President Hornswoggle and the Debted Hallows

So, you know me.  I’m out looking for exactly how bad this debt ‘deal’ is going to austere our economy in to the Great Recession Redux.   BostonBoomer has been writing about President Hornswoggle putting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security–not even part of the federal budget–on the table.  I’ve searched and searched and can’t find the details on the great American Give Away other than a few articles showing a beaming Boehner saying we’re at a 50-50 chance of reaching a deal now.   If Boehner is beaming, all but the richest among us should be holding on to our personal liberties and wallets.

We know that the President has caved on a bunch of things during both the HRC negotiations and the extension of the Dubya Tax Breaks for Billionaires pogrom.  However, the Democratic leadership was aware of this, grumbled some, and backed his usurpation of responsibility for our future.  Imagine my surprise when I watched Chuck Schumer on Andrea Mitchell say that he had no idea about the details of the current deal so he couldn’t really comment on it.  The most noticeable detail was his face that said “I’ve got a sick tummy, mommy”.  Senator Schumer is on the Senate  Committee on Finance that handles all of these things and is supposedly a key person on the budget deal.   You would think he would know.  But, he doesn’t and neither does any other Democratic Senator or Congressman.  It appears the press told them what Obama was handing over to the Republicans.

Senate Democrats reacted angrily Thursday to a report that President Obama has proposed significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security in closed-door talks with GOP leaders.

Democratic lawmakers said they were dismayed to read about Obama’s offer in the press rather than hearing it from the president himself. Their frustration is exacerbated by Obama’s snub of their invitation to speak to the Senate Democratic caucus Wednesday.

Instead, Obama is meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders from both chambers Thursday morning.

“We would have preferred to hear it from the president instead of from the press,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), a senior member of the Senate Democratic conference. “We first have to go after tax earmarks.”

Mikulski said cuts to Medicare and Social Security should be a solution of last resort. She said closing tax loopholes and pulling back from Libya should be considered before entitlement cuts.

She said Obama should not assume Democratic support for a deficit reduction plan that cuts entitlements.

I now fully expect President Cave-in to hand the keys to the nation over to a bunch of punch-drunk Republicans.  What I don’t get is why the Democratic members of Congress continue to let him get away with it.  They are the very face of “sound and fury signifying nothing”.  Let me ask you if you’d want to be a congress member from some solid Democratic district facing re-election by having to defend a Democratic President that’s happy to cut Medicare and Social Security?  Social Security doesn’t even need to be on the table.  He’s just offered it up for some reason that I can’t fathom. How on earth could you face your electorate and back such a  deal?

Let me remind you, all of the economic data gathered in the last 80 years tells us that this austerity agenda is just going to tank the economy. We continue t0 enact the very same crap that put us in the worst economic position we’ve seen since the Great Depression.  Why oh why are they doing this to us?  Here’s a taste of Noble Prize winning Joseph Stiglitz for some perspective.

A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the United States faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt. Unaffordable tax cuts and wars, a major recession, and soaring health care costs—fueled in part by the commitment of George W. Bush’s administration to giving drug companies free rein in setting prices, even with government money at stake—quickly transformed a huge surplus into record peacetime deficits.

The remedies to the U.S. deficit follow immediately from this diagnosis: Put America back to work by stimulating the economy; end the mindless wars; rein in military and drug costs; and raise taxes, at least on the very rich. But the right will have none of this, and instead is pushing for even more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, together with expenditure cuts in investments and social protection that put the future of the U.S. economy in peril and that shred what remains of the social contract. Meanwhile, the U.S. financial sector has been lobbying hard to free itself of regulations, so that it can return to its previous, disastrously carefree, ways.

Here’s a thorough, peer-reviewed, strong methodology-based  IMF study–cited by Paul Krugman–that provides evidence that austerity programs are recessionary and bring on worse budget problems.

The paper corrects this by using the historical record to identify true examples of deliberate austerity — and it turns out that they are contractionary. The multiplier is less than one, but that may reflect the fact that these austerity programs did not take place in the face of a zero lower bound, so they were partly offset by monetary expansion.

The paper also provides a tentative answer to the apparent tendency of spending cuts to be less contractionary than tax increases: it looks as if central banks take more aggressive action to offset spending cuts than tax hikes, reflecting some combination of inflation concerns, belief that spending cuts are more durable, and (the paper doesn’t say this) bankerly ideology.

If we were discussing a politically neutral subject, the evidence here would long since have been considered definitive: expansionary austerity is a doctrine that failed. But since we’re in the political realm, of course, such a convenient doctrine can’t be abandoned. On the contrary, it now seems to be the official doctrine of both the GOP and the White House.

Also, let me remind you that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are very successful programs.  They have successfully stopped the elderly from being the poorest segment of society.  Just as an example, the majority of single, elderly women would be in poverty without Social Security.

Elderly unmarried women — including widows — get 51 percent of their total income from Social Security. Unmarried elderly men get 39 percent, while elderly married couples get 36 percent of their income from Social Security. For 25 percent of unmarried women, Social Security is their only source of income, compared to 9 percent of married couples and 20 percent of unmarried men. Without Social Security benefits, the elderly poverty rate among women would have been 52.2 percent and among widows would have been 60.6 percent.

Here’s a recent,  powerful, academic study showing the benefits of providing Health Insurance for the poor.

When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid.

While the findings may seem obvious, health economists and policy makers have long questioned whether it would make any difference to provide health insurance to poor people.

It has become part of the debate on Medicaid, at a time when states are cutting back on this insurance program for the poor. In fact, the only reason the study could be done was that Oregon was running out of money and had to choose some people to get insurance and exclude others, providing groups for comparison.

I continually feel as though we’ve all been drug down the rabbit hole. It is like the President is purposefully enabling  joblessness, poverty, and public health problems.  No amount of research, historical data, and polls appear to be able to penetrate the Washington, D.C. group think these day. The biggest issue is that the President himself believes in the confidence fairy, the bipartisan elves, and the high priests of voodoo economics.  He’s not just part of the problem, he is THE problem.  Can  just one or two members of the Democratic caucus please stand up to this man and his notion that bipartisanship that surrenders the country to right wing reality-deniers is better than any form of principled leadership?   Can at least one of the please be brave and start talking some sense and representing the will of the people for a change?

Invoke the 14th Amendment and end the damned sell outs now!

39 Comments on “President Hornswoggle and the Debted Hallows”

  1. djmm says:

    Excellent post. I would also say that now is the time to act. Call your reps and senators (yes, even Republicans) and the White House and tell them “Hell no!” Tell them that anyone who votes for this can say goodbye to holding public office.

    If not now, when?


  2. bostonboomer says:

    Obama’s snub of their invitation to speak to the Senate Democratic caucus Wednesday

    WTF?! Why are the Democrats putting up with this?!!!

    • dakinikat says:

      I have no idea. Does he have some kind of black mail dossier on them so he can do a Weiner on them all?

      • paper doll says:

        interesting…they don’t collect info so much now as we FB it to them…plus , now if they want you, they simply make up shit…you don’t even have to hand them something like he did.
        They can break anyone and will…no one is getting the way of their stealing the trillons
        …..but the people. That’s all who is left

  3. dakinikat says:

    I can’t imagine this is going to help their reelection chances which also appears to be the only thing they really care about given the polls–even among Republicans–show this move is highly unpopular. People prefer tax hikes to cuts in both social security and medicare.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Maybe they care more about getting high paying lobbying jobs that they do about be reelected?

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Excellent post, Dak!

    This truly frightening. The fact that Demcrats had to find out that Obama had offered something from the media and they still don’t know what he offered is incredible. They should be started impeachment proceedings IMO.

    Obama should run for the GOP nomination and immediately stop claiming to be a Democrat.

  5. jawbone says:

    I just called the WH comment line with a suggestion to help Pres. Obama out of this debt dilemma he’s put us in.

    Open up Soylent Green factories nationwide. New jobs!

    It probably has to be a government program due to the possibility of lawsuits against private entrepreneurs, so it’s a JOBS program that provides low cost PROTEIN for the masses and the elderly poor.

    Now is surely the time for such an endeavor.

    Hey, win-win-win: Jobs, food, and a way for the poor to sacrifice themselves to the greater good.

    Orin Hatch* did say on the floor of the Senate that the poor need to sacrifice more, so, given they don’t have much money, why not let them, indeed urge them, to sacrifice themselves entirely? Body and soul? Hearts and minds?

    And there’s more! Burial costs are avoided and cemeteries won’t fill up as fast! Maybe some job losses for gravediggers, profits lost to funeral homes, but what an upside: Jobs, low cost protein, and, maybe, profits the government can apply to the national debt. And there must be some side products, such as fertilizer, some minerals, tallow, etc., which can also be sold. It’s win-win-win-win!

    C’mon, Obama, what’s not to like?

    The woman taking my call at the WH comment line reacted with equanimity. They must be hearing quite a bit of sarcasm today.

    *Thank you for your inspiring words, Sen. Hatch. Republicans ought to love this scheme: It will mostly lower the number of Dem voters. Hey, for them it’s win-win-win-win-Big Win (electorally).

  6. reddragonn62 says:

    looks like my comment went …Poof! 🙂

  7. Obama is soooo reasonable and bipartisany. Thanks Again, Obama

  8. joanelle says:

    Jawbone, I’ve mentioned soilent green in the past as well, But frankly- at this point and being that both my husband is almost 71 and I almost 69 – my sense of humor about this is really flagging.

    We are right in the middle of the percentages that Dak gives us above for SS – and we are finding it really had to appreciate sarcasm. It’s really scary.

    We knew O was not fit to be Potus back in ’08 but this is farther into the depths than I ever dreamed he’d take us.

    We flooded the WH, Senate and House before Obamacare was passed and you know where that got us – soemthing drastic has to be done NOW. But I’ll be darned if I know what.

  9. propertius says:

    …his usurpation of responsibility for our future

    Just a nit, but don’t you really mean “abdication” rather than “usurpation”?

    • dakinikat says:

      abdication would infer a certain amount of not knowing/caring what he’s doing to his … I’d say he’s usurping it because he’s forcing a bad out come and I think it’s willful.

  10. paper doll says:

    Great post

    it’s interesting how he’s not allowing Dems in the room…why, you would think we had one party rule! /snark

    when he doesn’t allow capital Dems the chance to pretend to be relavant, he’s really sticking to them where it hurts…selling us down the river is fine by them …but keeping them from looking important?! Oh the humanity! . Obama won’t even let Dem’s a couple of days to do a cave dance….that’s how pre cave it all is

  11. propertius says:

    Can just one or two members of the Democratic caucus please stand up to this man and his notion that bipartisanship that surrenders the country to right wing reality-deniers is better than any form of principled leadership?

    I think you’re making the erroneous assumption that members of the Democratic caucus aren’t “right wing reality-deniers”. I know that my own Democratic Senator just sent me an email yammering about how important it was to do something about this awful, awful debt right now – which makes him effectively indistinguishable from the average GOP-er.

    • paper doll says:

      god….We use to ask the Dems to have spines…now there is NOTHING there at all

  12. joanelle says:

    How stupid can they be – to publicly say they need to do something about the debt THEY continue to create?

    End two of the wars – pull installations out of the friendly nations – what a bunch of losers.

  13. If it’s any consolation, Orrin Hatch is going to face a primary fight with new Tea Party darling Mike Lee and will probably lose

  14. Jay Hoover says:

    To respond to Orrin Hatch, the poor would be happy to pay more. If they had money

  15. dakinikat says:

    Pelosi not informed in advance of Obama’s broader reform plans

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was not informed in advance of President Obama’s plans to include Social Security reform in the scope of the debt-ceiling talks, a House Democratic aide said Thursday.

  16. joanelle says:

    But the boyz never saw her as having any more value than a rubber stamp – and now they have not use for her at all – so they ignore her.

  17. B says:

    Slightly off-topic – Medicaid might put people in a better mood, but people who use Medicaid typically don’t have health outcomes that are much better than their “private pay” compatriots.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Put people in a better mood? WTH does that mean? People who are on Medicaid can’t afford private health care. They’re on Medicaid because that’s all they can get.

      • WomanVoter says:

        There are close to 50 million uninsured Americans. Pushing people off medicaid will raise this by millions and then there are the Americans that are loosing their benefits and will soon join the ranks of the millions of uninsured.

        So much for hope and change… The only people that have benefited under Obama’s Health Reform have been the rich and the insurance companies. Now Obama is going after Social Security and Medicare.

      • B says:

        From this entry:

        “When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid.”

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think referring to those effects as putting people “in a better mood” is pretty simplistic and a massive understatement.

      • B says:

        Regardless, in the end, they don’t wind up noticeably better than people who have no insurance.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Bullshit. Prove it.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        @B, I will usually stay silent when someone makes these kind of comments and one of the other front pagers here at Sky Dancing responds. I feel that when one of my fellow admin takes on a reader/commenter on an issue, there is no need to reiterate the admin’s point.

        Regardless, in the end, they don’t wind up noticeably better than people who have no insurance.

        Your comment here however blows my mind…and I must post my feelings about it.

        I totally agree with BB on this…Bullshit, Prove it.

        Obviously you are one of the lucky ones who has health insurance and has never experienced the horrible emotional and physical toll of being without any access to heath care. I am appalled at your statement.

  18. jawbone says:

    NewsHour had a segment tonight with Andrew Kohut,pollster, and Naftali Bendavid, congressional correspondent for the WSJ, discussing Obama’s grand bargaining. Video and transcript here.

    Kohut pointed out several times that Obama and the Republicans are proposing things almost completely opposite of what the public wants to have done. The public by two to one favors tax increases, some cuts, but not messing with the social safety nets (SS, Medicare and Medicaid). Affluent Republicans don’t mind if SS and Medicare are screwed with, but middle, lower, and poor Republicans do not want these TOUCHED.

    ANDREW KOHUT: Well, surprisingly, when you ask about what is more important, preserving benefits for Social Security and Medicare, by 2-1 — or reducing deficit or the debt — 2-1, people say, preserve — preserve our benefits.

    There is very little give there. Now, Republicans are of the view — more of the view that reducing the — reducing the deficit should be given high priority. But even among Republicans, it’s really interesting. There is a big income divide. Affluent Republicans say it is more important to reduce the deficit, but poorer Republicans, middle-class and lower-middle-class Republicans say, no, no, protect our benefits.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And have — are these attitudes, Andy, that have changed over time, with all the attention that’s now being given to the size of the debt and the urgency of the problem?

    ANDREW KOHUT: Well, a lot — people are willing to do a lot of things to reduce this deficit. Concern is at an all-time high.

    But when it comes to entitlements, there’s no movement. It really is rock-solid when we see 2-1 margins.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, entitlements meaning Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

    ANDREW KOHUT: And even Medicaid. Having states raise the — make it more — reduce eligibility for Medicaid, not 2-1, but a solid majority say, no, let’s not do that.
    ANDREW KOHUT: And that is completely opposite to public opinion.

    When we say, if push comes to shove, if you have to do something, what would you rather see with respect to these entitlements, revenues increased, or taxes increased, or benefits cut? People say, raise taxes, raise costs, but don’t cut those benefits.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you see that across the board?

    ANDREW KOHUT: See that across the board.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican — what about Republican vs. Democrat?

    ANDREW KOHUT: Well, there is a gap on this, but when you get such large 2-1 margins and you have this class division within the Republican Party, that is potentially big stuff come election time. There will be a huge cry and howl if benefits are seen to have been — to have been cut here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so I hear you saying some of the public reaction is going to depend on how this is packaged, how it is described to the American people, whatever — if they come up with an agreement.

    ANDREW KOHUT: Right.

    I mean, there is support for raising the contribution cap, of doing some things like that. But the notion that the retirement ages will be delayed or in some way people are going to have to pay a larger share of their Medicare costs out of their pocket, all of those things are very, very unpopular.
    (My emphasis, and do note how Woodruff reacts to Kohut saying people want one thing, Obama and R’s are doing the opposite, so the takeaway is — how it is going to be SPUN. Oh, she is a true Versailles courtier.)

    Obama does not work for us. Repubs do not work for us. ConservaDems do not work for us. Who does?

    We do not have the wealth of the Top One Percenters, so we are useless — except for getting fooled to give them our votes.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s amazing how these people publicly talk about how to fool the masses. Do they think only elites watch NPR? They think we’re stupid.

  19. Yes, exactly right. By allowing the dishonest advocates of screwing the poor to have a seat at the table and get their way, we’re going to see our economy suffer even more. If the media were capable of questioning the agenda and the ideology of the advocates of austerity, we’d hopefully have a more informed electorate. Instead, we get distractions and diversions.