"Back to 1965..."

Ezra Klein notes the "peculiar impasse" in the negotiations to veer away from the apocalypse Armageddon cataclysm annihilation very-scary-sounding-thingy fiscal cliff: Republicans would agree to revenue if Democrats would just agree too... uh...

They know they want “Medicare reform” — indeed, they frequently identify Medicare reform as the key to their support for a deal — but aside from premium support, they don’t quite know what they mean by it, and they’re afraid to find out. 

The solution they’ve come up with, such as it is, is to insist that the Obama administration needs to be the one to propose Medicare cuts. “We accepted this meeting with the expectation that the White House team will bring a specific plan for real spending cuts — because spending cuts that Washington Democrats will accept is what is missing from the balanced approach that the president says he wants,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in regard to the most recent round of talks.

Democrats find this flatly ridiculous: Given that the Obama administration would happily raise taxes without cutting Medicare but that Republicans will only raise taxes if we cut Medicare, it falls on the Republicans to name their price. But behind their negotiating posture is a troubling policy reality: They don’t know what that price is.

Fear of political costs for unpopular, but necessary -- you believe -- policy isn't a political novelty (especially if you've convinced your entire base to take leave of the real world).  But I think this gives the Republicans too much credit in this particular self-created predicament.  This assumes they have specific ideas they believe make good policy and just don't want to own them alone.  It assumes they've thought this one through beyond an ideological hatred for Medicare and the safety net at large, success of the program(s) be damned.  Sherrod Brown said it best in 2003:

[Privatization] has really been the thrust. From President Bush to the gentleman from California (Mr. Thomas) to Speaker Gingrich a few years ago, to back in 1965, Republicans really wanted this system turned over to the insurance companies. Privatize Medicare and give it to the insurance industry. Go back to 1965, out of roughly 200 Republican Members of the House and Senate, only 23 voted for the creation of Medicare. Gerald Ford in 1965, a future President, voted against it. Congressman Dole, future Senator Dole, Republican Presidential candidate, voted against it. Senator Strom Thurmond voted against the creation of Medicare. Congressman Donald Rumsfeld in 1965, later Secretary of Defense and the architect of this plan, I put in quotation marks, of the rebuilding of Iraq, voted against the creation of Medicare.

Then in 1995, the first time Republicans had an opportunity to do something about Medicare, the Republicans under Speaker Gingrich tried to cut it by $270 billion in order to give a tax cut to the most privileged Americans, the same old story. Speaker Gingrich said in October 1995 that he hoped Medicare would wither on the vine.

Republicans don't find themselves without a specific demand because  Vouchercare isn't on the table, they are in this bind because Vouchercare was only popular with Republicans primarily as a gateway to privatization. 

I find it hard to believe the same party that successfully sold trickle-down economics for 3+ decades with little push back from Democrats, or managed to get the very tax cuts being debated now on the table then (as a job creator, no less) is suddenly too timid to bullshit the American populace into getting behind they're latest proposal.  No. They would praise the genius of toddler's finger painting if they thought the public would buy it. The reason Republicans can't make a specific demand now with the White House bluntly asking them to name their price is simple: they haven't considered it much.

Reform is the white wash, overblown fears of fiscal solvency the excuse, and privatization the thrust.  But the goal has always been an end to the social safety net.

Not something you admit to outside of the country club, even if it is the President asking.

 

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA 02) indicates he might side with Republicans on extending 'Bush tax cuts' in exchange for a longterm defict plan

Given his support of Wall Street deregulation, restricting a woman’s right to choose, and tepid support of universal health care, it is well known Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA, 02) is a reluctant Democrat. Still, recent comments he made to The Hill newspaper about possibly supporting an extension of all the Bush tax cuts for another year, are as shocking as they are bad economic policy.

‘Rep. Richard Neal (Mass), the top Democrat on a House Ways and Means Subcommittee that deals with taxes, said he would listen to a proposal for some “breathing room” if he thought a substantial deficit deal could be achieved.’

Instead of worrying about 'breathing room’ for a deficit reduction deal that as last year's pursuit of a ‘grand bargain’ showed congressional Republicans are not interested in forging, Neal should remember, the Bush tax cuts laid the groundwork for the trillions in debt we are now facing and exacerbate the problem of wealth inequality.

As usual, Neal defended his comments with a spokesperson, saying his record ‘speaks for itself’, but the people he is vying to represent in the newly drawn First Massachusetts Congressional District as well as those he currently represents, need someone to speak for them.

 Andrea Nuciforo, the Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds and former State Senator from Berkshire County, who is mounting a primary challenge against Neal, is calling on him to vote against extending the Bush tax cuts on the top 2%, instead of bending over backwards to please the tea party types in congress, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. 

 

 

 

Talking to Conservatives: Tips on Reaching Across the Aisle

Tips on talking to political adversaries. Moving past politics, partisanship and labels, recognizing corporatism masquerading as progressivism or conservatism, and going straight to the issues. Read on...

Is it Time for Democrats to Fight Obama?

You want to hear something really depressing? If John McCain had won the presidency, there is almost no chance he could have gotten the Bush tax cuts extended for the rich. Think about it. How was a Republican president going to get an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate and House to pass those tax cuts that they hated under Bush?

No, only a Democratic president could get a Democratic Congress to agree to tax cuts for the rich. So, in this sense, progressives are worse off for having a Democratic president than a Republican one.

Then, at least we would have known who we were fighting. Remember, Bush could barely, barely get these same tax cuts passed when the Republicans controlled both the Senate and the House!

Funny how the rich and powerful win no matter who is in charge and what party they claim to be from. And think about how much the political spectrum has shifted to the right that Bush had to use reconciliation and then barely got the tax cut through a Republican Congress whereas now a Senate with basically 59 Democrats just passed the same tax cuts with ease. Washington has fallen off a right-wing cliff and the media hardly noticed.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said this about the estate tax provision:

"We had the president--George W. Bush--we couldn't get it done then and we're getting it done here."

Ouch. Their victory is so overwhelming that the Republicans are brazenly bragging about how they couldn't even get Bush to do what Obama has done for them.

Finally, you have to ask why Democrats who were willing to fight Bush are crumbling in front of Obama? He claims to be the leader of your party, but honestly who cares? If he is doing the exact opposite of what you claim to stand for, why does it matter what he calls himself?

Democrats would certainly have fought a surge in Afghanistan if Bush was in charge. They would be complaining about warrantless wiretapping if Bush continued that program instead of Obama. They would have hated the monopoly that drug companies got in the health care legislation (because they went nuts over it when Bush made the same deal). And they would have gone apoplectic over these huge tax cuts for the rich. But under Obama, the defense contractors, the rich and the powerful have gotten almost everything they wanted and nary a peep was heard from the Democrats in Congress.

Here is the new memo - fight him, he's not on your side.

When I asked Rep. Jim McDermott some of these questions last night, he seemed at a loss for what to do next. You can feel his frustration and confusion as to how we got here with a Democratic president. Here are some of his quotes:

"Well, I think a lot of us are, in the caucus, we're not quite sure why this is happening. It doesn't make political sense what he did, and it doesn't make economic sense."

"I think that we are in serious trouble because the president simply does not seem willing to go after some things that I think he's going to have to if he's going to get anything done for the people of this country. He simply has, in my view, given up the willingness to fight for economic justice in this country."

"I think it's going to take us a while to get over what's happened here, and I really think... it is very hard to think how you're going to deal with the next round here, because the president has now shown that he can be bullied, and I don't want my president to be bullied."

"And I think he... we would be all much better if we were able to say, you know, that we're not going to back down, and that there's no excuse for us giving up like this. I mean, that's the hard part for me, is that it's giving up without a fight."

"[W]hen you start giving in on the kinds of things he's giving in on, you really worry that there is no way back from that. And I'm, I mean, that's why I said it was... this was Gettysburg, because it really is... that was the turning point in the war. And it really is a question of how you continue to rally your troops if you keep giving in on things that people really care about."

Until you get to a point where you're not sure he has the same idea of what "people really care about." He might have a different idea, a Republican idea. Or at the very least, a Washington idea of what people care about - so-called centrist compromises that somehow always benefit the establishment.

To watch the interview click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2dida2x3Sw

 

 

Is it Time for Democrats to Fight Obama?

You want to hear something really depressing? If John McCain had won the presidency, there is almost no chance he could have gotten the Bush tax cuts extended for the rich. Think about it. How was a Republican president going to get an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate and House to pass those tax cuts that they hated under Bush?

No, only a Democratic president could get a Democratic Congress to agree to tax cuts for the rich. So, in this sense, progressives are worse off for having a Democratic president than a Republican one.

Then, at least we would have known who we were fighting. Remember, Bush could barely, barely get these same tax cuts passed when the Republicans controlled both the Senate and the House!

Funny how the rich and powerful win no matter who is in charge and what party they claim to be from. And think about how much the political spectrum has shifted to the right that Bush had to use reconciliation and then barely got the tax cut through a Republican Congress whereas now a Senate with basically 59 Democrats just passed the same tax cuts with ease. Washington has fallen off a right-wing cliff and the media hardly noticed.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said this about the estate tax provision:

"We had the president--George W. Bush--we couldn't get it done then and we're getting it done here."

Ouch. Their victory is so overwhelming that the Republicans are brazenly bragging about how they couldn't even get Bush to do what Obama has done for them.

Finally, you have to ask why Democrats who were willing to fight Bush are crumbling in front of Obama? He claims to be the leader of your party, but honestly who cares? If he is doing the exact opposite of what you claim to stand for, why does it matter what he calls himself?

Democrats would certainly have fought a surge in Afghanistan if Bush was in charge. They would be complaining about warrantless wiretapping if Bush continued that program instead of Obama. They would have hated the monopoly that drug companies got in the health care legislation (because they went nuts over it when Bush made the same deal). And they would have gone apoplectic over these huge tax cuts for the rich. But under Obama, the defense contractors, the rich and the powerful have gotten almost everything they wanted and nary a peep was heard from the Democrats in Congress.

Here is the new memo - fight him, he's not on your side.

When I asked Rep. Jim McDermott some of these questions last night, he seemed at a loss for what to do next. You can feel his frustration and confusion as to how we got here with a Democratic president. Here are some of his quotes:

"Well, I think a lot of us are, in the caucus, we're not quite sure why this is happening. It doesn't make political sense what he did, and it doesn't make economic sense."

"I think that we are in serious trouble because the president simply does not seem willing to go after some things that I think he's going to have to if he's going to get anything done for the people of this country. He simply has, in my view, given up the willingness to fight for economic justice in this country."

"I think it's going to take us a while to get over what's happened here, and I really think... it is very hard to think how you're going to deal with the next round here, because the president has now shown that he can be bullied, and I don't want my president to be bullied."

"And I think he... we would be all much better if we were able to say, you know, that we're not going to back down, and that there's no excuse for us giving up like this. I mean, that's the hard part for me, is that it's giving up without a fight."

"[W]hen you start giving in on the kinds of things he's giving in on, you really worry that there is no way back from that. And I'm, I mean, that's why I said it was... this was Gettysburg, because it really is... that was the turning point in the war. And it really is a question of how you continue to rally your troops if you keep giving in on things that people really care about."

Until you get to a point where you're not sure he has the same idea of what "people really care about." He might have a different idea, a Republican idea. Or at the very least, a Washington idea of what people care about - so-called centrist compromises that somehow always benefit the establishment.

To watch the interview click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2dida2x3Sw

 

 

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