Sunday Night Open Thread: The Calm Before the Storm?

calm before storm

I’ve been having this feeling all weekend that the entire country is holding its breath as we mark time until Washington DC blows sky high. Is anyone else feeling that way or is it just me? I’ve been somewhat out of the loop the past couple of days. I have some kind of sinus thingy and I ended up spending a lot of time updating my computer drivers and other software. But I’ve been surfing around this evening, and everything is looking very weird and wacky in the nation’s capital.

In the first place, why are Republicans all over the place threatening a government shutdown? And why aren’t Democrats countering the Republican lies? Failing to raise the debt limit won’t trigger a government shutdown. If the U.S. defaults on its debts it will trigger a national economic disaster–and perhaps a global meltdown. A shutdown would happen if Congress refused to appropriate funds to keep the government running. Defaulting on the debt would mean another lowering of our credit rating and higher interest on the debt in the future.

I can’t figure out if the Democrats are just giving the Republicans rope to hang themselves or if there is something else going on.

This morning on Dancin’ Dave’s Disco Dance Party, Mitch “Pruneface” McConnell wouldn’t respond to questions about the threatened “government shutdown.”

Pressed repeatedly on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McConnell instead placed responsibility on President Obama for leading the country and avoiding a shutdown.

“I know what your question is,” McConnell said. “What I’m telling you is I haven’t given up on the president stepping up to the plate and tackling the single biggest issue confronting the country.”

Neither Dancin’ Dave nor McConnell addressed the most important issue–raising the debt ceiling. McConnell’s focus is squarely on cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but he wants the President to spell out the cuts. As Josh Marshall writes:

In other words, big cuts to key social insurance programs are not only the price of avoiding what would likely be a catastrophic government shutdown (a real one, not like what we had back in the 90s). But Democrats must also shield Republicans from the political consequences of cutting these programs by cutting them on the Republicans behalf.

McConnell apparently also claimed that “He Doesn’t Want Debt Ceiling Negotiations to Turn Into a Hostage Situation.”

In one of three Sunday talk show appearances, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wasn’t sure whether he’s prepared to “shoot the hostage” by letting the country default on its loans in the next round of the fiscal fight. While some Republicans are threatening to block a debt ceiling increase unless Democrats agree to major spending cuts, McConnell sidestepped the issue on ABC’s This Week. “It’s not even necessary to get to that point,” he said. “Why aren’t we trying to solve the problem? Why aren’t we trying to do something about reducing spending? … Waiting until the last minute is no way to run the government.” He added that he would not accept any new tax revenues in the next deal. “The tax issue is finished. Over. Completed. That’s behind us.”


According to The Hill, some “appropriators” in Congress have been “working quietly to avoid government shutdown.”

House and Senate appropriators have been quietly working behind the scenes for months to craft 12 compromise annual spending bills to avoid a shutdown that is slated to occur when the current six-month stopgap spending bill expires.

That sounds ominous. Are these unnamed Congresscritters working out the details of “entitlement” cuts so they can whip them out at the last minute when everyone is desperate for an agreement?

“We’ve got most of it worked out,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman on Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee.

A Senate Democratic aide concurred that work is far along and will pick up again when the Senate returns Jan 22. Appropriators had been striving to attach an omnibus to the year-end “fiscal cliff” deal and new Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is ready to continue the effort.
The negotiations mean that disputes over individual programs and policy riders — such as those on abortion and defunding Obama’s health reform — that have exacerbated government shutdown crises like that in April 2011 are being minimized.

Nancy Pelosi did talk about the debt ceiling, and she recommended that Obama just take the bull by the horns and raise it himself.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged the president on Sunday to drop his resistance to the idea and simply bypass the upcoming debate over raising the debt ceiling by deeming the entire cap unconstitutional.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pelosi offered her strongest endorsement to-date of the 14th Amendment option, which holds that Congress doesn’t have the power to use the debt ceiling as a hostage-taking device because the validity of the debt “shall not be questioned.”

Nancy Pelosi: Well, you ask the Republicans, because we always passed the debt ceiling. When President Bush was president, as he was incurring these massive debts, and the Republicans weren’t saying ‘boo’ at the time. There should be, this is a conversation where there should be no doubt. In fact, if I were president, I’d use the 14th Amendment, which says that the debt of the United States will always be paid.
Bob Schieffer: You would just go ahead and do it, you wouldn’t wait for the Congress?

Nancy Pelosi: I would just go do it. But the Congress has incurred much of this debt. And so what are you saying, we incurred it but we’re not going to pay it? If you want to say, ‘We are not going to do it so much in the future,’ well that’s another thing. But you can’t say, ‘I’m not paying my past debts.’

Go Nancy, Go!!


Now check this out from the Wall Street Journal: The Education of John Boehner.

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.'” [….]

The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”

Boehner, like McConnell announced there will be no more tax increases, period–only tax reform, and by that he means lower tax rates.

The speaker is adamant on two points: First, Republicans won’t be agreeing to any more tax increases during the next two years. “The tax issue is resolved,” he says, and it will be discussed only in the context of a broader debate about tax reform—specifically, lower rates. He dismisses the president’s declaration that any future budget cuts will have to be “balanced” with more tax hikes.

Second, Mr. Boehner says he won’t engage in any more closed-door budget negotiations with the White House, which are “futile.” He adds: “Sure, I will meet with the president if he wants to,” but House Republicans will from now on proceed with establishing a budget for the year following what is known as “regular order,” and they will insist that Harry Reid and Senate Democrats pass a budget—something they haven’t done in nearly four years—before proceeding.

The real showdown will be on the debt ceiling and the spending sequester in March….The debt bill is “one point of leverage,” Mr. Boehner says, but he also hedges, noting that it is “not the ultimate leverage.” He says that Republicans won’t back down from the so-called Boehner rule: that every dollar of raising the debt ceiling will require one dollar of spending cuts over the next 10 years. Rather than forcing a deal, the insistence may result in a series of monthly debt-ceiling increases.

The Republicans’ stronger card, Mr. Boehner believes, will be the automatic spending sequester trigger that trims all discretionary programs—defense and domestic.

It’s a long interview and it provides some insight into Boehner’s thinking, such as it is.

Roll Call has a piece called: Boehner Coup Attempt Larger Than First Thought

A concerted effort to unseat Speaker John A. Boehner was under way the day of his re-election to the position, but participants called it off 30 minutes before the House floor vote, CQ Roll Call has learned.
A group of disaffected conservatives had agreed to vote against the Ohio lawmaker if they could get at least 25 members to join the effort. But one member, whose identity could not be verified, rescinded his or her participation the morning of the vote, leaving the group one person short of its self-imposed 25-member threshold. Only 17 votes against Boehner were required to force a second ballot, but the group wanted to have insurance.

Even with 24 members, the group would easily have been able to force a second ballot round, but the effort was aborted in frenetic discussions on the House floor.

“Aborted?” I thought Republicans were against that.

And did you hear that Thomas Gibson was arrested for DUI today?

The 50-year-old actor, known for his roles on “Criminal Minds” and “Dharma & Greg,” was driving in downtown L.A. at around 1:00 a.m. on Jan. 6 when he attempted to continue through a part of town that had been sectioned off for a half marathon.

Sources tell The Huffington Post that the race was not over when Gibson drove his Audi SUV right onto the course, interrupting several runners. The race started at 9 p.m., but the road was still blocked off and authorities were making sure no vehicles were let through.

According to TMZ, Gibson was stopped by police and told to go a different way, but he proceeded anyway.

I hope that won’t cause any problems for my favorite TV show, Criminal Minds.

So what are you all hearing? Are we headed for the storm of the century?

Open Thread: Romney Will Pay for Massive Tax Cuts, Reduce Deficit, by Firing Big Bird

PBS funding represents 0.00014% of the budget!!

This meme needs to stick to Romney!  Bin Laden vs. Big Bird.

Mommy, why does Mr. Romney want to get rid of Big Bird?

Excuse me, Mr. Romney, but what did I ever do to you?

Will Big Bird be thrown ino the street homeless?

No, Mitt Romney will have him for dinner, of course.



This can only mean one thing … President Cave-in Strikes Again

If you haven’t been watching live coverage of the leader on leader snit fit on the senate floor, you’re missing the clash of two realities.  For all intents and purposes, Senate minority leader McConnell appears to be engaged in a filibuster of the Reid Plan in full expectation that he can make a deal with President Cave-in.  The earlier speeches on the House floor were more raucous than the backbenchers in parliament.  Representative Nancy Pelosi received applause, hoots, catcalls and boos.  The acting speaker clearly lost control of house decorum.

GOP leaders appear to have been encouraged enough in behind closed doors White House meetings they held a press conference suggesting the stand off might be near an end.  Senator Reid took to the senate floor to tell McConnell and Boehner they were sorely mistaken. You can see the coverage of the Boehner/McConnell Presser here.

“We are now fully engaged” with the White House said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a joint appearance with House Speaker John Boehner. “It should be clear … that Senator McConnell and I believe that we are going to be able to come to some sort of agreement,” Boehner said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi met alone with Obama and Biden, both the president and vice president have been in conversations with Boehner and McConnell.

Indeed, McConnell has been most insistent on this point, leading to some acerbic, amusing exchanges with Reid earlier in the day.

“He called the White House and said `Mr. President, let us do the deal,” Reid said of McConnell. “And now he’s telling the president he wants the president to do the deal.”

“We cannot reach a deal without the president. We tried that,” McConnell answered. “I’ll concede the point…but it makes my point that there’s no way under the constitutional system for my friend and I to work this out we have to have the president at the table.”

The biggest two outstanding issues are the Republicans’ insistence on “dollar-for-dollar” deficit reductions –without new tax revenues—to match any increase in the Treasury’s borrowing authority. And second, what enforcement mechanism is best to ensure that a new joint House-Senate committee will be able to come up with an estimated $1.6 trillion in savings by the end of this year.

Reid’s response is covered here.

The Republican leaders in Congress signalled that they were close to reaching a deal with President Barack Obama to raise the US borrowing limit and stave off a devastating default, a breakthrough that would relieve markets – and ordinary Americans – if it were to happen.

But in a sign of the confusion on Capitol Hill about how parties would end the impasse, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said Republican claims of new progress on a debt ceiling deal are “not true”.

But “the process has not been moved forward,” Mr Reid said.

 As I mentioned before, Pelosi’s speech turned the floor of the House into chaos as she insisted that Boehner had gone over to the “dark side“.

Pelosi pulled out a Star Wars reference on the House floor, saying that Speaker John Boehner “chose to go to the dark side” and court the most conservative members of his conference, rather than work on a bipartisan compromise.

“It’s time for us to end this theater of the absurd,” she said. “It’s time for us to get real.”

The House struck down the Democratic measure, 173-246, in a vote that was designed to fail. Boehner brought the measure up under a special rule that required a two-third majority for passage.

“This thing is not on the level,” Pelosi said before the vote.

Boehner’s office said Saturday morning that the vote on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s legislation would show that the Nevada Democrat’s plan can’t pass the House, dismissing it as a “pointless political exercise.”

 That last comment from Boehner was incredibly hypocritical as we saw the speaker go through the same pointless political exercise with his bill yesterday that was destined for failure in the senate. 

Despite the House’s pre-emptive rejection of the Reid plan, Senate Democrats say they are moving forward with its consideration. The Senate is tentatively scheduled to take up Reid’s proposal beginning at 1 a.m. ET on Sunday — part of that chamber’s arcane procedural path required to get something passed before the Treasury runs out of funds.

Any proposal put forward by Reid will ultimately need the support of at least seven Senate Republicans in order to reach the 60-vote margin required to overcome a certain GOP filibuster.

Forty-three of the Senate’s 47 Republicans sent a letter to Reid Saturday promising to oppose his plan as currently drafted. Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Massachusetts’ Scott Brown, and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski declined to sign it.

McConnell urged Reid early Saturday afternoon to hold a quick vote on his bill in order to clear the way for new talks.

Your plan “will not pass the Senate. It will not pass the House It is simply a nonstarter,” McConnell told Reid on the Senate floor. “Hold the vote here and now” and let’s “not waste another minute of the nation’s time.”

Reid responded by accusing the Republicans of wasting time on the Boehner plan, and criticized the Senate GOP for not allowing his plan to be considered with a simple majority vote.

“The two parties must work together to forge an agreement that preserves this nation’s economy,” Reid said. “My door is still open.”

It’s getting pretty obvious what the dynamic is now.  The Republican leadership in Congress has absolutely no control over its rogue teabot faction which appears to be made up of people that cannot be reasoned with, have no clue about how the constitution sets up the passage of laws, and never cracked a book on finance or economics in their lives. The Democratic leadership are about to have the legs knocked out from under them again by President Cave-In.  The Republicans are stalling until President Cave-In forces Democrats to fully give in to Republican demands.  Get ready for the next recession. It’s on its way . From my vantage point, the teabots are terrorists and the President and the Republican leadership are in negotiations with them.

Our Contrived Fiscal Crisis and the President who buys into it …

Federal deficits always go up big and automatically during two events.  That would be wars and recessions.  We have had two wars going on for about 10 years now and we’ve had the deepest recession since World War 2.  Getting rid of the two wars and solving the residual problems of unemployment would eliminate any potential future fiscal crisis.  Any economist will tell you this.  It’s not a secret we keep from the world.  Passing huge tax cuts and laws that remove nearly all capital and all types of businesses incomes from the pool of revenue sources only exacerbates the revenues problems you get during recessions and expenditure run-ups that come from running wars.

We’ve had excessive war spending before.  Our country was born with a lot of money borrowed from the Dutch.  The Civil War and both World Wars–especially number two–placed our federal deficit and debt at astronomical levels of GDP.  Did our country crash and burn because of the actions of John Adams, Abraham Lincoln or the spending during World War 1 or World War 2?  Did you feel that life in the 1950s and 1960s and the children born then were oppressed by excessive debt?

Of course not.

Federal Debts and Deficits are functions of the size and health of the economy underlying the obligations.  We have plenty of taxable assets and businesses making money.  You can tell how risky the market for our Federal debt is by looking at the yields on Government bonds and Treasuries.  The current yields for Treasuries are listed right here. They are at near historic lows and they are still selling.  Nothing in that market indicates any reticence by any participant to buy American Debt obligations.  The ability to tax and raise taxes as well as print money is a unique function of government.  We can do both.  If we’d have let the Dubya Bush tax cuts just expire we would’ve closed the deficit gap and reduced the debt by more than anything than is on the table right now.  That would include the disingenuous and malfeasant Ryan plan. It also includes the the one that will come from the White House today at 1:35 est.

We need to put taxing capital back on the table.  That includes dividends, capital gains, and vast inheritances and trust funds.  We need to remove tax loopholes and subsidies to corporations.  We do not need to remove the last vestiges of safety nets standing.  There appears to be no one brave enough in Washington DC to say that but I will join the bow tie set in shouting just that.  It is time to stop subsidizing incompetent business owners and time to invest in the country and its people.  Washington DC has the nation’s priorities all wrong.

The White House provided no more specifics on the four steps to be offered in his afternoon speech at George Washington University. But an official said his plan would “borrow” from the recommendations of the 2010 fiscal commission that Obama empaneled, but whose proposals he never fully embraced.

“The president will make clear that while we all share the goal of reducing our deficit and putting our nation back on a fiscally responsible path, his vision is one where we can live within our means without putting burdens on the middle class and seniors or impeding our ability to invest in our future,” the official said.

Republicans–as eloquently stated by former budget Director David Stockman–have a tax fetish.   Republicans are refusing to put any taxes on the table.  Rand Paul is considering filibustering the increase in the debt ceiling. It appears some of these folks are so disturbingly ideological and economics-disabled that they will let the US go “bankrupt” in the only way possible it could do so.  They will allow the US to default on its debt obligations.  The Republican Party seems ruled by insane people at the moment.  The Democrats, however, are ruled by folks that appear to be playing into right wing memes to appeal to some independents.  So, why are we only left with poisonous choices?

Some of the Democratic base is finally waking up to the truth about Obama. He has no core Democratic values.  We’re about to see a Democratic president put the cornerstones of Democratic policy on the bargaining table in an effort to appease some folks during the re-election cycle.  I’m wondering if it’s all not just a little too late.  Ever since the real economists left the building, White House Policy has grown more and more Republican.

Key liberal groups, which helped elect Obama in 2008, are raising concerns that he has given up political ground to Republicans, allowing the message of reducing government to trump that of creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate.

Seizing on Friday’s deal, which would cut $38.5 billion from the fiscal 2011 budget, activists on Tuesday threatened to sit out the 2012 presidential campaign if Obama goes too far with further cuts.

“The fundamental problem in our country right now is unemployment and a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, an advocacy group for the poor. “It appears the president is fighting on the wrong terrain and is conceding that the only thing we should be talking about is how to bring down the deficit.”

The clash over government spending — coming as Obama prepares to make a major speech on fiscal discipline Wednesday — is the latest example of the frayed relations between the president and a broad coalition of union and activist groups.

The details of the budget compromise as well as the way that the Health Care Reform act was rammed through congress have shown that Obama is more than eager to get something, anything passed than to fight for reform that would actually reflect either public opinion or traditional Democratic Values. Poor black women from the District of Colombia were  nearly the first ones thrown under the budget cutting bus.  Which previous US Democratic President would have sold them out?

To get the trade-off on the policy riders, Democrats had to give on spending — to the tune of the largest budget cuts ever. There’s a $1.1-billion cut across the board for discretionary spending and dozens of nips and tucks all over government, from Justice Department programs to subsidies for co-ops in the new health care law to the Pell Grant program for low-income college students.

I am going to watch this speech.  I’m only hoping some of the disgruntled chat coming from real Democrats materializes into something substantive after it happens.

DeFazio said Monday that Democrats haven’t put enough pressure on Obama.

“That’s what the House did wrong in the last Congress, and in part why we lost is we never pushed back, no matter how wrong he was or how off-base he was; we never pushed back,” DeFazio told MSNBC.

“There are a number of us in the caucus now pushing back very hard on our leadership,” DeFazio said. “Who knows where they’ll end up, but maybe we can take enough D’s with us to make them uncomfortable and to make them stick with making the president act like a Democrat.”

The Democrats’ frustration with Obama is hardly new. Liberals were furious in December when the president caved to GOP demands that Congress extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. More recently, many liberals have questioned the wisdom and constitutionality of launching military attacks on Libya with prior approval from Congress.

Behind closed doors, Democratic leaders are frustrated that Obama hasn’t been more involved in the big policy fights of recent months, including the spending battle.

The way to get to this President is through his re-election efforts and his ego.  Hopefully, a few groups will stop facilitating the cave-ins and start fighting for the country’s interests.   You can watch the President’s speech on CSPAN at this link. I have my bucket o’ Nerf balls ready and I’m warming up for the first pitch of the 2012 presidential campaign season.  Join me as we share the pain and none of the gain.

Throwing People to the Wind and the Dogs of Profit

Dennis "Paul Ryan" Moore: Stealing from the Poor and Giving to the Rich

Paul Krugman has a disturbing blog post up. Republicans have been moving to throw the public interest to their corporate masters for some time while collecting their own federal subsidies and benefits. Their privatization fetish is doing in all kinds of things. They’ve been turning prisons, schools, and a bevy of national resources to businesses who are only in it for the short-run boost to their bottom line. These decisions are being made on a purely ideological basis. They have nothing to do with the safety and solvency of the assets involved or the fact that things like national forests belong to the country and the country should have some say in what happens there. Krugman links to articles discussing the privatization of Medicare and then links to an op-ed that argues that the real test of Obama’s meddle will be how well he stands up to these privatization schemes.

The funny thing is that the entire arguments made for this kind of thing are how much more efficient the private sector supposedly is at service delivery and cost containment. This is a charade.  We’ve seen everything from the botched student loan program that thankfully, just got pulled back into the Department of Education. This can be observed is in Medicare Advantage where we’ve had private companies enrich themselves more than provide benefit. We keep subsidizing inefficient private corporations with no demands they cut cost and deliver things as asked efficiently.  Medicare Advantage was set up to enrich Republican constituencies.

Privatizing and voucherizing Medicare does nothing whatsoever to control costs. We’ve seen that from the sorry history of Medicare Advantage. I’m sure that the Republicans will claim savings — but those savings will come entirely from limiting the vouchers to below the rate of rise in health care costs; in effect, they will come from denying medical care to those who can’t afford to top up their premiums.

Ryan is calling for draconian changes that have no basis in anything other than ideology. His obsession with starving the beast in the name of fiscal discipline is insanity. The man should be declared a public menace and put on an island some where. If Ryan’s way were the correct one, we’d have never had most of the major assets and infrastructure that made 20th century America a powerhouse. That would include things like the interstate system, Hoover Dam, rural electrification, and World War 2. All of these projects were huge, have paid off tremendous benefits in the long run, and were done on borrowed money. I guess World War 2 would’ve not be worth fighting–had Ryan been around–or farmed out to mercenaries because little Paul’s had such a bad life over the last 4 decades due to the debt burden which we still carry in many ways. This is insanity. People actually believe him too. This is exactly how dumbed down and selfish many of our citizens have become. The propaganda campaign on efficient private businesses has been so effective that many don’t seem to notice that their lives have been made much worse off by the excesses put into law over the last ten or so years.  I have yet to meet any one–other than a fat cat–employed by a private business that doesn’t have nightmare stories about stupid and bad management practices.  They’re more plentiful in the private than public sector.  I’ve seen and heard many of them in my years working and consulting with both sectors.

Notice that Ryan is avoiding the wrath of the senior citizen vote with the trick of letting every one 55 and over go into the current program. He’s only throwing certain people to the Dogs of Profit.  Ryan’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.  As long as your part of the Republican base, you get to keep your government largess.   He’s out to delivery windfall profits to insurance companies, not efficient health care delivery to people.

Recognizing the political risk of significant changes in Medicare and Medicaid, the health care program for poor Americans, Mr. Ryan emphasized that such spending would continue to rise under the Republican budget plan, just not as sharply as it would have otherwise.

He also sought to clarify that any Medicare changes, which would include requiring more affluent Americans to pay a larger share of their Medicare costs, would not amount to a voucher program — an approach that has been heavily criticized by Democrats.

Mr. Ryan said his plan was more like the Medicare prescription drug program and would allow patients to pick from a menu of insurance plans. The federal government would direct the subsidy to the plan, not to the consumer.

“It doesn’t go to the person, into the marketplace,” Mr. Ryan said. “It goes to the plan. More for the poor, more for people who get sick, and we don’t give as much money to people who are wealthy.”

Americans who are now 55 or older would go into the current program to prevent a sudden change in their health insurance coverage, he said.

There are some Democratic politicians still fighting against these unnecessary and draconian budget and program cuts.  It doesn’t look like a robust fight, however and the President has been slow to engage.  Senator Chuck Schumer did the Sunday news talk show circuit yesterday arguing the idiocy of throwing people off programs that work and keep them out of much more expensive trouble.  Not only do these things work to keep people out of desperate situations, they create jobs.  Many small population states actually rely heavily on state and federal jobs for revenues and services.  I’d hate to live someplace like Wyoming if Republicans have their way.  The Republicans want to cut the people programs and the programs that invest and sustain our resources.  It’s all about delivering short term profits to whatever business pops up over night to abuse the program.  Republicans still balk at cutting war programs, corporate welfare programs, and the types of subsidies and tax loopholes that line their own pockets.

Mr. Schumer said Democrats were urging Republicans to consider reducing some of the automatic annual spending in Agriculture, Treasury and Justice Department programs to reach a target of about $33 billion in cuts rather than insisting that it all come out of what is known in budget parlance as discretionary accounts.

A Democrat involved in the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said alternative spending cuts from the White House and Senate Democrats would range up to $8 billion. But to the Democrats’ dismay, not only were Republicans resisting those cuts, they were also proposing more spending than the Pentagon wants for military and homeland security programs.

“If you just cut from domestic discretionary, you’ll have to cut things like helping students go to college; you’ll have to cut scientific research, including cancer research,” Mr. Schumer said on the ABC News program “This Week.” “These things have created millions of jobs through the years.”

It’s completely disingenuous but they don’t care.  They’re willing to ax the meager federal spending on Planned Parenthood which covers basic reproductive health for poor people to give farm subsidies to Tea Party Buddy Michelle Bachmann. Why keep pouring money into inefficient private sector ventures other than they turn around and donate to your campaigns?  This leads me to the other link provided by Krugman to an op ed  E. J. Dionne JR at WAPO.

This week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will announce the House Republicans’ budget plan, which is expected to include cuts in many programs for the neediest Americans.

The Ryan budget’s central purpose will not be deficit reduction but the gradual dismantling of key parts of government. Remember that Ryan wants both to preserve the Bush tax cuts and, over the long run, to enact more breaks for the wealthy, including the elimination of the capital gains tax.

Ryan’s plan reportedly will include steep Medicaid cuts, disguised as a proposal to turn the program into a “block grant” to the states. The net effect would be to leave even more Americans to the mercies of the private insurance market.

In deference to the GOP’s success in turning last year’s health-care law into “Obamacare,” let’s call this proposal Ryancare — and let’s make sure we look carefully at its impact on the elderly and the disabled, the main beneficiaries of Medicaid.

Put the two parts of the Ryan design together — tax cuts for the rich, program cuts for the poor — and its radically redistributionist purposes become clear. Timid Democrats would never dare embark on class warfare on this scale the other way around.

Paul Ryan is the anti-Robin Hood.  He steals from working Americans and subsidizes the already rich. Who is going to stand up to this complete disconnect between Ryan’s dogma and the reality that was the healthy US economy prior to all this enabling of inefficient oligopolies and monopolies at the cost of the Treasury?    Both Krugman and Dionne are correct in this assessment.  The President kicked off his re-election bid today.  Whose side will he be on?  Will he mouth his campaign themes from 2008 while doing the Republicans’ worst for them? From Krugman:

This will be Obama’s defining moment. Will he stand up for the principle that society takes care of those in need? Or will he cave in? I wish I had confidence in the answer.

I’d say the odds on favorite is that we’re going to continue to give away every one’s American Dream to the bonus class.  The Republicans may be removed from reality, lying, and bat shit crazy, but what do you say about Democratic officials that enable them?