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Obama, Republican Leadership Groping to Break Shutdown Impasse, Revive Grand Bargain-Type Deal

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The two sides in the budget staredown have finally agreed to talk. Obama, after meeting with Democrats on Wednesday, will confer with House Republicans on Thursday to see if they can resolve the impasse over the Federal budget and avoid hitting the debt ceiling on October 17. Note that despite the fixation on that date, the US would move in steps into an intensified crunch. The expectation is that the first phase would be shutting down more government operations to conserve cash. The acute danger date is around October 31-November 1, when the US faces big bond and Social Security payments.

But while the official meeting, and the fact that the two sides are also talking behind the scenes, represents progress, don’t labor under any delusions. Obama is looking for a stopgap deal that will keep pressure on in the hope that he can cinch his long-sought Grand Bargain Great Betrayal. Remember, Obama was disappointed that the sequester didn’t inflict enough pain to force Democrats and Republicans to the negotiating table. Don’t be fooled that Obama is unhappy that most House Republicans would reject a one year extension of the debt ceiling and continuing resolution. Both he and the corporate Republicans are looking to steer things back to where they’d hoped they’d be before the Tea Party went off the reservation.

But just because the two sides are talking does not necessarily mean that negotiations will move rapidly. One indicator of the lack of mutual understanding is that Obama wanted to meet with all the House Republicans. The leadership instead is sending 20 representatives to the session. Obama is clearly unduly impressed with his powers of persuasion. Many of the Tea Partiers have a visceral antipathy for him. The Republicans did him a big favor by keeping the hotheads out of the room.

Nevertheless, efforts to broker a deal are already underway. For instance, per Politico:

After taking a back-seat role in this fall’s fiscal battles, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republican senators are quietly seeing whether they can break the political impasse between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

Behind the scenes, the Kentucky Republican is gauging support within the Senate GOP Conference to temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals. Among the ideas under serious consideration are a repeal of medical device tax in the health care law, a plan to verify that those seeking subsidies under Obamacare prove their income level and a proposal to grant additional flexibility to federal agencies to implement sequestration cuts…

Those proposals could be paired with a two-month increase of the national debt ceiling and a six-month continuing resolution to reopen the government at a $986-billion funding level that both parties have agreed to, under one package discussed among McConnell and GOP senators on Wednesday, sources said. McConnell is not endorsing the proposal, aides stressed, but is simply taking the temperature of his caucus.

Politico adds that some of these provisions are also part of an outline being floated by Susan Collins of Maine. But notice the state of play: the Republicans are struggling to find terms that will appeal to at least some of the out-for-blood Tea Party types.

One part that is still opaque is how many votes Boehner thinks he needs for him to decide to table a resolution. Remember, now, it’s clear from public statements of members of his own party that he already has about 20 votes in favor a clean continuing resolution, which with House Democrats is already enough to assure passage. That also means he’d have at least that many for an extension of the debt ceiling. What is not clear is how many additional votes he thinks he needs to prevent de-legitimation within his own party and what has to be in a deal to entice them.

The party leadership would clearly like to get Obamacare out of the equation; the Financial Times notes that a Wall Street Journal op ed by chairman of the House budget committee Paul Ryan pointedly omitted it. And the idea of income verification for low income people to get subsidies is a nasty way to try to force them out of the program (which means paying the opt out charges) by increasing the bureaucratic hurdles considerably (of course, the Administration could do what it should have done, which is rely on IRS data, but that would not mean integrating another database into an already failing IT implementation).

And remember, once the Republicans figure out what concessions it would take to peel some Tea Partiers loose to agree to buy time to negotiate a bigger deal, that still doesn’t mean the Democrats will agree to that.

Having said the foregoing, there are several things that will likely start putting more pressure on the participants. One is that the Republicans are taking a big hit in the polls (but remember, that does not necessarily mean the particular House Republicans holdouts are facing pain in their districts). Second is that the real economy damage is almost certainly compounding, and even the hard core Tea Partiers will start having important constituents that are suffering. Third is that as we start getting closer to October 17 with no deal, Mr. Marker and the business press will go into hysterics, which will focus the mind of the pols.

But even if the two sides steer out of this nosedive early next week (unlikely but possible) or later, what they will have signed up for is a European-style kick the can down the road solution. I suspect even getting to an interim solution will be hard. And as I keep stressing, Obama and Boehner, in a much more favorable negotiating environment in 2011, were not able to come to a budget deal, even when both sides really really wanted the prize of the Great Betrayal. I’d love to be wrong, but this budget drama looks to be about to become a bad serial novel.

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107 comments

  1. Steve

    Yves,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but a payment to SS Trust fund should really not effect the total debt at all. Since it is swapping a non negotiable bond for a negotiable bond…

    They net out.. retire one.. issue one

    n’est pas?

    1. sleepy

      Good question. My limited, very general knowledge would assume that paying off a debt–the obligation to the ss fund–reduces debt.

    2. Jim Haygood

      From a consolidated accounting point of view, that’s correct.

      However, swapping non-negotiable for negotiable debt increases debt owed to the public — debt that actually has to be serviced with cash coupons, whereas the nonnegotiable debt is just given book-entry credit for interest.

      That’s why it’s non-negotiable — you can’t sell airball debt to investors. But the SocSec trustees, who have no fiduciary duty to SocSec beneficiaries, think it’s good enough for geezers. The whole corrupt lot of them ought to be RICOed.

      1. Gerard Pierce

        Jim, could you expand a bit on the social security trustees – i.e. who they are and who owns them and so on.

        1. AbyNormal

          hope your lunch has settled: as of 4/2013

          Who are the Social Security Trustees?
          The trustees write the yearly trustees reports. These are the yearly reports about Social Security’s finances that are the source of all information reported in the media.

          Timothy F. Geithner, Managing Trustee. Author of the bankster bailout. ‘Nuff said.

          Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. Former biotech lawyer, former associate counsel for Reagan & Bush, former Deputy Counsel Health & Human services.

          Carolyn W. Colvin, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security. Has been in various positions at the SSA since 1994. Most of career in government.

          Hilda L. Solis: Former Secretary of Labor. Has left the administration to return to California. Seems to have been pro-labor, but “not a member of Obama’s inner circle” & reportedly not a power player.

          Kathleen Sebelius: Secretary of Health and Human Services & former Democratic Kansas governor. According to ‘Conservapedia’ she’s considered “pro-business, pro-military & fiscally conservative”.

          Charles P. Blahous III: “Bush’s point man on privatization” & “employed by the Koch Brothers’ funded Mercatus Institute at GMU.” Research fellow at Hoover Institution. Former aide to George Bush, Alan Simpson, Judd Gregg. Ex-Hudson Institute.

          Robert D. Reischauer: “‘deficit hawk’ and ‘entitlements crisis’ promoter”. Has been described as “Peter G Peterson’s representative to the Social Security Trustees”. Former director of CBO. Urban Institute, Brookings Institution.

          http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/trustees.html

    3. craazyboy

      The National Debt is $17T. This is also the current level of the “debt limit”.

      About $12T is called “debt held by the public”, which are the tradable treasury bonds we hear about all the time. They could be in your bond fund, or your pension fund if you are lucky enough to have one of those.

      The other $5T is called intra governmental debt, which includes the SS Trust Fund ($2.7T), Federal pensions, and some other odds and ends.

      Nowadays governments never pay off any debt, they just roll it over by paying the old debt with new debt*. So, to answer your question, when we do finally need the Trust Fund to make SS payments, the Treasury would sell more Treasuries to the market to raise the cash to give to the SS trust fund. Exactly the same as they will sell new treasuries to pay off old treasuries in the market. So the Total National Debt does not change due to redeeming Trust Fund special treasuries because these are already counted in the total. Nor does this have any impact on the debt ceiling, because the debt ceiling is at the total figure of $17B.

      *assuming that continues to work, of course.

      Other good stuff to know:

      1)All treasury interest payments are done via the “airball” method.** This is because we use electronic accounting nowadays and treasury interest gets credited to both the trust fund and your bond fund the same way. The reason everyone goes along with the idea is because if you do want it in paper dollar bills, after getting the funds airballed to your bank, you are allowed to request these funds in paper dollar bills, if you prefer that.

      2)The reason that special treasuries are “non-negotiable”, meaning they can’t be sold in the open market before maturity, is because there is no good reason to do that. They can only be redeemed at maturity directly with the US Treasury. Then the SS Admin gets their cash to make SS payments. This was quite likely done to prevent someone from looting the fund.

      **Note on airball method – Treasury bonds, and their interest payments, are believed to have value because bond investors believe the USG can tax to make good on its debt commitments. You heard it here first.

      1. ian

        “Nowadays governments never pay off any debt, they just roll it over by paying the old debt with new debt”

        Maybe someone can explain this to me: If old debt is just rolled over, isn’t there a risk that some day this will have to be done when interest rates are much higher? Wouldn’t that be a reason to be a bit worried about the amount of debt we have added in the last few years? (and aren’t maturities getting shorter too?).

        Sorry, I’m not an economist.

      2. bh2

        “This was quite likely done to prevent someone from looting the fund.”

        This has to be one of the most genuinely amusing jests ever posted in a financial blog.

      3. LucyLulu

        Thank you craazy jr for the long but excellent explanation.

        And Treasury bonds are considered THE safest investment vehicle in the world. Hopefully this will still be true by the time this mess gets sorted out…. though it looks like that will be very soon. Word on the Hill has been that the release of WSJ/NBC poll results had a very sobering effect today at the Capitol, and both lifting the debt ceiling and reopening the government are now on the table with all but the most fervent members (and who Boehner uninvited to the meeting with Obama, taking only his old-money funded henchmen).

  2. s spade

    ‘You might ask, What bonds that ever held a human society happily together, or held it together at all, are in force here? It is an unbelieving people; which has suppositions, hypotheses, and froth-systems of victorious Analysis; and for belief this mainly, that Pleasure is pleasant.’

    -Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution

    1. James Levy

      Yea, but would anyone really want to go back to being ruled by Louis XVI? It’s quite likely that the ancient Egyptians, living in a magnificent theocratic ant-state, were a hell of a lot more happy and satisfied than we are today. All their doubts were assuaged, their questions answered, by a venerable ideology whose origins were lost in the mists of time.

      Is that living, or existing for the sake of a system of which you are an unreflective part? Not my cup of tea.

  3. Cassiodorus

    Since both Obama and the Republicans hope to blame each other for what they both want, “negotiations” are probably about who is to accept blame. How can they both draw up a mutually-acceptable mythology now? I don’t see it either.

  4. kimyo

    as a thought experiment, who would benefit if the u.s. defaults? (i honestly don’t know, china? russia? the imf?)

    if the people working the levers are operating under the assumption that the petro-dollar is dead, it may be to their advantage to engineer a controlled demolition.

    1. financial matters

      There seems at present to be no viable alternative to the USD as a world reserve currency. US treasuries are essentially the same thing except they pay some interest.

      This currency should be backed by labor but it is increasingly backed by a ponzi scheme of financial manipulations. Two Financial Times articles yesterday got to the heart of this problem by talking about 3 party repo and derivatives.

      “”In the five years since the crisis, regulators have endeavoured to strengthen the workings of tri-party repos by weaning the industry offintraday credit provided by BNYMellon and JPMorgan, who help facilitate repo agreements in the wider market.

      But regulators remain concerned about the repo market’s tendency towards “fire sales”, where the assets underlying loans are sold off in a way that sparks a rapid pullback from other securities and funding.”"

      “”Short-term Treasury bills are a critical element of the financial system and their “risk free” status means they are widely used by banks and investors as an alternative to cash deposits, and to also support derivatives trading. As such the bills play an important role in the plumbing of markets, facilitating orderly trading conditions.”"
      “”

      As we’ve seen with the great article here on NC a while back on Detroit, the financial system wants to keep the superpriority of derivatives intact. These overway pension funds, money market accounts etc and are not subject to bankruptcy stays. But the game of musical chairs is on.. all financial institutions are not on the same wavelength…

      “”wresting control of the tri-party market away from the two banks which currently dominate it: Bank of New York Mellon and JPMorgan “”

      “”The real issue, says Mr Skyrm, is that while banks can tap the Fed for extra financing in times of market stress, other repo market participants like money funds, broker-dealers and hedge funds do not have the same recourse.”"

      1. Richard Lyon

        Movements are underway to undermine the preeminent position of the US dollar. China has just negotiated another currency swap facility, this time with the EU. That is moving the Yuan toward the status of a fully international currency. I would think that the jitters caused by the present farce are likely to encourage more such developments.

    2. ohmyheck

      There is an article that addresses that very issue. My comment with link keeps getting eaten by the Great Spaghetti Blog Monster, so you can reach it via jesse’s cafe americain site and look for the article titled “Who Benefits….?”

      1. financial matters

        A nice insight into the derivatives problem…

        Jesse’s Cafe

        JT 10/9/13

        “”Many pundits downplay the credit default swap market on U.S. debt on the grounds that the visible market of an estimated $8 billion appears very small relative to the total credit default swap market. (The size may be much larger today, given market jitters.) U.S. banks alone hold around $14 trillion in credit derivatives. But the size doesn’t have to be very large for someone to make a nice profit.”"

        “”You may recall that the September 2008 market meltdown was due in a large part to credit derivatives and leverage. Most of those credit derivatives were invisibly embedded in other financial instruments.”"

        “”You can invisibly embed credit default swaps on the U.S. into collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and credit linked notes. You can also embed custom-made credit triggers into a variety of financial products. These triggers do not have to follow any sort of standard. You can make up hair triggers.”"

        1. ohmyheck

          Yes, very insightful. Now, if someone could translate all that into “laymanese”, I, for one, would truly appreciate it. I do think it is important to have an understanding of the other side of the default equation.

          1. financial matters

            One thing that I got out of

            ‘Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives Revised edition (Financial Times Series)’ 2010
            by Satyajit Das

            is that anything is possible in this world. This is how many municipalities and pension funds etc got screwed. Sophisticated financial institutions like Goldman drafted various ‘derivative’ type products to sell to them. These people either trusted them as experts in financial activities or got kickbacks. But the actual derivatives were in fact virtually impossible to understand and highly favored the people that wrote them. They were called ‘derivatives’ because they were derived off things like interest rate changes, currency exchange rate changes etc. But by design they would ‘blow-up’ in favor of the financial institutions. As the size of this market attests there is a huge amount of money to be made here. Even simple CDs can have embedded derivatives which may give you an extra 1% interest but expose you to losing all your principal if you read through 4 pages of fine print. And there is a corresponding lack of regulation due to regulatory capture.

            1. ohmyheck

              Hey susan, do I understand correctly that you live in Utah? We could have a Utah NC Meet-Up. All 2 of us! :-)

  5. Malmo

    I’ve not talked to one person who has been affected by the shutdown. A few of my associates have opinions either way but nary a one has an intense opinion. The shutdowns in the 90′s had much more visceral effects on people outside the Beltway. So far that’s not been the case here. If I were to bet, however, the biggest loser this time around is going to be Obama. His polling numbers over this are already atrocious. Never mind what Congress’ numbers are. They were about as low as they could go even before the shutdown. Bottom line, watch Obama blink first. Grand Betrayal here we come.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is a major issue with the direction of government spending especially defense. So much of increases under W. and then Obama were localized in the Washington-metro area for the purpose of buying Democratic congressmen and proximity to the Pentagon.

      People aren’t directly affected yet. I don’t know when local governments will start federal assistance, but I don’t think its for a few months.

      Relying on public outrage won’t work until this happens. Republicans are being blamed at a higher rate, but they are a minority party behind this. The Democratic negatives are too high to be a real pressure point especially considering their reliance on youth and poor minorities who tend to be transient (apartment dwellers) and not reliable voters (see 2010; despite Democratic attempts to blame liberals, the 50 state strategy was meant to register and make transient-types vote) for that reason.

    2. ohmyheck

      I do know some people.

      Friends and aquaintances who are on WIC are not receiving their food. That was one of the first things to go.

      Others were planning trips to camp grounds–it is hunting season and the last month before the weather turns. Some folks have exited their plans due to the US gov’t-run campgrounds being closed. Good for the deer and elk, I guess.

    3. Ed S.

      Malmo,

      You can count me as another. Need to get a tax ID number for an estate — no can do. Of course this is a wholly created issue; the process is automated but the IRS has opted to make the service unavailable.

      The objective of the shutdown (from the bureaucracy’s perspective) is to make life as inconvenient as possible for taxpayers so they will exert pressure on the House to get their act together.

    4. curlydan

      I’ve talked to many people affected, and I’ve heard stories in elevators of others, too. There are hundreds of services that are unavailable. There are likely thousands of people who are spending less because they’re not 100% sure of what their situation is. As the situation drags on, the number and percent of affected people will grow, and the pressure on the R’s to fold will increase.

      The biz community will soon be crying, then the R’s would fold once the rich men’s tears start flowing.

    5. Knifecatcher

      I had pre-paid for 5 days on a houseboat at Lake Powell for my kids’ fall break from school. I got the time off work, my brother and sister-in-law were going to come along, heck I even bought an older Bayliner to bring along as a runabout. We’ve been planning for this trip since Spring, and it was supposed to be our vacation for the year.

      Not as big a deal as WIC recipients going hungry or furloughed employees trying to pay their rent but it still sucks.

    6. LucyLulu

      I’m waiting for a refund owed to me by the IRS. There was a mix-up that was finally sorted out the end of Sept. I got a letter saying they would be issuing me a check two days before the shutdown. I was planning a trip with the money next month. I can’t buy the plane tickets or arrange lodging.

      In the local papers I’ve also read that the food pantries are running out of food with WIC being out of funds, and SNAP won’t have funds after this month ends, nor are applications being accepted. SNAP recipients are at an all-time high in my county, one in five people. Also TANF (welfare) is out of funds, as is subsidized child care (shut down), and disabled workers that receive work assistance are unable to work. I know people who work for the federal government and others who receive SNAP benefits. Others are long-term unemployed or underemployed.

      In the southern red states like where I live I suspect the effects of the shutdown are more obvious. More than a bit ironic. People are disgusted with Congress, who they see as insulated from conditions on the ground, and I’m in one of those safe gerrymandered districts.

  6. Schofield

    There would appear to be a deliberate attempt to create economic chaos by a Tea Party inspired coalition faction of Libertarians and Christian Fundamentalists within the Republican Party:-

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_radical_christian_right_and_the_war_on_government_20131006

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-wilson/the-tea-party-plan-to-sha_b_4044186.html

    http://www.garynorth.com/public/2928.cfm

    The notion that the Republican Party’s objection to raising the government’s “debt limits” is a principled stand against adverse economic consequences of Obamacare would appear to be a fig leaf excuse in the sense that little effort has been made by the Republican to promote a better healthcare plan to provide the widespread coverage of the Obama plan.

    In these circumstances President Obama if he is wise would do the following:-

    Announce that there would appear to be a Tea Party inspired coalition faction of Libertarians and Christian Fundamentalists within the Republican Party conspiring to cause economic chaos by forcing the US government to renege on its Treasury bond payments.

    He would say that the impetus for this conspiracy stems from a confusion over the creation of money and its use (debt-free by sovereign government and debt-burdened by the non-government sector) to create economic well-being within a society.

    He would state that given this confusion he is taking the following steps:-

    The formation of a Money Commission to articulate the logical creation of money and its deployment within society for wide-spread well-being. This Commission to issue its report six months ahead of the next Presidential election.

    In the interim he is continuing with the traditional formula of debt limits being increased to fund the agreed budget and any subsequent uplift he considers necessary up to the next Presidential election to ensure the well-being of the United States. To achieve this end he will authorize the issue of legal bonds (in the shape of large denomination coins) to the government’s account at the Federal Reserve.

    The Money Commission’s Report will inform the electorate on the logical use of money within US society for widespread well-being. The electorate can vote accordingly to their acceptance of the Money Commission’s findings.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Nice fantasy there. I’m sure Obama, who is undoubtedy an avid reader of NC, will get right on that.

      1. Schofield

        You are wrong. Obama is faced with two issues he has to resolve. Firstly, that the impass situation will sort itself out without any action on his part. Secondly, his deployment of money appropriately by way of fiscal stimulus had no bearing on the United States being in better shape economically than countries in Europe and further fiscal drag will not undo what economic recovery is taking place. This is a decision Obama has to make for the electoral chances of the Democratic Party not for himself:-

        http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=25623#more-25623

        1. Doug Terpstra

          “You are wrong.”

          True, Obama does not read NC, not unless he’s a masochist in addition to being a sadist, but I doubt it. True too that Obama will not get right on that because based on five years of Neocon military and neoliberal economic policy Obama is not about to do anything in good faith for “wide-spread well-being”. That’s what I meant about fantasy.

          Surely you do know that this entire kerfuffle is staged theater for the rubes, right?, that the scripted climax is the Machiavellian messiah’s “salvation” of Social Security and Medicare. I assumed your sound policy advice was, at least with respect to Obama, tongue-in-cheek. Otherwise, please send for my free catalog of deeply-discounted bridges.

          1. Schofield

            I think you just told us that in your view all Americans are too stupid to vote for their well-being and all politicians are too stupid to recognize this. Thank you!

            1. Cassiodorus

              In the real world, most of the public no longer votes FOR anything their government does. The quintessential example of this was the 2012 Presidential Election, in which the winner, Barack Obama, decided the election through an intensive anti-Romney campaign in the swing states, while the loser, Mitt Romney, received most of his vote from people who really didn’t care who he was as long as he wasn’t Barack Obama.

              http://stream.wsj.com/story/campaign-2012-continuous-coverage/SS-2-9156/SS-2-33343/

              Thus elections are largely decided today through public perceptions about the marginal disutility of the “other” candidate. The Democrats have nothing to fear from public disapproval of the Grand Bargain as long as they can persuade a plurality of the public that “the Republicans are worse.”

              1. Schofield

                Individuals voting for the smallest dick that’s going to screw them? I don’t buy it! They don’t vote!

                1. Cassiodorus

                  Sorry, but there is a scientific basis for the efficacy of attack advertising. And it wouldn’t matter to the electoral system if people didn’t vote. All that matters is who gets the most votes.

              2. Malmo

                @ Cassiodorus,

                That’s almost exactly how party politics operates. They’ll blindly stay loyal to their impefect leaders in said party, ignoring all their many peccadilloes, rather than support the other party’s “satans”. It is a negative vote of approval for many.

                If enough people become alienated by either party, and no longer wish to play ball this way, voting for the least bad person, thus comes the rise of the independent, swing voter. Party loyalty vanishes, and voting along self interest parameters, which often crosses party lines, becomes the pragmatic course of action.

                For me, a civil libertarian type, I’ll vote ad hoc across party lines for candidates who best represent that ethos. If the chioce is between corporate toadies, I’ll refrain from voting, which I’ve incresingly done, especially at the national level. Sure I’m not alone there either.

                As an aside, people can hate on Tea Partiers till the cows come home, demonizing them as some new, and dangerous phenomena (Guess you weren’t around during the Bircher craze that infected DC politics in a much more insidious way) At any rate, I’ll reserve my distain, thank you, for the whole damn enchilada enconsed near the Potomac. And I won’t ever be fooled again into thinking one party, in a two party system, will take us to the promised land. If there’s a viable far left party down the road, then I might play. Until then I’m cotentent to throw barbs their way as the malcontent this fucked up system made me into.

            2. jrs

              This seems to be the case. I mean Jill Steins showings weren’t impressive and voting duopoly in that one was clearly voting against one’s self-interest.

            3. Doug Terpstra

              No, thank you. I don’t think people are stupid, but your opinion is very important to me.

              I do think voters vote against their self-interest whenever they vote either D or R, but it’s not stupidity; I’ll leave that judgment to you. You may call me stupid, however, for voting for Stein, who obviously never had a chance (0.5%?). There are several reasons people might have voted for Obama twice (I did once, 2008) despite ample evidence against him.

              1) People are trusting; to their credit, they believe others are basically honest, even politicians, and hope that they’ll at least make a good faith effort to fulfill most of their promises — not actively pursue an opposite hidden agenda. Liberals, especially, tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and are more forgiving of lies and crimes, far too often in Obama’s case.

              2) Most people fervently want America’s first black president to excel and establish a great legacy. I did. What may be an inclination toward affirmative action and some cases natural tribalism, Obama has enjoyed unlimited passes from the veal-pen liberals and the CBC what Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report calls “the Black Misleadership Class.

              3) People are loyal. As registered members of a club or party, they’ll tend to follow the group’s recommendation without undue scrutiny or skepticism. They are also wary of changing horses in waters where so many conjured terrors lurk.

              4) Many people are busy doing useful, creative things and don’t or can’t pay very close attention to matching politicians words with their actual policies.

              5) Even those who saw thru Obama’s relentless deceptions and betrayals simply felt they had no real alternative (TINA) under a fixed duopoly, and chose what they felt was the lesser evil, never realizing they were getting the more effective evil (per Glen Ford). They may have been terrified of the alternative, a vulture capitalist cult theocrat on record as dismissing the 47% of voters as losers, or for perceived advantages on social issues—choice, immigration, gay rights, etc.

              6) Most I’m sure felt they were doing the best they could in the best democracy money can buy and have simply fall victim to sophists of very sophisticated persistent propaganda that gives people the illusion of choice even though the only candidates presented are prescreened by AIPAC and certified corporate-militarists, who can present a receipt for their souls on demand to the highest bidder. We are arguably more expertly propagandized by the manufacturers of consent than any populace on earth including the former USSR.

              7) There is also the large contingent of sycophants and profiteers: “professional” veal-pen journalists, Ivy-league economists, and savvy fat cats on Wall Street who have a vested financial interest in supporting their Trojan Horse champion in progressive drag.

              8) Finally, there’s the Obama phenomenon. IMO, Obama is a truly exceptional charlatan eerily adept at fooling people, again and again, the greatest flim-flam man, Machiavellian false prophet, wolf in sheepskin, snake-oil hawker, Pied Piper … I’ve ever witnessed.

              Your policy prescriptions are very good, BTW. Unfortunately there’s not a snowball’s chance in Obama’s final destination that he’ll do anything remotely close to what you recommend.

              1. Brooklin Bridge

                Good summary. Like you, I thought Schofield’s tongue was so far over that it was in someone else’s cheek. But I prefer your next comment, that is to say this one. It’s constructive and accurate. And indeed, Schofield’s policy recommendations are an excellent waste of breath, but excellent nonetheless.

            1. Schofield

              In the same way he’ll probably get to know the Bad-Ass Austerian Coalition Government in the UK recently did a back-flip as the 2015 general election looms up and started doing fiscal stimulus with big time Help to Lend and Help to Buy schemes!

            1. Doug Terpstra

              No, they’re constructed of the very finest Bangladeshi duct tape and 22-gauge bailing wire. Fine print: some are bridges to nowhere; a select few, dedicated to Obama, are bridges on the road to perdition.

              1. Brooklin Bridge

                I hope to submit my own bridge for his review. Along with misspelling, it has the usual dings and dents for a bridge of such character and renown and the exceptionally favorable terms reflect that good will and frankness.

    2. Banger

      I think you bring up a critically important issue here and that is the power and development of the religious right. I don’t quite agree with Hedge’s view of the right as wanting to “eliminate” all dissent or demonize gays. Most people I know who more or less subscribe to the “Biblical” world view do so because they don’t know of any other–here in the South that’s just how you are raised. But, for example, as Southerners find that their relatives start coming out as gay, lesbian or TG their feelings change–frankly there isn’t much Biblical support for hating gays and I suspect, on this matter, many evangelicals will start moving toward’s the Pope’s position on sexual matters, i.e., they’ll still think it’s “bad” but will focus more on the Jesus of the Gospels rather than obscure parts of the OT and ambiguous statements from St. Paul. I believe the whole evangelical movement is changing and moving into uncharted waters.

      I think the right-wing agenda is more nuanced than the writers you cited believe but that, yes, it is a conspiracy and one of many in Washington. It has been an important faction in DC but more underground and now this shutdown is an assertion of power by this group that is still, in my view, inchoate.

      I want to critique the left view of the extreme right. First, it is not primarily about establishing a theocracy–yes, there are elements within that movement that believe that would be best but the movement itself is more diverse than that. In fact, I believe this right-wing movement has the capacity to form a much broader coalition that would include elements of the left. The best thing to do if you want to understand the direction the right is morphing towards is to meditate on the figure of Alex Jones.

      I believe Jones is a key figure that is able to bring together elements of the right and left into one general world view. Jones is, above all, a nest of contradictions and in this is his strength and weakness. He welcomes and provides air time for people who are dissidents from left-radicals to Ron Paul types. He is resoundingly anti-authoritarian and culturally left (pro-organic food and anti-Big Agro) while maintaining a Christian point of view. He believes that the main dynamic of our culture is the rise of a global elite who want to dominate the world–he includes here the corporate oligarchs as well as officials of both parties. If he is anything, he is a very new sort of anarchist. He is radically pro-gun because he believes most officials are corrupt and the only thing that keeps us from tyranny is an armed populace. He is against “socialism” and against crony capitalism. He is against war and the national security state more so than any leftist I know of including Hedges.

      Again, if you take Jones’ positions and put them together they appear to be chaotic and I believe he realizes this but any kind of new political/social movement can emerge from the elements he has flying through the air. The right wing project is, in my view, seeking to integrate a new world view that is, above all, anti-establishment and inclusive, more or less–imagine the right as we have it in our mind now imagine that it has just dropped acid. It is both ugly and promising, angry, hateful, as well as peaceful and compassionate, dangerous and promising. This is why I think that, while my own preference is for traditional social-democracy, the current choices do not include social democracy. The Democratic Party and the Obama administration have turned their back, more or less, on FDR policies–they want to gradually deconstruct the safety net while the right wants to end it now. As I’ve said, for a number of reasons I’ve alluded to but never fully articulated (though I plan to) the left, as a dynamic political movement has not stood up since 2008 and is now composed entirely of intellectuals in internal exile on the internet. The left POV has just not connected to the public, as we saw with Occupy.

      It is the right-wing that now could resurrect the left. Alex Jones opens up his programs for the left when the mainstream media completely shuts it out (sorry MSNBC, Krugman et. al., NPR or Comedy Central are not on the left and exclude true left analysis from their programs and articles). And before all of you, stomp on me, I don’t agree with Jones on many if not most issues and I certainly do not support Ron Paul–but, at least Paul stood up against the American Imperial project when nearly all Democrats did not and still don’t. Also, I’m clear that the whole Alex Jones thing could turn very ugly–but I prefer to think more positively.

      1. Schofield

        Christopher Boehm in his book “Hierarchy in the Forest” (pages 75 – 76) neatly summed up the human dilemma which is that given our ambivalent nature we have “to make use of the wisest heads available, yet prevent these gifted people from gaining undue political influence and power.”

        Alec Jones would do well to resolve his “chaotic thinking” by understanding we have no option as species but to align ourselves with nature and pursue an “ideology of balance” which distinguishes between “good” and “bad” individualism and mutualism erring on the side that eusocialism does create more “widespread fitness.”

        http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic426436.files/five_rules.pdf

        He would also do well to reflect that money is a “social technology” that eusocialism created.

        1. rur42

          & Nader’s been reiterating that for years. Liberals don’t have the stamina or sticktoitiveness for the long haul. Win a talking point and think the war’s over.

        2. Andrew Watts

          You ever see the movie Mean Girls? That’s how the Democratic Party works. Nobody wants to stand up to the Queen Bee. Everybody wants to be in the Queen’s clique. Except for a few exceptions like the Kucinich people back in the day ‘hic.

          I refuse to believe that Nader doesn’t already know this.

        3. Brooklin Bridge

          Nadar is getting old or something. His assumption in that piece is that the so called left leaning, or progressive Democrats, as he calls them, are simply weak.

          They are not weak. The wind hasn’t gone out of their sails. They are not being pushed around. They are getting exactly what they want and they are getting it by practically wide open corruption and they are left leaning they way the Vichy government was leaning towards the interests of France and just put Jewish children on trains to Germany (and obeyed virtually all German commands) by pure coincidence.

          And they want exactly the same thing the Republicans want only the Republicans can want it openly -hence the gusto- and the Vichy Democrats have to make polite empty speeches that are little more than bare faced lies drowning in irony.

          And contrary to Nadar’s assertion, Bernie Sanders is no exception as his amazing Friday night speech to a completely empty chamber except for one paid camera man in which he argued – in front of the camera man – for a few hours against extending the tax breaks for the rich. It was called by some his filibuster, but was about as much of a filibuster as if he had sneezed in his pocket and called it a revolution.

        4. skippy

          “where is the left?” – Banger

          Um… swallowed by hipster advertizing – cortex injections from birth that left is a fashion statement, you can buy at your local brand name shop, MP3 download from some high equity stock tube portal?

          1. anon y'mouse

            making cab apps, and “voting” via facebook for gay rights?

            (nothing against gay rights personally. cab apps? viva la revolution!)

      2. Lambert Strether

        “The left POV has just not connected to the public, as we saw with Occupy.” I’d argue just the opposite. Occupy was a huge achievement on almost no resources. And when Alex Jones provokes a 17-city paramilitary crackdown — a wonderful demonstration of the great moral integritude of Our Friends, The Democrats — do let me kow.

      3. rich

        I think you are really on to something here with the Alex Jones thing. I cant stand the guy but i this kind of analysis or view which you propose opens up some possibility for movement. I have believed for a very long time that America needs a populist anti-authoritarian movement that transcends right and left. Occupy was the first manifestation of that i believe. For this kind of thing to not go ugly it has to confront racism and sexism head on. Any movement forward has to take the US’ particular history and cultures seriously into account. The Right/left, Dem/Rep thing is tired

        1. hunkerdown

          Just as a little tangent, oh yes, gender is absolutely a useless mess at this point. I managed to piss off a couple of feminist artist-thinker types on Twitter yesterday by asking what gender was besides gang warfare, and the only break in the crickets was “um…” That was curiously intriguing; I’m actually very eager to hear the talking points justifying the existence of the social construct. Not sure if I care to repeat the experiment, as I don’t have any reason to believe that I generated more enlightenment for myself or anyone else than retrenchment. But that’s a genuine risk of blaspheming the civil religions of the petit-bourgeoisie.

          Anyway, aren’t racism and sexism just two of many subordinate manifestations of Exceptionalism? That Augustinian righteous-remnant programming evidently is well knit into Protestant cultures. How to unplug or access that programming with minimal risk of petulant backlash, especially with petulant backlash being mildly respectable?

  7. Brooklin Bridge

    It seems the question of whether this process has gotten out of hand because:

    1) They feel they need exceptional cover to accomplish the greatest theft on the American people since 1929

    OR

    2) A Frankenstein monster has been created by a few whacko rich people and has gotten a mind of its own

    OR

    3) Different factions such as the US Military feel they need a bigger part of the pie

    OR

    4) Some combination of the above

    is mostly academic. Obama and Boehner will get their Grand Bargain or die trying…

    BTW Yves, that last sentence in you post is a little confusing. I know you mean you would like to be wrong about the unfolding serial novel, but it sounds a little like you’re saying you would like to be wrong about Obama and Boehner’s continued inability to grasp the Grand Bargain (which is the only good thing coming out of this – assuming – which I think is a dangerous assumption, that they fail this time).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There is nothing left to steal. Military increases were done under the guise of war which everyone is sick of or done under the shadow of domestic programs which were smaller and hallowed out but enough to buy off some group such as the Christians, the NEA, or urban minority groups. Pork was doled out, and people were pitted against each other. This point has passed.

      Wal-Mart has reached the limits of its store expansion, and its facing the reality of its customers not having money to buy plastic crap which means less volume where they make their money, so what has Wal-Mart done in response? They are opening banking services and health centers which represent a profit center of two top industries. Wal-Mart has gone to war with other cruel industries. This is where we are.

      Congressman are no longer in the position where they can support malfeasance and win. There are many long term issues involved. Everything goes back to Democratic whining and inaction in 2009 from a too small enough stimulus to not holding anyone but poor people accountable. Expecting the GOP to ever be “reasonable*” is the height of insanity, and once they realized the Democrats were crooks or hostages they haven’t stopped stamping their feet and winning on countless issues. Hell, Obama expanded the office of faith-based theft.

      *Democrats are supporting a budget Paul Ryan circa 2012 found egregious.

      1. Cassiodorus

        You say:

        Congressman are no longer in the position where they can support malfeasance and win.

        I don’t see it. Please see my post above about voting. People in this era are perfectly willing to vote for malfeasance because all they really do is vote against the marginal disutility of the “other” candidate. They make glorious excuses for this behavior: “Obama isn’t perfect but he’s better than Romney.” Meanwhile Romney got most of his votes from people who thought that anyone would be better than Obama.

    2. James Levy

      You point #2 I think is critical. When the rich become as fantastically wealthy as they are today, a small cadre of them and their corporate retainers and country club buddies can literally fund a hundred House races in poor states/regions where the cost of “buying” a House seat is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, not the millions. In this regard, buying the House makes more sense than the Senate, because Senate seats cost millions, and Senators mostly have to appeal to broader constituencies than House members do. So you pick Congressional districts with lots of whites, lots of Evangelicals, and in media markets that won’t bust your budget, and you fund them fully. In this way, a small cabal built around the Koch brothers can have a huge influence on politics.

      This seems to be the template that is being applied. It is why you don’t need the broad elite consensus you once needed and enjoyed. And the stigma of such crude, overt manipulation seems to be gone. Once, many rural people would have been too proud to allow some outsider to come in and “buy” their votes, but today I don’t see that as operative.

      My last point would be that the elite opposition to this nonsense seems confused, demoralized, or distracted. The most atavistic elements of the elite by comparison appear filled with energy and purpose. They are more dangerous than most people imagine.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think point 2 is a misunderstanding of the Teabaggers. The Tea Party was to rebrand Palin supporters (i.e. the Republican base) into the Republican fold to make sure they wouldn’t strike out on their own.

        The GOP made a deal with the evangelicals and their kind to work together. The GOP elite made concessions such as looking the other way at churches as they grew into amusement parks and clubs, supporting federal money into their organizations, and just giving them legitimacy.

        At the same time, the GOP elite recruited from within this proto-Palin group and their fellow travelers to become the electeds. The Teabaggers are the GOP even if they don’t use the brand. Despite the Democratic mantra, the Teabaggers were just Republican voters mimicking the crowds they saw at younger, hipper (I use the term loosely) Democratic events.

        Look at the GOP candidates in the last two elections. John McCain and Mitt Romney were only people who could get through an event without drooling or attacking some group. If Santorum had come on stronger earlier, he would be their nominee.

        When W. was President, I think there was a sense among the proto-Baggers that W. was one of them despite his breeding, and considering rates of drug and alcohol abuse among red states, W. really was one of them, but W. was also a member of the GOP elite by being a Bush and the grandchild of people who wanted to overthrow FDR. There aren’t W.’s growing on bushes. Jeb wouldn’t command the loyalty W. did because he is too polished and metropolitan.

        In many ways, the last two GOP contests for their Presidential nominee were fights between the GOP elite (country club types too, a minor elite) and these Christians who were divided by denomination and region. McCain won because he was there, and the libtards in New Hampshire think he lives in New Hampshire. 2011-2012 was a conflict between Romney and the GOP base’s choice. They couldn’t unite. They looked for people from the talkin’ picture box (Trump), even a woman, and a minority from a service job. Santorum is a Catholic. In a way, those candidates were outsiders from the GOP elite. They might fit in, but they weren’t the same.

        There is no Frankenstein monster this is who the GOP base is and has been since Nixon’s Southern strategy (I guess its Nixon’s). There are less goodies out there, and I think the GOP base is questioning the use of the GOP elite. This doesn’t mean they will be progressives because they are largely deranged, but much like the fascists who brought the Nazis into power, the Nazi based did replace them or put them out to pasture when they thought the original fascist elite didn’t offer their group more. This is what we are observing. The Evangelical-types are flexing their power.

        In a way, they have come off a strong showing from the Amash amendment and joining the side against the President’s drive to war before Democrats thought to do it.

  8. washunate

    Does anybody get the feeling that the deal has already been agreed to in principle? The past weeks and coming week are theater for the masses, particularly liberals who think that the Democratic Party leadership shares their goals and vision for the country.

    Wake me up when the TSA and DEA cease to exist as operating entities. Wake me up when ‘only’ 100,000 employees and contractors are ‘essential’ personnel to the national security state. Etc. Until then, this is about as relevant as the 2011 showdown or any of the dozens of other times the USFG has magically figured out how to fund all the authoritarianism it wants to in glorious bipartisan fashion.

  9. clarence swinney

    It is not acceptable that a handful of right-wing extremists in the House have shut down the government and are now pushing for the United States, for the first time in our history, to not pay its bills — precipitating a likely international financial crisis.  It is widely believed that there now exists in the House a majority of members (virtually all Democrats and some moderate Republicans) who are prepared to vote for a clean continuing budget resolution which would immediately re-open the government.  House Speaker Boehner must allow the House to have that vote.
     
    It is also important that people understand that the real issue here is not just the desire of Republicans to defund Obamacare. At a time when the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing, these right-wing ideologues want to repeal virtually every piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protects the elderly, the children, the sick, the poor and the environment.  The truth is that ending Obamacare is just a small part of the right-wing extremist agenda, which is heavily funded by the Koch brothers and other very wealthy and powerful special interests.  Their full agenda includes privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, slashing Medicaid funding, eliminating the EPA and the Department of Energy and abolishing the concept of the minimum wage.  Needless to say, they also want more tax breaks for the rich and large corporations.  It should be clear to everyone that their long-term goal is to move this country into an oligarchic form of society in which billionaires completely control the economic and political life of this nation. Sen. Bernie Sanders

    1. James Levy

      I understand where you are coming from, but it is irrefutable that President Obama wants to cut into Medicare and Social Security, and it is likely that the main reason he is hanging tough on Obamacare is that it has his name attached to it. If he had wanted a system that did not dump billions into the hands of insurance companies and HMOs, he’d have started with that position then, if necessary, concede points to the opposition. So, although I loathe the Republicans, the evidence that Obama is in any way “on your side” is skimpy to non-existent. He wants to go down in history as “tough” and “responsible”, which is why he protects the Intelligence apparatus and like his drones and his rendition policies. Another way of proving how “tough” and “pragmatic” he is will be to chain Social Security and cut Medicare. He’s indicated that on numerous occasions. He will do it as soon as the Republicans take “yes” for an answer.

  10. drb48

    “even if the two sides steer out of this nosedive early next week (unlikely but possible) or later, what they will have signed up for is a European-style kick the can down the road solution.”

    Which would ensure the “bad serial novel” outcome. At least for the duration of Obama’s term. Since Obama doesn’t have to face the voters again, why not just face the music and drive a stake through this sequence now? Which should have been done IMHO the first time this was tried in 2011 – the difference being that Obama had another election to win in 2012. That’s in the rear-view mirror now. The time is now to put an end to budget-making-by-hostage-taking. This would likely provoke a Constitutional crisis but it’s one that needs to happen IMHO because that’s the only way we’re going to get resolution.

  11. $$

    Don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it, but we appear to be heading towards a “drown it in the bathtub” moment, a long standing right wing Republican dream.

    1. Schofield

      And, of course, one of the key tenets of the Tea Party is trying to stop Government from controlling businesses by businesses taking control of government so they can drown labour and the planet in the bathtub.

    2. washunate

      I’m curious if you have some specific thoughts on what you mean? I am familiar with the conservative takeover of religious and then political life, but that all happened a generation ago. What could be gutted or at least contained in the 80s and 90s has been.

      The story of contemporary times is not the GOP, but rather, the Dems. There is no coalition in Washington in the entirety of the 21st century that has been interested in drowning government.

      By what criteria or standard would you propose to evaluate the shrinking of government?

      1. anon y'mouse

        possible translation: gov’t that does anything for anyone in the public. public that doesn’t do exactly as the elites want.

        but hey, intellectual property rights and TPP and spying for graft is all “OK!”

  12. Richard Lyon

    With this kind of political drama it is always difficult to sort out the hype from things that might be a sign of something significant happening. However, this article from the NYT does raise some interesting questions about what is really happening.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/us/business-groups-see-loss-of-sway-over-house-gop.html?ref=us&_r=0

    There is a theme being sounded that the business groups who funded the rise of the radical right conservatives are now feeling seriously threatened by them. Is there really a fundamental split in the Republican party or is this just a short term family squabble? Reagan and Bush II were generally successful at exploiting right wing populism while keeping it well under control. If it really is now out of control, what accounts for that, a lack of leadership or a rising tide of political hysteria?

    Another thing that is interesting is that business interests are more openly admitting that they actively participated in helping to create this movement. Could they have really thought that the Democrats with Obama’s tepid leadership posed a serious threat to their control of the levers of power?

    None of this seems to fit neatly into the prevailing political narratives.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The love of Reagan from the Christian element is a bit of a later myth. They liked him, but he wasn’t quite their guy. W. was a reformed calvinist drunk. W. was one of them, much in the same way Palin was and McCain wasn’t.

      The Southern Strategy wasn’t going to last forever.

  13. Bill Frank

    I’m sure that new Fed boss Yellen will fully endorse entitlement “reform” as a necessary step to address the debt while keeping the economy moving in the right direction. Get ready to watch Obama accomplish what many thought impossible, inflict the first wound against Social Security.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      No, not the first wound to SS. I think Ronald Regan or Bush Sr. may have that honor, but definately not Obama.

  14. John Yard

    Irrespective of a ‘grand bargain/betrayal’ or not, if a faction is able to circumvent the lawmaking process , the authority and legitimacy of the federal system will undergo a seismic shock. It seems analogous to the nullification doctrine of the 1830′s , except it is not an individual state , but an internal faction able to override the constraints governing the other factions.

    If one party can nullify the legislative process, so will others. Welcome to Beirut.

    1. Schofield

      As a man who likes a good bribe when it comes his way I rather like the notion of John Boehner being the host for the Tea Party parasites who’ll cast his husk to one side when they’ve done with him! Although for the sake of the US I hope in reality it never comes to that simply that a disillusioned electorate give him the old heave-ho!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAC2xeT2yOg

  15. clarence swinney

    RUSH LIMBAUGH + SEAN HANNITY
    Will Sean ever break the record of Rush?
    Rush record=over 10,000 lies in 4000 hours.
    Rush said, few years ago, “that Media Watch Group FAIR, edited 4,000 hours of my transcripts
    and found 45 little errors”.
    I got the study from FAIR. 45? He averaged over 2 lies per hour.
    Will Sean break that record?

  16. Doug Terpstra

    Oh, I don’t think politicians are stupid either. I think they know very well who their masters are, and it’s not the voters. It’s the plutocrats who bankroll their campaigns.

  17. Ray Phenicie

    “And the idea of income verification for low income people to get subsidies is a nasty way to try to force them out of the program (which means paying the opt out charges) by increasing the bureaucratic hurdles considerably (of course, the Administration could do what it should have done, which is rely on IRS data, but that would not mean integrating another database into an already failing IT implementation)”
    Under the new Jim Crow Regimen that means minorities will be slammed the most.

  18. different clue

    Just today on Michigan Public Radio I heard on a program called Stateside a couple minutes about a new “grass-roots organizing” group being launched. It is called The Can Kicks Back. It is for young people to organize and lobby their Reps and Sens about “creating more jobs, preventing higher taxes, investing more in young people and less on older people” etc. The spokesleader said they don’t just want bipartisanship, they want bi-generationship. Meaning they want the Boomers to understand how badly the Boomers are cheating the Youngers and getting the Boomers to agree to “slowing the rate of growth of Entitlements, reforming Social Security” etc. He said they start their meetings with a nonpartisan purely factual movie by The Travelers Institute to describe what the problems are, then hold interactive text-message polls with all the Youngers in the audience. Non-youngers are welcome to join the discussion.

    One of the groups this spokesleader mentioned as backing his The Can Kicks Back movement is the shadowy Obama front group called Organizing For America. I know that Yves Smith and all the guest writers are already overworked, but I hope that some or all of them can carve out a little time to study this The Can Kicks Back movement and see if it is the emerging threat I think it is and how effective countermeasures against it can be designed and waged.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “investing more in young people and less on older people” In other words, Grand Bargain Large Agreement Massive Headnodding and Chinstroking Episode or whatever they’re call it these days front group.

      As if we could not invest in both the not-yet-old and the no-longer young!

      1. anon y'mouse

        as a society, should not a person be able to be supported their first and last 20 years? with each worker now producing the goods/services of multiple people, why is it not now possible to have a good quality of life for all if each worker supports 2 others?

        it’s not like kids and grandmas do NOthing. kids do chores, and grandmas watch kids and maintain the social network.

        kids used to equal retirement policy. if you paid people well enough, this could be true again. if the old people can’t get even cat food for their SS$, this will be true again regardless.

      1. jrs

        “Every time Washington “kicks the can down the road” by delaying action on addressing the drivers of our $17 trillion and growing national debt, politicians are actually kicking young people and our future.”

        And what about every time they delay action on CLIMATE CHANGE? On all other forms of ecosystem collapse? Are they kicking young people and our future then?

        “In short, we are that can. The Can Kicks Back is a non-partisan and Millennial-driven campaign with the goal of kicking back at Washington by demanding a sustainable and generationally equitable solution.”

        Sustainable and generationally equitable, you mean massive investments in green energy, heavy conservation, off fossil fuels yesterday?

        “Our growing debt is not just a political issue, but a moral one. As a result of decisions that are being made (or not made) by leaders today, our generation faces a diminished future of more debt, fewer jobs, higher taxes and a lower standard of living.”

        Not to mention an increasingly unstable climate, more droughts, more wildfires, more massive storms, ocean acidification, collapse of ocean diversity and fish species, and threats to crop pollinators? Yep, you’ve got a real moral issue on your hands there! How can older generations do this to younger generations? It’s just wrong.

        “When politicians delay, young people pay. The longer we wait to deal with our fiscal imbalance, the greater the burden will be on young people and future generations. The real choice we face is not between the Democratic or Republican parties, but between progress that can save our future or the status quo that would sacrifice it”

        Yea really, the longer we wait to deal with carbon outputs, the greater the feedback loops, the more arctic ice melts the greater the methane released, until the whole thing becomes a runaway feedback loop. When politicians delay young people pay! And the greater the burden will be on young people and future generations, we need to take actions that will save our future rather than a status quo that will sacrifice it to maximize profits of things that should be put out of busineess yesterday. GLOBAL CLIMATE AGREEMENTS now! Carbon taxes now! Green power now! No more kicking the can.

        [because these are issues you'd have to take incredibly seriously in your thinking, if your real concern was the younger members of society]

      2. jrs

        Thing is if we had a real movement whose main concern was the future we are leaving young people and future generations, I would support it, even if deficit reduction was one of their planks. So long as preserving a hospitable planet for the young to live on was also a plank and an even more important plank at that (because even if one believed the worst case scenarios about the debt, without a habitable planet the state of the economy doesn’t matter anyway! So the environment has to come first). And how would such a group looking after the young and the future view say GMOs? Maybe more study is needed before they are relased because .. though they generate profits today they might cause harm in the future. Yea a real group that cared about the youth and the future would be a good thing (so long as it’s understood that caring about the youth doesn’t mean old people eat catfood and sit on melting iceflows). And it really would have a real and geniune and believable moral thrust.

        But hey another astroturfed piece of (r@p that noone can believe in morally and that noone believes is grassroots, lovely, can’t wait to join that.

  19. Procopius

    Remember, now, it’s clear from public statements of members of his own party that he already has about 20 votes in favor a clean continuing resolution,…

    I think most of them have made public statements recanting their heresy, and all but maybe three have now loudly announced that they will not accept a clean CR under any circumstances.

    I’m sure Obama is still hoping to get his Great Betrayal through, but it will probably have to wait until there is an actual Democratic majority in the House and a majority of 75 or 80 Democrats in the Senate.

  20. clarence pest swinney

    MEDICAL DEVICES TAX
    An argument against it is that it singles them our for higher taxes
    The excise tax is huge 2.3%. Health care reform will increase demand
    for devices over all. Ir does not apply to devices made in USA and exported.
    It does apply to imported devices. Therefore, it was designed to protect competitiveness
    and job creation in USA—for a change.

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