‘Goons of August’ usher in new era

Nobody’s shooting yet, but I’ll bet Barbara Tuchman would appreciate Robert Kuttner’s headline. Kuttner does a good job summarizing Democratic stupidity regarding the debt deal, and of explaining why our government, in its current form, is in worse shape than those of most European democracies.

5 thoughts on “‘Goons of August’ usher in new era

  1. At any of several points in the past two years, a Democratic president could have called out the Republicans on the sheer perversity of the policies they are demanding. Most voters do not want cuts in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

    Kuttner makes what lambert of Corrente calls a “category error” by writing about Obama as if he were weak and actually wanted to protect SocSec/Medicare/Medicaid.

    It seems to be to much more logical to assume Obama WANTS to cut/gut SS/MM; otherwise he would not be doing so much to put them on the chopping block. In fact he said so to the WaPo just days before his inauguration. SS/MM have always been “on his table” for cuts and trading away.

    Kuttner notes that Pelosi spoke in defense of a strong stand against cutting/gutting SS/MM, but, somehow (uh, because he wanted to make cuts to SS/MM, Mr. Kuttner?), Obama did not pick up on that and instead worked to push for including those programs in cuts to get the debt ceiling raised. And Pelosi was not invited to those negotiations; she was not allowed to sit at Obama’s “table” to discuss the cuts.

    Democrats, from Obama on down, never should have accepted the premise that economic policy in 2011 was about deficit reduction. Once that became the game, Republicans were able to play chicken with the national debt.

    Kuttner here fails to note that the only way the Dems could have opposed, and briefly did oppose, the R’s desire to play on that field was to actually OPPOSE OBAMA, that Obama WANTED to play on that field. It was Obama who did NOT take the opportunity last December to make the debt ceiing part of the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts negotiations. Some say Obama caved; I say Obama WANTED to keep the Bush Tax Cuts, which would force greater cuts to achieve debt and deficit reduction, and also wanted to USE the debt ceiling negotiations to create a “crisis” to get at SS/MM.

    The politics of default were always an artificial creation by Republicans. The real story is that Republicans played President Obama like a violin; and that the deal is terrible economics.

    Again, category error. The debt ceiing and the politics of default were an artificial creation by Obama AND Republicans. Shock Doctrine. I sometimes wonder if Obama worked that out with the R’s last December.

    Perhaps what happened is that Obama may have underestimated the intransigence of the Tea Partiers and lost control of his own game of chicken.

    Most of the rest of Kuttner’s piece is on point analysis. And his recommendation that the House not pass the debt ceiling legtislation was excellent — but by the time the vote came up, the Dems were “backing” their president and being led over a cliff, because the deadline was upon them. Perfect Shock Doctrine implementation.

    Ultimately, Obama got excactly what he was trying to achieve with the Obama/Pete Peterson Cat Food Commission I; only now it’s on steroids and will have negative consequences for the common people no matter which way it goes.

    And the elections come after the passage of the Committee of the Twelve Caesars’ recommendations — or don’t pass and draconian cuts hit mostly domestic programs. Medicare gets “only” a “haircut” of 2% lower reimbursements to health care providers under the automatic cuts. But the Politburo can cut any program it wants to. Theoretically, it can also increase revenues, but the stipulation that the House can amend any Politburo recommendations which affect revenue means those will never pass the House.

    Actually, we the people may be better off if the Congress defeats the Twelve Caesars’ recommendations. All it takes is one Dem deficit hawk to vote with the Repubs — and Obama has requested all deficit hawk Dems be appointed….

    Why does Obama act the way he does?

    All together now: Because he’s a conservative*.

    *Note: It is impossible to know exactly why Obama does these things, but it is possible to judge that the effects of his actions are to move the nation to the right politically. And he uses Shock Doctrine to his advantage, to destroy the New Deal and Great Society programs. Even S&P’s rather questionable actions will assist Obama in that.

  2. jawbone, do you have the citation in the WP prior to the inauguration where Obama said that he would make cuts to SS and Medicare? I remember that, too, but haven’t been able to find the article(s). Thanks!

  3. lbd — Lots and lots of quotes. Obama has left a long trail of telling us what he wanted to do. Where was the MCM coverage of all this way back?

    1) On Jan. 6, 2009, Obama made this statement indicating deficit reduction was going to be a main objective of his administration:

    THE PRESIDENT-ELECT: When the American people spoke last November, they were demanding change, change in policies that helped deliver the worst economic crisis that we’ve seen since the Great Depression, but they’re also looking for a change in the way that Washington does business. They were demanding that we restore a sense of responsibility and prudence to how we’d run our government.

    One of the measures of irresponsibility that we’ve seen is the enormous federal debt that has accumulated, a number that has doubled in recent years. As we just discussed, my budget team filled me in on – Peter Orszag now forecasts that, at the current course and speed, a trillion-dollar deficit will be here before we even start the next budget, that we’ve already looked – we’re already looking at a trillion-dollar budget deficit or close to a trillion-dollar budget deficit, and that potentially we’ve got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, even with the economic recovery that we are working on at this point.

    So the reason I raise this is that we’re going to have to stop talking about budget reform. We’re going to have to totally embrace it. It’s an absolute necessity.

    And it has to begin with the economic recovery and reinvestment plan that Congress will soon be considering, that we’re going to be investing an extraordinary amount of money to jump-start our economy, save or create 3 million new jobs, mostly in the private sector, and lay a solid foundation for future growth.

    But we’re not going to be able to expect the American people to support this critical effort unless we take extraordinary steps to ensure that the investments are made wisely and managed well. And that’s why my recovery and reinvestment plan will have – will set a new higher standard of accountability, transparency, and oversight.

    We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisers to identify problems early and make sure we’re doing all that we can to solve it. We will put information about where money is being spent online so that the American people know exactly where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks.

    But we’re not going to be able to stop there. We’re going to have to bring significant reform not just to our recovery and reinvestment plan, but to the overall budget process, to address both the deficit of dollars and the deficit of trust. We’ll have to make tough choices, and we’re going to have to break old habits. We’re going to have to eliminate outmoded programs and make the ones that we do need work better.

    That’s the challenge that I’ve handed to Peter, and Rob Nabors, and the rest of my budget team. That’s the challenge that the American people have handed me. They know that we’re at a perilous crossroad and that tinkering in the margins will not do.

    I’m going to have more to say about this subject tomorrow, but today I wanted to lay out an early marker with those that I’ve entrusted to help bring the changes that the American people voted for. We are going to bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington. We are going to stop talking about government reform, and we’re actually going to start executing.

    That’s the charge that I’ve given the members of the administration. That’s the charge that was given to me by the American people. And we are ready for the challenge.

    So with that, I’m going to take some questions. And let’s start with you.

    Read more at the American Presidency Project: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=85388&st=gimmicks&st1=#ixzz1UREEQQ17

    2) Article from Jan. 8, 2009, WaPo, featuring Dems, Conrad and Spratt, telling Obama to cut entitlements and to establish a committee to work out cuts.

    3) This is the article usually cited, when Obama met with the WaPo editorial board (video included). Article is from Jan. 16, 2009.

    Obama Pledges Reform of Social Security, Medicare Programs

    By Michael D. Shear
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, January 16, 2009

    President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare “bargain” with the American people, saying that the nation’s long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.
    …. He said his administration will begin confronting the issues of entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits soon after it jump-starts job growth and the stock market.

    “What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further,” he said. “We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.”

    4) Way back, Obama brought up needing to “change” SocSec, in May 2007; this is nothing new with him. From a compendium of Obama’s statements.

    However, the supposed crisis of Social Security has tripped up even our most astute liberal politicians. In May 2007, Obama accepted the premise that Social Security suffered from a mighty shortfall. Seeking to establish himself as a politician not afraid to tackle hard issues, Obama declared his support for raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation (currently $102,000) and chided Sen. Clinton for not doing likewise. Obama at first implied that in his administration, everything would be on the table–higher taxes, lower benefits. He later explained that he would increase taxes only on people making $250,000 or over, and that he would not reduce benefits. But Obama needlessly accepted conservative conventional wisdom, and then set a trap for himself in having to remedy a false crisis.

    Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 77-78 Aug 25, 2008

    Obama did not “set a trap for himself.” As we can see from his actions as president, he really wants to change –cut/gut– SocSec, Medicare, Medicaid.

    All emphasis in quotes is mine.

Comments are closed.