Friday, March 29, 2013

Bad Friday

The good folks in the Obama administration used this holiday to unload a story that they hope no one will read. Obama is serious about cutting Social Security and Medicare. Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars wrote the piece at the other end of that link; she quotes from The Wall Street Journal. You have to subscribe to the Journal to read the original piece; fortunately, Madrak reprints the important stuff, as will I:
The White House is strongly considering including limits on entitlement benefits in its fiscal 2014 budget—a proposal it first offered Republicans in December. The move would be aimed in part at keeping alive bipartisan talks on a major budget deal.

Such a proposal could include steps that make many Democrats queasy, such as reductions in future Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments, but also items resisted by Republicans, such as higher taxes through limits on tax breaks, people close to the White House said.

These measures would come as President Barack Obama continues his courtship of the Senate GOP in an effort to thaw tax-and-spending talks. The White House's delayed annual budget is scheduled to be released April 10, the same day Mr. Obama plans to dine with a group of Senate Republicans to discuss the budget and other issues.

President Obama's inclusion of the proposal would be aimed at breathing new life into bipartisan talks on reaching a deficit-reduction deal.
Including entitlement curbs would be notable, as Republicans often have criticized the White House for offering such steps in private negotiations but never fully embracing them as part of an official budget plan.

People close to the White House believe a proposal to slow the growth rate of such benefits would use a variant of the Consumer Price Index to measure inflation. The new inflation indicator would cut overall spending by $130 billion, according to White House projections, and raise $100 billion in tax revenue by slowing the growth of tax brackets. The White House earlier called for an additional $800 billion or so in cuts on top of those resulting from the inflation adjustments.

"We and all of the groups engaged on this are starting to feel it may well be in the budget," said Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president at AARP, an advocacy group for seniors that opposes such changes.
C&L's closing comment:
Cutting Social Security and Medicare in exchange for small tax increases on the wealthy is like taking a bag of groceries from poor people in exchange for a cookie from a rich person. No, not even a cookie -- a crumb from a cookie. Good Lord, these people are insane.
I'll repeat the most important info given in that article: The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414. The comments line is 202-456-1111. You can email the White House by clicking here.

Please don't tell yourself that complaining does no good. Right-wing leaders mobilize their minions all the time -- and they get things done. You know what does no good? Defeatism.

I like lambert's line:
$15 trillion to the banksters, no questions asked, no strings attached, and now the Powers That Be are trying to screw $1000.00 out of some 85-five-year'old lady's $12,000 a year Social Security check with Chained CPI. Do they think old people years have only eleven months, or what?

I mean, why should she be eating catfood made from Genuine Chicken Parts when she could so easily substitute catfood made from Genuine Offal From Floor Scraping?
Meanwhile, Paul Krugman -- as is his wont -- has been fighting tirelessly against the presupposition that austerity is necessary or beneficial. There is no danger of a deficit crisis:
Basically, the numbers refuse to cooperate: Interest rates remain stubbornly low, deficits are declining and even 10-year budget projections basically show a stable fiscal outlook rather than exploding debt.

So talk of a fiscal crisis has subsided. Yet the deficit scolds haven’t given up on their determination to bully the nation into slashing Social Security and Medicare. So they have a new line: We must bring down the deficit right away because it’s “generational warfare,” imposing a crippling burden on the next generation.
Krugman goes on to make the classic argument that the debt is, in essence, money we owe to ourselves.
Trade deficits are down, not up, while business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly from the slump. And the main reason businesses aren’t investing more is inadequate demand. They’re sitting on lots of cash, despite soaring profits, because there’s no reason to expand capacity when you aren’t selling enough to use the capacity you have.
You don’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that America needs more and better infrastructure, but the latest “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers — with its tally of deficient dams, bridges, and more, and its overall grade of D+ — still makes startling and depressing reading. And right now — with vast numbers of unemployed construction workers and vast amounts of cash sitting idle — would be a great time to rebuild our infrastructure. Yet public investment has actually plunged since the slump began.
How long before we decide, finally, to take the obvious course of action -- the course that got us out of the Great Depression? This is not the time to rob Grandma. This is the time to invest in jobs. If we need to borrow money, we can pay it back when things are going well again.
It's Obama doing republican bidding and giving a reward to his Wall Street benefactors, what else is new.
Barack Obama doesn't have the charisma of a Bill Clinton to make it on the rubber chicken circuit.
Right now he has nowhere else to go post White House except to some cushy job on Wall Street, do you really think he gives a rat's butt?

Don't waste your time on him, instead let your Democrat Senators and Representatives know should they not put up a vocal fight you will do anything and everything to see they are on the unemployment line. This includes writing in Rush Limbaugh on your ballot.
Part of an email to my Democratic Senator, unfortunately the other Senator and my Representative are from the Dark Side thanks to Obama's miserable performance his first two years.

I have read, with great dismay, that President Obama is considering detrimental changes to Social Security to appease recalcitrant republican legislators. It is my understanding that he hopes to gain some modest tax rate increases for doing so.

I implore you to take a vocal stand in opposition to any plans President Obama has to further weaken our safety nets of Social Security and Medicare/aid.

A Franklin D. Roosevelt President Obama is not and if this keeps up I a Democratic party supporter will not.

Do not call the white house for God sake, call your congressman or senator. Obama is...and has always been a right wing extremist, with a sugar coating so all the wannabee goose steppers in the Democratic party don't have to be honest with themselves.

And remember, SSI is not part of the budget, so they are in this conversation strictly because Obama wants them to be.
Further to previous mistaken accusations that I harbour some kind of nasty prejudice...I actually think Bergoglio could be the best pope ever.

He washed the feet of 2 girls on Thursday, and of 2 Muslims, who included 1 of the girls. The far right must be absolutely biting the fucking carpet.

Go for it, Frankie!

You are going to see an enormous schism in the church. Good! About fucking time!
The foot-washing thing is biblical and appropos to the season. I know the act pissed off some ultra-Montanist nutcases, but it'll take more than THAT to cause a schism.

What would do it would be a Vatican III conference. Something big. The current Pope won't do that.

Actually, Vatican II did cause a schism -- that's where the sedevacantist tendency was born.

The first one caused an even bigger schism. That was the confab which gave us the doctrine of papal infallibility (which everyone misunderstands, and which has been invoked only once). Cat-licks who didn't like that doctrine -- mostly die-hard admirers of the Jansenists -- broke off to form the "Old Catholic" movement.

Did you ever read up on those guys, b? If not, you really ought to study them. Right up your alley. The Old Catholics later heavily interacted with spooks and crooks -- in fact, there's an Old Catholic angle to the whole Oswald, Ferrie and Bannister enterprise. Maybe I should write about "all that stuff" one of these days.

Also, the Old Catholics gave us that delightful kook Montague Summers (friend to Uncle Al) as well as his more recent incarnation, Sean Manchester (who, I'm told, is not quite so delightful a fellow, although he IS kooky).

Boy, I really did go off on a couple of tangents there, didn't I? Perhaps the sight of variegated eggs leads to variegated thinking.
Thanks for this post, Joseph. I will spread the word.
Foot-washing is biblical (gospel of St John), but only of feet belonging to men who were also disciples. And yes, Maundy Thursday. (I do try to keep up! Did you know the British monarch receives gold, frankincense and myrrh at Epiphany? :-) )

The line that washing women's feet is against church law was already being bandied about by the far right before last week.

"it'll take more than THAT to cause a schism"

Indeed. It's a start: a massive va fancolo. There will be more.

"What would do it would be a Vatican III conference. Something big. The current Pope won't do that."

Agreed, that would do it. I think (and indeed hope!) he will do whatever it takes. Huge leverage must have been applied to get him where he is.

Nope - I haven't read up on the Jansenists and OCs. I'll have a look! I know some stuff about the Orthodox 'Old Believers', some of whom were extremely strong-minded in Soviet concentration camps. Montague Summers - argh!

Infallibility has been invoked twice (Immaculate Conception and Assumption), and also on other occasions, according to some theologians.
Told you so.
And now that I've gloated, let me answer your final question:

How long before we decide, finally, to take the obvious course of action -- the course that got us out of the Great Depression?

You're making the obviously false assumption that they want to get us out of the Second Great Depression. They don't. They want cheap labor, for the few things that still require labor. They want a populace that's so scared of losing the few scraps they have ("well, at least you've got a job") that they won't dare rock the boat.

The market's up, the bonuses are back. Everything's just ducky for the 1%. Your belief that anybody in power cares one whit about the public welfare is just a quaint, 20th Century anachronism. Kind of like believing in elves.
Gee, Mr. Mike, I think of both my Democratic Senators (Udall and Bennet) as being from the Dark Side - since they've both proclaimed themselves "deficit hawks" and proponents of "the third way".
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