From Obama's presser today:
President Obama: And, so, that's where I have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you're a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we're talking about over the next year, two years, five years is debt and deficits, then it's very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained. How do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure. You know, if you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research then you should want our fiscal house in order so that every time we propose a new initiative, somebody doesn't just throw up their hands and say more big spending, more government.
You know, it would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order. So, now the question is, what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs and what aspects of what government's doing are a waste, and we should eliminate. And that's the kind of debate that I'd like to have.
Are we supposed to be fiscal Conservatives now? Many have said that it is part of a three dimensional chess match and President Obama is Bobby Fisher and winning the match, but these words from the presser are very frustrating to hear. Making changes to my Medicare and my Social Security (I pay into those programs like you) that was hinted at today to try and get some millionaires to pony up tip jar money in revenue increases along with monies from oil companies doesn't seem like much of a share the sacrifice moment to me. Maybe I have it all wrong and Lawrence O'Donnell has it all right on the strategy of this debate. I hope so.
Greg Sargent breaks down Obama's logic: Obama makes his case to the left
Obama’s argument is that progressives won’t be able to make the case to the public for more spending unless the deficit is neutralized as an issue. The idea seems to be that once Republicans and Democrats buy into a bipartisan plan that reduces the deficit, voters will more open when Dems propose government investment in our economy, infrastructure and future. They won’t be as easily distracted every time Republicans shout, “Boo, Big Government Liberal.
I don’t know if this will work for Obama — unlike Clinton, he’s attempting this in the middle of a terrible economy. But either way, there’s no longer any doubt about the President’s reasoning as to why it’s appropriate for deficit reduction to thoroughly dominate our politics for the time being.
Read the whole post and see if you agree or not. I know the Villagers love the idea of a Grand Bargain.
Joan McCarter writes: McConnell-Reid proposal puts target on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
Greg Sargent has some key developments in the Reid-McConnell proposal that make it even worse. That commission it sets up? It's designed specifically to "reform" Social Security and Medicare....
The semi-good news is that it puts the onus on members of Congress to actually vote to cut Social Security and Medicare, which they hate to do. It's unclear right now whether congressional Democrats would line up with this. It could potentially mean putting off any cuts to Social Security and Medicare in this package, putting that vote off to later, when the commission comes up with its recommendations. But that's not entirely clear yet.
The discretionary spending cuts that Reid and McConnell are supposedly talking about are somewhere in the $1 to $1.7 trillion range. Cuts of that size in discretionary spending have to come from social insurance programs—there's literally no where else in the budget to go unless defense is decimated. Which ain't gonna happen. It's becoming increasingly clear that we're not going to get out of this current hostage situation without a big hole started in the safety net. The only clean option, McConnell's original proposal, seems to be a dead letter, and President Obama is not going to let this opportunity to make cuts pass him up.
Steve Benen finds this: CBO and Fed agree: cuts would weaken economy
Yesterday, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, explored in some detail the effects of a deficit-reduction package. His comments generated almost no media attention, which is a shame because they seem rather important.
Elmendorf argued that, in the medium and long term, small deficits could improve economic output. But what about now, in the short term, when the economy is struggling badly?
In the short term, while the economy is relatively weak and economic growth is restrained primarily by a shortfall in demand for goods and services, the policy would decrease the demand for goods and services even further and thus reduce economic output and income. [emphasis added]
The CBO director’s comments came the same afternoon as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reminded Congress that the recovery is still fragile, and that “sharp and excessive cuts in the very short term would be potentially damaging to that recovery.”
Let’s recap, shall we? The economy is weak, unemployment is inching higher, and the public desperately wants policymakers to focus on making things better. Republicans are demanding steep spending cuts, and pushing to have the cuts take effect immediately. The Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office, on the same afternoon, argued publicly that the GOP plan would likely weaken a struggling economy.
Digby highlights what an a-hole Eric Cantor is:
I just love this cafeteria Keynesianism. We can't raise taxes because it would hurt the economy at a time of low demand. But we can slash the hell out of spending (as it doesn't affect a favored industry) because the economy is dragging due to "expectations" and "confidence" not demand.
Cantor is no tea partier and cares nothing for spending and deficits. He is simply a tool of business who seeks to take your tax dollars and give them to the wealthy.Just like all the Republican leaders. I think that if we understand that, we understand his negotiating position much better.
Read the whole article for the sickening details. Like a bad dream, this deficit kabuki dance has morphed into a writhing orgy of deceit and double dealing.
Listen, nothing is done yet and I wish someone could wake me up and say it was all a bad dream, but at this point words do matter and I don't like what I'm hearing from our President. I wish Obama tried to convince Republicans (as hard as he is selling us on the idea of deficit reduction) that creating jobs and helping American families survive while saving our social safety nets is the most important thing in the universe and not some notion that tightening our pocket book will send some signals to the world and then convince the GOP that it's time to raise revenues and invest in jobs, education and infrastructure.
Because I just don't believe there's any way to take the "deficit" off the table. I put "deficit" in quotes because nobody actually cares about them and we only talk about them when Democrats are president. The point is you don't win political fights for all eternity. I'll be quite happy if something that doesn't involve destroying the link between Dems and defense of Social Security/Medicare makes Obama feel like he can start selling a more liberal agenda, but really don't know why he or anyone else thinks you can get Republicans to stop screeching about spending etc.