HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Twitter:
@digby56
@DavidOAtkins

emails:
Digby:
digbysez at gmail
David:
isnospoon at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news

Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
BagNewsNotes
Daily Kos
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Echidne
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
oilprice.com
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist


Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 27, 2011

 
Veto-proof Bipartisanship

by digby


So, David Axelrod had a blogger roundtable yesterday and he addressed what Obama really meant in his spech about Social Security. It looks like we're going to play a game of semantics:


Q Bill Scher with Campaign for America’s Future. As you know, Campaign was pretty pleased with what the President said -- the President had to say about Social Security last night, although noting that the door is still open with some changes to the program.
I was curious, what is the polling telling the White House and telling you as his political advisor how best to approach Social Security? Our polling is showing there’s been a lot of opposition to raising the retirement age, for example. But is your polling telling you anything similar or different in how that will inform the President going forward?

MR. AXELROD: Well, I think all of that is pretty consistent. What informed his thinking on this is that what is true is that in the long term there are issues on the horizon relative to Social Security, as you know, because you’re obviously a student of research. Among younger Americans, there’s a profound suspicion that Social Security isn’t even going to be there. And among older Americans, there’s a great deal of anxiety about tampering with it.

And our goal is to make sure that the program is strong and secure. The President laid out his principles last night, and we’re willing to have a discussion, but those principles are going to inform the discussion.

Q Speaking of those principles -- I’m Chris Bowers with Daily Kos.

MR. AXELROD: How you doing?

Q I’m doing good. President Obama came out in opposition to benefit cuts and also to privatization. Would he still be willing to talk about those as part of a bipartisan solution, or is he more inclined to veto any bipartisan deal that includes either benefit cuts or privatization?

MR. AXELROD: Well, first of all, I think that -- as I said, I think his interest is in seeing the program strengthened, and there are certain things that are not just non-starters for him but I think many, many members of Congress, and that includes privatization, which Congressman Ryan has opposed, for example.

But I don’t think -- I mean, this is a delicate time because I don’t think you want to start pre-negotiating or pre-discussing issues to the point where people say, well, there’s no point in even sitting down and talking about this stuff. So I’m not going to, here, start parsing the President’s words and so on.

I will say this. I don’t think -- there’s not going to be a bipartisan agreement for him to veto. I think if there’s a bipartisan agreement that it’s going to be hammered out around the principles that he articulated last night or it’s probably not going to move forward. Just the nature of the issue.

So we’ll see what ensues from here.


I would appear the bipartisanship is what is sought on this. And I would guess that bipartisanship isn't going to be hard to come by. This is from last week:

The White House and a bipartisan group of senators are focusing on restructuring the tax code and entitlement programs such as Social Security, which could have more dramatic impacts on the deficit in the long run but would do little in the short term. White House officials say Republican calls for $100 billion in spending cuts this year would choke off the economic recovery while doing little in the long run to tame the deficit.

"The American people say, don't touch Social Security, don't touch Medicare, don't cut defense. That's 84% of the federal budget," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.). who is retiring when his term ends in 2012, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "If you can't touch 84% of the federal budget...you're down to 16% of the budget at a time we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend."


Conrad doesn't seem to be worrying about "strengthening" social security in that conversation. But I have no doubt that is how they plan to sell it. After all, people are already signing on to the idea that because social security will have a slight shortfall in 2040 or so, we need to cut the program right now. It's one of those Orwellian "war is peace" things: strength through weakness.

If I hadn't seen the administration negotiations of the past two years on such things as tax cuts and stimulus and health care, I might be more sanguine about this one and give the benefit of the doubt about what they mean by principles. But that would be foolish at this point.

Here's more:


[T]he seeds of cautious optimism rest in the Senate, where Conrad is expected to lead the charge along with three others who voted in favor of the Bowles-Simpson proposals: liberal Dick Durbin of Illinois (also the Democratic whip) and conservatives Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Conrad has already said he would only support a long-term extension of the nation's debt ceiling -- set to expire March 31 -- if accompanied by a package similar to the $4 trillion in spending cuts the commission proposed.

Signs of a thaw in the political deadlock over the debt were evident in the public reception to the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. Outrage was surprisingly muted over some of the panel's supposedly suicidal proposals -- like raising the retirement age and limiting the mortgage deduction. In other words, this time voters apparently meant it when they told pollsters that the government's massive borrowing was one of their greatest worries.

Other signs of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill include a proposal by Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri to bring spending down to a historical average of 20.6% of GDP over the next ten years. The plan includes a trigger that gives the House and Senate 45 days to offset any increase in spending.

On the House side, Republican Budget Chair Paul Ryan voted against the debt commission proposals. Nevertheless, he has partnered with former Clinton budget director (and fellow debt commission member) Alice Rivlin on a Medicare savings plan.

Under that plan, seniors who turn 65 in 2021 or later would not enroll in existing Medicare but instead would receive vouchers to purchase healthcare in the private market -- an effort to inject price competition into the system.

The Ryan-Rivlin plan is certain to draw plenty of incoming fire. But the partnering of these two brilliant minds -- one a free-market Republican "young gun," the other a Clinton era veteran and critic of Reaganomics -- on a such a revolutionary reform shows how much the political ground has shifted.

Meanwhile, a tenuous bipartisan consensus is emerging over Social Security reform -- plans that include some mix of means testing for the wealthy, raising the retirement age, bumping the payroll tax and limiting cost of living adjustments. That's a big leap from just five years ago, when George W. Bush's attempt at Social Security reform left him bruised and battered.


As far as I can tell from Axelrod's conversation with the bloggers and everything we've seen and heard from the political establishment, the only real "principle" here is bipartisanship. Obama gets high marks from the Villagers and Democrats when he forges a bipartisan deal with the Republicans --- no matter what the deal is. That he was praised and rewarded for cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans in a time of deficit fever tells you how far the American people have fallen down the rabbit hole. Don't think he doesn't get that.

The debt ceiling is pure kabuki. If the president allows them to use it, whatever "compromises" he makes will be because he wants to. The Republicans have already acknowledged that they must raise it. Here are the two real hostages that the bipartisan budget slashers have taken:

If the new Congress doesn't act, debate over how to control the federal debt will be one issue at the forefront of the 2012 presidential campaign. That may be fine, but MacGuineas worries that pushing action into 2013 means flirting with the possibility of an event that triggers a debt crisis. Even then, she says, "It's not clear the markets don't lose patience with us before 2013."


The "markets", of course, which care deeply about cutting social security even though it doesn't contribute to the deficit, and care nothing for health care costs, which are strangling the nation. Markets aren't very bright, apparently. But still, let's this could all cause a huge crisis and then where would we be?

But the big, important hostage is the election, isn't it? They are threatening that this is going to be the huge issue unless Obama does exactly what they want. Of course, it will be a big issue anyway, and Obama will be accused of hurting seniors anyway, but Democrats and Villagers will be thrilled because he worked in a bipartisan fashion so maybe it will all work out for him. Sadly, I don't think it will work out as well for Democrats who follow him. They will be subject to ads like this all over the country:



Who is the "60 Plus Association"?

On its Web site, the 60-Plus Association describes itself as a "non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach." They list their main issues as the "death tax" (estate tax), energy, health care and Social Security. 60 Plus is registered as a 501(c)(4) non-profit with the Internal Revenue Service...

A February, 2003 report in the AARP Bulletin called 60 Plus a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. The author, Bill Hogan, wrote that 60 Plus, along with Senior Coalition and United Seniors Association, "claim to speak for millions of older Americans, although as recently as 2001 none of the three listed any revenue from membership dues on their tax returns." The article added: "virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source -- the nation's pharmaceutical industry."


In the wake of Citizens United, a thousand "60 Plus Associations" will be formed, with much more shadowy provenance than this.

Now here's the really fun part. Even though I've heard that Obama plans to "make the Republicans own" social security reform right along with him, there will be no ads like this against Republicans. That's because the president will have boisterously declared "Mission Accomplished" and even Democrats who voted against it (few as they will probably be since politically dangerous "bipartisan" legislation is passed with a huge number of Dems and a handful of Republicans) won't want to taint him with this bad message. And we know who these shadowy corporate front groups are really working for, don't we?

This race for the money is going to be a huge problem for Dems, and when you cut through the crap, that's what this is. No matter how thoroughly they sell out (or how much they truly believe) they are always going to be at a disadvantage as long as they have groups like unions and racial minorities and do-gooders in their coalition. Corporate America would much rather work with the compliant Republicans who truly buy into their agenda and only hedge their bets with Dems in order to have leverage when the Republicans inevitably screw up. They are always the bridesmaids, never the bride.


.

Search Digby!