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Obama to Deploy Campaign Apparatus to Persuade Americans to Look Forward to More and Better Catfood

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This story from the Guardian is both sufficiently important and true to Obama’s form as to merit posting. Our Fearless Great Betrayer is about to repurpose his campaign sales machine to persuasion of the American public of the necessity of making do with less to appease the Bond Gods. The bizarre part, as many have noted, is the Bond Gods actually don’t seem to want the human sacrifice involved (old people dying faster) but their Wall Street soothsayers would have you believe otherwise.

On the one hand, propaganda generally works, so we sadly can expect Obama’s “grassroots” effort to have an impact. But the flip side is that Pete Peterson and the many deficit scaremongering allies he has recruited over the past two decades have failed to make much of a dent in the public’s overwhelming support for Social Security and Medicare, which are prime objects of the budget-cutting exercise. Even though the Team Obama has made much of its microsegmentation and messaging prowess, Romney had so many warts that it wasn’t hard to find something bad about him to play up to particular target audiences. By contrast, most Americans have a simple response to the notion of “reforming” these popular programs: cut military budgets and raise taxes on upper income groups.

The fact is that unless enough Senators decide to oppose Obama, the middle class is going to take a hit out of a budget deal. But it’s now clear that ordinary citizens will also be subjected to a full bore messaging campaign to persuade them that they should regard this counterproductive sacrifice as good for them.

Key extracts from the Guardian:

Barack Obama has enlisted the help of his formidable grassroots army of volunteers in the battle with Republican members of Congress over the fiscal cliff, the January 1 deadline for a deal on tax and spending….

It calls on them to spread the word about Obama’s position to friends, families and neighbours. It said he wanted a balanced budget that will extend tax cuts for 98% of the population, eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest and cut spending by $3tn.

The article indicates that the reason for turning up the messaging is that no progress has been made on the Great Betrayal since Obama went to Asia. That further suggests that he still firmly intends to get a deal done before year end, when it’s clear that going past Jan. 1 would strengthen his negotiating position….if his interest really were in increasing taxes on the rich and sparing Medicare and Social Security. His sense of urgency is further confirmation of whose interests he holds most dear, and they aren’t yours and mine.

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120 comments

    1. Rich

      I’m wondering if part of the reasoning for cutting SS has to do with the rad rights fixation on starving the beast. Clearly, if you raise payroll taxes by 1/10 of one percent per year per employer/ee for 10 years it will raise enough revenue to sustain SS until the end of the century. Likewise with billing fraud in the health-care industry with savings estimates of 2.5 to 6.5 T$ over a 10 year period but nothing has been done about either. I sense that the fix for both would end up hurting their monied friends whereas cutting SS, M/A and M/A would push the unwashed masses away from support on the gov’t and therefore support on the D Party. It clearly doesn’t have anything to do with sustainable economics.

    2. Rich

      I’m wondering if part of the reasoning for cutting SS has to do with the rad rights fixation on starving the beast. Clearly, if you raise payroll taxes by 1/10 of one percent per year per employer/ee for 10 years it will raise enough revenue to sustain SS until the end of the century. Likewise with billing fraud in the health-care industry with savings estimates of 2.5 to 6.5 T$ over a 10 year period but nothing has been done about either. I sense that the fix for both would end up hurting their monied friends whereas cutting SS, M/C and M/A would push the unwashed masses away from support on the gov’t and therefore support on the D Party. It clearly doesn’t have anything to do with sustainable economics.

      1. different clue

        What is interesting is that the Catfood Obamacrats are now a Rad Right party in these terms, or at least a Rad Right faction.

    3. R Foreman

      You know if it has to be cat food, then I do prefer the little friskies. Hell those little 5oz cans of tuna are starting to look more like catfood every day I eat them. I just cut out the peanut satay and designer bread, and I might as well be down on the floor snuffing it in thru my muzzle.

  1. jake chase

    I think the end game is preserving the Bush tax cuts at the expense of social security and medicare. We’ll see.

    1. Nonanon

      When the Bowles/Simpson committee on deficit reduction is referred to as the “cat food committee”, it isn’t hard to see there’s no political will to cut the deficit.

    2. John

      That is the end game.

      But we will be conned into thinking we won the tax hikes on the rich game.

      Just we won’t have. They will be preserved in a tricky or non transparent way or a tiny, tiny hike will ensue and then it will be shouted from every mic in America, “we are making the rich pay their fair share and now we much cut entitlements. Fair is fair”.

    3. Lee A. Arnold

      The following little cartoon animates the long-term budget outlook, and makes it clear to ANYBODY that the answer is to leave entitlements alone, hike taxes slowly starting with Clinton rates on the wealthiest incomes, and work on reducing long-term healthcare costs.

      If you like it, please put it on blast with your homies, because, as Bugs Bunny once said, “This is war!”:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd4HDautaUw

  2. LucyLulu

    Can somebody please explain how “we can make changes now that will ensure that social security will be around for future generations” as Obama proposes? Will increased revenues or less money spent on benefits be “saved” for our children’s use? How? By purchasing interest bearing U.S. bonds? Does anybody think that any current surplus in SS revenues won’t be spent by Congress on other government programs?

    SS has already accumulated a $2.6 trillion surplus to cover funding benefits at 100% for the next 20+ years. Why not focus on more immediate problems, programs with 0% funding. Our wars, against Afghanistan, terror, drugs, etc. would make a good start.

    1. Bruce Krasting

      You shouldn’t worry about Congress spending any surpluses. There aren’t any. SS has been running in the red for three years now. The shortfall will be in excess of $1T before 2020.

      1. LucyLulu

        Thoroughly debunked Tuesday, along with “there is no money in the trust fund” right wing propaganda.

      2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        Hi Bruce dude. Wondering if you have been doing any analysis of the other half of the $5 trillion in “intergovernmental debt” that is mostly federal government pension plans, and whether there could even be unfunded liabilities there above that amount, and if those pensions will be enough to keep our guv retirees in catfood?

        Kinda wondering about the healthcare liability too…

      3. Brooklin Bridge

        I for one would like to offer Bruce the most favorable terms on a bridge and based on the shrewd acumen he has demonstrated above, it is perfectly clear he may be alone on this site in having the grasp on reality needed, that unique ability to see through the BS, to perceive the extraordinary potential of the deal I’m offering.

    2. scott

      Don’t worry, retirees will still get their $1200 a month, only that $1200 will buy 4 loaves of bread and a gallon of milk.

        1. Kunst

          Just because inflation has been “low” recently doesn’t mean that it couldn’t get a lot higher in the future. Name-calling doesn’t improve the credibility of your argument.

    3. dcblogger

      No changes are needed. The US has a fiat currency. We can never go broke.

      The only reason we might not honor our obligations to social security recipients is because we choose not to.

    4. Susan the other

      Just a thought. It was always my impression of, first SS and then Medicare, that those programs were passed because those payroll tax funds went into treasuries which in turn put up the financing for the military and various wars. If the betrayers kill SS and Medicare they will kill the goose. So if they do cut social trusts to the bone it might mean we are scaling down the military. However that still doesn’t make it moral. It puts the burden of a balanced budget on the poorest of us. (JC above) the tax increases for the rich offset those shortfalls. Who knows what is really going on? The fact is we do not need to cut anything.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        The way they want to do it is keep payroll taxes the same, but cut benefits to the retirees that have been paying it, and make the surplus reappear so they can spend it on war, more cool military stuff, and federal guv pensions.

        It’s not surprising that we don’t get it explained quite that clearly….

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          Unless of course they do the phase in of private plans for young workers. That would take away money from the USG and give to to Wall Street. But that option keeps getting killed I think, which is a good thing because it would gut SS making it fail, and sooner (it then needs fixing!) and then it’s not clear how the private plans would be administered and they would likely become a dumping ground for toxic Wall Street “products”.

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            I guess the the private plans could by law be required to be 100% invested in treasuries for safety?!

            I get sooo circular….

        2. Stephen Nightingale

          Once the CSRS crowd die out, the rest of us who signed up post 1984 don’t have quite such a good deal: it’s Soc Sec (contributed), TSP (like a 401K) (“matched”) and the FERS component, that seems to have more in employer contribution than employee contribution.
          – Social Security we all know how that’s being savaged.
          – TSP: is in stock funds, bond funds, treasuries. The only growth I’ve seen since 2008 is through my contributions, none due to the magic of the market.
          – FERS is about a SocSec equivalent.

          The situation is not hugely rosy, and I’ve contributed a fair whack on my own. After back-filling the wife’s mortgage hole, there won’t be much secret nest egg there.

    5. Min

      No changes to Social Security are necessary. Take a look at the CBO graph. Flawed though it may be, it projects a stable Social Security.

  3. change agent

    the first email: Right now, President Obama is working with leaders of both parties in Washington to reduce the deficit in a balanced way so we can lay the foundation for long-term middle-class job growth and prevent your taxes from going up.

    Your voice and action helped re-elect President Obama, and hundreds of thousands of you have already responded to our survey, which will help shape our next steps. Thanks to your feedback, we’re taking immediate action on one of your suggestions: keeping you informed about how the President is fighting for you so you can continue to talk to your friends, family, and neighbors. So here’s the deal:

    Graphic: Reducing the deficit in a balanced way The President’s plan extends tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans Eliminates tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans Cuts spending by more than $3 trillion The Results

    That’s the President’s plan, but he’s not wedded to every detail. He is determined to work with Congress to find compromise and common ground. His guiding principle throughout this debate will be what’s best for the middle class. He’ll be fighting for you.

    These problems are challenging, but they’re solvable. In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill to keep your taxes low. The House needs to pass it, and Congress should get it to the President as soon as possible.

    There’s a lot at stake. With your help we’ll continue to move this country forward.

    Please forward this email and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter:

    http://my.barackobama.com/Share-This-Graphic

    Thanks,

    Obama for America

    1. diptherio

      Ok, well that’s funny. An Obama spam-bot (who knows, maybe even a flesh-and-blood one) posts the propaganda lies from the Administration that we’re all outraged by. At first I thought change agent was maybe doing a little research for us, presenting the damning evidence, but I’m not sure. With no countervailing commentary from the c.a., it looks a lot like an “e-lit drop,” the on-line version of flyering houses. Change, you wanna defend yourself against these charges? I’m curious what’s going on here.

      On a tangential note, it seems ironic that the “spread the word” adwords link opens an AmEx commercial encouraging viewers to shop at small local merchants. Ever met a small business owner who didn’t cringe (at least inwardly) whenever someone pulls out the American Express? As if credit card purchases in general aren’t bad enough for small businesses, AmEx is well-known for having the highest merchant fees of any card. So seeing AmEx encouraging folks to shop local (using their AmEx card, one assumes) seems rather perverse…or maybe it’s just me.

      1. change agent

        sorry, not a spam bot, just thought I’d give everyone who hadn’t seen that actual email a taste of what OFA was receiving. Sorry didn’t catch your comment sooner, was out all day protesting at WalMart.

        And no, I didn’t vote for BO and yes anyone who did voted for the full monty.

    2. YouDon'tSay?

      The Big Lie meets Madison Avenue marketing schmaltz. I’ve heard if you look at an Obama photo for long enough in just the right light, it will actually morph right before your eyes into one of W, complete with the shit eating, “you fucked up cowboy, you trusted me!” grin.

    3. Gerard Pierce

      I assume that his was intended as a parody of what the administration is about to say. I hope to God it is a parody.

      1. Whatever Obama thinks he is doing, the Republicans are still determined to destroy him regardless of the effect it has on the country. If he hasn’t figured that one out, despite the clear evidence in front of his face, he is completely hopeless.

      2. My voice and actions helped reelect President Obama only as a desperation measure. At the time I recognized that immediately after his reelection our primary mission would be to keep him from selling us all down the river. It would have been nice to be wrong about that one, but Obama has been far too predictable for the last four years.

      3. I’m glad you had a survey, but no one asked me. And I feel propagandized, not informed.

      4. Any plan that includes Erskine Bowles or his ilk is not for us, it is against us. A plan that dumped the current crew of neo-liberals would be ideal.

      A good sign would be if Obama stopped telling us how good it’s going to be. A better sign would be if he actually started to listen to what people are saying.

      1. different clue

        If you voted for Obama, you were voting for Simpson and Bowles and all the rest of it. You might as well own the meaning of your vote.

        I voted for Rocky Anderson.

    4. YouDon'tSay?

      That’s the President’s plan, but he’s not wedded to every detail. He is determined to work with Congress to find compromise and common ground. His guiding principle throughout this debate will be what’s best for the middle class. He’ll be fighting for you.

      Absolutely priceless ad copy there!

      Translations:

      “Not wedded to every detail.” He’s a whore who is now open for business.

      He is determined to work with Congress to find compromise and common ground. Especially since they were funded by the same guys he was; i.e., they serve the same masters.

      His guiding principle throughout this debate will be what’s best for the middle class. He’ll be fighting for you. The president defines “middle class” as those worth roughly $10 and $100 million.

      Good stuff!

      1. Stan Musical

        Every time a Dem–I’m visualizing both Kerry and Obama–brag about how they’re “fighting for the middle class” I cringe:

        First, because “middle class” is a oligarchic term employed to divide what used to be called, and still is outside the big bubble (in every way) called the USA, the working class, or working classes (if you must, as a white-collar worker, distance yourself mentally from blue-collar types–after all, the men at least tend to have too much facial hair and rarely reek of Bulgari).

        Second, because it means it’s obviously okay with 99% of the electorate to pretend that the “lower class(es)” either don’t want, or don’t get anyone representing them, or that they don’t even exist (there but for the grace of gawd….)

        In a society where success is based (in my experience as an accomplished non-commercial artist) 99.99999% on how much money you make, we can whine all we want about the Neo-Libs but we’ve pretty much got the ruling class we deserve.

        1. Stan Musical

          As to the “fiscal cliff,” I listen to NNLR (National Neo-Lib Radio) in the car just because the atmospherics mesh so well with all of the Latte-sipping, iPhone-adoring Volvo Democrats driving around me here in Seattle, and I must hear those two words 10 times during every news session.

          As Ani DiFranco put it, “the propaganda runs deep, man.”

        2. JTFaraday

          “First, because “middle class” is a oligarchic term employed to divide what used to be called, and still is outside the big bubble (in every way) called the USA, the working class…

          we can whine all we want about the Neo-Libs but we’ve pretty much got the ruling class we deserve.”

          Yeah. Your bosses.

    5. Stephen Nightingale

      This reminds me of a horoscope I once read that said: “the sun is in close conjunction with Uranus”.

      The big concerns are (1) Social Security, (2) Medicare. Not to be yoked together. You don’t mention either of those in your air-brushed campaign speak.

    6. Dan Kervick

      I’ll take a pass on forwarding the graphic. I was happy to vote for Obama on the 6th, but only as a tool for defeating that odious bigoted plutocrat, Mitt Romney. Last Monday, I went to my town clerk’s office and severed my ties with the Democratic Party by re-registering as a “undeclared” voter, and now I’m very eager to spend the next four years fighting against the modern incarnation of the Democratic Party that has been handed to us by Clinton, Obama and the rest of the neoliberal cadres.

    7. Kim Kaufman

      Occupy OFA! A bunch of us did this after 2008 to advocate for single payer. The OFA people HATED us but we kept showing up at their meetings. OFA just sort of went away when it was clear all they were doing was trying to get people to “support Obama’s legislation” as opposed to we “want Obama to support our ideas.” It’s best to go with a couple of other people for backup. I just spent some time on “BarackObama.com” but don’t see any plans for meetings yet in CA. Occupy OFA!

  4. timotheus

    This is really infuriating, and I say that as a 2008 Obama volunteer who attended post-election meetings in which hordes of people were ready and willing to do exactly this to support the new admin in messaging for proper reforms to Wall Street, end the stupid wars, etc. We were told, There there, little people, go home and let the adults take care of it. Never heard a word back until a few months before the next election, which provided several nice opportunities to give them a piece of my mind.

      1. Carol Sterritt

        Hmm, what DID we do in the meantime? Well, many of us called, faxed and emailed our Senators and Congress people. Usually with little impact. (Unless we had several million dollars to buy up the time of some Seantor.)

        But with the internets up and running, many of us also became rather well educated. We were able to see live video of Geithenr telling Bachman that “*Your* government doesn’t have the ability to make restricitons on banks.” We were also able to catch the news stories in the foreign press of Geithner going to foreign economic summits and telling the foreign officials that “Obama works for me.”

        It’s become clear to us as results of the Federal Reserve Audit were realeased, that some 15 to 16 trillions of dollars were handed over by Bernanke to his buddies at the Biggest Banks. If the 4.6 trillion dollars that (conservatively estimated) is never paid back by these firms was actually forced to return to the government’s coffers, there would not be a need for austerity.

        Somehow it is always the little old lady on Social Security that must “make do.” Not thsoe at the top of the food chain.

        And worse still, it doesn’t seem to me that anyone has undertaken a study of what the pension dolalrs and Social Security dollars do for small busiensses across America. I run a small publishing firm – and we exist because
        One) people in China buy our books and services
        Two) people on pensions and Social Security buy our books an dServices.

        Almost everyone else in America is too broke trying to pay for their health care premiums, to buy much of anything.

      1. Mary Bess

        Yes, you might get “droned.” Maybe the small number of signatures is a sign that “the dumbest electorate on the planet” is wising up?

        1. jrs

          That’s how I’m starting to see those white house petitions as well and some of them are very worthy petitions. But yea then I think, what 10 years down the road is this going to be used to indefinitely detain me or what?

          all police are paranoid
          SO AM I. SO’S THE FUTURE!
          so are you be a creature

  5. LAS

    I should like to know the potential of this Obama grassroots network to recognize communications from below and/or messages to work back up-stream or outward. Does the message it moves around necessarily always have to come from the elite end of the spectrum?

  6. ruined

    You might think nothing in your inbox could be more mortifying than a shirtless FBI goon hugging dummies, and the threats of a jealous camp-follower.

    Well, imagine this coming out someday: “Your voice and action helped re-elect President Obama.”

    1. TK421

      “Your voice and action helped re-elect President Obama.”

      If you received that message then congratulations! You are partly responsible for the children killed by American missiles in Yemen and Pakistan.

      1. Propertius

        I received that message and I didn’t do a damned thing to elect or re-elect President Catfood. Didn’t vote for the SOB, much less donate or volunteer.

  7. pathman

    Here’s what the “shared sacrifice” will look like: For the rich, a minor blip in their balance sheets which they won’t notice anyway; for the old, poor and hungry more suffering. Why would anyone pass up such a great deal?

  8. YouDon'tSay?

    So, I was wondering, is it considered completely gauche in polite society to bring articles of impeachment before the official coronation in January? Maybe we could start a new American tradition? Maybe even serve the bastard up there on his imperial dais just prior to the public preening? Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

    On the other hand, I imagine the eventual oldster crime wave might easily be especially desperate and violent, what with a “life sentence” largely losing its sting and all. Reminds me of the Python skit a few years back.

  9. Norman

    It all makes sense now. I feed my cats Wiskas new cat dishes called grilled cuts, in various flavors too. I found if you heat them up, put them on a Tortilla with shredded lettuce, salsa, sprinkle with some cheese, and viola, a meal under a buck. Oh, I’m on social security and 74 too.

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      Pet food futures anyone.? Watch the industry attract capital, the usual round of takeovers, mergers and restructurings occur, and product prices go through the roof for the few remaining survivors. That’s the wonderful thing about fascist corporate capitalism. The winners win coming and going, and the losers… lose, as always. But they “deserve it” anyway! Fucking oldster leeches!

  10. TK421

    This reminds me of the time OFA wanted people to write letters to newspapers in support of Obama’s decision to freeze federal workers’ pay. Enlisting the working class to help destroy itself–brilliant plan.

    1. Lambert Strether

      FWIW, the financial crisis has made “middle class” aspirational for many, and drawn the boundaries between classes far more sharply. If you’re permanently disemployed, or lost your house, or are working at Walmart now, then you’re not “mniddle class” any more.

      Obama’s advocacy (and let us remember, Warren’s) explicitly throws tens of millions of Americans under the bus, which is what Obama-ism has been about since the very beginning.

      And you can be sure that if any of the class markers above apply to you, you will not be contacted by OFA.

      You can also be sure that the OFA results from the “grass roots” will be presented at including you.

      1. danb

        While the focus (for her supporters) on Warren is to get her onto the Banking Committee, her conduct on this Grand Bargain issue will define her.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Do you seriously imagine there is any question of which side she is on? Hint, if there was any question, she would never have been nominated, never mind elected.

  11. Ray Phenicie

    Discussion about the so called and much ballyhooed fiscal cliff that does take in the perspective of Modern Money Theory is mere prattle.
    To read a good introduction and to find out why tax dollars don’t pay for any government expenditures see this link:

    http://modernmoney.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/3-essential-features-in-modern-money/

    “We should never fall prey to the argument that the government has to get revenue from taxation or borrowing to “finance” its spending under a fiat currency system. It had to do this under a gold standard (or derivative system) but not under a fiat currency system. Most commentators fail to understand this difference and still apply the economics they learned at university which is fundamentally based on the gold standard/fixed exchange rate system.”

    1. Ray Phenicie

      Arghh! Should read
      Discussion about the so called and much ballyhooed fiscal cliff that does NOT take in the perspective of Modern Money Theory is mere prattle.

  12. dcblogger

    On the one hand, propaganda generally works, so we sadly can expect Obama’s “grassroots” effort to have an impact.

    don’t think so. My friends in Virginia told me that Obama’s much vaunted digitial outreach crashed on election day and they did their get out the vote effort with printed lists. It worked only because the local Dem committees in Northern Virginia are strong and well organized and can do last minute work arounds when a national campaign drops the ball.

    So I am skeptical about Obama’s grassroots effort. Also many people helped the Obama campaign because they are Dems and because the alternative was Romney. None of that will be true of the Catfood Campaign. I just don’t think that this will be effective.

    On the other hand, I don’t see the organizations defending Social Security doing Letters to the Editors campaigns or anything else that would be effective.

  13. briansays

    if they were serious about waste there would have been a public option in the health care bill to squueeze out the waste and looting of the private insurance cabal of dollars that could have gone to care

    instead there was an enshrinement of an extraneous layer of waste and profit through a mandate

    if its one thing consistent in the last 4 years whether healthcare or wall street the big boys and private sector institutions that cause the problem will be taken care of if need be at your expense

    1. John

      It’s not going to work as they expected.

      More and more companies are not going to provide health insurance.

      More and more people who had it are going to be angry.

      Many Red States aren’t going to offer the exchanges.

      More and more people are going to be uninsured and angry.

      More and more people in the Blue States are going to have to go on the exchanges. They will find it’s not so great because the for profit blood sucking health insurance companies running them want their big cut and they are pretty much paying for junk insurance.

      More and more people are going to be junk insured and angry.

      Result: critical mass of angry people in America demanding something better. But along the way corporations and insurance companies will become the object of their anger.

      1. GuyFawkesLives

        I was talking with quite a few small businesses….who have said that it is cheaper to dump health insurance and pay the fine, rather than surrendering to the higher costs of insurance that was implemented.

        It is so ridiculous. Why bow down to these “captains of industry”? Insurance? Bankers? One reason = Campaign finance.

      2. JTFaraday

        Yeah, because pawning social welfare off on large corporations– any arrangement to keep social good out of the reach of “those people”– allowed the cohort of well employed to be self satisfied, superior and ignorant all at the same time, a toxic brew that may well meet its just end in the new global race to the bottom.

        Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

  14. LucyLulu

    Perhaps the saving grace for social security will be the large number of current recipients. Many are conservatives, even Tea Partiers, who don’t want to see anybody “taking their stuff”, resulting in bipartisan objection to cuts in benefits. Or so we can hope anyways.

    1. John

      Many teabaggers don’t even know where their Medicare comes from. Or, if they do, they only want themselves to get it, screw the next generation.

      1. charles sereno

        Thanks for the link to rat-baiting. Softie that I am, I was raised in harmony with rats (Norways). We had chickens in the back yard, but also a smart dog (border collie/spitz). The rats wisely nested over our ceiling. The pitter patter of their tiny feet at bedtime was a sort of lullaby. Our dog was not one to set records. As long as the rats didn’t nest in his territory or try to snitch the chicken feed (while he was awake), they got along. Whenever a rat would die of old age (above ground), he’d dutifully deposit the cadaver for show, like a cat with a bird.

  15. Me

    If you ask me, this shows how out of touch he is. He thinks that a balanced budget is something people are concerned about on a mass level. How in the world, when the economy is doing so horribly for workers and there aren’t many jobs, does he think this will do anything but alienate people further from those in DC? I hope the working people he and his mindless “progressive” followers encounter wake this out of touch neoliberal up. He should have gotten out and LISTENED to people since taking power. I hope people don’t sit back and allow themselves to get lectured to. HE also needs to learn a thing or two about the priorities of the country, although I doubt it will matter as far as policy. He’s to the right of most of the people he’ll lecture on the issues of the day.

    1. Kim Kaufman

      No, Obama knows the majority of people don’t care about “the deficit” and don’t want to cut Social Security. Hence the huge propaganda effort.

  16. Aussie F

    Where do these attacks end? When public sector workers and social security have been trashed, the social contract dismantled, and working people reduced to peonage what’s left to do? The final endgame can only be de facto slavery. Presumably nothing else will appease the Lords of Finance.

  17. psychohistorian

    I am encouraged that some of my friends are now asking me who is this Peterson guy and what is this Catfood Commission?

    People are waking up, maybe.

      1. different clue

        Too little too late? Not necessarily. It would take many years to degrade SS to zero and there would be time to organize/politify to repeal the anti-SS laws . . . or at least try to. The enemy counts on us not being willing to engage in a decades long war of attrition against the enemy.

        Of course it is better to prevent the Catfood Plan to begin with and there is very little time to organize the Government Conspiracy against our survival benefits. But there is some time. Different people could try different things. Something might work.

        It might be good to start calling for going over cliff on purpose . . . since that framing is chiseled into the public brain by now.

        Can the catfood. Kill the BushCuts. Restore the Clinton rates.

  18. scraping_by

    There are two public wills in the modern world. One’s the real one, the ideas and knowledge of the citizens. The other is a simulation mocked up by the MSM and its owners, push-polls, Breitbart editing, ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews, cable news ‘consultants’, C-Span ‘experts’, grant-sucking academics, etc. Think of photos projected on a screen. with a recorded soundtrack.

    This ‘grassroots’ can be used as blowback, the volunteers interviewed by the MSM, spouting the slogans they’ve been given by their government handlers, who then point to the interviews as proof they’re doing to popular will. Create noise and let the noise drown out the reality.

    It’s a publicity stunt. But when a certain stripe of politician/business executive/diplomat runs into real trouble, and the damage we all forsee from damaging Social Security is real, they reply to real problems with publicity stunts.

  19. Hugh

    I have often said that the three great issues of our times are kleptocracy, wealth inequality, and class war. Kleptocracy is always about the looting, but it needs more than just looters to function. It needs our elites, and they, the politicians, the media, academia, the judiciary, have gladly signed onboard for their cut of the loot. So we get fake elections where we choose the face of our looting for the next four years. We get manufactured crises, like the fiscal cliff, and Orwellian propaganda telling us we must destroy Medicare and Social Security in order to save them.

    This isn’t a policy debate. It isn’t about fixing anything. It is about looting. It is about the rich and their servant elites stealing from us and telling us they are doing it for our own good. It is about them even calling on us to aid them in this endeavor. It is about sending millions of older Americans into poverty and misery and killing tens of thousands of them off just so the rich and elites can have a bit more to steal. It is about getting millions of Americans to work years longer for more meager retirements so that the rich and elites can have more for themselves.

    The rich and elites are the enemies of 99% of Americans. Until ordinary Americans realize this and act accordingly, the looting will continue.

    1. John

      Well, wake them up, one by one.

      Any family of yours who doesn’t know it yet it’s your job to make them understand.

      Then start on any friends who are still asleep.

      Soon, the elite will be viewed for what they are, criminals.

      1. JTFaraday

        But that requires deprogramming, more commonly called in this PC (post-PC?) age, “exit counseling.”

        Are you an exit counselor?

    2. Susan the other

      The toughest thing for representative democratic government to overcome is political correctness. Politeness. The need for politeness is long since over. We need our representatives to stand up in congress and say it like it is. We desperately need good policies and straight accounting. Instead we get our miserable patchwork of special interests. To wit: why wasn’t a safety net created – true single payer health care and price controls for seniors, a viable job market before we conned college students into their expensive educations, etc. – before we brought out the ax and started chopping?

      1. YouDon'tSay?

        Well, you’re nearly half way there anyway. “The need” has already progressed several light years beyond mere “impoliteness” I’m afraid, and I think everyone out there not already on the take is implicitly aware of that fact. Representatives have been bought and systems irredeemably corrupted. What comes next? What ALWAYS comes next?

  20. A Real Black Person

    “….if his interest really were in increasing taxes on the rich and sparing Medicare and Social Security. His sense of urgency is further confirmation of whose interests he holds most dear, and they aren’t yours and mine.”

    I thought the real problem with social security was that it’s underfunded. I keep hearing that money has been borrowed from it to pay for other things. I thought the real problem with Medicare is that the government won’t have enough revenue in the future to make future payments. Someone has to pay for those programs and there’s no way the wealthy are going to foot the bill, and everyone else is allergic to tax increases so it seems like something has to give. If these programs can not be properly funded, they will have to be scaled back.

    Proper funding, by my definition, means that there should be no borrowing allowed to fund these programs. The government should not have to sell bonds to overseas investors to fund our social programs. I’m not sure if that is happening yet, but there are areas of discretionary spending funded by borrowing.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      In all honesty, every time you’ve shown up you look like a troll.

      “Social security is running out of money” is garbage. See this paper:

      http://www.nextnewdeal.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/a-world-upside-down

      And Federal Reserve economists have debunked the Medicare scare, see:

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/11/fed-budgetary-experts-demolish-cbo-health-cost-model-the-lynchpin-of-budget-hysteria.html

      And the CBO has been hiding data when challenged, which suggests its #s won’t stand up to much scrutiny:

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/11/the-cbos-latest-con-job-disappearing-data-to-deter-analysis-of-its-deficit-scaremongering.html

  21. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

    SS is fully funded.

    You must have missed this post. Comments thrashed it out in great detail. You have been fed propaganda for about 40 years now on SS.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/11/the-giant-lie-trotted-out-by-fiscal-conservatives-trying-to-shred-social-security.html

    Medicare is a problem, but the problem is healthcare is unaffordable. That a problem even if you aren’t in medicare. We pay 2X as much as the developed world for healthcare and prescription drugs.

    1. A Real Black Person

      Maybe healthcare is more expensive because
      a. We have more unhealthy people

      b. A faster growing demand for healthcare and a slower supply of medical professionals. Seem like ingredients for inflation in health costs to me.

      1. A Real White Person

        Not to mention a higher demand for Health Care Insurance CEOs. By the way, where do I apply? I too would like to be a CEO. I’ve heard the pay and benefits are great and the work almost non-existent. You get to fuck beautiful young chicks/guys from all over the world on the company dime and rub elbows (and other parts!) with all the rich and famous in every industry. Seriously, I think I’m up to the challenge. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

      2. Stan Musical

        On the one hand, I don’t think everyone posting here who mouths the predominant propaganda is a troll, it’s hardly a sin to be grossly mislead these days, so I personally don’t like to see every such poster called a troll or treated with sarcasm.

        On the other, are you really serious about points a) and b), especially a)? At least you frame it as a half-question.

        What’s the opposite of Occam’s razor? That seems to be the tool you employed.

        And, assuming you are African-(American), why make such a big point it as your user name? Just curious as, based on my b/g having lived with and had as friends quite a number of people of color, I’ve yet to meet any who wanted to make an issue of their race more than make it a non-issue in an intellectual forum. I’m not concerned, but others seem to think it’s a ruse and you’re a troll so it may be hampering the dissemination of your ideas such as they are.

    2. Gerard Pierce

      “SS is fully funded”. Yes it is!

      But it’s funded by repayment of the special interest-bearing Treasury T-Bills that account for how much money was lent by the Social Security administration to the General Fund.

      Since some time in 2010, the receipts from FICA have not been quite enough to write those social security checks, so the social security administration draws on the General Fund to make up the difference.

      They are cashing in some of the special T-Bills that make up the trust fund. In other words, they are now spending a small amount of the money that was “saved” by loaning it to the General Fund

      As more and more boomers sign up for benefits, the amount of special T-Bills that will have to be cashed in will increase each year.

      One key point that is glossed over is that the money in the General Fund has to come from somewhere – income taxes – printing press money – whatever.

      If the Republicans reduce taxes on the 1% and refuse to increase them there will be no tax money in the General Fund to repay the loans from the Social Security trust fund.

      If they reduce social security payments to the point where they are no longer using the Trust Fund they can keep the money they borrowed and spend it on more corporate welfare.

      No matter how fancy the plan, the bottom line will be a attempt to welsh on the deal and avoid repaying the Trust Fund money. (Note that welshing is a bipartisan program.)

      “Full faith and credit” doesn’t mean much when repayment is controlled by a bunch of congressional deadbeats.
      .

      1. different clue

        That’s the situation engineered on purpose by the Bush tax cuts. That’s the situation deepened and extended on purpose by Obama working to make the Bush tax cuts permanent
        under cover of his diversionary apples of discord about token rate-rises on “the very richest”.

  22. rich

    Both Tavis and Smiley single out prominent progressives whom they accuse of overlooking Obama’s actual record. “We believe that if [Obama] is not pushed, he’s going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president,” Smiley says. “And we believe that the time is now for action and no longer accommodation. … To me, the most progressive means that you’re taking some serious risk. And I just don’t see the example of that.” West says that some prominent supporters of Obama “want to turn their back to poor and working people.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/9/tavis_smiley_cornel_west_on_the

  23. A Real Black Person

    Actually, the comments on the ” The Giant Lie Trotted Out by Fiscal Conservatives Trying to Shred Social Security” article by Lynn Parramore, security.html#4ZUI5JYxjaHboOgJ.99
    is far from conclusive. Most of the charts posted by Lynn are old charts and don’t do any real projecting to the time Baby Boomers are suppose to retire. Throughout the comments are assumptions that the social security fund is being funded with tax revenue.

    Reality tends to point in another direction the “nothing to see here, social security is 100% solvent.” arguments presented in the comments section.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Trust_Fund

    No one has talked about the ratio of workers to retirees as it relates to how social security is funded. Those on the Right say it is younger workers that pay for the retired workers and those on the Left say social security is completely paid for by the taxes of the retiring workers.
    These arguments are being presented with no objective evidence to back it up.

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Just so we don’t have to go back to the 1930s and re-invent the wheel for everything, the SS admin has a report to congress for SS status that is already based on the accepted model for demographics, econ growth, payroll tax revenue, etc…and the crystal ball for these assumptions goes out 75 years for those of us that might believe in such things.

      You can read it yourself. There is a problem – we’ve been in a recession…

      http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/pr/trustee12-pr.html

    2. A Real White Person

      Actually, the lies perpetuated in any standard trope concerning “Trickle Down Economics” have never been proven to hold any water at all, in spite of over thirty years of real world experimentation, and yet, here we are with another round of proposals from an undying “Big Lie” constituency within the fascist corporate capitalist elite. But in spite of that fact, the “new corporate welfare elite,” fresh on the heels of an historic public rescue in 2008, but nevertheless insatiable in their lust for ever MORE government granted monetary graft, now tell us that our OWN government social safety net can no longer be afforded, and that further, we should now TRUST that the “ascended wisdom” of “Trickle Down Economics” should be allowed to “SAVE US,” if we would ONLY trust their beneficence and grant them their “Almighty sanctified” tax cuts.

      Likewise, no one has talked about the ratio of CEO and upper management hacks’ pay to the workers who actually generate their income. Maybe it’s time we start. Or better yet, maybe it’s time we just started eliminating CEO’s and they’re management cronies. Now THERE’S an idea whose time has come!

      1. Stan Musical

        I once hear something that made a lot of sense to me: two men when arguing instinctively know that there’s a point beyond which they might incite the other to violence, and their feeling for that keeps them in check and helps keep society somewhat civil.

        I’ve known all kind of rich people through my work, blue-blood Mayflower-descended New Englanders among them–old money–and they share a sense of entitlement that IMO numbs them a bit to this line.

        (Also, most of them are lily-handed and clueless with tools. I once had to stop an obviously upper-middle class guy with a new Volvo from opening the bolts on his fancy built-in tool box in the trunk with pliers before he completely stripped them round. One of many such anecdotes I could tell which, their peerless ruthlessness aside, leads me to believe a revolt against the Blankfeins of the world would be a rather uneven match-up once their guards were no longer there to protect them).

        I think we’re getting there, and probably no small number of men are starting to get really pissed, and having daydreams and night dreams, and maybe wet dreams, about what they would do given 10 minutes alone with one of these criminals.

        As a Buddhist committed to non-violence, I feel quite conflicted in saying this because I would like to think they can have a positive change of heart–but without any fear on their part, nothing is going to change, in fact by the mechanisms of unchained capitalism capital and wealth accumulation are only going to get worse and at an increasing rate.

    3. different clue

      If you voted for your precioussss The One, the Judas Horse
      Uncle Tom’s Mansion Republican in blackface disguise; I deeply and sincerely hope that you face the pauperised and sicknessed old age which Obastard seeks for the rest of us.

  24. Beleck

    Most left of center people i talk with about SS have no clue about SS. the depth of the lies and misinformation by Petersen and his friends is soooo well layered. similar to the Fiscal Cliff nonsense, people buy it completely. this envy of others has been played so well.

    i do wonder whether enough people can make a difference. those who voted for Obama still buy his lies and his “BS” is wonderful. just like St. Ronnie, O is good at selling, and we are his “meal” . i think of that “Twilight Zone” or “Outer Limits” story about the Cookbook “To Serve Humans”.

    we are the meal.

  25. skippy

    Negative gearing is a bitch… especially – when – people – are the asset, maturity short falls come out of your backside… not the borrowers of distinction.

  26. A Real Black Person

    To people still complaining about the large banks:
    Creditors only gain power when you borrow more then you can pay back. Someone who borrows REALISTICALLY what they can pay back is never at the mercy of lenders. Of course, in the real world, it’s ever a certainty what can be paid back with the amount of disinformation out there, but someone has to exercise some judgement here. It’s not going to be the lenders, because the system is rigged to their favor. They’re going to get their money no matter what or at least attempt to do so. The trick is to never borrow from them in the first place.

    On social programs and the deficit:

    I watched the video Lee A. Arnold posted. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd4HDautaUw
    Very little of the information presented there was new to me.
    Everything hinges on whether “normal” economic growth resumes and unemployment falls to five percent or something close to that. A lot of experts say that high unemployment will be the new norm as it has been in certain parts of Europe for the last twenty to thirty years. We’ve been putting up with high unemployment for a few years. The longer it lasts the harder it will be for any built up debt to be paid back.

    I’m aware of the fact that some of the debt floating around is debt that the government owns to its own people. The issue here is in a globalized economy, will the government in the future have the ability to raise revenue to pay for social services and guaranteed benefits. We currently have a few sort of long-term trends; less revenue due to less people working, the people working are making less money, and those who are making a lot of money refuse to pay more.

    How do those trends affect the government’s ability to fund its social programs ?

  27. Not Your Sweetie

    Well, it’s not like he didn’t announce it a week before the election, in the Des Moines register interview (transcript since scrubbed). It’s not like his campaign didn’t leak it a day before the election http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/06/hold-usa-campaign-cliff-idUSL1E8M5EVC20121106
    Those of you who stuck your fingers in your ears and said la-la-la can act surprised now. Me, I expect this since I heard him admiring Reagan in 2008. And don’t ever buy the “Rs made me do it”- he always gave them more than they asked – on extending cuts for the rich, legitimizing the Hyde amendment, you name it.

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