The Deal And The Deficit

Atrios writes:

I'm quite happy bashing the media, as usual, but I think they're getting a bit of a bum rap. They're covering the deficit in large part because both major political parties are mostly talking about the deficit. If some charismatic politician with the ability to get people to point some cameras at him spent more time talking about jobs and coming up with policies for jobs and talking about those the media would be talking about that too.

The Obama Administration decided to NOT talk about the deficit when it extended the Bush tax cuts in The Deal made with Republicans in December 2010. Because they didn't, the deficit discussion now entirely ignores the Bush/Obama tax cuts. If the Deal was not struck in December, I feel confident that the stagnant economy and jobs would be a focal point of discussion now. Instead, the argument is about how much Medicare should be cut. Hell, people might have even done something about jobs and the economy. The Obama Administration made a terrible mistake when it cut the Deal in December.

Speaking for me only

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    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu May 19, 2011 at 07:28:03 AM EST
    but even before "the deal" there were mistakes made regarding the job situation. I mean we spend 18 months talking about healthcare reform. Right?

    So I would say that "the deal" is just the most recent mistake.

    BTW too bad you were too busy to be the one posting about how "The Donald" isn't going to run for POTUS.

    The only way that these people (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu May 19, 2011 at 07:50:14 AM EST
    in this White House will ever think that the deal was a mistake is if they lose in 2012 - and even in that case they will likely just act all offended that people weren't grateful that they made the deal.

    It really is interesting how completely insular and ignorant the current political class is.  They create their own reality.  They pick their causes and effects based on what they think the world is thinking, but they really haven't a clue.

    It is amazing to me - and I've said this since Obama took office - that the political class - Democrats in particular - do not understand that having Joe Schmo employed and busy is far better than having him sit at home watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh.  Is Joe Schmo worried about the deficit?  Sure he is, but it isn't because he really is worried about it.  He's worried about it because he has nothing better to do with his time as he is unemployed, depressed and bored.

    Get that man a job and he'll be back to worrying about his favorite teams' prospects in the playoffs - and won't be worrying about paying the cable bill to watch them.

    It's really even worse than that. (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by Anne on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:23:19 AM EST
    Unemployed Joe Schmo, with nothing else to do but watch TV, isn't even having the debt and deficit explained to him truthfully, so he ends up being a soldier in yet another war of lies, the one where we have to DO SOMETHING about the deficit NOW!!!  And doesn't have a clue that what he's fighting against is most likely to diminish his chances for employment and make his already marginal financial situation even worse.

    What are the chances Joe Schmo has any real understanding of what's being floated regarding Medicare?  Tom Coburn has quit the Gang of Six; why?

    The "Gang of Six" talks on deficit reduction broke down after Senators Dick Durbin and Tom Coburn got locked in a heated yelling match over Coburn's demand for extremely deep cuts in Medicare that Durbin thought would "destroy" the popular program, a Senate aide familiar with the talks tells me.

    According to the aide familiar with the talks, the senators got into a heated argument on Monday night, after Coburn demanded an additional $130 billion in Medicare, in addition to the $400 billion in Medicare cuts recommended by President Obama's fiscal commission, for a total of $530 billion in cuts for current recipients.

    "Coburn came in on Monday and said, `I want $130 billion,'" the aide says. "The conservation was heated. There was yelling. Durbin said, `I am not doing this. That destroys Medicare. That goes even further than Paul Ryan. We're not doing it.'"

    We'd like to think that getting Coburn out meant that Dick Durbin prevailed in defending Medicare, right?  Wrong.  He quit because Durbin wouldn't agree to more cuts on top of the ones outlined in the Simpson-Bowles report with which they are all fine with

    As David Dayen explains:

    Bowles and Simpson would establish a new payment system for Medicare with "modest reductions" for providers, and bargaining with pharmaceuticals for name drugs in exchange for letting them participate in Medicare Part D. But they also included that increase in "cost-sharing." That means having program beneficiaries pay for more of Medicare. Bowles and Simpson wanted to eliminate first-dollar coverage in Medigap plans, and establish a universal deductible, a single coinsurance rate, and a catastrophic coverage cap in Medicare. Bowles and Simpson only got through half of this. Their final slide says "Identify an additional $200 billion savings in federal health spending," meaning "you come up with it." They would empower the Independent Payment Advisory Board to do that.


    ... For the most part though not entirely, the Bowles-Simpson plan for health care was "make people pay for more of it." That was the baseline of the Gang of Six. Everyone at the table was comfortable with that.

    That last line just kills me.  It's a good idea to make the old, the poor and the sick pay more, but a terrible idea to disturb the comfortable lifestyles of the rich.

    And the media just keep telling Joe Schmo what they've been instructed to tell him, like the good little lapdogs they are.


    Accordingly to the NYT editorial of today, (none / 0) (#14)
    by KeysDan on Thu May 19, 2011 at 10:06:27 AM EST
    Senator Coburn "showed courage" by acknowledging that the budget cannot be put in long-term balance without new money, using a "nuanced" position that allowed him to say he was against an increase in tax rates, but not against eliminating certain breaks and broadening of the tax base, which could result in the rich paying a little more.

    Of course, the Republicans were not having it and he returned from Congressional vacation with his tail between his legs and armed with additional demands for  cuts to current Medicare receipients.   Not mentioned, but, in my view, a big factor in Coburn's new budget whack and balk  was his talk and walk with the former Senator Ensign.


    "ignorant" (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by sj on Thu May 19, 2011 at 01:59:11 PM EST
    is exactly the right word.  and "corrupt"

    I know (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu May 19, 2011 at 07:58:19 AM EST
    This is what you get when you get politicians how practice high broderism. It's all about making the beltway political class happy.

    The media... (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by kdog on Thu May 19, 2011 at 07:57:45 AM EST
    could press the jobs and income gap and common folks are hurting issues...they're the ones that are supposed to be asking the questions, right?

    The msm habitually lets the interviewee/guest define and frame the interview...they ain't journalists, they're public relations reps for the pols you're supposed to be keeping in check for us, and happily advancing their agenda, not the nation's pressing issues.  

    But being actual journalists would jeapordize their "access" and inner-party memberships...so lets talk about the guy who hit the sweepstakes for 2 mill and still collects food stamps instead, that jerk has no connects...ridiculous.

    This is so coooooooooool :-( (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Thu May 19, 2011 at 08:15:30 AM EST
    Obama To Outline Economic Recovery Plan For Middle East In Major Speech

    President Obama plans to outline an ambitious economic recovery plan for the Middle East and Northern Africa designed to spur economic growth and build on democratic reforms that began in Egypt and Tunisia and have swept to countries across the region this Spring.

    Now I'm not against Obama wanting to do something to help the Middle East and Northern Africa but I sure would like him to pursue an ambitious economic recovery plan that would create jobs here at home rather than pursue screwing seniors and retired military out of their affordable health care.  

    I can't (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu May 19, 2011 at 08:35:29 AM EST
    decide if that headline is worthy of a ROTFLMAO or a nasty comment.

    Another one of my fiftyish friends (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Thu May 19, 2011 at 08:45:41 AM EST
    just lost her job (2nd. in two months) when her entire department was eliminated and I am not sure how long I could survive financially if they made actual health care through Medicare as unaffordable as regular insurance, so I'm not exactly in a laughing mood.



    I completely (none / 0) (#11)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:48:12 AM EST
    understand. Having gone through a job loss in the last year, I certainly can empathize with the ones that are going through it.

    That there is a clue... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by kdog on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:46:48 AM EST
    of what we have to do to get Obama's attention...hit the street and stare down some of his gun barrels....if we do that, maybe we could get some democratic reforms and economic recovery for non-grifters domestically.

    Who am I kidding...we'd get gassed and tazed and chained and caged.


    You never know until you go :) (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 19, 2011 at 11:25:26 AM EST
    It's the crucible of democracy.  This administration has proven to be workable though.  The Manning demonstrations made a difference, and so did gay rights activists heckling the President :)  Have a good plan of action, organize your message well, and I don't know where you will go with this administration.  They don't like (in a good way) well organized demonstrators that make them look bad.

    Well (none / 0) (#12)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:49:54 AM EST
    if there's a large enough number of us the gassing and tazing would turn the country against him.

    There is no reason for Obama to listen to us simply because so many have already said that they will vote for him no matter what he does.


    And we're broke... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by kdog on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:54:41 AM EST
    Goldman Sachs can waive fat checks under his nose to get his attention...not an option for us.

    Hittin' the street is the only way...and too few are suffering at a level to justify the great risk to life and limb and liberty a proletariat uprising requires.


    true kdog (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by The Addams Family on Thu May 19, 2011 at 11:38:00 AM EST
    saw Chris Hedges several weeks ago in Berkeley - he has been saying for a while now the same thing you just said about hitting the streets & he quoted whoever originally said that if voting made any difference it would be illegal

    tax and deficit issues (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by beowulf on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:36:09 AM EST
    "Because they didn't, the deficit discussion now entirely ignores the Bush/Obama tax cuts."

    That's a great point BTD. Its astonishing that Republicans have had an open field to push for spending cuts only without being called out for rejecting tax hikes.  Either the deficit is the worst thing in the world or a tax hike is, they both can't be at the same time.

    The President doesn't help things when his opening offer is the failed compromise Bowles-Simpson plan (3/4ths spending cuts, 1/4th tax hikes). At the very least, he could have put up the slightly more progressive Rivlin-Domenici budget (split evenly between spending cuts and tax hikes).  

    Agreed. The "December Deal" (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by KeysDan on Thu May 19, 2011 at 12:03:13 PM EST
    that not only extended the Bush tax cuts for all, but also, went beyond Republicans most fervent hopes with an estate tax and gifting bonanza was a major misstep.  While some will continue to justify this economic blunder on the basis that the president was powerless and what else could he do, it now makes even less sense to leave the temporary conditions (two years) out of the deficit discussions and calculations. The temporary nature of the Deal should be re-asserted at every opportunity.

    Austan Goolsbee, Chair of the WH Council of Economic Advisors, was trying, unsuccessfully, to top Stephen Colbert last night, as a comedian and as a strategist.  Colbert, in his faux right-wing blowbag character, wanted big budget cuts and Goolsbee agreed (although he meekly suggested that revenues might need to be increased).  Since it may be assumed that Goolsbee's presence was to use the Colbert Report as a venue for ideas, he seemed to use it as an opportunity to show that he could top right-wing blowbags in the cutting department.

    Krugman on the debt ceiling (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by MO Blue on Thu May 19, 2011 at 12:37:08 PM EST
    But the president can't call the extortionists' bluff unless he's willing to confront them, and accept the associated risks.

    According to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, Mr. Obama has told Democrats not to draw any "line in the sand" in debt negotiations. Well, count me among those who find this strategy completely baffling. At some point -- and sooner rather than later -- the president has to draw a line. Otherwise, he might as well move out of the White House, and hand the keys over to the Tea Party. link

    Boehner did it but Dems. are told by (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by oculus on Thu May 19, 2011 at 12:49:52 PM EST
    the head of their party Dems. shouldn't.  Amazing.

    The "deal" was certainly awful... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Romberry on Thu May 19, 2011 at 05:27:55 PM EST
    ...but from the vantage point of the Obama administration it was not a mistake. In fact, unless you believe that the president is politically without a clue and that his advisers are politically without a clue and that collectively they have just been taken utterly by surprise by the Republicans, the "deal" is a roaring success. It achieved or is on the way to achieving the desired result. The current deficit hysteria (fueled early and often by Obama himself) and the pre-capitulation negotiating "strategy" on budget cuts is the desired result.

    Obama is no fool. He knows what he is doing. It's time to accept that.

    In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way. - FDR

    Medicare/SocSec included in Dec deal by Obama? (none / 0) (#22)
    by jawbone on Thu May 19, 2011 at 09:29:40 PM EST
    And all the to do about deficits is kabuki?

    Obama does like to do deals behind closed doors.