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Medicare age raise coming

Young Ezra is starting to notice that Obama is in the habit of compromising even when he doesn’t have to. He seems to think the president can simply stop, once Ezra explains it to him:

Getting less attention in the media is the follow-up speech the White House is planning, which will lay out a specific deficit-reduction agenda that not only meets the $1.5 trillion goal of the “supercommittee,” but exceeds it and pays for the new jobs spending. These proposals will look quite similar to the grand bargain the White House offered Speaker John Boehner, and liberal groups are grimly preparing for the administration to call for raising the Medicare eligibility age.

This leaves a couple of questions that keep pinging into my in-box from interested and, more often, angry observers around town: Why not go bigger on jobs given that so little is likely to pass? Why not go smaller on deficit reduction given that Republicans are likely to take the administration’s concessions on policies like the Medicare eligibility age but toss out their preferences on revenues and stimulus? And what evidence is there, anyway, that trying to look like the most reasonable man in the room is actually working with independents?

But my question is a little different: Why stop with a speech? The leverage the White House currently has over this process is that they can veto whatever the supercommittee produces, if it indeed produces anything. If they do that, the trigger gets pulled, and the White House assures us that both parties are terrified of the trigger.

So what I’m waiting to see Thursday is whether the president says he will veto any plan that addresses deficits while ignoring joblessness. If he wants to appeal to the presumed mass of deficit-hating independents, he can also say he will veto any plan that addresses joblessness without dealing with deficits, though no such plan is likely to emerge. Since the twin priorities here are passing something and letting voters know what you stand for, then the way forward would seem clear: Stand firm until something you can support actually passes. A speech — or even two speeches — won’t lead to new legislation, and it won’t command enough sustained public attention or media coverage to make voters of any stripe sit up and notice.

Department of the obvious

This is one of the reasons I get so pissed off when young people start attacking boomers. They don’t get that our wages fell steadily for the past three decades while we were supposedly living high on the hog:

Many Americans are being forced to put off retirement thanks to mountains of debt and lower wages, a feature in today’s Wall Street Journal asserts. Because wages have barely kept up with inflation over the past 35 years, Americans have been borrowing more money and saving less. As of 2008, a whopping four of every five households headed up by 60- to- 64-year-olds didn’t have enough savings to pay off their debt without touching their retirement accounts.

Mortgages are the biggest culprit. Last year 39% of households with heads in their early 60s still had primary mortgages to pay off, and another 20% had secondary mortgages—up from 22% and 12% respectively in 1994. And thanks to the housing downturn, those would-be retirees can’t just sell their house at a fat profit as many had long planned. “I imagine I’ll be working until I’m 70,” laments one 59-year-old minister buried under mortgage and credit card debt.

Remember that story I ran the other day from the retiring Republican staffer? Go read one former Republican staffer’s reaction.

More here. Better read this one, too.

Finally, here’s Taibbi’s reaction.

Hunger Action Month

If you can, please contribute. Part of the money will go toward your local food bank.

Virtually Speaking tonight

Wednesday, Sept 7 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking
Science | hosted by MICA at StellaNova – Listen live and later on BTR

http://slurl.com/secondlife/StellaNova/228/226/38

Alan Boyle talks with Rand Simberg

As MSNBC.com’s science editor, Alan runs a virtual curiosity shop of the physical sciences and space exploration, paleontology, archaeology and other ologies that strike his fancy. Alan is the author of “The Case for Pluto,” a contributor to “A Field Guide for Science Writers,” and the blogger
behind Cosmic Log, the 2008 recipient of the National Academies
Communication Award.

Rand Simberg describes himself as ‘just a recovering aerospace
engineer.’ The Competitive Enterprise Institute describes him as ‘an
expert on space technology and policy, particularly with regard to
NASA and commercial human spaceflight.’ He writes widely about the
politics and economics of space exploration. Read him in Popular
Mechanics and Transterrestrial Musings – Biting Commentary about
Infinity and Beyond! Watch him on YouTube. | Listen live and later on BTR

Tea Party zombies must die

Am I really supposed to feel bad about this? Have you ever seen how many right-wing video games there are, or how often they shoot hippies?

Now, if you want to have a conversation about shooting games in general, yes, that one would make some sense.

P.S. I killed 63 Tea Party zombies before I got teabagged.

Thunderous

So I’m talking to one of my friends who lives in D.C. and he’s complaining about the rain, the thunder, the lightning, blah blah blah. He’s turned off his computer but I tell him it’s not enough – he has to unplug it to protect it from power surges.

All of a sudden he yells, “What was that?” He’s shaken and says that was the worst clap of thunder he’s ever heard. I’m kind of half-listening because, you know, thunder’s loud. He kept saying he wondered if the city was under attack, the sound “felt” weird.

So we talked a little bit more and then ended the conversation.

I was flipping through channels after I got off and saw this MSNBC headline: “Crane collapse in D.C.” Turns out a huge crane collapsed at the National Cathedral — which is right near my friend’s apartment.

He was right. It was weird.

Last night

My interview with Russ Baker is here. More technical glitches than usual, but still interesting!

A call to courage

The ACLU issued a report today, entitled “A Call to Courage: Reclaiming our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11″, where they examine erosion of the rule of law and of our rights starting with the Bush administration, and continuing on with the Obama administration. But why do we hear so few critical voices today, those who were so loud during the Bush administration? The Young Turks ‘Ana Kasparian discusses.

Reality check

As I was saying to my friends the other day, we need to accept that for now, we’re living out the same storyline as the dying Soviet Union. The security apparatus, the bankers and the money people are running the show, and our focus should be on surviving underneath the radar. You’ll remember that the Soviets had a thoroughly corrupt system, and by the time things fell apart, the most successful citizens were operating mostly through a robust underground economy.

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