Senate Dems Name Members of Deficit Committee

Sen. Harry Reid today named the Democratic Senate appointees to the Deficit Committee:

Reid tapped Sen. Patty Murray of Washington to co-chair the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, and also named Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Republicans have until next Tuesday to name their appointees.

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    Some analysis from David Dayen at FDL (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by jawbone on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:12:00 PM EST
    Knowing who is going to be on Obama's Committee of the Twelve Caesars, the big question is:
    WHAT do we DO?

    Per David Dayen at FDL, Murray and Kerry signed a letter supporting the Grand Bargain during the debt ceiling negotiations, and Kerry said on Meet the Press over the weekend that the US must cut, cut, cut to show it's serious about deficit control.

    None of the three were part of the Gang of Six, the bipartisan Senate group that devised a deficit reduction plan this year. Baucus appeared on the Bowles-Simpson Catfood Commission, but ultimately voted against the recommendations. He also was part of the Biden talks during the debt limit. The Huffington Post had reported that Baucus wouldn't be part of the committee.

    Murray is the head of the DSCC, the campaign arm for Senate Dems, and next year will likely be consumed with protecting conservative Democrats in tight elections in states like Montana, Missouri, Nebraska and West Virginia.

    Kerry and Murray signed a letter earlier this year essentially calling for a grand bargain based on the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. Kerry was on Meet the Press this week saying this:

    Senator Kerry also endorsed that goal. The United States must show the markets that it is "deadly serious about dealing with its long-term structural debt," he said, and the way to do that is by "putting a plan on the table, $4 trillion plus, if necessary."

    None of the three are up for re-election in 2012, perhaps the most important characteristic qualifying them for the position.

    So, did Reid fulfill Obama's request that deficit hawks be members of his Poltiburo? Looks like at least one easy fold for a 7th vote. SocSec and Medicare? Medicaid? We know Obama sees "changing" those as his great goal, his homage to means or means of being more transformational than St. Ronnie.

    I think the fix is in, jawbone; I just don't (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:44:03 PM EST
    see any chance that the committee deadlocks, or can't get a majority vote on what will no doubt be punishing recommendations.

    Do you know what happens if there is a deadlock?  Who breaks the tie?

    John Kerry could not possibly have his lips pressed any more firmly on Obama's a$$, could he?  I mean, he really, really wants that SOS post, and appears to be willing to do whatever he has to to please the man who would nominate him - assuming Obama gets another term.

    My guess is the Dems will have enough "no" votes to make it look like they give a crap, that they're "listening" to the little people, but in the end, with serious faces and possibly some shoulder-shrugging, will have the one vote they need to make it all happen.

    I think much darker days are ahead, especially if, by the time we get to the drop-dead (oh, that's fitting!) date for the commission, the economy is still on life support.


    My hope is that the Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:59:55 PM EST
    go for some "revenue enhancements" (tax increases/closed loopholes--for polite company).   That should be enough to lose the six Republicans and offer a chance, a slim one, true, that the Democrats will bolt, Cat Food II will fail, and the auto-cuts will kick in.  

    If it's a tie (1.00 / 0) (#7)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:46:23 PM EST
    the triggers kick in. There is no tie breaking vote on the committee.

    Oh, thanks for that info - I'm sure I must (1.00 / 0) (#8)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:48:04 PM EST
    have known that at some point, and probably just blocked it out.

    Nothing like being shoe-horned into making a decision, huh?


    It's (1.00 / 0) (#11)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:50:36 PM EST
    compromise or triggers. Pick you poison.

    When I read (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:08:34 PM EST
    what was required of the committee (they have to look at Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security), I decided the triggers were better.  

    So, let's pray for a deadlock....we won't get it, but oh well....


    That's my take as well, altho' time will tell- (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by jawbone on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:52:19 PM EST
    Will we the public get any info or is this Super Congress Super Secret?

    If it's more like Obama's Politburo, it will be very secretive.

    As Committee of the Twelve Caesars, some egos may let info out. Or misinformation....


    Yes, Chose your poison. (A.) Hemlock (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:37:36 PM EST
    Cat Food II needs to come up with $1.5 trillion/ten years -   Cat Food II options are (a) further (beyond those of round one)  cuts to discretionary funds, (b) cuts to any entitlement programs--social security, medicare, medicaid, snap/food stamps, and (c) revenue increases (tax increases/tax loop holes). And, in any combination.

    (B.) Arsenic:  The trigger provides for a split 50/50 between security (defense, homeland security) and non-defense. There is a firewall between the two for at least two years.  Medicaid, social security and snap/food stamps are exempt from cuts.  Medicare cuts are limited to providers and capped at up to two percent.  The cuts take effect in 2013.

    The incentives for a successful Cat Food II are that Democrats do not want to see Medicare providers or other social programs cut (e.g., head start) and Republicans do not want to cut defense.

    I chose Arsenic.  First of all, unlike hemlock, there is a better antidote. It may be easier to restore, over time, as we now do, payments to providers owing to the strong lobbies, than to cut, directly, Medicare.  Similarly, other programs may be recovered. And, second of all, the security (Pentagon and Homeland Security) should be able to handle a $75 billion/year cut on their annual budgets of about $900 billion without jeopardizing the national defense.  


    It strikes me that what (1.00 / 0) (#56)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:47:10 AM EST
    may give us the great blessing of arsenic rather than hemlock (great analogy!) is the Gopers utter and total intransigence on taxes.  Our so-called Dems would be willing to cave on "entitlements," but I think they're not likely to cave on taxes.

    And they almost certainly have analyzed the arsenic versus hemlock choice the same way you have.  I think Kerry would be willing to allow the defense cuts, since he's given up on being president some day (I think...), but I dunno about Murray and Baucus, and the Forces of Darkness only need one Dem to cave.

    I'm assuming Pelosi will appoint non-compromisers perfectly happy to throw the defense budget under the bus, which may or may not turn out to be what she does.


    Agreed. Cat Food II (1.00 / 0) (#74)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:10:29 AM EST
    needs seven votes (they learned their lesson from Cat Food I's super-majority, and, after all, this is not the senate) to go forward.  The Republicans can be counted on to vote yes, to avoid defense cuts, and, at least one Democrat as well. Panetta is already squealing like a stuck pig by the very thought of additional cuts. And, at least one Democrat would join the Republicans to cut social programs.  The hope for Cat Food II failure, in my view, is for Democrats to hold out for tax  increases and loop hole closures--this is likely to make the Republicans bolt.

    Panetta has to (1.00 / 0) (#86)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:45:00 PM EST
    squeal like a stuck pig (you're right, that's just what he's doing) as a new DefSec.   If he starts off supporting cuts or even failing to squeal about the prospect, he'd go right down the drain with the defense establishment.

    So I don't take that all that seriously, and I don't know what he's saying about it uber-privately now or what he said to Obama when the appointment was being considered.

    An incumbent defsec who's got well-established control over and trust of defense and all its component parts, like Gates, can get away with it to some extent, but not a new guy, especially an ostensible Democrat.


    Agreed. (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 03:08:58 PM EST
    Any Secretary of Defense is likely to  oppose cuts and  advocate for more funding.   And, this is particularly the case for Panetta for the reasons you set forth.  I think the difference is that Panetta not only did the expected advocacy of Defense, but also, specified cuts that should be made in specific domestic programs.  That he would not do without some sense of derived authority.

    If the Politburo can take out SocSec and Medicare/ (1.00 / 0) (#83)
    by jawbone on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:41:40 AM EST
    Medicaid, Pope Norquist I may give dispensation for any sins of raising a bit of revenue in exchange the Holy Grail of Republican politics.

    IF they can cripple the New Deal and Great Society programs, even Grover will allow them to permit some revenue increase.


    IMO, not a chance (1.00 / 0) (#85)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:40:49 PM EST
    For one thing, these people got elected by actual voters who feel strongly about the tax issue and don't march to Grover's orders.  Secondly, they believe in it fiercely themselves.

    Third, their mindset is that keeping taxes at a rate that prevents full funding of the government is all you need to do.  That by itself will force even ostensibly Dem. presidents and congresscritters to cut Medicare/etc., themselves and take the heat for it all alone.

    We saw that just a few weeks ago with Obama's failed "grand bargain."  He himself offered up cuts to SS, Medicare and Medicaid in exchange for letting upper-income Bush tax cuts expire, and Boehner walked away from it because his reps. refused to go along with it.

    Taxes are all for the GOP.


    Can any recommendations be filibustered (1.00 / 0) (#77)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:30:31 AM EST
    in the Senate, or is it an upperdown vote?

    No debate, no amendments, no filibuster. (1.00 / 0) (#79)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:41:51 AM EST
    It's an up-or-down vote on whatever the recommendations are as a package, not a vote on an item-by-item basis.

    It's my feeling that any package with tax increases in it never gets out of the committee - which would trigger the automatic cuts.

    If a package comes out of the committee with no tax increases, I think the chances increase for passage by the full body.

    It really is a matter of pick-your-poison, but the general feeling among those who want to protect the safety net is that the automatic trigger may be preferable to recommendations getting a vote in the Congress.

    At the moment, anyway, it seems like the anti-defense cuts contingent is making a lot more noise than the social safety net protectors, which is worrisome, but not surprising.


    Oh, yes, let the automatic trigger happen (1.00 / 0) (#93)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 06:16:46 PM EST
    It will be hard to cut defense spending any other way....and we are so over-extended financially on the military front--setting aside the political and moral questions about being everywhere at the same time.

    As I understand it, the Medicare cuts are to providers not beneficiaries and could be re-instated.....I know, the defense cuts could be too.....

    So, play it out.....Let the trigger happen and then clean it up later....If all cuts are restored--that would be better than a Super Catfood Commission destroying the New Deal.

    So, are people going to give Kerry and Baucus hell so that they protect the New Deal?


    The fix is definitely in, (1.00 / 0) (#36)
    by mjames on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:04:51 PM EST
    either way - by vote or by default.

    But I think they'll come up with something. Murray a "no." Kerry and Max B. in support, for "the good of the country."

    Now, in a representative Democracy, the Senate Dems would have more power in teh SUC (SuperUnconstitutionalCongress). But, then again, with our current slate, who cares?

    The fix is in. And Obama is such a terrible negotiator he can't even hide how he is selling us all out - you know, pretend that he cares. He is determined to do as ordered - get rid of those soaking-the-rich "entitlements" that we all paid for.


    "unconstitutional" (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by christinep on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:27:31 PM EST
    Excuse the interruption...but, on what do you base the term "unconstitutional" in this context. It can be a neat word to toss around, granted; but, if the full Congress voted for a committee to devise recommendations to report back for the full vote of Congress--if that is to which you refer--on what do you base the conclusion of "unconstitutionality?"

    Yep, I'll confess: My pushback results from the twitch I get when words like "unconstitutional" are tossed around without more...because it is a significant conclusion to draw, and (humorless me) I take it seriously.  So, were you just joshin'?


    A neat word? (1.00 / 0) (#41)
    by mjames on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:11:22 PM EST
    How about if the full Congress voted to strip you of your citizenship? Would that be constitutional?  After all, the full Congress so voted.

    This Congress and government as currently operating have no relationship to the Constitution. How about Libya? Did the full Congress authorize that war? Because, if not, that is unconstitutional.

    This Congress continues to abdicate its Constitutional duties. This is an up-or-down vote and the committee is not representative (percentage-wise) of either the House or the Senate.

    You seriously want to defend these actions of a Democratic Party throwing away its basic principles?  


    Take a deep breath (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by christinep on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:24:54 PM EST
    Your first sentence has no factual support...as written, it is a conclusion.

    Look, both my husband & I have taught constitutional law in the past.  That doesn't mean we know everything; nor does it mean we even know a lot. What it does mean is that we do have some acquaintance with the Constitution. And, for me, you just happened to step on a "one last nerve" kind of thing...that is, the ole' expansive conclusion without specific factual support. You have stated your conclusions; and, you most certainly have a right to do it. But, without more, could you separate out your feelings & associated conclusions from these broad-brush conclusions? Please. (I know; I'm being picky.)

    BTW, the fact that Congress authorizes--as it did here by voting on the agreement--a committee that votes on its recommendations has nothing to do with constitutionality. It is an appropriate delegation, with ultimate voting authority retained in the Congress. Congress gets to authorize committees with appropriate voting & recommending authority. Whether we like it or not.


    Well, quite frankly, you are wrong (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:01:52 PM EST
    Congress can vote on anything. It doesn't make it constitutional or unconstitutional. Congress makes the bill, the president has to sign it (he/she can veto but then there has to be an override) and then there can be court challenges in which case the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the law.

    The fact that congress does anything doesn't mean anything in regard to constitutionality of anything.

    So, hyperbole aside, take a deep breath please.


    Sandy Levinson at Balkinization (1.00 / 0) (#42)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:20:26 PM EST
    had some rather pointed comments about this (my bold):

    But even more telling with regard to regime change is the further diminution of Congress as a serious law-making or deliberative body. (Nothing new here; Carl Schmitt would certainly understand how and why that has happened.) We are to be effectively governed in the next several months by the new super-duper committee of six Republicans and six Democrats who will be able to propose fast-track budget cuts (or, in theory but not in fact, tax increases) that Congress must vote up or down on, with no possibility for amendment. Lest one compare this to other fast-track procedures, such as the base-closing commissions and the like, note that the failure of Congress to acquiesce to the wishes of their new masters will lead to killing the hostages, in this case automatic budget cuts in defense and in programs involvng the vulnerable.

    As I wrote yesterday, this literally makes no sense IF one believes that our current defense budget makes sense (and, of course, if one is a bleeding heart who believes that the suffering should receive help instead of being left to their own prospects in a Darwinian free market). This is not the way a serious Republican Form of Government operates. It is the way a "constitutional dictatorship" takes further (and suitably complext) form. In any event, political terrorism will have been "normalized."

    In this context, I'm happy to echo the words of a Texas Republican Representatives, Michael C. Burgess: "I hate it, I hate it, I hate it with a passion." This comes, suitably enough, from a story in today's Times on how "Lawmakers in Both Parties Fear that New Budget Panel Will Erode Authority." Yes, indeed. It represents a new version of "delegation run riot," though this time the delegation is not to the Executive Branch, but, rather, to an insider's club of less than 5% of the entire Congress, whose members will be appointed by the Speaker, the House Minority leader (Nancy Pelosi), and the Senate majority and minority leaders, with, one presumes, no formal approval by the House or Senate itself. Why would anyone who has any lingering belief in democracy, representative government, or a Republican Form of Government believe this is a good idea?

    Good question, indeed.


    I think this whole process long ago (1.00 / 0) (#57)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:49:40 AM EST
    passed constitutional muster with the base-closing commission, which operated exactly the same way.  It's a non-issue, and you're right to discard the cries of "unconstitutional."

    Actually, it doesn't work "just like" (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 07:38:08 AM EST
    the base-closing procedure, which was kind of the point of Sandy Levinson's comments that I posted, above - the committee charged with making decisions about base closings does not also have hanging over its head what happens if they can't vote to close a base, do they?  There's nothing along the lines of, for example, "if the committee cannot vote to close a base, that will automatically trigger an across-the-board reduction in funding for all bases" - is there?

    The only similarity between these two committees is that 12 people are making decisions for the entire Congress to vote on.  Whether that is constitutional or not is maybe less important than the trend to putting decisions in the hands of a few, with a take-it-as-is-or-leave-it vote by the entire body.

    I don't see how it can be seen as anything less than rigging some kind of result that would be unlikely to occur with the full participation of the entire body under the "normal" rules.


    Obama is a terrble negotiator only if he did not (1.00 / 0) (#84)
    by jawbone on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:45:34 AM EST
    WANT to do the things he's brought to fruition.

    He wanted a debt ceiling "crisis" in order to get at SocSec and Medicare. It got out of control a bit, but he now has his Cat Food Commission II in the form of the Committee of the Twelve Caesars (aka Politburo). He got his deficit hawks from the Senate.

    How is that bad negotiating? Given his objectives?

    He does not work for us the people.


    I'm not a big John Kerry fan, but (1.00 / 0) (#55)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:40:47 AM EST
    I'd frankly be stunned if he went along with cuts to "entitlements."  But it doesn't matter in the end because I think your analysis of Patty Murray is spot on (whatever her personal beliefs, she's got to protect the pols she's charged with protecting) and of course, Max Baucus is an easy vote, seems to me, for "cut, cut, cut" no matter who it hurts.

    Definitely not a fan of Baucus (1.00 / 0) (#65)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 06:04:56 AM EST
    Yet, I do think on this occasion you may be judging him unfairly. He was a no vote on the Simpson/Bowles recommendations.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, incoming House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Republican, said they will vote against the plan tomorrow.

    The recommendations are "wrong for Montana and wrong for rural communities across the country," Baucus of Montana said in a statement. While reducing the deficit is "imperative," he said, "we cannot cut the deficit at the expense of veterans, seniors, ranchers, farmers and hard-working families." link

    I think Kerry is the one who will dance to Obama's tune much the same as Durbin did.


    Did the deal require the Dems to go first (1.00 / 0) (#78)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:38:16 AM EST
    in naming Senate members of the commission?

    Better to have Boxer than Murray--both are West Coast.

    Kerry--he is not immune to pressure from Liberals.  


    I don't know, MKS - Kerry really (1.00 / 0) (#80)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:45:55 AM EST
    wants to be SOS in a second Obama term, so I guess the question is whether he puts his own ambition ahead of the welfare of millions of people who depend on the safety net...I don't know whether liberal pressure wins out over Obama pressure, and wht may be Kerry's last chance to get a Cabinet position he's always wanted.

    I could be wrong, but (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:47:22 PM EST
    Kerry, ravenously ambitious as he is, also has some firm bottom line principles on stuff like this that I just don't see him being willing to bend on.

    Well...he did come out in favor of (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 02:08:01 PM EST
    the Simpson-Bowles report, if that means anything.

    Maybe he gets to be the principled "no" vote; can I tell you how sick I am of this stupid game where it seems saving one's own a$$ is all that matters, and not doing what's really best for the country?

    Going to take a couple Advil now...


    Kerry should know better (1.00 / 0) (#94)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 06:18:48 PM EST
    Susan Rice is slated for SOS.......

    Don't sell out just to be jilted.....that's what I would tell him.....


    Good for Baucus, then (1.00 / 0) (#88)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:49:39 PM EST
    I just don't trust him further than I can throw him after the health care debacle, but as you say, that may be unfair.

    There's also now been expostulations of rage from the GOPers about Murray, precisely because they think she'll never vote to cut "entitlements."


    I'm still wondering how Baucus became (1.00 / 0) (#90)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 02:36:08 PM EST
    a BFF. Seems that someone from a small population state might not be the best for this committee. California needs representation more than Wyoming, I would think. I need to check the Wyoming Census report, find out the age breakdown there.

    True, but (1.00 / 0) (#92)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 03:26:01 PM EST
    this group absolutely has to have at least one Dem. representative of a primarily rural state or nobody will even think of the impact on rural areas, particularly but not exclusively the rural poor.  Of course, I'd prefer Sanders, but..

    Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report pulls no punches, (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by jawbone on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:22:31 PM EST
    but this post is done completely with gloves off:

    Ruin-Nation: The Obama Catastrophe

    Barack Obama finally got the grand, bipartisan consensus he's been working towards for two and a half years. His implacable, deep-seated hostility to the left half of the Democratic Party ("retarded," said his boy, Rahm Emanuel) - which includes most of the Congressional Black Caucus - transformed a 2008 popular mandate for progressive change into its opposite: a de facto center-right governing coalition of Republicans, rightwing Democrats and Obama's Executive Branch arrayed against roughly half the Democrats (on a very good day) in the House of Representatives, plus a handful of liberal Senators.

    Obama's unrelenting hostility to "entitlements," which he vowed to put "on the table" for cutting two weeks before taking the oath of office in January, 2009, came to fruition this week, setting in motion a rolling implosion of Roosevelt's New Deal and Johnson's Great Society. It is a monumental catastrophe, worthy of a Mt. Rushmore in reverse (say, deep in a guano-filled bat cave). History will, without doubt, lay this ruin of a nation at the doorstep of Obama, the corporate Democratic Trojan Horse whose complexional characteristics neutered, neutralized or outright made insane the bulk of Black America and most of those whites that pass as "progressives." (My emphasis)

    Read it all.

    I've never had issues going to Black Agenda Report (1.00 / 0) (#33)
    by jawbone on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:54:05 PM EST
    check it out regularly. Could it be the name of the blog?

    Doesn't mean they haven't (1.00 / 0) (#59)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:54:30 AM EST
    been hacked, but the site is fairly long-standing and entirely legitimate, FYI.

    Whew! (1.00 / 0) (#58)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:53:40 AM EST
    That's a terrific tirade!

    (For folks who don't know, btw, BAR has been anti-Obama pretty much from the get-go.)


    sort of on topic. (1.00 / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:08:09 PM EST
    i just today found out that pres. obama minored in economics, in undergraduate work. if this is correct (and i'm still checking that out), his actions, vis a vie the debt/deficit, are even more irritating than they already were. he either learned nothing, or has chosen to ignore that which he was taught, solely for the sake of politics.

    That's really disturbing. (1.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:45:41 PM EST
    Let us know if you confirm this - not that it will make anyone feel better.



    if that's true (1.00 / 0) (#16)
    by The Addams Family on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:03:54 PM EST
    (& i don't know how you found out, since his academic records are sealed, aren't they?), then it may be another kind of confirmation of Obama's fealty to Milton Friedman

    my take until now has been that it was Obama's economic innumeracy that made him a de facto Friedmanista, given Obama's unfettered reliance on Geithner


    Milton Friendman (1.00 / 0) (#49)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:03:42 PM EST
    The Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman?

    Ugh, ugh, ugh (1.00 / 0) (#53)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:36:48 AM EST
    "Milton Friedman the great champion of free markets was expected to preach the true faith, not give voice to doubts."

    And this was before Fox!  I see this all the time, especially on Fox Business, where fairly rational moderate conservative business/investment/financial types are paired up with the patsy liberals Fox specializes in, and end up shouting matches where all qualifiers and ambiguity flies out the window.  They end up boxing themselves into hard-line positions that weren't where they started out.


    We are so scr*wed. (1.00 / 0) (#4)
    by caseyOR on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:28:44 PM EST
     Not sure how this could have been worse. Maybe if Reid had appointed Lieberman, I guess.

    And what are these revenue increases to be? Taking away Donald Trump's tax break for his private jet is hardly comparable to forcing a Medicare recipient to pay a higher monthly premium or a bigger co-pay.

    Eliminating the gas and oil tax breaks will not hurt Exxon at all, but changing the COLA formula  to chained CPI will be disastrous for recipients of Social Security, veterans benefits, etc.

    Now, if the revenue increases are the end of the Bush/Obama tax cuts, a requirement that Medicare negotiate the prices of medications under Part D, the elimination of the salary cap on FICA deductions, taxing hedge fund operator's income as income, well okay, maybe we can talk. Sadly, I do not believe that will be the case.

    I know, if they change the COLA formula (1.00 / 0) (#10)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:49:36 PM EST
    my dad will probably not be able to buy a new car every year with his Social Security.  (He's bought 7 since he retired in 2004.)  I mean it is so important to take another $6,000 a year from me when you eliminate the FICA cap so that he can retain every cent.

    Riiight, because obviously (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by caseyOR on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:54:28 PM EST
    a man who has enough money to buy a new car every year is totally representative of all Social Security recipients.

    Forget that most people on SS live on less than $20,000/year.

    Clearly, the personal problems that it seems so clear you and your father have  should be the absolute determining factor for everyone on Social Security.

    Geez, just go to couples counseling, will you, please?


    Yes, and it should not (1.00 / 0) (#35)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:02:19 PM EST
    matter how a social security beneficiary spends the money received.  It is an "entitlement", and the person has been contributing to FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) for essentially a  working lifetime.  It is not a welfare program, yet.  And, "rich" as considered by social security would be not more than  $106,000 per year.  After that no FICA taxes paid. and benefits based on the contributions.   If, Pete Peterson, or another billionaire,  does not need his social security check he, like any other part of his income, including  federal tax breaks,  can  give it back to the federal government or  give it to a charity of his choice.

    It astonishes me how few (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:56:56 AM EST
    people seem to actually know any poor people.  I guess that just speaks to the increasing segregation of the poor from everybody else.

    Agreed. (1.00 / 0) (#70)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:58:37 AM EST
    And, do not seem to care about them.   Or, even if they don't care, they should be smart enough to care about themselves--no altruism needed to be a keen observer of  civil unrest in London.

    And let me add that if, as you indicate, (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by caseyOR on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:13:31 PM EST
    your taxable income is in excess of $106,00/year, I am not at all worried that lifting the cap will endanger your ability to survive and prosper.

    If you ever find yourself trying to survive on, oh say, $16,000/year, well, then we can talk.


    I survived on less than half that (1.00 / 0) (#26)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:26:34 PM EST
    Barely could afford to eat.  Weighed 120 pounds at 5' 10".  Personally can attest that a little hunger creates a little fire in the belly.

    Too bad that fire doesn't (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:31:39 PM EST
    warm the heart.

    It does, I have donated (1.00 / 0) (#46)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:36:37 PM EST
    my time, my money, and 47 pints of blood over the years.  I just am not going to swoon over a small change in the COLA formula of SS.

    Right-o! (1.00 / 0) (#62)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 01:01:32 AM EST
    Because you donated blood and your dad is a jerk is all the justification needed to screw elderly poor who have no resources and no hope.

    I don't expect compassion from people like you, but does your overweening sense of personal grievance make you incapable of basic logic?


    Gee (1.00 / 0) (#29)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:39:39 PM EST
    Where was your kidney-donating, car-buying father when that was happening....hmmm, me thinks this is all untrue.

    He didn't pay a lick for (1.00 / 0) (#45)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:34:25 PM EST
    my college.  His parents didn't pay for his.  He didn't realize that the state no longer covers the cost of tuition.  Because he didn't support me at that time, we didn't speak for 10 years.

    But, in the end, calling me a liar is the tackiest statement on this thread to date.

    So blue me.


    No. (1.00 / 0) (#69)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:36:45 AM EST
    You are obviously a liar, or bi-polar, from ahole to claims of compasion in 1/10th of a second, then back to ahole.

    The tackiest statement this week, maybe month, is a numskull claiming to actually know how many pints of blood they have donated, which is lame, but using it as a trump card is tacky, tacky, tacky.


    See nycstray to begin, me only (1.00 / 0) (#31)
    by christinep on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:44:35 PM EST
    When I first read your several comments here, my thought was "His argument makes some sense." But, let me say, that this comment sends a different message. Here is how I read your message: "I had to suffer, so everybody else should...because it builds character."  If that is your position, some of it is understandable...initially.  A number of us went through a lot (a lot!) and we could say "I did it, I survived; so, you'll be better for it." I really do understand that sentiment; I've known a number of people who have said the same.  But, here's the catch: In so many ways, we really aren't the masters of our fate...somewhat mayhaps...but, there are the personal disasters, unforeseen illnesses, losses, unplanned for crises, disabilities strike unpredictably, and then...there is the process of all that life brings.  Yep, there is justice.  But--oh so much more---shouldn't there be mercy! Shouldn't there be a thankful sense of "I've prevailed; and, I want to help others (so they don't have to starve to learn what I learned?)

    Please don't think me preachy. I don't mean to be. (If anything, I'm reminding myself of my blessings.) I'm just saying....


    Give me a break (1.00 / 0) (#63)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 01:04:14 AM EST
    He's talking about cutting the lifeline for the elderly poor, who have no ability to "get through a lot" or "build character" at the end of their lives when they can't work anymore.

    <steam coming out of ears and biting tongue hard>


    I think that I have been in agreement with you (1.00 / 0) (#95)
    by christinep on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:55:02 PM EST
    on this issue gyrfalcon. Perhaps, something got lost from me or whatever in translation because I definitely do not support the kind of Darwinian claptrap of those who think others have to walk through fire ( or whatnot) to show character. My vote on that issue: Those others who would disparage down-on-their-luck or left-behind or otherwise impoverished or ill people need to trade their shriveled hearts for some empathy & compassion.

    So on the one hand, ... (1.00 / 0) (#72)
    by Yman on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:03:59 AM EST
    ... a little hunger would be a good thing for the elderly, since it would "create a little fire" in their bellies (making them more self-reliant?), but on the other hand, when the same thing happened to you during your college years (and the state didn't cover the cost of tuition), you were so bitter with your father for not supporting you that you didn't speak to him for 10 years?

    You didn't thank him for "creating a little fire in your belly"?


    No, it isn't (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:42:31 PM EST
    It's important that people who actually need social security can get it.

    Is your $6,000 so important to you that you don't mind watching people starve to death?  If so, what are you doing here?


    I'm sorry, (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by mjames on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:55:11 PM EST
    that cannot possibly be true. What with his other income, your dad's tax bill must be enormous. Social Security is taxed as ordinary income. So whatever the government gives your dad, it gets right back - unless your dad is a tax cheat as well as a millionaire.  

    Bullsnot (1.00 / 0) (#44)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:30:04 PM EST
    His tax bill is almost nothing.  Maximum SS for 32 years, plus spouse, plus a pension.

    He has no debt.  They live on less than $20,000 a year (no counting medicine and the new cars.)


    An exercise in simple arithmetic... (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by BBQinDenver on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:32:45 AM EST
    $200,000 times 2.9% = $5,800, if you are self-employed and pay both sides of medicare employment taxes.  Based on your narrative, your gross annual income is $300,000+.  If you are not self-employed, then the inference is that your gross annual income is $500,000+.
      The fire in the belly has motivated you well; and I would infer, provided more than $6,000 in anger. This last sentence is judgemental -- and since I "know" you only from a few words posted here -- and not necessarily appropriate...  

    What should be obvious is that (5.00 / 2) (#75)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:30:51 AM EST
    lifting the cap on wages subject to tax isn't to make sure your dad gets to keep buying his new car every year, but to make sure that people who depend on their benefit for the basic necessities of life - not the luxuries - do not have to start making decisions about whether they can afford to eat three meals a day, or whether they can afford to run the heating system in winter.

    Social Security isn't a system where everyone who is eligible receives the same benefit - everyone's benefits are calculated according to his or her earnings - or in some cases, the spouse's earnings.  So, the person who made more money gets a higher benefit - this is not a case where the person who contributed based on minimum wage earnings gets the same benefit as the person who contributed based on a 6-figure income.

    There are a lot of retirees today who receive a benefit that is less than $1,000/month - because they didn't have high-paying jobs, or because while the good jobs they had paid well for the time, the contribution doesn't calculate out to a benefit that works in terms of the cost of living today.  

    Most retirees are already operating on a benefit that has been effectively reduced because the increase in Medicare premiums has not been offset by any cost-of-living adjustment in the actual benefit.  And other things are more expensive - food, energy, housing  - so for seniors who have had no increases in benefits - and for the rest of us who haven't seen raises that keep up with costs, or who haven't had raises at all - ground is being lost, and quality of life is falling.

    Whether one had the benefit of years of uninterrupted employment in a well-paying job, was able to save and invest, contributed to a retirement account or had an employer-sponsored pension - or - had a tougher time, and ends up without the advantage of outside income in retirement, should be irrelevant - unless you want to turn SS into a welfare program, make people ashamed to be collecting it because it will brand them as some lower form of life, and add fuel to the class war.

    For those who are fortunate enough not to need Social Security to live on, well, if your father is any example, that's money that gets spent back into the local economy - and from where I sit, that's not a bad thing.

    You asked why you should have to pay more, via a rise in the wage ceiling, but the flip side of that question is, why should you effectively get a pay raise once you make more than the $106,000 subject to the payroll tax?  What makes you more deserving of a break than the guy who makes half of what you do?

    Hey, I don't know you, and maybe you're a swell guy with a big heart, but reading the series of comments here, and others of yours, well, maybe your screen name says more than you realize.


    Maybe (1.00 / 0) (#20)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:06:47 PM EST
    Maybe if your father has all that money to blow he should donate it to making sure babies have formula or something.....just a thought.

    Maybe you can go donate a kidney (1.00 / 0) (#25)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:24:47 PM EST
    like he did.  Easy to tell other people what to do isn't it

    Well you have to admit (1.00 / 0) (#28)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:38:31 PM EST
    that coming to a place where people are truly concerned about losing their benefits -- and telling us all that your Dad's social security check is money to blow is a bit tacky and not very nice at all.

    I honestly don't care if your dad donated a leg! and I suspect if he did donate a kidney, he donated to someone he personally wanted to keep alive, not some unknown schmuck.  Either way, it doesn't make your words less tacky.  

    It doesn't give you license to be a jerk.


    Right, if you spent all of your money (1.00 / 0) (#24)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:23:23 PM EST
    before retirement you should get SS, but if you saved money, no way.  Loving incentive system there.

    Since I didn't put words in your mouth (1.00 / 0) (#47)
    by me only on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:38:24 PM EST
    maybe you should re-read.  I pointed out the consequences of your idea.

    And you're not wrong on that (1.00 / 0) (#61)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:58:23 AM EST
    and that's why SS shouldn't be means-tested.

    actually, i'm not convinced (1.00 / 0) (#19)
    by The Addams Family on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:06:05 PM EST
    that it would have been worse if Reid had appointed Lieberman

    Not sure how this could have been worse. Maybe if Reid had appointed Lieberman, I guess.

    i'm not convinced it would have been worse if Lieberman had been elected president


    They all belong on the MENTAL deficit committee (1.00 / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 07:48:27 PM EST
    Meetings at Burger King, bring your own diapers and crayons.

    I take it everyone knows (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:04:20 PM EST
    who's the most intelligent one at your link . . . . :)

    Can anyone name (1.00 / 0) (#64)
    by Makarov on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 01:37:55 AM EST
    3 Democratic Senators you feel 100% confident in stating they would hold the line on entitlements? I thought about this for a while tonight, and I honestly can't.

    Feingold might have, but he's gone. Byrd is dead. Bernie Sanders would, but he's an independent.

    So while we wring our hands and project actions and reasons as to why and how these three (Baucus, Kerry, and Murray) will eagerly embrace cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, consider if there are another three you could trust to do any different.

    I am at a loss.

    my kerry & patty pathetic illness (1.00 / 0) (#76)
    by seabos84 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:12:59 AM EST
    Kerry Kerry Kerry - I remember the Queen Anne Yuppie-0-crats coming out of the woodwork of their leafy neighborhoods in Seattle to support Kerry cuz he was electable and, how could the right wing lie about a war hero and ... Howard Dean will scare the moderately independently swinging centrists, and we'll lose!!!! (DFH! DFH!)

    That year I checked off Murray's name - who was the lying flat earther running against her ... yawn ... whatever.

    Last year I wrote in "Medicare ForAll" instead of checking off Patty Pathetic's name - and I have NEVER regretted it.

    Ya see, I still got all the right wing lies coming outta a Phake Democrat, I still got all the crap sell out votes, I still got all the Queen Anne yuppies making excuses outta their double talking yuppie traps - BUT I DIDN'T VOTE FOR IT!

    Too bad Las Vegas book makers are too smart to allow me to bet on me getting sold out.  



    Site Violation - Spam (1.00 / 0) (#67)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 07:25:55 AM EST
    The quality of spam has been deteriorating lately.

    From my Pa. congressman (1.00 / 0) (#71)
    by sneazle on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:59:19 AM EST
    H.R. 2112 just passed the U.S. House by a vote of 217 to 203.

    14% cut for agriculture research programs.
    14% cut for rural development programs.
    21% cut to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which serves predominantly low- income seniors.
    $686 million cut from WIC the nutrition program for children and pregnant women.
    $1 billion cut in mandatory conservation dollars used by farmers to maintain clean air and water.
    50% cut from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission which was intended to regulate financial derivatives.

    So if there was any doubt......

    At least my rep voted against this.

    But at least (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:09:07 AM EST
    they've increased Medicaid funding in the "Affordable" Care act.....<snark>

    Your rep likely voted against it because it would pass anyway, and he was allowed to.  If they'd needed himm, he probably would have voted for it.


    Looks like all Dems (1.00 / 0) (#82)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:20:57 AM EST
    voted "nay."

    I'm sure you're right. (1.00 / 0) (#81)
    by sneazle on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:04:31 AM EST
    There was no reference to increasing tax revenue in his response letter. Just blah, blah, blah and we must bring long term deficits under control. btw, There's an organized protest planned at his local office this afternoon. I'll be there.