That was the point

Paul Ryan wanted to run up the deficit with their tax bill, so they’d have an excuse to go after Social Security and Medicare, so here we go.

If no one does anything, the fund will still cover 79%. All they have to do is raise the cap on the wealthy.

Pete Peterson meets St. Peter

DealBook Briefing: Remembering Pete Peterson and His Long and Winding Career

The man who’s done so much to attack Social Security and Medicare is gone. Via the American Prospect:

Name, please?

Peter G. Peterson.

And what makes you think you deserve admission to the Pearly Gates?

I’ve led a virtuous life, made billions, and gave most of it to charity.

What sort of charity?

Well, I gave over $1 billion to create the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to warn Americans about the dangers of deficits and debts, and the excesses of Social Security and Medicare.

Yes? And where’s the charity part?

Too much spending will bankrupt America, especially the dreams of the young.

I’m just a saint, not an economist. But are you saying that it’s Social Security and Medicare that are destroying the life chances of the young, rather than—oh, I don’t know—college debt, insecure jobs, unaffordable housing, the very rich taking more than their share?

My one regret on Earth was that the young people just wouldn’t listen to what I was telling them.

And where did you say you made your money?

That would be private equity.

We have a saying around here: It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than—

I know … than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

You’ve heard that one.

Yes, and I thought that if I just warned people against the perils of Social Security and Medicare, the Almighty would appreciate my virtue.

It’s kind of a stretch, Pete.

Well, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Sure, fire away.

It looks pretty fine up here. Who pays for all of this?

The Almighty forgives us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Don’t you think that’s kind of profligate?

Well, we do have other, more austere quarters that might suit you a lot better.

They’re coming after entitlements

El financiamiento del muro debe ser parte del presupuesto: Mick Mulvaney

Which is what you’d expect when you put a raving teabagger in charge of the budget, of course:

HARWOOD: I’ve had interviews with Republicans from Paul Ryan to John Thune who have been making the case that “we are going to persuade the president that we have to do something about entitlements.” How are you going to manage that?

MULVANEY: We’re working on it right now. He went through the list and said, “No, that’s Social Security. That violates my promise. Take that off. That’s Medicare. That violates my promise. Take that off.”

HARWOOD: Is Social Security Disability on that list?

MULVANEY: I don’t think we’ve settled yet. But I continue to look forward to talking to the president about ways to fix that program. Because that is one of the fastest growing programs that we have. It’s become effectively a long-term unemployment, permanent unemployment program.

Sure, Mick. Just assume that anyone who made it through the onerous disability screening did it for shits and giggles!

HARWOOD: You are saying to all of those people like Ryan, other Republicans, the Freedom Caucus in the House, “Do not think we are ever going to go after main Medicare and main Social Security throughout Donald Trump’s presidency”?

MULVANEY: No. I think the message to the House and Senate is, “Look, you go do what you think is best.” And I voted for Medicare premium support in the past when it was part of the Ryan budget. My guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that.

HARWOOD: Because of his pledge, President Trump would veto it?

MULVANEY: That’s not a really conducive way to sort of maintain a relationship between the executive and the administrative branch. Let them pass that and let’s talk about it.

The grand bargain

Barack Obama Warns Air Force Graduates Not To Succumb To Isolationism

Told ya:

President Obama’s decision to join Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren in calling for expansion of Social Security is a big win for the left wing of the Democratic Party. Liberal Democrats and their allies in the labor union movement put this idea on the table several years ago to try to kill off enthusiasm from centrist Democrats for reducing Social Security benefits. Their strategy worked.

But in addition to a tactical win for the left, Obama’s turnabout on Social Security is the result of a cycle of tactical ineptitude on the part of the American conservative movement.

Five years ago, conservatives had the opportunity to get a Democratic president to sign legislation that would have substantially cut entitlement spending. In exchange, they were asked to agree that high-income Americans should pay higher taxes. They refused, thinking in part that preventing Obama from scoring a bipartisan achievement would make him easier to beat in 2012.

Obama was reelected anyway. Taxes on high-income households went up anyway. And now the politics of entitlement spending have shifted drastically to the left. The Republican Party’s 2016 nominee says he opposes cuts in Social Security benefits, and mainstream Democrats have flipped away from Obama’s openness to cuts to the position that benefits should be enhanced.

Just say no, in person, to betrayal of New Deal

Here’s part of an e-mail I recently received from Barack Obama’s spin doctors:

David —

As someone who got his start as a community organizer, President Obama’s entire career has revolved around the idea that ordinary people working together can do extraordinary things. So I hope you can take part in marking his 50th birthday… This Wednesday, August 3rd, campaign volunteers will get together for house meetings in all 50 states. We’ll plan local events… and talk about how to spread the word about the President’s accomplishments…

Can you attend a house meeting…? RSVP now.

I replied with this:

What are “the president’s accomplishments?” His unprecedented (for a Democrat) efforts to tear down the social safety net that evolved from the New Deal? To my shame, I voted for Obama, but I’m certainly not going to help celebrate his ongoing dismantlement of the Democratic Party.

But there’s a better way to express discontent about Obama’s refusal to back tax hikes for the rich and his unwillingness to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Simply show up at one of the house meetings and tell those present what you think of his ongoing cave-in to right-wingers.

Click here for the meeting closest to you.