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First up, reactions to the President's proposed budget, which excludes the chained CPI approach to Social Security. Jon Terbush at The Week:
President Obama is going solo.

Having seen his ambitious agenda run aground against Republican recalcitrance, Obama is pivoting to a more unilateral approach to achieve his goals. And when he must go through Congress, Obama has shown he's willing to eschew bipartisanship when it seems like an impossibility. [...] To be sure, White House budget proposals are largely symbolic documents that outline a president's ideal budget, not the budget that will actually be passed by Congress. But by yanking a GOP-friendly proposal from the outset, Obama has made clear that negotiating with Republicans is a hopeless cause.

Roger Hickey at The Huffington Post:
The chained CPI was always a negotiating ploy - an offer by the White House to show Republicans (and their corporate backers) that Democrats were willing to ignore the real retirement crisis in America in order to validate the conservative claim that Social Security was somehow contributing to an overblown deficit crisis. Social Security has its own funding stream and contributes not a penny to federal deficits. But the chained CPI, which would have meant immediate and serious cuts to people on Social Security, was repeatedly offered as a way for the White House to prove they were so serious about deficit-cutting they were willing to harm one of the most vulnerable groups that Democrats profess to care about.

This new victory over the Pete Peterson-style austerity-mongers is only the latest battle in a long war. And with each fight a stronger and stronger grassroots movement has been growing to protect - and expand - the very popular crown jewels of the New Deal and Great Society. We turned President Clinton away from his dalliance with partial privatization of Social Security - and then we stopped George W. Bush dead in his tracks when he tried to make real privatization the centerpiece of his second term.

As we mobilized with facts about the crucial importance of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid in an era of recurring economic crises, the pro-social insurance movement grew - led by seniors and unions, the groups who got those programs passed in the first place. But organizations representing women and African Americans and Hispanics reminded their constituencies how important Social Security is to their economic security. And activist young people, now burdened by student loans and a lousy job market, came to realize the value of retirement and health care systems they could count on.

Much more on this and other stories below the fold.

Zachary A. Goldfarb:

With the 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency and to his efforts to find common ground with Republicans. Instead, the president will focus on pumping new cash into job training, early-childhood education and other programs aimed at bolstering the middle class, providing Democrats with a policy blueprint heading into the midterm elections. [...]

A senior administration official said the budget would also propose new corporate tax rules aimed at preventing companies from moving profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes. For instance, the rules will seek to limit a company’s ability to borrow domestically — and take large tax deductions on the interest — and then invest the money overseas.

Prohibiting corporations from gaming the tax code has been a popular issue among Senate Democrats and would help emphasize bread-and-butter themes in a year when Democrats will also be focusing on raising the minimum wage and other populist measures.

Paul Krugman takes a look back at the stimulus:
There’s a long-running debate over whether the Obama administration could have gotten more. The administration compounded the damage with excessively optimistic forecasts, based on the false premise that the economy would quickly bounce back once confidence in the financial system was restored.

But that’s all water under the bridge. The important point is that U.S. fiscal policy went completely in the wrong direction after 2010. With the stimulus perceived as a failure, job creation almost disappeared from inside-the-Beltway discourse, replaced with obsessive concern over budget deficits. Government spending, which had been temporarily boosted both by the Recovery Act and by safety-net programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits, began falling, with public investment hit worst. And this anti-stimulus has destroyed millions of jobs.

In other words, the overall narrative of the stimulus is tragic. A policy initiative that was good but not good enough ended up being seen as a failure, and set the stage for an immensely destructive wrong turn.

On the issue of CEO pay, Pat Garofalo writes:
there’s a good reason for the focus on Wall Street pay. For tech firms, misaligned incentives aren’t likely to crash the economy. For Wall Street, however, short-term risk-taking in pursuit of bigger bonuses can cause systemic problems, as several studies have shown. That’s why the Dodd-Frank financial reform law included new regulations meant to tie executive compensation at banks to longer-term performance (and it didn’t hurt that reining in Wall Street pay makes for good politics).  [...] the fact remains that Wall Street pay is unique due to its ability to cause harm to the wider economy. The simple solutions for reining in pay that would work in other industries – such as higher taxes, more transparency and stronger unions – don’t reduce that risk. And the fixes in Dodd-Frank, while helpful, haven’t done enough...
Turning to the ACA, Don Hazaert, executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, makes a good point  at The Detroit Free Press:
Recently released federal data also show that 88% of the health insurance plans purchased by Michigan consumers on Healthcare.gov are the more expensive silver, gold and platinum level plans, rather than the less expensive bronze plans. If consumers were finding the plans unaffordable, as critics hypothesized, we would expect to see much higher numbers of consumers selecting bronze level plans. Consumers are buying up in their coverageinstead because they are finding the plans so affordable. [...]

Market reform, under health care reform, is being phased in gradually over the next several years. But in the individual insurance market, where full implementation has occurred, rates for individual insurance policies in Michigan came in 16% below Congressional Budget Office estimates for this year. This confirms that the transparency and competition being created by the Healthcare.gov marketplace really does help control costs for consumers. In the coming years, as we fully implement reform in the small, medium and large group markets, businesses should see similar market pressures on insurers to restrain premium prices to remain competitive in group markets, as well.

The ACA is not perfect. No law is. Despite efforts by the industry and critics to spin events for financial, partisan or ideological reasons, the ACA is helping to slow costs and improve people’s lives. Consumers should remain steadfast in support of full implementation of the new health care law while remaining engaged with policymakers as unforeseen problems are identified and improvements inevitably need to be made in the coming years.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Terbush actually points out that he's working (27+ / 0-)

      with the Dems, I think he meant "solo" in terms of rejecting working hand in hands with Republicans:

      So when Republicans demanded a series of dwindling ransoms in last October's government funding and debt ceiling fight, Obama stood firm and insisted he would not compromise. And when the debt ceiling came up again this year, the president, backed by congressional Democrats, refused to talk about hostages. Both times, the GOP caved, giving the president even less reason to bow to GOP pressure in the future.

      Meanwhile, Obama has shifted away from directly dealing with Congress when he doesn't have to.

      "America does not stand still, and neither will I," Obama said in his State of the Union address last month. "So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do." [...]

      By and large, the GOP has been either unwilling or unable to compromise with the president. Obama, it seems, has now decided that even trying to compromise just isn't worth his time.

    •  The president has lately (10+ / 0-)

      been receiving pushback from members of his own party, not just to drop the idea of cutting Social Security benefits by instituting a chained CPI, but also actually expanding benefits, while the push from the right for deficit reduction has been reduced as Republicans have changed their focus to attacking the ACA and squabbling among themselves.  This has lessened the pressure on him to negotiate with his political opposition to reduce federal spending.

      Also, the last couple elections have pretty much reduced the blue dog coalition in congress that insisted on an austerity position to irrelevancy, at times making negotiations as difficult as the Republicans

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:28:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The President won big in 2012 despite his manuvere (16+ / 0-)

        of putting chained CPI on the table. I dare say, his base understood that this President had to take extreme steps to show up Republicans for who they are.

        Most people who follow this knew that the President had a caveat in order for Republicans to accept his offer, they would have to place massive tax increase on the wealthy on the table. That was the big elephant in the room most Democrats understood that Republicans would not have allowed that.

        The President's base came out in full to soundly reelect him in 2012 and polling showed Progressives supporting the President in numbers way over 80 plus percent. They did not march up to the White House with pitchforks, they marched for the President to the voting booths and voted for him in big numbers.

        Yes, the record will show. This President did not lose his base over chained CPI.

        •  That's an athletic leap to a wrong conclusion (12+ / 0-)

          Obama won in 2012 because he was running against a living, breathing plutocrat.  Where do you get "his base understood that this President had to take extreme steps to show up Republicans for who they are"?  That sounds like pretty unsubstantiated wishful thinking on your part.  Obama almost lost that election at the last minute according to polls.  What makes you think that he wouldn't have done better with a more credible economic populist platform?  He made some noises in that direction, but his actions in office belied those empty promises.

          Do you think that if Obama were running as a non-incumbent in primaries, touting a chained-CPI policy and support for the TPP, that he would win against a candidate that opposed both of those policies?  Only if he were running as a Republican.

          We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

          by Dallasdoc on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:08:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is rich, you want to argue that the (7+ / 0-)

            President did not have the support of his base, yet he won big in 2012. If he had lost I guarantee your tune would be, "See Obama lost because he is no Democrat!" the very same argument many of his detractors here, who are not his base, have used against the President.

            Let's look at polling from June of 2012:

            Campaign for America’s Future and Democracy Corps Poll Finds Strong Support for President Obama and Overwhelming Backlash Against Wall Street and Money in Politics.

            A poll by Democracy Corps of progressives attending the Campaign for America’s Future Take Back the American Dream Summit found strong support for President Obama and overwhelming backlash against Wall Street and the influence of big money in politics. More than one-quarter of attendees took the survey, which was administered via iPad, laptop, and smartphone during the conference.
            Participants continue to support President Obama; 86 percent approve of his performance as President and 84 percent give him a warm personal rating.
            You were saying?
            •  Nope (7+ / 0-)

              I'm countering your argument that the Democratic base supported Obama because he had to take those extreme steps, such as chained-CPI.

              Every issues poll shows strong support for preserving Social Security, just as it does for increasing the minimum wage, raising taxes on the wealthy, and other measures to reduce economic inequality.  Obama himself conducted a campaign striking for its turn to economic populist messages, and his campaign clearly saw the need to turn to those issues to win.  It is ludicrous to contend that the base supported Obama in his supposed 11-dimensional chess move to support chained-CPI to make Republicans look bad.  The only person that gambit made look bad was him.

              We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

              by Dallasdoc on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:30:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The President did take positions he would not have (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                doroma, Shawn87

                if he did not have to deal with Republicans, he has said this himself. Having sad that, chained CPI, even though the President might not have used it as a bargaining chip was not as anti-Democratic Party as some folk here made it out to be.  Chained CPI was first proposed by the well known Progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress.

                It is safe to say in all of this that despite the vilifying of the President by many on this site and elsewhere on the internet, the President was not harmed politically by his proposal. And in terms of your point that Obama changed his tune and ran more as a populist, judging by polls within the Democratic Party, the President's favorables with Democrats (his base) has remained pretty much consistent since he entered office.

                 

                •  It's not anti- this Democratic party (5+ / 0-)

                  ... run by and for corporations and banks.  It is anti-Democratic in the traditional sense of being the party of the people against the interests.  The CAP is filled with Clintonite retreads, and hardly is a bastion of anti-corporate influence in the party.

                  The President vilifies himself with stands like these.  It is only by the grace of Teabagger obstinacy that this deal wasn't accepted.  Pretending that this was some super-intelligent jujitsu move on Obama's part is something nobody swallows anymore.  I hate to be the one to tell you.  And you're ignoring the recent several-month drop in the president's approval among Democrats in polling.

                  We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

                  by Dallasdoc on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:10:02 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not so much with Democrats. These are poll numbers (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    virginislandsguy, doroma, Shawn87

                    of the President's favorables taken in January at the height of the healthcare.gov roll-out criticism:

                    ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST POLL -- Jan 26, 2014.

                    Democrats 81  
                    Republicans 13
                    Independents 41  

                    Liberals 73  
                    Moderates 50  
                    Conservatives 23

                    The President's poll numbers among his base has remain reasonably high, despite what his critics here insist on believing. This is a President who passed a healthcare law that will benefit tens of millions of people, the President's base is still supportive of that. The average Democrat still strongly supports this President and appreciates his accomplishments.

                  •  I agree with you on most things Dallasdoc (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    doroma

                    But I'll give credit where credit's due. At least Obama took it out of the budget now. YAY!

                    I'm happy about that.  Maybe he's finally listening?  Dare I hope?

        •  Because they don't buy claims like... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCalSal, psnyder, NedSparks, doroma, Shawn87

          Hickey's that chained cpi would cause "immediate and serious cuts to people on Social Security". The fact is that chained cpi would reduce the amount of future increases in social security income by about .3%. So, a $100 increase would actually be $99.70.

          I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

          by Jim Riggs on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:14:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I certainly didn't vote for Obama in 2012 (6+ / 0-)

          because I strongly supported him.  I voted for him because the alternative was so awful.  And I am hardly alone in that position, as even a casual reading Daily Kos diaries would show.

          •  If you want to reference Daily Kos diaries I'll (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            doroma, TerryDarc, Shawn87

            say this. There are positive diaries about the President and then there are negative and super-negative diaries about the President.

            If you are referring to those many super-negative diaries which refer to the President as a "Republican", "a Traitor", "Not a real Democrat", and "Worse than Bush", it would be strange indeed to argue that these individuals would then turn around and vote for President Obama because the alternative was awful.

            I'm not sure what your casual reading of Daily Kos diaries say, but voting for the President would simply not jibe with the  over-the-top rhetoric mentioned.

            •  There are a lot of people on this site who (5+ / 0-)

              are disappointed in Obama for good and well articulated reasons.  Except the most extreme commenters at both ends of the spectrum, those who are disappointed also give him credit for the good things he has done, as do I.  I and many others voted for him because we didn't have a good alternative, not because of passionate across-the-board support, as you suggest.  

            •  Strange Argument (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jbsoul, Dallasdoc

              First, the diaries they're talking about are clearly the many 2012 diaries about what they're talking about: Democrats holding their nose to vote for Obama because Romney was so much worse. Not the diaries you've chosen to support a point more convenient for you to argue with (AKA straw man).

              Second, even if those were the diaries in question, the reasons those diarists were so upset with Obama were virtually all reasons to be even more upset with the prospect of a President Romney. Because he was so much worse.

              I personally have called on DKos some of Obama's actions as "worse than Bush", but I voted for him in 2012. Because Romney was so much worse.

              You can't tell from a vote or counts of them how much a person supports their choice. Only that they supported them more than they other candidate. Wide support does not equal deep support. And given how much deep support there was for Obama in 2008 before we got to see his real actions, the smaller victory in 2012 (contrary to usual, for an incumbent) implies plenty of nose holding.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:17:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Correcto Doc. I don't like the ACA but it is (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dallasdoc

                better than doing nothing and it has benefitted my wife and I as well as friends and family. I'm a witness. But a 'poll' would put me down as opposing it.

              •  Nope, defies human behavior, individuals call (0+ / 0-)

                Obama a "traitor" and "Republican" and "Worse than Bush" turn around and vote for him because this makes him better than Romney? Excuse me?

                How convenient. I don't know about you, but I would not vote for anyone I called a "traitor" or "worse than Bush" and I don't think these individuals who clearly showed their hatred for the President (worse than Bush) voted for him either. Your argument again defies human behavior.

                •  Defies Your Behavior (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dallasdoc

                  I just told you that I'm one of the people you're talking about. I've (accurately) called Obama "worse than Bush", and I voted for him twice.

                  Because when we voted in 2012 Bush wasn't on the ballot. The choice was whether he was worse than Romney. And he wasn't.

                  You just called me inhuman. Don't speak for the species when you clearly don't understand it, even when it's explained to you in clear, simple terms that most people seem to understand.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:12:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I voted for Obama... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DocGonzo, Dallasdoc

          To spite McConnell and the rest of the GOTP. I am not happy with him, but better him than "God wants me to be President" Romney.

    •  We'll see if he's working with the base (19+ / 0-)

      I'm very relieved that his budget dropped chained-CPI, which was an unambiguous betrayal of the Democratic base, not to mention a sizable fraction of the American people.  I'm not at all convinced it's dead, since the policy has shown zombie-like properties in the past.

      Until Obama decides to drop the TPP, I'm not going to believe he's working with his party's base.  You don't get more "base" than labor unions and working people, and TPP would destroy labor unions and the value of labor in the economy.  It's a colossally destructive policy that no Democrat worthy of the name should touch with a 10 million dollar pole.

      Whether Obama is committed to an economic populist agenda or not does not depend on what he says in a SOTU speech or a budget, both essentially meaningless documents.  It will depend on concrete actions, and so far those have been small and few.  The jury's still out.

      We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

      by Dallasdoc on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:30:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama never was head of the party (6+ / 0-)

      Rejected the concept.  Dean was the last Democratic Leader.  

      Knowledge is Hard Won

      by bluelaser2 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:08:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  housing always lags as an indicator and (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JaxDem, singe, DRo, skohayes

    since it was a major cause, poor performance is inevitable

    All the evidence, then, points to substantial positive short-run effects from the Obama stimulus. And there were surely long-term benefits, too: big investments in everything from green energy to electronic medical records.
    So why does everyone — or, to be more accurate, everyone except those who have seriously studied the issue — believe that the stimulus was a failure? Because the U.S. economy continued to perform poorly — not disastrously, but poorly — after the stimulus went into effect.
    There’s no mystery about why: America was coping with the legacy of a giant housing bubble. Even now, housing has only partly recovered, while consumers are still held back by the huge debts they ran up during the bubble years. And the stimulus was both too small and too short-lived to overcome that dire legacy.
    This is not, by the way, a case of making excuses after the fact. Regular readers know that I was more or less tearing my hair out in early 2009, warning that the Recovery Act was inadequate — and that by falling short, the act would end up discrediting the very idea of stimulus. And so it proved.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:15:39 AM PST

    •  Religious right. (12+ / 0-)

      The gop base (tea party) that got swept into power in 2010, was dominated by the religious right masquerading as "fiscal conservatives" ala Bob McDonnell.
      That's why as soon as they got elected they started passing draconian vaginal probe type laws, a national assault on planned parenthood, and they also launched a massive assault on public education.

      I remember that Scott Walker, for instance, gave some massive tax cuts to corporate business, which created a budget "crisis" which he then used as an excuse to assault public education.

      Of course the big media helped the "stimulus didn't work" narrative move forward, and there was the "oppose Obama on everything" strategy at work, but the real muscle behind it was the religious right.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:35:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  of course, but they're the "usual suspects" just (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark Lippman, David54

        like interwar German hyperinflation had all those folks with the armbands to move along the rise of the fascist(sic) State

        Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

        by annieli on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:37:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They think they're actually accomplishing (0+ / 0-)

          something. As a mainstream "economic" analyst, Krugman can't really call out the evangefundelicals, so he has to prop up the cover narrative somewhat to make  his point.
          You're right, there are some "puppetmasters" pulling the strings, but I think it's instructive in terms of politics to expose the mechanism.

          You can't make this stuff up.

          by David54 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:02:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Obama's insistance on treating the GOP like adults (22+ / 0-)

    in general and reasonable adults in particular in the negotiating process certainly frustrated and enraged the left.  While I'm not championing it, I am wondering had he not done so and we'd simply continued to battle with them as before, would the GOP/Tea Party's "Always Say No To Obama" policy been as apparent to the public?  Haven't the polls proved out that the majority view the GOP as the most guilty in clogging up the drain?

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:22:31 AM PST

    •  Yes, and it's the Republicans, not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PinHole

      the President, who have "made it clear that negotiating with Republicans is a hopeless cause." Obama's just finally acceding to the realty that has been apparent since before Republicans took over the House.

      Marx was an optimist.

      by psnyder on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:42:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I said it once & will again. Obama played them; (13+ / 0-)

    Is it possible that Obama never had any intention of messing with entitlements and played the long game betting the Republicans would keep their pledge to Grover to never increase a tax? This let Obama act like he was ready to take a drastic step backwards and make the Republicans block entitlement cuts for him. In addition he got a health care law passed that will over time get more health care to folks who otherwise would not have any or would have had much weaker plans. I say the guy is way smarter than anyone gives him credit for.

    •  exactly, 11-dimensions are always at work, even (5+ / 0-)

      if some folks treat it as a joke

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

      by annieli on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:39:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And it might just have been 2 or 3 dimensions... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes, annieli, ten canvassers, Shawn87

        the fear of Grover and Rush and the tea party was so great that Boehner had no room to negotiate....even when Grover was willing to go for some revenue increase to get the golden calf his sniveling party leaders were still hiding under their desks too shell shocked to act. It's like a football coach guarantees the opposing team he will never, ever throw a pass...it makes a defense strategy much easier to put together.

    •  I love Barack, he's a local Hawaii guy, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, PinHole

      I think he's benefited from the absolute intransigence of the Republicans - if they had flexed at all, if Mitch McConnell had not instructed his troops to lie and delay and refuse at every turn, Obama might have found himself to be the Second Coming of DLC Bill Clinton.  

      Instead, he's been given an odd reprieve - to be the progressive he's always been, and not the negotiating compromiser he's also always been.  Sometimes getting your teeth kicked in a thousand times after believing in the best of your opponents, sinks in, and then you start kicking ass back (in a civilized way) when you realize those guys are, and have always been, poseurs without values.  

      "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:54:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe watching his mother die of cancer while (5+ / 0-)

        fretting over her how to pay her doctor's bills had a bigger impression on him then all the bullshit games the repelicans played. We are all guessing but my guess is he knew who these assholes were from jump and just let them "proceed"....

      •  Obama has never been progressive (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sunspots

        He's a much of a centrist as Bill Clinton was. I'm not knocking him for that, by the way, it's something I've always accepted about him, but don't think removing CCPI from his budget proposal is going to magically turn him into something he's not. We still have a recalcitrant Republican majority in the House.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:23:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We disagree (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PinHole, ybruti, doroma, jbsoul

          I believe he's engaged in some horrible DLC counter-offers to negotiate with Republicans, to his detriment.  Luckily for all of us, the Republicans were so out to get him at any cost, they missed opportunities to advance right wing policies in their hatred of him.  They cut off their own noses to spite his face, and saved his legacy.

          But I believe he is, and has always been, a progressive on most issues.  He's just a born compromiser (as people born in Hawai'i often are, because of lack of dominance of one racial group, you learn sensitivity or to negotiate with sensitivity because you must), and that instinctive and often honorable desire to reach agreement through compromise moved him more centrist than I believe he is.  You disagree.

          But the primary rule of negotiations is One:  Good Faith.  without it, everything you do is a waste of time and meaningless.  (I used to negotiate large labor contracts in my past, even when you fight tooth and nail, and listen to and say horrible things, good faith must under pin every negotiation or every negotiation, every demand or counter offer, every syllable said or heard is nothing).  It's an NLRB violation to negotiate in "not good faith" but there is no NLRB arbitrator for negotiating with Congress.

          "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

          by Uncle Moji on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:48:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Speaking of Social Security (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, Sunspots

    I posted this on a side diary and want to post it here on this one.

    It is high time that both the republicans and democrats accept the fact that Social Security needs to receive more from those going forward that will eventually become recipients.  There is one way to do this that I truly believe they are missing here and I honestly could easily be part of a compromise along the way (even though I know compromise is not either party's long suit).

    There should be NO earnings limit where Social Security FICA contributions are cut off.  How did that ever get put in there in the first place?  It is like giving people that make far more than most other people a pay raise because they make more money than others in the first place.

    Now, what kind of sense does that make.  Ridiculous !

    •  Here's the trade-off: (6+ / 0-)

      I agree that raising the cap would make sense.

      However, the trade off has been that there is also a cap on what people can receive when they retire. I'm not sure what it is now; it used to be around $3,000 a month, no matter how high your income was while working. In other words, the ratio of the maximum payout to the minimum is relatively flat, much flatter than salaries & wages are.

      I fear that any attempt to eliminate the cap (as opposed to just hiking it incrementally above the inflation rate) will be matched by demands to use that higher income to increase benefits to the high earners -- the same people who are most likely to also have rich pensions, $million 401ks, etc. etc.

      •  raise the cap to 200k and slightly raise the FICA (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mndan, skohayes, Laconic Lib, Sunspots

        tax to 7% from its current 6.2. when ss was reformed in the early 80s, the cap was set at 90% of earning, but has not been kept at that level- its at 83% right now, the cap is at 115K or thereabouts. raising it to 200k, would solidify the program for a klong time to come.

        •  This makes sense (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Turn Left

          though just raising the cap to $200K and not raising the rate may be easier to achieve and provide a decent fix.

          Others have written about why there is a cap on SS. Had to do with FDRs original plan and how the $ flowed into a pool of funds, not individual accounts. I don't remember the details, but seemed to make sense.

    •  How it got in there in the first place... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots, JamieG from Md

      The reason for the contribution cap is that SS was designed from the beginning to be an earned benefit as opposed to a "welfare" program -- in that the money you receive in retirement is based on the amount you paid in during your working life. The contribution cap is directly related to the cap on benefits payments.

      If you change it to a program where "the rich pay more, the poor receive more" then the perception (and reality) changes and that basic element of the original design is gone. It's not what it was intended to be. Listening to the speech FDR gave when he signed it into law is illuminating.

      People now can certainly advocate that it should be changed, that the original intent either was wrong or no longer matters, and the perception of earned benefits versus 'welfare' doesn't matter, and that SS payouts should be based on need rather than on the amount paid in to the system during one's working life. Many people obviously do think this and that's fine, they might well be right. I'm not taking a position on that one way or another, just answering your question.

      But it is interesting to me how many people don't seem to realize what a fundamental change in the design of SS that would be, and don't know that it was designed this way for a reason, e.g., your thinking it is "ridiculous" that SS was designed to be a program where what you pay in determines what you get back, and that it was not supposed to be a vehicle for getting more money back from richer people and giving it to poorer people.

    •  Raise the cap to $250K and raise the benefit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots

      across the board (but at a lesser rate of outgo than the increase in the cap brings in).

      And if necessary raise the cap again and again, in 50K increments, to ensure a viable trust fund into the next century, and increased benefits for all recipients.

      The bottom earners need a minimum benefit that doesn't leave them in poverty (how many people can retire on $900/month after paying into SS all their working lives?).

      Everyone gets an increase in benefit to ensure a decent retirement based on SS alone, removing the need to save a large amount of your income for retirement (which relatively few are able to do).

      •  SS was designed so that it was not subject to (0+ / 0-)

        the ups and downs of Wall Street. Imagine if SS had been tied to the market in October 2008. the Recession, bad as it was, would have been much, much worse, as not only would people have lost their life savings, jobs, and homes, they would have lost benefits they had been paying into for decades in many cases as well. they literally would have been left with nothing. it has its own source of funding, and Congress doesn't get to control how it operates- its a mandatory program.

  •  Chained CPI was always a negotiating ploy? Really? (10+ / 0-)

    It certainly was a detailed plan for being an imaginary one.

    I guess that's why Obama convened the Cat Food Commission, too. It was all a big  joke, just a ploy, right? Even though it's still on the table.

    I doubt even Obama would say it was just a ploy, as if he never intends to enact it.  

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:37:51 AM PST

    •  Yeah, a "negotiating ploy," that's the ticket (7+ / 0-)

      So millions of Americans can get jacked around for years, concerned about whether they social contract they've upheld all their working lives is going to be yanked out from under them at the moment it's supposed to pay off and provide them some measure of security at the end of their lives, just as a bargaining chip.

      Are you kidding me? And we're supposed to be happy the million pound shithammer didn't blast us even worse over the last five years? Well thank you all to hell, our corporate overlords! So very humane you are.

      •  Not to mention, a lot of time wasted (4+ / 0-)

        trying to cut SS benefits when DC policymakers could have been backing plans like Harkin's that actually solve future funding issues while increasing benefits.

        I still maintain that much of the decline in the SS Trust Fund is due to wage stagnation, rising income inequality and ongoing high unemployment - particularly the large numbers of workers who have left the workforce for long periods of time.  Working towards full employment and fair wages would make SS solvent could go a long way towards stretching those funds through boomer retirement years.  

        Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

        by Betty Pinson on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:23:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  HAHAHA... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeff Simpson, Shawn87

      The Catfood Commission, I had almost forgotten that one.
      Poor Betty, now that Chained CPI is off the table, you've lost another talking point! Just like the Catfood Commission never came to anything, now you can stop complaining about Chained CPI.
      Of course you won't, because it's all a secret plot to actually bring CPI to the table without the "real progressives" knowing, but now you will sound even more foolish.
      The negotiating ploy was that Chained CPI in Obama's budget was always tied to $600 billion in new revenues, and the only people that believed that Republicans would agree to that were the same people who have complained about Obama since about 10 days after he won his first election.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:30:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep. It was both terrible policy and terrible (4+ / 0-)

      politics.

  •  Romney 2016 (5+ / 0-)

    That would be great. It was very educational for the country to have Romney's real business exposed for all to see.
    Take advantage of tax breaks, borrow other people's money, invest in a business, suck all the wealth out of the business,offshore it, make it take on more debt, toss aside the dessicated carcass and make the taxpayers take on the pension burden of the workers.

    We're not done with him yet.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:39:53 AM PST

  •  Yikes!....Putin is having a bad year. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, Remediator, skohayes
  •  Demand for more healthcare, which is shown by (0+ / 0-)

    this quote:

    88% of the health insurance plans purchased by Michigan consumers on Healthcare.gov are the more expensive silver, gold and platinum level plans, rather than the less expensive bronze plans.
    ... seems to indicate important things about the overall economy, including:
    1. The much commented on "US overspending on healthcare" actually  was, in the aggregate, mainly overspending on insurance company administrative services and profits.  With the ACA's bending of cost of those items, people given the chance to spend money on healthcare are eager to do so. This is logical in view of the elder population increasing, along with younger people's health problems from environmental and dietary factors.

    2. The shortfall in aggregate demand and resulting employment, which has been much commented on by economists like Krugman and Delong, can be substantially addressed by the same spending increase, and increasing employment in healthcare and other eldercare.

    •  Number 1 is simply untrue. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maryabein, Sunspots

      Choosing silver plans over bronze is not illogical, especially if you have a subsidy. Bronze plans tend to leave you on the hook for a lot more money than silver plans.  If anything, that is an indicator that we are spending too much for health care, which is not the same as health insurance.

      We spend twice as much for health care as the countries with the best health care and yet fail to receive the same quality of care.

      There was definitely a need for insurance reform, but American health care verges on a criminal conspiracy designed to pluck as much money as it can get.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:54:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course you're right that US higher prices, and (0+ / 0-)

        insufficient preventive and primary care (and perhaps other aspects of an industry about which I am no expert), are problems distinct from the grossest insurance company profiteering, and from the need for everybody to have health insurance coverage

        but it seems to me that high-spending on healthcare and eldercare, if it results in wide distribution of high quality care, need not necessarily continue to be regarded as a problem, in a context where demand and employment in many sectors of the economy may be in long-term decline, and keeping in mind the economic truism that all spending by consumers constitutes revenue of suppliers.

        •  It is a problem because, despite what some people (0+ / 0-)

          think, you can't continually manufacture money out of the air.

          Money spent on A is not available for B.

          So -- yes, in one sense.  A wide distribution of high-quality care is a good thing and, done for value, good for the economy.  Spending $1 out of every 6 on wildly overpriced healthcare is not.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:03:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Efficiency,alloc,automation,velocity, employment (0+ / 0-)

            Clearly there has been a problem with the overall efficiency of our healthcare sector, probably resulting in large part from inefficient allocation of what kind of healthcare is purchased, and for whom.

            But what would happen if

            a single corn planting, harvesting and processing robot can make enough food to feed the entire world population, but the unhealthiness of eating all those corn products greatly increases the amount and variety of healthcare services needed by the population.
            I think the answer is that
            a greatly expanded healthcare sector would be both a supplier of necessary services and a useful source of employment.
            This scenario, although exaggerated, indicates the direction of certain economic and dietary trends.

            Even in a traditional economy, it is not entirely correct that

            Money spent on A is not available for B.
            Avoiding expenditures in order to “save” money, although it can work for a particular household, does not work for the entire economy. For example, consider
            what happens after Patient P pays money to Nurse N: Although P now has less money available to buy a SmartPhone, N now has MORE money to buy a SmartPhone. If N pays this money to buy the SmartPhone, P, who works in the SmartPhone industry, receives this money, and then has more money to ALSO buy a Smartphone.

            So policies that encourage this relatively high “velocity” of money (circulation) do somewhat resemble
            manufacturing money out of the air.
            I hear you thinking
            “Aha! Now there is too much money chasing too few SmartPhones, resulting in inflation.”
            But what if we apply my first paragraph not only to “corn” but also to “SmartPhones”, as follows:
            “a single SmartPhone manufacturing, programming, distribution and support robot can make enough Smartphones to supply to the entire world population.”
            Now P cannot get a job in the SmartPhone industry, and so must also join the healthcare industry in order to have any employment. In this scenario, we would probably want to exceed the present
            Spending $1 out of every 6 on … healthcare.
            •  Sorry, but no. (0+ / 0-)

              You have conveniently skipped over the phrase "for value".

              You ignore the fact that health care spending in the US has nothing to do with value, exploits government-granted monopolies (doctor's licenses, patents, admitting-privileges) as well as other killers of free markets (differential information/knowledge, coercion --  see how many people remain calm and rational when a sentence begins with "You've got between..."), etc.  And that's without members of the health care establishment cozying up with each other to further reduce the effect of markets (hmmm...continuing medical education sponsored by drug companies, doctors "conosulting" with drug companies and makers of  medical appliances).

              I might feel differently if all of that health care spending caused tight labor markets and great health care.
              Neither seems to be the case.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:50:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Over-pricing, free market killers, pharma patent a (0+ / 0-)

                Dinotrac,

                Thanks for these insights into reasons for over-pricing of healthcare.

                Abuse of admitting privileges is something that I and many Kossacks might benefit from learning more on, if you have time to post a related diary.

                Pharmaceutical patents and pricing has already been clearly identified as a key domestic and political issue, which Kossacks should not forget to consider when trying to influence public policy.

                Another important political issue we need to remember and publicize is that concentration of money tends, in this and in many other industries, to encourage:

                members of the health care establishment cozying up with each other to further reduce the effect of markets (hmmm...continuing medical education sponsored by drug companies, doctors "consulting" with drug companies and makers of medical appliances).
                It is difficult to see how to protect the healthcare market against
                killers of free markets (differential information/knowledge, coercion --  see how many people remain calm and rational when a sentence begins with "You've got between..."), etc.

                …although there does appear to be much progress in equipping consumer-carried smartphones with monitoring, diagnostic and treatment-education capabilities.

                Even after taking account of these important points that you make, I tend to think that that, if we can retain enough of our environment to enable future generations to enjoy the fruits of present technological trends, and if those trends satisfy all demand for food and other necessities like basic healthcare, then:

                1.    We probably can never expect consumers’ and markets’ allocation of their demand to be “calm and rational”.

                2.    It should not be a major concern that people demand ‘more healthcare than they need’.

                3.    Employment in satisfying that demand, in an era when not much employment is available in satisfying other demands, can be a useful part of transitioning to a more-automated economy.

                4.    Even in the short and medium term, I wonder if many of the above problems could be mitigated by a big increase in the supply of doctors, nurses and paraprofessionals (especially the latter two, in part because increasing their numbers would make them a bigger political constituency for reforming price-inflating government policies).

                •  I can give an anecdotal account on abuse of (0+ / 0-)

                  admitting privileges, although several states are providing better examples with requirements that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

                  The obstetrician who saw us through the birth of our first child (and not the obstetrician we started with) lost his admitting privileges at our local hospital because he tried to set up a birthing center that relied heavily on midwives.  We stayed with him in spite of (because of, really) that and had our daughter at small hospital a couple of towns over.

                  Which, btw, brings another question -- why do we have so many babies in hospitals? It's not done that way everywhere.

                  Differential information and the coercive impact of emergencies and serious illness will always be with us. There really are only two things we can do about that:

                  make more information readily available, though we can never even out the equation, and

                  take the profits out of abusing the situation.  Paying by procedures encourages expensive procedures.  Even in non-coercive situations.  We had a growth removed from our daughter's ear.  In the old days, the doctor would freeze it, cut it, stitch it, and wave bye-bye.  At somebody's insistence -- our insurance company? -- it was done in a hospital for about $15,000 more than it should rationally have cost.

                   

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 05:58:47 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  ACA and poverty calculation (6+ / 0-)

    I would add to the Michigan analysis: To me the huge numbers on the Medicaid expansion reveal what we already suspected: a very large number of people live in the layer just above the official poverty line. (SNAP does the same.) We've known for decades that the federal poverty calculation was seriously flawed -- the GOP wants to include non-cash benefits (but then take them away); the left wants to get away from the arbitrary assumption that you could estimate cost of living by some 1960s formula-ratio of housing or groceries to total.

    The minimum wage debate is adding to a changing narrative, which we need to reinforce -- that "poverty" is actually a bigger category than the official numbers show, and it would be useful to redo the official calculation to reflect reality.

  •  The non health care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes

    side effects of the ACA seem to be strengthening the economy - people able to work fewer hours by choice, with the possible benefit of others finding work, people with more disposable income to put into the marketplace due to lower premiums, and when the reforms hit group plans, the possibility of higher wages due to lower premiums.  

    In 5 years or less the GOP is going to regret calling it 'Obamacare' big time.

  •  Class of '10 Governors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Remediator, skohayes, Laconic Lib

    The Conservative Washington Times says that the shine is off the Class of '10 Bagger Governors. Mainly after Walker's antics are starting to come to light.

    Let's hope that few of them end up being reelected.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:56:35 AM PST

  •  AZ Senate passed a right to discriminate law (4+ / 0-)

    aimed at gay people.

    SB1062 now moves to the governor's desk.

    tmservo433 wrote  a terrific diary about all the things wrong with this legislation.
    Will this be the political straw that breaks the camel's back? Nah, not in cR-AZy AZ.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:57:56 AM PST

    •  Tried the same thing in Kansas (0+ / 0-)

      fortunately there was so much push back that Brownback said, "Hey guys, I'm running for reelection here, let's back off of the crazy a bit!"

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:40:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He can work on his tan... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, skohayes

    From the Taegan Goddard this morning --

    http://politicalwire.com/...

    Plenty of Coppertone, check.  Two or three pairs of flip-flops, check.  Forty freight cars packed with excellent wine, check.  Rick Scott bumper sticker, check.

  •  Mike Pence on Todd's show....mumbling.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Remediator, skohayes

    stuttering.....saying nothing.

  •  Don't trust him (0+ / 0-)

    for a single dam second.

    The Republicans are crazy, but why we follow them down the rabbit hole is beyond me.

    by Jazzenterprises on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:24:12 AM PST

  •  As far as Obama being done working with repubs, (0+ / 0-)

    and the end of the Age of Austerity, I would say --- Its About Time!

  •  Who cares about Obama's budget. (0+ / 0-)

    It never had a chance of actually getting enacted by Congress. I view it as representing grandstanding...

  •  IF the CCPI was political theater... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shawn87

    ... the left played its part by screaming bloody murder about it. But I wish we could have done so with a little more nuance. When we tip over into "Obama the Betrayer!" territory, it discourages the half of our base that doesn't pay close attention to the  issues and  doesn't vote consistently.

    I acknowledge the argument that it's PBO's compromises that discourage the base. But I've never seen a President stay in "campaign mode" throughout his term. Once in office, they have to work with Congress to accomplish anything. If they don't, it's not Congress that gets slammed in the press for being "imperious".

    Being our First Black President, PBO is under extraordinary pressure to be accommodating. The double standard in this country still praises a white politician for being "resolute" and labels the same conduct by a black leader as "angry". Women in leadership get the same treatment.

    We must adhere to principles. We must oppose Keystone and we must oppose the TPP - vigorously. But our blows must fall equally upon Republicans and our "misguided" Democratic leaders.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:25:40 AM PST

  •  Told you so. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma
  •  this is kabuki: it's still on the table (0+ / 0-)
    Though Obama will drop what is known as "chained CPI (Consumer Price Index)," what amounts to a reduced calculation of inflation to benefits, in his 2015 budget, it remains on the table if grand bargain talks with Congress ever continue, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday.
    http://www.usatoday.com/...

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:59:19 AM PST

  •  Lesson from '09 (0+ / 0-)

    Assuming that PBO couldn't have got a larger stimulus through Congress -- and that is far from clear -- he would have been in much better shape a year later if he could have said:

    "You gave me half what I asked for, and we got half the job done.  The collapse is over, but the recovery has barely begun. I'm asking for the rest of it now."

    That might have brought more. It definitely would have set a better stage for the midterms.

    In the same way, he shouldn't offer compromises to the GOP now. Let them propose what they want.

  •  Does Chained CPI Even Cut the Deficit? (0+ / 0-)

    Since SS funding is independent of the rest of the budget, how does chained CPI even cut the deficit? Since SS doesn't create any deficit, how can cutting its expenses cut a nonexistent SS deficit?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:08:34 AM PST

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