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Now It’s Official: Obama Sells Catfood Futures, Um, Social Security and Medicare Cuts

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There is no more pretense possible. As we’ve warned for some time, Obama is eager to put a notch on his belt by being the President that rolled back the New Deal programs that helped create broad-based middle-class prosperity and dignity. He’s cast himself as an adult inflicting discipline on profligate Americans. But in reality, the profligacy was most concentrated among elite financiers who used leverage on leverage vehicles to stoke liquidity that led to worldwide underpricing of risk. They paid themselves record bonuses in the years immediately preceding the crisis, and then in a grotesque display of ingratitude, did so again in 2009, able to do so only thanks to massive taxpayer support, alphabet-soup special borrowing programs, and the tax on savers known as ZIRP. And the direct result of their looting exercise that produced the crisis was the explosion in government deficits, due to a collapse in tax revenues and a rise in payments under countercyclical programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps.

But are the real perps the object of Obama’s disciplinary impulses? No. He seems spectacularly unwilling to take on anyone even remotely approaching his size (as if a President should be cowed by senior banker bullies like Jamie Dimon). The President’s failure to reprimand the financial CEOs who dissed him by refusing to attend his address on the first year anniversary of Lehman was a tacit acknowledgement that they were really in the driver’s seat.

Keep in mind what is happening here. We are not in the realm of Obama kayfabe, where he pretends that those big bad Republicans forced him to do what he wanted to do all along. This is Obama’s budget offer, not the result of pretend hard fought battles over positions that are at most 10 degrees apart. As the Grey Lady describes it:

President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say…

Besides the tax increases that most Republicans continue to oppose, Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said. The idea, known as chained C.P.I., has infuriated some Democrats and advocacy groups to Mr. Obama’s left, and they have already mobilized in opposition…..

Mr. Obama will propose other spending and tax credit initiatives, including aid for states to make free prekindergarten education available nationwide — a priority outlined in his State of the Union address in February. He will propose to pay for it by raising federal taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

I assume Obama’s flacks understand full well what an extreme porcine maquillage exercise “in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise” is. We now have the absurd spectacle of Paul Ryan’s budget being to the left of Obama’s on the issue of Social Security and Medicare. If the Republicans have an iota of sense, they’ll take full advantage of the weapon Obama has handed them. Every poll ever done over the last 50 years shows substantial majorities favoring continuing and increasing Social Security and Medicare provisions, and either increasing taxes or cutting other spending to do so.

And Obama will pay for kiddie photo ops by increasing regressive taxes. Charming.

If it is any consolation, the chattering classes are ripshit. The article went up at the Times after 12:30 AM. By the time I saw it, about an hour later, it had 48 comments. Of them, 46 were disapproving, ranging from resigned to ripshit. A few examples:

J Wolfe: Keep the stupid stuff but get rid of things people really need. Free pre-k schooling (ie., free daycare) but toss retirees (ie, boomers) under the bus. Nice. Does this president have any clue at all how to lead and manage anything more than a street rally? He is one of the most clueless, inept and unqualified presidents ever. I don’t see any cutbacks in his lavish 1% lifestyle even though people can barely afford to buy food and gas these days. Pathetic.

kamilyon: I am outraged: We don’t need a deficit reduction deal at all!!!

We need a strong economy through jobs, jobs, jobs! And reducing wealth inequality! And providing strong financial foundations for our people through safety-net programs so that we can be healthy, provide for our children, and take business risks, all while knowing we can survive with dignity into our old age!!!

Why did you even run as a democrat?

Thom: All democrats should be livid that President Obama is the one to propose the beginning of the end of important social programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

This is yet another example of Obama saying one thing and doing the opposite – Gitmo, transparency, saving the middle class; now Social Security and Medicare.

Shame on you President Obama, once again you betray the ideals and hard work of the democratic party and the needs of the vast majority of Americans.

There was a lonely true believer:

HB: I don’t like these cuts, but I trust President Obama.

Maybe he’s making this compromise because he thinks it’s better for ordinary Americans on net, or maybe he’s bluffing as part of a political strategy to box in the other side. Either way, I won’t pretend to know better.

He understands the issues, he understands the politics, and he cares about ordinary families. I trust my president.

And the other approving comment was from someone taking the realist line. The thumbs ups on the comments so far were consistent: lots of approval from the readership for the critics, no affirmation for the lonely Obama stalwarts.

But Obama wants his legacy and the public be damned. And Bill Clinton proves that being a front person for neoliberalism is a very lucrative post-Presidential line of work.

So the question is who is going to join Obama in this wildly elite-serving budget? Will Congresscritters fall in line with what big donors want, or will they be chastened enough to remember the 2010 midterms, where the Obama-aligned Blue Dog Democrats were routed, but the more liberal Dems for the most part survived? Obama has never been very good about taking care of anyone but Obama, and Jeff Connaughton’s book The Payoff made clear that goes double for Biden.

In other words, the battle to get Obama’s fondly-desired Social Security cuts passed means persuading legislators to take a memorable vote that their constituents are likely to hold against them. Obama, as a lame duck, has fewer levers to pull than he once did. So this will be a test of the 11 dimensional chess view of Obama. Does he have the authority and bargaining skills to pull this one off, or will he beat a retreat and need to pretend it was a victory?

To be honest, I’ve never bought the 11 dimensional chess palaver. My wee theory is that Obama has a picture in his closet. In Oscar Wilde’s story, Dorian Gray sells his soul so that his portrait will age while he remains the beauty of the original image. Gray becomes increasingly debauched and his picture becomes more grotesque. Even an effort to reform makes the picture more frightful since Gray took up the idea only to see if it might reverse the uglification of his painting. Grey stabs the painting. His corpse is so withered and aged that it barely identifiable, but his picture has reverted to its former beauty.

My pet construct is that Obama has a picture too, but it’s a lucky paining, not a beauty painting. It makes Obama look like a winner, so Obama wins. His bad luck goes into that portrait in his closet. But I’m not sure he sold his soul (maybe it was just in indentured servitude) since it does not seem to be working so well of late. Obama had a reversal of his characteristic good fortune when the Supreme Court declared recess appointments to be invalid, which is a serious complication for him.

This “have old people die faster” plan will be contested. The normally complacent public is unlikely to sit by quietly and have its ox gored. Even the Times is not trying to soft pedal what is going on; it’s not using the anodyne language of “chained CPI” but “cutback” and in the headline, no less. Obama may still pull this off, but this will be his most uphill battle to date, and the second-term timing does not favor him. And we can only hope that any magic on his side is ebbing as well.

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346 comments

  1. Ross

    The blow back will be severe. It opens a veritable Pandora’s Box on both sides of the spectrum. Your grandma is going to join OWS and so is her entire bridge club.

    “He gave us a coercive health insurance stamp act and impoverished my grandparents?” He is going to do more!

    1. ambrit

      Dear Ross;
      What’s the line on this from AARP? They purport to be the Seniors’ mouthpiece, but all I’ve seen out of them are ‘affiliated’ insurance scams. No matter, since appearance is reality in todays world, they do have some clout.
      Speaking of groups of grannies; what’s the word from the famous grandmothers investment group? Are they even still active?
      Now that I think about it, this would be a good time for Monty Pythons “Granny Gangs.”

      1. AbyNormal

        difficult to follow aarp mula, but here’s a try

        AARP aggressively, and successfully, lobbied to keep Medigap reforms out of Obamacare, because AARP receives a 4.95 percent royalty on every dollar that seniors spend on its Medigap plans. Reform, DeMint estimates, would have cost AARP $1.8 billion over ten years.

        The AARP steps in by lending its name to commercial insurers for the sale of AARP-approved and -branded Medicare supplemental, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare prescription-drug policies. AARP earns enormous royalties from these sources; indeed, they now account for about half of the group’s income.
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/09/22/the-aarps-2-8-billion-reasons-for-supporting-obamacares-cuts-to-medicare/

        Behind the Veil: The AARP America doesn’t know
        http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/aarp_report_final_pdf_3_29_11.pdf
        (40 pages im still pluggin thru)

        1. jake chase

          I always suspected AARP was a con. That suspicion has now saved me $1,000, $50 per year.

        2. Chris-Engel

          So AARP cant be trusted on matters Medicare.

          How about Social Security? They are standing up against Chained CPI at least.

          Robert Reich actually released an article on this a day before the announcement of the outline of the plan by Obama:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/chained-cpi_b_3016471.html

          Clearly he was consulted on this plan before it was “trial ballooned” and his conscience got the better of him and he’s taken to the public to explain to them that this is wrong to convince Obama.

          I guess Reich couldn’t convince Obama that this wasn’t the right policy move to make (at least not in response to Ryan’s ridiculous House budget).

          Hell, if the point was to respond to Ryan’s proposal, Obama should have adopted the Progressive Caucus’ budget that was released not too long ago:

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/03/14/back_to_work_budget_congressional_progressive_caucus_unveils_left_wing_budget.html

          I’m really at a loss of words here. The budget will be released next week — but this must have been a trial balloon to weigh the reaction of the public, so what does this mean since everyone is clearly pissed?

          I mean, I hate Chained CPI, with a passion.

          But sometimes I do wonder — what if we got Buffett Rule in exchange?

          But no, the taboo of cutting Social Security benefits just isn’t worth it.

          Obama has to find some other way…

          1. different clue

            I accept neither Buffet Rule nor anything else in return for MY money. If we are strong enough to defeat the Catfood Obama Plan, maybe we can get stronger enough to conquer enough of government to force a hard restoration of Glass-Steagall.

        3. juliania

          I’m a granny that quit AARP when they endorsed Bush’s giveaway to Big Pharma and have never trusted them again. They’re not my mouthpiece.

      1. Working Class Nero

        He may be a house Negro but his Social Security proposal seems to be aimed at getting the field Negro’s approval. First of all blacks tend to die sooner than whites. The differences in life expectancy are narrowing but are still there and make Social Security a lower priority on average for blacks. And Obama’s social security cuts specifically protect low-income recipients and this terminology is typically code for blacks, who are always over-represented in this category.

        In exchange for his cuts Obama seems to be offering some sort of free day-care. This will undoubtedly be means tested and so blacks, who on average tend to pass means tests with flying colors, will benefit more than whites. Many whites in states with substantial black populations would never consider placing their children in government run day-care centers anyway, and certainly not in any that are means-tested.

        So I don’t think you will hear all that much jaw-boning from the field Negros on this one. In fact it seems clear that Obama is expecting strong support from the black community. Triangulate this with discreet Conservative support and white liberals who have spent the last four plus years insisting any criticism of Obama is racist are going to be left out of the party and are going to have a real hard time attacking him on Social Security.

        A Republican could never get away with this…

        1. from Mexico

          Neither opinion polls, or empirical facts, however, bear out what you are claiming.

          First, some polling data:

          Anxious about their economic security and prospects for retirement, large majorities of Americans (88%) say that Social Security is more important than ever. Although Social Security enjoys support from a majority of Americans, African Americans and Hispanics (91%) are more likely than whites (77%) to say that we have an obligation to provide a secure retirement for all working Americans.

          Second are some empirical information:

          ◦The Social Security system is progressive in that lower-wage earners receive a higher percentage benefit than higher-wage earners do. The system returns a greater percentage of pre-retirement earnings to a lower-wage worker than to a higher-wage worker. African Americans who are low-wage workers receive back more benefits in relation to past earnings than do high-wage earners.

          ◦In 2011, the median earnings of working-age African Americans who worked full-time, year round were about $35,000, compared to $42,000 for all working-age people.
          http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/africanamer.htm

          1. Working Class Nero

            Which is why he is exempting “low-income recipients” from these cuts. If you don’t know what those words mean then you have not been paying attention. But let’s wait a week or two and see what the black leadership reaction is to this proposal. I’ve been wrong before but I seriously doubt we will get black leaders coming out against this. Obama’s political team would have already negotiated with them to assure their approval. Retarded liberal whites on the other hand didn’t get any consultation.

          2. from Mexico

            @ Working Class Nero

            So what you’re saying is that Obama plans to but a coalition of Republicans, Blue Dog/DLC democrats and black folks together to pull this off.

            He may well indeed pull it off, but I disagree as to the reason blacks may go for the deal. If blacks go for the deal, it won’t be because of egoism, but because of racial loyalty and solidarity with a black president.

            There’s nothing new here. It’s the old divide and conquer strategy. The only new twist is that instead of the appeal being to white racism, it’s now to black racism. The racism comes through loud and clear when you say: “Obama’s political team would have already negotiated with [black leaders] to assure their approval. Retarded liberal whites on the other hand didn’t get any consultation.”

        2. neo-realist

          Re: African American support for Obama

          Problem is AA’s in the media, outside of Glen Ford, are saying “We gotta get behind Obama”, rather than taking a deeper look at the impact of the policies he proposes. When Obama is aligned against forces they believe want his downfall, its difficult to shake AA support in spite of Obama’s policies.

        3. Tommy Strange

          Absolutely ridiculous to say most african americans are excited about him. You mistake phone polls of black voters for the black USA population. Blacks rarely vote over 40% VAP. Sure when a white voice calls and actually gets a black person on the phone, they are going to ‘support’ the black president. Keep in mind also, that the lower the income, the less likely these polls represent ‘us’ poorer whites and blacks, no matter what you stats experts say. I don’t know ANYONE stuggling now, that has ever answered an ‘unknown’ phone in the past 6 years. I live in a city near a small abandoned black population (SF) and everytime I talk to them, or ‘they’ are in the corner store with the TV on…alls I hear is FUCK THEM. My black neighbor who is a landlord of two houses is the expection. It’s a class thing. They and me and my worker white friends don’t answer the fucking phone. And the majority of the bottom half didn’t even vote last election. Get your facts straight. And organize, you middle class people…with us….there has to be a revolution. Not typing. It will be beautiful or ugly…but we have to do it….Anarchist, socialist…bottom up. Join us, We need your help.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Remember when olders chased Dan Rostenkowski down the hall on Capitol Hill waving their canes? I do, because I’m old enough.

      Hill staffers, however, do not, becuase they aren’t old enough. So whenever you call them on Social Security (and I always call the local offices, because I get more credibility and they’re more liable to talk) be sure to tell them that story.

  2. Ben Johannson

    Democrats won’t oppose this man. They’ve spent the last five years investing themselves into his mythos and tarring anyone who objects to his policies as ideologues and racists (Balloon Juice is the par exemplar of this group).

    The only hope is that Republicans will continue refusal to do business with him.

    1. ambrit

      Mr Johannson;
      I’m in one of those districts where a Blue Dog Democrat was replaced by a pseudo Tea Party Republican. We’ll see now how really ‘political’ these new Radical Republicans are. Do they listen to their voters, or toe some elite Party Line? Time for this New Deal Democrat to attend some Town Meetings and practice my heckling skills.

      1. nonclassical

        amby-answer has already been formulated-we know who phony “tea-party”era
        “follow”-the $$$$…

        let’s all remember there was a phony corporate fundamentalist “tea-party” parallel (along with many other parallels-military whistleblower General Smedley Butler-Bradley Manning, “socialist” president, Wall $treet disaster, etc, etc) during 30′s depression era…

        bushbama has just destroyed the democratic party AND any semblance of “the people’s representative government”…repubLIEcons to “win” 2016, Christie or Rubio..and continue now unanimous anti-government takeover by corporate interests…

        1. bh2

          I’m not entirely sure Smedly Butler would wish to have his name associated with Bradley Manning.

          Butler expressed his views after leaving the military and revealed nothing “secret”. He was also a major general and the most decorated marine in history at the time of his death. Lame comparisons of the two men are comical.

        1. different clue

          But the Koch Brothers are not the President. Obama is the President. And he is freely choosing to use all his power as President and DemParty Leader to cut Social Security. The Koch Brothers don’t make him do it. He does it on his own. So the blame for his actions is all his.

          1. glitch

            Koch brothers helped fund the DLC – Democratic Leadership Council. Any doubt of Obama’s affiliation with this group was removed when he chose Leiberman as his Senate Mentor, not to mention his Presidency.
            Win win for the Koch and their agenda.

      2. TK421

        Don’t knock the Tea Party, they are the ones protecting Social Security now. Time to call your Republican representative and tell them not to agree to any deal that raises taxes.

          1. from Mexico

            I don’t know.

            The rank and file T-Partier seems to be a pretty egoistic animal to me.

            It will be interesting to see if he or she will go for the bacon or for the lofty theory wafting from on high.

          2. nonclassical

            frummmm..

            you didn’t see already background on t-partyer bought and sold history??:

            http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/05/news/la-pn-tea-party-members-of-congress-a-wellheeled-lot-20120105

            Members of the tea party movement that swept into power in 2010 may be anti-elitist in their rhetoric, but their personal finances tell a different story.

            “While the median average net worth in the U.S. House of Representatives was $755,000 in 2010, the comparable figure for the House Tea Party Caucus’ 60 members was $1.8 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.”

          3. Zachary Smith

            Agreed.

            Still, I may have to pose as a teabagger idiot myself and contact my Representative.

          4. TK421

            “Having those incoherent twits as the last line of defense is not very reassuring”

            No it is not, but they’re better than nothing.

          5. NotTimothyGeithner

            It may not be reassuring, but I don’t think there is a House majority to cut Social Security with the Teabaggers. NAFTA passed when pork could be doled out and at the start of a tech boom. The economy was getting better for enough people to create the illusion of safety for incumbents.

            100% of the GOP caucus at the time of NAFTA for it. A couple of no switch to the GOP after the 94 election, but Bill was promising bridges and government sponsored centers. Cutting Social Security in exchange for a bridge to no where in an era of high unemployment will change the calculus. Without Obama on the ballot, minority turn out plummeted because voting for a conservative message isn’t popular with likely Democratic voters.

            House Democrats want to run state wide in the back of their minds if they aren’t in the leadership or in the hunt for the leadership. Without some really impressive pork, they aren’t cutting SS. The same is true of the Teabaggers. They aren’t afraid of Boehner or the blue bloods. The proto-Baggers kept David Dreier from rising to the second position despite his corporate toadyism because of Dreier lifestyle decisions. The Baggers will fight Obama because he is a Democrat and not white. This means there is no majority.

            This is about Obama’s unbridled arrogance, and his madness about his ability to change people to his position. I think Obama is setting up a Presidential season longer than the one during the second Bush term as he moves to becoming a lame duck President in short order.

          6. LucyLulu

            I have some Tea Party friends. This idea makes sense. They aren’t rich and they don’t want anybody touching their SS or Medicare. (Cutting future generations is okay though.) And they love to bluster about how if their representatives don’t tow the line, they’re history in 2014.

            I’ve already pulled this one with my GOP senator.

        1. jrs

          not a bad plan, for the Obamabots hating those with different political opinions is more important than actually defending anything. The only result is they lose anything of value like these programs, and keep their obese egos.

    2. Binky Bear

      Not accurate at all. Look at Americablog, where they hounded Obama for not supporting gay marriage. They got what they wanted and they never had to resort to pictures of the president with a bone through his nose, spitting on black congressmembers, the N word, etc.
      Obama enacting GOP health care plans, GOP tax plans, and GOP foreign and domestic policy and being abused by the right for it is precisely the confused cover he needs to set himself up as a rich man like Clinton in retirement.

      Racist is as racist does; Balloon Juice nails it. Maybe some folks aren’t liking what’s in the mirror so much?

      1. Lambert Strether

        Americablog was as badly in the tank for Obama in 2008 as any other “progressive” blog. To their credit, they worked their way out of it; Gaius Publius is shredding the administration, and rightly so. Also to their credit, they, along with the gay bundlers in 2012 (and the Hispanics) worked out that the only way to get anything out of Obama is to threaten him when it counts. (“Progressives” have yet to learn this lesson; I would imagine we’ll get plenty of posturing and pearl-clutching this year, before they revert to form in the mid-terms.) So the evolution of AmericaBlog is really hopeful. If Balloon Juice is anything other than still in “Obama can never fail, he can only be failed” mode, that would be welcome news.

        * * *

        Let me translate “Maybe some folks aren’t liking what’s in the mirror so much?” You mean the other guy’s a racist, right? If that’s not what you mean, what do you mean?

        1. Dan Crawford

          Lambert,

          Gaius Publius at Americablog is currently using Bruce Webb as a source to help keep the intricacies of SS finance straight. It ain’t easy, and needs background.

  3. rkka

    During the campaign I came to believe that the best course for the 90% was for Rmoney to win but the Dems keep the Senate, in the hope that Senate Dems would oppose this insanity.

    Yes, I was reduced to hoping that Harry Reid would grow a backbone.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Democrats didn’t stop Bush’s SS privatization scheme in 2005. Seniors and boomers, the GOP base, told GOP electeds in no uncertain terms to get the hell away from Social Security which is the main reason the GOP hasn’t been able to put together a coalition to cut Social Security. Any Republican will be tossed with the Teabaggers officially off the reservation, and Congressmen like their jobs.

    1. Blue Meme

      Like.

      We ought to get business cards that say this printed up, and start snail-mailing them to the White House, Democratic Senators, etc.

  4. David Lentini

    I’m no fan of Obama (I voted Green), and I think Yves’s comments are very much spot-on, but I also have to wonder if there couldn’t be some strategy here: By offering this Obama is essentially daring the GOP to vote with him (a Black man, eek!) and the Dems to finally put the knife in FDR’s legacy. If the banks an welathy really do own Washington, then the vote will be “yes”, and Obama will reap his rewards after he leaves in 2016; if the vote fails, then he’ll have tried and the political limits of the New Deal will be secured until we get a white male Democrat who can really make the sell out stick, or not since then the Democrats might actually stand against him.

    And I really agree that it’s getting tiresome to read about Obama’s 11-dimentional chess intellect. I guess that’s because in Washington, 10 of those 11 dimensions are compacted to infinitessimal dimension. Most of his games seem pretty transparent.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Was that the same strategy for:

      -ignoring the environment
      -extending the Bush tax cuts
      -a too small stimulus
      -letting Wall Street go free
      -Ben Bernanke
      -rushing to the aid of Joe Lieberman when Democrats wanted to toss him from the Homeland Security chairmanship
      -ignoring our state of deregulation?

      Is all just some grand plan that will pay off in the near future? Or is the President just a little man who has never had to take responsibility for any of his actions having advanced so swiftly and is a product of a man who came of age in the 1980′s?

      Obama has no grand plans. He’s not that smart. He’s a fraud and a charlatan. He has been out to get social security since day one, and he has been protected by white guilt, enthusiasm for a minority President, and a fear of a Republican. The man said he and Mitt Romney had the same position on Social Security. The only reason it didn’t become an issue is Americans are so shallow they don’t listen, and elections are nothing more than beauty contests. I think its time to stop this nonsense about 853rd dimensional chess.

      1. Zachary Smith

        *** Obama has no grand plans. He’s not that smart. He’s a fraud and a charlatan. He has been out to get social security since day one, and he has been protected by white guilt, enthusiasm for a minority President, and a fear of a Republican. The man said he and Mitt Romney had the same position on Social Security. ***

        Excellent summary. Trashing Social Security is just one of the jobs he signed on with when he was recruited by the top .1% as a “Not Bush” candidate. It may not be his Grand Plan, but so what?

        Anyhow, nobody he knows will be hurt by his corrupt maneuvering.

      2. Nathanael

        “Obama has no grand plans. He’s not that smart. He’s a fraud and a charlatan. ”

        Yeah. He’s gonna go down in history all right — with his name along side those of James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover.

        Obama’s “legacy” will be to be on the list of Presidents Who Were Massive Failures. I doubt he actually wants this, which means that he’s either stupid or crazy. Personally I suspect he’s crazy.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          After undergrad, I worked for a state legislator, and I had to attend Chamber of Commerce functions. There were a couple of nominal Democrats at these meetings who always took time to tell my boss too liberal or to offer advice about how to win Republican votes by shedding Democratic values. They knew nothing. I found the Republicans to be far more with it when it came to policy compared to these clowns, but no one called them out.

          They both fell into money and were attracted to the most dipshit ideas possible. No one called them out because Democratic voters aren’t awash in cash. The first time I saw Obama all I saw was a more charismatic version of those two clowns. They never thought of anything beyond how to retain some element of being a Democrat while fitting in the at the Chamber.

    2. petridish

      It won’t be a “white male Democrat” who makes the “sellout stick” it will be a white FEMALE and the first woman president to boot. That snowball is already rolling downhill and picking up steam.

      All it’s going to take is for Americans to drop their guard, just one more time, and rejoice in the comeback, don’t stop believin’, doggedly persistent, uniquely exceptional, giving hope to EVERY little girl in the land, supremely qualified little lady that could and POOF!

      Mission accomplished.

      1. from Mexico

        It is the triumph of a perverted and corrupted identity politics over bread and butter politics.

    3. BondsOfSteel

      The 11-dimentional chess intellect is just PR; A con to try and elevate the ruling class.

      Remember when Karl Rove was the “smartest man in the White House”? Same thing.

  5. Fabrizio

    Time for the “Progressive Caucus” to put up or shut up. Given their humiliating performance in the health care debacle, I’m praying Monica will return for a sequel. Or Katrina (though Monica was much less costly, much more elegant, efficient and entertaining).

    1. Montanamaven

      Over at Firedoglake, a commenter made a comment I wholeheartedly agree with. “Progressive” is a DLC term. It was hatched by their PR machine. It is long past time that people put away their faith in the “progressive” caucus and make new coalitions. Conservatives who think that the government is out of control and should be downsized are partially right. The Congress passes laws which creates jobs for their cronies. They give tax “benefits” to health care companies so they can continue to make us pay through the nose. The charter school movement is about privatizing education and making money for banks and hedge funds (See Juan Gonzalez on how they do it http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/7/juan_gonzalez_big_banks_making_a ); like “No Child Left Behind” was a scam for the educational testing business.
      Republicans spend their money at the local and state level while Democrats send their money to national non profits and “progressive” lobbying groups and magazines. Stupid. See John Stauber “The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats” http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/15/the-progressive-movement-is-a-pr-front-for-rich-democrats/
      If they shock doctrine to the point of beginning to dismantle SS, then this should be the Democratic Party’s Whig moment.

      1. Nathanael

        That’s simply not true. The Progressive Caucus predates the DLC by, I believe, 30 years.

        Here are some free clues:

        - The main problem with the Progressive Caucus is that it has, IIRC, precisely one member in the Senate.

        Basically no Senators are progressive, none at all. Obama was a Senator and he wasn’t a member of the Progressive Caucus — should have been a clue.

        - The second problem is that it has never had a majority in the House. The “balance of power” has always been held by corporatist “centrists”.

        1. Nathanael

          The third problem is that the Progressive Caucus has rarely had the willingness to take its ball and go home — to just break the government. This is the trouble with having the sort of people who want to improve things — lack of willingness to burn bridges and scorch earth.

          We need people who think like General Sherman, and we haven’t got many.

        2. Montanamaven

          Yes, to be correct the “Progressives” have been around since the early 1900s and Sam Smith’s “Progressive Review” has been around since 1964, I believe. And the “Progressive Caucus” been around, as you say, a long time. I think what the commenter at the Lake meant was that the DLC Third Way types pushed to use the term “progressive” instead of “liberal”. Now it’s all a meaningless mishmosh.
          I’m no historian but my impression of the early progressives on down to present day ones is that they are basically reformers of the status quo i.e. capitalist system. They did not ally themselves with the Wobblies or Socialists. They are not radicals in any sense. But most Democrats are not asking for them to be radicals. Now Dems are begging them to just stay the course. So what is their excuse for not at least maintaining the status quo of the social safety nets?
          Because, as you point out, it is not in their nature to be anything but the well behaved kids on the playground.

    2. Bill Smith

      Monica Lewinsky could become a national hero, and go down in history being as revered as FDR, JFK, or Martin Luther King for advancing the liberal cause.

      I say go for it Monica.

      It may be our best hope. Organization is everything in politics. But what group represents the 99% whom will really be dependent on SS and Medicare? Not the two political parties. The tea party is described as the “art of getting chickens to vote for Colonel Sanders” and is seems to be led at grassroots level by “small” bidnessmen whom are against paying payroll taxes, and tell their underpaid employees that the gubmint shouldn’t take FICA out of their paychecks, and it’s all a scam anyway because it has something to do with accounting.

      Then there is AARP scaming old people.

      The way things are going, soon 80% of retiring people will realize they will need to retire in Mexico. But Mexico just raised the bar for who they will give retirement visas to – you need at least $150K net worth to be approved to live in Mexico. I doubt if half the country even qualifies!

      1. Zachary Smith

        *** Monica Lewinsky could become a national hero, and go down in history being as revered as FDR, JFK, or Martin Luther King for advancing the liberal cause. ***

        I was thinking much the same thing earlier this morning. Yank BHO’s Nobel prize, and give Monica some kind of equivalent award or honor.

  6. Bruce Krasting

    Yves is shocked and outraged. I ask her what is the “Yves Plan”?

    Yes, the change in CPI would reduce benefits over a decade. The amounts are big. The chained CPI will save SS a whopping $340b from 2014-2023.

    But Yves, SS will still spend $11 Trillion in that period. It will suck the life out of the US economy. The chained CPI is a drop in the bucket compared to what is going out the door.

    Does Yves not understand the current law? In 18 years SS benefits will be cut by 25-30% across the board. Does Yves want to collect her checks, and then let the next generation take the fall? Where’s the fairness in that outcome?

    1. Dan Crawford

      Oh good grief
      …it is my impression Yves won’t collect her checks until after the projected reductions….assuming she is even in the system.

      For SS, of course, fixes such as the Virginia plan or the Northwesr plan can be gradual and allow workers to fund their own retirements.

      For other parts such as SSI and even SSDI, considerations can be made.

      1. Bruce Krasting

        If Obama will not support a tax increase for SS, then no one will. Take the whole idea of tax increases off the table. That will not be considered. The Norwest Plan has been D.O.A. for years. Give it up already.

        1. from Mexico

          Bruce Krasting says:

          If Obama will not support a tax increase for SS, then no one will.

          Let us count the rhetorical fallacies here:

          1) Appael to Common Practice

          Claiming something is true because it’s commonly practiced.

          2) Appeal to Ignorance.

          A claim is true simply because it has not been proven false.

          3) Appeal to Probability

          Assuming because something could happen, it will inevitably happen.

          4) Appeal to Tradition

          Claiming something is true because it’s (apparently) always been that way.

          5) Appeal to Wishful Thinking

          Suggesting a claim is true or false just because you strongly hope it is.

          6) Composition

          Assuming that characteristics or beliefs of some or all of a group applies to the entire group

          7) Hasty Generalization

          Drawing a general conclusion from a tiny sample.

          8) Jumping to Conclusions

          Drawing a quick conclusion without fairly considering relevant (and easily available) evidence.

          10) Perfectionist Fallacy

          Assuming that the only option on the table is perfect success, then rejecting anything that will not work perfectly.

          11) Begging the Question

          Making a claim while leaving out one or more major contributing factors that may affect the conclusion.

          12) Biased Generalizing

          Generalizing from an unrepresentative sample to increase the strength of your argument.

          13) Confirmation Bias

          Cherry-picking evidence that supports your idea while ignoring contradicting evidence.

          14) Suppressed Evidence

          Intentionally failing to use significant and relevant information which counts against one’s own conclusion.

          15) Spotlight

          Assuming an observation from a small sample size applies to an entire group.

          16) Sweeping Generalization

          Applying a gerneal rule too broadly.

          17) Circular Logic

          A conclusion is derived from a premise based on the conclusion.

          18) Unfalsifiability

          Offering a claim that cannot be proven false, because there is no way to check if it is false or not. In Krasting’s case, offering a prediction of some future event, which of course no one can disprove because no one has a crystal ball.

          1. Bruce Krasting

            Interesting list. I see it an an appeal to reality.

            Is there a tax increase for SS in Obama’s budget? No. Is there one in the House Republican Budget? No. Is there one in the Senate Democratic budget? No. Are guys like Krugman and Dean Baker calling for an increase in payroll taxes? No! Who forced the increase in the payroll tax back to 6.2%? Harry Reid!!!!

            I said there was no support for a payroll tax increase. I stand by that. In fact, there are calls to cut payroll taxes:

            http://www.businessinsider.com/its-time-to-cut-the-payroll-tax-2013-4

          2. from Mexico

            Bruce Krasting says:

            I said there was no support for a payroll tax increase. I stand by that.

            Who said anything about a payroll tax increase? I think what most Americans have in mind is increased taxes on corporations, whose share of paying the cost of running government has slowly dwindled away to almost nothing, the burden having been shifted off of corporations and onto workers. This graphy illustrates perfectly what has happened:

            http://static5.businessinsider.com/image/4cfa462249e2ae9328270000-910-655/federal-tax-receipts-by-source-percent-of-gdp.png

            When I was born corporations through their corporate income taxes picked up 33% of the federal tax bill, and workers through employment taxes 10%. By 2009, corporate income taxes had dropped from 33% to only 5% of federal receipts, whereas employment taxes had increased from 10% to 41% of total federal government receipts.

            And you leave no doubt as to whose corner you’re in. It sure ain’t the rank and file. In fact, you have exiled anyone who isn’t in your select little circle to obscurity. They are so inconsequential and unimportant to you that you have condemned them to invisibility. Their opinions simply don’t count to the grandees like you:

            A wide range of polls have consistently shown that the American public strongly supports Social Security, across party and demographic lines. For instance, a poll sponsored by NASI and the Rockefeller Foundation found that nearly nine in ten Americans (88%) say Social Security is more important than ever as a result of today’s economic crisis. Three-quarters of Americans say it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it means that working Americans have to pay higher taxes to do so.

            http://www.nasi.org/learn/social-security/public-opinions-social-security

          3. Massinissa

            Mexico, I dont even understand why you try and bother communicating with this fellow, but I suppose I should thank you for trying.

          4. Doug Terpstra

            Why not remove the regressive tax cap entirely and lowering overall rates?. This would increase revenue dramatically and fairly without impacting demand/consumption one iota.

            Obama campaigned on raising the cap; as he campaigned against healthcare mandates; as he campaigned on closing Gitmo; renegotiating SHAFTA; ending torture; on restoring the rule of law, etc. This post exposes Obama’s incorrigible duplicity yet again.

        2. cwaltz

          Actually the House and Senate both have bills that would get rid of the cap on Social Security income being taxed which is an increase. That plan makes Social Security sustainable until 2083- according to a July 2010 CBO report.

          Apparently the President wants to inflict pain instead of asking gajillionaires to contribute more.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) put forward a reform package that goes in the opposite direction, while still financially securing the program’s trust fund for roughly the next seven decades. The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews laid out the details:

            The Begich bill would lift the current payroll tax cap, which exempts wages in excess of a certain amount ($110,100 this year) from the tax. In turn, it would give high earners, who would pay more, additional benefits upon retirement, just as benefits increase as wages do for workers below the cap. […]

            It also increases benefits across-the-board. While Bowles-Simpson and Domenici-Rivlin adopt a stingier “chained CPI” measure for inflation, Begich adopts “CPI-E,” or a measure that specifically captures inflation in goods that seniors buy.

            Due to deteriorated health and other considerations, goods seniors buy tend to be more expensive than those younger people purchase. Begich’s CPI-E change would mean, effectively, a 4.5 percent benefit increase for the program’s beneficiaries, including not just seniors but their designated survivors and disabled Americans as well.

            http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/11/16/1208701/democratic-senator-introduces-bill-to-lift-social-securitys-tax-cap-extend-its-solvency-for-decades/?mobile=nc

        3. Dan Crawford

          Ah well Bruce K,

          These are not policy issues you throw at people, but moments in political intrigue. NASI has proposed a lot of possible approaches, one of which included minor fixes to payroll taxes over a long period of time. Your histrionics on your own site and zerohedge make for political drama I suppose, but hardly good policy.

    2. TK421

      How in the hell does Social Security suck life out of the economy??? The people who get Social security payments spend them; it’s one of the few economic stimuli we have left.

      And if “cut it now or cut it later” are the only two plans you can think up, your imagination is crippled.

      1. AbyNormal

        KRASTINGS ‘imagination’ IS agenda driven

        http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/whos-to-blame-2/
        In Lynnley Browning’s article today on the deadline for tax cheats who hid overseas income to turn themselves in or face possible prosecution if the I.R.S. catches them — a decision brought about because UBS gave some names of its cheating customers to the government — Bruce Krasting, a former Wall Street trader, explained why he chose to turn himself in:

        “I knew I was walking into a buzz saw that was going to cost me and my family half a million dollars, and that it was triggered by UBS.”

        Perhaps Mr. Krasting might want to blame himself for cheating in the first place.

        (why he’s opposed to raising the cap on social security…right now, all income over ~ $103,000 is not taxed…if they raise the cap, that’s a 6.2% tax increase on the rich, and another 6.2% increase on the wall street firms that cut their paychecks…)

        1. Bruce Krasting

          A few facts:

          In 2009 I was a confidential informant for the NYT. I spoke with Browning on numerous occasions, I have a dozen emails. I was responsible for several NYT articles. One was a front page story.

          I provided information to the NYT on what happens when someone has an unreported account in a Swiss bank. There are emails on this that make it clear that I was providing this information on a no-names basis.

          Did I have a black account? Was I a target of the DOJ? No, not at all.

          As Browning indicates, this was a “family” matter. The reason it was worded like this was that I provide her information about my mother, not me. And I wanted her promise that financial issues regarding a family member would remain confidential.

          For the record. My mother is is 94. She is a dual Swiss/USA citizen. She lived in Switzerland. My father was a Swiss citizen as well. He died in 1989 and had a Swiss account. The account was not reported, it was a mistake. This type of thing is not uncommon. The account value was less than $200k.

          This is a problem, not a crime. I made sure the old account was disclosed, the back taxes paid. Untimately, the IRS applied no penalty. They don’t do that unless there is no underlying intent, and the amounts and circumstances are benign.

          Now let me be clear. Lynnley Browning is a liar. She lied to me. She lied to NYTs readers. She did this to make a story. She used me as a confidential informant, then she distorted the facts and threw me under a bus.

          My mother will die soon. When she does, I will provide the details on this. Save your judgement for a bit longer.
          Bruce Krasting

    3. nonclassical

      bk hasn’t been around long enough to comprehend $80 billion per month FED $ub$idie$ to Wall $treet, QE3, (but wants to talk “fiscal sanity”) to buy-back phony “toxic assets”-”mortgage BACKED securities” created by Wall $treet FRAUDSTERS, nearly entirely between 2001-2007;…..really, really, uninformed, bk…

      know what a “mortgage BACKED security” IS, bk??

    4. from Mexico

      • Bruce Krasting says:

      Yves is shocked and outraged. I ask her what is the “Yves Plan”?

      RHETORICAL FALLACY: Perfectionist Fallacy

      Assuming that the only option on the table is perfect success, then rejecting anything that will not work perfectly.

      • Bruce Krasting says:

      But Yves, SS will still spend $11 Trillion in that period. It will suck the life out of the US economy.

      RHETORICAL FALLACY: Circular Logic

      A conslusion is derived from a premise based on the conclusion.

      • Bruce Krasting says:

      Does Yves not understand the current law? In 18 years SS benefits will be cut by 25-30% across the board. Does Yves want to collect her checks, and then let the next generation take the fall? Where’s the fairness in that outcome?

      RHETORICAL FALLACIES:

      1) Appeal to Tradition

      Claiming something is true because it’s (apparently) always been that way.

      [Laws can be changed, and in ways that undoubtedly be would be anathema to Krasting. All it takes is the moral and political will to do so.]

      2) Appeal to Wishful Thinking

      Suggesting a claim is true or false just because you strongly hope it is.

      3) False Dilemma

      Presenting two opposing options as the only two options while hiding alternatives.

      1. nonclassical

        mejico,

        here’s David Stockman’s proposal-Reagan’s budget director-sounds much like what myself and others here have been stating over 5 years:

        “All this would require drastic deflation of the realm of politics and the abolition of incumbency itself, because the machinery of the state and the machinery of re-election have become conterminous. Prying them apart would entail sweeping constitutional surgery: amendments to give the president and members of Congress a single six-year term, with no re-election; providing 100 PERCENT PUBLIC FINANCING FOR CANDIDATES; strictly limiting the duration of campaigns (say, to eight weeks); and PROHIBITING FOR LIFE, LOBBYING BY ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN ON A LEGISLATIVE OR EXECUTIVE PAYROLL. It would also require OVERTURNING CITIZENS UNITED and mandating that Congress pass a balanced budget, or face an automatic sequester of spending.

        It would also require PURGING THE CORROSIVE FINANCIALIZATION THAT HAS TURNED THE ECONOMY INTO A GIANT CASINO (“HOT MONEY”-NAYLOR). This would mean putting the great WALL $TREET BANKS OUT IN THE COLD TO COMPETE as at-risk free enterprises, WITHOUT ACCESS TO CHEAP FED “LOANS” or deposit insurance. Banks would be able to take deposits and make commercial loans, but be banned from trading, underwriting and money management in all its forms.

        It would require, finally, benching the Fed’s central planners, and restoring the central bank’s original mission: to provide liquidity in times of crisis but never to buy government debt or try to micromanage the economy. Getting the Fed out of the financial markets is the only way to put free markets and genuine wealth creation back into capitalism.”

        1. different clue

          I heard Stockman on a radio interview. He said he also wants to cut Social Security and Medicare and Means-Test Social Security at least. He also wants to abolish the Income Tax and replace it with sales and consumption taxes of some sort, perhaps a National Consumption Tax. I can’t remember what else he wanted.
          He apparently agrees with Obama on Social Security. Wanting to pay down the National Debt and abolish the Income Tax at the same time sounds internally conflicted and incoherent policy-wise. A consumption tax is also completely regressive, the way rich people like it.
          Stockman sounded to me somewhat like a semi-Libertarian Republican. But he also sounded sincere and believing in what he said. And when so many public figures radiate deceit and dissimulation, a Stockman can attract a following just for sounding honest.

        2. the idiot

          Well according to this OpEd in the New York Times, American politicians aren’t corrupt. One, because the DOJ says they aren’t, and if they DOJ has showed us anything it’s their willingness to pursue and prosecute powerful elites.

          Also, this wise opinion-haver (and author of the book entitled “In Defense of Politicians”–maybe I wandered into the satire section of the Times and didn’t realize it) thinks that one reason our politicians are so pure and without blemish is because the scrutiny they receive on the campaign trail usually weeds out the bad ones.

          But he dismisses the premise that the politicians are so good and wonderful because they are rich.

          I’m pretty sure the New York Times is just trolling their readers with this garbage. And I’m also sure that the Times has neither the will nor the stomach to investigate actual corruption among our ruling elites anymore.

          http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/04/03/are-rich-politicians-less-corruptible/there-is-very-little-corruption-in-us-politics

    5. Zachary Smith

      *** But Yves, SS will still spend $11 Trillion in that period. It will suck the life out of the US economy. The chained CPI is a drop in the bucket compared to what is going out the door. ***

      Baloney.

      The SS bond money will properly come out of the taxes of the Top .1%, for their tax breaks starting in the Reagan years were funded by the increased of Social Security taxes everybody started paying for the Boomers.

      The drive to castrate SS isn’t entirely due to the filthy rich wanting SS money invested in Wall Street. There is also the self-interest factor of never paying back their bills now that they’re coming due with the Boomers starting to retire.

    6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      It will suck the life out of the U.S. economy.”

      What? Social Security money gets spent, and has a better multiplier effect than say, our spending wars (which goes more directly into the pockets of rich people).

      You’re simply reciting Pete Peterson propaganda: “We need to cut Social Security now, so we don’t have to cut it decades from now”.

      How about learning something for a change, Bruce?

      http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-09-17/social-security-cuts-broke/57801378/1

      Strengthen Social Security now, not by cutting benefits, but by increasing them.
      ~

    7. Tommy Strange

      suck the life? Bastard. I’ve paid into that for 30 years, with a PROMISE from your goddamn gov’t. Your wars, your bailouts of the scum, and now you are going to break that promise? Cheer when the national guard shoots us down in the cities, and cheer, you will be on the side of the butchers.
      This is just one more tipping point. Us socialists and anarchists say thank you democrats. Problem is. ….we didn’t do the deep organization for the past 20 years we should have. Occupy tried to spark it. It may be too late.
      But I’ll die fighting anyway. Sick of my latino neighbors getting deported too.
      sick of that. Sick of seeing crazy people die on the street. Sick of cops everywhere. Sick of your fucked up govt. And your mass murder.

  7. Ep3

    Yves, the first times commenter says Obama is throwing boomers under the bus. I don’t think so. All plans to gut entitlements have always made a political point of saying ‘anyone 55 or older will be spared the changes’. Thats a divide and conquer move. Obama has already convinced younger ppl that entitlements won’t be there for them. So if young ppl don’t care, and boomers forget that generational contract so save themselves because ’401ks and private savings will always be better than a job’s pension, which are disappearing anyway’, that reduces the number of persons who will object to changes.
    Obama is not a liberals friend.

      1. traveler

        Divide and conquer strategy can still be effective because this con is what’s out there. The MSM is not going to clear up the *con*fusion.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        This is an crucial point – that chained CPI hits current and future retirees and that it becomes severe for all over time – and I think we will see confusion on it purposefully manipulated by the media and others.

        Those who think this is simply the best solution available amongst a limited bunch of bad to worse alternatives do not understand that this is simply an initial salvo. The big plan is to weaken SS and Medicare over time until it will be politically feasible to privatize them all together. Inch by inch it’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s hard.

      3. reslez

        It’s called 11 dimensional chess for a reason. Divide and conquer isn’t on the table now. It will be. This is Obama’s fallback position. We already know this, because they’ve told us over and over again they intend to preserve benefits for the 55+ which will split the constituency for SS. We don’t see it right now; it’s a negotiation tactic. Just like the “public option” was. Just like the “lower the Medicare age to 55″ trial balloon got the progressives to drop their objections to Obamacare, who then got kicked in the groin for their gullibility.

    1. Dan Crawford

      More information on the 401k fiasco is emerging mainstream and might get noticed. Worked for some of course, but the record is not good as a public policy.

      1. from Mexico

        Yep.

        I think the GFC gave people a little taste as to what those 401(k)s are all about. With private financiers being the counterparties, they can go up in smoke overnight — no guarantees you can hang your hat on there.

        Just about everybody I run into in my daily life wants at least one leg of their retirement to be totally secure, guaranteed by the most reliable counterpart in the world: the United States government.

        And if the US government goes belly up, I think retirement funding will be the least of our problems.

    2. profoundlogic

      Conned, misinformed, or simply unwilling to face the facts. Obama is a smoke and mirrors illusion of a progressive democrat. His willingness to sell out his core base of supporters is matched only by his apparent approval of elite white-collar crimes and fraud feeding the economic “recovery”.

      1. nonclassical

        ..the guy who couldn’t confront repubLIEcons in Wisconsin-stand WITH constituent protests, complains instead about “the professional left”…
        he forgot EDUCATED “professional left”…who are not bushit followers…

    3. petridish

      Obama also convinced voters that he’d close Guantanamo, didn’t support a mandate to buy health insurance and NAFTA should be renegotiated.

      How anyone believes anything that comes out of this guy’s mouth is beyond me.

        1. Nathanael

          Meet President Taylor. He’s different from President Polk, really! (Well, in that case he was less of a warmonger.)

          Meet President Pierce. He’s different from President Taylors and Fillmore, really! (But the policies are exactly the same…)

          Meet President Buchanan. He’s different from President Pierce, really! (But the policies are exactly the same….)

          This has happened before. Eventually people will elect someone who’s *actually* different (like Lincoln). The longer it takes, the more civil unrest there will be in the meantime.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Nathanael, that’s a great comment. We might also note that Lincoln’s election was a sign of a change in the constitutional order. That is what it will take….

  8. Moneta

    At the end of the day, what your pension check can buy depends on what the working population can produce.

    1. from Mexico

      Yes, but you’re omitting one very important part of the equation, and that is that what the working population produces depends on what the pension checks and pay checks allow people to buy.

      Without demand, where’s the impetus to produce?

      1. Moneta

        Using 1 hour of my time I could give a massage to someone who has no money with no expectation of anything in return or I can give the same massage to someone who can pay me back with a haircut.

        The ones who work should have a say in how others get to consume the fruit of their labor.

        1. from Mexico

          So what are you saying, that only those who are currently working should be allowed to vote? Pensioners and the unemployed should not be allowed to vote?

          1. Moneta

            In an ideal world, we would have made sure that we had a population pyramid that looked like a pyramid. Unfortunately we have a bulge.

            We know that the dependency ratio peaked at 5 workers per retiree and will be dropping below 3. So, unless there is some kind of technological miracle, the young will get sandwiched like we have not seen in a long time.

            They can print all the dollars they want to pay SS but I don’t believe it will be the panacea. Too many people don’t want to wrok. I believe it will only extend the great financial mismanagement.

            I believe in democracy but with population imbalances we can end up killing the goose.

          2. Calgacus

            Aaargh. Moneta – why not really listen to From Mexico? Why not look at my last reply on this to you, which I am too tired to dig up?

            The “demographic” argument you are making, that is a Big Lie heard everywhere – is one that might sound right – but not if you think about it carefully and slowly. It makes real demographers laugh. Really. It’s a joke. So dependency ratios are rising. So what? So what? So what? Think back to when those ratios were as big – even bigger than they will be now. Was it a bad time? Or was it a time of unparalleled shared prosperity? Aren’t we more prosperous now in toto, although less well shared? How could there be a real problem now?

            The ones who work should have a say in how others get to consume the fruit of their labor. As should the ones who had worked, whose past labor makes the labor of “the ones who work” so fruitful, and thus so easy to provide for those who had worked. Particularly because the dependency ratio back then was so low, before it got higher again, though that is hardly necessary.

    2. jrs

      What if most of what the working populace can produce goes to the 1%? Via profits, via rents, etc.. Yes what can be produced is an absolute limit but no it’s not just all about what the working populace can produce at all, it’s about how it’s distributed.

    3. reslez

      So if 10-20% of the population is unemployed, shunted off to disability, or working 20 hours a week minimum wage, do you think that might put a crimp in our ability to produce goods and services?

  9. Brindle

    Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy are just another version of “free prekindergarten education”, a bright-shiny object meant to distract from his pain inflicting CPI.

    Dean Baker has an excellent graph along with his take:

    —”This cut would be a bigger hit to the typical retiree’s income than President Obama’s tax increases at the end of 2012 were to the typical person affected. A couple earning $500,000 a year would pay an additional 4.6 percentage points on income above $450,000. This would amount to $2,300 a year (4.6 percent of $50,000).

    That is less than 0.5 percent of their pre-tax income and around a 0.6 percent reduction in their after-tax income.”—

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/beat-the-press/

  10. RG

    What the government giveth, the government can taketh away. Maybe people shouldn’t have relied on government for their diginity?

    1. dolleymadison

      Uh, maybe the government shouldn’t steal 15 and half percent of my “dignity” for 40 years with the promise I would be repaid and then say OOPS – we LIED – you are not getting it and the amount your parents get is goign to be so diminished you’ll have to support them too! Yeah I am such a blood sucking leech.

      1. from Mexico

        THANK YOU dolleymadison!

        petridish made a comment similar to yours the other day and oddly enough, it wasn’t the avowed enemies of Social Security –the RGs, Bruce Krastings, Jim Haygoods and JGordon’s of the world — that attacked him or her, but the MMTers.

        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/04/like-nixon-to-china-it-takes-a-democrat-to-put-the-first-knife-in-social-security.html#comment-1181839

        Words like “LIED” deal with morality. And as Susan Neiman notes, science deals with the way the world is, whereas morality deals with the way the world should be. “We confuse them at our peril,” Neiman warns.

        http://www.einsteinforum.de/index.php?id=436

        And the MMTers do a good job of confusing the two. They do a great job of describing what is, and in this they sing from the same playbook as the avowed enemies of Social Security:

        But like all federal entitlement programs, Congress can change the rules regarding eligibility–and it has done so many times over the years. The rules can be made more generous, or they can be made more restrictive. Benefits which are granted at one time can be withdrawn, as for example with student benefits, which were substantially scaled-back in the 1983 Amendments.

        There has been a temptation throughout the program’s history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. That is to say, if a person makes FICA contributions over a number of years, Congress cannot, according to this reasoning, change the rules in such a way that deprives a contributor of a promised future benefit. Under this reasoning, benefits under Social Security could probably only be increased, never decreased, if the Act could be amended at all. Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law. Section 1104 of the 1935 Act, entitled “RESERVATION OF POWER,” specifically said: “The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to the Congress.” Even so, some have thought that this reservation was in some way unconstitutional. This is the issue finally settled by Flemming v. Nestor.

        In this 1960 Supreme Court decision Nestor’s denial of benefits was upheld even though he had contributed to the program for 19 years and was already receiving benefits. Under a 1954 law, Social Security benefits were denied to persons deported for, among other things, having been a member of the Communist party. Accordingly, Mr. Nestor’s benefits were terminated. He appealed the termination arguing, among other claims, that promised Social Security benefits were a contract and that Congress could not renege on that contract. In its ruling, the Court rejected this argument and established the principle that entitlement to Social Security benefits is not contractual right.

        http://www.ssa.gov/history/nestor.html

        Notice how the entire argument is based on legalisms: what the law is, and not what the law should be. Notice also how the moral dimension — the things you speak of like “promises” and “LIES” — are completely missing. There’s none of that, because morality and ethics don’t even enter the picture. The bottom line? All of the following is nothing but a smoke screen, a massive scam perpetrated by the ruling class to dupe the little people:

        The framework and many of the details of trust fund investment policy are established in law. Policies enacted in 1935 and still in effect today provide that:

        • The Managing Trustee is responsible for the investment of all available trust fund assets. The Secretary of the Treasury is the Managing Trustee and, as such, is solely responsible for the investment of trust fund assets. The Managing Trustee must invest that portion of the assets of the trust funds that is not, in his judgment, required to meet current withdrawals.

        • Trust fund assets may be invested only in obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government. The assets of the trust funds must be invested in obligations of the United States government or in obligations guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States. These obligations may be acquired (1) on original issue at the issue price, or (2) by purchase of outstanding obligations at the market price.

        http://www.ssa.gov/oact/NOTES/note142.html

        I find it unfathomable that the MMTers, if they are the advocates of the little people as they claim to be, would so critically buy into the bait and switch. And this is especially so in lieu of the fact that the great theft doesn’t have to stand, unless we give into the perverse and immoral logic of the enemies of Social Security. As Neiman points out: “Those whose only reality is what we experience leave no room for experience to be changed by ideals of justice and progress that challenge the authority of experience itself.”

        Albert Einstein, Neiman continues, “argued that the judgment at Nürnberg confirmed what he held to be self evident: where the law is immoral we have the duty to follow our conscience instead.”

        I think the MMTers, not to mention the avowed enemies of Social Security, could learn a thing or two from Einstein.

        1. Bill Smith

          IMO, if someone tasked The Heritage Foundation to come up with an “Economic Theory” which would be useful intellectual cover for the 1% and neo-liberalism, Heritage couldn’t have done better than to come up with MMT.

          Especially the part about how you don’t need taxes for anything, except if you might need to control inflation someday. HaHa. Just try and get it then! And from who?

          And they seem to assume the USG will be able to roll over ever increasing debt, forever. Or maybe the Fed just buys it forever, and no inflation possible there.

          1. Bill Smith

            I said “if” – hypothetical

            I don’t have any evidence that Heritage is funding MMTers.

            My only observation is that MMTers seem to have outdone anything Heritage could have come up with on their own.

          2. reslez

            HaHa. Just try and get it then! And from who?

            We certainly have no shortage of self-flagellants falling over themselves to raise taxes and cut benefits during a 5 year long recession. So empirically at least your argument fails.

        2. LifelongLib

          MMTers recognize that the government can pay any amount to anyone at any time. It is you and others like you (who think that government spending depends on taxes/trust funds) who are shackling the ability to pay for e.g. SS to some imaginary limits.

    2. mkpwin

      What an electorlate givith and electorate and take away. Representative government doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

      1. mkpwin

        Sorry, let’s try that again:

        What the electorate giveth, the electorate can taketh away… and so on ;)

    3. nonclassical

      maybe anti-government repubLIEcons should listen to David Stockman-Reagan’s budget director:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opi

      State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

      “Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock market’s last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid.

      Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later — within a few years, I predict — this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.

      Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold.

      By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.

      This explosion of borrowing was the stepchild of the floating-money contraption deposited in the Nixon White House by Milton Friedman, the supposed hero of free-market economics who in fact sowed the seed for a never-ending expansion of the money supply. The Fed, which celebrates its centenary this year, fueled a roaring inflation in goods and commodities during the 1970s that was brought under control only by the iron resolve of Paul A. Volcker, its chairman from 1979 to 1987.

      The destruction of fiscal rectitude under Ronald Reagan — one reason I resigned as his budget chief in 1985 — was the greatest of his many dramatic acts. It created a template for the Republicans’ utter abandonment of the balanced-budget policies of Calvin Coolidge and allowed George W. Bush to dive into the deep end, bankrupting the nation through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy. In effect, the G.O.P. embraced Keynesianism — for the wealthy.”

    4. Lambert Strether

      First, doesn’t premature death seem like a disproportionate penalty for not conforming to your ideological predelictions?

      Second, I think people should be able to rely on government for their dignity, both individually and collectively. What good is government if they can’t?

    5. jrs

      The likely promise it at the time to avoid a full scale revolution. We should have had the revolution.

  11. Eric Patton

    This fight is going to be more of an uphill battle and the normally complacent public is unlikely to sit by quietly and have their ox gored.

    Does anyone remember how and why Social Security was won in the first place?

    If a sports team has a winning streak, followed by a losing streak, what does the coach do?

  12. down2long

    I have been pondering the Obama power matrix for the last few days. It has become clear to me that after the first four years where he never once applied his shoulder to the stone to move anything he supposedly cared about, he has diminished and debased the inherent power of the presidency, and thus his power.

    In Washington, in business, anywhere, you have to use and demonstrate your implied power or it will lose its potenncy.

    The Rethugs know this man is not genuinely interested in anything but golf and basketball layups with sports celebrities. He has no guiding light. And so, after 4 years of doing the bankster’s bidding with all his staff at the SEC, DOJ, OCC, etc. and his keyfabe (Yves, you and Lambert made me go look that up!) we now have a president with NO POWER going through the motions.This is evididenced by his half-hearted attempts at gun control, something he almost DID care about right after Newtown.

    His supporters (by this I mean the banks) really should have insisted he stand for something, anything, and demonstrate his personal willingness to get behind it Something other than hiring the ususal suspects and talking a good line and not producing (viz housing, jobs.) He never did, and now he is irrelevant. He accelerated his lame duck status by absolutely squandering his post election spike – on what?

    Cutting the white house tours (oh, those optics were awwwful! while he jets around raising money and giving speeches about “public-private” infrastructure spending.)

    I think the tell is in the LGBT quantam leaps under Obama. He is always telling everyone to “push their politicians, call your congressmen.” The LGBT did that masterfully with Obama, not ever sure he cared one way or the other. No future money in it for him.I worry people will be hating on LGBT because they seem to be the only people better off after Obomba disasterous theatrical run. The theatre is getting pretty empty.

    As a former actor and a current (chastened) business person I think the old adage “He auditions and interviews well, he just can’t do the job.” It is in the California Employment Development Dept.(unemployment compensation code) that someone who is fired for incompetence can collect unemploynment insurace, because “Incompetance is not the fault of employee.” Which is to say, you (we) shouldn’t have hired him the first place.

    We made a big mistake hiring this guy the first time, the second time we wuz “dragged back in.”

    Obomba does not play eleven dimensional chess. He plays golf. Alot. With rich guys. This is not complicated to assess.

    1. dolleymadison

      Any strides the LGBT community has made have been IN SPITE OF Obama – his much-heralded “coming out” for Gay rights was timed to take place AFTER the vote on Amemendmant One (prohibiting gay marriage and limiting their rights in other ways) in North Carolina – which was passed with the help of the states large evangelical black voter base. You are right – he has no guiding light other than to continue to live the good life. As Dan points out below, he is a COWARD.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Obama may be a coward, but gays are narcissistic bullies. Watch the backlash when the Supremes are too timid to give them everything they want.

        Or watch the backlash to this short note.

        1. from Mexico

          • Dave of Maryland says:

          …gays are narcissistic bullies.

          This is a form of argumentation that gays, as well as any despised minority, frequently fall victim to.

          The chant that used to be uttered ad nauseaum by the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Paul Cameron and James Dobson is that “gays are pedophiles.”

          Never mind that the incidence of pedophilia amongst gay men is exactly the same as it is amongst straight men, or that most of the victims of child sexual abuse haven’t even reached puberty yet, so don’t manifest male physical traits.

          Dave of Maryland is making the same faulty deductions that the founders of the anti-gay industry did:

          1) Assuming that characteristics or beliefs of some or all part of a group applies to the entire group.

          2) Gerneralizing from an unrepresentative sample to increase the strength of your argument.

          3) Cherry-picking evidence that supports your idea while ignoring contradicting evidence.

          4) Intentionally failing to use significant and relevant information which counts against one’s own conclusion.

          5) Assuming an observation from a small sample size applies to an entire group.

          6) Applying a general rule too broadly.

          7) Assuming there’s only one explanation for the observaton you’re making.

          • Dave of Maryland says:

          Or watch the backlash to this short note.

          So anyone who calls you out on your prejudice, irrational bias, and highly defective logic and rhethoric is a “narcissistic bully?”

          Again, this comes right straight out of the anti-gay industry’s playbook. Just google gay bullies/bullying to get an idea of what that industry looks like.

        2. Strangely Enough

          “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

          Narcisstic bullying? Really?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        It wasn’t timed as much as Biden, not Obama or his campaign staff, was worried that OFA’s failure to oppose Ammendment 1 would bite him in the ass. Obama did not want to give a speech at Bank of America Stadium after screwing over single mothers, gays, and anyone who gives a damn while being an offspring of an interracial marriage. The optics wouldn’t go over well.

        Biden threw down a gauntlet, and at that point, there is no way Obama could walk back Biden’s statement. They did claim Biden screwed up the timing, but Obama didn’t give a shit.

    2. Anonymous

      There is no such thing as eleven dimensional chess. This is truly the Age of Delusion. The propagandists credited an empty suit (at best)or a traitor (at worst) with talent for a board game which does not exist. I appreciate your comment: he plays golf, a lot, with rich guys. That is real.

    3. Dave of Maryland

      The problem with inept leaders, imposed for fixed terms, is that they will mess up badly and then, in the subsequent election, loudly proclaim, “It would be so much worse if it had not been for me.” It’s an unfair comparison, but in 1944, Adolf Hitler could make exactly that claim.

    4. OIFVet

      I have been thinking about that as well. It’s great for the LGBT community, and I have many gay friends, but other then them the only people better off today are the banksters. I don’t think that the public will hate on LGBT, the progress being made is only possible due to the huge shift in the public’s attitude toward LGBT issues. Then again the public opinion is overwhelmingly against any cuts in social insurance so the contrast in Obama’s actions on the two issues really highlights who’s puppet he is. What infuriates me is that so-called ‘progressives’ take this long overdue progress and use it in their pro-Obama propaganda pieces to completely divert attention away from his sellout of the middle class and the elderly. Its the reason why I refuse to call myself a progressive anymore. I don’t know if its his plan or that of the puppet masters, but its working very well.

      1. traveler

        LGBT issues, gun control issues – just diversionary tactics the oligarchy could care less about. Also O has a time slot to fill.

        1. Nathanael

          Obama has not lifted a finger to control guns.

          Obama also did his damnedest to do absolutely nothing for gay rights. Only after enough people had chained themselves to the White House fence did he finally, grudgingly say, “OK, fine, I will stop expelling qualified people from the military simply for admitting that they’re gay. In six months.”

      2. from Mexico

        @ OIFVet

        As a gay person, I too have voiced concerns that much of the leadership of the major GLBT organizations these days is into little more than very narrow, special-interest lobbying and advocacy.

        That said, however, I would encourage everyone concerned with this subject to read Martin Luther King’s address to the AFL-CIO Fourth Consitutional Convention on December 11, 1961. Here are some excerpts:

        Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community… That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth…

        I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions.

        This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves along but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality — that is the dream.

        1. OIFVet

          I always liked that passage from Dr. King. I think I may have been a bit unclear. My issue is not with any LGBT groups, whether their advocacy is too narrow or not. They have the obligation to be zealous advocates on behalf of the LGBT community, and I fully support them. I am a minority myself (naturalized citizen) so I will never even dream of standing against equal rights of citizenship for any minority group. By “so-called progressives” I meant certain news network and the majority of its talking heads, certain print outlets, and certain blogs and talk radio hosts: the network tasked with convincing the sheeple that the agenda of Third Way/DLC/DCCC types is “progressive” or at least “democratic”. These propaganda centers take the progress made on LGBT issues and present it to the audince as proof of Obama’s progressive bona fides. I for one am sick of it.

          I don’t think Obama’s sudden change of heart on DADT and gay marriage is principled or courageous. To me, he saw these issues as a safe way to garner some support and distract from the utter awfulness that is the rest of his agenda. As a veteran, I can tell you that DADT had truly reached a point where very few cared about it. In my unit and in other units I have read or heard about, the superiors couldn’t have cared less about gay and lesbian soldiers in the ranks even if they were not completely in the closet. In my unit we had at least two gay soldiers during our deployment to Iraq, and they neither hid it nor advertised it. Most of us knew, as did the leadership. It simply was not an issue. Now, I know my unit was reserve and a small part of a much larger organization but I think that it was fairly representative of the Army as a whole. Given that change of attitude in the Army and amongst the general public and given the well-documented loss of valuable translators due to DADT, Obama and the top brass pretty much knew it was safe time to act. Profile of moral courage it was not. I give Obama credit for repealing DADT and changing his stance on marriage, but that’s about the entirety of his good deeds in office as far as I am concerned.

          1. the idiot

            Obama is cool with rich LGBT people. But he seems to despise poor LGBTs, older or retired LGBTs, and sick or invalid LGBTS. He may actually hate whistle-blower LGBTs.

    5. TK421

      “he never once applied his shoulder to the stone to move anything he supposedly cared about”

      I don’t know, he campaigned pretty hard to get Ben “What Unemployment?” Bernanke re-confirmed, he worked long hours to get his deficit commission established, and he’s been campaigning behind the scenes pretty extensively for a budget deal with Republicans.

    6. different clue

      I don’t think the majority of people will do any hating on the LGBT community unless the LGBT community says that beCAUSE Pres. Obama supports Gay Marriage, THEREfor the LBGT community supports cutting Social Security and Medicare-caide for the majority of people.

  13. Dan Kervick

    No. He seems spectacularly unwilling to take on anyone even remotely approaching his size …

    I think that nails it Yves. The man is just a coward. He is awed and cowed by the powerful, and is obsessively driven by his pusillanimity to win their approval. Meanwhile he blows away innocent bystanders living half a world away with remote control bombs.

    1. Zachary Smith

      *** He seems spectacularly unwilling to take on anyone even remotely approaching his size… ***

      I missed that on the first quick pass, and I’ve got to disagree. Why should he “take on” people he’s totally in bed with?

      Obama isn’t wuss or a coward. He’s a worthless ******* who was never on our side.

      The man is doing what his bosses want him to do, and from all accounts he’s completely in agreement with those bosses.

      1. Nathanael

        Still a coward.

        What do we call someone who doesn’t have the integrity and guts to tell his bosses when they’re being idiots?

        Yeah.

        1. Strangely Enough

          What do we call someone who doesn’t have the integrity and guts to tell his bosses when they’re being idiots?

          Employed.

        2. Zachary Smith

          *** What do we call someone who doesn’t have the integrity and guts to tell his bosses when they’re being idiots? ***

          I’ll concede his bosses are monsters, but idiots?

          They’re wanting to change the law so the stealing is legal. Immoral, but hardly stupid, especially when they’ll have the full force of the full force of the US police state backing their play.

          Quite a few of those monsters really believe the Servant Class has gotten too big for its britches, and needs to be taken down several notches.

          In their own minds they’re doing God’s work, same as the Plantation Class felt about black slaves and white trash in the Antebellum South.

          From all accounts I’ve seen Obama is an arrogant ***, and considers himself as far above Joe Mudsill as heaven is above hell. All that’s lacking is for him to get into Big Money, and he’ll be in the top .1% Master Class too.

          So far everything is going according to plan.

          1. jrs

            It really is pretty bizarre, working people lose sleep at night worrying about their retirement, and murderous scumbags like Obama become fabulously wealthy.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Actually, I think Obama does have backbone. True, he is in the classic “bully” position of being incredibly highly protected while literally having an army of thugs at his command, and using them for all manner of grief, but simply being in that position doesn’t automatically mean he lacks backbone. Obama has been truly tenacious in his betrayal. He simply will not give it up even though it must be clear to him how history will treat him.

      And as has been pointed out elsewhere, he never for a moment actually meant to lift so much as one progressive finger, so one can hardly accuse him of failing to stand up to the financial giants whom he represented in the first place.

    3. Susan the other

      Yes, that’s our karma because it now is apparent that Obama himself is a drone. A stealth drone. Cat food futures; soon to be more, like clean water futures; first access to medicine futures; just think of the banksters’ opportunities here! That’s what we get for giving them control over our independence. We need to go back to local independence. Screw the internationals. If international corporation capitalism (oxymoron) can’t provide the security we once had, we can conclude that the last 70 years has been a scam on us. When the Tea Partiers rave about the government they miss the point. Because we are the government. All our “entitlements” are essentially our rights. So Tea Party self contradiction is pathetic if not pathological. It is simply that some alien interest has stolen our government. Our government (that’s us) is a doofus hen. It’s too dumb to see its predators.

  14. Brindle

    Sam Stein (HuffPo) delivers the WH approved line—that protecting SS against cuts is just a progressive issue, the “centrist” Obama sees the bigger picture.

    —”President Barack Obama’s budget, which will be introduced on Wednesday, takes a political position that some of his base is bound to bemoan.
    Rather than present an outline of progressive priorities, the White House has chosen to stake claim to the middle ground, offering up a mix of modest tax hikes to go along with spending cuts and entitlement reforms that Democrats have long warned against.”—

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/obama-budget_n_3019281.html

  15. Renodino

    Obama is going through the motions. Disengaged to the point of total boredom.
    Already thinking about cashing in down the line. He sticks it out there because that was the roadmap all along. Will he fight for it? Hell no! He knows he’s too good for us.

  16. briansays

    how convenient and timely
    and reflective of the man
    announced the day after he spends 3 days if the liberal bastions of SF and SiliValley fundraising

    1. different clue

      Those are limousine liberals. I believe I remember hearing Pelosi saying she supports the Chained Catfood Price Index cuts to Social Security.

    1. Nathanael

      If Obama really thinks the corporate rulers and Republicans will pay him off, he is a fool.

      These people got where they did by fraud. They may have promised to pay him off. They will instead stab him in the back and laugh about it.

      1. different clue

        They have paid Clinton off pretty well from Clinton’s standpoint. Why would they do less for Obama? If they make a visible point of backstabbing Obama and laughing at him after all he did for them, how would they recruit future wannabe-sellouts and stooges to run for President on their behalf? Surely such concerns would lead them to follow through on their promised rewards (which would cost them very little).

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          There is a huge difference. Bill Clinton is cool, a legitimate cool. Hillary can tell a joke. She is funny.

          Bill is also smart. He might be lying and a crook, but Obama isn’t half the thinker Bill is. There is an off chance that a Bill Clinton penned book or speech might be interesting for more than a rah rah appeal.

          The most important point is Bill left office with an over 60% approval rating when people were richer. Are poor minorities who still love Obama and young people without jobs going to buy stock in a company where Obama gives a speech?

  17. Generalfeldmarschall Von Hindenburg

    People swung heavily to Obama in 2008 because they )knew( Hillary and the NewDems would kill SS and Medicare. Isn’t 3 card monte a fun game?

    1. different clue

      People may have thought so at the time, but were they right? I dimly remember in a debate or two where Obama said
      “fix the Social Security crisis” and HClinton said “there is no crisis needing fixing.” Riverdaughter at her The Confluence blog wrote a lot about this at the time and later. I only found out about her blog relatively recently.

    2. neo-realist

      A couple of things: Obama was very successful at disingenously marketing himself to the youth as some sort of Black liberal JFK would fix the problems brought about by old fart republicans; and I believe many Dems felt that a Hillary, damaged by years of right wing smear as some sort of feminist socialist, couldn’t win the swing states and felt that Obama’s friendly baritone and white teeth smile could have a better chance.

  18. ltr

    President Obama has betrayed us. I know we realised this was coming, but it is still a shock. I am grateful that Yves Smith understood for so long what was coming.

  19. NotTimothyGeithner

    The White House comments line keeps giving me a busy signal.

    On the topic of Obama’s grossness, I for one would like to hear Larry Summers’ opinion of the appearance of the California Attorney General.

    1. jrs

      People think it’s making a big deal out of nothing, which it is in the scheme of things. But in my mind coming as it is from Obama, it just illustrates his endless prickishness, his sense of entitlement, his desire to do whatever he wants (he also jokes about drones – hardy har har, they kill people, come on people laugh). So why shouldn’t he be just as entiteled to comment on a female’s apparance, he’s entitled to kill whomever he wants afterall. Good old boys club.

  20. tongorad

    Despite the often-cited poll numbers showing support for SS, and outrage expressed on this blog, I don’t hold out any hope at all that the austerity cuts will face meaningful opposition. Once you step outside insulated bubbles of opinion, you cannot avoid the cruel and depressing reality of a total propaganda/political victory by the wealthy non-working class. We are owned.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      It’s beyond incredible, but you are absolutely correct. That people can be so amazingly blind (and I include myself in that charge) is what I find horrifying. If ever human “justice prevails”, it will be much like the iron ball in a pin ball machine; by pure dumb luck while the idiot flails at the controls. If we go out like lights, it will be exactly the same; pure dumb luck only for other forms of life.

    2. Tommy Bones

      Yeah, what are us old folks gonna do? Riot in the streets? (makes me think of the old SNL walker brigade) Like Rohm Emmanuel said “Where they going to go?”

      1. Lambert Strether

        Old folks chased Dan Rostenkowski down the hall on Capitol Hill waving their canes. Great political theatre with another corrupt Illinois pol as the victim.

        1. Mattie

          Great idea.

          Everybody stop yacking and let’s organize it.

          Prove Rahm wrong and have the young join in… Where will they go, indeed!

          Count me in.

  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    Just in case you haven’t called here is the White House comment lines number:

    (202) 456-1111.

    The volunteers sound a little demoralized. Lets make sure they don’t feel its worth volunteering to shield the ******* in the White House.

  22. Jim K

    ANOTHER ECONOMIC VICTORY FOR TAX AVOIDING MEGA-CORPORATIONS??

    Dollar supremacy (secured by CIA ventures and dominant military might) provides a major competitive advantage for America’s large-cap / mega-corporations and their beneficiaries. Thanks to a supportive Washington Mindset, tax avoidance has become pervasive within these politically-powerful firms.

    As a result, the government has to keep squeezing middle class incomes, to compensate for increasing economic hardships linked to unfettered globalization. Avid outsourcing has contributed to lower wages, skill depletion, and structural underemployment. Consequently, more and more idle working age adults are seeking welfare aid (e.g. food stamps, rent subsidies, Disability, Medicaid, etc.).

    Because the “sequester” is hurting both parties politically, Democrats are looking for some alternative areas to make savings. With the President’s blessing, current and future Social Security COLAs are about to feel the budget ax next! Average COLAs during Pres. G W Bush’s first and second terms were 2.2% and 3.9%. Average Social Security COLAs during Pres B H Obama’s first term have been 1.3%.
    The Washington Mindset is totally disconnected from Main Street!

  23. Eureka Springs

    As an Arkansan watching what’s happening with PPACA, Obamacrats are turning Medicaid further/exclusively(?) into a money stream for the privateers. Wouldn’t it be best if single payer/tri-care advocates encourage cuts, even elimination of medicaid?

  24. Mike Sax

    How is Obama’s budget to the Right of Ryan on Medicare? He wants to voucherize it or what he calls “premium supports.”

    You may not like chained CPI-I don’t particularly either-but how is this the end of the program? I didn’t really like the 1983 SS “reforms” either but it wasn’t the end of it.

    I also disagree with this:

    “Keep in mind what is happening here. We are not in the realm of Obama kayfabe, where he pretends that those big bad Republicans forced him to do what he wanted to do all along. This is Obama’s budget offer, not the result of pretend hard fought battles over positions that are at most 10 degrees apart.”

    I don’t agree he necessarily thinks that chained CPI is the best policy but the pressure he’s working under is to avoid permanent sequestration. I get your catgorical demand that there be no entitlement cuts. But what’s your plan to avoid permanent sequestration?

    Your claim that he isn’t 10 degrees from the GOP doesnt ring true either. Again, I don’t like C. CPI. However, it’s more than 10 degrees from block granting Medicare and devolving Medicaid to the states. So I disagree with all those ready to tar and feather the man in effigy.

    While you seem to take comfort in commentators who rip him to shreds, it’s a pretty unscientific way of assessing his popularity. If you had read Firedoglake the last 4 years ou would have expected him to lose in a landslide.

    Many of these commentators indeed suffer from deep Obama Deragnment Syndrome:

    “Does this president have any clue at all how to lead and manage anything more than a street rally? He is one of the most clueless, inept and unqualified presidents ever”

    Such over the top insults suggest for a lot of Obama haters it’s just personal. I mean disagree with him, fine. But is he really more inept and qualified than other PResidents? ON what basis is this claim made?

    http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2013/04/obama-proposes-chained-cpi.html

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Thankfully an Obot has come along to prove once again that politics is nothing but team sports for most political supports. He doesn’t discuss Obama’s proposed policies but has opted to compare to Obama to the male Sarah Palin.

      1. Mike Sax

        Actually NotSoTimothyGeithner I did discuss policies though it’s true that you didn’t. Unless “obot” and “male Sarah Palin” has something are new policy proposals

        1. Lambert Strether

          “Diary of a Republican Hater” is an interesting title for a blog. I’m not into strategic hate management muself, but your mileage may vary and, apparently, does.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Well, you mischaracterized the switch to CPI, but when the topic is Obama’s proposal, you first step was to bring up a dip shit like Paul Ryan. Thats what we call misdirection. Paul Ryan has nothing to do with Obama’s proposal, and for anyone who has followed politics, they would know that people in the party out of the White House routinely propose bizarre budgets and policies they would never vote for as a stunt to placate morons in their base.

        Addressing Paul Ryan’s phony budget is a waste time. He is an obvious fraud who will never be President or win state wide.

        Since you fail to understand CPI and your attempting to divert attention to the male Palin, I can safely say you haven’t discussed policy except some printout you received from your little OFA group mailing list.

        1. Mike Sax

          That “male Sarah Palin” is not as great as you think it is. I mentioned Paul Ryan because he was mentioned in theabove piece. It was claimed that Obama and he aren’t 10 degrees from each other. I pointed out that’s not true and you declare some silly rule of yours that we can’t mention Paul Ryan. Yet Yves mentioned him in her piece as did many of the commentators.

          So you’re the one avoiding real issues. I didn’t mischaracterize chained CPI and probably have better reading sources than you do.

          You give up the lame snark you have precious little to say.

    2. Nathanael

      “But is he really more inept and qualified than other PResidents?”

      More inept, yes, and it’s because Obama has some crazy ideas in his head.

      I would say he’s more inept than GWB, because GWB knew that his buddies would back him (and he was right), whereas Obama is working on behalf of powerful people who will happily stab him in the back.

      Obama’s less inept than Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, and Hoover…. so, well, that’s something, I guess.

      But it’s not saying much. He’s a truly terrible President, and history will remember him very similarly to the “fiddling while Rome burns” Presidents before the Civil War and during the beginning of the Great Depression. I voted for him the first time. The second time I voted third party.

    3. Lambert Strether

      It is personal. Obama and his supporters are trying to beat $1000 out of somebody whos’s going to get a $12,000 a year Social Security pension (like me, if I’m lucky). This after shovelling $15 trillion to the banksters, no money down, no questions asked. Their policy — your policy, personally — is going to cause a statistically predictable number of elders to suffer, and some of them will die prematurely. (I mean, why do you think there is Social Security?)

      So it’s very, very personal indeed. That Obama supporters apparently cannot empathize with their own grandparents, and also do not believe that they are next on the list, is personal. The first is a moral failing, the second, intellectual.

      1. Mike Sax

        Lambert it’s not my policy. I’d prefer not to have it. However, a lot of people are suffering and I’m one of them. The point is that sequestration is already taking a bite out of the economy.

        While I don’t like Chained CPI there’s a case to be made it’s better than permanent sequestration.

        As it is, most Americans now don’t think sequestration matters though today’s numbers hopefully will change this. While you are already demonizing me personally though you don’t know anything about me-and clearly don’t care once you see that I don’t hate Obama I can drop dead for all you care-I actually agree with you about Chained CPI. In a perfect world I wouldn’t ever want it.

        However, this isn’t a perfect world and in politics you have to come to some agreement with those who disagree with you sometimes. Unfortunately the whole country doesn’t agree with us yet. Part of the trouble no doubt is confusion: most Americans support balancing the budget and cutting “government spending” in the abstract but dont want to cut any specific programs.

        What Obama’s offer might do is force the GOP hand as a big knock that most Americans have on the party is it’s unwillngness to compromise.

        Anyway, claiming that it’s my policy is false. I wonder if that will make you stop doing it. I have my doubts.

        1. ohmyheck

          As far as the chained CPI—the answer is very SIMPLE. No to chained CPI. Yes to raising the Cap. Period.

          The lesser of 2 evils is still evil. Everything you have written here is pretzel logic for your unwillingness to admit you were wrong about Obama.

          Others have taken their blinders off, and are going to see reailty for what it is, and go from there.

          Coming here and calling people “haters” and using the derogutory term “Obama Derangement Theory”…how exactly did you think that was going to come off? Well? Really?

          Maybe it is time to sit down with yourself and take a good long look, Mike. None of us can do that for you.

        2. Lambert Strether

          Of course it’s your policy. That’s why you’re supporting it, though I grant the “I don’t like it, but _____” comes from a more advanced section of the Obot playbook.

          The classics are always the best:

        3. apishapa

          Mike Sax, you behave as though there are two and only two possible options: either sequestration or cuts to medicare, medicaid and social security. I hope you are not really that devoid of imagination.There are many other options, the easiest of which is to have left everything alone. Let the Bush tax cuts expire, and see what happened. We could get rid of or lower the cap on payroll taxes. We could pass single payer health care. We could initiate a tax on financial transactions.

          The fact is Obama has always wanted to cut “entitlements” he said so during his first campaign. He has offered up these same cuts again and again, because that is what he wants to do. That is why I voted Green both elections. I had been a democrat for 35 years, but I am not anymore. Because Obama is not the kind of Democrat I am. He is completely purchased by the 1%. I wanted to be wrong. I hoped he would live up to your expectations, instead you have lowered your expectations to his.

      1. Mike Sax

        Lambert I could care less about whatever name calling you Obama haters come up with. Without name calling youd have nothing to say at all.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Wow, “Obama haters” takes me back to the trenches at Kos in 2008. Didn’t Axelrove or whoever’s running the show these days give you a new three-ring binder when he put you back on the payroll?

          * * *

          As for hating Obama, of course I don’t. In fact, I feel grateful that Obama is going to force cat food down my throat in a thoughtful, nuanced way. Your grandmother’s throat, too, if she’s poor, but of course you don’t care about that.

          1. Mike Sax

            So Lambert it’s like I figured. Not one substantive point has been made. Lots of talk about “obots’ and catfood. If you’re strugggling I’m sorry about that. I am to-of course you could care less about that.

            See that’s the difference. You Obama haters don’t care about anyone provided they don’t hate Obama as much as you do.

            However, do you think about the many now suffering form the sequester? I don’t get the idea that you do as you’ve refused to address it once though I’ve repeatedly pointed it out.

            As to the name of my blog, hey, I like to have fun too. Unlike you at least I admit when I feel hate. You pretend you don’t when it’s clearly not true.

            I think the party’s ideology is worthy of hate.

            1. Lambert Strether

              @Mike Sax Pro tip: Don’t make false claims that readers can check on the very same thread; it insults their intelligence. If citing to Duncan Black on a policy of increasing Social Security, and citing to FDR creating 15 million jobs in the previous Depression are not “substantive points,” it’s hard to imagine what you would consider substantive. Obama’s kill list? Michelle signing Walmart up as a corporate sponsor? What?

              As for your attempt to distract from Obama throwing elders under the bus by cutting Social Security: The sequester is both kayfabe and Civics 101. The House passed the sequester, the Senate passed the sequester, and Obama (the President) signed it. That’s how a bill becomes a law. And now the law is being enforced. Both legacy parties believe in austerity, as shown by their actions, but needed to be able to blame each other after putting austerity polices in place. Which is what has happened. Smarter Obots please.

              As for cat food, I don’t think I’m going to enjoy eating it, thanks to Obama — and you.

        2. traveler

          Bless your heart, Mike, if you haven’t figured out by now that Obama is bought and bossed. ‘Course he’s having a lot of fun too, playing king of the world.

          Hope it all works out for you and yours.

        3. mac

          Who pumped up the “dummies” that refer to everyon who dislikes Obamas actions as “haters”?

    4. Nathanael

      Cutting Social Security will not do a damned thing to avoid permanent sequestration. The Republicans will smell blood and say “Right, we’ll cut Social Security AND continue the sequester!”

      It is not possible to offer compromises to the Republicans in Congress. The only thing they understand is bullying, so they have to be bullied. Obama should realize this by now, since he’s had OVER SIX YEARS of dealing with it (including his time in the Senate).

      “But what’s your plan to avoid permanent sequestration?”

      Do what FDR did. Announce a national emergency. Tell Congress they have the choice of passing his budget, or having him take unspecified emergency measures.

      If they won’t succumb to bullying, honestly, go ahead and take the emergency measures: print and spend the money without Congressional authorization. If any Republicans object, he can always have them arrested as “terrorists” and locked up in Gitmo — or murdered with drones — under the Bush-era precedents which he has *already embraced*.

      The Republicans already claim that Obama is some sort of anti-constitutional dictator, he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.

      1. Mike Sax

        This must be a high densiity room Nathaniel. The most obvious points have a hard time getting throug. It can avoid it if it’s part of a deal. What’s your proposal to end it or have you not thought that far?

        1. Lambert Strether

          Yes, the density has indeed increased. Reminds me of the old joke about Bill Gates walking into a bar and raising the average income of everybody in the room.

          * * *

          As to the proposal Nathaniel actually made: Obama will do soemthing FDR-like when weasels fly out of my butt. Obama says government can’t create jobs, but he’s lying: FDR created 15 million.

          1. Mike Sax

            In other words you’re saying end democracy in America? Using what mechanism? Is there any legal basis to say the President can now ignore Congress? One preferably that doesn’t make us a military dictatorship.

          2. Lambert Strether

            Smarter Obots, please.* If readers check the link, they’ll find the FDR programs that created 15 million jobs. The WPA was created by executive order, which, last I checked was consitutional. Obama’s certainly used them enough.

            * Seriously. Talk to your supervisor, get somebody in here with entertainment value, at least. I mean, over on the twitter the Obots are playing the race card on Melissa from Shakespeare’s Sister. It’s like management pulled the 2008 playbook off the shelf instead of the 2012 one.

          3. Strangely Enough

            Is there any legal basis to say the President can now ignore Congress?

            Libya comes to mind…

    5. Eureka Springs

      How on earth can you possibly ignore the fact PPACA is a grand voucher program (through medicaid)? It is the bullet which is/will mortally wound medicare as we knew it, certainly killing what it should have become these last few years.

      1. Mike Sax

        Eureka Springs you’ve answered my question I guess. This is a high density room. Playing a semantic game and calling ACA a “voucher” isn’t comparing apples to apples. In the case of the Ryan plan we’re going from Medicare to a private voucher program.

        In the ACA we’re going from 30 million Amerians who were uninsured to being insured. IF you can’t understand the difference then it is a high density room.

        What I love is you guys claim that anyone who supports Obama doesn’t talk about policy and I’ve done nothign but talk policy and all Obama haters come up with is silly snark.

        1. Lambert Strether

          If you want to “do politics,” Mike — I mean, actually engage with people, instead checking the Obot printout for talking points* — then you need to familiarize yourself with your interlocutors.

          Eureka Springs is from Arkansas, where it was actually proposed to pay private health insurance companies with Medicaid money. If it walks like a voucher, if it quacks like a voucher….

          * I think “high density room” is the very last way I’d characterize the NC commentariat, if “high density room” is a jumped up synonym for “stupid.” I will never understand why Obama supporters think that insulting people is a good way to persuade them, but c’est la vie. True in 2008, true today. TROLL PROPHYLACTIC You, I’m not trying to persuade. It can’t be done. 30% of the American people thought Bush was great, all the way until he left office. The same will be true with Obama.

      2. tar, etc.

        That’s brilliant. I never thought of it that way, but that is exactly what it is. The whole plan is based on subsidies, aka vouchers. It is the dumbest plan conceivable as it does nothing to stop America from paying now an extra trillion a year, and still not receive care or protection from bankruptcy! Yves is wrong because this clearly is 11-dimension chess.

        Lambert, you have the most boring troll evah.

    6. different clue

      The way to lift permanent sequester is to elect anti-sequester officeholders next cycle to repeal sequester and restore real budgeting. Those lawmakers would also have to oppose and reject the Obama Social Security Cuts-Extortion Plan.

      Obama himself designed and sought the sequester as a tool to extort the public and lawmakers into voting for his Social Security cuts.

    7. different clue

      If it makes you feel better, I myself think Obama is highly ept and highly qualified. What he is ept at and qualified for is as a Trojan Judas Horse for the OverClass.
      This blog has spent millions of hours and millions of words getting down to cases as to why that is so.

  25. Tyler

    “They paid themselves record bonuses in the years immediately preceding the crisis, and then in a grotesque display of ingratitude, did so again in 2009, able to do so only thanks to massive taxpayer support…”

    Somebody doesn’t understand our monetary system and needs to visit http://www.moslereconomics.com ASAP!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ahem.

      We chronicled the post crisis period at length.

      Did you manage to miss out on:

      1. The TARP?

      2. The stress tests, which were a great success in part because Timmie promised that anyone who failed would be force fed TARP?

      3. The extension of Federal guarantees to money market funds, and the increase of the deposit ceiling to $250K? That was a taxpayer backstop, in case you missed it. FDIC runs outta dough, it goes to Congress, as it did in the S&L crisis. And you read commentary at the time, and Sheila Bair’s book, there was real worry the FDIC would need to go to Congress. It most certainly would have had to if Citi had been resolved, which Bair really wanted to do and would have been very salutary.

      1. Bill Smith

        Don’t forget the part about the FDIC lowering the fee charged to banks to rebuild the FDIC insurance kitty – so as not to hurt the banks’ profitability. Then I have a dim recollection of loan guarantees made by the FDIC. But very dim – wish I could remember more because that all sounded very fishy.

        But Warren Mossler is running for President, or King or something like that of the Virgin Islands or someplace like that because he is an EXPERT on money. I just post that everywhere on the internet, but I have have no reason why :)

  26. Brooklin Bridge

    But are the real perps the object of Obama’s disciplinary impulses? No. He seems spectacularly unwilling to take on anyone even remotely approaching his size (as if a President should be cowed by senior banker bullies like Jamie Dimon). The President’s failure to reprimand the financial CEOs who dissed him by refusing to attend his address on the first year anniversary of Lehman was a tacit acknowledgement that they were really in the driver’s seat.

    I agree, but lest there be any doubt, this does not mean Obama is in any way weak. This apparent obsequiousness to the truly powerful does not in the least mean he has no backbone. He is perfectly aware of the power of his office as well as the huge advantage of combining that power with the power of the financial world. Obama is utterly ruthless as his drone program and his merciless attacks on whistle blowers proves beyond any reasonable doubt. He loves fighting dirty while smiling to the cameras. It’s looks for all intents like a complete turn on to him.

    Taking any hope whatsoever in possible resistance by the Democratic party, or by any of the players in the Democratic party is about as realistic as pissing directly into a hurricane and expecting to stay unsoiled. Obama is not weak; he plays hard ball with the best of them. If he doesn’t have a Rahm Emanuel to do his dirty work (but he does), he will invent one. And once he gets going, he knows full well there is no return, no backing out. He will put every bit of sleaze, every Joe Lieberman, he has at his command into it. There are no Democrats that will even try to withstand that onslaught. Bernie Sanders? Give-me-a-break…, Sanders will stage another 6 hour rant in front of an empty chamber (no, sorry not empty, there will be one other person; his camera man) on a Friday night when everyone has gone home. THAT, will be the extent of the Democratic resistance – poetically from someone who isn’t even a Democrat. Elizabeth Warren? Here is her number in Massachusetts: (617) 565-3170. Give her a call and you will have your answer before you even open your mouth.

    One by one the others will cave just as they did during what little debate there was about the public option that managed to escape the obfuscation machine.

    It is interesting to note that HuffPo is leading the charge, here, with their best Obama [nasobrunial sycophant], Sam Stein. Just so you know what side they are really on. Because they will give a nod to some of the others, but they will come later. I strongly imagine that Rachael Maddow and the rest of MSNBC Obamaland will either be deep in ***-**** territory on this, or they will be granted permission to give praise by feigning opposition. The same will be doubly true for Jon Stewart and even -remember there are NO exceptions – Colbert.

    Anyone who wonders about AARP, wonder no more. They could have made this whole betrayal impossible by taking a firm public stand against it. THAT would have been truly galvanizing and even the wicked which of the West, Obama, could not have withstood it. But they DIDN’T. They wanted a seat at the table. Their place at the spoils, the prolicide of skewering their own members. While they were running a truly VICHY-Propaganda campaign which they put in the form of a ‘survey’, their president (or CEO, whatever) was in secret meetings with Obama. The sorry fuckers.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Please delete the above comment if the one I just posted is going to stay – thanks, and very sorry for the work this created. I’m steaming (but no excuse).

    1. Lambert Strether

      Discerning readers may find economist Duncan Black (Atrios) more interesting on Chained CPI:

      Cutting promised Social Security benefits is also madness at a time when we’re facing a severe retirement savings crisis. Contrary to popular belief — at least among those who are not current recipients — promised Social Security retirement benefits are already not very generous, with median monthly retiree payouts equal to about $1230. Most people nearing retirement age lack the necessary savings to maintain their pre-retirement lifestyles, as they lack defined benefit pensions and the 401(k) system has generally failed to provide for them adequately.

      Right now the focus should be on increasing benefits, both for retirees and for veterans, some of whom have sacrificed more than most of us can comprehend, not cutting them. They all deserve a future of dignity and economic security, not deprivation and fear. And increasing taxes on the middle class is unfair and counter to the promises made during the election campaign.

      I find it fascinating that you’d classify Atrios as suffering from “Obama Derangement Syndrome.” It’s rather like the epistemic closure that conservative tribalists also suffer from. The circle of people who actually still support Obama must be shrinking, I would think. I mean, surely Axelrove (or whoever’s running the slush fund over at OFA) would send their best to NC, given its circulation…

    2. ohmyheck

      Today at BalloonJuice—- http://www.balloon-juice.com/2013/04/05/five-long-years-i-thought-you-were-my-man/.

      When the President has lost his supporters at BalloonJuice, then Houston, you’ve got a problem.

      I think you’d be better off going over to B.J. and doing some damage control, with your “haters” and “ODS” memos, than here, where you simply look foolish and uninformed.

      And here is Josh Marshall, at TPM today—http://editors.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/04/obamas_dangerous_game.php. Good luck! You’ve got your work cut out for you!

      1. Strangely Enough

        From the comments:

        And Greg Sargent has it exactly right, if liberals are so against this change, you’ll need to argue how it is worse than the sequester.

        The received word travels here, too…

  27. Teejay

    Legacy, hell. Obama’s protecting his post presidency meal
    ticket, following in the footsteps of Bill.

      1. different clue

        Surely he’ll get something better than Casino Greeter. Maybe not be made a partner in the Carlyle Group, but surely something far better than Greeter.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Obama is still not white which makes a difference to the country club crowd who would pay this money and doesn’t have the personal charisma and luck (the tech boom) of Bill Clinton. If you were an unlikable billionaire, will Obama or Bill help you get laid? Richard Branson and Mark Cuban types don’t need validation from Obama. So who would tote an unpopular Obama around?

          Barry will be seen as an embarrassment. Oh sure, he might be seen at some sporting event, but my guess is he will be headlining events similar to W. if he is lucky. Its part of the reason Obama’s behavior is so galling. He will be treated like shit as soon as he is out of office by the people he worshipped.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I see Obama as a Carter without the intellect and the drive to do good like Carter. Carter built houses and has improved the lives of so many since his Presidency. People won’t come out to listen to Obama, and he won’t be invited to speak at more respectable events.

            Obama will be the topic of “VH1* Where are they now” documentaries. D-list celebrities will be doing imitations of Obama gaffes and sketches of Obama judging competitive eating reality shows. Obama, Carrot Top, and the cast of celebrity rehab were sitting next to Kim Kardashian at a Lakers game after coming from a Tractor Pull with George W…

            *Is that still a channel?

  28. ScottS

    What’s funny is that Republicans have taken to gain-saying everything Obama does (e.g., Obamacare, nee Romneycare). Could Republicans find the right too crowded and come around as progressives? As ideological as they appear to be, I think they like winning even more and will follow anything that appears to be a winning strategy. They will just dress it up with a cross and a flag.

  29. kevinearick

    I’d love to go back to UnitedHealth, just for the catharsis, but we are way, way beyond that. Now, we are revealing the inner workings of the “public-private” infrastructure device, revealing the relationship between public, private, and non-profit corporations, and the family process that built them.

    Funny, how Buffet’s robot remote control is as far away from the public eye as possible. Buffet is just playing the game the way it was designed, better than the designers. Everything in the empire is backwards, or more accurately, a half-cycle behind, hopping a cycle back in time, at a time.

    Healthcare has a negative effect on health, like everything else the government does once it enters the private domain. Money is debt under these conditions. Why would anyone collect debt/money and expect not to become an economic slave?

    The point of family law is to prevent you from investing in your own children, from creating your own bank, with deferred income and a real wealth multiplier, and real confidence in the future to get NPV. Buffet’s advice is to give your children nothing, surprise, surprise. He then takes the taxpayer’s money and puts it into government guaranteed returns at 20%, leveraged at 45x to pay off all the participants. Yeah, money is free, until it isn’t.

    Of course homosexuals need a guaranteed pension system, but it’s none of the government’s business whether you are a homosexual or not, or whether you are married or not. Government cannot grant rights. It only appears to do so, until all the participants are bankrupt, when the demographic ponzi decelerates.

    The empire participants always begin by saying “we have what you need, but you can’t have it, unless …” you accept extortion. Look around, whether its job fairs, women in provocative clothing, or anything else.

    Walk away. Set your distance to balance the system to accomplish whatever it is you want to do. Wars are no accident. Why would you assume San Francisco cannot be nuked? Because the government you trust says so?

    1. kevinearick

      Look at WWII. Don’t just count the Jews atrocity against the Jews, for “precious” materials. Don’t just count the soldiers killed during the war. Count all the dead, from starvation, etc., leading up to and including the war. They have to shock and awe the populations into participating. How did complacency work out for Hawaii last time? YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR THE FISH STICK POPULATIONS, WHICH MUST BE BROUGHT INTO LINE, WHEN THE TIME COMES. America is printing money for its masters to fund wars all over the world, and the implied threat is – if you do not participate, we will simply put down the defense system, and you will participate.

      1. kevinearick

        Humpty Dumpty

        Kissinger “opens” China, which is on the verge of demographic collapse itself, gives it our factories, our machines and our technology, and then tell us to compete with 90cent/hr labor, while inflating the real estate lie to the moon, with imports into the empire for the occasion. Labor’s response – F-U. We never expected that middle class to back us up. The passive-aggressives have never done a day’s work in their lives. They can’t even park their own cars now. That’s the point of “smart” technology. Kissinger and his crowd can take their technology and shove it up their a-s, or we are going to do it for them.

        Labor prepared for war, and when you prepare for war, war comes, because the empire becomes a closed system with a positive feedback loop – debase the currency, start a small war, debase the currency some more, start a large war, debase the currency, start a world war. War is an act, and when it truly begins, all the talkers run for cover, in a world which now has no cover. Don’t expect us to play by the rules; there are no rules in war. Bomb the middle class all you want, and then we’ll end it, like we always do.

        Why would you attempt to replace me as a parent, to tell my kids how to talk, act and vote, and not expect war?

  30. Brooklin Bridge

    If Romney had been elected, would the opposition strategy, pitting a Rethug against the Vichy Left, have worked to protect SS and Medicare?

    Personally, I think it would have been safer than the lessor of evils tribalism strategy.

  31. Z

    If so much of the public wasn’t so damn stupified by their political party loyalties, this scumbag would have an approval rating of 1%.

    Again,
    barak obama: not just a poor president, but a horrible human being.

    Z

      1. ohmyheck

        Lambert, you are on fiyah today! That’s a keeper. I loved reminiscing upthread with The Original Bears Video as well.

  32. Chris

    I feel very sad. While I found out a few months ago after really examining the facts that Obama is not who he says is, that the Democrats are not what you think they are, that the two-party political system is simply a farce(which by the way is true of almost every western democracy), I am still very sad. Sad because hardship and suffering will increase, not decrease as many had hoped.

  33. Tyler

    “Today, tens of thousands of Americans marched on the White House, yelling, “Hey, Hey, BHO, where’d the hope and change go?!”

    That should be said on the nightly news in the coming weeks.

    1. ohmyheck

      I like that chant, Tyler. Tommy Bones asks upthread, “Yeah, what are us old folks gonna do? Riot in the streets? (makes me think of the old SNL walker brigade)…”

      Well, why the hell not, I ask. If one is unemployed, then it’s not like one does not have the time.

      One thing that won’t happen is that it will show up on the MSM news outlets. Na ga happen…

  34. Brooklin Bridge

    Not complaining, but I have a comment in suspended animation. I did use a couple of ‘big’ words which I would be happy to eliminate if they are what’s causing the problem (oh yes, and if there were an edit feature).

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I guess perhaps it would be better to simply apologize. I should have avoided those words and making you go through this work. I’ll try and clean it up and post without the trash.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Think nothing of it.

        * * *

        I went in and *-ed one instance of a word might that might offend, and changed the other to “nasobrunial sycophant,” because I’m feeling a little feisty today.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Not only because I was feisty, but because you seemed troubled, and also the comment itself. Not my normal practice to edit (except for [ad hominem] when the battle gets heated.

            Adding… I think that “nasobrunial sycophant” would work very well for Ezra Klein. But I’m often too kind.

  35. Jim K

    Government CPI adjustments are quite commonly employed, e.g.for multi-year contracts, for TIPS (inflation adjusted bonds), and for annual income tax brackets.
    Does anyone know whether this “money saving” chained CPI would be applied to all government adjustments or just to Social Security?

    1. Bill Smith

      They are just talking SS right now, but if the Dutch Boy pulls his finger out of the dyke, who knows what could happen next.

      But the “chain” thingy is not new. In fact, for GDP calcs the PCE is used, which understates inflation – which yields a higher number for Real GDP growth.

      The PCE is also the Fed’s preferred indicator for inflation. If you substitute purchases of cheap Chinese products instead of higher priced ones, that is not deflation. But if the PCE number comes in low anyway, the Fed can go in a tizzy and tell savers to do ZIRP and give banks lots for interest free money to increase banking margins on loans or market speculation.

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

  36. ginnie nyc

    Help me out here. How is chained-CPI any different from what has been going on with Social Security COLAs over the last 5 years? Last year there was a 2% increase (because of the election). But the 4 years prior there was NO COLA for SS, at all. The payments remained fixed and flat. Purportedly the “market basket” prices did not increase. HA. Not to mention what was left out of the basket.

    So why is chained-CPI an innovation?

    Is the novelty the fact this de facto policy will now be enshrined in law?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Yea! And commenters throw him under a steamroller—about time! But still, Obama’s most deserved destiny is a lamppost.

    2. ohmyheck

      “Top-grade trolling”–LOL! The Apologists are very quiet today, elsewhere on the web. One would think that they would be putting out the fires at their usual head-in-the-sand delusionary sites, trying to rally the troops, rather than trolling here. But that would be too effective, so…

      Off topic, but this is the drum Markos is beating these days:

      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/12/1192602/-How-can-Hillary-pass-up-2016

      “With Quinnipiac the latest to show Hillary Clinton romping toward the White House, it’s becoming increasingly clear that she would face an easier path to the White House than anyone since Eisenhower, and maybe even since Thomas Jefferson.”
      Yup, shilling for Hil in 2016. Jumped. the. Shark….pass the barfbag, please.

      1. tawal

        Isn’t she one of those “Goldwater Girls”, the SoS that exhorted her colleagues to spy, and was forced to resign because she didn’t rescure our Libyan “Ambassador”? I think Jeb has a much better chance of being elected.

    3. Chris-Engel

      I actually wrote the diary that is cited in that DailyKos post.

      I saw the NYTimes report and whipped up a diary and challenged the DailyKos guys to hold Obama accountable.

      The response was mixed, but generally, the majority of people basically said enough is enough and my diary blew up completely, and then I saw that a staffer wrote an article and cited it.

      If that’s any indicator, maybe we’ll get some real media pushback to this from “true” progressives?

      1. casino implosion

        “Can you tell us the things that happened as a result of your voting green?”

        The main thing that happened as a result of my voting green was the retention of my self-respect. Stab me in the face–OK that’s force majeure. Stab me in the back with my own collusion–never.

        Not for nothing did Dante allocate traitors to the basement of hell.

        A Democrat who cuts SS is a treacherous swine and must be repudiated AT ALL COSTS, lessor-evilism be damned.

        Self-respect: it’s what’s for dinner. Maybe if more “progressives” tried it, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

      2. jonboinAR

        Yes. There was one vote counted that didn’t go to the bad guys, same as when I voted green. Pity there aren’t more. Perhaps there will be.

      1. different clue

        Well . . . some of that 1.5% voted for Anderson and some voted for other people too, I believe. I believe that 1.5% is all the various third party votes taken together.

  37. Brooklin Bridge

    But are the real perps the object of Obama’s disciplinary impulses? No. He seems spectacularly unwilling to take on anyone even remotely approaching his size (as if a President should be cowed by senior banker bullies like Jamie Dimon). The President’s failure to reprimand the financial CEOs who dissed him by refusing to attend his address on the first year anniversary of Lehman was a tacit acknowledgement that they were really in the driver’s seat.

    I agree, but lest there be any doubt, this does not mean Obama is in any way weak. This apparent obsequiousness to the truly powerful does not in the least mean he has no backbone. He is perfectly aware of the power of his office as well as the huge advantage of combining that power with the power of the financial world. Obama is utterly ruthless as his drone program and his merciless attacks on whistle blowers proves beyond any reasonable doubt. He loves fighting dirty while smiling to the cameras. It’s looks for all intents like a complete turn on to him.

    Taking any hope whatsoever in possible resistance by the Democratic party, or by any of the players in the Democratic party is about as realistic as pissing directly into a hurricane and expecting to stay dry. Obama is not weak; he plays hard ball with the best of them. If he doesn’t have a Rahm Emanuel to do his dirty work (but he does), he will invent one. And once he gets going, he knows full well there is no return, no backing out. He will put every bit of sleaze, every Joe Lieberman, he has at his command into it. There are no Democrats that will even try to withstand that onslaught. Bernie Sanders? Give-me-a-break…, Sanders will stage another 6 hour rant in front of an empty chamber (no, sorry not empty, there will be one other person; his camera man) on a Friday night when everyone has gone home. THAT, will be the extent of the Democratic resistance – poetically from someone who isn’t even a Democrat. Elizabeth Warren? Here is her number in Massachusetts: (617) 565-3170. Give her a call and you will have your answer before you even open your mouth.

    One by one the others will cave just as they did during what little debate there was about the public option that managed to escape the obfuscation machine.

    It is interesting to note that HuffPo is leading the charge, here, with their best Obama [nasobrunial sycophant], Sam Stein. Just so you know what side they are really on. Because they will give a nod to some of the others, but they will come later. I strongly imagine that Rachael Maddow and the rest of MSNBC Obamaland will either be deep in [***-****] territory on this, or they will be granted permission to give praise by feigning opposition. The same will be doubly true for Jon Stewart and even -remember there are NO exceptions – Colbert.

    Anyone who wonders about AARP, wonder no more. With their member base, they could have made this whole betrayal impossible by taking a firm public stand against it. THAT would have been truly galvanizing and even the wicked Obama could not have withstood it. But they DIDN’T. They wanted a seat at the table. Their place at the spoils, the prolicide of skewering their own members. While they were running a truly VICHY-Propaganda campaign which they put in the form of a ‘survey’, their president (or CEO, whatever) was in secret meetings with Obama.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Right you are, Brooklin: “This apparent obsequiousness to the truly powerful does not in the least mean he has no backbone.”

      Yup, ignorance, incompetence, and cowardice cannot possibly explain Obama’s relentless, malicious duplicity at this date. Sociopathic narcissism is more plausible, but I’m beginning to suspect he is actually one of David Icke’s reptilian shape-shifters.

    2. HotFlash

      This is a exercise for the student: Sam Stein, Jill Stein — compare and contrast. As Lao Tzu said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

  38. psychohistorian

    Obama is selling a totally contrived Shock Doctrine event.

    It will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out and what associated fears and pressures are brought to bear.

  39. Elisabeth Spenser

    When I saw this news this morning (BBC, “Obama ‘offering to cut US pensions’”), I thought of two things: Matt Taibbi’s April 3rd Rolling Stone blogpost re: murmurs and movements in DC about breaking up TBTF banks (“The Growing Sentiment on the Hill for Ending ‘Too Big to Fail’), and yesterday’s news of the leak of more than 2 million tax haven records (Spiegel Online, among others, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, “Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze”). Please pardon if this is irrelevant or naive, but was just wondering if the timing of renewed talk of cutting Social Security (budget leaked today) is in retaliation for the (possible/amazing) rumbles of “We’re not going to take it any more”? (I certainly don’t believe any more that Obama is the president he assured us he would be.)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No. You are reading too much into it. Obama is a small time huckster with delusions of grandeur. Obama is going through a check list of accomplishments in an effort to build his legacy. Cutting Social Security is his Nixon going to China moment. He’s been after it since day one, and he hasn’t been shy about it.

      1. Elisabeth Spenser

        Thanks, NTG; the explosion of eyebrow-climbing stories made me shake my head for a while there. But “Obama is a smalltime huckster with delusions of grandeur” is clear, concise, and says it all. I never would have believed it when I saw him speak about the environment on the Boston waterfront in 2004, but now…I agree completely.

  40. Chris-Engel

    Here’s a key talking point against Chained CPI (and any cuts to Social Security at all):

    http://www.salon.com/2013/04/05/how_progressives_blew_the_social_security_argument/?source=newsletter

    Elite discourse on this subject is radically at odds with public opinion. According to a February 2013 Pew poll, only 10 percent of Americans want to cut Social Security…

    Remember Obama’s speeches about on universal background checks? “90% of Americans are in favor” and how it’s “commmon sense” to pass it?

    Well, 90% of Americans DO NOT WANT TO CUT SOCIAL SECURITY.

    That means, using the same line of reasoning Obama is using to go against the NRA and fight for universal background checks, that it’s common sense NOT to cut Social Security since 90% of Americans in public opinion polls don’t want to.

    So this is really an absurd bit of news from Obama, i hope the White House reacts accordingly.

    1. LifelongLib

      “Elite discourse on this subject is radically at odds with public opinion.”

      As Noam Chomsky often points out, elite discourse on many subjects is radically at odds with public opinion.

  41. Zachary Smith

    *** Obama is still not white which makes a difference to the country club crowd who would pay this money and doesn’t have the personal charisma and luck (the tech boom) of Bill Clinton. ***

    I’m guessing here because I’ve never been around “big money”, but it’s been my impression they’re more interested in the size of your bank account than the color of your skin. By way of contrast, the southern white peckerheads would be praising BHO as their Best Ever president except for his skin color, but of course they can’t see past that.

    *** So who would tote an unpopular Obama around? ***

    Who indeed! Time to think outside the box here. BHO is certainly a good one at reading a speech, and could milk that for at least a while, even if not as long as Clinton. He (or maybe Michelle) could be put on the board of a dozen of the largest corporations.

    He might become a capitalist icon out of the mold of Bush the Lesser – never allowed to fail. BHO the great CEO of Blah Blah Corporation. I doubt if his ambitions in the money arena run to much more than Clinton’s – a couple hundred million dollars might well do the trick.

    IMO that’s chump change to a group of several multi-billionaires, and still an opinion, but if BHO delivers on the betrayals I expect him to reach “Go” and collect his $200 Meg.

    If that Lanny Breuer fellow could cash in big-time by basically sitting on his hands, imagine the payoff for someone who positively delivers on one or more of the four great betrayals.

  42. Brooklin Bridge

    Note that HuffPo has taken the same Sam Stein Obama -Derriere Wiping- story it floated this morning among the rest of it’s articles and made it the banner story. They dressed it up on the front page by the title, Way Off Base, but once you click on it, you go to the same Obama apologist, Sam Stein, trying to justify Obama’s complete betrayal of earlier promises as “an adult solution”, carrying Obama’s water for him(the used variety, that is).

    Sam Stein is worse than Rush Limbaugh. He is a sniveling pathetic little rodent that lives off the refuse Obama’s destruction creates in its wake.

  43. Lambert Strether

    Given that both the optics and the politics of gutting social insurance policies seem pretty bad for Obama, one wonders if there is some unknown gravitational force pulling him from the orbit we might otherwise expect for him:

    Perhaps negotiations under the TPP? It would be irresponsible not to speculate….

    Yes, stupid and/or evil is a fine explanation; but is it enough?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      And arrogance. Its not just stupid and evil, but Obama is an arrogant prick who can’t be wrong or mistaken. Obama is playing 853rd dimensional chess in his mind. Lets be honest, Obama is surrounded by dipshit yes men and enough people to shout down anyone who might say he is a dunce.

      Obama ran for President. He isn’t like us. He may not be fit for office, but only would-be Caesars and Catilines run for President. Guess which one Obama is.

      I can’t remember what Congressman it was (I’m too lazy to google), but a retiring Congressman said Obama claimed before 2010 that the difference between 1994 and 2010 was that this time the Democrats had Obama. He is a prick, and he is going to prove the DFHs are wrong.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Here’s the quote from AR Congressman Berry:

        “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

        1. Mike Sax

          The pettiness of your greiveances are fascinating to me. Who cares what he did or didn’t say at some party? I’m sure this story ran first on Fox for months.

    2. Mattie

      You are provacative today!

      Do pay attention to disclosures about the Trans Pacific Partnership as they unfold. Look to the strange conversation brewing in the House from Nick Rahill’s crew concerning allegations that The President’s negotiators have thrown “Buy America” under the bus.

      The stage is set for thrilling midterm bouts.

      We’ve barely noticed the millions of us who have already been wipe off the map (toxic mortgages & student loans), next up more supply chain jobs, to be followed by squashing the vulnerable elderly and disabled. 30% of us will end up written off… but we will be too distracted to notice.

        1. Mattie

          Don’t have it handy, but Dr Google “TPP” AND “Buy America” within the last month. Rahall et al wrote a key letter back in May. Thhe bill was introduced more recently… You can pull it up off of Thomas using a key word search, “Buy America.”

          His bill has everything and the kitchen sink in it… a real conversation-starter.

          What I find interesting is that if true, the President is throwing Buy America under the bus at the very same time that his DOT is coming down super hard against any violation of Buy America for highways or transit projects… at the same time that he’s pitching big infrastructure projects!

        2. Mattie

          1. Zach Carter for HuffPo 5/3/13 “Congress revolts on Obama plan that would ban Buy American”. 68 House Ds and 1 R letter to the President

          2. HR 949 “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013″. 3/5/13 – 33 co-sponsors

  44. TheMomCat

    Keep in mind that this budget deal only covers THIS fiscal year and ends sequestration. Obama wants to throw disabled veterans, the elderly and others dependent on Social Security inder the bust to save cuts to the Defense budget. All the other cuts can be negotiated through smaller appropriation bills.

    Cutting Social security is Pete Peterson’s dream. Is Obama fulfilling his last wishes?

  45. DeepSouthPopulist

    Get a load of this garbage from Obama-shill Josh Marshall at TPM.

    Liar is trying to convince his liberal readers to go along with this. He says Obama wants to cut SS, so he can move on to social issues.

    Is the liberal rank-and-file dumb enough to fall for this?

    Serious question. I’m a political independent and don’t follow conversations on the mainstream political blogs/sites.

    But he always believes it’s important for the country and even for the Democratic party to have a big global agreement that settles the big fiscal policy for a generation and let’s the country get on to other issues — social and cultural issues, the environment, building the economy etc.

    http://editors.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/04/obamas_dangerous_game.php?ref=fpb

  46. Linda JLinda J

    The Way Forward is a Single-Issue Social Security Defense — Dave Lindorff
    Partyhttp://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1665

    1. Bill Smith

      Funny because the Warren Buffet himself just started recommending that we transfer Congress and Federal pensions over to social security and also their medical plan to what ever applies – disability, pay for private insurance, and ultimately Medicare.

      The theory is all discussion of “change” would end.

  47. Michael

    Pretty sure Obama is a classic sociopath. Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door really lays out the character of such persons, and one thing they tend to do is to seek out and punish those who are smarter or better than them. Their treachery knows no bounds as they are incapable of feeling guilt but they truly enjoy knocking other people down. For people who they consider inferior or not worth it, sociopaths will often be the nicest people in the world.

    Unfortunately, I have a pet theory that Democrats are easily exploited by sociopaths. Sociopaths tend to seek out and manipulate those with a conscience, or a highly developed superego. The right, we know, possesses nothing of the sort. But Democrats carry a lot of empathy and are more concerned about right and wrong (and, consequently, less certain about whether they are right or wrong because they see issues as muddy, which they are of course).

    Anyways, this has gotten a bit offtrack, but essentially there is absolutely no way to deal with Obama, he simply doesn’t care, he’s pretty much just trying to mess with your heads. He has a ton of contempt for progressives because they are better and generally smarter than him. He knew a lot of smarter people and has an inferiority complex, he probably often wonders worries that his minority status got him into places that he shouldn’t be. And as a result, we get this absolute and utter mess, caused by an empty vessel of a person who perhaps shouldn’t be called human, as he just doesn’t feel the pain that he causes.

    Reading Stout’s book it just read like a case study of Obama (and surely Clinton- I am less certain about recent Republican presidents, because I think the are legitimately poisoned by some awful ideologies and are sincerely trying to be good because what is good is so warped for them).

    1. Mike Sax

      Honestly you sound quite deluded yourself. Let me get this straight. Obama is the worst human being ever to live basically. He’s a “sociopath” and “just doesn’t care.”

      Democrats, however, are empathetic-accept Obama and Clinton who are both “sociopaths.” Apparently then Democratic Presidents are not empathetic.

      Republicans are good people. They aren’t to blame because they just happen to believe in a horrible ideology.

      I stand my diagnosis. This is what OBDS sounds like.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Straw man plus ad hominem. Saying Obama is probably a sociopath is NOT saying he is the worst person out there.

        Lots of research shows sociopaths tend to do well in advancing themselves in organizations and socieity and are overrepresented in leadership ranks.

        You really need to do better to be taken seriously here.

        1. Mike Sax

          Yves, I don’t need to be taken seriously here if this kind of talk is what is taking seriously here. I actually do quite like your site for it’s economic analysis.

          I disagree with you on Obama. I don’t think this makes either of us bad people but maybe you feel differntly. I knew I proabably shoudn’t have gone here but I couldn’t resist. It reminded me of the good old days when I would hang out at Jane Hamsher’s.

          http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2011/08/restrospective-of-my-time-at.html

          I mean calling him a sociopath who cares about noboday is pretty strong language. Whether or not that means he’s the “worst peorson” ever or just one of the worst people ever is a disticntion not really worth parsing.

          I mean you say you can’t take me seriously but I have a hard time taking such parsing seriously. The claim is he’s a very very bad guy. Apparently the commentator doesn’t think other politicians are such bad guys. Most Dems have empathy he says. Republicans aren’t bad people just misguied by an awful ideology. But Obama and Clinton are very, very bad guys.

          I find this psychoanalysis absurd. So if it’s what gets you taken seriously I don’t need it.

          Again, You may not like me or maybe you’ve figured out that I’m now a socioopath as well. It seems that once you tell O bashers you like Obama there’s nothing they want to hear from you. I mean I’ve already been accused of supporting chained CPI when I actually don’t support it-just understnad that Obama has to play the whole board and play the hand that’s been dealt.

          I actually do quite like your site, though. In the futrue I may just stick to reading as I realize expressing my opinion on tihs subject around here is spitting into the wind. I could have disuccces monetary policy as I have in the past and gotten no hate.

          1. Tom Brown

            Mike, clearly you are deluded about Obama. It’s as plain as day that he’s a sociopath. It’s only a matter of time before he sells Malia and Sasha to a kiddie porn ring and Michelle to an organ harvester… whatever gets him the best price!

  48. Hugh

    If anyone is interested, I wrote a quickie primer on the CPIs a while ago here:

    http://www.correntewire.com/it_is_always_about_the_definitions_the_cpi_edition

    Re Obama, he never gives up on any of his core issues. Unfortunately for us, all of his core issues are pro-rich, pro-corporatist, anti-99%. Obama, for instance, spent a year on the great healthcare debate and at the end of it he had in hand the very pro-Big Insurance, pro-Big Medical, pro-Big Pharma bill he had wanted going in.

    When the Senate wouldn’t authorize his Cat Food Commission, he created it by Executive Order and put two anti-Social Security, anti-Medicare loons to chair it. When the recommendations of said loons fell flat, Obama proposed his first Grand Bargain, aka Great Betrayal, and backed the sequester. Since then, there have been any number of budget crises, debt ceilings, and of course the sequester, and even when no one else is talking about it and even though Social Security much like interest on the national debt is not properly part of the budget debate, it is Obama who keeps bringing it up and introducing and re-introducing plans to gut it.

    Finally, what we need to understand is that Obama and the Democrats are not the lesser evil. The Republicans and Democrats are complementary evils. They are a tag team, a one two combination punch, good cop bad cop, a ratchet. They are synergistic, not oppositional.

  49. Paul Tioxon

    http://www.nwlc.org/chained-cpi-what-it-and-what-it-means-women

    The previous link is from the NATIONAL WOMEN’S LAW CENTER

    There is across the board opposition from the labor/liberal/environmental groups and even more. If back ground gun checks are approved by 90% of the electorate and that is the hammer against the NRA and the like, then so is 90% APPROVAL FOR Social Security against the Obama Budget cuts to that program. Even as a sop to the republicans who think it is a joke to offer this as a meaningful sacred cow sacrifice, it is still a sacred cow. They are not called sacred for no reason.

    This is being pointed out by observers from here on NC to the Daily Kos. And then some. It is a disaster for a democrat who wants to be re-elected to not get in front of every camera and micro phone with in their district and shout this down with a loud angry voice. Of course, the president waited until after his election to muster the courage. Perhaps he should wear a tri-corner hat and invoke patriotism and the freedom killing longevity of the retired and disabled. He’s gone far beyond 11 dimensional chess, he is now a democratic version of an astro turf republican faux grass roots movement: Obama is a Tea Party reenactment gone wild. In this Tea Party reenactment, he denounces himself for what he said to get elected.

  50. John Yard

    I would actually be surprised if thinking Democratic politicians line up behind Obama’s plan to screw Social Security recipients. After all , if Obama is successful, a
    large , coherent , anti-Democratic fraction of the electorate will be created . There is no way to win an election in the US if you lose 70%+ of those older than 60.
    Seniors will be very aware who hurt them economically, and they vote.

    This proposal seems a ‘no-brainer’ , in every sense of the word, if you are a Democrat.

  51. Mike Sax

    “Smarter Obots, please.* If readers check the link, they’ll find the FDR programs that created 15 million jobs. The WPA was created by executive order, which, last I checked was consitutional. Obama’s certainly used them enough.

    Lambert you were wondering why we “Obots” insult people. Turns out we’re not the only ones. For the record FDR was only able to pass WPA through executive order because Congress had passed aro in 1935 that specifically allowed him to.

    As soon as the GOP House votes to give Obama this power we’l talk. For now you still have no answer to ending the permanent sequester.

    1. different clue

      Since you wish to support Obama framing this as a binary choice between Permanent Sequester and Permanent Catfood, I support Permanent Sequester in order to oppose Permanent Catfood. Since that is the extortion choice which you support Obama and Boehner conspiring to co-engineer together, I have made my choice to endure whatever pain the Permanent Sequester brings in order to avoid the Permanent Pain inherent in the BS Obama Catfood Plan.

      Someone should photoshop an update of that old National Lampoon cover . . . Obama pointing a gun at a dog’s head . . . ” Buy my Catfood Cuts or I will shoot this dog.”

      1. Mike Sax

        Ok then that’s a choice. I think it’s the wrong one. I’m not so much perversly making this a binary choice for kicks because that’s what “obots” do but because politicall this may be the choice. I mean it’s like the Saturdy Night Live skit where the coach gives his track team a pep talk.

        His solution: they should just run faster. To me the people who just categorically kill Obama on this are saying the same thing. He ought to do everything we want him to and nothing we don’t. He should end the sequester and not propose chained CPI-note he hasn’t acutally passed it yet, just proposed it.

        There you go. I should make more money. It’s this sort of backseat driving “advice” that doesn’t get us anywhere.

        Now the argument could be made that a cut in SS would be less painful overall to the economy than permanently lower government discretionary levels and no new tax hikes on the rich. Essentially I think the new status quo ex post yesterday’s job numbers may be worse.

        I think it’s at least a plausible case. Again, there’s all this derision of 11 dimensional chess but that’s what political haggling is. Sometimes you bluff. It’s possible Obama may win this hand and won’t even have to do chained CPI in the end. He’s said it’s not his preferred policy. If you don’t believe it that’s fine. I certainly do.

        http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/obama-says-his-proposed-budget-is-not-his-ideal-plan.php?ref=fpb

        I see know acknoledgment out of all these O bashers that compromise is ever necessary even on pragmatic grounds. Until there’s unamity in the country it’s necessary. I don’t like C. CPI and would love if we ultimately can figure out a way go not have it while ending the sequester-yesterday’s job numbers may actually preciptate that.

        To me I just read folks like yourself as just kind of Zizekan “I prefer not to” people-Bartleby. You just won’t look at the entire board. You have some sort of absolute stance-kind of like the GOP and it’s just “Do it may way. End of discussion.”

        I know I’m probably wasting my time in talking to people as close minded as you but hey, it’s interesting if nothing else as a sociological case study like when I used to hang out a Firedoglake. As Lambert said I’m one of those who will proabably always support the President. I mean why would I stop now? So far he’s done a great job. So if I won’t stop supporting him and you want stop acting like the only thing in the world that matters is opposing him we may not be able to find consensus. Still, sometimes you got to go there just for the heck of it.

        http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2011/08/restrospective-of-my-time-at.html

        When the subject is not Obama I quite like this site: the MMT stuff is very interesting. A perusal of my blog will show I have an abiding interest in deeper economic and monetary subjects as well-it’s not just debating Obama all day that interests me.

  52. DantheGrey

    So many idiots gathered in one place and all of them taking the bait. This issue is just another red herring to keep all eyes focused in the wrong direction.

    The Patriot Act: Constitution busting.

    Tthe Supreme Court: Corporations are people protected by the Busted Constitution

  53. the idiot

    Oh, I thought he was saying “Hope and Change”, but he was saying “Hope and Chained” CPI. It has all just been some terrible misunderstanding. My fault! Back to my cat food.

  54. traveler

    In an LA Times online survey (still open) accompanying an article on Obama’s budget proposal, 78% of respondents answered “NO” to the question: Should programs such as Social Security and Medicare be cut in a budget deal?

  55. BondsOfSteel

    Um.. Social Security is still at a surplus. In other words, FICA taxes are being used to pay for the rest of government. This action says a lot about the true ‘progressive’ nature of the US tax code.

    1. DeepSouthPopulist

      Mike Sax,

      Blog commentary like yours serves a useful purpose. It collects all the stale pro-Obama bromides in one place.

      You appear to be more upset by a handful of rhetorical excesses in the Naked Capitalism comments than by Obama’s proposal to work with Republicans to cut SS.

      This outlook does nothing for your credibility I can assure you. It says more about you and the those who defend Obama than I think you realize.

      Keep on truckin’.

    2. Lambert Strether

      You don’t consider killing US citizens with drone strikes and no due process evil? [Granted, some might consider killing far away brown people with drone strikes evil, but we’re used to that.

    1. Mr. Jack M. Hoff

      Mike, just wondering what the pay rate is for being a shill? And maybe you could enlighten me on what the taste is on your big wide tounge after a days work?

  56. Hugh

    There is a persistent troll that would like us to believe the last 4 years never happened. The case against Obama has been made in detail and hundreds of times. It was never hard to make. A blindman could see it, a deaf man could hear it, but the troll acts, as trolls always do, as if the obvious is somehow doubtful and unproven, like a creationist in the face of evolution, even though there is a mountain, indeed a whole Himalayas of evidence behind it. And although he is completely impervious to evidence and argument, he wants us to go back through the entirety of the case against Obama. He will contest every point, bring up extraneous arguments, dismiss it all as personal animus or Obama Derangement Syndrome, and then start from the top.

  57. DeepSouthPopulist

    As long as it doesn’t get out of hand, obvious trolling can add to the discussion. It tells us somebody is targeting this blog, which is useful information, and they give us a look at their dishonest messaging.

    Mike Sax is a sadly obvious troll. So is that guy Bruce Krasting up top. Krasting, especially, appears to be behind the times on effective troll techniques.

    Anyone who uses these kinds of cheap rhetorical devices, as Krasting does, might as well start every comment with the declaration “I am a lying troll.”

    Yves is shocked and outraged. I ask her what is the “Yves Plan”?

    But Yves, SS will still spend $11 Trillion in that period.

    Does Yves not understand the current law?

    The real chess-masters who work to undermine dangerous critics of the status quo like Yves Smith are more subtle in my experience. They will make reasonable, earnest-sounding, snark-free comments that don’t stick out like a sore thumb as trolling but simultaneously plant false premises into the conversation.

    1. Bill Smith

      Bruce Krasting has been spreading his SS missives around the internet for 4-5 years now that I know of. He’s an ex-hedgie and lives in Connecticut – one of the burbs where they are all NY bankers, and damn proud of it.

      Here’s summary of what Brucie has to say:

      Brucie NOT like Social Security! Brucie want Social Security to GO AWAY!

      I used to shoot his crap down line by line, but I got tired of it, and now I just make Brucie go away by not reading his crap.

      Unfortunately, newbies come along that could be susceptible to this kind of BS, so I’m glad others have taken up the torch and can chase Brucie out of the village and back to his castle.

      Hope this passes the ad hominem filter :)

  58. DHFabian

    Dammit, wake up! Every step of the way, we have seen what was going on (i.e., a massive upward redistribution of wealth that will ultimately turn us into a dictatorship). When Bill Clinton wiped out the Great Society programs, who didn’t know that it was a necessary first step toward wiping out the New Deal? Did you think it would take longer? Long enough to save your own butt? Instead of pushing back, this generation of “liberal” media erased US poverty from the discussion, actually serving the right wing agenda. When things started getting really sticky — when the middle class began to get restless — this same media raised the “(Pander to)The Great American Middle Class” banner. They have, day in and day out, worked to pacify the middle and working classes, effectively “disappearing” the post-middle class/poor, turning the middle class into a gated community with only an exit gate. By doing this, the “masses” have been divided, middle agaiunst the poor, maybe conquered. I would strongly advise re-thinking the “middle class only” strategy before it wipes us all out, and start taking a serious look at such things as how our policies against the poor (workfare replacement labor, etc.) have worked so powerfully to phase out the middle class.

  59. DHFabian

    Incidentally, check out the prices of cat food. The very poor are down to water and flour balls fried in lard (assuming they still have a means of cooking).

  60. nubwaxer

    mr president, we did not elect you twice in support of your policies to defend the poor and middle class. we hoped we hadn’t elected a wuss who folds nearly every time to the tea baggers. and we especially, even 80% of the country which must include republicans and democrats, have voiced their opinions in poll after poll to keep your hands off social security.
    you’ve backed off closing tax loopholes for the rich which are extraordinary welfare for them. where’s the 25% minimum income tax so that people like romney/buffet who are paying about 15% would have to pay at least 25%. and if corporations are people then mr GE is a terrible citizen who pays zero tax at the expense of the rest of us.
    the grotesque monstrosity of our military empire can’t be cut back and defense spending reduced? baloney. that’s what we want.
    we are so sadly disappointed

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