The Widdershins

Activist Wednesday: What Happens Next?

Posted on: October 23, 2013

Droopy Dawg

Rejoice! It looks like the Republicans have bowed to the inevitable and agreed to a temporary imposition of fiscal sanity. Robert Reich gives us the skinny.

Republicans have agreed to fund the federal government through January 15 and extend the government’s ability to borrow (raise the debt ceiling) through Feb. 7. The two sides have committed themselves to negotiate a long-term budget plan by mid-December.

Regardless of what happens in the upcoming budget negotiations, it seems doubtful House Republicans will try to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised next February. Saner heads in the GOP will be able to point to the debacle Tea Partiers created this time around – the public’s anger, directed mostly at Republicans; upset among business leaders and Wall Street executives, who bankroll much of the GOP; and the sharply negative reaction of stock and bond markets, where the American middle class parks whatever savings it has.

Yes, as we figured, Boehner boo-hooed his way into an agreement. (I believe “Burnt Orange” was the color du jour.)  I’ll bet that there was pudding involved as well, perchance with a dash of bourbon and a few stray cigarette ashes.

But that was then, this is now. What will happen next?

…The President and the Democrats have made it clear they’ll protect Obamacare at all costs. Which means the real action between now and January 15 will be over the federal budget. The threat of another government shutdown is the only major bargaining leverage House Republicans possess in order to get what they consider “meaningful” concessions.

[snip]

Here, I fear, is where the President is likely to cave.

He’s already put on the table a way to reduce future Social Security payments by altering the way cost-of-living adjustments are made – using the so-called “chained” consumer price index, which assumes that when prices rise people economize by switching to cheaper alternatives. This makes no sense for seniors, who already spend a disproportionate share of their income on prescription drugs, home healthcare, and medical devices – the prices of which have been rising faster than inflation. Besides, Social Security isn’t responsible for our budget deficits. Quite the opposite: For years its surpluses have been used to fund everything else the government does.

The President has also suggested “means-testing” Medicare – that is, providing less of it to higher-income seniors. This might be sensible. The danger is it becomes the start of a slippery slope that eventually turns Medicare into another type of Medicaid, a program perceived to be for the poor and therefore vulnerable to budget cuts.

And here, I fear, is one of the exact reasons why I never ever trusted Barack Obama on healthcare, nor felt compelled to delude myself into thinking he and Hillary were practically the same on the issue. We have all known for years that Obama has his greedy eyes on Medicare and Medicaid, and wants to get the cash from those giant programs over to his rich corporate buddies. Now, the Republicans have given him an excuse. Is he playing 11-dimensional chess on Pluto again? Or is he just freaking lucky?

I’ll tell you this, if Obama starts his bullsh*t about “cutting entitlements” again, I will find some petitions and social network the hell out of the word “NO!.” I hope you do too. Because as much as we like to root root root for the home team, and slam the wackadoo Tea Party and their corporate enablers, we can’t get around the fact that Obama is who he is: A DINO who gives FDR’s legacy a very bad name. And frankly, Robert Reich, it’s not caving if you agree.

This is an open thread.

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14 Responses to "Activist Wednesday: What Happens Next?"

All I need is to have my SS cut. My 1,4% raise last year did not come close to my 15% increase in my mortgage secondary to taxes and insurance, nor my 30% raise in medical and prescription costs. I don;t even want to discuss “chained CPI”, where you buy a cheaper food item. Most seniors are not chowing down or prime rib, porterhouse steaks or duck l’orange. I suppose that we could all become vegetarians.

Chained CPI is pure crap. The actual CPI is also crap when it comes to measuring what “seniors” on Soc. Sec. buy, imho:

The CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption by the reference population (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers or Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups. Major groups and examples of categories in each are as follows:

•FOOD AND BEVERAGES (breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, chicken, wine, full service meals and snacks);

•HOUSING (rent of primary residence, owners’ equivalent rent, fuel oil, bedroom furniture);

•APPAREL (men’s shirts and sweaters, women’s dresses, jewelry);

•TRANSPORTATION (new vehicles, airline fares, gasoline, motor vehicle insurance);

•MEDICAL CARE (prescription drugs and medical supplies, physicians’ services, eyeglasses and eye care, hospital services);

•RECREATION (televisions, cable television, pets and pet products, sports equipment, admissions);

•EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (college tuition, postage, telephone services, computer software and accessories);

•OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES (tobacco and smoking products, haircuts and other personal services, funeral expenses).

More can be found here.

Now, i don’t know too many seniors that worry about or consider new vehicles much of an expense. Most have a vehicle and keep it going no matter what. I’d probably say the same for clothing. I would think not so much. Same for education. Other goods: smoking? You bet! (for me at least and for now). Under Housing..bedroom furniture? Short of a natural disaster or fire or something similar I don’t think people regularly purchase new bedroom sets.

Also included within these major groups are various government-charged user fees, such as water and sewerage charges, auto registration fees, and vehicle tolls. The CPI also includes taxes, such as sales and excise taxes, that are directly associated with the prices of specific goods and services. However, the CPI excludes taxes, such as income and Social Security taxes, not directly associated with the purchase of consumer goods and services.

As far as Soc. Sec., if they are worried about its future, simply remove the cap on earnings. The rich will cry “unfair!”. Well the same goes for the working stiff who dies before he or she can collect a cent of their soc. security contributions. That money just stays in the pot so to speak.

I’m 100% with MB on the craziness of letting someone who wants to be “loved” be the negotiator. Obama has spent his entire career in trying to be what other people didn’t think he was which means at his core he isn’t much of anything. Oh yeah, he’s smart, he’s resourceful, he’s nimble linguistically, but when it comes down to it I doubt there’s really much in the way of core values.

He spent 4 years wagging his love stick hoping the Repubs would fall in like. They didn’t. All they did was become more convinced he was not someone who was worthy of respect. I don’t know if Obama has come to the realization in politics it is much more important to be respected than adored. Adoration comes from respect and not the other way around.

What we have seen so far is Obama acting like a parent who swatted the butt of a child and then runs to them with candy. Stupid, stupid non-negotiation tactic — it just exacerbates what the Repubs already believe and from what I’ve seen, they are right.

With the Tea Party circling like meth-ridden vultures, after the ACA website is running, he should be out negotiating on taking back 20 or 25 House seats. Forget the budget negotiations, they will go no where — go out and win 25 seats and then try to govern. There’s only one seat that really counts and that is Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s chair.

Oh man, I am so with all of you. No cutting Chat’s benefits, Chained CPI is BS and yes, we need to re-take back the House from the nutjobs.

Prolix, I love this quote:

What we have seen so far is Obama acting like a parent who swatted the butt of a child and then runs to them with candy.

Absolutely perfect.

Prolix said: Forget the budget negotiations, they will go no where — go out and win 25 seats and then try to govern. There’s only one seat that really counts and that is Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s chair.

Agree wholeheartedly. The only thing the negotiations will do is to provide face time for Eddie Munster.

I had typed this earlier, then hit reload before I hit the post comment button. 😦

@5, That is a great quote also. I guess, though, that if the President is determined to cut SS and Medicare/Medicaid, while having the Repubs take the blame, then the budget negotiations will go where Obama wants them to go.

MB@6: I would guess that all we can hope for is that the Dems in the Senate and House will hold firm.

Very interesting articles, today and yesterday. The comments about the importance of healthcare and a strong social contract made me think of this article. Why can’t this be us?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/denmark-happiest-country_n_4070761.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

annie@8: Why can’t this be us?

Why because that’s those commnist, socialist Europeens, that’s why!

I sometimes believe that many Americans still hold fast to the puritanical thoughts that happiness=sinfulness.

This is interesting – a test on America’s mood. Try it – mine came out……wait for it…..Georgia.

http://science.time.com/2013/10/22/the-united-states-of-attitude-an-interactive-guide-to-americas-moods/

@11: According to that test, I “belong” in Oklahoma. Not buying it. I think I belong in Denmark.

@13: I like the musical but Oklahoma is not a place my family has great fondness for. It holds bad memories. My Choctaw grandmother and her brothers grew up there and were lucky to get out alive.

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