Greg Sargent has frequently made the case that liberals are going to have to choose between the sequester cuts and the Grand Bargain and therefore will need to make the affirmative case for why they are choosing the sequester. (I never get the sense that if they "choose" the Grand Bargain that anyone other than a bunch of loser liberals will demand an explanation.)
And Greg is probably right that if the Republicans are smart enough to take yes for an answer, the liberals in the House will face the wrath of their Party apparatus and the president (and the liberal establishment) if they end up voting against a Grand Bargain. But it is NOT like the health care vote in which they were faced with the choice of walking away from a plan that greatly expanded healthcare for the working poor or giving up a public plan they wanted. That was a choice between two positive outcomes --- nobody was going to lose something they already had.
This, on the other hand, is a choice between two negatives. Essentially, as before, the White House and the Democratic centrists are holding hostages but this time they're basically telling the progressives that a hostage is going to get shot no matter what: Head Start and food inspections today or the elderly, the sick and the veterans tomorrow and they have to choose which one. Why should progressives bear that responsibility? They didn't get us into this mess.
I say they should just say no. Republicans do it all the time and everybody just throws up their hands and says, "well, I guess we'd better figure out something else." They should hold fast and say "the sequester sucks and so does the Grand Bargain and we don't support either one." Most of the progressives didn't vote for the sequester in the first place and bear no responsibility for it. (And even those who did have no obligation to defend the monster that everyone assured them had no chance of ever becoming law.) This is a failure of the leadership of both parties and progressives are not required to betray their most fundamental values and defend any of these ridiculous cuts to anyone.
Just say no. The "sequester vs Grand Bargain" is a phony construct made by man, not God, and there's no reason on earth why any progressive should be forced to own either one. Find another way.
There's something refreshingly satisfying when you hear former Reagan Budget Director Bruce Bartlett dismiss Veronique de Rugy after her multiple attempts to inject the standard conservative economic talking points into the discussion: everyone knows that raising taxes hurts the economy; that there's a massive crisis in entitlement spending; that federal dollars spent at the state level meant there were no austerity measures, etc., etc. When de Rugy questioned whether taxes could restrain future spending, Bartlett blew up:
“But if you raise taxes first, then you wouldn’t have the deficits,” Bartlett said. “Your idea is so g–damn dogmatic that you’re living in a fantasy world where we’re going to balance the budget by abolishing Medicare and other ludicrous ideas.”
With the exception of the vulgarity, it's little different from the conversations occuring on any other Sunday news show.
But you know what important piece of information you were missing? Veronique de Rugy is a Senior Fellow of the Mercatus Center, which is housed at George Mason University. She is not paid by George Mason. Guess who funds the Mercatus Center?
n the mid-eighties, the Kochs provided millions of dollars to George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia, to set up another think tank. Now known as the Mercatus Center, it promotes itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” Financial records show that the Koch family foundations have contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. “It’s ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington,” Rob Stein, the Democratic strategist, said. It is an unusual arrangement. “George Mason is a public university, and receives public funds,” Stein noted. “Virginia is hosting an institution that the Kochs practically control.”
The founder of the Mercatus Center is Richard Fink, formerly an economist. Fink heads Koch Industries’ lobbying operation in Washington. In addition, he is the president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the president of the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, a director of the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation, and a director and co-founder, with David Koch, of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
That's right, the woman whose dogmatism prevents her from anything resembling an honest discussion of responsible fiscal policy is employed by a think tank founded and run by a lobbyist whose sole focus is the deregulation on behalf of energy companies.
It's this kind of cronyism that gave Time Magazine's Michael Grunwald his own Howard Beale moment (h/t David Atkins at Hullabaloo)
Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It
It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.
This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.
I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened...
This, a thousand times this. Not all sides in this debate are equal and the 'truisms' that partisans like de Rugy tried to steer the debate are anything but. They've been long debunked and one can simply look at the state of our economy with an eye to its historical cycles and intellectual honesty to see that they're still manifestly not true.
I think it's fine to have conservatives making their case to the viewing public. But let's be open about who pays them and what their agenda actually is, so that the viewing public has the opportunity to make a judgment about just how god-d*mned dogmatic they're being.
The entire political world has descended into a deficit frenzy that rivals the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials. The mania has been growing for months, but exploded last week when D.C. heartthrob Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (R) unveiled what was widely received as the most important document since the Emancipation Proclamation and the entire political establishment started babbling about “brio” and “courage.” Nothing else matters at this point — not anemic economic growth, not sustained, shockingly high unemployment, not a Middle East uprising of world-changing consequence — not even an epic nuclear catastrophe...read on
Click through and read it. We need to support our own who write so brilliantly.
This sounds like a very nice, conservative fellow who is laboring under the delusion that the Republican party is sincere. He apparently didn't know about such recent historical luminaries as Richard Nixon, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed or Grover Norquist. It's quite a gap in his education.(There are other gaps as well -- he also thinks that he needs to save the United States from going the way of Russia.)
I'm sure the party establishment finds him to be adorably naive.
It looks like the vote is coming down finally. Ezra Klein is saying the vote should come down at 9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific. You can watch the streaming video of the vote on C-Span. I'm totally exhausted and let's face it---the whole country is exhausted. Obama gave a good speech yesterday and hit the republicans as he should. You can read the entire transcript here.
In what the New York Times called "an extraordinary session," President Obama began his speech by quoting Abraham Lincoln. "I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true," he said. "I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have."
"You have a chance to make good on the promises you made," Obama told the House members. "This is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself: 'Doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I made these sacrifices.'" Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz described Obama's address as "the most emotional speech I've ever seen him give."
Can I just say once again how much I hate these little "Mission Accomplished" press conferences? I realize that it's human to want to celebrate the (apparent) end of a hard fought battle and that they all loved to be stroked by each other in public, but it's unseemly.
Instead of telling each other how wonderful they all are, perhaps they could spend time time explaining why the bill is important and thanking the American people for their forbearance. They can give each other big smooches and hearty pats on the back when the cameras stop rolling.
If the President had started out the process as forcefully as he has been lobbying now, the bill would have been finished before the dog days of last summer. Glenn Greenwald's take here is understandable. He wants the bill to pass too, but with tepid support and is miffed at the politics of it all.
As liberals, we have fought hard for what we believe in, but building a powerful liberal/progressive coalition in Congress is going to take time. And we need a strong ground game to go along with them. Many of us are somewhat disappointed in the final bill, but it does have some important changes that have been discussed endlessly already and I won't rehash them all now.
Remember, conservatives have been actively building their movement since Barry Goldwater and then it continued with the rise of Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Having the backing of billions of dollars from overzealous corporations and wealthy families that the left doesn't have access to has been a major obstacle for progressive change and will continue to be one. And we know all about the right wing noise machine that is allowed to permeate our airwaves while traditional journalism goes out of business, which will slowly turn all news into opinions.
The liberal blogosphere is still in its infancy. Kudos to the many interest groups that have been fighting the good fight for decades, but I think bloggers can build "Movement Progressivism " better in the long run because it encompasses all of our special interests and combines them.
Both on substance and politics, better to pass it than not. It does not do the important work of sowing the seeds of the insurance industry's destruction, leaving the skimmers in place, and only takes baby steps towards moving them to the regulated public utility model. It also doesn't get rid of their anti-trust exemption, leaving the effective monopolies in place.
This leaves us open to continued abuses by the industry and fails to do the most important cost-cutting measure, cutting out the paper pushers who serve no useful purpose in the economy. But there is good in the bill, too, and one has to be a bit Hopey that over time demands by the public will make the bad and unpopular stuff less bad and less unpopular.
As it pertains to the politics of it all, the President needs this bill to pass. If it does then I believe the MSM will hail it as a great achievement on his part.
I'll have a lot more on this after I get some much needed rest.
The Obama administration’s determined effort to reduce America’s missile defense capabilities initially seemed to be just standard Leftist fare — of a piece with the Democratic base’s visceral hostility to the idea of protecting us against ballistic missile threats. A just-unveiled symbolic action suggests, however, that something even more nefarious is afoot.
Heather already wrote a great post on this, but I wanted to add a little more. I just love conservatives because they find new words to describe the same old shit that has caused the country into a complete meltdown.
A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world. A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
It applies the principle of limited government based on the
rule of law to every proposal.
It honors the central place of individual liberty in American
politics and life.
It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and
economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom
and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that
It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood,
community, and faith.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.
We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
February 17, 2010 Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America
Edwin Feulner, Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation
Lee Edwards, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation, was present at the Sharon Statement signing.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
Becky Norton Dunlop, president of the Council for National Policy
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center
Alfred Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator
David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union
David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society
T. Kenneth Cribb, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness
Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
Kenneth Blackwell, Coalition for a Conservative Majority
Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
Kathryn J. Lopez, National Review
I wonder how many liberals will be signing on with Grover Norquist?
Anyway, it's more of the same bullshit. Didn't Karl Rove help George Bush to create the "Compassionate Conservative?" That was a load of crap too.
In fact, these conservatives are as "constitutional" as they are "compassionate." Which is to say: Not really at all. The giveaway this time around is their complaints that we "Mirandized" the Underwear Bomber and gave him "rights under our Constitution," as though those were only available to U.S. citizens. Except that the Constitution itself is very clear that we give those rights to everyone, citizen or not, under our jurisdiction. You'd think "constitutional conservatives" would be all over that.
We remember how bogus "Compassionate Conservativism" was. Source Watch:
The arrest of ten Baptists in Haiti for attempting to kidnap and deal in child trafficking (allegedly) brings out the usual right wing defenders. Too bad the religious right acts more like a partisan political party instead of promoting true religious thoughts.
Digby turned me on to this interesting chat in the NY Times Opinionator between David Brooks and Gail Collins. Brooks was snowed in and suddenly found himself enthralled with Paul Ryan's insane budget proposal:
David Brooks: I actually find myself warming, unexpectedly, to Paul Ryan’s vision of government. Ryan, as you know is the Wisconsin House Republican who recently laid out a “Roadmap for America’s Future.” It is the most intellectually honest budget proposal I’ve seen. It really would produce a balanced budget. The Congressional Budget Office even says so.
It is also a vision for a voucher state. Government would have very few decision-making powers. Instead it would essentially redistribute money so that individuals could better secure their own welfare provision. Medicare and Social Security would essentially be turned into cash programs. The elderly would receive $11,000 a year to purchase insurance. The tax code would be radically simplified.
It's honest in the sense that Ryan wants to basically destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and he isn't afraid to say it. Republicans didn't get his back either because they know seniors do not like these entitlments f*&ked with.
Have these Republicans dealt with any elderly people recently? Do they know how much medical care they receive? Dealing with the health care system becomes the focus of their entire lives at some point. Yet, with out of pocket expenses, many people my age pay at least that much per year without even being seriously ill. The elderly, most of whom are dealing with both chronic and acute illness and injury, would be completely screwed with that small stipend. Even the more wealthy ones would quickly run out of money.
Oh, and by the way, it turns out that Ryan's budget wouldn't eliminate the deficit after all.