Monday Reads

GBcartoon Good Morning!

The Federal Government has reopened.  The Giant Panda Cam is back up.   The exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act are working in the states where the governor’s accepted the Medicaid expansion and have spotty participation in some other places.  Fox News is back to Benghazi conspiracy theories.  Why can’t I get the vision of more icky Grand Bargaining out of my head?  Robert Kuttner is right there with me on the worry couch.

What would the latest incarnation of the grand bargain look like? The Republicans, worried about the cuts in Pentagon spending mandated by the sequester (which is still in effect) propose to allow military spending to rise in exchange for cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Excuse me? This is a little like saying, I’ll take your house and in exchange you have to give me your money. Right, we’ll cut Social Security and Medicare in order to increase money for the military. Are you kidding? It gets worse. In exchange for this proposed deal, Republicans are not willing to talk about raising taxes or restoring other social spending or to stop trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act. The only good thing about this proposed bargain is that is should be dead on arrival. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid immediately declared that he wanted on part of any such deal. But President Obama, who has flirted with grand bargains in the past, was more equivocal. He has already put disguised cuts in Social Security in his own 2014 budget, though a revision of annual cost of living adjustments. The deal to keep the government set a deadline of December 13 for some kind of progress on a grand reform of entitlements and taxes. That’s only eight weeks away. It is preposterous to think that a bargain on taxes, social insurance, and deficits that has eluded the two parties throughout the Obama administration can be struck in less than two months. One has to hope that the deadline comes and goes, and that when Republicans think about shutting down the government again when the continuing resolution expires in January, they will think twice. But that will happen only if Reid, Pelosi, and House and Senate Democrats display the same resolve that they did in the last round. And given his past dalliances with putting Social Security and Medicare on the block, some of that resolve may need to be displayed against their president.

There’s likely to be some pressure because the Republican Party’s right wing still hasn’t given up its demands and will likely cause issues again. This means that way out there Republicans may continue to move the middle ground further toward the right wing.  What’s going to happen as some of these incumbents start seeing primary challengers?

The more important intraparty fight will begin playing out chiefly in Senate primaries next year, with the targeting of incumbents like Mr. Cochran; Mitch McConnell, the minority leader; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and perhaps Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Pat Roberts of Kansas. Their perceived roles as moderating drags on Tea Party-inspired senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah in the shutdown negotiations has galvanized conservative organizations to elect more such Republicans. Mr. DeMint said he thought the power of the establishment and its corporate money was waning. “It’s harder to buy influence in Washington now,” he said. That is certainly true in the House, the bulwark of Tea Party conservatism thanks to the overwhelmingly Republican nature of many of the districts and the less expensive campaigns necessary in them. As the Republican retreat on the shutdown demonstrated, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee are very much outnumbered in the Senate. “The lesson is, we need more reinforcements,” said Daniel Horowitz, an official with the Madison Project. Groups like his are more reliant on smaller dollar donations than their rivals. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads, for example, can summon large amounts from donors across the business spectrum, many of whom are expressing concern about the latest turn of events on Capitol Hill and are intent on avoiding nominees like Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who unseated Senator Richard G. Lugar, a longtime veteran, in the primary but lost in the general election after making a damaging comment on rape. “I have seen the problems in some of these primaries where we’ve knocked off some pretty good candidates and it resulted in nothing for us — like Lugar,” said Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate developer and former ambassador who helps Crossroads raise money. Spencer Zwick, the chief fund-raiser for Mr. Romney’s campaign, said individual donors tell him they are eager to help the establishment wing’s cause however they can. “There are a lot of individual donors who were supportive of Mitt’s campaign who are quietly waiting to figure out how they can play, and I think there’s a lot of appetite to make sure that we nominate candidates who can win general elections,” he said. The Tea Party-aligned groups say they have an established record of winning primaries against Republican rivals with deep corporate backing. “We’ve always been outspent by orders of magnitude,” said Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks. And they do have some big donors, like grand_bargainthe multimillionaire investor Foster Friess, who backed a failed primary challenge to Mr. Hatch in Utah last year and indicated in an interview last week that he would consider new “opportunities to put young, dynamic people in.”

Then, there are the lobbyists who will be looking to get something from resorting out sequestration.

With automatic cuts to the militaryset to take effect by January and a separate round of cuts scheduled forMedicare, lawmakers will have to decide who gets hit the hardest. Washington’s lobbying machine — representing older citizens, doctors, educators, military contractors and a wide range of corporate interests — is gearing up to ensure that the slices of federal money for those groups are spared in new negotiations over government spending. It is a debate that almost no one involved wants to have so soon after the nasty fight over the federal budget, which produced the 16-day shutdown and again failed to reverse the automatic cuts resulting from previous disagreements. But Congress managed to reopen the government and extend the nation’s borrowing limit largely by creating a new series of deadlines that run through February, giving special interests several chances to influence the process. So far, the defense industry is likely to be hit the hardest, since the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, set for January would slice an additional $20 billion from the Pentagon’s budget. “It’s fair to say the volume in Washington is going to be deafening,” said Marion Blakey, the chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association. Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to mitigate those cuts by spreading them among various social programs, like education and Social Security, bringing dozens of other special-interest groups into the picture. “The perfect storm is coming” is how one health care industry lobbying coalition put it in an advertisement, complete with dark clouds and lightning, that ran the day the shutdown ended. “Tell Washington, no more hospital cuts.” AARP, the giant nonprofit group that represents older citizens, has kicked off a million-dollar radio advertising campaign warning that “seniors are no bargaining chip.”

I’m not sure if you caught the fun stuff that went on last week when billionaire Pete Peterson’s attempt to end social security and medicare as we know it known as the group “Fix the Debt” tried to create a twitter sensation.  They got more than they bargained for when the popularity of their ideas got trolled by thousands of twitter users.

When billionaire Pete Peterson’s Fix The Debtdecided to hold a Q&A  session on Twitter to sell corporate America’s austerity agenda, they must not have expected to be trolled. First rule of Twitter: always  expect the trolls. By the time the whole real-time conversation was called off, the stream for #FixTheDebtQA was 100% opposition.grandbudget This should be heartening to those of us who would rather see Social Security expanded, not slashed

More epic trolling of the group can be found here.

Fix the Debt” just felt Twitter’s sweet, trollish wrath. Championed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, Fix the Debt — which The Nation magazine called a “fearmongering campaign to convince Americans that the deficits the United States has run throughout its history have suddenly metastasized” — held a Twitter live chat this afternoon to discuss next steps in America’s ongoing fiscal squabble. And it didn’t go so well, with the #fixthedebtqa soon teeming with jokesters and those very much against Fix the Debt’s message.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already sounding the trumpet of deficit doom.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested Sunday that the automatic spending reductions known as the sequester have given his party leverage moving into future budget negotiations. The government-wide cuts, which took effect in March as a result of the Budget Control Act, trim spending by more than $80 billion during this fiscal year alone. They are scheduled to continue for another nine years with deeper cuts unless Congress and the White House agree to an alternative deficit-reduction plan. McConnell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he would not budge on the Budget Control Act’s spending caps when lawmakers and the White House resume negotiations over taxes and expenditures. “The bottom line, when we re-engage early next year, is I don’t want to bust the caps and I don’t want to raise spending, because we are in fact reducing spending, not as much as we need to, but it is a success,” McConnell said, adding that the sequester has lowered government spending “for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War.” The GOP leader also criticized President Obama and congressional Democrats for pushing to raise taxes during previous budget talks. “Every discussion we’ve had about this in the past has had what I would call a ransom attached to it — a trillion-dollars in new tax revenues,” McConnell said. “We don’t have this problem because we tax too little in the country, we have it because we spend too much.”

So, excuse me but I am still paying attention to the men behind the curtains. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


36 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The idiots lining up with and supporting the agenda of the Tea Party have no clue that what they are defending is against their own best interests.

    If the Tea Party has its way we will see the end of Social Security and other government programs that have offered a lift to those living at the bottom of the economic scale.

    Unfathomable to me that these very same people would rather cut off their noses despite their faces when it is they who will suffer the most.

    • dakinikat says:

      saw this on my facebook feed this morning …

      Robert Reich
      One of the oddest realities of American politics is that right-wing Republicans who have fought hardest against the Affordable Care Act represent states that stand to benefit the most from it. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has compared his fight to defund the Affordable Care Act to the fight against Nazi Germany, is from a state with the highest percentage of uninsured citizens in America. One in four of 25 million Texans lacks health insurance; the Affordable Care Act will cover 3.5 million of them. A million more would have been covered if Texas Gov. Rick Perry hadn’t nixed the law’s expansion of Medicaid. More than 10 million Texans, including 1.6 million children, have a pre-existing health condition, such as asthma or diabetes, which insurers will also have to cover because of the Act. So here’s today’s question: Once the Act is fully implemented, will the citizens who benefit from it in Texas and similar states turn against their Tea Party representatives? Or are the Act’s beneficiaries the poor and minorities whom the Tea Party has turned into scapegoats for the economic insecurities of the working class in these states?

      • dakinikat says:

        http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/10/surprise-obamacare-actually-fairly-popular

        CNN has a new poll out today, and it shows that people are pretty unhappy with congressional Republicans right now. We already knew this, and I doubt that public irritation will last long, so I’m not all that interested. However, there’s something else in the poll that mindful readers have known for a while but that has never gotten as much attention as it deserves: Opinions about Obamacare are less hostile than most polls suggest.

      • NW Luna says:

        But it doesn’t help the wealthy class — that’s why the R-wing crazies reject it, I think.

        • Pat Johnson says:

          It must really “feel good” to know you have stood in the way of some poor, suffering soul who cannot get the proper treatment to reduce the pain and misery.

          That should “jack up” your points in heaven when the Day of Judgment arrives. You know, the one you keep hoping is just around the corner causing the universe to splinter into fragments for “upsetting” the Lord.

      • RalphB says:

        Once the Act is fully implemented, will the citizens who benefit from it in Texas and similar states turn against their Tea Party representatives?

        Huge fear factor for them. If they turn against this propaganda, then years of catapulted crap will be for nothing on several fronts. The public will just consider them idiots or liars and their ride will be largely over.

    • dakinikat says:

      Howie Klein ‏@downwithtyranny 18m
      Are Mainstream Republicans Capable Of Going On The Offensive Against Teabaggers? http://bit.ly/1a8ofRV

  2. Fannie says:

    Former VP Cheney said “the republicans welcome the Tea Party, they are good tax paying, patriotic Americans, and want what is good for our Country”……….Had to reach for my barf bag.

    • dakinikat says:

      Why isn’t he in jail?

      • NW Luna says:

        More than barf:

        Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he had the wireless feature of the implanted defibrillator that helped keep him alive in 2007 disabled because he feared terrorists could use it to kill him. ….

        Cheney was on CBS to promote his new book “Heart: An American Medical Odyssey,” co-written with his cardiologist Jonathan Reiner.

        Very American — where someone who’s been kept alive by medical care works to keep medical care from the undeserving poor.

        http://seattletimes.com/text/2022091729.html

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s an ancient burial story for you, Dak.

    Oops! Etruscan warrior prince really a princess

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/10/21/oops-etruscan-warrior-prince-really-princess/

  4. NW Luna says:

    Good news in NJ:

    Gov. Chris Christie dropped his legal challenge to same-sex marriages on Monday, removing the possibility that the vows of couples who began getting married hours earlier could be undone by a court.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Wonderful story on the new Afghan Women’s Writing Project:

    A few dozen women writers meet every week to share poetry in a quiet place sealed off from the din of a bustling neighbourhood, and the pressures of a deeply conservative society. ….

    “When we recite our poems, we remove our pain,” says Seeta Habibi, Country Director for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, a group established with the help of writers living in the United States.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24608666

  6. Well there was another school shooting today, 2 Dead, 2 Wounded In Nevada School Shooting : The Two-Way : NPR

    A staff member at a Nevada middle school was fatally shot by a student, who was also killed, apparently by a self-inflicted wound. Two other students were critically wounded, law enforcement says.

    The shooting occurred on the campus of Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nev., a suburb of Reno on Monday before the start of classes.

    A witness reports seeing the staff member who was killed trying to persuade the shooter to give up the gun.

    The wounded students were being treated at a local hospital, officials said.

    Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. Suspected Shooter Was Student:

    During a press conference, Mike Mieras, the chief of the Washoe County School District Police, said the suspected shooter was a Sparks Middle School student.

    Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said the shooting was an isolated incident.

    He said he was sorry that he had to be at the press conference talking about this, but “It’s one of those things that happens.”

  7. RalphB says:

    I’ve been looking around here in Texas. and despite Cruz and gerrymandering, the republicans had a super majority in the legislature but lost it in the last elections. Turning Blue is getting an assist in that we’re starting to see elected officials switch to the Democratic party like this guy …

  8. dakinikat says:

    @thinkprogress: #SCOTUS agrees to hear potentially huge death penalty case: http://slate.me/1dbu9oq

  9. dakinikat says:

    “Swanson: The individualism of feminism has been devastating to this country. I’d say you ought to say no the Girl Scout cookies too. I don’t want to support lesbianism, I don’t want to support Planned Parenthood and I don’t want to support abortion, and if that be the case I’m not buying Girl Scout cookies. Now I suppose if you take a big, fat, black magic marker and you say, ‘give me that box,’ and you start marking out all of the references to the Girl Scouts of America on all the boxes then maybe we’re not promoting that organization anymore and I’d be willing to buy it. Maybe it’s not food offered to idols anymore if I had the opportunity to scratch out references to the Girl Scouts of America on the boxes of the Girl Scout cookies offered to me at Safeway.

    Buehner: Those are some pretty expensive cookies you’re eating though. At some point a Christian has to say, ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,’ and where you spend your money does count.

    Swanson: It does and I don’t want to promote a wicked organization that according to its own website doesn’t promote godly womanhood, it just doesn’t, I don’t see anything that promotes godly womanhood. The vision of the Girl Scouts of America is antithetical to a biblical vision for womanhood, it’s antithetical to it.”

    Kevin Swanson Begs You Not To Buy Communist Lesbian Girl Scout Cookies
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org

  10. RalphB says:

    The abject stupidity of the MSM and “wonk?” Ezra Klein is incredible. Have a look at this steaming mound of pure crap for instance.

    HealthCare.gov is monstrously complex. The Times reports that there’s more than 500 million lines of code — of which more than 5 million lines may need to be rewritten.

    That is completely imposible and has to be off by at least a full decimal or order of magnitude but the media just throws it out there as “information” from some unnamed consultant. The entire Linux kernel and associated utilities are ,maybe 15 million lines of code. to put that in perspective. Something that large would NEVER run right.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/21/the-white-house-has-put-the-best-and-the-brightest-on-obamacare-so-who-was-on-it-before/

  11. RalphB says:

    Raw Story: Race is central to the fear and angst of the US right

    In the early 1980s veteran pollster Stan Greenberg, conducted a focus group in Macomb County, a Detroit suburb, of former Democrats who had switched allegiance to the Republican Ronald Reagan. After he read a statement by Robert Kennedy about racial inequality, one participant interjected: “No wonder they killed him.”

    “That stopped me and led to a whole new analysis of Reagan Democrats,” wrote Greenberg in a recent report, Inside the GOP. “I realized that in trying to reach this group of people race is everything,” he told me.

    While conducting a focus group with Republicans over the summer he had a similar revelation, although it came not from a sole outburst but almost throwaway comments, often left on cards after the session. …

    Just consider someone who used to be a smart political reporter but is now a useless talking point dumbass, Macomb County’s own Ron Fournier.