Thursday Reads: Will Obama Pull off A Grand Betrayal? And Other News…

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Good Morning?

We weren’t supposed to get any snow until late this afternoon, but it’s already coming down. The snow from the last two storms was just about gone and you could see the ground in places. Now they’re saying we may get up to a foot of snow. I’m hoping that’s not going to pan out.

Let’s see what’s happening out there in the world.

Call me paranoid, but I’m beginning to get the feeling that we’re being gamed by both Democrats and Republicans. Late last night, I was listening to a 24-hour politics station Sirius-XM radio, called POTUS radio.

Now I didn’t get the name of the man being interviewed, but he said that President Obama had asked Lindsey Graham to help him organize last night’s dinner with Republican Senators weeks ago! According to this guy, everything is coming together for Obama and for the Republicans–they are each getting what they wanted, which is serious austerity. Obama will get his “entitlement reforms” and the Republicans will get–what? Will there be any new revenue at all, or will the full burden for deficit cutting in the “grand bargain” fall on the social safety net?

From The New York Times Caucus blog:

For Washington-watchers looking for positive signs from President Obama’s unusual dinner with Republican senators on Wednesday night, there was this: Senators John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma each gave waiting reporters a thumbs up as lawmakers exited the private dining room….

Besides Mr. McCain and Mr. Coburn, the diners were the Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dan Coats of Indiana, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and – the only woman – Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire….

The president insists that any alternative package must combine a balance of spending cuts and new revenues, while Republicans generally oppose new taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

In the Senate…a number of Republicans are known to support higher tax revenues if Mr. Obama and Democrats agree to significant long-term reductions in future spending for the fast-growing entitlement programs, chiefly Medicare and Medicaid but also Social Security – just the trade-off Mr. Obama supports. Mr. Coburn and Mr. Chambliss, for example, are members of a bipartisan group that has supported a deficit-reduction plan with more additional revenues than the president has proposed.

I haven’t yet been able to find confirmation of the report I heard last night, but it would not surprise me. If Graham organized the dinner, it would also explain why the invitees included the three stooges, Graham and his pals John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte–who have been inseparable since they decided to raise hell over the attacks on the Benghzi consulate.

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That the outcome described in the highlighted passage from the Caucus blog (see above) was either expected or deliberately planned would also explain why the latest meme in the media for the past week or so has been that Obama is suddenly weak and has no leverage and so much go hat in hand begging the Republicans for mercy.

For example, Ryan Lizza’s latest piece in The New Yorker: The Powerless Presidency.

A deal on the sequester was never really possible. Back in January, in return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling for a few months, conservative House Republicans demanded that their leaders, John Boehner and Eric Cantor, allow the trillion dollars of cuts in the sequester to take effect. The White House, which wanted additional revenue as part of the replacement for the sequester, saw the G.O.P.’s all-cuts approach as a nonstarter, which means that sequestration is likely here to stay. (I wrote about the House G.O.P.’s road to the sequester in an article about Cantor last week.) When one considers that the alternative scenario was for House Republicans to precipitate a government default and a potential global financial crisis, the sequester cuts and the estimated three-quarters of a million jobs that they will cost this year are not so bad.

At Obama’s press conference, after he explained the negative effects of sequestration, he cast blame on the Republicans, and a reporter challenged his analysis. “It sounds like you’re saying that this is a Republican problem and not one that you bear any responsibility for,” she said to the President.
Obama seemed taken aback. “Well, Julie, give me an example of what I might do.”

Obama’s slightly testy response is worth considering. I don’t remember a President ever publicly expressing a similar sentiment. All Presidents come to appreciate the limits of the power of their office, and there are reams of quotes from Presidents privately expressing disdain for Congress’s unwillingness to bend to their will. But rarely do they ventilate such thoughts in public.

And from Roll Call: Obama’s Lost Leverage.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this for the White House and a re-elected president with political capital to spend.

But President Barack Obama is in a position of supplication to Hill Republicans, talking loudly and often about the harm of automatic budget cuts but lacking the leverage to get the GOP to buckle.

Senior administration officials had for months predicted that Republicans would cave on the sequester and agree to more taxes, even after agreeing to $600 billion in tax increases in the New Year’s Eve fiscal-cliff deal.

After all, aides noted, Republicans had caved again and again: on the 2012 payroll tax cut, on tax rate increases for the wealthy and on a debt ceiling extension.

Robert Kutner at The American Prospect:

President Obama gambled that the threat of the automatic sequester of $85 billion in domestic and defense cuts would force the Republicans to accept major tax increases, and so far he is losing the wager. The Republican leadership, which was badly divided over the New Years deal that delayed the fiscal cliff, is now re-united around the proposition that Republicans will accept no further tax increases.

So the president is left to court individual Republican House members to support loophole closures in exchange for the restoration of some popular domestic and military spending. But for the moment, Republicans got what they wanted—big spending cuts, party unity around no tax increases, and a weakening of a newly re-elected president.

For Obama and the Democrats, there are three big risks going forward. First, the sequester slows down economic growth—cutting it in half this year from about 3 percent to 1.5 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Obama, more than the Republicans, will take the political blame.

Second, popular domestic spending programs that Democrats ordinarily defend will suffer deep cuts. And third, the politics of the situation pushes Obama further in the direction of the elusive “grand bargain” long sought by Wall Street, in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security and Medicare and Republicans agree to close some tax loopholes.

As Charlie Pierce wrote a few days ago, Obama’s “the grand bargain is neither grand nor a bargain.”

With all due respect to the president, his plan for “common sense” is a terrible idea. It was a terrible idea in 2009. It was a terrible idea in 2010. And it is a terrible idea now. I hope the progressives in the House shred this thing. I hope Bernie Sanders lights it on fire on the steps of the Capitol. I hope Lyndon Johnson comes back from the fking dead and drinks all the Scotch in the White House and keeps Gene Sperling up all night talking about his inseam and about how his pants are too tight in the crotch.

If you want to know why our fearless leaders are so desperate to cut Social Security, here are some clues from a diary at DailyKos posted yesterday: Why Social Security Must Be Reformed, by FishOutOfWater.

A raving leftist wrote that Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan pulled off the greatest fraud ever perpetrated against the American people but we know better. Yes, Social Security taxes were raised ostensibly to fund the retirements of the baby boomers but they would have wasted the surplus. Reagan and Greenspan gave it to the truly deserving, the job creators, to invest. And so they did. They created millions of jobs and economic growth at a rate that stunned the world.

Billions upon billions of dollars were made by stripping assets and pensions from corporations with uncompetitively high American labor costs and building new factories in China where labor was cheap. And the beauty of it all was that the capital gains from these investments was cut to 15%. Businesses in the U.S. could then pit laid off workers against their labor force to further cut costs! Then the job creators could build more factories in India, China and anywhere where cheap labor could be found, with the profits.

There was this little problem, the U.S. middle class consumer was getting squeezed, but Greenspan and the banks had the fix. Chinese companies and the job creators had trillions of excess dollars so they could lend it back to American consumers. What’s not to love? Money banks get for zero percent interest can get a fabulous return by charging 12%, 18% or 23% on consumer credit cards depending on how worthy the consumer is. Naturally the working stiff pays the most because working stiffs are not credit worthy.

You get the picture. So now what? I still say this may not happen, and I agree with Brian Beutler that a government shutdown is still possible. The reason I think this is that the Republicans hate Obama so much that they may not want to give in on revenue even for the chance to blame Democrats for shredding the safety net in the 2014 elections. Certainly that is likely to be true among House Republicans. And will the majority of Senate Democrats really go along with this grand betrayal? I guess we’re going to find out.

I have a few more links for you.

The New York Times: Nora Ephron’s Final Act

Slate: How to Make a Photograph Out of Cheez Whiz, Kool-Aid, and Dead Skin

HuffPo: Obama’s Persecution of Bradley Manning

The Guardian UK: Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres: General David Petraeus and ‘dirty wars’ veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

Business Insider –Niall Ferguson: Paul Krugman’s Style Of Debate Suggests He May Have Been Traumatized As A Child Seriously, this is for real.

Business Insider — Krugman: Niall Ferguson’s Response Is Pathetic, And Maybe He Should Go Find A New Profession

Business Insider — ACHUTHAN: Look At These Charts And Tell Me We’re Not In Recession

USA Today — Expand Social Security, by Duncan Black (Atrios)

So….. What are you reading and blogging about today?

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58 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Will Obama Pull off A Grand Betrayal? And Other News…”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    It looks like what we thought could be/would be the bargaining chips, are the bargaining chips. Chained-CPI and Medicare means testing. Who’s surprised? .

    • bostonboomer says:

      No, not surprised, just angry and determined to fight this.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        We’ve been saying for weeks that you could see this coming through the rhetoric of the media, even the so-called left wing media. There’s been a “We have to do something about SS & Medicare” talking point in the MSM for weeks. Every political show, on every network has tilted the argument away from tax fairness and toward the “entitlements”.

        IMHO, The wealth transfer is basically over and is, from the legislative perspective, past the point of no return because NO ONE, on either side of the aisle, has the guts to propose policies that would initiate wealth re-distribution. When the 400 richest American’s have more combined wealth than the bottom 150 Million American’s, When 62% of this nations wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 5%, we’ve passed the tipping point. Next up, Peon rebellion!!!! Since I’m an old Peon, my rebellion will be that of a letter writer, emailer, phone-caller, and a complainer.

        When the middle class and working poor have to bring grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncle, into their homes, feed them and clothe them and supplement their healthcare costs, the shit will hit the proverbial fan. I remember the pre-Medicare/Medicaid world well, The world where Seniors lost or were forced to give up or sell everything they had when the inevitable health decline began. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Your choice of articles is why I am so demoralized with the news these days. I just can’t trust Obama under any circumstances “to do the right thing” on behalf of those of us who must live under this GOP tyranny. He is just not capable.

    I want to root for somebody. I want to feel that we have a president who is on “our team”. I find myself unable to trust him. And it saddens me to admit this. Like you, I was hoping he “got it” but it didn’t last long.

    Intellectually I understand what he has been up against with these GOP assholes but I would rather he stood his ground rather than always looking for ways to capitulate in order to appease them.

    From my perspective, as smart as he is, he is the wrong choice for a job that requires much more than continual “bending over” to a party that is focused on turning this nation into a land of haves and have nots.

    If the House in 2014 is not stripped of the extreme radicalism that is changing the landscape we are doomed to live for another generation under this tyrannical hold.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Wall Street Journal Slams Paul’s ‘Drone Rant’: ‘Calm Down, Senator’

  4. mjames says:

    I have never seen a politician so hell-bent on going against the wishes of his constituency. This is sick. I cannot believe a single person voted for Obama in order for him to suck up to those far-right headcases. And certainly not a single vote was cast for him to destroy Social Security and Medicare.

    But you gotta give it to him. This is not weakness (much as we might wish it were). This is utter hubris and tenacity. He will never stop. He will either destroy the programs or die trying. Just when we stop his Grand Theft, there it pops up again. He cares not one whit about the Dem Party or about any of us. Cold-blooded. And there is no use denying it.

    Not much different than refusing to say it’s not constitutional to assassinate an US citizen – anywhere in the world, including right here. And refusing to give us the “proof” of the legality of his position. Are those the positions of the Dem Party? You? Me? No, no, and no. And yet that makes no difference.

    Could you imagine if McCain or Graham or any of those fools ever went against their voters?

    And I’m not supposed to care because I’m 68 and I’ve got mine. Well, I’ve got kids and grandkids and I also have empathy. I do care. Like I say, this is some sick shit.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Either cold blooded or determined to emulate Lincoln from “Team of Rivals”. Someone needs to clue him in that this is a different time, different place.

      Of course this tactics could be viewed as a “civil war”. A war between the rich and powerful and the rest of us. A war that is focused on weakening the middle and working class to a point that they will “accept” just about anything to survive.

      Obama is actually emulating everything formerly proposed by Romney/Ryan, a ticket that most of us despised.

      If trust in government is at such an all time low, Barack Obama is as guilty in the demise as any Right Wing nutjob out there.

      We simply cannot trust him when he says one thing but means the other.

      • Pilgrim says:

        “says one thing but means the other” … yes, that’s the pattern

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t understand how, without becoming as intransigent as the GOP, he gets out of this. The only way is to let everything go the way that it’s headed with the sequester, then the debt ceiling crisis/showdown/NOT and then the government shutdown. Note: Wall Street is humming right along because MAYBE they already know the outcome? Or Maybe they don’t give a damn because they already have theirs and ours?

        Really, I can’t imagine a worse scenario for Obama or any Dem POTUS, with a House that is dead set against any restructuring of the tax code and corporate welfare reform or resistant to any idea that doesn’t force changes to SS Medicare/Medicaid. From the outside looking in, it’s a total clusterfuck, but from the inside looking out it might already be a done deal.

        • dakinikat says:

          Most of the blue chips in the DJ are humming along because of their investments in Asia. They’ve spent the last decade delinking from the US economy.

    • dm says:

      Wow, once again I’m agreeing completely with a “socialist”…signs of the apocalypse?

  5. Pilgrim says:

    I think you are right to worry that Obama will, once again, betray his base. (Or is it his base, maybe his base is not what we suppose.) He tends to talk big, then pull back and do something different from what he said. He talks in the light and acts in the dark. I am just saying how it looks to me.

    I also believe he will approve the XL Keystone pipeline. He left it to after election (of course).

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    Don’t you know that Obama is a Socialist? Not to worry!!!!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I have become addicted to the “not to worry” approach.

      My Kindle has been working overtime, I am tuned into the Turner Movie Channel, and my frequent trips to Target are allowing me to tune out because the fact remains we are royally “f*cked”.

      Caught up in the extremes of a party of hate, and led by a spineless POTUS, we have nowhere else to turn and no one else to turn to.

      Watching our rights disappear under an umbrella of “compromise” it suits me to ignore those things that are out of my control.

      Better to bury my head in the sand than to subject myself to the torment that is today’s current atmosphere.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I have a Nook, it’s been working really hard lately. :-)

        Our current circumstance is the equivalent of attempting to right an upside down ship. It took decades to get to this point, many of us saw it coming beginning with “Trickle Down” and “Outsourcing”. Now we’re at the Upside Down Cruise Liner Stage of destruction and I’m at that What-the-fuck stage of life. The middle-agers and young people will have to fix this, and that could well include rebellion.

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    Why don’t we ask ourselves the only question that matters, What should he do? If he doesn’t budge, what happens? Really, what would you do if you were POTUS? I ask myself that question regularly and I never have a good answer. If you hold your ground knowing that move leads to total disaster, then what?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I would have refused to budge on the Bush tax cuts last year. I would have insisted that Democrats introduce legislation in the Senate to get rid of sequestration and then explain to the public what it all means–very clearly.

      But since that’s water over the dam, I’d refuse to budge now. Let the GOP take responsibility for refusing to raise the debt ceiling and then invoke Article 14.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        BB…..They did offer a bill that was filibustered. But it wouldn’t have mattered what they offered because the GOP would have subjected it to cloture. Harry Reid should have allowed meaningful changes to the cloture rule, but he didn’t. Still, even if he had, any Senate legislation has to pass the House. It’s a conundrum.

        “A majority of United States senators voted this afternoon to replace the sequester with a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts, but thanks to a Republican filibuster, the legislation was blocked. Fifty-one votes were cast in favor of the measure. (Among the 49 no votes was Harry Reid, who voted no for procedural reasons.) ”

        Reid had to vote “no” when he realized they had enough to filibuster in order to be able to offer the bill again.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, but Obama didn’t support the Senate bill. If he had gone out campaigning on that it would have made a difference.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Oh for….. #%&$*@@!

    Obama is having lunch with Paul Ryan today.

  9. hyperjoy says:

    This is the time at which I would normally ask why didn’t we unite behind Jill Stein? However, by this time I have heard all the arguments against it. I am not surprised at what Obama is doing now, sucking up to the right wingers. It’s all he spent his first term doing. If everyone who voted for Obama had instead united behind Stein, we could have put her in office. I know, it’s already done and you can’t cry over spilt milk. But this system just isn’t working.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Real, measurable, strick, enforceable campaign finance reform might make a Jill Stein sort of candidate viable, but we shouldn’t hold our breath. “Corporations are people my friend”, to bad people aren’t people, my friend.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        The problem with a candidate like Jill Stein is that even if she could have won she would have been hamstrung by a GOP House and Dem Senate. Our form of government, at this stage of it’s evolution, isn’t structured to bring power to a POTUS with no party allies in either House. For better or worse, we have a two party system.

    • dakinikat says:

      Third party candidates have no structure to support their agendas even if the could get elected.

      • hyperjoy says:

        What would happen then? Would the Congressional republicans and deemocrats just enact their agendas over the veto of the president, and would the third party president simply be irrelevant and a figurehead?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I think “figurehead” POTUS just about sums up what a 3rd party candidate would be. I liked Jill Stein, and most of what she advocated, but the majority of American’s had no idea Stein was even running, so she didn’t have snowballs-chance-in-hell of even becoming a figurehead POTUS.

  10. janicen says:

    Same thing happened to us with the snowstorm yesterday, it wasn’t supposed to hit until the afternoon and it started at my house at a little after 8:00 am. Some of the buses had already picked up the kids when they decided to close the schools. The storm was so streaky that it was only raining in some neighborhoods while we were getting sleet and snow in others. What a mess!

    I’ve been thinking all along that the sequester is just a way for both parties to shove austerity down our throats and pretend it’s the other guy’s fault.

    I’ve just finished reading Ken Follett’s “Fall of Giants” and have moved on to “Winter of the World”. It’s fiction but it’s historical fiction and “Fall of Giants” really opened my eyes to the intense opposition that will arise from some surprising sources whenever the middle class/working class tries to flex their collective muscles and achieve some gains. The truth about what was really going on in Russia before the revolution and what other, supposedly democratic countries did to try to undermine the Russian revolution in order to serve the corporatocracy is enlightening yet at the same time discouraging. It’s hard to imagine how the middle class will succeed against the enormous power and wealth of the corporations but when the workers rise up again, it’s gonna be ugly.

    • Pilgrim says:

      I’ve been reading Follett’s works too. What a great story-teller. He gives so much historical background to his stories in such an “enlightening” (to use your word) way.

  11. Boo Radly says:

    Obama is not ‘bending’ over – he is soaring on wings filled with knowledge that he is close to fulfilling his goals. His legacy – the utter ruin of this country at the expense of 90% of it’s citizens. The environment – air, water, land is being trashed at an accelerated rate. The only Federal agency more corrupt than the Military is the HHS – what most people don’t know is it is now commerce only – no safe healthcare above profits, a source of revenue for any agency of healthcare – at the tax payers expense – there are no safety regulations that are acted upon. I don’t understand how anyone awake and taking the time to follow the theatrics of Congress the last 13 years could not connect the dots. Obama never stood up for any Democratic value – ever. Michelle let the population know what their goal was with her statement – “we are only doing this once(first run for president) – after that, we will be too rich to run again.” I wanted a hero – a true human being as a President. None of the compromises Obama has done have been necessary – it is all orchestrated – baked in the cake. History – short term, and long if the earth survives – will show just how flagrantly this has been done. There are no rules, laws that are upheld for the good of the people or the earth that we live on. I don’t consider anyone who participates actively in the destruction of the earth and it’s people smart. I call that evil. It’s funny how when Bu$h the second made the statement about “evil” – the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Here was the most evil person imaginable(due to personal knowledge) calling others evil. It that not what sociopaths say? The loss of truth in all our communications has made ‘words’ have no meaning anymore. There seemingly is no right or wrong. We try to reason out why this was done. We use their stated reasons, scratch our heads – like we don’t know what the goal is. It is what it is. Go by actions. Rather short sighted of the 1% – they will suffer the same as the 99% – just at a later time. I would much rather read news with a positive attitude – it’s just not factual. The only hero’s I see are people like Krugman – stating reality. I have not watched any media for the last four years – I enjoy this blog so much because it is based on truths and fits my values. Flogging Obama to be anything more than Rthugian evil is just not possible. Sorry to be so negative and not have any solutions. I have children, twin grandsons – I can’t protect them from the coming destruction which has been manufactured by global governments. I guess my point of this post is – we can’t make Obama do anything other than what he wants to do. There is not an ounce of humanity in any government official with any power. Their agenda has not been concealed – pitting the uneducated against their fellow man – promoting hate as never before. Clearly revisiting the Dark Ages where little to no humanitarianism existed. The only thing different is that the Earth itself has been destroyed – that is an end-game changer. I am not ‘politically correct’ – I’m not saying you all don’t see it to – I’m just sitting here with my hair on fire – excuse the rant.

  12. Sweet Sue says:

    Tell me, again, why I just have to vote for Obama.
    Thank God and my conscience, I didn’t.
    Saying, we can’t vote third party because——-is learned helplessness.
    Nothing will change, unless you and I change.

    • bostonboomer says:

      No one here said not to vote third party. We’ve always said we respect that. But it’s not a real choice at this time in history.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I agree with you BB. I’ve never read anyone here put down those who vote for 3rd party candidates, but it’s not unreasonable or mean to point out that a 3rd party candidate cannot win in the existing political system.

        Jill Stein and anyone else who attempts to run for POTUS as a 3rd party candidate has no chance and will have no chance until we have comprehensive campaign finance reform, with public financing..

        Ross Perot was the only 3rd party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt who even made a decent run at it and he got less than 20% of the vote and didn’t win one electoral college vote. And Perot wouldn’t have done that well if he hadn’t been financially able to foot many of his own campaign bills.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        This really is a reply to you, BB and Anon.
        Anon, you may still have been hanging at John Smart’s when this happened, but I saw Ralph B. call some people idiots when they said they planned to vote for Stein or Rocky Anderson.
        When it got too “my way or the highway,” I just stopped coming.
        Sorry, I don’t do well with the collective amnesia thing.

        • dakinikat says:

          Did you read this post that I wrote on Labor Day last year?

          I’m am thinning out my Facebook friends list rapidly of people I knew around 4 years ago that I thought supported my vision–not the Romney/Ryan vision–because it is also the vision of Bill and Hillary Clinton. I’m all fine with the support of third party candidates but any one that tries to send me propaganda that Romney is a feminist based on hiring a few women years ago back in Massachusetts and therefor deserves my vote can frankly sell their frigging uterus and announce themselves a neutered slave imho. You’re going to be deleted from contact with me on Twitter and Facebook and you’re not going to be very welcome here either. I will not watch everything I care about–our immigrant heritage, our appreciation for the rights of minorities, women, GLBT communities, and others and our heritage of doing right by the least among us–be destroyed by greedy Vulture Capitalists who lie. I don’t care how mad you are at Obama, if you’re encouraging this group of race-baiting, women-hating, middle class destroying, religiously intolerant Republicans then be prepared to axed from my list and be moderated into byte hell here at Sky Dancing. Again, I’m fine with any one that wants to tell me about Jill or Rosanne even though I will argue if you live in some states we should have a frank discussion about Al Gore and Ralph Nader eventually. But, I do not–under any circumstances–want to read any one that tells me that the Romney/Ryan ticket are our friends. I don’t care if you decide to skip the presidential ticket either. Although, again, I’m not sure if I could do that if I lived in a swing state. I am all happy with you criticizing POTUS because on many, many issues, the man deserves criticism.

      • bostonboomer says:

        RalphB is commenter, and he’s entitled to his opinion, just as you are. He is also a valued part of our community–he provides important links just about every day. But he isn’t a front-pager.

        My comment referred to the way Dakinikat, JJ, WonkTheVote and I have responded to comments about third parties. We’ve never said people shouldn’t vote third party–in fact Dak has talked about it in several posts. In fact Wonk–when she was commenting and writing more frequently–was very harsh toward Obama.

        If you don’t want to deal with sharp disagreement from other commenters, that’s certainly your right. But I can’t speak for everyone who comes here and comments, and I never claimed to.

  13. RalphB says:

    Thank goodness for Thomas Edsall who still practices real and honest journalism while outlining solutions.

    NYT: The War On Entitlements

    • bostonboomer says:

      Edsall:

      Two-thirds of Americans who are over the age of 65 depend on an average annual Social Security benefit of $15,168.36 for at least half of their income.

      Currently, earned income in excess of $113,700 is entirely exempt from the 6.2 percent payroll tax that funds Social Security benefits (employers pay a matching 6.2 percent). 5.2 percent of working Americans make more than $113,700 a year. Simply by eliminating the payroll tax earnings cap — and thus ending this regressive exemption for the top 5.2 percent of earners — would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, solve the financial crisis facing the Social Security system.

      So why don’t we talk about raising or eliminating the cap – a measure that has strong popular, though not elite, support?

      When asked by the National Academy of Social Insurance whether Social Security taxes for better-off Americans should be increased, 71 percent of Republicans and 97 percent of Democrats agreed. In a 2012 Gallup Poll, 62 percent of respondents thought upper-income Americans paid too little in taxes.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The combined FICA taxes are highly regressive. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that the poorest quintile pays a 7.3 percent FICA rate, while the top quintile pays 6.8 percent. The top 1 percent of the income distribution pays a 2 percent rate, and the top 0.1 percent pays just 0.9 percent. In other words, the rate paid by the poorest quintile is 8.1 times as high as the rate paid by the top 0.1 percent.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I’m totally on board with the Alex Wagner suggestion, problem is the PUGlicans will not do it. They’ve thrown up a firewall around the wealthy and will hold the rest of the country hostage to it.

        How, short of refusing to compromise on anything,(which has a catastrophic outcome), can Obama circumvent their protection of the wealthy?

    • dakinikat says:

      It’s nice to see some one doing some actual research too. It’s full of stylized facts which all of our press elites and bought-off congress appear to overlook.

      • RalphB says:

        There are more facts and honest reporting in Edsall’s opinion piece than in the rest of the MSM combined with regard to our earned benefit programs. I refuse to call them entitlements now.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    John McCain just chided Rand Paul with a nearly direct quote from the Wall Street Journal editorial. “Calm down Senator…The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens.”