Thursday Morning Open Thread

I'll be in court today. If BTD comes by, and is going to be on the radio, I hope he'll add the details so everyone can listen.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Cat Friend vs. Dog Friend (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Dadler on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:44:20 AM EST
    That's hysterical! (none / 0) (#139)
    by sj on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:25:35 PM EST
    On another topic, it's baklava (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:08:56 PM EST
    time again!
    We're making and selling baklava for Christmas, so next week I will busy.
    Fortunately, all we're making this time is baklava, not all the other stuff that we make for our food festivals.  They're small pans, sold by the whole pan.  And I have a really, really good sous chef now.  A younger woman of Greek background whose kids are now old enough that she can be at church a lot, so the two of us can whip through the pans in about three days.
    So, for those of you expecting my usual whining about all the cooking at church, sorry to disappoint you!  This one should be a piece of cake.  Or a piece of baklava.......  

    ...er... (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:25:15 PM EST
    ...do you do shipping? :)

    Sadly, no (none / 0) (#25)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:31:32 PM EST
    We're not that big or ambitious as yet.  We're just a tiny parish in Western Maryland, and all our sales are local.
    But, if I do say so myself, our baklava is exceptionally good.  

    "as yet"? (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by christinep on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:39:17 PM EST
    Looking forward to that day when your ambition overtakes "as yet."



    LOL! (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 02:00:28 PM EST
    The main problem is, Christine, if I even so much as suggest that we start mail-ordering, I would be the one who would wind up doing the packing and shipping (that's the way it always goes at our tiny parish), and I already have enough on my plate!  Not to mention that I'm getting older and more arthritis-ridden with each passing day!

    Impossible, Ms. Zorba (none / 0) (#64)
    by Peter G on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:37:16 PM EST
    to have "enough" baklava "on your plate"!

    The really odd thing, Peter (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:29:23 PM EST
    Is that I'm not all that fond of baklava, myself- it's just too sweet, although everyone else seems to love it.
    The Greek sweet I really like is galaktoboureko, which is basically a custard-like filling between phyllo layers above and below, with the syrup.  And even that, I can only eat a little at a time because of its sweetness.  

    Well, if you want to get all serious about it (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by Peter G on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:33:37 PM EST
    I agree.  I can only eat (at least now that I'm over 60) about a square inch of baklava at a sitting.

    I think that I would prefer (none / 0) (#87)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:09:25 PM EST
    galaktoboureko. I am not particularly fond of baklava either. I do, however, think Greek baklava is better than the baklava I have tasted from other countries.

    'Been thinking & reflecting (none / 0) (#125)
    by christinep on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:31:49 PM EST
    Your comment, Zorba, about the demands of food production and arthritis: Understood.  My wonderful, loving sister suffered from rheumatoid arthritis; she, too, cooked delectable wonders...of the Italian variety. The arthritis flare-ups worsened.

    So, what about writing! Writing about the culture of Greek food & the zestful life. Writing from New Day Zorba or East Coast Athena. Your recipes & tales of repasts & cultural commentary have a tasty, hearty appeal.


    Thank you, Christine (5.00 / 3) (#126)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:45:52 PM EST
    I have already typed up and saved the family recipes, which my kids have copies of, as do my younger brothers.

    I have been thinking of late that I should write down (or at least record, since oral histories are great) and save at least as much of the "family lore" as I can remember.  What I would like to do is get my younger brothers involved, as well.  We all have slightly different memories of the old stories, from our parents and grandparents.  Although, since I am the oldest, I have, perhaps, more of the memories than they do.

    Lots and lots of memories of the history of the family in Greece, on both sides.  I'm not even sure at this point how many of them were strictly factual, and how many were, at the point that I heard them, more like family "folk tales."

    Oh, and, BTW, my husband swears that My Big Fat Greek Wedding was pretty much the story of our wedding.  Although I keep pointing out to him that my parents were not that old-fashioned, and neither was my grandmother.  After all, my grandmother ("Yia-Yia" in Greek) was married three times, drove a car (unusual for many born-in-Greece ladies of her generation), worked, belonged to a bridge club and many social clubs, and certainly never, ever dressed in the traditional black "widow's weeds" and black scarf after she was widowed.  She was always fashionably dressed.


    Oh that's a wonderful idea (5.00 / 1) (#138)
    by sj on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:25:11 PM EST
    to record the memories of your siblings and you.  One of the things I am happiest about is that I did that with my Grandmother.  She understood exactly what I was trying to do, and laid out her history and memories.  A few years ago I got the tapes converted to CD and sent copies to my siblings and to my aunts and uncles.  I hadn't listened to them in a while and when I did I got an unexpected sweet surprise by hearing my parents voices.

    My Grandma also recorded the the rosary in Spanish for me.  I'm not sure what she was trying to tell me there, but I'm grateful for her prayers :)

    I think I'll try to get a digital recorder and see if I can get my sibs to cooperate with something similar this Christmas.  Thank you for the idea!


    Exactly how far (none / 0) (#26)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:34:42 PM EST
    ...are you from Baltimore, anyway?  I've been having this need to get out of the city.  I don't know if I'll be able to, but I really do want to.

    I'll email you (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:37:03 PM EST

    Hmmmmmm, ... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Yman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:02:27 PM EST
    This isn't your place, is it?

    Used to be one of my favorites when I lived in DC/Silver Spring.  They had some seriously good baklava.


    Nope (none / 0) (#41)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:31:51 PM EST
    It's certainly not.  I would shoot myself in the head before opening a restaurant of my own.  Not that I don't tremendously respect those who are in the restaurant business- far from it, and more power to them!  But I grew up surrounded by relatives who were involved in the restaurant business, and believe me, it is way, way more work than I am even remotely capable of now!

    This one is also really good (none / 0) (#66)
    by Peter G on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:40:22 PM EST
    Or at least so my friends and I think.  Attention, Andgarden ... near your new apt?

    Amazingly enough, (none / 0) (#68)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:57:53 PM EST
    or maybe not so amazingly, there are a multitude of restaurants named "Zorba," all over the country.
    Thank you, Nikos Kazantzakis (author of the original book, of which I have two copies, one in English, and in one in the original Greek), and Michael Cacoyannis, director of the film.
    Γεια σου!  (Yiasou!)

    Forget Pie Camp (none / 0) (#88)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:24:47 PM EST
    It's time to start a website promoting the Zorba the Greek Bed & Breakfast Cooking Camp.

    LOL! (none / 0) (#89)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:33:04 PM EST
    Not unless I magically become at least ten years younger, with no arthritis!
    And, truly, I know a whole heck of a lot of people of Greek extraction who are excellent cooks.  It seems to be bred into us, or maybe raised into us.  Just make friends with a local who has a Greek last name.  

    Did I miss (none / 0) (#71)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:05:13 PM EST
    The Zorba Bed & Breakfast baklava recipe?

    You want a recipe? (5.00 / 3) (#78)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:35:06 PM EST
    Sweetie, have I got a recipe for you!  Although this is for two large, commercial-sized (12 inch by 18 inch) pans.  So downsize it for home use.  And be advised that this is just my best estimate- I constantly taste and adjust.

    6 pounds walnuts, ground, but not too finely ground
    8 or so ounces plain bread crumbs (homemade is best)
    About ½ cup ground cinnamon
        "     1 heaping teaspoon ground cloves
        "      1 teaspoon fresh-ground nutmeg
    2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar.
    Mix all together and adjust spices and sugar to taste.
    4 pounds phyllo
    3 pounds melted butter
    10 cups sugar
    7 1/2 cups water
    Juice and peel of one lemon
    Juice and peel of one orange
    4 sticks cinnamon
    1 heaping Tablespoon whole cloves
    ½ of a whole nutmeg
    16 ounces honey
    Simmer all except honey together 30-45 minutes until thickened.  Scoop out spices and peels, add honey.  Reheat when ready to pour on cooled baklava.

    Butter the bottom of the pan.  Layer 8 or so phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with butter.  Add a bunch of the nut mixture (you don't want it too thick- just evenly spread out).  Layer three or so more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter.  Continue layering nut mixture and phyllo (remember to brush each with butter), and also crinkle up a few scraps of phyllo dough to sprinkle on some of the layers, every once in awhile.  When you get near the top of the pan, layer 8 or 10 sheets, brushed with butter, on top.  On the topmost layer, take a little clarified butter and use that to brush it with.  Chill the pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut almost all the way through.  We cut this size pan into 48 pieces, and I have measuring sticks for this purpose.
    Bake the pan in a 350 degree oven- this takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or so, until the top is golden brown but not too brown.  Let this cool completely to room temperature, then pour the hot syrup on the cooled off baklava.  Pour syrup slowly, letting it soak in, until the syrup is almost but not quite to the top of the baklava.  Then let it rest overnight before you finish cutting and serving it.

    Ummmmm- it occurs to me that this is not entirely an exact recipe, but only a starting point.  I do a whole lot of tasting and adjusting as I go along.  Sometimes I use more of this, less of that.
    OTOH, you are welcome to come out and observe and help!  That's how I learned, starting when I was quite young!

    PS  The reason for the bread crumbs, and crumbled pieces of phyllo, is not to cheat the customer out of nuts, but because it really helps absorb and hold the syrup, making the whole thing tastier.

    And now that I've told you our secrets, I guess I'll have to shoot you.    ;-)



    PS (none / 0) (#79)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:39:21 PM EST
    And we use phyllo from a Greek distributor who carries larger-sized phyllo.  The stuff you get in grocery stores is usually smaller in dimension, so you have to account for this.
    OTOH, my great-grandmother used to make her own phyllo.  Wonderful stuff, but a royal pain in the @ss to make.

    I can't even imagine (none / 0) (#136)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 08:00:19 PM EST
    I looked at a recipe for it once and was made exhausted just by reading it.

    No kidding (none / 0) (#137)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 08:26:48 PM EST
    I used to watch her make the phyllo, when I was very young, and it would take up the whole kitchen table (and even over the edges) as she stretched it and stretched it, ever thinner.
    No way would I ever do this myself, great as homemade phyllo is.

    President Obama hosted (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by KeysDan on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:02:21 PM EST
    Mittens for lunch in the private dining room off the Oval Office.  According to the White House, in addition to exchanging cordialities, the two men pledged to "stay in touch," particularly, if opportunities arose to work together on shared interests in the future.

    The luncheon menu consisted of white turkey chili and southwestern grilled chicken salad, perhaps as a nod to Romney's missing electoral demographic.  President Obama kindly provided his guest with a doggie bag which Romney proceeded to strap  to the roof of his car and  sped down the White House driveway.  

    For you, Kdog (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by Yman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:17:11 PM EST
    This is a great story (5.00 / 4) (#52)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:27:57 PM EST
    Glad that someone else noticed and recorded this kindness so that others could hear about it and hopefully be inspired.



    Interesting factoid: a couple in their late (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:01:59 AM EST
    40s, maybe, we're talking to us in hotel lounge in Mumbai. He sd., he worked @ US Embassy in Delhi. DEA.  Our tax $$ @ work.

    did you ask him what he (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:16:16 AM EST
    thought of David Coleman Headley? (the ex-drug smuggler and DEA informant who moved on to planning the Mumbai attacks? He might have an interesting perspective.

    Enjoy Mumbai (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:19:31 AM EST
    If you go to any of the places in Shantaram, let us know. How long will you be there? I hope you have time to go to an Ayurvedic spa for an afternoon --

    We walked through the (none / 0) (#104)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 06:10:54 AM EST
    slum so important in the novel. And along the water and Gate of India. Didn't get to Cafe Leopold. Four nights in. Mumbai. Fascinating.  Today: Goa.

    What a great place to be! (none / 0) (#17)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:55:49 PM EST
    I've always wanted to visit India, but unfortunately, I currently can't convince anyone else to go with me. I don't know why nobody else is interested in visiting one of the cradles of civilization. It took me five years to talk the Spouse into going to southern Africa, and she ended up really enjoying that, so there's still hope if I'm persistent.

    Enjoy your trip. It sounds absolutely fascinating.


    Football this weekend (none / 0) (#4)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:44:04 AM EST
    I visited StubHub this morning looking at ticket prices for some playoff and championship games this weekend. Interesting to compare the lowest prices available at the time:

    ACC: FSU - Georgia Tech $3.00
    FCS Round 2 Playoffs: Stony Brook - Montana State $49.00
    SEC: Georgia - Alabama $318.00

    ... this weekend will be tomorrow night's MAC championship showdown between No. 21 Northern Illinois (11-1) and No. 17 Kent State (11-1). Unfortunately, I'll have to miss most of it, as well as Stanford-UCLA redux, because I'll be flying back home from San Francisco about the time of the second-half kickoff.

    The ESPN punditistas already have the winner of that encounter facing off against the No. 25 San Jose State Spartans (10-2) in the former Motor City (now Little Caesar's) Bowl in Detroit, which in itself would be a compelling matchup.

    If you haven't seen Spartan QB David Fales play this year, by all means make an effort to do so, regardless of wherever San Jose ends up this post-season. With all due respect to Texas A&M's freshman phenom Johnny Manziel (who's only going to get better as he gets older), Fales has actually been the better quarterback of the two this season, with the numbers to prove it -- completing 72% of his passes for 31 TDs and 3,798 yards and only 9 INTs, for an overall 170.9 QB rating.

    Much like his team proved this season, Fales is the real deal. Further, his prospective return to SJSU for his senior year will probably elevate the Spartans to the rarified status of an early favorite next season as they move from the WAC to the Mountain West conference. He's a tough guy and at 6'3" and 220 lbs., I definitely can see him with an NFL future on his horizon.


    You can get a ticket to the MAC (none / 0) (#72)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:07:55 PM EST
    Championship for $17.89

    Does that include ... (none / 0) (#73)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:15:54 PM EST
    ... the cost of my airfare to Detroit? If it does, I'll cover the cost of my lodging.

    Anyway, it's nice to know that the MAC championship game is worth more than its ACC counterpart -- for this year, at least.


    There are now a couple (none / 0) (#77)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:32:55 PM EST
    to the ACC for $2.00

    By comparison the lowest Stony Brook vs Montana State in Bozeman has risen to $52.00


    Honest Question (none / 0) (#5)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:52:16 AM EST
    I am fine with Obama giving something on entitlements because that's what it will take to get a deal done.

    Now that this is about to heat up, my question to the TL'verse is simple:

    What would be an acceptable concession on entitlements from Obama that you could live with.  Let's put aside the notion for a moment that Obama can demand only tax increases and cuts to defense, blink and make the entire GOP go away, and give us the tax/budget structure of our dreams.

    In the real world, with a GOP who will demand concessions, what would be fair.

    I think it is helpful to set a baseline by which to judge how things are going as opposed to blasting every rumored concession as equally heinous.

    Shorter: what would be a deal you could live with?

    Questions: (5.00 / 7) (#6)
    by observed on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:59:30 AM EST
    1. Define "entitlements". Justify your definition.
    2. Do you depend on these "entitlements", personally?
    3. If the answer to 2 is no, what exactly is it worth for you to ok cuts in these areas?

    Darn (none / 0) (#8)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:04:40 AM EST
    I wish I'd waited for your comment before responding.  Your questions are complete valid and necessary.

    Why? (none / 0) (#22)
    by me only on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:23:38 PM EST
    The big three:
    Social Security

    Supplemental Security Income
    Military and Civilian Retirement

    If you have a problem with this definition, take it up the the CBO.

    I see you didn't bother to give a definition yourself.


    Why should observed give a definition? (5.00 / 4) (#24)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:28:02 PM EST
    He's not the one asking the question.  ABG created the sandbox so he should clearly define it if he's really interested in serious answers.  

    Because the definition (none / 0) (#31)
    by me only on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:56:42 PM EST
    is already provided.  It's not like were talking about a matter of opinion here.  The government defines entitlement programs not ABG or observed.

    Why the CBO? (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by Yman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:32:57 PM EST
    "Entitlement program" is simply a government program providing mandated/guaranteed/required benefits to those who meet eligibility requirements and qualifications.  Not sure what the CBO's definition is (you provided no link), but the government often has several/numerous definitions for different purposes (see "terrorism").  That being said, the list you provided id not remotely inclusive of all entitlement programs.

    I think the issue is that the term "entitlement program" has been used pejoratively as an unjustified transfer of wealth by those who wish to cut spending on entitlement programs.


    So helpful (none / 0) (#46)
    by me only on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:05:06 PM EST
    Yeah, I missed the $20B spending in "other."  I guess you consider that important.  So getting the $2.2T right wasn't enough for you?

    Not the point (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Yman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:15:34 PM EST
    But I'd try to avoid it if I were you, too.

    I simply wonder if you have a point. (none / 0) (#51)
    by me only on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:25:02 PM EST
    observed is acting like there is some mystery as to what entitlement programs are.  There is no mystery.

    Okay - let's see 'em (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by Yman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:55:46 PM EST
    All of them ... with a link to your source for the list and definition.

    Should be easy, since you're just using the "government's definition".

    I think observed's point is the perjorative use of the word "entitlement", along with the commingling of various programs, some of which generally require the beneficiary to contribute to the benefits (i.e. SS, Medicare) and others which don't require the beneficiary to contribute (i.e. home mortgage interest deduction, food stamps, Head Start, Hope or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, etc.).  One person's "entitlement" program is not another's, despite what a single government agency says (or might say).


    So you are claiming that (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by me only on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:39:54 PM EST
    ABG is using the term entitlement in the pejorative sense, or that observed is?

    I guess giving ABG the benefit of the doubt that it is a serious question is beyond the pale for many here at Talk Left.

    I took it as a serious question.  It is sad that instead of having a conversation about where the government could possibly go, we get the "oh, the name bothers me because the bid bad Republicans say it in a way that hurts my wittle feeeelings."

    ABG's question is how to address the Mandatory Spending outlays being higher than their revenue.  That is only going to get worse in the future.

    I guess I should follow sj's advice and be shallow and act like it is all a talking point problem.  


    I'm not "claiming" anything (5.00 / 2) (#75)
    by Yman on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:26:51 PM EST
    I'm pointing out that the term "entitlement program" means different things to different people.  It's not a difficult concept.

    Still waiting for that list.


    Apparently (none / 0) (#67)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:50:33 PM EST
    it isn't an act, although I think you took the question as seriously as you are able.  As did all the responders.

    The questioner, however, hasn't bothered to check-in so mayhap it was neither an honest nor serious question to begin with.


    Am I entitled to (5.00 / 5) (#38)
    by Anne on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:15:48 PM EST
    Medicare if I'm under 65 and don't have renal failure?  No.

    Am I entitled to Medicaid regardless of my income or resources?  No.

    Am I entitled to Social Security if I am under age 62, never worked or don't have enough quarters of employment, or am not the surviving spouse of a SS recipient?  No.

    Is everyone who loses a job entitled to collect unemployment?  No.

    Am I entitled to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance regardless of my income or resources?  No.

    Is everyone who ever served in the military entitled to retirement payments?  No.

    Is everyone who ever held a job in the private sector entitled to retirement payments?  No.

    So you see, "entitlement" actually does require some definition.

    And it's why most of us refer to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as "safety-net programs," because that's what they were designed to be.

    And for what it's worth, I don't think the fact that every Tom, Dick and Jane in the Congress calls these "entitlements" is enough to declare that that's a "government"  definition.  Mostly what it is is people either too lazy to be accurate in describing them, or content to call them that because it works for the agenda they're pushing.


    ^^This^^ (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:37:25 PM EST
    Thank you, Anne.  I agree entirely.

    So you are not entitled to these programs why? (1.00 / 1) (#44)
    by me only on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:01:10 PM EST
    Because you don't qualify for them.

    The definition of a safety net program is one that lets people fall through the holes in the net.

    See how easy it is to make spit up?  Yeah, I know I am not popular, but it doesn't change the fact that entitlement programs constitute what is called "Mandatory Spending" in the budget.

    I am not certain if the people in this thread are seriously ignorant or just play it up.  Are you really going to act like you don't know which programs are entitlements and why they are different than discretionary spending programs?


    Then the term "entitlement" is ... (5.00 / 4) (#55)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:52:18 PM EST
    probably a misnomer. By definition, an entitlement is a guaranteed right to access certain benefits that is prescribed by either law or contract.

    But quite frankly, Social Security and Medicare are not "free stuff" given to us by a benevolent federal government. Anne and I and many others are "entitled" to receive Social Security / Medicare at age 65 if we so desire to retire at that time, because we've been paying our payroll taxes into both programs for our entire working lives. We have therefore earned that clearly defined benefit.

    Further, Congress can only amend the federal statutes governing those two programs -- as well as for other federal retirement programs -- prospectively for future recipients, because the courts have historically prohibited any retroactive redefinition of earned benefits which have already been accrued. The only possible exception is in cases of bankruptcy, and I don't anticipate the federal government declaring bankruptcy any time in the near future.


    popular-shmopular (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:22:29 PM EST
    You get called out because you are content to think shallowly and lump vaguely similar things into the same bucket as if they were identical.  Then you act as if you don't understand why no one else follows suit.

    As this comment thread proves.  I don't know.  Maybe it's not an act.


    "entitlement" (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by jondee on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 02:34:04 PM EST
    I'm sure it's complete serendipity that a word with a pajorative connotation 99% of the time came to be promoted to describe safety net programs.

    My personal suspician is that this particular instance of propagandizing originated from the same social Darwinist, roll-back-the-New-Deal source that made the term "liberal" radioactive and introduced us all to "Obamacare".    


    The word "entitlement" (5.00 / 1) (#128)
    by christinep on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 02:43:03 PM EST
    Finally, finally...people are beginning to consider the word "entitlement" and the full implication of that misbegotten descriptor.

    A friend of mine is starting to call every benefit received by the corporate wealthy & the individual wealthy an "entitlement" as well.  Method to that madness? It does more than make a point.  Extreme overuse of the word to all levels of economic society could hasten the disuse use of that belittling term.

    How to re-label?  To me, the benefits that are earned--like Social Security & Medicare--are just that: Earned Benefits or Life Benefits.  (Think about how proposals to reduce or erase Life Benefits would sound, look, and be met?)


    The folks at places like Heritage et al (5.00 / 2) (#129)
    by jondee on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 03:17:39 PM EST
    may be be about as imaginative and empathetic as a swarm of African killer bees, but they're very organized and effective when it comes to getting their rhetoric established as the coin of the realm.



    I don't really care what we call it (none / 0) (#131)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 04:51:29 PM EST
    I think focusing on the term misses the point.  Just like folks thought calling ACA Obamacare was some big deal.  It wasn't.  People on the left just started owning it because what's in it is good and that now defines it.

    Same with "entitlements".  As long as it is understood to mean SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc., people know that stuff is good and there will be no negativity around the words.  

    On the left we spend a lot of time worrying about making sure exactly the right label applies.  "

    "I am a progressive and not a liberal!" for example.

    Well OK technically there is an argument that the concepts are different but out in the real world they are the same thing.  We should have been embracing the term liberal and defending it instead of getting into these internal battles about what exactly defines a liberal or a progressive or what have you.


    How about these terms? (5.00 / 2) (#133)
    by shoephone on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 06:02:27 PM EST
    Social security: Insurance program for the elderly, the disabled, and survivors (children and the widowed).

    Medicare: National health care for seniors.

    Two longtime programs that millions of us have been contributing into for decades. Not programs people feel "entitled" for no damn good reason, but precisely because the benefits are DUE us.

    Do those terms work?


    Of course they work (5.00 / 1) (#134)
    by christinep on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 06:24:50 PM EST
    See, unlike ABG on this issue, I feel strongly that people may not have been hearing what has been out there.  It is the old "keep your government hands off my Medicare" distancing thing to date.  When the words spoken loudly on TV and spread in big letters in print says that Boehner & the Repubs want to take away/cut YOUR Social Security, YOUR Medicare--almost with a finger pointing at them--it becomes a bit more real.  "Well, hey, they're talking about us." It gets much harder to hide behind theory, philosophy, other BS.  It gets harder to pretend that "entitlements" mean the other guy.

    Yes, it becomes startlingly real, (5.00 / 2) (#135)
    by shoephone on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 07:04:58 PM EST
    especially when one realizes it's not only Boehner and the Republicans who are involved. The whole Simpson-Bowles-Grand-Bargain scheming is at play in the Democrats' territory as well. And that's the problem. "Keep your hands off my Medicare" could be directed at any number of Democrats, including the president.

    Anyway, I was responding to ABG's assertion that the terms we use to describe the programs don't matter. They do matter. We're talking about insurance programs. People understand what that means.


    Who gets to define (5.00 / 1) (#140)
    by jondee on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:32:21 PM EST
    the words and terms of our "national discourse" is VERY important..

    As William Burroughs and Laurie Anderson said, sometimes language is like a virus from outer space..

    Planet Wingnut, for the last fifty+ years, has thrust their definitions of "socialism", "liberalism", "secular humanism", "entitlements", "Obamacare" etc etc on the rest of us over and over again to a point that the populace now almost reflexively adopts their termininology without analyzing and publicly debating the implications.


    ABG: I disagree (none / 0) (#132)
    by christinep on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 05:41:53 PM EST
    There are times when what something or someone is called can strongly influence a reality outcome. History has lots of examples.

    In the case of the so-called "entitlements," people need to hear & see what that means--e.g., the 47% film brought home a reality to many that had been there to see from proposals, positions, statements all along.  As I've noted elsewhere, it is quite significant that Boehner is being asked, finally, to name what he & the Repubs would cut/take away from the average person hearing it on TV, in the press, from friends, etc.  Not just a maybe, not even a probably.  What is it that Boehner would cut? The press asked that today.  The WH needs to keep up that pressure.  Reality needs to be hit home hard!


    I could live with (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:03:31 AM EST
    removing the cap on FICA contributions.  I could also live with lowering the age of Medicare elibility.

    I'm not willing to sacrifice the current or future elderly on the altar of Republican PPUS when those making the decision will never have to live with the consequences of their decision.


    TL is like the Senate (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:23:16 AM EST
    ask 100 and you'll get 100 different answers. The chances of getting 60 here to agree to overcome a filibuster if any cuts are involved to SS, Medicare, or Medicaid would be zero.

    What I do like is it appears SS and Medicaid could be off the table with regard to cuts to beneficiaries (although maybe not with the revenue side). With Obamacare kicking in, the age for Medicare could probably be raised as low income seniors would still be covered for next to nothing and wouldn't be surprised if things move that direction.

    Tax hikes for the upper income are a given. It's just a matter if Boehner is able to wrangle a bone and bump the level above $250,000. If it comes to a vote, enough of the GOP will already jump ship at $250,000. They can read the polls more clearly now that the election is over and the skew has come to light.

    At this point it appears Boehner may be grasping for anything more than a 1 to 1 cuts vs revenue to save face after turning down much more in the past. It will be advertised as a much higher number than 1 to 1 but many of those additional savings will be war cost savings which everyone will be happy with (except maybe McCain).


    Seniors under Obamacare would NOT (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:02:39 PM EST
    be covered "for next to nothing." Their premiums would be expensive. Low income seniors "may" receive a subsidy from the government to help pay the high premiums but that would just suck up more of the funds allocated for the program. Without moving more seniors into ACA it falls short of universal coverage.

    The law - as upheld and limited by the Supreme Court - will leave 30 million nonelderly U.S. residents uninsured by 2022, the end of the budget forecasting window. link

    The funding contained in the law was not calculated to cover millions of older, more costly Americans. Either considerably more funds would need to be allocated to the program (highly unlikely) or we would have to reduce the number of people who would receive subsidies.

    Adding older people to the employer or individual insurance pools will increase the cost for the non-Medicare population as well as increasing the cost for the entire Medicare population. These costs increase added to a lower participation rate would IMO help to make ACA an extremely unpopular program while helping reduce the value of Medicare and making it more vulnerable to being turned into a voucher program.


    Thank you for raising this (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by KeysDan on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:26:14 AM EST
    critical and timely question.   From my perspective, the so called fiscal cliff and deficit reduction deal should not include Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.  Apparently, social security is off the table, for the moment, perhaps acknowledging that it does not contribute to the deficit.

    Moreover, the immediacy for change is not present and those changes that are needed are relatively uncomplicated (e.g. President Obama's campaign comment about removing the cap and/or instituting a "donut hole."  

    As for Medicare,  the "reforms" are really, "The end of Medicare as we know it, 2.0"   The Ryan coupon clipper was electorally rejected and the present Medicare plan was affirmed by majorities of voters for both Obama and Romney.  

    Importantly, Medicare is now a turnip and it is not possible to draw more blood.  The infamous $716 billion  will be squeezed out of Medicare as a part of ACA, primarily, but not exclusively, by reducing the annual increases to providers. On top of  that, the budget for 2013 cuts spending by $340 billion.

    As for means testing, that is already occurring (cf. Premium scale)  Pushing the age of eligibility to 68 years of age, is a lose/lose plan.  The real issue is the increases in health care costs (which has slowed)--which is not necessarily a negative, in that increased costs often relate to new or improved treatments and patient care.  The ACA includes responsible evaluation of changes made and occurring--and these studies should be allowed to continue before more changes are made. Health care is also an important component of our economy, providing stable and middle class jobs.  

    Actually, the dreaded sequestration does not include benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.  This false crisis of the cliff is an entitlement masquerade party, hosted by guys like Peter Peterson, the equity fund billionaire.  Medicare 2.0 saves nothing, overall, it just shifts the burden to an already over-burdened middle class.  

    The biggest problem of the deficit is he reduced revenue owing to the downturn in the economy---the first priority should for jobs.  Then all the Bush tax cuts could be allowed to expire--that yields the magic $4 trillion, not further cuts needed to reach the grand deal except that Medicare is not cut, per Peterson et. al.  However,  with good leadership, the social safety nets could, as it should,  provide the benefits intended.


    I think we need... (5.00 / 6) (#11)
    by unitron on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:39:31 AM EST
    ...to start by letting the rabid right make up a full and inclusive list of all the "entitlement" cuts they want, to what and by how much.

    And then very publicly ask them for a revised version that doesn't involve old people and children eating dollar store catfood.


    I'd gladly... (5.00 / 7) (#13)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:52:40 AM EST
    surrender the drug war entitlement, the prison industrial complex entitlements, & the military industrial complex entitlements...just to name a few.  In the name of compromise;)

    I realize it's a serious question...but it is not a question we have any desire to address seriously...as a government or as a society.  It's a joke and we're all jokers.


    Alabama prison system is making (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:04:45 PM EST
    Army uniforms now.  They can outbid everyone.  It's disgusting.  They have discovered how to make imprisoning people profitable.  Nothing good can come of this, only abuse and corruption.....that is what is incentivized.

    Unfortunately that's not a new practice (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:21:48 PM EST
    When I was on a business trip to Alabama shortly after the Bush/Quayle presidential win, their signs were everywhere.  A few hundred feet apart all down the freeway.  When I opined that whoever put up signs should also be required to remove them, I was informed that "inmates take care of that."  At my no-doubt shocked look I was reassured that they don't have chain gangs anymore.  Uh-huh.

    At about the same time I was traveling alot to Louisiana and saw that daytime janitorial and gardening services to the State Capitol were being provided by prison trustees.  BP used LA prison labor in the spill cleanup.  It really is disgusting.  Read the article: it's even more disgusting than you think it is right now.


    I'd (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:46:29 PM EST
    be willing, although reluctant ;-), to give up the wonderful, fanciful, fun-loving, exhilarating and immensely productive war in Afghanistan @ 300 Dollars a fking day.

    I'd also free a number of political prisoners - Bradley Manning for one.

    I know that Obama likes to play with his drones, but maybe he could be persuaded to give up a few.

    But what am I saying?
    I must prioritize.
    Screw the poor!
    Go Obama!
    Obama 2012!
    That's more like it.


    Touche... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 02:04:28 PM EST
    this is a crisis!  No time for priorities or sound reasoning!!!  We're on a deadline to make sure Alice and Flo gotta wait on Mel's tables till their 70!

    Mel's gone, kdog. (none / 0) (#35)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 02:50:52 PM EST
    That poor lovable putz put a gun to his head after Donald Trump convinced the Phoenix City Council to use Kelo v. New London as legal precedent to first condemn the entire block under eminent domain upon which Mel's Diner once stood, and then turn the collective properties over to Trump Development Corp. so he could build a 40-story hotel / resort and name it after himself.

    And in case you hadn't noticed, Flo became  governor of Arizona in 2009 when President Obama appointed Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Director, and was subsequently elected in her own right after promising to save white, God-fearing Arizonans from the continued depredations of Apache renegages and Pancho Villa's banditos.

    (She further caused quite a stir in the media earlier this year, when photographers from the White House press pool caught her wagging her finger in the face of the president on the tarmac at Sky Harbor International Airport, and witnesses to the encounter swore that they overheard her telling him to kiss her grits.)

    As for the long-suffering Alice, last I heard, she had been detained by Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies after Joe Arpaio heard a rumore that she had information about the actual origins of the president's Hawaii birth certificate, before being summarily transported by bus with 300 others from Phoenix to the border town of Nogales and deported to Mexico, after she failed to provide local authorities with documented proof of her U.S. citizenship. Her son currently earns a decent living in nearby Glendale as a producer of low-budget internet pornography.

    Just thought you'd like to know.


    I meant (none / 0) (#54)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:50:00 PM EST
    to write 300 MILLION dollars a day...

    Can you believe it?


    Not only can I believe it... (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:26:15 PM EST
    ... but I also knew that's what you meant. :)

    As of June 2012, figures offered by ... (none / 0) (#57)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:18:51 PM EST
    ... the Pentagon place the cost of the Afghanistan War at $6 billion / mo., which amounts to about $200 million per day -- still an astronomical figure, no matter how you cut it. But then, what's $100 million / day between friends?

    Further, fully over one half of those costs are being attributed to Pakistan's unilateral Nov. 2011 closure to NATO of ground transportation routes into Afghanistan from the south and east, which has since required the U.S. and NATO to re-route their supply lines through those countries on Afghanistan's northern frontier in order to reprovision the forces stationed there.

    By comparison, it has also been estimated that our little eight-year adventure in Iraq cost us well over three times the aforementioned $200 million figure, probably about $780 million per day. The 2007 CBO report on the cost of the Iraq War then placed the total at $1.9 trillion, which worked out to around $6,300 per American taxpayer.

    However, that number will most certainly have to be revised upward, once we factor in the total costs of financing the war by essentially borrowing all the money, as well as attendant costs for veterans' benefits and health care through the year 2050.

    What a monumental waste!


    I read (none / 0) (#70)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:02:46 PM EST
    the cost at 289 Million dollars a day.

    56 % of all American deaths since the beginning of the war have taken place since Obama's "surge" in 2009, one of his first acts upon taking office.


    I have no idea where your figure came from. (none / 0) (#74)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:26:20 PM EST
    I'm not necessarily disputing it, because I'd have to know what other factors were included above and beyond the Pentagon's own assessment to come up with that number.

    If we include attendant socio-economic costs, which would be above and beyond the military costs of the conflict, I'd guess that the number you've offered is probably closer to reality than the one used by the Pentagon.


    Hard for me to think of anything the GOP (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:09:45 PM EST
    would accept that I would find agreeable. So I am prepared to be mad at someone.

    I won't go so far - just yet - as to say that (5.00 / 7) (#16)
    by Anne on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 12:37:21 PM EST
    you're asking the wrong question, but the thing is that the only reason these questions are being asked is because some very dishonest people in Washington with good friends on Wall Street and in corporate America have structured the argument so as to prompt the questions and force the agenda that matters to them.

    We are, in effect, being asked if we would like to get poked in the eye with a sharp stick, or get whacked in the back of a head with a 2 x 4, when, in fact, there's no need to make us choose one form of pain over another.

    The solution to the rising costs of health care is not to shift the burden onto the people who can least afford to shoulder them, nor is it to make them wait longer to be eligible for benefits.  For one thing, the more people pay for care, the less they have for other things, which further suppresses demand, and that has predictable ripple effects through the entire economy.  Further, it increases the likelihood of more seniors moving into Medicaid - which will then start the drumbeat of calls to "fix" it, too.  Third, keeping younger, healthier people out of Medicare longer means fewer people paying into the program and fewer people in the risk pool - all that does is ratchet up the cost to individuals and to the government.  When it becomes clear that these "fixes" to Medicare haven't fixed anything, the "only" thing that will appear to be the solution will be to end the program and shift seniors out into the private market.  I don't know about you, but I have a sense that that will be a real "Mission Accomplished" moment for many of the people pushing this entire dishonest argument.

    Of all the people and entities involved here, the only ones who ultimately benefit are not those the program was designed to help.

    You, ABG, have been the biggest champion of the ACA; given that it's supposed to be fully operational in 2014, don't you think it makes some sense to let it come fully into being in order to see whether it works as designed?  By all accounts, Medicare's costs have already started to come down, so why the rush to make changes?

    In case you haven't noticed, we still have unemployment hovering near 8%, and with it looking more and more like there isn't going to be either the will or the courage to appropriate anything near enough to rebuild areas affected by Sandy, I think we are looking at a real economic crisis in that area of the country.  Are the people who allegedly represent us in the Congress and throughout the administration just bored by unemployment?  Is it not sexy enough?

    That's the fiscal cliff that should be getting the most attention, not this manufactured garbage that's not fooling anyone.  Let the Bush rates expire, then extend them to those with <$250K in income.  Deal with the sequestration issue that no one in either party wants to see happen.

    And move on.  Move on to getting this economy stimulated, to rebuilding the Sandy-affected areas, and stop trying to find more and more ways to take more from those who don't have much, if anything, to spare.


    Some members of Congress have proposed ... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:18:45 PM EST
    ... to raise Medicare's age of eligibility to 67, but unfortunatly, all that will do is transfer costs to the beneficiaries themselves, in terms of increased premiums and co-payments because you're removing people aged 65 and 66 from the risk pool, and these tend to be the healthiest age demographic.

    Further, I would think that by shifting people aged 65 and 66 from Medicare to private insurance, younger people in the labor force are eventually going to see an increase in their own own insurance premiums, because the ACA prohibits insurance carriers from charging older adults more for the same amount of coverage, and people aged 65 and 66 would tend to be the least healthy age demographic in the private risk pool.

    So, whatever savings the federal government might immediately realize by raising the age to 67 would eventually be washed away over time by increased Medicaid costs to the states, etc.

    I'm already on record as stating my belief that we'll eventually be compelled by circumstances to move to single-payer, so I'd actually prefer that we remove the age limit on Medicare altogether, and let the program compete in the insurance exchanges with the private sector.

    It's well known that Medicare has much, much less overhead costs than do private carriers in general, and I think that if we're at all serious about wanting to curb waste, fraud and abuse and thus control costs in the provision of health care (which comprises nearly 20% of our GDP), I daresay that an overwhelming majority of it is to be found in the private sector.

    Forced to compete directly with Medicare for customers, private carriers would have to reform themselves, or eventually see their own share of the marketplace dwindle and whither by virtue of their own inefficiencies.


    One correction to your post re ACA (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:27:24 PM EST
    * The law says that older people can't be charged more than four times what younger people are charged to participate in the plan. link

    Oh, well (none / 0) (#61)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:31:31 PM EST
    Not more than four times what younger people are charged?  Then that's imminently affordable and okay, I guess.  {/snark}

    Yep (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:33:59 PM EST
    Especially when you're on that Social Security gravy train.  Because that's when you can really afford to be gouged.

    Thank you for the clarification. (none / 0) (#76)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:28:38 PM EST

    It's adorable (none / 0) (#63)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:36:10 PM EST
    how you think that just become something makes sense it will inevitably come to pass.

    And it's doubly adorable (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by sj on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 05:59:49 PM EST
    how the word "become" can so easily be substituted for "because".  Or maybe not.

    And it wasn't even autocorrect that did that.


    It is (5.00 / 5) (#29)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:39:36 PM EST
    no surprise that you're "fine with Obama giving something on entitlements" - ie: screwing the poor and the weak.

    It is just too bad that we don't have a president with character.


    I would accept him giving up his health care (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 02:02:34 PM EST
    and pension, he can eliminate the tax subsidized pensions and health care for all of Congress. For good measure you can throw in your right to any type of pension or health care since you think others should sacrifice for the sake of Obama's need for a Grand Bargain.

    Yes, indeed (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:12:00 PM EST
    Except that most, if not all, of our former Presidents make a good pile of money after they leave office just on "speakers' fees."  Not to mention that many former members of Congress either also go on the "speaker circuit," or wind up working as well-paid lobbyists, or join or start a lucrative law firm.  So they are not going to be hurting, for the most part.
    And apparently, removing the mortgage-interest deduction may now be "on the table."
    Now, normally, I would not have a problem with removing a lot of deductions.  And even getting rid of this deduction, if it would apply to wealthy peoples' second homes, or even if it applied to their first homes, if they are "McMansions," it would not cause me to drop a tear.  But if this is done, it will apply to a whole heck of a lot of regular, real middle-class taxpayers, and would amount to a "back-door" tax increase for those who make well under $250,000 a year.
    Raise the top marginal tax rate on high-income earners.  Treat most, if not all, capital gains as regular income (hello, I'm talking to you, hedge-fund managers, among others!).  Raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security withholding. Institute a real Universal Health Care plan, which would have the advantage of controlling health care costs, while providing decent health care to all (and I would add to this giving a whole lot of help to physicians attending medical school so they are not graduating many, many thousands of dollars in debt; I would even say, reforming malpractice insurance, as long as it did not include letting truly bad doctors to continue to practice).  Institute a real, research-driven, "best practices" reform in medical care.  Do not engage in foreign wars that do nothing to increase our security.  Downsize the Defense Department, so that we are still safe, but are not paying for things that the DOD itself has said are not necessary.  Make a lot of currently illegal drugs, legal, regulated, and taxed, and severely downsize the DEA (although at the same time, I would make sure that there would be rehabilitation available for those who want to get off of those drugs).  Reform our legal system and prison system so that we do not have the highest incarceration rate among Westernized countries, if not the world.
    I have gone on long enough, and yes, I'm a real, old-fashioned leftie.  But I do believe that we are all in this together, and those who have the most, should be willing to give the most.
    And I would direct those who think that the wealthy really worked hard, earned all their income and are somehow, therefore, better than everyone else, to Warren Buffett's musings on the "Ovarian Lottery."
    What would you bid to be born in the United States?  As opposed to Bangladesh.  Or Somalia, or the Congo, for that matter.

    Agree with your solutions (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 04:37:20 PM EST
    It just burns me up to hear all these multi-millionaires and/or people in the federal government with fantastic pensions and health care talk about shared sacrifice when they are not going to sacrifice a thing. They will be living life large while they push millions into poverty so that they gobble up even more of the pie. If there is a hell, I hope there is a very special place for these people.



    If anybody (3.67 / 3) (#85)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:31:39 PM EST
    can make me sorry that Obama won it is you ABG. Honestly, the problem is Obama will give away the store to the GOP so what does it matter what anybody here wants or thinks?

    Be kind, Obama suffers from (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by NYShooter on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:24:20 AM EST
    premature capitulation.

    Yeah I mean (none / 0) (#94)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:42:40 PM EST
    he should have sold out and screwed over the poor on entitlements in his first term like Clinton did, then he could have screwed them on deregulation in his second.

    Welfare reform? (none / 0) (#130)
    by Yman on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 03:30:15 PM EST

    Not even close.


    Ga6th (none / 0) (#106)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 06:59:54 AM EST
    I do not understand why my question offended u so.  I spent time trying to craft it in a way that did not offend.  

    Your reaction is disappointing. I think that if you retread what I wrote objectively, it wasn't all that bad.  I think it is a valid and logical question.

    I used the word entitlements but if that word offends, please replace it with the word for the items the GOP would like to modify that makes the most sense. The point is that we have certain "asks" and the opposition has certain "asks". Those asks define the scope of negotiations.  


    It did (5.00 / 1) (#121)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:46:50 AM EST
    not offend me. The problem is that you always come from the standpoint of conceding instead of fighting  for something. It's not that the question isn't logical it just comes off as another Obama is powerless to do anything type things.

    Wow (none / 0) (#105)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 06:52:57 AM EST
    I really did ask the question in good faith after reading a story about the negotiations. I realized that I hadn't quite defined what would be acceptable for me, and wanted to get some honest thoughts.

    Perhaps I will ask the question again today and streamline it so that it is more focused on my core question.


    I don't think that rephrasing the question (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 08:04:47 AM EST
    is going to generate a whole list of concessions that we think would be fair. Here are a couple of quotes that might aid your understanding:

    Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the chairman of the 77-member Progressive Caucus:
    Progressives will not support any deal that cuts benefits for families and seniors who rely on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to put food on the table or cover their health costs," he said.

    Ilya Sheyman, the campaign director at MoveOn.org
    "If this report in Politico is correct, then some `senior Democrats' are sorely misguided about where their base stands. So let me be crystal clear. Any benefit cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, including raising the retirement or eligibility age, are absolutely unacceptable,.."

    It is not lack of understanding on the part of the majority here but lack of agreement with your premise that anything other than raising or eliminating the cap on FICA would be either fair or acceptable.


    Instead of the Progressive Caucus (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by CoralGables on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:11:07 AM EST
    saying what's unacceptable, perhaps they should say what domestic cuts are acceptable or they won't even be considered in the negotiations.

    Get enough to say no to everything and taxes go up on everyone and spending takes a major hit. If the progressive caucus wants to be the caucus of no from the start, that means the first step in negotiations is to dismiss them. Nice way to make themselves irrelevant and move the debate further away from what they want.

    It's the old math issue again. You have to flip 25 Republicans in the House. If 77 Dems say no from the start, the negotiations then become trying to win 102 Republicans. It's a sure fire way for Dems to blow their leverage.


    BTW, quite a few extremely (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:36:31 AM EST
    knowledgeable people believe that the Dems leverage would go up in the short term if the tax cuts expired as scheduled and the Republicans had the choice of cutting taxes for the middle class or being responsible for a tax increase.

    More than 300 economists believe:

    Both bipartisan and conservative deficit reduction plans -- Simpson-Bowles, Rivlin-Domenici, and the Republican budget -- magically assume a recovery to "normal" levels of employment. Yet, the economy is nowhere near normal growth, and budget cutting will only retard growth. At the end of the year, we face a congressionally-created "fiscal cliff," with automatic "sequestration" spending cuts everyone agrees should be stopped to prevent a double-dip recession. That threat has led to backroom negotiations, backed by a multimillion dollar public relations campaign, toward a "grand bargain" that would maintain tax give-aways for the rich; cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and impose new, job-killing spending cuts. This is no bargain, and it should be rejected.

    Agreed. The fundamental purpose (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:19:50 AM EST
    of deficit reduction is to strengthen the economy over the long term.  A direct shift of government expenditures to individuals is not likely to achieve that objective.  In my view,  Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid should not be  a "grand bargain"  chip to get the richest to swallow tax hikes.   These programs are not just a social safety net, but the social fabric of the nation, developed over the past 75 years.  Social security brings, on average,  the princely sum of about $1200 a month, after a working lifetime of contributions (and is, essentially, an monthly stimulus to the economy); Medicare has already been subjected to economic and efficiency scrutiny, including that $716 Billion in "savings" as part of ACA, and the Obama Administration has called for another $340 Billion in the 2013 budget (which apparently has been increased to about $400 Billion in the present deficit talks), and Medicaid is already bare bones and increasingly politically vulnerable.   As Paul Krugman writes, even the poorly designed  B.S. (Bowles Simpson) started with a baseline that already assumed the end of the high end Bush tax cuts.  

    I agree with that (none / 0) (#114)
    by CoralGables on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:04:25 AM EST
    Of course that's easy for me to say as I'm not going to be hurt at all in the crossfire. Depending on how long the process takes into the new year there will be a lot hurt though.

    Yes I think the Republicans will take the hit in the long run. And if ALL the Dems are on board with it a better deal is possible with the new congress. But there are real people that will become collateral damage in the meantime including a couple hundred thousand in Head Start programs if the $1.2 trillion in cuts in the 2011 Budget Control Act start to kick in.


    They're not saying "no" to everything, (5.00 / 2) (#122)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:52:48 AM EST
    they're saying "no" to cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and SS that will affect benefits.

    Unless you think there is nowhere else in the entire US budget where cuts can be made. And Social Security isn't even a budget item, for heaven's sake.

    You seem to have bought into the assumption that it's an absolute given that benefit cuts HAVE TO be made, and the truth is, they don't.  They really don't.

    Perhaps what the Progressive Caucus needs to do is be loud and strong with proposals that really will strengthen and extend the safety net programs for many more years - if they did that, it would essentially call the bluff of those whose real agenda is the exact opposite.  


    According to Obama's own people (none / 0) (#109)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:27:28 AM EST
    "Republicans want the president to own the whole offer upfront, on both the entitlement and the revenue side, and that's not going to happen because the president is not going to negotiate with himself," the official said. "There's a standoff, and the staff hasn't gotten anywhere. Rob Nabors [the White House negotiator], has been saying: `This is what we want on revenues on the down payment. What's you guys' ask on the entitlement side?' And they keep looking back at us and saying: `We want you to come up with that and pitch us.' That's not going to happen."

    [...] [A] Senate Democratic leadership aide said Democrats are open to making a down payment on future spending cuts if Republicans would only tell them what they want.

    "The hard line on entitlements is based on the two-step process of don't do it now, but we are open to it next year," said the aide, adding that Democrats aren't going to let Republicans "head fake us into doing entitlement cuts."

    Senate Democrats say they have made their opening bid on the revenue side by pushing House Republicans to approve a Senate-passed bill to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class while raising tax rates on the wealthy.


    Seems like even the administration is at this time against what you are proposing. Maybe they are against it because listing all the concessions you are willing to make while the other side sits back and repeatedly says "that's fine for an initial offer but what else are you willing to to concede" is an extremely poor negotiating tactic.


    Mo Blue (none / 0) (#112)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:52:18 AM EST
    What is happening here is posturing.  In the last few crisis, Obama was criticized for starting with a moderate proposal and being pulled right.

    Now he has changed tactics and is starting with a more favorable position with the hopes that the final concessions will be more favorable.

    But let's not pretend that both sides don't understand that the eventual compromise will be painful to all.  I am looking down the road 20 days to what will be the talking points after the negotiation posturing is done.  

    It sounds like a majority of TL responders to the question are unlikely to be happy with any of the scenarios that are most likely to occur.  

    That says something about the difficult position dems are in with respect to parts of their base I think.


    BTW, the premise that the concessions (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:24:08 AM EST
    will be painful to all is a complete lie. The president, congress and their rich friends will experience no pain whatsoever. The politicians will maintain their extremely generous tax supplemented pensions and health care. They will be rewarded by their rich friends with large campaign contributions and with lucrative speaking engagements or careers once they leave D.C. What will the rich receive?

    "What we also want to do is engage in a process of tax reform that would ultimately produce lower rates, even potentially for the wealthiest," he said, referring to benefits from corporate tax reform." David Plouffle, Obama senior advisor  

    Come on (none / 0) (#120)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:45:26 AM EST
    "The president, congress and their rich friends will experience no pain whatsoever."

    In reality, the rich will lose money as a result of the concessions. It's not as bad as someone losing their medical coverage obviously.  No one says otherwise.

    But these discussions become difficult to have if we are talking on that level.

    By "hurt" I meant that the concessions on each side will strike at the heart of their core beliefs. For the GOP to agree to tax increases will be ideologically painful and go against what they believe is the best way to help the country.  I impute bad faith on some conservatives, but most sincerely believe that their low tax/small government policies are the best way to help the poor and those unable to help themselves.

    I do not agree in the demonization of our opposition.  Fundamentally, I do not think that it is fair to assume that the President, Congress or others are primarily motivated by their own selfish self interest when crafting policy.


    Oh gee (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 11:34:24 AM EST
    Let's not talk about how policies will effect the lives of people in the U.S. Instead move the discussion to a philosophical level so that people can ignore the fact that a large segment of the population will be harmed by the policies you support.

    How about we concentrate on the CEOs involved in "Fix the Debt" who want cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    - The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs of public companies have average retirement assets of $9.1 million. Of these 71 CEOs, 54 participate in their company`s retirement programs and have collective pension assets of $649 million, or more than $12 million per CEO -- enough to generate a $65,873 pension check each month for life. In contrast, the average monthly Social Security check for retired workers is $1,237.

    - A dozen of the Fix the Debt executives have more than $20 million in their individual company retirement accounts. If each of these CEOs converted their assets to an annuity when they turned 65, they would receive a monthly check for at least $110,000 for life. link

    Blankfein's 2012 total compensation: $16,164,405
                2011 total compensation: $19,000,000

    Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, boosted Blankfein's compensation even though earnings dropped 38 percent and the stock price was little changed from a year earlier. Blankfein's pay remained below 2007, when he received a record-setting $67.9 million bonus.

    Boy will Blankfein and his cohorts feel pain if they have to pay a little more in taxes. Why don't we get out of the abstract and compare the pain levels.

    Middle-class wealth fell in 2010. Median income has changed very little over the last 30 years. More children in poverty. the poverty rate for adults ages 18 to 64 rose to 13.7%.

    Social Security reduces the proportion of elderly people living in poverty from nearly one in two to fewer than one in eight, according to a new study released today of Census data. The study found that in 1997, nearly half of all elderly people -- 47.6 percent -- had incomes below the poverty line before receipt of Social Security benefits. After receiving Social Security benefits, only 11.9 percent remained poor.

    As a result, the study said, Social Security raised out of poverty more than one in every three elderly Americans. The program lifted 11.4 million elderly people above the poverty line.

    Without Social Security, the study found, 15.3 million elderly had incomes below the poverty line. After Social Security, only 3.8 million elderly did. Three-fourths of those elderly people who would have been poor without Social Security were lifted from poverty by it.

    About the people not being primarily (5.00 / 1) (#124)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 11:43:53 AM EST
    motivated by greed.

    WASHINGTON -- The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.
    During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.
    As part of their push, they are advocating a "territorial tax system" that would exempt their companies' foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled "The CEO Campaign to `Fix' the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks" -- money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.

    Yet the CEOs are not offering to forgo federal money or pay a higher tax rate, on their personal income or corporate profits. Instead, council recommendations include cutting "entitlement" programs, as well as what they call "low-priority spending."
    while Cote strongly recommends cutting those benefits, when it comes to the tax obligations of corporations, he's clear about what he wants: a corporate tax rate of zero.
    "From a fairness perspective, nobody would be able to stand [a zero tax rate on corporate profits]," but if the U.S. really wanted to create jobs, he said this spring, "we would have the lowest rate possible."

    Obama is on track to deliver many of the cuts to benefits and a lower rate under the guise of tax reform that they are demanding.

    Yep, just really great guys.  


    Mo Blue (none / 0) (#111)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:46:23 AM EST
    My question addressed the idea that in a perfect world, one in which we could make the opposition party disappear, we wouldn't cut any of this stuff.  That is not the world we live in.  In this world, there is no effective way to simply invoke our preferred policy without concession.  Obviously none of this is preferred and the concessions hurt.  That's why they are called concessions.

    But perhaps your answer answers the bigger question:

    Many here are likely to see any of the likely concession options to be unacceptable and a betrayal of principles.

    And if that's the position, I won't try to push the argument that it is wrong.  It just makes it clear that Obama and the dems are operating in a situation where they will anger those on both sides.

    Fundamentally the question isn't about what to cut and what not to cut.  The question is how much power you believe the dems have in a situation in which we have to have some GOP agreement to move forward.

    This is confusing because I am not quite sure what those that would reject all concessions realistically expect the president to do.  To some degree, to the extent the President knows that there is a group that doesn't acknowledge his predicament, it makes complete sense for him to write off that opposition and look to satisfy portions of his base that are more reasonable in expectation.  What else can he do really?


    It seems that you and the Democratic Party (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:10:52 AM EST
    are oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of people in the U.S. regardless of their political party are strongly against cutting benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The feelings expressed here on TL are not out of the main stream but represent the viewpoint of the vast majority of the country. The President believing that it makes complete sense for him to write off the opposition of everyone to satisfy the far right and the extreme rich is in itself telling.  

    People will be even more strongly against having these cuts once they find out the two parties will lower the tax rates for the benefit of the wealthy under the guise of tax reform. They will be even more strongly against these cuts when more and more people who are in their circle of family or friends are harmed by these cuts. They will be even more strongly against these cuts when more and more people are forced into poverty.  


    I believe a fundamental (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:44:24 AM EST
    issue in any budget negotiation is what to cut and what revenues, if any, can be achieved.  Budgets put a sharp pencil to priorities.  The straw man is that some Democrats do not want to achieve deficit reduction, when the reality is how to equitably achieve deficit reduction.  The end of the Bush-era tax cuts and the sequestration are not surprises, they are acts of Congress signed by the president.

    Of course, everyone is aware of the dilemma of the president and Democrats in working with the current crop of Republicans, but that, too, is not a surprise.  There are strategies and new leverage that President Obama has, including waiting until the new Congress, letting the laws proceed with remediation and retro-fitting, if necessary, next year.


    Watching my first episode of (none / 0) (#18)
    by observed on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    Wallander (swedish version) on Netflix.
    The raves on netflix tricked me into trying it.
    The acting is great, but the plot is extremely contrived and the action predictable.
    I won't be watching a 2nd episode.

    I was disappointed with it too (none / 0) (#39)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:18:17 PM EST
    I was hoping the stories would be better and more location specific in some way.

    Oh you mean a Swedish version w/o Kenneth Branagh? (none / 0) (#40)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:19:37 PM EST
    Have not seen that...my comment is on the Masterpiece Theater version.

    ... was wondering the entire time how people with such severely Scadanavian surnames who were living in Sweden could still speak the King's English with such impeccably crisp British accents.

    Same way the ancient Romans in movies do! (none / 0) (#82)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:22:40 PM EST
    What I always think is funny is that lower class Romans or Swedes speak the same way lower class Brits do!

    Yes, a Swedish version. (none / 0) (#90)
    by observed on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:40:38 PM EST
    Presumably the stories are the same, and we both found them weak.

    Looks like Obama's opening move (none / 0) (#80)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:40:37 PM EST
    is to stick it to the kill government guys right now.

    Additional tax revenue to cuts offered is 4-1(1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue and only 400 billion in cuts) and then he wants the addition of:

    • A permanent end to the debt ceiling.
    • An extension to the payroll tax holiday for another year.
    • An extension to emergency unemployment benefits

    Boehner looks behind him for his army and they are all in hiding

    Where are the $400 billion in cuts (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:28:14 PM EST
    coming from? Need you ask?

    In exchange the administration agreed to make $400 billion in spending cuts to entitlement programs, an aide confirmed. link

    $400 billion is about what he agreed to cut from  the programs in his negotiations with Boehner.


    Don't you love the spin machine? (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by shoephone on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 09:59:07 PM EST
    "And only $400 billion in cuts."

    Let's party!


    400 billion is cheap (none / 0) (#95)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:52:23 PM EST
    expect the GOP to push for about 8 times that.

    Last spring Obama seemed to agree (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:08:17 PM EST
    that $400 billion was chump change and should only be small down payment.

    In his opening bid, after the rough framework of a grand bargain was reached, Mr. Boehner told the White House he wanted to cut $450 billion from Medicare and Medicaid in the next decade alone, with more cuts to follow. He also proposed raising the retirement age for Social Security and changing the formula to make benefits less generous.

    Mr. Obama wasn't willing to go quite that far. But in his counteroffer a few days later, he agreed to squeeze $250 billion from Medicare in the next 10 years, with $800 billion more in the decade after that. He was willing to cut $110 billion more from Medicaid in the short term. And while Mr. Obama rejected raising the retirement age, he did acquiesce to changing the Social Security formula so that benefits would grow at a slower rate. link

    That was last spring (none / 0) (#97)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:11:46 PM EST
    elections have consequences.

    The cuts that Obama was willing to make (none / 0) (#99)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:37:24 PM EST
    last spring were approximately $400 billion for the initial installment.

    The initial cuts he is willing to make to the "entitlement" programs as stated today are $400 billion.

    Yes elections do have consequence.


    And now the offer doubles the revenue (1.00 / 2) (#100)
    by CoralGables on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:00:25 AM EST
    by hitting capital gains as well as earned income, extends the tax holiday for wage earners, adds money for infrastructure, extends unemployment benefits, and the initial installment is the total cut offered. You need to come up out of the whine cellar and look at the whole picture.

    Of course, no matter the outcome some people here will whine anyway. It's a form of TL group therapy. It's just the personality of some to always b!tch. I understand that. It's like the Tea Party side. They'll b!tch no matter the outcome too. Like two peas from different pods.


    Yes, many people who frequent this (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:58:31 AM EST
    blog find Obama's willingness to cut benefits on the safety net programs objectionable. These cuts will adversely effect the poor, the sick and the elderly and push more people into poverty. You seem more than willing to to sacrifice them so that Obama can achieve his grand bargain.  

    While you talk about how Obama plans to increase revenue "hitting capital gains as well as earned income, extends the tax holiday for wage earners, adds money for infrastructure, extends unemployment benefits" his senior advisor tells a somewhat different story.

    What we also want to do is engage in a process of tax reform that would ultimately produce lower rates, even potentially for the wealthiest," he said, referring to benefits from corporate tax reform.

    Lower tax rates for the wealthiest under the guise of tax reform is what will result from the cuts to benefits that people need to survive. As for the other things you referenced such as increased revenue from "hitting capital gains as well as earned income, and added money for infrastructure will soon go the way of the public option being excused as not having the votes to get them through Congress.

    From my POV, you seem to be caught up in the same mind frame as Dubya's 39%ers.

    BTW, if you want me to quit bitching, persuade Obama to take cutting domestic and safety net programs off the table.



    There is no way (none / 0) (#113)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:54:28 AM EST
    Obama can move domestic and safety net programs off the table.

    Now what?


    Obama put the domestic and safety (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:41:21 AM EST
    net programs on the table. What you chose to put on the table you can chose to take off.

    In 2005 the Democratic Party in a hard fought battle won the argument on these programs. Since the country as a whole is against cutting these programs, they could win the argument once again. Unfortunately Obama and his cohorts in the party would rather continue to help the Republicans achieve the cuts that the "Masters of the Universe" want.


    Such B.S. (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by shoephone on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:02:56 AM EST
    And par for the course from the adulation crowd.

    Even Firedoglake thinks (none / 0) (#91)
    by Politalkix on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:58:32 PM EST
    that the WhiteHouse bid that Geithner carried to Boehner was a strong one and seem happy about it.
    Do not know whether it will remove the gloom and doom in TL.

    This is just the opening bid. (5.00 / 2) (#93)
    by caseyOR on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:27:54 PM EST
    Let's wait to see how this plays out before we decide to get all hopeful. Playing hardball with the GOP is not Obama's strong suit. And, he is quite committed to "reforming" the safety net.

    I expect that Boehner will come out with a counter-offer based on Ryan's budget, and at that point Obama will start to give in.

    I hope I am wrong, but Obama's past behavior would argue that I am right.


    Kabuki now before Grand Bargain cuts (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by MO Blue on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:25:57 PM EST
    Mr. Obama may have more leverage now than he did in 2011 to put a hard limit on the scale of entitlement cuts, but it's unthinkable that he could reach a comprehensive deal -- something he still badly wants to do -- without at least accepting the terms he found acceptable the first time around. That's how negotiations work.

    So while it may be good strategy for progressive groups to pressure the White House on entitlement spending, no one should harbor the illusion that the president won't sign off on reductions. The simple fact is, he already has. link