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...And start focusing the scorn on our President. It's hard to believe there is still all this giddy talk of Republican rebranding as though everything was fine and dandy on our side. Protecting the safety net is a bedrock of the Democratic brand and Obama has essentially done the equivalent of a G.W. Bush proposing a budget that raises taxes against which Democrats could run and style themselves as anti-tax crusaders.

Above all else, our President has stabbed each and every one of us who worked so hard to get him re-elected in the back. Not one single person worked on behalf of his campaign in order to cut social insurance spending. Many figured some sort of compromise would materialize that included some cuts, but to make it a baseline Democratic proposal is an absolute betrayal.

Want to know how much damage this has caused to our side? Remember at the VP debate when Biden turned to us, the viewers, and asked us personally who we trusted more to protect Social Security and Medicare? Well, apparently, he was lying to us, and no Democrat can say that with a straight face ever again.

We need to STOP taking pleasure in what we perceive to be brand issues on the Republican side and take a long hard look at our own President, who has sold us down the river in order to throw Republicans a lifeline. It's a disgrace.

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McConnell has proposed giving the President the flexibility to choose what cuts go into effect under sequestration, propose his alternative to Congress, and give Congress the option to reject this alternative with a 2/3rds supermajority only.

This would be a terrible precedent and we must not allow it to pass. With this precedent in mind, should it become established in law, it will only take a future Mitt Romney to propose heinous, savage cuts to our social insurance programs and flout a powerless Congress, even if that Congress were solidly (but not 2/3) Democratic.

We must stop this in its tracks. We cannot let a precedent like this set a path towards it becoming established in law. (By the way, I can't help but think the whole idea seems unconstitutional, but can we count on a conservative SCOTUS to prevent Congress from giving this power away to the executive?)

These maneuvers are becoming a pattern with McConnell, who seems to recognize his obstruction has rendered his own political body incapable of governing. His willingness to cede this power to the President, and previously the authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling suggests he is more interested in grandstanding without the repercussions associated with governing, or in political power for its own sake.

I've long feared a parallel between Cato and the Optimates and the Cato Institute and the Republicans. I'm not suggesting we will end up with a dictator, but I do predict more and more power will accrue to the executive as the Congress continues to prove ineffective at governing. It's already happening: the President already has unlimited power to intervene militarily anywhere in the world in pursuit of GWOT, spy on Americans without warrant (SCOTUS has proven equally disinterested in checking executive power here), etc. Now, Republicans are flirting with the idea of ceding the power of the purse, or parts of it, which will be a terrible thing when that power falls into the wrong hands.

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Funny: Obama is now positioning the Democratic party as the defender of the military against House Republicans eager to gut it, stealing yet another plank from the GOP platform, having already largely co-opted the tax issue by rather successfully portraying himself as the defender of middle class tax cuts against Republicans holding them hostage to protect the rich. The GOP's message to the voter going forward will be: give corporations their private jets and their corporate welfare, let us rob the difference from your retirement, or else we will blow up the military.

Republicans ought to be careful: they're in real danger of being played as villains in another Obama morality play, having their perceived strength in terms of national security even further eroded along the way. Which is exactly what will happen, because they are reckless, and won't know any better until after 2014 when Bobby Jindal is back admonishing their stupidity.

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1) McCain wants Hagel to confess: McCain rules, Hagel drools.
2) As a corollary, signing on to The Surge was the single towering achievement of McCain's career - according to McCain.
3) To be in the Republican mainstream, one must swear fealty to Israel that supersedes loyalty to New York or New Jersey, revere our nuclear arsenal as sacrosanct, and forswear diplomacy entirely.
4) Unlike Hagel, Calgary Cruz IS Senator of Israel.
5) Republicans are really, truly obsessed with Israel.
6) Saxby Chambliss is a RINO?
7) Israel, Israel, Israel. Israel? ISRAEL!

Much of the commentary about Hagel's performance has centered on his perceived unpreparedness or lackluster performance. In my view, he played a rope-a-dope strategy that succeeded in demonstrating just how far off the rails this chicken hawk wing of the GOP really is, and how they must never be trusted to run our foreign policy. Anyways, we all know damn well that these hearings are pure theater that will hardly influence a single vote, no matter how commanding the defendant's performance.

Also, McCain is an asshole.

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For both Social Security and Medicare. Business Roundtable intends to lobby the WH to raise eligibility age, but not increase taxes on high earners (Reuters' words).

Thought it worth putting on our radar.

Link: http://www.reuters.com/...

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Pat Buchanan has a great column up at The American Conservative that I think is worthy of posting here as in the purview of dkos readers. He says many things that I and some others around here have been thinking with regards to the significance of the Obama presidency for the future of electoral politics in our country, and essentially warns conservatives that the Obama presidency may represent a realignment on par with FDR or Nixon. (I prefer comparing Obama to Reagan and Clinton to Nixon but I digress.)

When it comes to the Hagel nomination, for example, Buchanan ascribes different motives than I would but the practical outcome is the same: Republicans are put in the difficult position of rejecting one of their own, or endorsing Obama's annexation if you will of a model conservative turned social moderate; in any case, it divides the party and perhaps pits it against itself, damaging it politically.

The upshot is that the continued divisiveness within the GOP has precedent when it comes to these historical, realigning presidencies. Buchanan seems to believe there is some deliberate divide and conquer strategy on Obama's part; I tend to think, to quote a fellow dkos'er, that he keeps hitting bullseyes without ever appearing to be aiming. Either way, once again the practical outcome is the same: a divided GOP and an ascendant Democratic party.

The column is well worth a read: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/...

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Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:33 PM PST

Maddow just blew my mind

by klir2m

I had no idea that when Fox News calls Dick Morris a "former Clinton aide", they mean the former president's one time re-election campaign manager who happened to be fired for soliciting a $200/hr call girl who dutifully reported to the press that Morris had been revealing details of internal conversations with the President of the United States to her. (I was just barely 11 at the time.)

It's totally of a piece with Fox giving convicted war criminal Oliver North his own military porn show, but I digress. Rachel spun a very elaborate yarn tonight connecting his behavior in 1996 to his very peculiar 2012 election forecasting and suspicious fundraising activities. As Bill Kristol wrote recently, what starts as a movement eventually becomes a racket... Anyway Maddow's presentation was exceptionally enthralling and a very good look into the heart of the contemporary conservative movement.

I'll link to it when the video becomes available online; in the meantime check out the Jan. 4 Corrections Department segment if and when you get the chance.

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So Grover Norquist claims that since rates went up Jan. 1, Republicans who voted yes on the McConnell-Biden bill were actually voting for a tax cut. Too clever by half, but let's run with it: President Obama just signed into law one of the biggest tax cuts in American history! He has joined the pantheon of Reagan and Bush II, making Democrats the brand spankin new party of low taxes. Move over GOP, all your talking points are belong to us!

Meanwhile, over at RedState, commentators are blasting McConnell for his giant tax hike. So according to Republicans, Obama cut your taxes! And, according to Republicans, McConnell raised your taxes! No matter how you spin it, we win on the messaging.

This is a short term victory. This is a long term victory. A wedge has been driven straight into the heart of the Reagan coalition. For those despairing about the smaller take on revenue than we initially wanted, I guess I understand, because I've been there before: debt ceiling, public option, etc. But I hope you can take consolation in the very real victory here: the once-invincible Republican phalanx that has reigned supreme for two decades has been shattered. Make of that what you will, but I predict that like the Spartans after their very first defeat in battle, this will mark the end of anti-tax hegemony and will signal the start of Tea Party orthodoxy's long decline.

And by the way, the fight continues. There are many avenues for more revenue going forward, corporate tax reform not least among them. I know many are pessimistic about our chances of achieving these new revenues, but for what it's worth I'm firmly in the optimists' camp.

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We got a deal that raises taxes on the wealthy, preserves tax rates for the middle class, extends unemployment uninsurance, extends stimulative tax measures for FIVE YEARS (who saw that coming?), raises the tax on wealthy estates, doesn't touch Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, and in fact doesn't include substantial spending cuts at all. And we got it with near unanimous consent in the Senate, with dozens of Republican Senators signing on for the first tax increase on the wealthy in 20 years, arm in arm with the Democratic caucus.

In other words, we "got 98% of what [we] wanted." Will we take yes for an answer or will we burn the farm down like a bunch of Tea Partiers?

I think Obama is really channeling Lincoln here. We seem to forget our Executive is no throne for a Sun King; we have 435 members of a fractious House and 100 Senators to deal with. Obama knows where true north leads, and yes, I trust him to navigate the swamps along the way. We can all be Thaddius Stevens and risk losing everything in the name of ideological purity, or we can recognize the fact that, to quote Joe Scarborough, this isn't Hugo Chavez' Venezuela; this is a Constitutional Republic with separation of powers and currently a divided government. And all things considered, we got a pretty f'ing good deal, even if some of the details make even me choke a bit.

Let's put this in perspective: we've made it through the debt ceiling crisis and now the fiscal cliff crisis, all while dealing with an ineffectual Speaker of the House and a snivelling weasel for a Senate Minority Leader, and we've made it through without any serious concessions on Medicare or Social Security so far. Let's be clear: chained CPI is coming, and it's important for the perpetual stability of the program, even if in a perfect world we'd just go for an all-revenue fix. (P.S.: Not going to happen, so get over it). But for now, it's a card Obama holds in his hand, and as much as it makes the Rs drool and slobber, I'd bet they'd trade their birthright - ie, new revenues - for it too.

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I believe he's waiting for Reid to put forward a proposal so that McConnell can filibuster it; that way, Boehner can claim the "Democrat Senate" couldn't pass its own bill either. Would explain why McConnell won't comment on his intent to filibuster or not. I don't believe they (Boehner/McConnell) have any serious intention to avert the cliff. They're just scratching for some kind of edge message-wise.

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Progressives will rage, but I suspect a deal that looked something like this would have us all coming to terms with the political genius of the maneuver years down the road:

1. Raise Medicare to 67 in exchange for a raise in top rates
2. As part of the deal, a truce called on Obamacare
3. Subsidies available for 65, 66 year olds via exchanges; also, potentially, Medicaid

There's no question raising the age to 67 is a symbolic move in terms of "fiscal responsibility", but symbolism carries great weight with Republicans. Progressives will hate it, like they hated the Obama capitulation on taxes 2 years ago, but of course now we're realzing what a brilliant move that was all along.

Getting Repubs to capitulate on rates will effectively shatter the one ironclad plank holding the conservative coalition together. It is absolutely essential to breaking the Republican fever. A present vote on the Senate middle class tax bill won't be good enough; we need a substantial number of Republicans on record with a yes vote for a package to effectively include tax hikes on high earners. We already see cracks forming in the GOP coalition. This would be the fatality. Thenceforth, the GOP might be a party that can govern once again. (Their House majority will stand, probably for several election cycles to come, but I'm more interested in bringing the current GOP leadership to a position of reason and good governance than I am with undoing their majority, at least for now.)

Again, Progressives will hate it, hate it, hate it .... until the fine print sinks in. As part of a deal, the Speaker could be made to come to a gentleman's agreement, even an unspoken one, to call truce with the President on Obamacare. Furthermore, I'm sure the President will be very much mindful of the difficulties faced by seniors looking forward to Medicare and will take full advantage of the Obamacare framework to cushion the blow, perhaps to the extent that there would effectively be little difference. Boehner is probably also well aware that raising the eligibility age is more symbolic than anything and would agree to provisions softening the blow, if needed, as a part of such a deal.

So, if a deal does emerge in which the Medicare age is raised, take a deep breath and trust your inner Obama; he's got this.

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