persons should reiterate why Social Security is not "in trouble,"  why Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit, etc.  Why is that so hard?  

    Actually (1.00 / 1) (#47)
    by CoralGables on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:50:08 PM EST
    it will contribute to the deficit and began doing so last year when for the first time it paid out more than it took in. All that would be fine had the government invested the extra over the years. But like a drunken sailor, that extra SS withholding burned a hole in some pockets and out the window it went being replaced by IOU's which have no value.

    The IOU's in place have to be paid. To do that the government will take on additional debt unless it brings in far more revenue or continues cutting spending. The fastest growing portion of the budget deficit is interest on the debt. That will only continue to get worse as we continue to run deficits and interest rates rise from historic lows.


    Why doesn't Digby see it this way? (none / 0) (#49)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:10:42 PM EST
    Because it's a head fake (5.00 / 5) (#53)
    by waldenpond on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:49:23 PM EST
    Social security is fine.  It needs minor tweaking to go through a bubble.

    The govt is borrowing (stealing) from SS, shoveling it out the door to the corporate pigs at the trough and then saying ...OMG SS is impacting the budget!!!! when it's the corporate welfare that's one of the problems.


    Because Digby understands that (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:35:59 PM EST
    a promise to pay....literally to sell government bonds that are worth something....is a promise to pay.  When China buys our bonds we are borrowing from them too and blowing that money too.  So, when we borrowed from American taxpayers are we going to eff them over but not eff over anyone else we borrowed from......because we'll never sell another U.S. bond again for who knows how long? Is the United States going into structured bankruptcy or something :)  Cuz if it is that's really going to screw up what we are worth in all markets :)

    They can't default on the IOUs in (none / 0) (#54)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:54:21 PM EST
    Social Security and not default on government bonds.  What do we have going on....selective bankruptcy :)

    They won't (none / 0) (#62)
    by CoralGables on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 09:54:39 AM EST
    default on the paper IOU's (I hope). We'll go further in debt to pay them. In doing so, we'll increase the amount of the budget that's used to pay the interest on the deficit leaving less money to spend.

    We should honor those IOU's, but we also have to raise taxes or cut spending or preferably a combination of both to minimize the growing problem.


    Why do you think that debt is worse (none / 0) (#65)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:27:38 AM EST
    than the debt that the Fed is creating right this minute while it is printing like mad?  This is how the horrible transfer of wealth is continuing to occur too.  And only the debt that the little people make is toxic and evil, the debt that the man behind the curtain creates in huge giant bubblious waves is the soil that all good things will grow from?  Believing in that is all a false cultish religion to me anymore.

    Debt is debt (none / 0) (#66)
    by CoralGables on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:44:24 AM EST
    good debt and bad debt is in the eye of the beholder. I once tried to help a friend get out of debt by showing her where her money was going and the amount she needed to cut back (or make more) to break even. To her it wasn't the car payment or the entertainment expenses or the rent that caused the problem, it was that her boss didn't pay her enough money and her father should send her money each month to make up for it. That's an example of someone that can't face the facts that were before her which is pretty much where we as a nation are now

    During this time of enormous (none / 0) (#68)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:59:39 AM EST
    economic disparity, homeless families, huge unemployment, and a broken economic engine, you will only damage our ability to pay anything back even more by removing money from any of the little people.  The rich must pay, and must not be allowed to shelter money anymore.  I will fight for the rich to pay their fair share.  I will fight for the poor and the middle to be untouched.  They have been touched enough, and the existing reality we live in will touch them some more still.  I will not argue that they must pay and work harder when the rich players who think they run all of us and own all of us never break a sweat.

    To answer more directly (none / 0) (#67)
    by CoralGables on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:55:45 AM EST
    I want the deficit under control. How that is handled is up to politicians whose job is dependent on being re-elected so it's unlikely to get fixed. I could fix it, if I was a dictator.

    We took a jump off the cliff with Reagan. With the second Bush we abandoned the parachute. If we don't want to splatter on the rocks we better start looking at all the numbers and quit ignoring them.


    Why do you so desperately want (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:25:42 PM EST
    the deficit under control?

    Serious question.

    Really, how many times do we have to have this conversation?  How long before it's understood that the federal budget is not like the household budget, and the world will not end if we don't get the debt/deficit/spending under control?

    I would like to suggest that you spend some time over at Corrente, reading posts by letsgetitdone, and then let's have some discussion. His posts are long, but here is an excerpt from one of them, in which he took on Paul Ryan's response to Obama's SOTU:

    To tell the truth though, neither the size of the national debt, nor the debt-to-GDP ratio are relevant to the capacity of the Government to spend either in the present, or in the future, because their size has nothing to do with the Constitutional authority of the US Government to issue currency and create money, and also has nothing to do with the solvency of the United States Government. So, not only is Ryan's comparison inappropriate, but it's also irrelevant to the real issue being raised which is the continued solvency of the Government.

    And here is an excerpt from another:

    When it comes to fiscal irresponsibility no one is better described by that term than Paul Ryan. Of course, he has a lot of company in Peter G. Peterson, the Koch brothers, and all the advocates of balanced budget amendments, Republicans and Democrats who think it's responsible to manage the US Government's spending as though it were a household or still on the gold standard. These people, who have, apparently been joined now by Barack Obama, will destroy the economic foundations of the United States, and create a nation where everyday life is "nasty, brutish, and short," and the sick "die quickly."
    Our nation is approaching a tipping point.

    We are at a moment, where if government's growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America's best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.

    Anyone who has experienced unemployment, or living on Social Security alone, or Medicare, not supplemented by other medical insurance, knows that the social safety net is no hammock, and that it is not nearly as generous as social safety nets in other industrial companies. Our social safety is the most frugal of all the industrial nations, and also the one most immersed in false economies that undercut demand and prevent the social safety net from doing its job of making recessions less punishing for poor people and people out of work and the sick. Congressman Ryan makes Mr. Potter, the banker in "It's a Wonderful Life," look like a generous man, for he means to drain America of real wealth so he can serve the job exporters he loves so well better. If he has his way, the social safety net will become a bed of nails. And if we simply leave it where it is, there's no danger of hammocks anytime soon.

    I have a feeling, though, that this will be like trying to convince someone that Obama isn't a Muslim.


    We want it under the appearance of control (none / 0) (#72)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:39:51 PM EST
    Because Moody's and the S&P are threatening to pull our AAA rating.  The Fed is printing money like a lunatic so we won't take any investment defaults still sitting on all those bank books.  But the world has had about enough of us doing that, we are starting currency wars now and inspite of all the people who refused to believe that it was going to cause commodities to go through the roof it has done that too.  Now other countries are pissed off, and they are thinking the dollar isn't so great either.  China stopped buying too.  We are buying ourselves now :)

    If we lose our AAA rating though Anne we will shortly not be able to hang onto our standing as the default currency.  If that happens to us we are fecked and will never be #1 again.  It is literally all we are worth anymore.  What is made in America other than money these days?....almost nothing.  Europe can't feck us....we sold them into the same hell we are enslaved to, but China, Russia and UAE can and they have even met together without us to disucss it :)  This is all about trying to reassure markets that we are still a good bet.


    I think this is as manufactured a crisis (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:58:16 PM EST
    as all the other ones we've seen, and Moody's and S & P are right in the middle of it.

    We are not the countries of Europe, who live and die with the euro - we are sovereign in our own currency - and we are living and dying from fear whipped up by those who will make money from that fear.

    What would be more ressuring to the markets would not be all this standing-on-the-precipice BS that is making us look weak and on the verge of default, but a strong leader or leaders who could stand up and tell the truth: that full faith and credit is not a myth or a rumor or in danger.

    But we don't have anyone like that who can be heard above the cacophony of "the sky is falling" hysteria.

    It's really po$$ing me off.


    If we lose that AAA rating though Anne (none / 0) (#75)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 01:07:21 PM EST
    The Masters of the Universe on Wall Street will not own or run the world anymore.  People will decide whether or not they want to take their calls.

    Let me add a few (none / 0) (#73)
    by Zorba on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:47:38 PM EST
    other quotes to yours, Anne.
    So what should we be doing? First, governments should be spending while the private sector won't, so that debtors can pay down their debts without perpetuating a global slump. Second, governments should be promoting widespread debt relief: reducing obligations to levels the debtors can handle is the fastest way to eliminate that debt overhang.

    But the moralizers will have none of it. They denounce deficit spending, declaring that you can't solve debt problems with more debt. They denounce debt relief, calling it a reward for the undeserving.

    And if you point out that their arguments don't add up, they fly into a rage. Try to explain that when debtors spend less, the economy will be depressed unless somebody else spends more, and they call you a socialist. Try to explain why mortgage relief is better for America than foreclosing on homes that must be sold at a huge loss, and they start ranting like Mr. Santelli. No question about it: the moralizers are filled with a passionate intensity.

    Paul Krugman


    The answer in this situation should be simple: more stimulus. But the deficit hawks have gone on the warpath insisting that we have to start worrying about bringing the deficit down. They have filled the airwaves, print media, and cyberspace with solemn pronouncements about how the deficit threatens to impose an ungodly burden on our children.

    This is, of course, complete nonsense. Larger deficits in the current economic environment will only increase output and employment. In other words, larger deficits will put many of our children's parents back to work. Larger deficits will increase the likelihood that parents can keep their homes and provide their children with the health care, clothing and other necessities for a decent upbringing. But, the deficit hawks would rather see our children suffer so that we can have smaller deficits.

    In spite of the deficit hawks' whining, history and financial markets tell us that the deficit and debt levels that we are currently seeing are not a serious problem. The current projections show that even ten years out on our current course the ratio of debt to GDP will be just over 90 percent. The ratio of debt to GDP was over 110 percent after World War II. Instead of impoverishing the children of that era, the three decades following World War II saw the most rapid increase in living standards in the country's history.

    Dean Baker

    Of course, they're just respected economists, one of them with a Nobel Prize, so what do they know? (/snark)


    Zorba, your researched (none / 0) (#76)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 01:09:56 PM EST
    solutions...though workable with defined reachable goals in sight, will damage the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street.  So that's just crazy talk :)

    Well, not my (none / 0) (#77)
    by Zorba on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 01:22:15 PM EST
    researched solutions- Krugman's and Baker's.  But as you said, if the Masters of the Universe feel they will be damaged, these solutions will never get off the ground.  I can understand why the politicians are buying into the false memes of the deficit hawks- after all, they get a significant amount of money from Wall Street, and many of them hope to work for/consult for/serve on the boards of these companies when they retire from politics, so it's sheer self-interest for them.  What I don't get is why so many average Americans have bought into this hysteria.  The slash/cut/lower-taxes-for-the-rich wishes of the deficit hawks will only serve to hurt the average American, and yet, there he is, Mr. Joe or Ms. Jane Average, always voting against his/her own economic interests.

    How do we get regular (none / 0) (#78)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 01:56:29 PM EST
    people to understand what is going on though?  This is how I know that our media if very controlled.  The real debates concerning our financial insanities only ever get a passing mention at most on all channels.  The Memes that the Masters of the Universe must have a majority subscribe to though are repeated over and over and over again.  Doesn't matter that there is no actual factual foundations for the Memes, the talking points...whatever you want to call them.

    Our country is getting to be really really really fricken scary.  Last night I was listening to Glenn Greenwald talk about how the Washington D.C. "powers" (the DOJ included) ran the gammut of illegality in planning and plotting shutting him and others down, and they felt so confident about being allowed to break laws trying to smear and destroy others that they created a powerpoint presentation selling lawlessness, and proposals selling horrible illegal services, and they were 100% comfortable doing it.


    I don't know (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Zorba on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 02:05:21 PM EST
    how to educate regular people.  Of course, there are many "regular people" who do get it, I don't mean to imply that there aren't.  But Mr. Zorba and I spent many years shaking our heads over how my parents voted.  They were intelligent, sweet, generous and loving people, but darned if they didn't keep voting against their own interests.  We couldn't budge them.  It got so frustrating, we had to stop talking politics with them at all.

    As for our scary country- yes, some frightening sh!t is going on, but plenty scary stuff has happened before.  Ask the Japanese-American survivors of our own internment camps during WW II.  Look up Joe McCarthy and the hysteria (and ruined careers) of the Red Scare.  Nixon/Watergate/the enemies list et al.  And on and on.  This country survived those and more.  I have to believe that we'll survive this (okay, call me Pollyanna).


    The cuts to the little people (none / 0) (#69)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:20:58 PM EST
    will only break our system more.  Want to understand how bad things really are, and how little will really be accomplished by hacking on the little people?  Watch this.  It is an anti Reid anti Democrat video...where that is concerned it is full of it, it was probably made by some angry collapsed hedgefund manager who didn't bet on Gold.  But it does demonstrate that in order to try to get out of this mess without taking the defaults we are killing ourselves. If you think you will cut your way out of this, you will watch us bleed to death.

    The cuts being proposed are only a gesture, they will do nothing significant other than make life harder for those it is already hard for.  They are only meant to reassure the markets.  Poor people will suffer more to reassure the markets so that the United States won't lose its AAA rating, and lose its standing as the global default currency. The Fed is printing debt so fast it will blind you.  People in "emerging markets" will starve in order to reassure Moody's and the S&P. I'm sick of it, it is the most phucked up thing I've ever seen my own countrymen participate in outside of invading Iraq.


    Maybe the Left just assumes (none / 0) (#43)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:10:59 PM EST
    that everyone already knows that, and then second guesses itself?

    Stick to basics....and repeat, repeat, repeat...


    Help paying energy bills is (none / 0) (#55)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:03:48 PM EST
    a valid safety net.

    Education grants are not.

    Whatever (5.00 / 5) (#57)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:41:09 PM EST
    You aren't number one in anything at all in the world anymore Jim other than blowing shit up.  The overall worth and relevancy of your whole nation is whithering on the vine, right before your eyes.  The kids in China, India, and most of Europe will be qualified for all the well paying jobs.  Your grandchildren will not.  They already can't afford the education to keep up as things stand right now.  I would have thought that an American exceptionalist like you would have been the easiest sell when it comes to this.

    I don't mind the government (2.00 / 1) (#81)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 06:32:51 PM EST
    spending money on educations and research.

    But don't call it a societal safety net. It isn't.


    Schools are an investment in the future. (none / 0) (#83)
    by Harry Saxon on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 02:59:42 AM EST
    And we have invested (none / 0) (#84)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 02:20:13 PM EST
    That still isn't a safety net item.

    An educated population (none / 0) (#85)
    by Harry Saxon on Thu Feb 17, 2011 at 08:48:56 PM EST
    is more prosperous than an ignorant one, but that doesn't enter into your way of thinking, apparently.