Seniors in Florida and Ohio, GOP platform breaks Trump’s ‘no cuts’ promise on Social Security and Medicare

GOP platform breaks Trump’s ‘no cuts’ promise on Social Security and Medicare

But even more telling when it comes to Donald Trump’s disinterest in actual policy is what the 2016 Republican Party platform declared about health care and retirement income for future seniors. After a year of promising Americans he would “save Social Security and Medicare without cuts,” nominee Trump looked the other way as his party’s platform endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plans to gut both.

Next week in Philadelphia, Democrat Hillary Clinton will tout her proposal to expand Social Security financing and benefits, a position enjoying growing support in Washington.

That Trump rode the populist wave and promised not to erode two essential programs, and then blew off those promises is historically the kind of thing radical populists do. Bush 43, Mitt Romney and John McCain were all prolific liars, thus the competitive Donald has seen it as a contest to see if he can out do them,

Oak Trees and Blue Bonnets wallpaper – Rand Paul (R-KY) and How The Conservative Cult Thinks

Oak Trees and Blue Bonnets wallpaper

Oak Trees and Blue Bonnets wallpaper

 

Straight to the sleazy serial liars and delusional fleabags, Rand Paul (R-KY) goes where few Republicans have gone: Howard University

Paul told the students he didn’t come to “preach” or “prescribe” a political point of view, but to ask each of them to write their own story in life and perhaps make conservatism a part of it. In other words: develop their own views of him, the Republican Party and their own political beliefs.

This is just another version of the Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson assertion that black Americans have been brain washed. If they would really “think” they’d vote for far Right ideologues. Nope, nothing insulting or wacky about that.

Few young minorities know the history of the Republican Party “chock full of emancipation and black history”. He talked about his passion for ending mandatory minimum federal sentencing for non-violent possession of drugs because they ruin the lives of kids who just make bad decisions. It was one of the most heavily tweeted and applauded lines of his speech.

How the two major political parties have changed since the 1860s can and has filled books. Rand probably has not read a history or political science book that does not regurgitate what he wants to believe his entire life – including his liberal college indoctrination. Rand Paul (R-KY) Must Think Blacks Have Amnesia

He left out the part that Republicans almost always leave out when they lament their lack of support from African Americans: the racial realignment that occurred during the 1960s, when Democratic politicians like President Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert F. Kennedy became champions for equal rights, and Republicans reinvented their party as a harbor for segregationists.

The simple truth is that the present-day Republican Party has virtually no resemblance to the Republican Party of, say, 1960, when Richard Nixon got 32 percent of the black vote in his race against John F. Kennedy. Four years later, the Republicans nominated right-wing Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who based his campaign on opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By 1968, Nixon had wholeheartedly accepted Goldwater’s advice to “go hunting where the ducks are” by adopting a so-called Southern strategy dedicated to wooing segregationists like Strom Thurmond.

They consolidated their approach in 1980 when Ronald Reagan delivered the first major speech of his campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in one of the 1960s’ ugliest cases of racist violence. Reagan gave a ringing declaration of his support for “states’ rights” — code words for resistance to black advances clearly understood by white Southerners. Ever since then, the GOP has been the party of white privilege.

I did a current check on conservative racism in that Ben Carson post the other day. Another interesting thing to do is search for Obama images in Google, then trace the racist filth back to the conservative web sites that posted them. I still don’t think all Republicans are racist, though they seem to be in denial about their racism problem. It is common for political zealots to rewrite history. You don’t want people looking back at what actually happened and, to use Rand’s words, think for themselves. The radical Right has their noise machine fired up 24/7 because that is how much is noise required to keep the sheeple as true believers. And of course there is the morally reprehensible Conservative problem with being serial liars, At Howard University, Rand Paul Falsely Claims He Never Opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Following an awkward, earnest speech to an audience at Howard University, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) insisted several times that he did not oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“I’ve never been against the Civil Rights Act, ever,” Paul told a questioner, following what was the first speech by a Republican legislator at the historically black university in decades. “This was on tape,” the questioner responded.

That’s true. It is on tape. Here it is:

In 2010, during an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal flagged by ThinkProgress, Paul made it very clear that he opposed a key part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination on the basis of race in “places of public accommodation,” such as privately owned businesses that are open to the public.

Such a short speech and meaningless in terms of actual substance. Though Paul did get a chance to repeat some of the dogma of the conservative cult,

He said after the Great Depression and Civil Rights Act, blacks wanted “economic emancipation” and began voting Democrat because Democrats promised “unlimited federal assistance”. He added: Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible-the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets. After nearly 50 years of Democrat policies, Paul argued the evidence shows that big government is not a friend to African Americans. He pointed to persistent high unemployment among blacks, presently 13.3%, nearly twice the national average, blacks trapped in failing schools and their declining wealth.

Anyone want to guess what black unemployment would be now if the Civil Rights Act had not been passed. Rand believes, as conservatives dogmatists do, that the free market god will fix everything and anything if we all stand back and let it work it’s magic. Yet Rand supplied a example of a situation which proved that it does not work. It was about a hundred years between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act. The all knowing perfect gods of the market had a hundred years to wave the magic wand and make everything work for everyone. Certainly a hundred years of laissez-faire discrimination was a fair trial. Rand reminds me of the few remaining communists who claim that it never had a chance to work either.

Let’s move on to the next nutbar with as much integrity as rat droppings, Top Republican Blasts Obama Budget As ‘Shocking Attack On Seniors’

Well Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) — who also happens to be chairman of the House GOP’s re-election committee — just showed how it’s done, saying Obama’s budget “lays out a shocking attack on seniors.”

“I’ll tell you when you’re going after seniors the way he’s already done on Obamacare, taken $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you’re crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine certainly and around the country,” he said on CNN Wednesday afternoon.

That used to be the $500 million lie. I guess with inflation it has grown. These wackos have been telling that lie about Obamacare and Medicare since 2009,

National Review’s Lowry: Obama Made “Meat-Axe Cuts” To Medicare. On Fox News’ Hannity, National Review editor Rich Lowry said that “$700 billion in cuts on current seniors” have been made to Medicare, adding, “These are meat-axe cuts that the president passed to fund another unaffordable entitlement right now.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/14/12]

Fox’s Hannity: “There’s Only One Candidate In This Race That Gutted Medicare.” On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said, “There’s only one candidate in this race that gutted Medicare. Who is it?” Hannity later said, “There’s only one guy that cut Medicare, $741 billion, and that was Barack Obama.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/14/12]

….FactCheck.org: Affordable Care Act “Stipulates That Guaranteed Medicare Benefits Won’t Be Reduced.” FactCheck.org noted that the Affordable Care Act “does not slash the current Medicare budget by $500 billion. Rather that’s a $500 billion reduction in the future growth of Medicare over 10 years”:

As we have written many times, the [Affordable Care Act] does not slash the current Medicare budget by $500 billion. Rather, that’s a $500 billion reduction in the future growth of Medicare over 10 years, or about a 7 percent reduction in growth over the decade. In other words, Medicare spending would continue to rise, just not as much. The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won’t be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals.

Most of those savings come from a reduction in the future growth of payments to hospitals and other providers (not physicians), and a reduction in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans to bring those payments in line with traditional Medicare. (MA plans have been paid more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.)

And it assumes they actually happen. There’s good reason to think that some of those reductions won’t be implemented. The law calls for cuts in the future growth of reimbursement payments to hospitals and other health care providers — that accounts for $219 billion of the Medicare savings in the law. But Congress has consistently overridden similar scheduled cuts in payments to doctors. [FactCheck.org, 6/28/12]
And Ryan Adopted The Exact Same Method Of Reducing Medicare Growth
    
Washington Post: “Paul Ryan’s Budget Keeps Obama’s Medicare Cuts. Full Stop.” In an August 14 post on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Ezra Klein noted, “Since the Romney campaign wants to run against President Obama’s cuts to Medicare, it’s something of a problem for them that Paul Ryan’s budget includes those very same cuts to Medicare.”

As far as Republicans who has previously demanded chained CPI and are now attacking the White House for offering it, well if the White House had checked with the people who voted for them first, we could have told you what to expect. You are not dealing with people who regard honor as a virtue, So the Obama budget is out, Social Security cuts and all. Why is this happening?

Well, it’s all about the positioning. Ezra Klein gets at what I hear from the WH too (and what’s obvious in any case):

Today’s budget is the White House’s effort to reach the bedrock of the fiscal debate. Half of its purpose is showing what they’re willing to do. They want a budget compromise, and this budget proves it. There are now liberals protesting on the White House lawn. But the other half is revealing what the GOP is — or, more to the point, isn’t — willing to do. Republicans don’t want a budget compromise, and this budget is likely to prove that, too.

The question is, to whom are these things being “proved”?

Since the beginning, the Obama administration has seemed eager to gain the approval of the grownups — the sensible people who will reward efforts to be Serious, and eventually turn on those nasty, intransigent Republicans as long as Obama and co. don’t cater too much to the hippies.This is the latest, biggest version of that strategy. Unfortunately, it will almost surely fail. Why? Because there are no grownups — only people who try to sound like grownups, but are actually every bit as childish as anyone else.

After all, if whoever it is that Obama is trying to appeal to here — I guess it’s the Washington Post editorial page and various other self-proclaimed “centrist” pundits — were willing to admit the fundamental asymmetry in our political debate, willing to admit that if DC is broken, it’s because of GOP radicalism, they would have done it long ago. It’s not as if this reality was hard to see.

But the truth is that the “centrists” aren’t sincere. Calls for centrism and bipartisanship aren’t actual demands for specific policies — they’re an act, a posture these people take to make themselves seem noble and superior.

If conservatives were adults I can see the centrist strategy making some kind of sense – in a bargain with zealots you end up with some of what you want, with some not completely reprehensible concessions. Only the White House seems unable or unwilling to accept the fact that they’re not dealing with people who care about most Americans. Conservatives are captives of the crony corporatists, the libertarian hucksters and fundamentalist quacks who have time traveled here from 1850.

High Speed Train II wallpaper – Conservatives and Dishonest Budget Negotiations

High Speed Train II wallpaper

High Speed Train II wallpaper

It was difficult to decide who to star with, the reasons for putting CPI and cuts to the safety net as a bargaining chip on the table again or Paul Krugman’s criticism. A coin toss decided to go with the administration’s reasoning first,  Obama Budget: Administration Explains Why It Started With A ‘Compromise Proposal’

President Barack Obama’s budget, which will be introduced on Wednesday, takes a political position that some of his base is bound to bemoan. Rather than present an outline of progressive priorities, the White House has chosen to stake claim to the middle ground, offering up a mix of modest tax hikes to go along with spending cuts and entitlement reforms that Democrats have long warned against.

The specifics are as follows:

The budget would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over ten years — $600 billion of this reduction would come from revenue raisers, and $1.2 trillion would come from spending reductions and entitlement reforms;
It would change the benefit structure of Social Security (chained-CPI);
It would means test additional programs in Medicare;
All told, it would include $400 billion in health care savings (or cuts);
It would cut $200 billion from other areas, identified by The New York Times as “farm subsidies, federal employee retirement programs, the Postal Services and the unemployment compensation system;”
It would pay for expanded access to pre-K (an Obama priority) by increasing the tobacco tax;
It would set limits on tax-preferred retirement accounts for the wealthy, prohibiting individuals from putting more than $3 million in IRAs and other tax-preferred retirement accounts;
And it would stop people from collecting full disability benefits and unemployment benefits that cover the same period of time.

Looked at piece-by-piece, nothing in the above is all that surprising. President Obama has proposed these policies in various offers in the past. Most recently, they’ve been discussed as part of replacement options for the sequester.

Adults know that in the real world you do not always get everything you ask for and in the art of negotiation starting out with some tolerable compromises is usually not an unreasonable starting point for negotiations. Though for the last five years conservatives have made it clear that any proposal about anything must start far Right of center and move further Right during the negotiation process. Knowing this the administration has once again – probably – made the mistake of starting off giving away too much. A spokesperson from the White House says,

While this is not the president’s ideal deficit-reduction plan, and there are particular proposals in this plan — like the CPI change — that were key Republican requests and not the president’s preferred approach. This is a compromise proposal built on common ground, and the president felt it was important to make it clear that the offer still stands. The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth. That means that the things like CPI that Republican leaders have pushed hard for will only be accepted if congressional Republicans are willing to do more on revenues. This isn’t about political horsetrading; it’s about reducing the deficit in a balanced way that economists say is best for the economy and job creation. That’s why the president’s offer –- which will be reflected in his budget — isn’t a menu of options for them to choose from; it’s a cohesive package that reflects the kind of compromise we should be able to reach.

I’m aware and prominent liberal political commentators should be as well, that conservatives in the senate will us the filibuster to stop any budget that does not meet their every whim. Democrats are in the minority in the House. Just in political terms there is the awful business of facing that reality and still passing a  new budget – one that restores some of the spending from the sequester. And Krugman, Desperately Seeking “Serious” Approval

So what’s this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he’s willing to do what they consider Serious — which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he’s reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.

But it won’t happen. Watch the Washington Post editorial page over the next few days. I hereby predict that it will damn Obama with faint praise, saying that while it’s a small step in the right direction, of course it’s inadequate — and anyway, Obama is to blame for Republican intransigence, because he could make them accept a Grand Bargain that includes major revenue increases if only he would show Leadership (TM).

Oh, and wanna bet that Republicans soon start running ads saying that Obama wants to cut your Social Security?

The part that should drive everyone crazy – anyone who cares about seniors, the disabled and children anyway – is the implication that the deficit or the national debt is somehow connected to Social Security. No the administration does not say that, but by always including it as part of budget negotiations it is something many Americans believe. As Krugman and others note, we should be increasing benefits. Those benefits are not giveaways to lazy moochers. Because pensions and personal savings plans (IRAs) are not the great panacea that everyone thought they would be back in the early 90s, people need more to pay for basic living expenses. Society doesn’t loose anything. That money is not given to someone and it disappears into the Great Lazy Moocher Void. People pay rent and buy stuff with it. It goes back into the economy. Unlike Mitt Romney’s money and quite a few bankers, that money does not get hidden away in offshore tax havens – Offshore tax havens ($32 trillion hidden) rocked by bank account leaks $32 trillion (€25 trillion).

Dear Dr. Ben Carson, current darling of cultural conservatives, this is one of your comrades, Judge Who Sent Racist, Anti-Obama Email Will Retire From Bench

Last year, former Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal district court in Montana, admitted to sending a racist email forward comparing President Obama’s conception to sex with a dog:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”

In the wake of this email, and the serious questions it raised about whether Judge Cebull is capable of handling politically charged cases or cases alleging racism with professionalism and neutrality, a judicial council overseeing Cebull opened a formal misconduct hearing into his actions at Cebull’s request. Late last year, Cebull announced that he would take senior status, a type of partial retirement for judges. Late last week, he upgraded this to a full retirement from the bench — effective May 3rd.

 

Black and White Clock wallpaper – Republicans Deviously Frame the Deficit To Include All of The Safety Net

Black and White Clock wallpaper

Black and White Clock wallpaper

Blue Desk Clock wallpaper

Blue Desk Clock wallpaper

 

This is a good rant from Dean baker about the possibility of, depending on how you look at chained CPI and the coming debt ceiling negotiations, cuts to Social Security, Leave It Alone; It’s Irrelevant to the Deficit

While the promotion of budget hysteria is one of the largest industries in Washington, the most important and widely ignored fact about the budget situation is that we have large deficits today because the collapse of the housing bubble sank the economy. This is not a debatable point.

The budget deficit was just 1.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2007. Before the collapse of the housing bubble the deficit was projected to remain low for the next decade and the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio was actually falling. This would have been the case even if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to continue.

When the bubble burst and the economy plummeted, tax collections fell. We also spent more on unemployment insurance and other benefits for unemployed workers. And we had further tax cuts and stimulus spending to try to boost the economy. The automatic and deliberate steps taken to counter the downturn fully explain the large deficits we have seen the last five years.

Record low interest rates on government bonds demonstrate that the current deficits are not a real problem. But even if they were, it is difficult to see how cutting Social Security could to be part of the solution. Under the law Social Security is not supposed to be part of the budget. It is an entirely separate program financed on its own.

Let’s put aside the speculations about debt ceiling talks and what is up for cuts for a moment. Baker tackles two common myths – perpetuated by conservatives like the far-Right Heritage Foundation. The first myth is that President Obama has gone on some kind of wild spending spree, thus driven up the debt. As the chart above – I could draw this thing in my sleep at this point – shows, it is a combination of conservative spending from 2000-2008, the unpaid for wars, the housing bubble, the recession that started on Bush’s watch  and tax cuts that are driving 60% of the deficit. The second myth and this one will not die today, it is as common as Birtherism among conservatives – that some how Social Security is a driver of the deficit. That is not true. A few facts to know about Social Security

Social Security is a fifth of the U.S. budget …
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258
Social Security: Another 20 percent of the budget, or $731 billion, paid for Social Security, which provided retirement benefits averaging $1,229 per month to 35.6 million retired workers in December 2011. Social Security also provided benefits to 2.9 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6.3 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 10.6 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2011.

… but it is not driving the deficit …

Social Security and the Federal Deficit: Not cause and effect

Social Security can only spend what it receives in tax revenues and has accumulated in its trust fund from past surpluses and interest earnings. It cannot add to the deficit if the trust fund is exhausted because the law prohibits it from borrowing (if current revenues and savings in the trust fund are not sufficient to pay promised benefits, these have to be cut). Though modest changes will be needed to put Social Security in balance over the 75-year planning period, the projected shortfall is less than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP). …

There is burrowing, but it only goes one way. The government borrows from the trust fund to help finance day to day government operations. Which is part of conservative Social Security myths part II, subsection B, that there is no such thing as the Social Security Trust Fund. let me back up for a moment and look at the first deficit and spending nonsense. It is ironic how wealthy conservatives, and liberals for that matter, can manipulate the tax code down to the penny and yet, those same conservative use some weird martian math to make the case for Obama’s alleged out of control spending. Steve notes some math challenged spin from Politico, Understanding the ‘debt problem’

President Barack Obama won’t be able to enjoy much of a victory lap from his win over congressional Republicans on the fiscal cliff fight.

There are about 16.4 trillion reasons why.

The staggering national debt — up about 60 percent from the $10 trillion Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009 — is the single biggest blemish on Obama’s record, even if the rapid descent into red began under President George W. Bush. (Glenn Thrush and Reid Epstein’s Politico piece on President Obama’s “debt problem”)

[  ]…First, when there’s a global economic crash, and the government needs to invest to rescue the economy, large deficits are good, not bad, especially when borrowing is cheap and easy. Had the president focused on reducing the $1.3 trillion deficit he inherited from Bush/Cheney, instead of job creation and economic growth, the recession would have intensified, and yet, too many reports simply accept it as a given that higher deficits are worthy of condemnation.

Second, under Obama, as the economy started to improve, the deficit started to shrink anyway. Though the political establishment usually ignores these details, the deficit is $300 billion smaller now than when the president took office — marking the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II.

Third, Obama keeps pushing massive debt-reduction proposals on the table, as well as all kinds of policies that shrink the deficit (health care reform, cap and trade, Dream Act), but Republicans have opposed all of them.

As always we cannot have an honest discussion about how much deficits matter and when they matter because conservatives really do not care about deficit spending. We had deficit spending under Saint Ronnie, Bush 41 and Bush 43. If a conservative becomes president in 2016, we’ll have deficit spending. They run up deficits for the very purpose of creating this fake crisis where, gee sorry – the David Brooks line – but we just have to let seniors, vets, the disabled and low-income earners live in a ditch or die or whatever because look at the deficits…uh..conservatives ran up, we cannot afford a safety net anymore . That is not political science, it is a social pathology hiding behind the carnival tent of Conservatism. case in point. The fiscal cliff deal included a revenue giveaway to corporations totaling $9.4 billion dollars. That would pay for a third of the$27 billion emergency spending bill for Superstorm Sandy House Republicans might pass ( the Senate had approved a $60 billion relief package. The remainder may be approved eventually. Republicans in the House are still wrangling over the Sandy bill – When House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled his support of a massive Sandy aid bill, Republicans reacted: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the move “disgraceful”).

Other than that few days where we heard the President might consider linking future Social Security cost of living increases to chained CPI I have not heard anything else, but some people are already concerned, The Democrats’ Coming Civil War

Just as Republicans were so divided over taxes – from failing to pass their own “Plan B” bill last week, to their leaders splitting votes on last night’s legislative package – Democrats are about to endure an emotional debate about one of their own bedrock principles: the protection of programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

With the accord reached last night failing to address these programs, Republicans have said they’ll threaten to deny a debt ceiling increase in February — which would prevent the government from paying its bills, exacting a government shutdown and global economic consequences in the process — as leverage to advance their policy interests. In addition, with sequestration cuts set to hit in two months, there’s an additional, built-in point of negotiation between the parties.

The biggest reform Republicans have vowed to push for in these upcoming standoffs is so-called “entitlement reform,” a.k.a. “deficit reduction,” a.k.a., cutting social insurance and benefits for those in need.

That writer means well, but again let’s get this straight. Republicans are linking the debt ceiling to safety net programs, but  Social Security is not fiscally linked. Only a very small part of Medicare, under 3% of Medicare financing comes out of general funds. It is not the biggest driver of the debt. Even when we reach the point where there are more Medicare recipients than workers contributing to Medicare ( a known demographic trend), the total cost will still reach a maximum of GDP of  6.2% by 2080 ( currently it is 3.6%).  The coming battle will be framed by Republicans as one big all encompassing deficit that includes separate issues. Though he is probably correct in being concerned about what the White House will give away. This statement by Obama is technically correct. It is more overall health care costs rather than just Medicare that are to blame,

But we are continuing to chip away at this problem, step by step. Last year I signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. Tonight’s agreement further reduces the deficit by raising $620 billion in revenue from the wealthiest households in America. And there will be more deficit reduction as Congress decides what to do about the automatic spending cuts that we have now delayed for two months.

I want to make this point: As I’ve demonstrated throughout the past several weeks, I am very open to compromise. I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of health care makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit.  I believe we’ve got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive. And I believe that there’s further unnecessary spending in government that we can eliminate.

But we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity. Cutting spending has to go hand-in-hand with further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans. And we can’t keep cutting things like basic research and new technology and still expect to succeed in a 21st century economy. So we’re going to have to continue to move forward in deficit reduction, but we have to do it in a balanced way, making sure that we are growing even as we get a handle on our spending.

Now, one last point I want to make — while I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed. Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic — far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff.

Probably a matter of perspective. BuzzFeed sees the civil war and I just see the possibility. No one pundit or blogger did it, but it was probably the collective voices of all of us that pushed the White House away from using Medicare and Social Security in the fiscal cliff deal. So ringing alarms now is not a bad thing. Some more in that vain in this editorial at the NYT, For Obama, a Victory That Also Holds Risks.

For President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress, the fiscal deal reached this week is full of small victories that further their largest policy aims. Above all, it takes another step toward Mr. Obama’s goal of orienting federal policy more toward the middle class and the poor, at the expense of the rich.

Yet the deal, which the Senate and the House have passed and Mr. Obama is expected to sign soon, also represents a substantial risk for the president.

 

This is a rare day. I agree with that yellow rag The Washington Times, David Gregory walks free while Iraq vet was jailed. The strange aspect of this David Gregory controversy is that the far Right thinks liberals care about what happens to Gregory one way or the other. That is not the case. Gregory is just another Beltway villager entrenched in the right of center conventional wisdom. After the Newtown murders he got a little caught up in the outrage, most people did.

 

Dreamy Autumn wallpaper – Conservatives Declare War on English and Logic

fall, leaves, colors, landscape

Dreamy Autumn wallpaper

 

Multiple choice: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Gov. Rick Perry(R-TX) are two of the dumbest people alive or they are a real life Orwellian nightmare or just hate America’s seniors – Rep. Ryan: Rick Perry is right on Social Security

Social Security fits the technical definition of a Ponzi scheme, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told conservative Laura Ingraham on her radio show.

“It’s not a criminal enterprise, but it’s a pay-as-you-go system, where earlier investors — or say, taxpayers — get a positive rate of return, and the most recent investors — or taxpayers — get a negative rate of return,” he said. “That is how those schemes work.”

Perry’s description of the Social Security as a “Ponzi sceheme” has been attacked by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Perry’s leading challenger for the GOP presidential nomination. Romney criticized Perry for scaring seniors and wanting to abolish the program, warning that the Republican nominee needs to work to reform the program.

[  ]…The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pushed back against Ryan’s comments.

“Ryan’s belief that Social Security works like a Ponzi scheme proves — once and for all — that House Republicans have really declared a war on seniors,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement. “A Ponzi scheme is Bernie Madoff ripping off Americans — not Social Security benefits that seniors earned and depend on during retirement.

 

Ryan may have well said that yes food could be described as dirt as they are both physical substances. There are many reasons that conservatives cannot have an honest debate, one of them is their Orwellian attack on language and meaning. Why not say life insurance is a scheme. You pay into it and when you die you actually collect nothing. The pay out to your beneficiary may be more than you paid into it – a Marxist ponzi scheme for sure. Trading stocks seems to have become a scheme. The value of stocks, supposedly determined by the value of the company, can suddenly plummet in price based on speculation and rumors.  Words either have meaning or they serve as right-wing propaganda. Let’s not discuss or debate anything because we can all use the same words and mean two different things – conservatives have declared war on the American English language. Is that where we are, everyone gets to create their own reality. As fanatical as Ryan, Perry and the rest sound, the comments at the link do not bode well for the concept of an informed citizenry making wise decisions. There is the often repeated and tedious claim that the government should not run any programs that provide a social safety net because everyone should look out for themselves. I’m pro maximum self-sufficiency. Though unlike that writer and others who think in such simplistic terms I have enough humility to realize that I am not in utter and complete control of my life. I live in a complex democratic society with a complex free market. I do not control all the buttons and gears anymore than the vast majority of Americans. Strangers I will never meet in boardrooms across America, Europe and Asian have a tremendous amount of control over every American’s financial future. When they screw up and they do regularly, all of my and millions of regular working class America’s financial plans go down the tubes. In the recession that started in 2007 millions of Americans with private retirement plans and pensions lost millions in value, not because they were lazy Marxists, but because the people who we trusted to run the economy were greedy, stupid and irresponsible. Social Security is insurance against the craziness and greed. If worse comes to worse you’ll at least be able to have shelter and food. In fact Social Security grew out of the Great Depression. This is a Ponzi scheme from a breaking story at the WSJ, U.S. Alleges Poker Site Stacked Deck

On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department in a civil suit accused Messrs. Lederer, Ferguson and Furst, and another director of the company behind the Full Tilt Poker website, of defrauding thousands of online poker players out of more than $300 million that is still owed to them. The government said that, in total, the 23 owners of the site had taken out $444 million in distributions over the years.

The Justice Department’s civil suit against Full Tilt alleges that in 2010, Full Tilt began having trouble accepting new bets from players, thanks to U.S. efforts to crack down on payment-processing services for online gambling. But the U.S. says that Full Tilt’s owners kept paying themselves millions of dollars anyway, fraudulently depleting the player funds on deposit with the company.

“Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement Tuesday. The U.S. government views online poker operations, at least those that cross state lines, as illegal.

 

Full Tilt was a deliberate fraud. Money was taken in with no intention of paying back people who were owed money. It was supervised by private entities not the federal government. Full Tilt lured people into playing with promises of payoffs. During one of the debates among GOP presidential candidates it was a contest to see who was more like Reagan. When it comes to the social safety net Reagan was a flaming liberal compared to this group of conservatives wackos – By today’s Tea Party standards, the Republican icon would have been a Leninist-Marxist-socialist America hater.

2. Reagan Shored Up Social Security

Last Rick Perry reprised his attack on Social Security, calling the program that has kept millions of seniors out of poverty a “monstrous lie.” But if Perry is going to keep insisting that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, that would make Ronald Reagan its Bernie Madoff.

After boasting of his plans to privatize Social Security so that “those who can make better provisions for themselves” be allowed to do so, Reagan bailed out the program to the tune of $165 billion. In fact, Republicans can thank Reagan that they even have a Social Security to rail against.

The  Reagan-O’Neill Social Security deal was not the best route to take in the long run and it did raise payroll taxes, but it did save Soc. Sec. for the immediate future at the time. The Right wants to have it both ways as usual – to be the party of Reagan yet go full tilt destroying  income security for seniors.

The Four Stooges write a letter – McConnell, Boehner, Kyl, and Cantor’s Letter to the Fed

But an official letter from members of the House and Senate to the Fed is more official, and more threatening to the Fed’s independence than a speech from an individual member of Congress. Robert Reich explains the objections:

The Republican’s Latest Ploy to Keep the Economy Lousy through Election Day, by Robert Reich: …To say it’s unusual for a political party to try to influence the Fed is an understatement.

When I was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, it was considered a serious breach of etiquette — not to say potentially economically disastrous — even to comment publicly about the Fed. Everyone understood how important it is to shield the nation’s central bank from politics.

If global investors suspect the Fed is responding to political pressure of any kind, investors will lose trust in the nation’s monetary policies. Even if the pressure is to tighten the money supply and keep interest rates high, it’s still politics. And once politics intrudes, lenders of all stripes worry that it will continue to intrude in all sorts of ways. The inevitable result: Lenders charge more for lending us money.

The letter puts Bernanke and his colleagues in a huge bind. If they decide against another round of so-called “quantitative easing” to lower long-term rates and boost the economy, they may look like they’re caving to congressional Republicans. If they decide to go ahead notwithstanding, they’re bucking the Republicans and siding with Democrats. Either way, they’re open to the charge they’re playing politics.

Congressional Republicans evidently don’t care. They want Obama out, whatever the cost. Besides, they’ve never met a government institution they don’t mind trashing.

 

Those of us who survived the Bush 43 er are all too familiar with the scorched earth mentality of the conservative movement. Trashing the economy is fair game in the conservative playbook because it is just politics. Blue collar conservatives don’t seem to mind because they think they’ll be miraculously spared when the wildfire spreads. They have this bewildering and sick tendency to enjoy self flagellation anyway. If the economy does grind down another notch that puts them a little closer to starting the country all over again with a clean slate, where they can have that pure perfect free market where nutt’n ever goes wrong. Instead of or rather in addition to fantasy-land Constitutional originalism, they’re pushing and  hope’n for some economic originalism. And if they have to take down millions of American families to accomplish that, well it has thus been divined. Stan Collender’s conclusion on the Four Stooge’s letter,

Today’s letter is far worse than anything that happened last November.  This warning is directly from the Republican congressional leadership instead of just outside economists and strategists, and the letter is almost sinister and ominous in its tone.  The treat that terrible things will come to those who help the economy when the GOP is not in charge of the White House sounds very real.

My question: If Rick Perry — one of the wanna-be GOP candidates for president — says that Bernanke’s actions to date have been treasonous, what do you call today’s Republican demand that the federal agency with the legal responsibility and the potential power to help GDP grow and unemployment to fall not do anything to help the American economy?

BS is the mildest term I can think of for this situation.

 

Many Republicans are positive they love the USA. It is a twisted love. It is the love a parent shouts as social services take away the child that has been beaten into a coma by the same parents. It is the kind of love only rabid nationalists have for their country. History has shown repeatedly that never turns out well.

Black and White Highway wallpaper – The Newest Zombie Lie, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme

Black and White Highway wallpaper

Philip Klein is the Senior Editorial Writer at a new dungeon in Wingnuttia called Campaign 2012 ( I wonder if they paid Jon Stewart for the inspiration and the traffic they hope to leech). Klein gets the Conservative Most Likely to Dry Hump Rick Perry’s Leg Award for this idiotic column – Romney throws America’s youth under the bus

Mitt Romney doubled down on his attack against Texas Gov. Rick Perry this afternoon, warning in an interview with Sean Hannity that his critique of Social Security amounted to “terrible politics” that would cost Republicans the election.

Romney’s decision to pile on suggests that he’s willing to play the “granny card” against Perry if it will help him get elected, a tactic more becoming of the likes of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz than a potential Republican nominee.

[   ]…Romney is wrong — Social Security is forced upon us, and it is a failure. It is a scam foisted upon younger Americans who must fork over payroll taxes to fund current retirees and other government services with no prospect of actually recouping what they put into the system.

Social Security was enacted in 1935. That would make it the longest running and most successful “scam” in history. That “scam” has kept millions of seniors out of poverty. By making it able for many seniors to live independent lives in retirement Social Security has also helped millions more American families stay out of financial hardship. There has been no private business entity that has proved as financially viable as Social Security over the 66 years Social Security has been in existence. Private pensions can be wiped out with a company’s bankruptcy. To say contributors will not recoup those contributions in benefits is a lie. Most people do recoup their contributions and Social Security will be there if we continue to properly finance it. Klein is echoing Gov. Rick Perry’s(R-TX) argument that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme”. Social Security Is Not a Ponzi Scheme

When politicians make clearly false claims, reporters have an obligation to explain to readers why those claims are false—or at least quote someone who can. I would suggest political scientist Jonathan Bernstein:

Very simple: anyone who says that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme either misunderstands Social Security, misunderstands Ponzi schemes, is deliberately lying, or some combination of those…After all, a Ponzi scheme is a deliberate fraud. Saying that Social Security is financed like a Ponzi scheme is factually wrong, but saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or is like a Ponzi scheme is basically a false accusation of fraud against the US government and the politicians who have supported Social Security over the years.

larger size chart.

 

A blogger at DK also has some inconvenient facts for the governor and his genuflecting fans – Social Security is NOT a Ponzi Scheme, Dammit! (copiously sourced)

Many of my most reasonable friends buy into the myth that Social Security is in deep trouble. It’s so accepted and commonly heard amongst major media talking heads, not to mention Republican politicians. In the debate held 9/7/11 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Rick Perry notoriously labeled Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and “montrous lie.”

What are the facts about Social Security’s solvency?

Well, Social Security continues to be in better shape than everything else in government. It has run a surplus not a deficit for the majority of its years in existence.

Reasonable entities (meaning parties like the Congressional Budget Office not right-wing hysterics) assure us that Social Security will continue to be able to operate paying full benefits for the next 25 years.

[  ]… (the sources used for the column)

Defending Social Security. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The Hill, 3/02/11.

More on Raising the Retirement Age.” Ezra Klein. Washington Post, 7/08/10.

“To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security.” Nancy Altman. New Deal 2.0, 6/14/10.

Lawrence Mishel. Economic Policy Institute.

Top 5 Social Security Myths. MoveOn.org.

Straight Facts on Social Security [pdf]. Economic Opportunity Institute.

Social Security and the Age of Retirement [pdf]. Center for Economic Policy Research.

Operating Budget Actuarial Table. Social Security Administration.

Those who bought into the idea that Social Security was the third rail might want to think again. The Right does have its defenders of Social Security ( Karl Rove has been critical of Perry on the issue), but take a tour of the comment sections of some right-wing websites and their posts on Social Security. They really think the only thing standing between them and financial paradise is Social Security and Obama. We’re all familiar with these zombies and their mentality. All the charts, facts, diagrams and appeals to human decency have to be made and they certainly do have an affect, especially in the case of Social Security. Low income cultural conservatives have the same fears about losing what is in many cases is their only income as everyone else. The conservative zombies are another matter. The same people who believe that social security is a Ponzi scheme are the same people who believe Obama was not born in the US, who believe cutting taxes creates millions of jobs, who believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, who believe Saddam had WMD and was involved in the attacks of Sept 11,2011. So with the knowledge that we’re dealing with people who have a strong aversion to the facts please do not think you can just make their Ponzi scheme mythlogizing go away with some derisive humor and charts. Experience tells us it won’t. Just as there are conservatives who wish the racists elements of the movement would get a grip, there are conservatives who wish the conservative movement was a little more rational about core safety net issues like Social Security – i.e. the rift represented by Romney versus Perry-Bachmann-Paul. Just as their powers of denial and deflection work on so many issues it is likely to be a mistake to take this rift as proof conservative zombie-ism is on its last legs. The Right feels more threatened than ever by progress – even the slightest progress. That fear is driving a very strong far Right re-entrenchment. That fear is a large part of what brought us the teaservatives. If these people can pretend they had nothing to do with the Great Recession, had nothing to do with enabling the senseless deaths of 4,000 Americans, than denying facts about Social Security or taxes or science is a cakewalk. If you’re already tired of reading about Social Security and the Ponzi scheme comparison, get ready to be thoroughly burned out on the subject.

 

True confessions, I’m not overly fond of presidential speeches. Obama’s are frequently worth a listen. I reached a point where I just read Bush’s at the White House website. Thus as one can imagine I’m not big on speech analysis either. It’s like eating cauliflower, it has to be done occasionally. James Fallows does pick up on a couple of things in regards the intangibles of the speech. People respond to the facts, but emotions help sell what politicians have to say. Anyone who doesn’t think conservatives have their own brand of emotionally laden hopey changey, just look up some of the commentary or naked cowering conservatives have done over speeches by Bush 43 or Saint Ronnie. On the Tone and Structure of the Obama Jobs Speech

1) In his appraisal, the Atlantic’s Chris Good said that the speech’s refrain — pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away —  amounted to a kind of begging to Congress. That may be the President’s real situation. But I thought that as a specimen of rhetoric, his approach in the speech was quite effective.

In style and structure the constant refrain provided the “music” of the speech. Do you wonder what point the President is trying to get across? Well, in case you’ve forgotten, every thirty seconds he will remind you: Pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away.

It’s an approach familiar from religious speeches and sermons, and tent-revival orations. When done right, the recurrent refrain seems not repetitive and boring but rather cumulatively engaging: the audience knows where the speaker is going, anticipates the connections he is going to make, and sees how the parts fit together. Most listeners will not know about the theory of rhyme schemes or the structure of refrains in poetry. But we all recognize these patterns when we hear them. Recall how, in a more innocent age, Obama used Yes we can as a stylized connective refrain. After the jump is a passage where I thought the refrain worked well as a thematic device (and was delivered well).

Some wingers have declared that President Obama sounded very angry. I did not sense anger as much as urgency. That the president would be so quickly bounced by the Right for even the subjective appearance of anger is a lesson for liberals who keep calling for him to get angry. It will detract from the message. The message itself might be too late, but in terms of tone it hit just the right mark.

How about the substance? Mark Zandi writing at Moody’s Analytics makes that easy – An Analysis of the Obama Jobs Plan

   President Obama’s jobs proposal would help stabilize confidence and keep the U.S. from sliding back into recession.

The plan would add 2 percentage points to GDP growth next year, add 1.9 million jobs, and cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point.

The plan would cost about $450 billion, about $250 billion in tax cuts and $200 billion in spending increases.

Many of the president’s proposals are unlikely to pass Congress, but the most important have a chance of winning bipartisan support.

Curious wonks will find more detail at the link. Here’s the thing. How many votes will it require to pass the Senate? Do not look in your old civics textbook. The answer is not 51 votes or a simple majority. It will take sixty votes. The economic terrorists or tea bags have a big enough majority in the House to kill it from step one. Some analysis puts the chance of passage of some form of The Jobs Bill at 50%. Seeing that like the last stimulus( The Recovery Act) this one is composed of mostly tax cuts that would make Republicans look like hypocrites once again. Something that Obama has gotten good at doing. And hey Krugman kinda likes it – Setting Their Hair on Fire

Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck. As I said, it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.

But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition. And it’s worth noting just how much that opposition has hardened over time, even as the plight of the unemployed has worsened.

This story is a couple of week old, but worth a look at Paul Ryan(R-WI), one of the biggest wusses of conservatism. Ryan both insults a senior citizen and constituent,  and cowers at the thought of having to honestly answer a question: Ryan’s Approach to 71-Year-Old Dissenting Constituent: Tackle, Handcuff, Arrest, Disdain

Incredible video of Paul Ryan at his only, $15-a-pop public appearance, wherein he makes the lunatic claim that “most of our debt comes from our entitlement programs” – Bush tax cuts? Iraq? Afghanistan? anyone? – as police wrestle to the ground retired plumber Tom Nielsen for objecting.

As Ryan kept talking, Nielsen, 71, found himself face down on the floor being handcuffed by police. He was thrown to the ground, placed in handcuffs, and arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest after objecting to Ryan’s plans to gut Social Security and Medicare during his congressman’s only public appearance scheduled during the August recess — a $15 Rotary Club luncheon in West Allis, Wisconsin on Tuesday.

 

I probably have quite a few readers who have had jobs or still have jobs where you have to deal with the public. I bet you’ve dealt with much worse and managed to address the person’s concerns and calm them down without getting the police involved.