Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
OK, so you probably think that at least if you’re a dedicated cheerleader they won’t throw you under the bus even if you’re not their first priority. But you’re being naive.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November or what compromises Congress strikes in the lame-duck session to keep the economy from automatic tax increases and spending cuts, 160 million American wage earners will probably see their tax bills jump after Jan. 1.
That is when the temporary payroll tax holiday ends. Its expiration means less income in families’ pocketbooks — the tax increase would be about $95 billion in 2013 alone — at a time when the economy is little better than it was when the White House reached a deal on the tax break last year.
You don’t matter. The “deficit” they created matters. It’s your job to pay it off. This was never a priority, it was just a temporary gimme for show.
Independent analysts say that the expiration of the tax cut could shave as much as a percentage point off economic output in 2013, and cost the economy as many as one million jobs. That is because the typical American family had $1,000 in additional income from the lower tax.
But there is still little desire to make an extension part of the negotiations that are under way to avert the huge tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, that will start in January without a deal.
Nope. Nobody on either side gives a shit.
Many Republicans vehemently opposed its passage last year, as it would divert money from the Social Security program. Many Democrats fervently supported it last year but show no such enthusiasm now. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat, has told reporters she thinks it should expire.
So don’t ever get your hopes up. No matter what happens, you’re never gonna be on anybody’s gift list.
All the great philosophers and theologians since the time of the [early] Greeks have lauded the sacrifice of one’s self and one’s possessions for the sake of the greater good of others as the most honorable action a man can take. Therefore, the great thinkers of the modern rich right wing have implemented a society which makes it not only a privilege for you to sacrifice for the greater oligarchic good but a necessity, thus insuring your entrance into, if not saintliness then at least acceptability within the servant class.
The recent Supreme Court decision allowing the Constitutionality of Obama’s health care bill can be seen as a case in point. With no effort on your part and despite whatever qualms you may have about the way the bill tends to subvert, deny or delay actual treatment, you will be required to pay health insurance corpo’s a sizable chunk of your income for advising you that your illness isn’t covered. (That’s apparently in the Constitution somewhere.)
In this way you will be allowed to sacrifice not just your income but your health for the good of insurance corpo’s whose profits are not yet obscene enough to cause riots. Which seems to be their goal.
Don’t let yourselves be taken in by the appearance of unrestricted greed. Remember, they’re doing it for you, not to you.
After extensively quoting from a ProPublica report exactly how often the Obama admin rejected the opportunity to add help for homeowners caught in the mortgage/foreclosure trap (otherwise known as cramdown), Atrios winds up by with the usual lib claptrap conclusion: “They fucked up.” No, Duncan, they didn’t. It wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.
There’s a new analysis of the Gulf oil spill that makes plain the reasons for it are, as many of us said, systemic. Not an accident, not a once-in-a-lifetime concatenation of incompetence, faulty equipment, and mismanagement, no, the direct result of BAU. The report calls for massive new regulation of the oil industry. The reason I know this will not happen is that Harry Reid promises to get right on it. QED.
Even the brightest of left-wing commentators can’t seem to see the forest for the trees even while they’re explaining what a forest is. Apparently our vaunted “reality-based community” just can’t get its head around the reality of the Dem sell-out to Wall Street.
Take Glenn Greenwald, a very smart guy who’s come closer than most to admitting the obvious. Here he has little difficulty figuring out the reasons for Republican pro-corporate policies.
There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party — controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country’s vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse — now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity.
Yet when it comes to the Dems, he just can’t bring himself to admit what it is so easy to see in the Pubs.
That crisis presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington — the central promise of his campaign — by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington. Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets. But, as John Judis argues in his excellent New Republic piece, they completely squandered that opportunity. Rather than emphatically stand up to the bankers and other oligarchical thieves, they coddled and served them, and thus became the face of the elite interests oppressing ordinary Americans rather than their foes. How can an administration represented by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers — and which specializes in an endless stream of secret deals with corporate lobbyists and sustains itself with Wall Street funding — possibly maintain any pretense of populist support or changing how Washington works? It can’t.
My dear Glenn, it isn’t supposed to. OK, it “maintained a pretense” for a number of years and still does play the kabuki you see through like glass when Republicans do it, a sort of pretense-dance that doesn’t fool anyone. So why can’t you see through it when the Dems do it and understand that the reason is identical: the New Democrat is owned and controlled by the exact same interests who own and control the GOP. Otherwise, nothing Obama and the New Dems have done makes any sense whatever, as you said yourself.
But the Democratic Party’s failure/refusal/inability to be anything other than the Party of Tim Geithner — continuing America’s endless, draining Wars while plotting to cut Social Security, one of the few remaining guarantors of a humane standard of living — renders them unable to offer answers to angry, anxious, resentful Americans.
“Failure/refusal/inability”? Just can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, eh? That’s too bad because your and other progressives’ failure/refusal/inability to face the Awful Truth about the New Right-wing Dems is simply going to prolong the agony.
Oh, dear. Well, we knew it was going to take a while for people to start recognizing that the transfer of wealth to the top by the political class was neither an accident nor mere incompetence but a deliberate sell-out masquerading as one, the other, or both. A couple of examples provided by Mark at Norwegianity should suffice to make the point.
Republican senators have agreed to stop filibustering debate on financial-regulatory reform legislation. After successfully blocking the bill for the third time in three days Wednesday, Republicans appeared ready to go another round. But when Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to throw a Senate sleepover by calling votes all night, the GOP backed down.
Practically everybody. And we did.
Remember when we were begging Harry to force the GOP to defend its insane, incoherent policies physically? On live teevee in front of the whole country? We said that all those fake filibusters would either a) collapse or b) make the voters realize just what shitheads the GOoPers are.
Harry said No. Remember? He woulodn’t do it. It wouldn’t work.
Guess who was right and who was wrong. Again.
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I believe I have figured out who will be Obama’s next candidate to head the Office of Legal Counsel now that Dawn Johnsen has been found unacceptable due to an excess of integrity and a lack of appreciation for the wonderfulness of torture. Here’s an example of this candidate’s clarion thinking. On the Wikileaks video:
Now, is this video disturbing? Of course. Were atrocities committed, innocents slaughtered, corpses desecrated and children maimed? Absolutely. But was it all done according to proper procedure? Ah, now, that’s the question. We should all certainly be willing to support a full and complete investigation into the possibility of an official recommendation for preliminary motions toward an investigation, looking into the matter of whether or not the people here were properly murdered in triplicate, signed twice on the goldenrod form, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. And we shouldn’t rest until any guilty parties have been found, and strongly-worded disciplinary Post-Its firmly applied to their personnel files.
Apart from that, I don’t think we have to spend much time thinking about this sort of thing – this is an isolated incident, just like this and this and this andthis and this and this and this and this and this – and one has to accept a certain amount of rape, torture and murder with one’s military.
The guy’s a perfect fit.
[T]he failure of the Johnsen nomination is NOT and NEVER WAS about a lack of votes. No, it is completely and unequivocally about the failure of Barack Obama and his Administration to support their own nominee and stand up for the values she proffered which led them to select her in the first place. This is about Obama, not the Senate, not Republicans and not about obstruction.
The Office of Legal Counsel is the former home of legal hacks/moral monsters Jay Bybee and John Yoo and Dawn Johnsen is unacceptable to head up the OLC because she was critical of legal hacks/moral monsters Jay Bybee and John Yoo? Really?
If you were Barack Obama and were pursuing the policies that he ended up pursuing, would you want Dawn Johnsen in charge of the office which determines the scope of your legal authority as President?
If the Healthcare “Reform” Kabuki has done nothing else, it has laid bare the truth of what I’ve been saying for several years now: The Democrat Party is nothing But the GOP in drag. Jon Walker at FDL lays it all out and, as he says, there can no longer be any doubt that voting Democrat is pretty much the same as voting Republican. Same policies, same intense dislike of the “public”, same indifference to what the “public” actually wants, same chickenshit toadying to corporations and the rich, even the same bullying tactics and lying strategies.
After a full year of debate and dozens of excuses, the Democratic leadership now stands naked in their opposition to the public option. President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid all claimed they that wanted one. They are the three most powerful people in Washington and have huge margins in both chambers. It is ridiculous to believe that the public option could not have become law if the leadership really wanted it. Yet, for months, people were lied to so the Democratic leadership could maintain the insane myth that the public option’s death was not their fault, but the fault of some insurmountable obstacle. What this mythic “insurmountable obstacle” actually was has shifted so many times it is hard to keep track.
It is foolish to believe that a President, Senate Majority Leader, and Speaker of the House with historically large majorities couldn’t get a public option–which roughly 65% of the country supported–if they really wanted one. Clearly, if they all really wanted to include a public option, they could have done it using reconciliation. To accept their many different excuses of powerlessness requires one to completely suspend reality.
Occam’s razor teaches us the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Here, the simplest explanation is that, months ago, Obama promised to kill the public option as part of a secret deal with the for-profit hospital lobby, and that for months he lied to the American people about supporting the public option while working behind the scenes to stop it.
The same can be said for phony banking “reform”, the phony “jobs” bill, and the upcoming phony Social Security and Medicare “reforms”. As impossible as it may have been for most people to picture 2 years ago, it is equally impossible now to dismiss the reality that Obama is just a black Bush with a smoother rap and a better suit, and the Dems just another corporate-owned conservative “party” and could now fit comfortably as Fellows of the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation (after all, the healthcare “reform” bill they just passed was originally proposed at AEI in ’94). Here’s Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report (via Avedon)
The fifteen month running battle between Obama Democrats and tea party Republicans was never much more real than televised professional wrestling. Like the opposing wrestlers, both sides work for the same bosses, for Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the biggest medical providers. The real health care fight waged by the Obama administration has not been against Republicans, who never had the votes to stop, let alone dictate or pass anything.
The administration’s effort all along has been to pass the worst bill possible, with the greatest amounts of corporate welfare and loopholes, and the fewest protections for patients, while silencing, neutering and coercing the voices of most Democrats, who have favored some form of single payer, or Medicare For All from the beginning.
So comes the question that’s been hanging fire all this time while the people who backed Obama became increasingly disillusioned as his Bushie agenda became more consistent and more open: if both major political parties are really the same party with a slightly different emphasis and marginally different tactics aimed at the exact same goals – keeping the rich happy and fucking over the rest of us – where do we go from here? How do we get a voice in what’s happening, short of outright revolution or getting so rich ourselves we can buy a new party?
There are several options. I discussed the most obvious of them in “Dump the Dems 9“.
The traditional Democrats are there, busting their humps and ready to take the party back to the center-Left, which is where most of the country is at this point. They’re standing up to Obama, they’re defending the Constitution, and they’re doing it without notice from the press when hardly anybody knows they’re doing it…..What if we do it? What if we support them, take over their issues and play them up? What if we work to defeat conservative Democrats who stymie them?
The majority of elected officials in the Democratic party are liberals or populist progressives, yet the party is run by a few conservative Blue Dog obstructionists who pool resources – and votes – with their GOP counterparts. In fact, about the only thing they don’t do with the GOP is caucus with them even if it seems like they do because they always come up with the same TP’s as the Pubs. Yet despite their minority status, these BD’s rule the Democrat party with an iron fist. The leadership are all BDs and they control committee assignments. They determine policy, staff assignments, tactics and floor strategy, and which arguments will be spun to the media.
Bluntly, us liberals, progressives, and populists really don’t have much to lose, especially since the polls are with us, not the conservative Democrats. We could make a HUGE point of backing FDR Dems in primaries against conDems and make sure the Blue Dog is defeated. If we do that in enough places – and it won’t have to be that many – we can return the Democratic party to its traditional, non-corporate roots. You remember? When it used to be on our side?
I wrote that a little over a year ago, and at that time it seemed a viable option. Since then, the Obama/Emanuel Hammer has beaten most of the lib/progs into compliant toadies by making it perfectly clear that anybody who doesn’t go along will be crushed. Even Colorado’s Michael Bennet, a reliable liberal vote up to now, is backing away from his promise to bring a public option bill to the Senate floor after intense pressure from Rahm and the Dem leadership. It has become an open question now whether or not there’s any spine left in the Democrat party, and the idea of a possible internal rebellion seems pretty far-fetched at this point.
What other alternatives do we have if the libs locked inside a conservative party organization aren’t going to stand up for their beliefs (assuming they still have any besides opportunism and expediency)?
Next: Third Parties and What They’re Good For
Barack Obama’s Blue Dog Presidency took another step toward Bushist crackpottery yesterday when he actively and enthusiastically reached to to Bushist crackpots by embracing a theme almost as close to their dear little paranoid hearts as voter fraud and SocSec fraud: the supposedly massive fraud in Medicare and Medicaid that has for 30 years been their go-to reason for killing both programs.
President Barack Obama made his case for an overhaul of the U.S. medical system to Missouri voters, emphasizing his efforts to curb waste and fraud in government health programs.
“The health-care system has billions of dollars that should go to patient care and they’re lost each and every year to fraud, to abuse, to massive subsidies that line the pockets of the insurance industry,” he said yesterday at a high school in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, Missouri.
Obama is trying to rally public support for the biggest changes to U.S. health care in 45 years in the face of unanimous Republican opposition. He said his proposals show there are ways to pay for expanding insurance coverage to tens of millions of Americans without running up the federal budget deficit.
“So much of the money currently in our health-care system is being misspent,” he said. “If we can have a smarter health- care system, then yes, we can provide help to middle-class folks who need it and, at the same time, actually reduce the burden on taxpayers.”
His spirited endorsement included some of the same probably bogus figures in the charges Republicans have been making for decades – figures they’ve never been able to back up with evidence. The Pres claims he has such evidence through a pilot program in several states.
Last year, the Medicare and Medicaid programs for seniors and low-income Americans made $54 billion in unwarranted payments to healthcare providers, according to White House.
To combat the problem, Obama has proposed expanding a program to reward private bounty hunters who find waste by auditing government payments through what are called “payment recapture audits.”
The White House reported that a pilot program in California, New York and Texas yielded $900 million in Medicare savings between 2005 and 2009.
Gee, I hate to say it but this all sounds very familiar. Isn’t there someone else who used to be president who made unsourced claims based on interior White House studies we never saw that were supposedly prepared by people who were never named?
Whenever FoxNews or George W or Darth Cheney wanted to beef up their credibility when they made incredible statements of fantasy as if they were fact, they, too, would, like, pick a big number – say, a BILLION – and subtract 100 million or so from it so it would sound real. “$897MIL” sounds so much more believable, like numbers were actually crunched to produce it. Except that we would find out months – or years – later that they’d simply made the numbers up, that those “facts” had never existed in the real world.
So before I get all excited about how badly we’re being ripped of by our elderly parents and grandparents, I’d like to a) know who ran this pilot program, b) see the study numbers that reached that conclusion, and c) find out how exactly these paragons of virtue defined “waste”. After all, to a health insurance company any money whatever spent on anybody over 65 is a “waste” since they’re just going to die in a few years anyway.
None of this information was included in either news report. None. Maybe because it doesn’t exist.
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Obama Tries to Shame Health Insurance Execs; Next Up, He Tries to Chop Down a Redwood With a Herring
So H&HS Sec Kathleen Sibelius (no known relation to the famous Finnish composer) is having this meeting with top health insurance execs, trying to convince them that, you know, their industry needs regulating.
So President Obama decides to help and interrupts the meeting to read them a letter from a woman who suffered from predatory acts by her insurance company – namely, paying $11K in premiums and medical costs while her so-called “insurance” company paid out less than a $grand.
Apparently his object was to shame them. I’m dying to know how that worked out for him.
I can’t imagine.
But it’s still an improvement, right? And that’s all that matters.
Shorter Evan Bayh:
The problem with Democrats is that they’re not Republicans.
Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America isn’t exactly what I expected when I began it. What I had read of it suggested something of a high-minded travelogue, a paean to the United States, that most democratic of democracies, full of insights and admiration. What I found instead is a straight-out political analysis of a form of government with which Europe was largely unfamiliar, an analysis as clear-eyed as it is dense, and only very carefully complementary. It is no more a travelogue than Rouseau’s Social Contract is a business manual. Though he was here for 9 months in 1831 and traveled extensively during that time, he rarely mentions place-names at all and never descends to a personal anecdote or reveals the name of a single person he spoke with. His one and only concern is the subject in the title: how democracy worked in America.