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Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid

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By Matt Stoller, a political analyst on Brand X with Russell Brand, and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller

This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.

The White House already tried cutting all three main entitlement programs, last year (cuts to Medicaid are actually cuts to Obamacare, for what it’s worth, since an expansion of Medicaid was a key plank of the new health care law).

The White House agreed to cut at least $250 billion from Medicare in the next 10 years and another $800 billion in the decade after that, in part by raising the eligibility age. The administration had endorsed another $110 billion or so in cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs, with $250 billion more in the second decade. And in a move certain to provoke rebellion in the Democratic ranks, Obama was willing to apply a new, less generous formula for calculating Social Security benefits, which would start in 2015.

Going after entitlements is in fact a tradition of Democratic politicians since the 1980s. The post-WWII model of dealing with entitlements was to expand them as a way of boosting aggregate demand. But as Carter, Reagan and Volcker ushered in an era of Wall Street greed and austerity, that trend reversed. In the early 1980s, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil collaborated with Ronald Reagan to raise taxes on the poor and middle class with a “grand bargain” around Social Security. Later on, Bill Clinton had his go at the programs, with an even more aggressive plan to destroy the remains of New Deal liberalism.

One of the little known political stories of the late 1990s is how Bill Clinton tried to work with Newt Gingrich to cut Social Security for recipients and pour some of the Social Security trust fund into the booming stock market. Clinton was willing to oppose the liberal wing of his party to cut a deal, and accept Republican demands for private accounts and a higher retirement age. Gingrich was willing to let Clinton succeed at doing so. And Clinton put Erskine Bowles, a conservative Democrat, in charge of the effort.

But then Monica Lewinsky happened, and Clinton had to take refuge with the liberals, who might have abandoned him during his impeachment had he cut entitlements. As Bowles said, “Monica changed everything”. Bill Clinton was an obscenely corrupt politician, starting with NAFTA in the early 1990s and ending with financial deregulation until his final days in office. After he left office, he took over $80 million in bribes, and his team of advisors – people like Gene Sperling, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers – operated just like he did, spinning between DC power and New York money for decades in a sea of graft and pay-to-play favors.

Barack Obama continues in this fine tradition of Democratic policymaking, and his advisors are quietly laying plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid in the second term of his administration. Obama appointed Erskine Bowles, who now works for a Wall Street botique, to head up his commission on fiscal responsibility. Bowles, along with an old man named Alan Simpson, came out with a set of proposals to cut the programs. And while Obama couldn’t get the Republicans to agree to it in 2011, he will try in his second term. Here’s the New Yorker laying out the plan.

There is a possibility that a second Obama term could begin with major deficit reduction and serious reform of taxes and entitlements. A similar opportunity arose in the second terms of Reagan (who in 1986 signed into law a historic tax-reform bill) and Clinton (who in 1997 reached a significant budget deal with Republicans). Although both victories occurred when the two parties were less polarized, many White House officials regard the successes as encouraging precedents. Several senior Clinton officials involved in the 1997 deal now work for Obama, including Jacob Lew, Obama’s chief of staff, and Gene Sperling, the head of the National Economic Council.

And sure enough, as Dean Baker points out, a gang of incredibly wealthy CEOs are planning to gut entitlements regardless of which candidate wins in 2012. It’s not just CEOs, of course, it’s also the usual gang of corrupt Democratic establishment folk. Here’s Steven Pearlstein describing one riveting meeting of the designated austerity group.

In addition to Cote, Dimon and Bertolini, the charter business members include Sandy Cutler of Eaton, Gregg Sherrill of Tenneco, Marty Flanagan of Invesco, Gary Loveman of Caesars, Thomas Quinlan of R.R. Donnelley & Sons and financiers Steven Rattner and Pete Peterson.

Later that evening, at Honeywell’s Washington office, over a salmon dinner with the floodlit Capitol dome as a backdrop, the executives huddled with their political co-conspirators: Simpson and Bowles, Warner and Saxby, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House. Also on board: Simpson-Bowles commissioners Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, and Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union.

It’s Senate leader Dick Durbin, House leader Steny Hoyer, and a bevy of CEOs and political leaders. As for non-CEO non-politicians, Andy Stern is a key tell. Back in 2009, when he led the powerhouse union SEIU, Stern visited the White House more often than anyone else. Back when he was trying to woo bloggers in the mid-2000s, Stern invited me on a trip around the country to see the union. On that trip, he told me that SEIU was growing so quickly he wished he could cash out and take it public. Since retiring from SEIU, Stern is now on the board of a bio-weapons company and his political connections are what he sells. So he’s one of the links between shutting down liberal opposition to this plan, the White House, and the business community. That level of self-serving cynicism has become the basis of our political system, and it’s an important cultural element in delivering austerity to a public that doesn’t want it.

It’s useful to remember, this election season, that the way the debate is framed matters. That Obama isn’t choosing to discuss in public what he will do to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and that Romney isn’t specific about it either, should show you who this election is for. But in addition, that both Bush, Clinton, and Obama (in his first term) failed at cutting Social Security means that an aroused public can stop austerity, when politicians feel their office is at risk. Clinton chose to abandon his plans to gut entitlements when facing impeachment and Bush chose to stop when his plan threatened the Republican Congress.

The joke during the transition in 2008 was that the people who supported Obama got a President, and those who supported Clinton got a job. The Clintonistas didn’t manage to gut entitlements in the 1990s, but they will sure try again and again until they succeed or someone takes their keys to the White House away.

This election, aside from not being much of an election for anyone but the billionaire funders who have the real votes, doesn’t really matter. But keeping in mind who is doing what does. Because if there’s a chance to save anything for anyone who isn’t ultra-wealthy from 2013 going forward, it’s going to require being able to create credible threats to the politicians making the policy.

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142 comments

  1. mmckinl

    Once again Stoller has hit the ball out of the park. Despite all the rhetoric being splashed across the MSM and connected “alternative” news sites and blogs both major parties have the same plan for the rest of us … austerity.

    Kudos to Yves Smith for publishing this piece and “Israel, The Bulgaria Bombings, and Iran” … It takes real guts to tell the truth these days especially as the “Them or Us” “Dem- Republican” media extravaganza goes viral.

    1. Warren Celli

      If you think this is a home run you are very late to the game. This is a pop up to second base. The batter is out.

      A “real guts” home run would be moving way ahead of this now obvious electoral Xtrevilist farce with concrete plans to apply pressure from outside the intractable system. A “real guts” home run would not be saying; “it’s going to require being able to create credible threats to the politicians making the policy”. A “real guts” home run would have already created them and have them well in place.

      This election DOES matter because it is a scam focal point that should be taken advantage of by countermandering it with alternative proactive election boycotts carried out in conjunction with a Constitutional rewrite. That would be a truly credible threat. It is not austerity in play here. It is a well led globally orchestrated herd thinning that is focused on putting you and yours into a ruler and ruled world with your end days spent in contrived perpetual conflicts with your fellow humans.

      It is well past time to stop staring at and flying into the Xtrevilist Noble Liar flame. It is well past time to blow that Xtrevilist flame out!

      Come on Matt Stoller, get back up to the plate. Let’s see you really hit one out of the park!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. mmckinl

        I said “home run”.

        I didn’t say what the score was, we are losing.

        I’m waiting for your proposals Warren Celli.

        1. C

          In absence of him jumping in how about going 3rd party? Fundamentally the R’s and D’s always rely on the premise that we have nowhere else to go and thus have to choose between them. If both parties will pursue the same policy then find someone who won’t. If we pack Congress with people who are opposed to this then the President will be stalled. If we pull away then the charade is deligitimized.

          In most states party position on the ballot follows a “two majority party plus others” system where access to the ballot is determined by the number of votes received in past elections. This system ensures that the two “majority parties” are always on and symies any 3rd party until they essentially run a big enough write-in campaign. So why not make this the time?

        2. Warren Celli

          C — third party is a part of the energy dissipating scam and when all is said and done you will have no residual. Ross Perot, a wealthy Xtrevilist himself, got 12% of the vote and not even a position as dog catcher when it was all over.

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          1. particle61acmerecordsas g.singlaub said .. 'when deception fails, they will choose force.

            wierd after all the dem attacks for 30 years on the soc safety net (what was the b.clinton quote? .. ‘end welfare as we know it’ http://acmeartscollective.com/acmerecords/the-singlaubs/ and his partners in stealing food out th’ mouths of grannies and kiddies, bowels lew sperling ..etc now ‘obama men’) that people still believe dems care about anything other than eating fancy meals off of fancy china…
            real patriots know its time to ‘lend a hand’
            http://acmeartscollective.com/acmerecords/2011/09/16/civlian-conservation-corps-demo-of-lend-a-hand/

            but with these neo-fascists in charge, as g.singlaub says .. ‘when deception fails, they will choose force.’

      2. Uncle Bob

        Hi..What does “xtrevilist” mean?
        Please explain….” alternative proactive election boycotts carried out in conjunction with a Constitutional rewrite.”..Are you saying Don’t Vote?

        1. sd

          I’d like to know where the ‘Constitutional Rewrite’ meme is coming from. Historically, such sudden rewrites have not ended well.

        2. Warren Celli

          Uncle Bob — for a definition of Xtrevilism click on my name.

          And yes, I am clearly saying don’t vote, and instead, very publicly, notify by letter your local Supervisor of Elections that you are boycotting the process because it is such a scam farce and demand that your letter be counted and posted as a “Vote of no Confidence’ in this crooked government (you might want to mention what an overpaid gas bag drain he/she is as they all are). To gain boycott visibility and support begin public demonstrations, on whatever commons are left — they are fast dissapearing, and collect voter registration cards in oversize ‘fish’ bowls — “We will no longer be fished in.” – and display copies of the letters. Conduct a paralell election using hand counted paper ballots and post the results as; The Real America Speaks! People that do not want to risk a head bashing by goon squad cops on the ‘commons’ can still participate by sending a letter from the safety of their own homes. This should be positioned as a very patriotic act, which it is.

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          1. Lord Koos

            Such posturing will be less useful than a bucket of rocks. Not voting… 50% of Americans already do that. If that same 50% would stop showing up for work for a week or two, that might strike some fear. The people need to stop giving them the power.

        3. Warren Celli

          sd — consider the Constitution to be like software that is first; antiquated, and second; it has been written over with Xtrevilist viral code so many times that it is hanging up and constantly freezing the system. We need to do a fresh insatall from new system disks, rewritten as the boycotts progress and more people are brought into the fold.

          Background;

          “Take A Look…
          Through The Lens Of Alliances…
          The US Constitution is an alliance of “We The People”…The US Constitution, legally enacted on March 4th, 1789, was written by a group of all white persons, all men, all property owners, and many of them were slave owners. It was a fitting and reflective statement of the morality of its creators and the time in which they lived. It was also, on an evolutionary basis, with its representative republic structure, a vast improvement over many past governmental formative documents. As an umbrella (or overarching) alliance however, it claimed sweeping powers over a great number of people who were not party to its creation; people of color, women, non property owners, the indigenous people, etc., were intentionally left out. Provision was made in the Constitution for amendments that over time have rectified many of the disparities in its original creation in terms of representation. These amendments have brought many of the originally unrepresented in its creation seemingly into the fold. However, it still remains a structure that favors a wealthy (now corporate) elite, and its limiting and stifling and repressive electoral process prevents it from becoming a true framework for direct democracy of all of the people.

          Layered over and negatively coloring all of the preceding is the aggregate generational corruption that has occurred over time making the Constitution less and less responsive to the will of the people. Added to that, the present hijacking of the government through an alliance of corporate corruption and propaganda has made it totally unresponsive to the will of the people. Remember the “Us and Them” structure discussed above and what happens when…

          • If the benefit of a sub dominant alliance is made at the expense of the overarching dominant umbrella alliance, then that dominant alliance loses strength and the sub dominant alliance gains in strength.

          This is why the American alliance is breaking down and the corporations are getting stronger, the alliance of self interested corporations have forsaken the Constitution — our American alliance, our “We The People” code of conduct — and in essence they are like traitors that have seceded from the union of the United States!

          The end result is that we all now face a Constitutional crisis that can not be resolved from within. The American Constitutional alliance, because it now serves so few people, has become unworkable. In order for an alliance to survive harmoniously over time, all who are members in the alliance must get fair share value from the alliance and have a fair share voice in the workings of the alliance.”

          Middle seaman is correct, Matt’s artice is a home run on name calling and that’s about it, but it IS very late in the game and we have to beg, cajole, wheedle, shame, or do what ever it takes, to get those who wield more influence to use that influence more forcefully; and we all have to get more forceful ourselves. Hidden under all of that mass media feel good propaganda is your future if you do not act.

          http://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1161&bih=1048&q=
          homeless+people&oq=homeless&gs_l=img.1.1.0l10.2124.4253.0.9593.8.5.0.3.3.0.66.251.5.5.0…0.0…1ac.Q4JN01
          __hMA#hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=homeless+tent+cities&oq=homeless+tent+cities&gs_l=img.12..0i24l3.
          15491.15491.2.22764.1.1.0.0.0.0.49.49.1.1.0…0.0…1c.VWvCTDqokuQ&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=7c51e7b139ab4b0e&biw=1161&bih=1048

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          1. Warren Celli

            Apologies for bad link above… corrected link…

            http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&cp=13&gs_id=fl&xhr=t&q=homeless+in+america&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&biw=1161&bih=1048&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=C3AWUJPWEoKK8QTzmYGgBQ#um=1&hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=tent+cities+in+america&oq=tent+cities+in+america&gs_l=img.12..0l2j0i24l2j0i5i24l2.7656.10999.0.14833.11.11.0.0.0.0.56.536.11.11.0…0.0…1c.3-PcRRx5QA0&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=7c51e7b139ab4b0e&biw=1161&bih=1048

    2. LadyLiberty

      “The single program getting the bulk the Simpson-Bowles plan’s attention is Social Security, which in fact contributes not a dime to the federal deficit, and can’t by law. Something else is at work here other than deficit reduction: It’s a plan to cut benefits to seniors by ratcheting back on inflation protection and sharply cutting the benefit formula for everyone, starting with those whose average lifetime earnings are $9,000 a year.”

      http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120729,0,2146392.column

      1. C

        So yes, sorta. Many people, Simpson & Bowles included, have convinced themselves that it does contribute to the deficit or will when it “runs out of money” and have convinced themselves that congress has in fact put the SSA in debt already by investing all of the SSA money in U.S. Treasuries which in turn means that we are promising to pay ourselves to pay ourselves.

        I am not so sure about that last claim because many of the same people making it are all excited about the next point which, I think is the real driver.

        If you look at plans to replace social security they all rely on forcing Americans to continue to save, by investing in the Stock Market. Those who argue just for gutting Social Security entirely by contrast assume that Americans should save for retirement by investing their payroll taxes in … The Stock Market!!!

        So no matter how thin you slice it all of the action on cutting entitlements seems to swirl around social security and seems directed, in one way or another, to getting people to invest in the oh so reliable stock market. And if you look at the numbers you can see why this would make the traders and fund managers drool. That volume of money being spent by people who have no real power over Wall Steet and thus, like holders of mortgage backed securities, no power to avoid being screwed, would make them rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

        Ultimately I think there may be something to the argument that investing social security dollars in t-bills that are then used to buy missiles which vaporize on impact is not the most sustainable strategy. It is certainly not the same as, say, building schools or roads. But, given Wall Street’s proven ability to get rich and wipe out nations at the same time I am more content with putting my future in the hands of the Gates not Geither.

        1. Lord Koos

          Stocks are going to be a really tough sell to millions of aged baby boomers who still have some money saved – people in their 60s tend to be in “risk off” mode.

    3. Middle Seaman

      Matt Stoller provides a name calling political analysis. He mentions names of political figures and hangs certain crimes on their necks. There is almost nothing else in the article.

      Stoller’s article is a home run of name calling. Otherwise, he does correctly mention Obama’s plans, but strikes out with any real understanding of our recent political history.

    4. Donul

      PURPOSEFULLY PROLONGED DEPRESSION

      The Depression II is too good to waste: The economy will not improve as long as the Millionaires haven’t destroyed every last reform during the past 80 years. And then the economy won’t improve BECAUSE of it. The internment camps and the DHS are ready to deter possible riots.

      All sort of a mirror image of 1932-1972.

    5. BARBBF

      I don’t know how quiet Obama and the Dems plans are to cut Social Security, but there has been nothing at all quiet about the Obama plan to cut Medicare and Medicaid. In the thousands of pages of ObamaCare is the plan to cut $500 BILLION from Medicare and $200 BILLION from Medicaid. Unfortunately…the silence of those on Medicare and Medicaid has been deafening! When I’ve written to my so-callled Representatives asking why this is planned and what effect it will have on the services provided..I have had NO REPLY.

  2. Tiresias

    “This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s”

    Or, on the other hand, it could be the most important election for a century if enough people in the US realise that democracy is not a matter of voting for who you think will win, but of supporting the person you believe in even if they stand no chance. This is the lesson of the Greens in Europe and Australasia. They stood in election after election with no chance of winning, but because they were there election after election and each time a few more people voted for them they eventually reached the critical mass that broke the mold and made them viable.

    And because in Europe and Australasia citizens have a far better conception of what democracy actually means than most Americans despite all the faux-veneration they give it.

    1. Paul Jurczak

      I agree. The only way to challenge Democrat-Republican duopoly, within the confines of current system, is to stop voting for the lesser evil and start supporting “non-mainstream” candidates you really (or mostly) believe in. They will not win this or the next election, but in the long perspective they may have a chance.

    2. liberal

      This is the lesson of the Greens in Europe and Australasia.

      That’s silly. The US has a first-past-the-post system. How many countries with such a system have the Greens succeeded in?

    3. Dave of Maryland

      And the Euro-Greens have done exactly what for Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland – ?

      The Euro-Greens have had exactly what impact on Frau Merkel? Or 10 Downing Street?

      They figured in what way in the recent French presidential election?

      So what if, instead of standing in line to vote in a phony election, the voters physically blockaded the polling places?

    4. Uncle Bob

      Hi…4 years ago I went from the Greens to the Dempublicans..because I believed in Brand Obama’s “Yes We Can” BS..I was a precinct captain..worked at my local delegate convention..etc..etc..
      Yes..I voted for Ralph Nadar in 2000..and like Ralph likes to say..”…people who voted for Al Gore kept Ralph Nadar out of the White House”.
      I shaved changed my voting status to DS..decline to state..as my personal protest of the current system.

    5. JEHR

      Would it be possible to have a majority of the voters write in their own choices on the ballot so that the two now running would know they are not IT?

      1. Gary

        I think the best possible effort to disrupt the criminal cabal of the Demopublicans is for patriots to Occupy the Polls forcefully and with weapons. Disrupt the elections on a massive scale and pour into the streets and demand another election with new candidates none of whom can be existing members of the gang of thieves.
        It’s going to take blood, but if our country is to be the shining light of democracy and freedom, this is the price.

        Occupy the Polls!
        Fight for America!
        Hang the traitors…..all of them!

  3. pathman

    Nicely written, Mr. Stoller. They truths they are painful. I predict massive cognitive dissonance from readers on the left. The biggest problem of course is that the citizens will generally go along with this insanity. You are right, we need to make the politicians fear us and excercise non-cooperation as much as possible. But alas, the people are sheep and easily led to slaughter.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Exactly correct. They will change the subject by telling us what wonderful things the Euro-Greens are doing.

      Every night on teebee I see lavish ads: Feed the children in Somalia! Rescue abandoned dogs in Calcutta!

      Not a word on the poverty, despair, desperation in America itself.

      I know! Let’s gin up an ad campaign to give aid to impoverished Americans. Let’s run it on Chinese and Russian State TV!

      Remember: THEY have MANNED SPACE PROGRAMS. We DON’T.

          1. rotter

            I think its a FDL, um..innovation (lengthening an abbreviation from 2 symbols to 6 dosent semm innovative to me) I detest internet-ese….”teebee” …how twee

  4. ArkansasAngie

    Well … one could vote for somebody else.

    Neither a Republican nor Democrat be.

    After the election some new Democrats and Republicans will be screen tested for their TV personality-likeability.

    It is the status quo who is the enemy that must be defeated.

    Seriously I’d vote for a one-eyed drunked sailor over these yahoos. There is no lesser of two evils here. Consider yourself wedged over faux policy positions.

    Want to clean up Washington? Throw them all out.

    1. citalopram

      You’ll have to do more than that, because they’ll just keep coming back like some horror movie villian.

      Me thinks the whole system needs a good bulldozing.

      It’s not a good time to be an American.

  5. Lambert Strether

    Ah yes. The same Andy Stern who funded the career “progressives” who imposed a news whiteout on single payer news and banned single payer advocates so Obama could get RomneyCare passed. Well done, all. Way to shape that discourse.

    1. dannyc

      ah yes, and that’s the same Andy Stern who is as close as the 99% ever get to shaping the discourse on the Charlie Rose Show.

  6. ambrit

    Friends;
    All systems eventually collapse, from within if not overthrown. Feelings of powerlessness are distractions from the real task at hand; being ready to pick up the pieces after the crash. I’m coming around to the idea of localization of political effort. “All politics is local.”

  7. Tom Crowl

    Our two-party system has nothing to do with Left/Right or Liberal/Conservative in any meaningful or consistent way…

    Its more akin to whether to buy Oscar Meyer or Farmer John Hot Dogs…

    Really not much different. Both not good for you.

    If you want to fix the problem… you have to go to where the sausage is really made.

    Fix the lobbying process… end the control of money in politics by the duopolists.

    You don’t do that by banning contribution… (though you need to regulate, disclose and limit it)…

    But by bringing the voter to the ‘sausage’ factory and giving him a voice… and bringing him on a non-partisan ‘bus’… (a neutral, Commons-dedicated lobbying utility)

    The political microtransaction has quite literally NEVER existed… and the ‘mechanics’ allowing that have only arrived with the ubiquity of the Internet.

    Sooner or later I expect an opportunity to talk about… and build… this viable enterprise and bring to life this very fundamental element of speech.

    1. Crazy Horse

      Speaking of the sausage factory:

      ANIMAL FARM

      Welcome to the feed lot, folks.

      On one side of the trough we have a skinny Ass, leader of the Rope-A-Dope party. He’s the consummate liar, his silver tongue never ceasing to babble about all the good things he hopes to do for you while doing the exact opposite for the benefit of his masters. He has a whole team of underlings whose job it is to shovel the Hopium that continually flows from his Ass onto the Sheeple milling about below.

      No other politician in the history of this country has been as successful in facilitating financial fraud and exterminating the rule of law. Millions of families thrown out of their homes on the basis of fraudulent mortgage deeds lumped into fraudulent securities using the fraudulent title transfer system called MERS with not a single prosecution brought by the Ass’s department of Injustice. His favorite fund raiser Jon Corzine walks off with a billion dollars of customer money while Justice turns a blind eye. Massive subsidies for criminal medical insurance companies disguised as a health care system. Trillions of dollars in payouts to the Bankster Cabal that bought his election, all financed by layering debt onto the public account. His personal assassination drones scan the globe searching for real and imagined enemies in defiance of all international law, sowing terror among enemies and any women or children who happen to be nearby. He continues to expand the permanent warfare state envisioned by his predecessor,turning every campaign promise on its head while it sucks a trillion dollars per year out of the productive economy.

      And on the other side of the trough we have a giant beast with a ridiculously long nose. (The better to snarf up your last penny, my dear) This beast heads an organization that proudly calls itself The Party of Greed. Its supporters are legion, implanted at birth with a microchip that turns any rational thought on its head. For their Supreme Leader they have chosen one of their own— a cyborg incapable of even pretending to know what life is like for the inferior beings upon which his financial wealth rests. He has an unusual characteristic for a politician —the inability to lie all the time. On a regular basis he says exactly what he believes — you know, “I don’t give a shit about the poor” or “hardly any of my annual income is from speaking engagements– its actually less than 400k.” Compared to his opponent the Ass, he has a great advantage because his career success was built upon understanding how the Business of America works. Take over a productive company that needs money to expand, use its assets to borrow more than it is really worth, transfer the funds to your own account, bankrupt the company, fire all the workers, and ship the jobs off to China were the workers are all 14 year old girls dreaming of earning enough to afford a stuffed teddy bear.

      If the elephant wins will he be able to match the Ass‘s success in driving America to ruin? It’s a tall order, but he’s certainly the right cyborg for the job.

      1. Jack M. Hoff

        Well Said Crazy Horse. That.s the most accurate assessment of the candidates I’ve seen anyone articulate. Whats sick about it is that neither one gives much of a shit about what anyone, except their masters, think.

      2. Kyrie Eleison

        The walrus and the carpenter, for sure.

        Line up, make your “choice” and be eaten.

      3. SnarkyShark

        I thought it was considered bad form to post material without crediting the original author. That entire rant was from Kunstler’s blog Clusterfuck Nation

  8. mad as hell.

    Neither of them are worth a spit.

    An Obama win will continue the dismantling of the FDR legacy while you get a smile from ear to ear and some bullshit that his grandparents would approve of what he has done.

    A Romney win and there will be an attempt to cut and gut the social safety net but the dems will seize on this as a way to get votes for the next election and block the attempt until they get back into the white house and then can begin deconstructing.

    People aren’t going to be as outraged at the cuts when the Grinner-in- Chief gets reelected as opposed to the Mormon King. The opposition to these cuts will be greater with a Utah win and will have less of a chance of passing.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I agree that a Romney win would be a strategic play. I’m no longer sure that the resulting party “deadlock” would be enough to save Social Security and/or Medicare. I think enough Democrats are now like Roberts, willing to do whatever it takes for the master and openly if necessary.

      But a Romney win and the resulting DemPug struggle just might be enough to prevent war with Iran because of recent history (inevitable comparisons with Bush that even the MSM couldn’t entirely avoid) and probably more than a million innocent Iranian civilian’s lives would be the benificiaries of such an “enlightened voting strategy”.

    2. citalopram

      Honestly, the American people deserve this and more. This idiocracy is too concerned with their Iphones, American Idol and Jersey Shore to even lift a finger to help themselves.

      I looked at all the kids running around Disneyland and Universal Studios this last week and thought how clueless they were. They have no idea what they’re in for. Sad.

  9. Michael Fiorillo

    Stern also recently joined the Board of the Broad (rhymes with toad) Foundation, which funds a leadership academy for privatizing the public schools. It’s “graduates” have been at the forefront of taking over and destabilizing school districts (mostly in the cities), eliminating local democratic control and oversight, imposing charter schools and busting the teacher’s unions.

  10. Ep3

    Monica saved us.

    I find this interesting, and maybe it’s just Matt’s writing, but, where are all the women in these meetings? I mean, I understand excluding minorities (except Obama!), but where is hillary?

    1. TK421

      Hillary’s right there, marching in lockstep with whatever Obama wants to do. In her area of authority, foreign policy, she hasn’t disagreed with Obama or Secretary of Defense Gates on anything. What else did you expect?

  11. Bristling

    It was obvious from the beginning that Romney and Obama’s ONLY difference was skin-deep. Big money interests have owned this country since Reagan lifted them from the slime. It’s clear, too, that the only reason that Obama ran as Democrat is that the Republicans couldn’t nominate a person of colour. Maybe Obama thought of nothing but his selfish ambitions to high office, but you know those Wall Street crooks knew what they were doing when they got right-wing Republicans to head both tickets. The only reason to vote for Obama is because you think a Black person might as well be the crook in charge rather than your usual rich white country club bag of scum.

    Personally, I get a good laugh when Romney speaks, which is about the only thing in US politics that I can enjoy.

    The “race” is just a spectacle. It’s over, America, over and done. You squandered not just the country’s prestige but you destroyed the institutions that had the possibility of repairing the situation. Now that they are full-fledged facists, are police departments going to give up their machine guns and tanks? Are the knaves and fools in Congress going to stop taking bribes? Are colleges and universities going reverse course after 40 years and suddenly start educating? And we dare not mention the unspeakable low life that populates the judiciary.

    What can you expect from a country where the highest duty of care is not to human beings but to money? With that precept, it’s only logical that the US should end up as a hot despoiled polluted barren with stinking liquid and poisonous fumes where once there was forest, air and water. When the country is unable to support life any more, the US rich will get, finally, what they deserve. Too bad the rest of us won’t be around to see it.

  12. Brindle

    Always helpful to go back to Simon Johnson’s “Quiet Coup”:
    “or unwilling, to act against them”—because they are, in effect, on the same team.

    –”But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.”–

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/7364/

    1. Susan the other

      Funny about the roadblock by the “banks.” Today from Testosteronepit. The Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) are demanding that Cyprus write down the bad mortgages, bundled in bonds. The banks are adamantly against it. The snafu is that the mortgages have been pledged to more than one trust AND there is a “title-deed” problem so no ownership can be claimed and so nothing can be written down. Sound familiar? So, limbo for Cyprus and the debt will continue to accumulate just like Greece, Spain, and soon Italy. Nobody is openly admiring Iceland yet but it seems inevitable. This shit is worldwide. Michael Hudson today on Max said there is no collateral anywhere in the financial system. It’s all smoke and mirrors. We are hiding this fact like mad, screwing labor and pension funds simultaneously.

  13. We Are Toast

    This is one of the most ridiculous, absurd things I’ve read in a long time. Anyone who things the Obama administration has been, or will be like a Romney administration hasn’t a clue of what they talk about.

    Do you think Romney would have proposed the same stimulus as Obama? Do you think the stimulus would have been much bigger had there been a half dozen reasonable Republicans to work with in the 60 vote requirement senate?

    Abortion rights,
    Environmental protection,
    ALT-E promotion,
    Dodd-Frank (see senate comment above),
    Gay marriage,
    Voter suppression laws
    Tax inequality,

    These are but a few of the things the Obama Admin and Romney are 180 opposite of.

    Of course, those who claim “they’re all the same” know that those of us who actually look at the issues and the actions taken and policies proposed, and the politics to get things passed, just aren’t as smart as those who can show how “different” they are by simply proclaiming, “they’re all the same”.

    nonsense.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Of course Romney would have done the same stimulus as Obama. Remember Bush’s stimulus right as the recession was taking off?

      Both sides wanted to stabilize the economy using food stamps, Unemployment Insurance, and stimulus. The Republicans grandstand against food stamps and UI, etc., but the leaders know that drastic changes will throw the economy into a tailspin so the Republicans supported most of the extensions, etc.

      There is almost no difference between the two.

      You’re a sucker for falling for their tricks.

      The fiscal cliff, or whatever they are calling it, is a trick to get you to support Democrats. Both parties pretend there is a crisis as an excuse to do what they wanted anyway. See the “debt ceiling” crisis for another example.

      Stop being a sucker. You’re killing this country.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Environmental rights– Obama may even be worse than Romney because liberals will finally start caring again. Obomba the war criminal promised that he would ban deep sea drilling instead he opened it up to drill baby drill! He’s playing games with the Keystone project which he’s obviously approving. Obama gave BP a free pass during the largest oil spill in history. Obama didn’t make BP pay for all the damage it did. Obama continued tax breaks to these companies. Obama expanded the global endless wars that Bush started. Many of these wars are to secure oil resources.

      Abortion–This is a fake fight to sucker Democrats. Like most things, Obama gave away abortion rights rather than protect them. But yeah, on paper Obama is different than Romney but in practice there is no diff.

      Tax Inequality–You’re not going to fall for this one again, are you? Didn’t Obama promise to let the Bush tax cuts expire? The Democrats didn’t have to do anything to make this happen. Yet, they pretended like the GOP made them extend the tax cuts.

      And Obama makes this promise a second time and now you say he’s serious and will follow through? What, do you think we’re suckers? You expect us to fall for that one again? No, Obama has pursued the same right-wing trickle-down tax code that Bush and the rest of the financial terrorists have pursued.

      As far as the other things on your list . . . lame.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Lame, except the voter suppression laws. But once again Democrats don’t do anything about it so their complaints are weak.

        Democrats killed ACORN which used to be their best GOTV effort.

        The Republicans have been doing these dirty tricks for a while now and Democrats haven’t fixed it legislatively when they had a chance. During the Bush v. Gore election Florida officials illegally dumped people from the rolls!

        Plus, I our whole system is suspect because electronic voting machines are hackable. The entire world’s “democracy” is suspect because these machines can be manipulated. If bad guys have the ability to do this don’t you think they have?

        We need paper ballots across the country. Until then the results are suspicious.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        After reading the New York Times from 100 years ago at ‘Whatever It Is I’m Against It’ I see that this was a very important time–our modern primary/caucus system was established back then.

        And they were presented as being much more democratic than the previous system where party bosses (the elite) were able to choose the candidates in smoke-filled backrooms.

        But what I’ve realized is that this was a scam as well. They never intended this process to be democratic–just to have the appearance of being democratic. In fact, the whole third party run by Roosevelt seems like it was intended to steal the thunder of legitimate third party candidates (Eugene Debs and the Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists).

        Also, Roosevelt and other “progressives” used the legitimacy they gained to help develop this new system that appeared to be more democratic but wasn’t.

        As far as caucus states having undue influence, isn’t this more a function of our electoral college system that gives more power to less populous states like in the Midwest? And that caucus states tend to be there and out west because those were the states that were the most “progressive?”

    3. Kyrie Eleison

      It seems as though you are unfamiliar with double-talk and the fine art of “bureaucrat-ese”.

      http://www.upworthy.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-mitt-romney-in-one-graphic

      You see, one can be both supportive and unsupportive of any hot button issue, depending on who your target audience happens to be at the time.

      All politicians, even BHO, employ these techniques to great effect on the masses to garner their manufactured consent.

      I’d post a rebuttal Venn to show BHO’s “flip-flops”, but it seems nobody has created one yet. I suppose I could make one, but a sketch on a napkin would probably outshine my artistic skills, and as the saying goes, it’s all about the presentation.

      For all you Venn fans, some comic relief:

      http://imgur.com/gallery/HVD0U

      I know all this stuff is serious, but every now and then I need a good laugh to maintain sanity.

    4. DrDubious

      Obama’s record:

      Abortion rights
      - They are disappearing rapidly. He has done nothing.

      Environmental protection
      - Obey BP and “drill baby drill!”

      ALT-E promotion
      - See above and support the Nuclear Industry.

      Dodd-Frank
      - Couldn’t be better for business if they wrote it themselves…Oh yeah, they did.

      Gay marriage
      - Followed others and finally “evolved”. Never supported it.

      Voter suppression laws
      - Voter Suppression? What Voter suppression? We’ve got bigger fish to fry: Shutting down Medical Marijuana dispensaries.

      Tax inequality
      -Can you say “extend tax cuts for the rich for another two years” then use them as an election gimmick?

      Oh yes, we have a lot at risk if ORomney doesn’t get reelected.

    5. kemo sabe

      Toast,

      You might try posting at Puffington Toast. Readers of NC are not so gullible and don’t drink Kool Aid.

  14. Brooklin Bridge

    This is a great article. It brings up what’s in front of everyone’s nose but which almost no one is talking about in a clear obvious way. A vote for Obama is a vote for Simpson/Bowles. It’s that simple. A vote for Romney is the same, of course, but Romney would have a harder time since Democrats would feel compelled to put up at least token resistance.

    Unfortunately, I think it’s too late either way. The owners won a huge victory with the recent Roberts decision (as if it were something HE decided, ha!). With that victory, they are like a dog with sheep blood in it’s mouth as far as the safety net goes. They will stop at nothing. Even with a Romney win they would pull the strings of the Democrats very very hard to vote for gut and cut openly if necessary just like with Roberts.

    Alas, cat food cans with the American flag on the label and not much inside is in the future of the weak, the defenseless and the elderly like it or no.

    But with Bush fresh in everyone’s minds, it would be harder for Romney than for Obama to start a war with Iran and that would potentially save over a million innocent lives.

  15. seabos84

    out here in the Great State of Wishy – Warshy, Pacified Northwest, 0bummer is doing well enough among the 0bots to show up 3 times for BIG cash hauls … and, NO public events –

    of course, I don’t think anyone would point out that 0bummer would no longer need a 60 or 90,000 seat venue for a public event – unless tens of thousands were protesters against his sell outs.

    Our Wishy Warshy lame ass Democratic ‘machine’ is wobbling on, full steam ahead, with the Grand Stratergeries of: SCOTUS SCOTUS! Cry Walker and let slip the rats of fear, LOTE LOTE! … oh yeah, by the way … here are the crumbs, non threatening to wall street criminals, of lilly ledbetter, gay marriage (mumble mumble), convoluted birth control, and AHIP-Care.

    who f’king cares.

    rmm.

    1. Waking Up

      There are people who proclaim to have compassionate principles that are actually much more concerned with the “image” they project than actually being compassionate towards their fellow man. They will vote for President Obama because winning is more important to them than actually following through on what they proclaim to believe. Once a person tells me they want to re-elect a President who believes he has the right to be your accuser, judge, jury, and executioner, I know they can be “bought off”. At that point, what won’t they allow the President to do?

      I believe the 2012 election IS important because it will reflect once and for all who we are as a nation. History will show that it is a time when people of conscience either did or did not do what is needed to change the trajectory of this nation. Will the majority vote for Obama/Romney or not vote at all (which guarantees that Obama or Romney – the 1%ers candidates will win)? Regardless of political party, do people believe the wealthiest among us should RULE this country? Where is the DEMAND for representation of “We the People”? Do people truly believe in the principles of democracy?

      If I were Bill Gates, David Koch, or among the other 1%, I would continue my agenda of privatization of resources including our educational system, lobbying and buying off government officials, and other practices to benefit me personally because other than the Occupy movement (which are terrorized with guns, pepper spray, etc.), there is very little push back from the American public. They know most people will vote for THEIR candidates, either Obama or Romney. So why should they worry about changing their agendas?

  16. jsmith

    Like priests/ministers who have to write new sermons every Sunday but still remain within the confines of accepted orthodoxy, writers on the “left” in America seem stuck in a similar situation.

    As everyone with an IQ above 30 has finally come to the conclusion over the last few years that EVERY SINGLE one of our political elites is not aligned with the interests of the common person but rather with the – gasp – financial elites, we once again are treated to another soothing homily by Mr. Stoller who does indeed write well.

    “Because if there’s a chance to save anything for anyone who isn’t ultra-wealthy from 2013 going forward, it’s going to require being able to create credible threats to the politicians making the policy.”

    Ah yes, non-credible threats – aka: any person/group that is anti-capitalist – need not apply.

    I sometimes don’t believe that pundits/analysts want/are able to tell the American people the truth:

    The initial battles are long over and we – the people – have been obliterated.

    The gutting of entitlements and all the rest will carry on apace as those were the “spoils” of the battles that have been already lost.

    No, we must begin inculcating a long-term siege mentality – a la Leningrad – in which a fortified and truly oppositional resistance is created among the populace and which is socialist in it’s foundation.

    The people are NEVER going to win a battle on the field of capitalism.

    And by capitalism I mean every courthouse and every legislative body in addition to every corporation.

    It’s just not going to happen.

    So, it’s best if we quit rehashing mashups of mostly accurate diagnoses of our current situation with calls for more “working within they system” as this is a path that will only lead to our ultimate demise.

    In other words, we’ve had our asses handed to us and yet we’re still trying to fight the same battle using the same weapons.

    Hmmm, what did Einstein – that dirty, dirty socialist – say again….?

    1. F. Beard

      “Hmmm, what did Einstein – that dirty, dirty socialist – say again….? “ jsmith

      “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” Albert Einstein

      But another Hebrew – Moses – commanded that interest not be collected from one’s fellow countrymen in Deuteronomy 23:19-20.

      Common stock as private money allows growth, even exponential growth, but does not require it. It is a non-usury based, ethical money solution that “shares” wealth rather than reaps it.

  17. F. Beard

    IF Federal deficits were, as they should be, financed without borrowing then there would be no National Debt to use as a political weapon against the poor. Instead, we have the farce of a monetary sovereign borrowing its own money supply!

  18. Lozenge

    So, the system is utterly corrupt and there is no difference between BO and brand X. If we don’t vote at all or we vote for a third party candidate we will have at least been true to our ideals and not participated in the perpetuation of this horrible fraud.
    Let’s see, how did that work out for ya, last time your disgust swayed an election? The Bush administration was no worse than an Al Gore administration would have been? Yes, I know, they all swallow slop from the same trough, but I swear, you are vowing to repeat the same mistake you made in 2000, with the same arguments.
    Maybe that’s what you want, a chance for the 1% to finish the job they almost completed under W. Maybe you think that by returning the overt facists to power the false consciousness of the citizenry will finally be dissolved and a true revolution can take place. But that would be awfully pollyannish of you, wouldn’t it?

    1. F. Beard

      Obama is trying hard to prove he is not a socialist.

      Would Romney try equally hard to prove he is not a fascist?

      Obama would like to be very rich; Romney already is. Who better to stand up against the bankers, someone who is awed by them (Obama) or someone who is not (Romney)?

      I won’t vote for either but as far as the economy goes, I’d expect it to do better under Romney.

      1. F. Beard

        Also Romney, a Republican, is more likely to understand that “deficits don’t matter” than Obama, a wannabe fiscal hawk.

        But lucky for me, my conscience won’t allow me to vote for either!

        1. Lozenge

          Yes, at least since the Wall came down the Dems have been ardently denying they are socialists and even managed to elect a glib spokesman(Clinton) twice –and Obama comes from this school. But in the same time period, the Republicans have gone completely American Facist, If you are certain that Obama can’t fight the Right, what makes you conclude that Romney will? The fact that he has to deny everything he ever did prior is a much more likely predictor of who will have the actual power in his administration.

          1. F. Beard

            I reckon that Romney is more susceptible to noblesse oblige than Obama. FDR was rich, no? As was Keynes?

            At worse, isn’t an honest enemy better than a false friend?

            But I won’t vote for either. Mormons are polytheists. They are NOT a Christian sect. Romney is a test for the Religious Right. Do they care more about God or more about money? If the latter, then I suspect God will punish them with Romney, should he win.

          2. JTFaraday

            Non-Tea Party Republicans already sidelined Bam and the TP-ers collective efforts at cutting Medicare and Social Security once, during the debt ceiling fight, having just previously discovered that Paul Ryan’s privatize/cut Medicare plan was massively unpopular with their geriatric voting base, (thereby saving the Tea Party from itself which is more than the D-Party can manage to do for itself).

            Not predicting what might happen in the future, but I see no reason to have any more faith in the D-Party than the Party whose geriatric voting base is reputedly already waving prescient signs like “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!”

            As the liberal culture warriors never fail to remind me.

      2. neo-realist

        A better economy under Romney????? The exuberant outsourcer????

        I understand they’re both similar and bad, but I fail to see how Romney would produce a better economy–for the 1% yes, but how for the 99%?

  19. Gil Gamesh

    OK, you rich fuckers and your political lackeys. Cut or gut social welfare programs. Grow private debt. Build more prisons, detention centers, torture cells. Waste even more $ (if that’s possible) on “defense”, homeland security, perpetual wars.

    Keep on betting that Americans will take all this lying down.

  20. Hugh

    Obama has already made three attempts to cut Social Security. The first was in a conference just a month after the Inauguration (February 2009) put together by Peter Orszag, Obama’s director of OMB, and bankrolled by Pete Peterson. There was considerable blowback from it and Obama was set to begin the great healthcare debate in March 2009 so further efforts were suspended.

    The second attempt was the Bowles-Simpson Commission. It is important to remember that Obama went ahead with forming this commission, often referred to as the Catfood Commission because catfood would be what the elderly would be reduced to eating if its recommendations were approved, by executive order after the Senate killed a Congressionally sponsored commission. That was in February 2010 just as the healthcare debate was winding down. Obamacare passed on March 25, 2010. Bowles and Simpson issued their personal recommendations (since the commission could not agree on anything) in November 2010. At the time these were shot down.

    The third attempt began in September 2011. As part of a jobs bill, there was to be a second Catfood Commission made up of Senators and Representatives. Democrats put forward several proposals for a “grand bargain” cutting trillions from the federal budget and entitlements including Social Security but their efforts fell through because Republicans would not accept even minimal tax increases on the rich.

    As for Medicare and Medicaid, these were cut as part of Obamacare, and they were also targeted by the Catfood Commission, and I believe the second Catfood Commission as well.

    The whole fiscal cliff narrative for the post-election lame duck session was supposed to be a setup for cutting entitlements. If they are not cut then, it is absolutely certain Obama will try again if he is re-elected.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Anybody out there with a LexisNexis account? Because I would love to find the “patient zero” for the “fiscal cliff” talking point — and who funds them.

  21. Eureka Springs

    The system is completely broken. Criminals and their money are the only ones in charge. Waging any battle within the confines of either corrupt party is a sure fire way to continue losing.

    We the people need to start anew at the most basic systemic levels. Pen a new Constitution. Not just a few pre compromised somewhat vague tweaks here and there. I would love to see fine blogs like NC set up an entire section devoted to penning the appropriate proposed sections relating to economics. Other fine blogs should begin to do the same in their areas of interest/expertise… ending up with a serious systemic proposal as we push for a Constitutional Article V convention.

    1. Susan the other

      I like this idea. An ongoing Constitution. Because it will never be finished. The first question is how to keep the good and get rid of the bad. I think it requires going through the entire Federal Code. Because lots of bad laws were passed by bad legislation that interpreted the Constitution badly.

    2. Lambert Strether

      One would need to start from the very first principles: Jurisdictional boundaries and the nature of private property. I’d suggest a parallel structure possibly based on the Interactive Voter Choice System advocated by letsgetitdone.

  22. mac

    I suppose it is good that all the bloggers agree that there sure is a problem and that it likely is the fault of some group they don’t support.
    Added to that is the fact that we are “Cooked Geese” and woe is us.

  23. Susan the other

    Here’s a prediction for you: Obama will attack both Venezuela and Argentina in the spring of 2013. How do we know this? Romney said he wanted a military confrontation with South America. Why? Oil.

    1. neo-realist

      I couldn’t see direct military participation on our part, but rather guerilla proxy armies ( popular liberation movements) fighting those governments. We don’t have the troops to get bogged down in such adventures.

  24. Kurt Sperry

    Yes, very little substantive policy daylight between Obama and Romney and most of what appears to be is either social policy stuff the elite don’t care about one way or the other or just PR dreck.

    A couple reasons Romney may be the better outcome for the left: firstly, having a sitting Democratic president promoting right wing policy as Obama has makes fighting that policy almost impossible for whatever left leaning remnant of the Democratic Party might still exist. Having right wing policy promoted from across the aisle means the Ds have to put up a pro forma show of resistance to satisfy the exigencies of the partisan kabuki. And specifically on the budget, the Republicans have proven time and again that whatever they say in campaign mode, they are consistently more willing to run up budget deficits than the Democrats when they control the White House, and running up huge deficits is the only way to kickstart the economy. There is no hope with a Democratic deficit hawk and trickle down believer in the White House. Obama’s more dangerous than any viable Republican candidate because he appears to actually believe in ‘trickle down’ and ‘deficit cliffs’ which the Republicans demonstrably don’t. They just use those concepts as campaigning talking points, then ignore them once in office not wanting to crater the economy on their watch.

    I hate Romney as much or more than any phony liberal O-bot, but I don’t fear the prospect of him occupying the White House even a little. I’m not cynical enough to vote for him, but I’ll be happy and proud to vote for Stein or Anderson and have my discontent on the record. Once one realizes the legacy parties are just two heads of the same corrupt beast the mists fall away from one’s eyes and the fear evaporates. Then what must happen becomes clear- voting for Ds and Rs is the problem. We must no longer give them our imprimatur as voters. The legacy parties represent no one but themselves and the 1% of the 1% who pay their bribes.

    1. mac

      Voting for the Vegetarian, Libertarian or Lunatic I think will do little. In order to bring real change those who support change must gain control of one of the major parties, I doubt it makes a difference which one as they are now just “against the other one”.
      I think that is what Obama fooled many into thinking he was doing, but REAL change in one or the other is the answer.
      As an added thought, recall that “change” is not the same as “progress”.

      1. F. Beard

        I disagree. The two parties are too culturally divided.

        But what would gain near universal support is a narrowly focused anti-bank pro-jubilee Party. It would take no positions on abortions, homosexuality or other social issues and just focus on getting rid of debt and the counterfeiting cartel that drove people into it.

        I suggest the name “The New Populists”.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        It would be preferable to take over an existing party but this is currently impossible. The scumbag traitors like Obama and Rahm and the entire party leadership is working to make sure that happens.

        Look at how the entire party responded to the very idea of primarying Obama. At the very least one has to be willing to push back against the leadership and fire them if one is willing to push the party in the right direction. I see NO SIGNS OF LIFE in the Democrat party.

        Simply go to Daily Kos, which is supposedly made up of more liberal Democrats, to see the chances of changing the party from within. They are doing everything in their power to keep the status quo while pretending to seek change.

        No. The Democrat party is designed to entrap liberals and move them to THE RIGHT.

        Democrats are irredeemable. The sooner we kill that fascist party the better.

        There is no more dangerous force in American politics right now than the progressive Democrat! I am not being hyperbolic either–Democrats represent the banality of evil.

  25. Lambert Strether

    Yep, I’m voting for an emergent party (Green, in my case). As Jill Stein points out (too lazy to find the link), the strategy of voting for evil hasn’t really worked out all that well for us.

    Alternatives would be writing in a candidate, or spoiling my ballot.

    I think it’s better to be counted than not, because not voting only reinforces the “voter apathy” narrative. Though I do see it’s a close call.

    1. cwaltz

      Any non vote is going to be attributed to apathy by media(which is exactly what the plutocracy wants, an apathetic public that wrings their hands and says we can’t do anything anyway.)

      I will vote Green. We may not win but at least I will be able to say I did not contribute a vote to a candidate that has the goal of dismantling the social safety nets(both of them, not just Obama.)

    2. Walter Wit Man

      I changed to a Green in 2008 but now I’m going to change to a Socialist or decline to state.

      The Greens aren’t anti-capitalist enough and while I like the policies on paper I still don’t know whether to fully trust them. I just wonder if they are like Kucinich–Democrats pretending to be liberal to entrap people.

      Plus, I now question the voting results all over the world. Anything to do with software is hackable. Even the scanning machines we were told are okay are hackable. Any election that does not have paper ballots with truly independent and verifiable results is not trustworthy.

      I suspect our Democracy has been hacked and until we resolve this issue why vote?

      1. Aquifer

        WWM,

        if Greens were Kucinich Dems they would be running as Kucinich Dems! It would be a hell of a lot easier, more bucks to spend, more Media, etc. That’s what separates the girls from the women, so to speak – the girls (Warren) run as Dems, the women (Stein) run as Greens. You HAVE to run on principle as a Green – you sure can’t run on your bank account!

    3. Waking Up

      Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party also advocates a Single Payer Health System AND changing the endless wars we are in. The question is…would Americans elect a person with compassion for others instead of the usual sociopaths without a conscience?

      SHE would also be the first female President of the United States.

  26. indio007

    Where can I get the opt-out form?

    The only way we are going to tame the criminals posing as government is to starve them to death.

  27. casino implosion

    I can’t vote for Obama after his near-fiasco with the “grand bargain”. Only teapublican insanity kept him from giving away the store. He’s lost my trust, trying to destroy Social Security. The guy is a Republican, moderate of course,and that’s that.

  28. rotter

    If “the left” has anything in the tank anymore..its one goal during this cycle should be to pin down obama on his “entitlement reform” plans..out loud, in public

    1. Rex

      Sorry, but were you paying attention to what O said in the 2008 campaign?

      Getting him to say good things ..out loud, in public, is easy. But there seems to be little coorelation with subsequent actions.

  29. different clue

    Matt Stoller,

    Do you have any specific ideas on how to obstruct the Catfood Conspiracy planned for passage and signing during the Lame Duck 2012 Session?

    Do you have any evidence on what HRClinton herself thought about SS/MCare from statements and actions during her First Ladyship OR during her Senatorial Term OR during her Presidential Campaign? (Or for that matter, do you – - Lambert Strether – - have any specific evidence about what HRClinton was and/or is thinking about SS/MCare? I ask you because I believe you were strongly pro-HRClinton during the whole Primary 2012 season and if anyone would have specific information about HRClinton’s thoughts on SS/MCare, you would be the one to have it).

    IFF! it turns out that HRClinton was and maybe still is in favor of the Basic New Deal Purpose and Structure of SS, THEN it is fair to ask how a President HRClinton would shape and drive policy about SS. IF a President HRClinton would have supported SS as we know it from 2012 onward . . . had she been the one to run and get elected . . . THEN . . . would it be reasonable to think she would STILL take the same policy approach to SS if she were to run and get elected in 2012? IF it WOULD be reasonable to think so, then wouldn’t we all be safer and better off if HRClinton were running for President inSTEAD of Dog Shit Obama in 2012? And if there were a way to somehow force the Democratic Party to perform that nominee transplant, shouldn’t that way be found and applied?

    Matt Stoller, there is a small and lonely movement to torture and terrorise the Democratic Party into removing Obama from the 2012 Ticket in favor of Someone Else. The instigators of this embryonic movement hope that that Someone Else would be Hillary Clinton. They have also said they would stand for any other plausible Democrat if he/she has no taint of Obama anywhere on his/her person or career.

    Matt Stoller, do you think Hillary is/would be a Different Democrat than Obama clearly is? If you do, would you prefer to see Hillary heading the DemTicket in 2012? If you would, shouldn’t you come right out and say so in the few weeks remaining between now and DemCon 2012?

    Matt Stoller, do you think Hillary is/would be the Exact Same kind of Democrat as Obama was/will be? Can you say why specifically and can you give specific evidence strong enough to convince me and Lambert Strether both?

    If Obama remains on the ticket, and if the Gang of Scum are somehow prevented from passing and signing the Simpson-Bowles-Obama Catfood Plan against SS/Mcare/MCaide during the Lame Duck Session; would our future survival benefits fare differently under a President Romney than under a President Obama? Do you think a Democratic Majority Senate or a Democratic Strong Plurality Senate would pass the Simpson-Obama Catfood Plan just as eagerly for a President Romney as they hope to pass it for a President Obama? If that is what you think, Matt Stoller; can you, Matt Stoller, tell us why you think that? Can you tell me why I am wrong to hope that a DemSenate might withhold a Catfood-Obama victory from President Romney in order to preserve their tattered Democratic Brand Value for another election cycle? Are you going to Make A Choice here? Or are you going to maintain your wearily cynical above-it-all pose of Superior Wisdom? I have made my choice. I am going to vote for Romney, Stabenow, and Dingell in hopes that Democratic Officeholders will try withholding a Simpson-Obama Catfood Plan triumph from the “other party” President Romney. I have too much at grubby personal survival stake to affect a hipster cynical knowingly too-cool-for-school pose on the matter. How about you?

    Finally, for those who want to read up on the lonely desperate effort to find a better candidate than Dog Shit Obama the “technically black” Uncle Tom’s Cabin Secret Agent Republican Judas Horse candidate to lead the DemTicket in 2012, here is the link to Riverdaughter’s lonely The Confluence blog. Some of the millions of words written there touch on this subject of getting a Candidate Transplant for DemTicket 2012.
    http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/

  30. McWatt

    Just listening to Django and reading the above comments. It feels good to get your frustrations out in print and reading everything is so mentally stimulating. As a kid who actively fought against the Viet Nam war, planning and executing marches, handing out literature, going to debates I remember how much time it took. When my kids joined Occupy I went to their events and saw how clever and wonderful and hard working the majority of the kids were. So I say to all on this site, get out of your comfy chairs and actively fight for the opinions you espouse. It is inspiring and fun and dangerous all at once. I would advise getting a t-shirt that says on the front “Don’t Shoot” and on the back ” I’m on the Do Not Kill List”

  31. jessica

    I would love to see the Greens campaign hard on this. Not only promise to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid but also make it clear that Obama is going to cut them. That will force him to deny it, which will make it harder for him to then turn around and do it. And if he does it anyway, then the lesson will be much clearer for a lot of folks who don’t pay so much attention to a lot of the details.
    Obama doing exactly what the non-Dem-Rep said he would do would be a powerful, if painful, lesson.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Exactly.

      If they want to show us they are the real deal they have to play to win. That means treating Obama the same as they would treat Romney–with extreme hostility.

      That is the only response to their fascism.

      The Greens have to demand Obama’s impeachment, in fact. His war crimes alone should compel this response. Obama has been waging many unjust wars and probably already has a death toll in the 6 figures (I’ve seen some people claim the death toll in Libya has reached this amount).

      So the Greens have to go on the attack screaming that both parties are getting ready to cut entitlements. And the Greens need to attack Obama the most, actually. They need to warn liberals.

      There are many liberals suffering from congnitive dissonance. This is a common human trait that our elite take advantage of. It is really hard to accept a fact that runs contrary to one’s understanding of the world. So when liberals hear that Obama is actually cutting Social Security they simply can’t accept it. It doesn’t compute.

      When Obama and Democrats cut Social Security the Greens have to be right there reminding America who stuck the shiv in Grandma. Obama and Nancy Pelosi!

      I can’t believe Nancy Freaking Pelosi is getting away with doing this, btw. This shows the power of cognitive dissonance. Lots of Democrats think they’re liberals when one of their most liberal members is helping to cut Social Security! That is how powerful American propaganda is.

      The only way to break through that is to go after Pelosi and Obama now. They are traitors! War criminals! Seriously, Obama deserves to go to jail for his entire live. He wasted over a dozen children using cluster bombs in their village in Yemen. I don’t believe in the death penalty but someone please tell me why Obama shouldn’t fry for frying these kids?

      Democrats are war criminals. Greens need to make that clear. When you vote for Obama you vote for frying brown Arab children and children in Libya. Hell, Obama is terrorizing the children of Syria right now.

      Where are the Greens on this?

      1. different clue

        Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake was warning for quite some time about Pelosi’s fanatically committed driving role in advancing the Simpson-Obama Catfood Conspiracy. I can only find a couple of the Hamsher links just now. Here is one.
        http://firedoglake.com/2011/07/08/democrats-groovy-new-plan-to-cut-social-security-dont-call-it-cuts/

        I can’t find the most Pelosi-specific article which I found a couple years ago. At that time I posted it to Hullabaloo where Bruce Webb called me all kinds of names for suggesting that the Pelosi-Obama Administration was conspiring against Social Security. That link could be found in the Digby archives if Digby hadn’t cynically destroyed and erased most of those archives . . . but she has. Maybe a brute force power search of FireDogLake archives would turn up the article but I don’t have the computer availability time for that.

        1. Hugh

          On January 18, 2010, the top Congressional Democrats Pelosi, Hoyer, and Reid agreed in a meeting with VP Biden and OMB director Orszag to the creation of what was later to become known as the Cat Food Commission. This was on the very day that the Democratic candidate Coakley lost Ted Kennedy’s old seat to the Republican Scott Brown in a special election. So while Massachusettsans were repudiating another anti-progressive Establishment Democrat, the top Democratic leaders were serving them up more of the same with this agreement.

          This was the original attempt to create the Cat Food Commission. When it was torpedoed on January 26 in the Senate, rather than dropping the idea, Obama went ahead and established it by Executive Order on February 18.

          http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2010/01/obama-puts-social-security-chopping-block

          http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-establishes-bipartisan-national-commission-fiscal-responsibility-an

          So Pelosi was in on the Cat Food Commission from the beginning.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          I was thinking of Pelosi’s pledge to give Obama’s catfood commission an up or down vote.

          But now she’s dropped all pretense of opposing cuts:

          “During a recent press conference, and again during an interview with Charlie Rose, the California Congresswoman said that she would support what’s known as the Simpson-Bowles plan, a budget proposal that was created by the co-chairs of a fiscal commission set up by President Obama (dubbed the “Catfood Commission” by progressives).” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/nancy-pelosi-simpson-bowles-social-security-medicare_n_1453323.html

    2. neo-realist

      The problem is the Greens won’t get the corporate media access to challenge Obama on the issues and expose him for the weasely centrist righty that he really is. They won’t even let the Green candidate into the debates with the two candidates.

  32. mrtmbrnmn

    Stoller

    It’s high time to bring back the guillotine for these financial and political malefactors!!

  33. steve from virginia

    The country is broke. There is less for all no matter who ‘wins’.

    Kill off the billionaires if you wish but nothing will change, our lifestyles have won. (We have lost, everything.)

    A Pyrrhic victory indeed.

    1. Aquifer

      No, Steve, we ain’t broke – we have a sovereign currency and can print/spend as much as we want – funny how we “find” trillions for wars and banks, but can’t find a shilling for SS/Medicare, e.g., doncha think?

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Dead wrong, Steve. You’ve swallowed the blue pill with neoliberal Koolaid. Although illegal, interminable wars have certainly bled us deeply (others FAR more), we are still materially richer than at any time in our history. It’s all been looted by those you would protect. The crisis and resultant widespread poverty have been engineered in order to impose austerity and totalitarianism on a global scale. Read naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.

  34. hacksapoppin

    Intriguing, this onslaught of Dem shills with more frantic perseveration of their Big Lies,

    1. “You think they’re the same, they’re not, they’re not!!” (Get it through your thick skull, hack, however different the parties are, neither meets the minimal standards of the civilized world[1]. So we do not give a dribbly shit if you lose.)
    2. “Your disgust swayed 2000.” (You poor sad electoral dupe, only one guy got a vote that time, and that was kleptocratic tiebreaker Anthony Kennedy.)
    2a. How did that work out for ya? (Very convincing – to brainwashed party hacks who are too stupid to see that repression, malversation, and rights derogation proceed whether or not your corporate puppet wins.)

    Nervous? You should be! We’re gonna let you Dem hacks lose. Then you’ll pretend that you don’t like perpetual war (till you get back in.) Meantime we’ll throw monkey wrenches in your crooked fucked-up kleptocracy till it breaks.

    [1] UDHR, CCPR, CESCR, UN Charter, Rome Statute. Or GTFO.

  35. Aquifer

    Stoller is getting closer – he is stepping right up to the line, but he won’t cross it. As much as he “critiques” the Dems, he won’t advocate for an obvious alternative. Until he does, he leaves us with “TINA” by default and i can’t quite take him seriously ….

    1. Jack M. Hoff

      Stoller is doing what he can, AS A DEMOCRAT. Who do you think butters his bread for him anyway? Isn’t that the democrats game? Point out whats wrong, but do nothing to change it? Do the opposite in fact, while they clean the clocks of the people who do the right thing. Yep, step right up folks and pay at this window……

      1. different clue

        You know, even as a Democrat, Stoller could openly advocate for scraping the Obama off the bottom of the Democratic Party’s shoe, and installing some other PrezNominee to head the ticket.

        He could, but will he? Time is short. Matt Stoller could make some small but real history here. But will he?

        The Wall Street Rubinites apparently thought that HRClinton and Obama really were two different sorts of Democrats. What if the Wall Street Rubinites are right about that?

        1. Lambert Strether

          For some definition of “different sorts.” Personally, I think they’re all excremental, but to wallowers, no doubt the precise shades of excrement are a matter of great import.

          In 2008, I made the argument that “marginal does not mean insignificant.” I thought Clinton was a little better on health care (at least she started from a position of universal care, which would have given single payer advocates a better field position), better on foreclosures (HOLC), and probably better on wages (real wages rose in the Clinton era). On the empire and the wars, I thought both candidates were a wash. (Really, though, I couldn’t stomach the virulent misogny of the Obama campaign, or violations like caucus fraud or taking delegates from Clinton and giving them to Obama.)

          So, yes, I thought once that, politically, a solid stool like Clinton was better than a loose stool like Obama.*

          But I’ve since changed my mind…

          NOTE * Ha. I’ll have to propagate that one, since it applies as well in 2012. But between Obama and Romney, which is solid and which is loose? Enquiring minds want to know!

  36. JGordon

    What Obama and the other kleptocrats have forgotten is that even the Romans gave the peasants their bread and circuses.

    Why? Because it’s cheaper than putting down revolt after revolt. Damn, Americans are so incompetent these days that even the crooks suck at what they do. Morons.

    1. citalopram

      At least Roman peasants scared their rulers enough to give the peasants bread and circuses. Americans can’t even effectively rally. They’re too brainwashed and distracted by talk radio and TV. Obviously, things aren’t bad enough yet.

    1. different clue

      Is there any actual CDS in this analysis? At what point does the invocation of CDS become a mere excercise in diversionary Clintapologetics?

  37. OmAli

    “it’s going to require being able to create credible threats to the politicians making the policy.”

    It’s gonna take dragging them out into the street and running them out of town at pitchfork-point.

  38. Issa Haddad

    I couldn’t figure it out at first but now I know. It’s not about winning elections. Obama will surely win his reelection but its not about winning in 2014 2016 or any other election. And why would he care about who wins after his reelection. He agrees with Republicans more anyway. Both parties work for the same rich people/corporations so they win whether they lose or win elections. They just take turns with power.

  39. doug lowe

    Jill Stein / Green Party

    Get her into the debates. After all is said and done, vote for her. Start the revolution now.

    Just do it.

  40. Will

    I remember the hysteria whipped up online about the cat-food commission and Obama’s dastardly plot to destroy Social Security. How did that turn out?

    Oh yeah! The so-called cat food commission proposal would have lifted the income cap for what the wealthy pay into social security and proposed INCREASING benefits for low income retirees. Those are two reforms any progressive should support. But, Obama didn’t even support the full plan because of the minor cuts to entitlements they proposed.

    In other words, all of the speculation about the horrors the commission would propose and Obama’s secret inner desire to destroy entitlements turned out to be COMPLETE BULLSHIT! It was based on nothing but speculation, tea leaf reading, and the cynicism of those who still can’t get over being betrayed by Bill Clinton. Well, I’m not falling for that bullshit routine again.

    Do you ever notice how the third party cynics always have to reference Clinton when attacking Obama? They’re like a scorned lover who can’t make a new relationship work because they’re still dealing with all the crap that their bad ex did to them. But seriously, get over it! Obama is not an extension of Clinton’s terms no matter how much you would like to believe that.

    Obama has been to the LEFT of the conserative Congress for his entire Presidency. Every major program put forward by his administration has been to the left of what the Senate (and now the House) would pass. Did you notice that? The only thing needed to make Obama more progressive is to give him a better Congress that will pass his progressive proposals. That would be a hell of a lot more productive than wasting time on a zero-chance third party Presidential candidate.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Nope. Obama and the Ds had the chance in 2008 to create “a better Congress” all by themselves by using the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster, when the Ds had the House, the Senate, a mandate from the election, and Obama was at the zenith of his power, as new Presidents always are. The Ds have nobody to blame but themselves for a lack of “progressive” legislation — though that doesn’t stop them from trying. Please stop repeating D disinformation.

  41. Churchill

    Hehe, keep your guns handy, sharpen your swords, point your spears, string your bows and feather your arrows. the Worlds in for a rough ride.

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