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Awkward timing for Democrats

By Greg Sargent

One thing that needs to be noted about the just-released draft report from the co-chairs of Obama's fiscal commission -- dubbed the "catfood commission" in the blogosphere -- is how exquisitely awkward the timing is for Democrats.

After an election in which Dems got slaughtered partly because people decided Dems weren't on their side while government took very good care of Wall Street and the big banks, Americans are now being told that Dems may extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich -- and that Obama's fiscal commission wisemen want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

No, this isn't the deficit-reduction commission's final word -- it's only the first bite at the apple by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. It could just be an effort by Bowles and Simpson to game the outcome by pushing the commission their way. But it's being treated as a starting point. And if it's anything like what emerges in the end, Dems would be insane to embrace it.

Some progressive Dems, like Bernie Sanders and Raul Grijalva, are already pillorying the draft report. Said Grijalva: "We have waited through nine months of backroom negotiations only to be told that the American people will have to tighten their belts another notch while defense spending continues to grow and corporate bonuses continue to expand."

The White House was cautious, only saying it's a "step in the process."

In political terms, this set of ideas is just a recipe for further depressing the Dem base and disarming Dems of some of the best weapons they have against Republicans heading into 2012. Some Democratic thinkers believe that Obama's best route ahead is to do as Clinton did, and draw sharp lines in the sand against Republicans by defending popular programs like ... Social Security and Medicare. That's not as easy to do if your handpicked wisemen are sagely insisting that you must cut those same programs.

The problem is that this kind of thing allows the Very Serious People in Washington to pull the conversation over the deficit and our fiscal future in exactly the wrong direction for Democrats.


UPDATE, 4:25 p.m.: AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka:

In these tough economic times, it is unconscionable to be proposing cuts to the critical economic lifelines for working people, Social Security and Medicare. Some people are saying this is plan is just a "starting point." Let me be clear, it is not.

What we need to be focusing on now is the jobs deficit. Working families already paid for Wall Street's party that tanked our economy. If we actually want to address our economic problems, we need to end tax breaks that send American jobs overseas and invest in creating jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and green technologies.

UPDATE, 4:43 p.m.: Atrios terms it the "Democratic Party Self-Destruction Act."

UPDATE, 4:51 p.m.: Pelosi:

This proposal is simply unacceptable. Any final proposal from the Commission should do what is right for our children and grandchildren's economic security as well as for our nation's fiscal security, and it must do what is right for our seniors, who are counting on the bedrock promises of Social Security and Medicare. And it must strengthen America's middle class families -- under siege for the last decade, and unable to withstand further encroachment on their economic security.

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: Turns out other commission members were blindsided by the draft report's release.

By Greg Sargent  | November 10, 2010; 4:17 PM ET
Categories:  2012, House Dems, deficit, economy  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

Did you look at Ezra Klein's blog? He makes the very good point that this is written by 2 people. The rest of the commission has not agreed to this.

Posted by: jjmsan | November 10, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful proposals. Just keep on screwing the 98% even more. This gives Obama a chance to show some spine and diplomatically thank the commission for their work , and then just shelve the damn thing.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 10, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

jjmsan -- yup, I made same point:

"No, this isn't the deficit-reduction commission's final word -- it's only the first bite at the apple by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. It could just be an effort by Bowles and Simpson to game the outcome by pushing the commission their way."

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 10, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The composition of the commission, along with the fact that very early on it was made clear the commission would look at Social Security despite it being off-budget (and thus not part of the current deficit at all.), the only surprising thing about their recommendations is how heartless, misplaced and/or stupid some of the proposals are. The fact that they are horrifically regressive, planning to massively reform the tax code but set the marginal tax rate insanely low both in terms of what it is and how quickly it kicks in. Any sane attempt to balance the budget would not try to tax someone's 200,000th dollar at the same rate as their 1,000,000,000th.

Obama is determined to govern as a moderate Republican. The horrific thing is neither Democrats nor Republicans want one, nor did they vote for one.

Posted by: Bullsmith1 | November 10, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Greg

The first though I had earlier when I read their recommendations plus the fact that Obama is backtracking the timeline for leaving Afghanistan (2014), was "I didn't leave the Democratic party, they left me."

LOL sort of.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: Glad to hear your take on the politics of the report.

Now, do you have an opinion on the merits?

Posted by: sbj3 | November 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"while defense spending continues to grow"

That's not entirely true. Spencer Ackermann already took a stab at the defense cuts and points out a few whoppers:

"The Marines get hit hard. Their V-22 Osprey helicopter? Gone. Their swimming tank, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle — the one that the Senate recently criticized for cost overruns? Gone. Its version of the F-35 fighter jet? Gone."

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/deficit-plan-scraps-pentagon-jets-tanks-trucks/

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 10, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: "this set of ideas is just a recipe for further depressing the Dem base"

Really? Unless it is responded to positively, which I have not seen, my response is the opposite of your take, Greg. It just gears me up for the full debate. I think this is a great motivator for Dems.

Frankly, imho, ANY topic that forces Republicans to think seriously about policy is a net win for Dems automatically.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

*cue ABC breaking news jingle*

♫♪ bah bahhh bupbaaahh ♫

"The White House was cautious..."

braking news more like it

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

My understanding is that they want to lower the top tax bracket to 23% and do away with the mortgage interest deduction.

So the wealthy can become even wealthier and the middle class can disappear?

Why are they even talking about lowering taxes on the wealthy?

Hopefully, when I have a chance to read the entire proposal, the early reports of what they intend will prove false. But good lord, are rich people really that much better than us? Is making sure they maintain their privileged lifestyle that important?

My advice, invest in cardboard, once they've passed their insane "let them eat cake" plan you'll be able to make a fortune (relatively speaking) building homes for those people dumb enough to be born without a trust fund.

Posted by: nisleib | November 10, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

WaPo's article says:

"In a presentation for reporters, Bowles and Simpson stressed that the plan had not been approved either by the White House or by congressional leaders. They expressed little confidence that it can win the support of lawmakers - or even of a majority of commission members."

And the draft I saw posted at TPM specifically says it is not supposed to be released or cited.

The "handpicked wisemen" include the entire commission, not just the co-chairs. Personally, I think Bowles is getting played by Alan Simpson, who knows full well the damage these recommendations can do to Democrats when made public.

Meanwhile, don't doubt that the official position of the GOP has returned to: "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."


Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 10, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey, look: Obama appointed Bowles as the "liberal" co-chairman of the Commission. He deserves the vigorous rogering he gets.

I'm glad we elected a black man named Hussein, but I'm starting to think the Hillary-bots were right, he just has no f-ing clue how to play the game...

Posted by: ibc0 | November 10, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"So the wealthy can become even wealthier and the middle class can disappear?"

This is the plan of the GOP and the corporatist element of the Dems. How many years will it be before we see a re-playing of the 1863 NYC Draft Riots, except this time it will be Teamsters and SEIU members marching down to Wall Street with ropes and looking for lamp posts. It will go over great on the 24/7 news cycle.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 10, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Real smart of the O-Man to buy into the deficit nonsense and create this panel of plutocrats.

And SBJ: what 'merits' would those be? This is just more conservative venality: comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. Raise the payroll tax cap to $250,000 and any SS 'problem' goes away for multiple decades. But not while there are workers to stiff and voters too stupid to notice, as we saw last Tuesday.

Posted by: Tangerine3 | November 10, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

There isn't a single politician, Democrat or Republican, who has the guts to do what is necessary to return this country to fiscal solvency. Doing so will require sacrifices by all of the sacred cows of both parties. As long as "we the people" want everything but unwilling to pay for it we will continue our downward slide into bankruptcy. You think the last "crisis" was bad? Just wait until the US defaults on it's bonds.

Posted by: caebling | November 10, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wonder what the Tea Party thinks? They've been pretty protective of their SS and Medicare. I don't have the energy to find out.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"he just has no f-ing clue how to play the game..."

Remember when people on the left (like me of course) were saying omg after he surrounded himself with supply-siders, that he was clueless, but we were shouted down by those who thought he is really a Jedi Master, or that, well sure he appears to be caving on every front and acting just like Bush, but actually, we just need to watch him demonstrate rope a dope with the Republicans?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

wow, what Mr Sargent can't bring himself to point out is that in these tough times for America the Federal government continues to grow.

USA today notes that the number of highly paid Fed employees grew precipitously. The size of the federal work force has also grown.

The congress got a raise.

But Mr Sargent and his string pullers want to whine about wall street bonuses.

The liberals here are kidding themselves. Just look at the way they've responded to this first foray. After months of demanding specifics from their political oppositions, they now engage in hair tearing and teeth gnashing and demogoguery. Just as the conversative commentariat predicted.

come now children, grow up. It is time to bring the federal, state and local governments to heel. Time for the tax payer funded gravy train to leave the station. Get over your childish class envy rhetoric and help us cut the budget. Or if you can't do that then at least suffer your banishment to the hinterlands in silence. How does that saying go: lead, follow or get out of the way.

Oh and I looooove the whining from trumka. How much more of the sweat from working Americans' brows does he demand for his members?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 10, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

OT - Earlier today I said I doubted McConnell thought his anti health care lawsuit had any merit. I said he was just trying to placate the bagger rubes.

Apparently he has a history of doing this kind of thing:

Before the 2006 midterm elections in which Republicans ultimately took a clobbering, Sen. Mitch McConnell asked President Bush in a private Oval Office meeting to pull some troops out of Iraq in order to boost the GOP's chances, Bush reports in his new memoir.

And in the same month -- September 2006 -- that McConnell made his private request, he publicly blasted Democrats for calling for a reduction of troops in Iraq, saying that their position endangered Americans.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_11/026577.php

Posted by: nisleib | November 10, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Where's the Wall Street transaction tax?

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"Just wait until the US defaults on it's bonds."

Don't worry about that, all the real money will be safely offshore by then.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

So, the point is that the democratic party is so addicted to pork that any cut in the pork is the self-destruction of the democratic party?


Case closed.

.

Posted by: OrangeForces | November 10, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"But Mr Sargent and his string pullers want to whine about wall street bonuses."

I often wonder whose side you people are on. It certainly isn't the average American. I’d rather have my tax money go to my next door neighbor federal employee trying to feed their family.
"Highly paid federal employee"? - virtually an oxymoron compared to Wall St.) This year the Wall Street bonuses will hit an all time record. I believe it's close to $150 billion that will be going to these modern day Gordon Gekkos who are parasites who don’t produce ANYTHING of value. They certainly don’t create jobs.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 10, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Where's the Wall Street transaction tax?

*****

Can't have that, it might effect rich people.

I was looking over TPM's summary of proposals and, oddly enough, it sure looks like this is the Rich side of the Class Warfare divide dropping a nuke on the Poor side.


Greg - One thing I'm not clear on: Does the Catfood Commissions plans assume that the Bush Tax Cuts expire or not?

Posted by: nisleib | November 10, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"Get over your childish class envy rhetoric and help us cut the budget. "

Just as soon as you admit that extending the Bush Tax Cuts will add to the deficit.

I did notice they had a suggestion that if health care costs don't begin to go down Congress should consider a public option or single payer plan. Funny.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Growing up somewhat rich, privileged at least, one day sailing on my father's yacht in the Chesapeake, we had a DuPont heiress on board. This was decades ago and she had been a teenager in the thirties. I'll never forget her complaining how many boats there were bobbing around.

She said it was much better when she was growing up. Her father had one of those enormous motor yachts. She said some days they didn't see anyone else out. True story with a moral: When there is a healthy middle class, pleasure boat traffic gets out of control.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The updates on the post only confirm my view.

This proposal may be the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party since the election of Scott Brown to the Senate.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't the idea not just that we cut expenses, but that we also increase taxes?

Where are the tax increases? Sure, they cut tax credits, like the mortgage interest deduction, but those cuts hurt primarily the poor.

And before the conservatives jump ugly on me for that, under current law the mortgage interest deduction only applies to the first 1 million in mortgage indebtedness. Therefore cutting it causes more pain to the middle class than the rich by a long shot.

Good night all, I need to go vent.

Posted by: nisleib | November 10, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

@Bullsmith: "Any sane attempt to balance the budget would not try to tax someone's 200,000th dollar at the same rate as their 1,000,000,000th."

I agree. And it seems like a great window to make the tax system more progressive. And it doesn't have to be huge increments. But if the goal is raise revenues, it's better to increase the marginal rate on the millionth dollar than it is to increase the marginal rate on the 40,000th dollar. ;)

Democrats suggesting this? Nope? Not even a deal to preserver the Bush tax cuts for folks making up to 500k, or something, but then start progressively taxing folks making over 500k by 1% for each extra 100k or 250k? Bueller?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 10, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib: "Eliminating tax write-offs while lowering tax rates is a big tax hike — a $100 billion-a-year tax hike, maybe more."

http://www.nationalreview.com/exchequer/253026/first-thoughts-bowles-simpson

Posted by: sbj3 | November 10, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Don't know why the Left is complaining so much - divs and cap gains taxed as ordinary income, SS cap raised to 190k.

Raising the retirement age is completely reasonable given life expectancies, and IMO doesn't go far enough.

Note to Grijalva: Why do you care what corporate bonuses are? It's not your money - its the shareholder's. The more CEOs are paid, the more revenue the government gets.

Posted by: sold2u | November 10, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "Wonder what the Tea Party thinks? They've been pretty protective of their SS and Medicare. I don't have the energy to find out."

Dunno. And while I'm not opposed to a more progressive structure for folks making 250k and more, you could soak the rich and not make up the difference in the deficit. Something probably ought to be cut somewhere, and some of those decisions might be hard.

Failing targeted cuts, how about an across the board reduction of 2%, and every agency has to figure out how to make up the difference, or a do a little more with a little less?

Plus, close loopholes on corporations that allow them to do billions of dollars of business in the US but pay no corporate tax.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 10, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

If this draft report was sort of a trial balloon then it looks like the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party aren't going to have any of it. I trust Durbin, Andy Stern and Jan Schakowsky to hold the line on signing off on this crap, but the other 13 are pretty much corporate hacks.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 10, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

what nonsense. just go read the USA today article. I'm sure that the publication is viewed on the left as a bastion of right wing propaganda, right?

here is a quote from the article:
"The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office, a USA TODAY analysis finds."

Yeah, the tug at the heart strings "poor federal employee and his family" nonsense wasn't long in coming. Meanwhile a local hospital chain here just announced another 200 layoffs. Seen any federal layoffs? Gosh, neither have I. Oh wait, the temps Obama hired for the census are gone. But the full timers just keep growing in number. How many new federal employees will it take to implement obama care's hundreds of new bureaucracies? how many new 150K plus salaries will we be funding in that little slice of nirvannah?

I will make no such admission about the Bush tax cuts. What Americans must do is say to their government and themselves: this is all the tax we are willing to pay. Achieve the goals of a limited government, as envisioned by our founders and leave us alone.

the deficit is a function of too many promises without the concomittant willingness to extract the money from the people. Making promises is easy. Raising taxes is hard. We're in this mess because of cowardice. Ours and the government's.

And what does that federally employed neighbor of yours do to earn our tax dollars? Watch porn like the folks at the SEC and the MMS? Or attend meetings wherein the size an egg must be to be considered "jumbo" instead of "extra large" is debate endlessly?

Or does he just live out ethan's dream of regulating all activity in America?

Sorry, it is time to shrink the size of government, again. time to layoff the public nipple suckers and get them the heck off our backs.

Do I like bankers? Heck no I don't. but all that crap you spew about them is just envy. Small minded envy that seeks to create enemies out of ordinary Americans who have the nerve to be more successful than you. How dreadful of them. Why that's in very poor taste wouldn't you say?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 10, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not opposed to a more progressive structure for folks making 250k and more...Plus, close loopholes on corporations that allow them to do billions of dollars of business in the US but pay no corporate tax."

Communist!

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Raising the retirement age is completely reasonable given life expectancies, and IMO doesn't go far enough.

Posted by: sold2u
+++++++++++

Why is it "completely reasonable"? Increases in "life expectancy at birth" are largely attributable to decreases in infant and child mortality. Those have nothing to do with the obligations of Social Security for retirees.

And given the increasing (and world-leading) obesity of Americans, there is every reason to believe that adult life expectancy in the U.S. may not increase significantly, and may even decrease, over the next 50-60 years.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 10, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"Failing targeted cuts, how about an across the board reduction of 2%, and every agency has to figure out how to make up the difference, or a do a little more with a little less?"

I have no problem making cuts to the federal bureaucracy. We've been doing it at the state level for two years now. Furloughs, 5%-10% wage and salary cuts, selling off buildings, etc. etc. My problem is with cutting benefits to social security and changing the COLA's. It sounds like no big deal to raise the retirement age until you lose your job at 58-62 and no one on God's green earth wants to hire you. If the full benefits kick in at 68 or 69, guess what you end up with at 62, not much. That's a benefit cut and it's completely unnecessary.

The rest of it I need to look at more, but since it's just a preliminary blueprint, I'll wait to see what the President says and what the final product, if there is one, looks like before I get too hot and bothered.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

It would seem that others have done better work.

http://www.napawash.org/publications-reports/choosing-the-nations-fiscal-future/

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/thousand_cuts.html

Posted by: twaid | November 10, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

@nisleib: "Where are the tax increases? Sure, they cut tax credits, like the mortgage interest deduction, but those cuts hurt primarily the poor."

They shouldn't cut the mortgage interest deduction, they should turn it outside out. If we really want to encourage home ownership, they should change it to a mortgage principal deduction. Thus, you get to deduct not the interest you pay per year, but the principal. So Initially, you don't get to deduct much (but you can always pay down more on your principal, and that you can deduct) and, but the last decade of your mortgage, you're getting to deduct a large amount--but most people won't get there, wanting to trade up and whatnot, so those people who don't actually want to own a house but want to keep trading up mortgages don't get the benefit of the deduction.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm not much of a Howard Fineman cheerleader, but I thought his thoughts here were sort of on target.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And the president is facing an excruciating political calculus as well. In the new 212th Congress, his party's middle will disappear; Nancy Pelosi and her band will fight furiously to protect the New Deal/Great Society legacy; in the Senate, a dozen or so Democrats facing reelection are going to be eager or at least willing to cut deals with a remorseless and fairly unified GOP.

The White House has so far not taken a truly combative attitude toward extending ALL the Bush tax cuts, including those for the rich. But how can the president countenance them (including a loss of at least $1 trillion to the Treasury) if his own commission on debt reduction -- as its leaders today suggested -- want substantial reductions in Social Security and other programs central to the very identity of the federal government?

And how can the president consider extending the already drawn-out timetable in Afghanistan if we don't really have the wherewithal or the rationale to stay?

It's time for choices, and he had better decide before he gets back home."

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Note Nancy Pelosi's statement: another reason to keep her as Minority Leader and to keep Obama in line!

Posted by: dozas | November 10, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

is there any doubt that Pelosi is the best choice for Minority Leader? She is consistently correct on economic issues.

Posted by: matt_ahrens | November 10, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"Do I like bankers? Heck no I don't. but all that crap you spew about them is just envy"

No envy here. I got mine. I guess my question to Wall Street is "when is enough enough"? They still don't contribute anything of value.

"Achieve the goals of a limited government, as envisioned by our founders and leave us alone."

Yes, let's go back to 1780, since the world hasn't changed since then. Get a grip! You're probably the type that likes it when the US flexes their military might wherever and whenever it can. That doesn't come with limited govertment. When you can agree with me that we should shrink the Pentagon down to , and paraphrasing Grover Norquist, that we can drown it in a bath tub, I'll then take you seriously.Until then all you have are talking points from Chairman Rush.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 10, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"...envy that seeks to create enemies out of ordinary Americans who have the nerve to be more successful than you."

I can't stop snickering about this. skip, you don't know anything about being rich do you? Did you slog through an Ayn Rand book or two?

Well, I know rich people, really rich people. The nerve...is that like courage? The courage to have your father install you as a bond trader in his firm after you are awarded gentleman's Cs in a finishing school for men? The rich are not courageous, they are coddled; all they have to do is not destroy what was handed to them.

Sure there are the stories of the big idea, rags to riches, the American Dream machine.
Great and true stories. I met the man who invented the Royal Flush valve, Mr. Sloan, my Dad's neighbor. Every man in America has stared at his name, many, many times.

But in real life, the vast majority, all but a tiny sliver of the rich people in America, they didn't actually earn their money. Is that a shock?

And those who did, the ones with the nerve.
Were you aware, animal predators are not reckless? Human predators are not either. I know a rich slum lord, I mean real estate developer, he says if you don't have a full time legal team, you can't make real money in America. These people are careful opportunists, they hunt the weak, the mark. Idolizing rich people, projecting heroic attributes onto them, that is what rubes do.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca

The democrats sold you out


Happens everytime


Ethan thinks the democrats who are elected will stick with him - no they will sell Ethan out FAST.

Posted by: OrangeForces | November 10, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"he had better decide before he gets back home"

lmsinca, I don't mean to pick on your post, but I am truly sick and tired of beltway schmooze journalists and their obnoxious declarative statements. Screw Howard Fineman and the horse he rode in on. Well, no, leave the horse out of this.

But anyway, he could have made the point that Obama has to make some decisions and needs to be emphatic in implementing them, and left it at that. But no, he had to demand that Obama had "better decide." What cr@p. Do your job, Howard -- report -- and let Barack Obama do his -- run the country.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

"Some Democratic thinkers believe that Obama's best route ahead is to do as Clinton did, and draw sharp lines in the sand against Republicans by defending popular programs like ... Social Security and Medicare."

How can he do that when he touts how he's cutting 1/2 Trillion out of Medicare?  That doesn't seem so "protective" does it?p

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/happy_hour_roundup_126.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 10, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

"Just wait until the US defaults on it's bonds."

Don't worry about that, all the real money will be safely offshore by then.
November 10, 2010 4:53 PM

Sorry, forgot the cite...

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/11/10/business/business-us-geithner-inflows.html?_r=1&hp

If Geithner says its ok, then there is nothing to worry about.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Any serious plan to fix our massive budget problems is going to be full of stuff that people don't like. It will never get a positive reaction because it's doling out pain...the pain that the majority of Americans deserve for electing so many fiscally irresponsible politicians.

Dick Cheney one said that "deficits don't matter." What he meant was they won't matter to him because he'll be dead once the ramifications of low taxes and reckless spending hit home. For you, they matter...see.

Posted by: wireknob | November 10, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

@Troll: "That doesn't seem so "protective" does it?"

You prefer the Federal government spends MORE money on Medicare?

Really?

And you call yourself a conservative?!


"""It's true the federal government will reduce the growth of future spending on Medicare over the next decade. The reforms to Medicare will result in $500 billion in savings over 10 years. But the law does not eliminate $500 billion out of the current budget for Medicare. There are no cuts to guaranteed Medicare benefits."""

http://politifact.com/oregon/statements/2010/oct/02/scott-bruun/scott-bruun-says-kurt-schrader-cut-500-billion-med/

"""Included in the estimates released are important investments in the Medicare program that would fix the deeply flawed physician payment system, close the Medicare prescription drug donut hole, encourage prevention and wellness by eliminating cost-sharing for preventive services, and improve access for low-income Medicare beneficiaries."""

http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1701:cbo-house-discussion-draft-yields-more-than-500-billion-in-savings-from-medicare-improvements&catid=156:reports&Itemid=55&layout=default&date=2010-03-01

I guess you just prefer the Federal government spends more of our tax dollars. Go figure.

And btw, Troll, we've been having this debate for how long now? And you can't grasp this basic concept?

We are NOT "cutting 1/2 Trillion out of Medicare" BENEFITS.

We are reducing Federal payments associated with Medicare across a wide spectrum of policies.

Do you understand the difference?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"We are reducing Federal payments associated with Medicare across a wide spectrum of policies.

Do you understand the difference?"

Obviously not. I thought reducing Federal payments meant lowering amount of money Medicare gets. But aside from that, my bigger point is that it's hard for Barry to say he's "protecting" Medicare when he's also touting cuts, er, reducing "federal payments" (snicker). Seems contradictory. I also know that those "reductions in Federal payments"'are not going to happen. Heck, Congress's first order of business is to waive limits on Medicare reimbursements to pay off the hospitals and the AMA. This puts a lie to Barry's idiotic "bending the cost curve"

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

I failed to see anything about cutting farm welfare.

Posted by: Garak | November 10, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Ethan

I don't want to argue with you over Howard Fineman, he's not one of my favorites either as I stated. My point is that we're facing a really tough two years and he needs to come back from Asia and take the bull by the horns. Did you see the 60 minutes piece, pretty weak sauce IMO.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 10, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Wingnut is correct, in my opinion. There will be no health care cost savings derived from the great health care industry stimulus act of 2009. Slicing and dicing the federal payment silo labels is not health care reform. But Ethan is correct in my opinion, that there will be no cuts in Medicare benefits.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

TrollMcWingnu: "it's hard for Barry to say he's "protecting" Medicare when he's also touting cuts, er, reducing "federal payments" (snicker)."

Maybe, just perhaps, they are removing wasteful, inefficient practices to save money, thereby averting financial disaster and strengthening the program by directing resources where they offer the most benefit to Medicare recipients and the doctors who treat them.

Ever think of that? Or is the only measure of a politician's commitment to something the amount of your tax dollars he/she is willing to flush down the toilet while grandstanding on the subject.

Posted by: wireknob | November 10, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Shrink,

Joking about the Mr. thing. Good sport though.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't the idea not just that we cut expenses, but that we also increase taxes?

Where are the tax increases? Sure, they cut tax credits, like the mortgage interest deduction, but those cuts hurt primarily the poor.

And before the conservatives jump ugly on me for that, under current law the mortgage interest deduction only applies to the first 1 million in mortgage indebtedness. Therefore cutting it causes more pain to the middle class than the rich by a long shot.

Good night all, I need to go vent.

Posted by: nisleib | November 10, 2010 5:20 PM

==========

The mortgage deduction doesn't help the poor, who rent almost exclusively. It marginally "helps" the middle class and greatly advantages the wealthy who buy the most expensive homes and who pay the greatest tax rate and thus get the greatest tax benefit. Seriously, how many middle class people owe even $500,000 on their homes? It's a regressive give-away that contributes massively to housing bubbles, and gives an incentive for people to borrow rather than save. It's high time it was done away with.

As for tax increases, they are there. Payroll tax caps are raised, which means the wealthy will be paying significantly more as there are fewer ways to avoid paying those taxes through loopholes in the tax code. Also a lot of loopholes will be eliminated entirely, which will simplify the tax code and increase revenues from the wealthiest citizens who gain the most from them.

Is your objection just a reflex? Are you just taking Pelosi's word for it? You seem to be pretty ignorant of the proposal.

Posted by: robert17 | November 10, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Garak wrote: "I failed to see anything about cutting farm welfare."

See pages 8 and 37 of the presentation where it speaks of reducing farm subsidies. Some details on page 40.

Posted by: wireknob | November 10, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Wireknob,

I think all this cutting of waste is lip service and will never happen under Barry.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

"it's hard for Barry to say he's "protecting" Medicare when he's also touting cuts"

So you obviously DON'T get it.

It's the CUTS that HCR makes that will save Medicare.

You're a smart guy, it's bizarre that you either willfully or subconsciously ignore the benefits of reducing the costs to the Federal government.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a smart guy. I don't even know what I don't know.

"It's the CUTS that HCR makes that will save Medicare"

I'm game, how does it save it?. The cuts, er, "reduced federal payments" go to other, even more disastrous parts of Obamacare.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to add "the cuts, er, "reduced federal payments" (that will never occur under Barry) Go to other..."

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

"I'm game, how does it save it?. The cuts, er, "reduced federal payments" go to other, even more disastrous parts of Obamacare."

Okay, maybe you're not so smart... I jest.

Let's put it this way.

Individual health care premiums are not the only aspect of health care that is increasing. Federal spending is increasing as well.

If we don't stop the cost of Medicare from increasing further it will damage the budget, increase the debt, and damage the economy.

Medicare costs to the government:

$256.8B in 2002
$440B in 2007
$599B in 2008 (20% of all federal spending)

CBO:

"""Future growth in spending per beneficiary for Medicare and Medicaid—the federal government’s major health care programs—will be the most important determinant of long-term trends in federal spending. Changing those programs in ways that reduce the growth of costs—which will be difficult, in part because of the complexity of health policy choices—is ultimately the nation’s central long-term challenge in setting federal fiscal policy."""

Those numbers and that paragraph are all from this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_%28United_States%29#Costs_and_funding_challenges

HCR will cut Federal spending on Medicare. Whether the cuts amount to $500B savings remains to be seen. But the programs are estimated by the CBO to save at least that much. At the very WORST possible performance of these savings, we will have finally slowed or stopped the growth in Medicare payments owed by the Federal government.

Does that make more sense to you?

And by saying "even more disastrous parts of Obamacare," surely you're not talking about closing the Medicare Prescription Drug doughnut hole are you?

More on the Medicare prescription drug benefits made possible by savings in other areas:

"""""The current [Medicare prescription drug] program includes a significant coverage gap that the legislation will eventually close. Currently people fall into this so-called doughnut hole falls after a total $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage begins again after $6,154 is spent.

In 2010, people who fall into the doughnut hole will get a $250 rebate. In 2011, they will get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. By 2020, the doughnut hole will have been closed and 75 percent of drug costs will be covered."""""

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62J1FS20100322

Is that what you call "disastrous," saving seniors huge amounts on money on prescription drugs?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I was raised to believe in freedom and democracy as central to my ability to say and do what I like.

So, let me say this: The US Government has become so repressive, so repugnant, so power happy, so micro-managing, so bundinsky, that it would be wise for them to cease reminding me of their existence every time I turn around.

I utterly despise the government. It is beneath contempt.

Posted by: sobi1 | November 10, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

"I was raised to believe in freedom and democracy as central to my ability to say and do what I like. [...] The US Government has become so repressive"

Says the person posting whatever they want to say on the internet.

sobi1, do yourself a favor sometime and research what it is like to live in a country that actually IS repressive.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

For the last time: Bernie Sanders is NOT a Democrat.

Posted by: JoeBrones | November 10, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

First, let me say that Medicare Part D was and is a disaster. Closing the donut hole only compounds said disaster.

As far as cost escalation in Medicare. I agree, the CBO's numbers were predicated on reducing Medicare payments. I do not believe those payments will be reduced one dime, furthermore, I think those payments will be increased... significantly. Do you seriously think this lame duck session of Congress will not waive the automatic 21% reimbursment rate cut? That right there puts a lie to any Medicare cuts.

Unfortunately, we as a country are going to be paying more and more into Medicare. I suspect that within 10 years, Medicare and debt service will compromise virtually all of the budget.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, the idea of cutting Social Security, while leaving the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place, and eating and eating the billions of dollars in deficits that these tax cuts will generate, while telling Americans you're reducing the budget, is insane.

I'd like to see how much is saved over the next five years from the cuts in Social Security vs how much is lost by keeping the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250k in place. My guess is that it's a negative number.

Somebody needs to tell these idiots that the GOP will never support them no matter how much they grovel and that middle class Americans will not support them if they cut the throats of middle class Americans - which is what they are in the process of doing.

Posted by: Miss_Fedelm | November 10, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

"Closing the donut hole only compounds said disaster."

Why do you feel that it is a "disaster" for the federal government to help senior citizens pay for prescription drugs?

"Do you seriously think this lame duck session of Congress will not waive the automatic 21% reimbursment rate cut? That right there puts a lie to any Medicare cuts."

This is just one more issue in health care and Medicare that needs to be addressed and has needed to be addressed for years.

The reimbursement rate cut has been in need of a permanent fix long before this administration and long before HCR. Not only that, the reimbursement rate cut wasn't in the bill.

So to suggest that the Medicare fix negates other savings from the bill is inaccurate. It is simply yet another issue that needs to be addressed and which is weighing on our health care system, physicians, and seniors.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 10, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi didn't prevaricate or equivocate or hesitate or triangulate.

That's what leadership looks like.

Too bad Obama is incapable of it.

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 10, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

"Why do you feel that it is a "disaster" for the federal government to help senior citizens pay for prescription drugs?" We somehow survived as a nation, and even increased our longevity without buying drugs for seniors. I mean, the freaking thing wasn't even means tested. Again, I do not believe healthcare is a right.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 10, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Well Nancy I hate to break it to you dear but your opinion simply doesn't matter anymore.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | November 10, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Awkward timing for Democrats
By Greg Sargent
"One thing that needs to be noted about the just-released draft report from the co-chairs of Obama's fiscal commission -- dubbed the "catfood commission" in the blogosphere -- is how exquisitely awkward the timing is for Democrats.

After an election in which Dems got slaughtered partly because people decided Dems weren't on their side while government took very good care of Wall Street and the big banks, Americans are now being told that Dems may extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich -- and that Obama's fiscal commission wisemen want to cut Social Security and Medicare".

At least the WP has one article about Democrats that readers can respond to. All of the rest of their articles are about Republicans.

Meanwhile, Obama parties in Asia and Pelosi parties in DC about all the accomplishments the Democrats have done.

No wonder the Democrats lost over 60 seats in Congress!

Pelosi wants to be minority leader for the Democrats.

Why doesn't Obama, Pelosi and Reid make their puppet master George Soros Obama's Chief of Staff? Hey, Soros is funding all of the Democrat's fringe groups, it is only fitting to reward him as Chief of Staff.

Posted by: Chuck8764 | November 10, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Seniors get "free" drugs. And they can drive around on those upright go carts.

"Tom Cruise" advertises them, roll around?
They say, 100% paid for by Medicare.

Health care reform = everything is free so long as it is called health care. Everyone knows a free lunch is impossible. Somebody pays. Free health care, what, you hate health? There are no cost controls, there were none before health reform there are none now. Sure there are people who harass each other, they harass doctors, there are lawyers to fight lawyers. Parasites hang on to every transaction. It is all called health care.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Who is this Democratic Party anyway? They don't stand for a damn thing except getting re-elected.

Posted by: ANDYO1 | November 11, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

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