A conference call with Congressional Budget Office spokesman Ken Baer and White House adviser David Plouffe tonight was probably aimed at growing indignation in the blogosphere over the proposed Obama budget, which features your proverbial draconian cuts to just about every social program -- except Social Security and Medicare.
It's good that the administration is engaging in these calls because we get to hear more details about their budget instead of the usual MSM drone, but I'm not sure that bloggers are happy with the overall conversation since once we got into the details of arguing different cuts, it looked as though we were buying into the White House frame that the cuts were urgently needed in the first place, and many of us don't believe that's true.
The audio of the call is in our media player--above. What do you think?
Baer's opening remarks focused on "shared sacrifice."
My question: "When you’re talking about shared sacrifice, clearly, the working and middle class is getting a disproportionate slam everywhere they turn with this budget, and you’re talking about a few, what sound like token items to the rest of us out here, and I wonder how you rationalize that during this severe economic recession."
Baer said people got that impression from the stories that were released early, without looking at the big-budget picture. (Click here.)
Is this a ploy to back Republicans into a corner over popular programs? Is this a strategy to get the public to support Social Security cuts later or not at all? Is it to woo Independents?
In the meantime, here's a roundup of some budget stories:
Ezra Klein: The U.S. Government: An insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army.
HuffPost: Republicans Response: It would be better to pass nothing.
David Dayen: Festival of budget links!
mcjoan at KOS writes that Social Security is back.
Digby writes more on the administration and Social Security in a pretty positive light:
Unless they have decided to define raising the retirement age something other than "slashing" benefits cuts, this sounds like the only thing they are willing to consider is raising the cap, which is very good news. It's the rational choice.
Who knows where this will end up in negotiations, but it's a strong a statement as we've heard since the president inexplicably decided to talk about social security solvency at the beginning of his term. If they've backed off cuts, I think it's because of the sharp resistance from the left, which wisely mobilized the minute they announced Pete Peterson as a key speaker at their Fiscal Responsibility Summit. All of us shrieking Cassandras may have had the desired effect of keeping SS a third rail they just don't want to touch --- which is always the point. (And it's not like there aren't more pressing issues.)
Robert Reich: Budget fights fire with gasoline.
(Sorry for the republished post. It was originally posted at 6PM and unpublished by accident. Additional content was added)