Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2011

POTUS TAKES HIS MESSAGE ON THE ROAD.... President Obama's debt-reduction speech last week was fairly well received by much of the left, in large part because it helped establish a series of contrasts. Congressional Republicans offered a right-wing budget vision, and the president offered a forceful condemnation. The GOP rejects progressive governance, and Obama delivered a spirited defense. Republicans want to eliminate Medicare, and the president ruled out the possibility.

But one speech only helps lay a foundation. It's imperative that Obama keep reinforcing the message, using his bully pulpit and showing the necessary follow through.

To that end, the president hosted a town-hall event in Annandale, Virginia, yesterday. If there were any fears he'd start to back down from last week's stance, they were quickly assuaged -- the contrasts Obama drew last week have become his principal message.

The president again blamed Republicans for the budget mess:

"For a long time, Washington acted like deficits didn't matter. A lot of folks promised us a free lunch. So I think everybody needs to recall, we had a surplus back in 2000, 11 short years ago, but then we cut taxes for everybody, including millionaires and billionaires. We fought two wars and we created a new and expensive prescription drug program, and we didn't pay for any of it."

And demanded tax increases on the wealthy:

"We can't just tell the wealthiest among us, 'You don't have to do a thing. You just sit there and relax, and everybody else, we're going to solve this problem.' Especially when we know that the only way to pay for these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans is by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more for their health care, or cutting children out of Head Start, or doing away with health insurance for millions of Americans on Medicaid -- seniors in nursing homes, or poor children, or middle-class families who may have a disabled child, an autistic child. This is not a trade-off that I'm willing to make. It's not a trade-off that I think most Americans think is fair, no matter what party you belong to. That's not who we are as a country. We're better than that."

I saw someone suggest the other day that the president seems to have "found his voice" again. I hope that's true, and it certainly seemed to be the case yesterday.

At the same event, the presiednt went on to explain the value in investing in infrastructure:

"So, yes, we're going to have to save wherever we can; and my proposal makes some tough cuts to some worthy programs and services that if we were in better times I'd continue to fund. But I'll tell you what I'm not going to do. We're not going to reduce the deficit by sacrificing investments in our infrastructure. We're not going to allow our roads and our bridges to grow more and more congested while places like China are building new roads and new airports and thousands of mile of high-speed rail. If we want businesses to locate here in the United States of America and create jobs here, we've got to make sure that America is built to compete. We've got to have the best roads. We've got to have the quickest trains. We have to have the fastest broadband networks. That's who we are."

And ruled out GOP demands for education cuts:

"Finally -- and I know this is near and dear to your hearts -- we're not going to reduce our deficit by cutting education and eliminating college scholarships. In a world where our students face stiff competition from students from other countries, why would we make it harder for you to compete?"

And again denounced the Republican plan to eliminate Medicare:

"The House Republicans just passed a proposal, and their main plan to reduce our long-term deficits and debt is to turn Medicare into a voucher program. What would happen would be that right now seniors, when they get -- once they're on Medicare, you basically are able to get the care that you need and Medicare covers it for you. What would happen under this proposal is you'd get a set amount of money; you could then go out under the private market place and buy insurance, but if the voucher you were getting for $6,000 or $7,000 and the insurance company said it's going to cost you $12,000, well, you're going to have to make up that difference. And so it's estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, which is an independent, bipartisan sort of referee in Congress that determines these things -- they figure that seniors would end up paying twice as much for their health care as they are currently. At least twice as much."

And endorsed raising the Social Security payroll tax:

"The point is, for the vast majority of Americans, every dime you earn, you're paying some in Social Security. But for Warren Buffett, he stops paying at a little bit over $100,000 and then the next $50 billion he's not paying a dime in Social Security taxes. So if we just made a little bit of an adjustment in terms of the cap on Social Security, that would do a significant amount to stabilize the system."

Obama will remain on the road, by the way, participating in a facebook town hall in California today, and another event in Reno, Nevada, tomorrow.

I'd recommend he stick to this message.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments


obama should add...

take a look around..

can't you see how well those tax cuts worked...

trickle down for everybody !

Posted by: mr. irony on April 20, 2011 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Tonto and the Lone Ranger are riding through the prairie.

Suddenly, 50 Indian warriors on horseback charge and encircle them.

Lone Ranger: Tonto, We are surrounded by Indians"

Tonto; "We who, white man?"

I know the point is clear...To the left. But Obamas insistance on using the relatively neutral "We" over and over again does not lay the blame explicitly enough for those dumb enough to pull the lever for the GOP over and over again.

Posted by: bignose on April 20, 2011 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

Was Mr. Ryan in the audience, crying on his neighbor's shoulder about the snubs and insults?

Posted by: blondie on April 20, 2011 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

It certainly sounds like he found his voice.

And he needs it to reinforce what he's saying in every state.

He needs to remind everyone of Privatizing Ryans Plan:

Catfood for seniors. Limo's for millionaires.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 20, 2011 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

"and we didn't pay for any of it.""

-seems I'm not the only one struck by the use of 'we', kemosabe.

Of course, it was 'we' democrats who stood idly by, while Bush & Co. ran amok with the nation's purse strings!

Posted by: DAY on April 20, 2011 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

you could then go out under the private market place and buy insurance

Or just load up the ER's with indigent seniors.

Posted by: Danp on April 20, 2011 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Obama unlike the Republicans and Faux Nooze is in the unfortunate position of having to tell the American people the truth. I just hope he remains strong against the onslaught of lies and misinformation that the Kochsuckers and their ilk will propagate.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on April 20, 2011 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

'we', kemosabe"

Yes, cue Borodin's "Prince Igor" which was used on the "Lone Ranger" of yore, whenever, he and Tonto would meet Native American bands.

Once again, great pitch well meant. However, I do hope his delivery this time will not result in another wild pitch.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I hate to throw a cynical cloud on all this good news, but the coincidence of all this tough talk and the commencement of his reelection campaign are too obvious to ignore. I applaud what he is saying, but can't help but feel it's all just a big show to get our vote next year, then it's back to business as usual.

I'm still looking for that credible, progressive primary candidate to come out and challenge this guy on his actual record. On his failure to push a true Democratic agenda for the past two years.

I want to vote for someone else in the primary so the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party can show him that we are not going along with the dog and pony show. Not until he makes a real commitment to the kinds of the reforms that will REALLY fix this country (as opposed to halfway between a center right position and republican crazy).

Posted by: bdop4 on April 20, 2011 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Weee ! What a ride , the GOP economic roller coaster . Despite attempts to paint the heroic efforts of the GOP to evolve both the language and drag the culture into a brave new ideal , the pathetic gills grown by government sympathizers will not provide the 'right' deal .
No no no ! The "New Deal" is so old it is an heirloom deal . This does not mean we cannot employ the successful aspects of the lumbering oak from the dense politics of anti American socialism . That is correct , we can use the enemies of Truth Justice and The American way to super power our way through the fits and starts of supply side tricky trickles . Why a flat tax along with free market principles should eliminate the deficit as soon as lunch . I have heard respected economists projecting full employment and budget surplus speculation , as the right rhetoric at the right time .
Is it any wonder that the effusions of support have proudly pointed to the round of hopeful rhetoric , "A pink pony in every Hooverville" as evidence of the strong architecture of the rhetoric ? Why we should be leading China soon in Chinese Restaurants per capita , a real emotional hurdle that , ayup .

Posted by: FRP on April 20, 2011 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

We fought two wars and we created a new and expensive prescription drug program, and we didn't pay for any of it.

And right there is the reason the Republicans are better at this then the Dems. Newt et al would have said "THEY fought two wars and THEY created a new expansive prescription drug program, and THEY didn't pay for it."

It really is us vs them and making it we doesn't win elections.

Posted by: martin on April 20, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

I know it sometimes feels like collective punishment, but WE are the government, and what it does it does in our name. So, yeah, WE blew up the deficit, WE tortured and murdered civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, WE gave tax cuts to millionaires. I hate it, but it's true. And if more of us accepted this responsibility, we might have fewer despicable shit-heads serving in government.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 20, 2011 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

perhaps the President has been reading my relentless posts...

QUEEN Victoria would be embarrassed by the the current trends in increased American inequality of income, Republicans are not.  Sell-outs to big money all, the Republicans voted for Paul Ryan's proposed budget which would destroy Medicare and cut taxes for the wealthiest. 

It's all very fine if you can like the upper class cover health costs out of pocket, but for the rest of us we know if they operated in the public interest their admin costs would be 3% like Medicare not over 10% as now, nor would they have raised rates in a recession.

To solidify the trend, The Republican Supreme Court gave corporations pre-20th century influence in politics. Many other Republicans would  continue the march backwards and stop unemployment insurance, repeal the minimum wage, or like AZ Governor Jan Brewer jail undocumented workers in privately run prisons at state expense.

I admire many things about the 19th century -- abolition of slavery, intellectual curiosity, the progressive movement, neo-classical architecture, workers rights but not mid-Victorian prejudice, greed, morality, and states rights arguments, the worst of the 19th century, which our post modern era Republicans seem to admire.

The Republicans would kill those values which made our society great, the best of the 19th century- a movement up and up in terms of societal cooperation, income equality, human rights, a strong federal system, public education, and a spirit of scientific exploration --  values set into law and American tradition, values Republicans would repeal but which the rest of us love.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 20, 2011 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

He didn't find his voice again, Obama's been saying these things all along. What is new is that the Republicans have put their plan to paper. What's going on is that the people from Republican led states are seeing and feeling exactly what the Republicans are all about. Prior to the mid-terms the Republicans were avoiding every single question regarding what they would do once in office. Some of them downright lied. NOW we see and what Obama says (and has been saying) rings more true than it did before.

Posted by: Alli on April 20, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman nailed it in his response to Obama's speech: what Obama described was something that Krugman could live with but if it was merely a starting point for negotiations then it was a big FAIL.

Unfortunately, we already have seen that the truth appears to be the latter. Already Illinois Senator Dick Durbin -- the closest thing to a proxy for Obama in Congress -- has said that Obama's position represents the outer boundary of liberal policy. Paul's plan represents the right flank. And a "bipartisan" deal would be cut in the middle. Plans from Bernie Sanders and the CPC were dismissed out of hand as too liberal.

Get that? Sanders is too extreme to take seriously but Ryan is a voice of reasonable economic thought. This is a Democrat saying this.

Until there is substantive evidence to the contrary, I will take Durbin at his word that Democratic leaders agree more with Ryan than Sanders.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

@square1 - Thanks for sharing, but your relating and conclusions about what Durbin said is about as accurate as hearing it from a tea partier. I preferred to listen to what the man had to say for myself:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/dick-durbin-ruling-social-security-cuts-13409823

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

hell's littlest angel:
but WE are the government

Or at least WE wish to think so;>

Actually, I agree with you. But my comment was about the politics of it and as long as the Dems refuse to hammer home who is to blame, the American public will just continue with a pox on both houses and keep voting in the ones who screwed things up.

Posted by: martin on April 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Hell, now everybody'll expect a pony for their birthday.

Posted by: chi res on April 20, 2011 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with bdop4

and I wrote to the DNC (Debra Wasserman Schultz) last week to tell them so. This was a few days before the President's big budget speech, so my analysis of his performance up until then was particularly scathing.

We need a Democratic candidate to go up against Obama. Any ideas? I don't know that many national figures, so here are my thoughts:

Howard Dean: The original "Democratic Democrat", and an MD besides. This could add credibility, since the country's biggest problems lie in the medical-industrial complex (and our wars all feed into this system, too.)

Hillary Clinton: She appears to be doing fairly well as SoS, will be leaving at the end of Obama's term, and was a powerful opponent in 2008. Plus, it would make the reactionary GOP even more crazy, further discrediting them with the public.

Nancy Pelosi: If Obama doesn't start listening to her again, and keeps leaving her out of his capitulations -er, 'negotiations' with the Republicans, this might be a way of getting his attention. From what I've read, she was responsible for the liberal agenda and successes of his first 2 years.

Any more? Note: I don't want to hear the name 'Ralph Nader' ever again, unless it's in a consumer protection context.

Posted by: zandru on April 20, 2011 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

@zandru - Look, here are my thoughts - you're living in a fantasy world completely oblivious to the enormous potential damage to the Democratic Party of what you're proposing. You might as well be stumping for the Republican presidential nominee.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

June's comment distilled: STFU and clap louder.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 20, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

No, June's comment distilled: Stop trying to get a Republican president elected.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

He's a good talker. He just doesn't follow through with strong action. All hat, no cattle.

Posted by: Roberta on April 20, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

zandru's comment distilled: I don't really have any idea what I'm talking about, but let me throw out these names of three famous Democrats who are very supportive of the president and have absolutely no intention whatsoever of challenging him in a primary, because, uh, that's what I sorta read at that firebagger place, okay?

Well, maybe not really distilled, per se...

Posted by: chi res on April 20, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Any Democrats on this blog today? - because there's a lot of absolute horse-hockey being flung around.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

@chi, June, and anyone else who has piled on since I started composing this response...

Fine. I'd be behind Obama if he started governing like a Democrat, and not just campaigning like one. What ideas to you have to achieve this?

Note: I'm unsatisfied with the current 'progressive' trend of just b**ing and moaning.

Posted by: zandru on April 20, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still looking for that credible, progressive primary candidate to come out and challenge this guy on his actual record. On his failure to push a true Democratic agenda for the past two years.

Yes, I'm sure that Superman is going to show up any day now and fix everything.

Why the heck is the left so goddamn impatient? It took us 30 years to get where we are, but for some reason people think that the president could single-handedly fix everything tomorrow but chooses not to.

Contrary to popular belief, even the sainted FDR did not fix everything right away despite getting the New Deal and related programs passed almost immediately after taking office. The US didn't completely recover from the Great Depression until after WWII.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

@zandru, I cannot take you seriously because of your claim that Obama is not governing like a Democrat. That, to me, is denying reality and it tells me you don't have any idea, and seemingly don't want to have any idea, of the progressive policies he's fought for and accomplished during his first term.

I don't hold with those who do their darndest to convince everyone that Obama is not a "true" Democrat. I cannot take that mindset seriously when there is ample evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

@June: I'm not sure what you think cutting and pasting the link accomplishes. Feel free to use your big girl words to explain what you think that I misrepresented about Durbin's statements.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

@square1: Feel free to paste the link into your browser, watch the interview with Durbin, then come back and seriously tell us your post accurately represents his views on Sanders, Ryan, et al.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with taking this vague message on the road is that it falls right into The Gang ‘Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight’ Of Six apparent plan of three quarters spending cuts (which includes Social Security) and one quarter tax increases (on everybody) AND THEN NEGOTIATES RIGHTWARD FROM THERE.

Disaster.

Posted by: Joe Friday on April 20, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

@Joe Friday - I'm going to agree with you that the Dems messaging on this remains impotent - but one thing I'd like to point out is that in terms of Social Security cuts, what I've heard Durbin talking about is looking at delaying Social Security payments to wealthy people who are receiving 100% benefits, and who don't need it - yet, what I've seen in the media so far just claims that Dems want to cut Social Security, without really giving any further details.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

square 1: Feel free to use your big girl words...

Really? I thought progressives had finally renounced their sexist past. Maybe June should just go to the kitchen while you men discuss the important matters.

Posted by: chi res on April 20, 2011 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Yes, I'm sure that Superman is going to show up any day now and fix everything."

I'm not looking for Superman, I'm looking for someone who is going to hold this guy's feet to the fire. I'm looking for someone who represents my interests and will fight for policies that will fix the massive problems facing this country.

The reason a lot of people ended up voting for republicans in 2010 was due to the fact that in many ways, THEY COULD NOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE.

It seems the last few years Democrats have been buying into the GOP populist arguments and acting defensive about what used to be standard party objectives.

Now they're finally speaking forcefully and guess what: THEY'RE FINDING OUT THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY AGREE WITH THEM. Maybe they would have agreed with them if they had been doing that from Day 1.

Is Obama better than ANY GOP candidate? Clearly, but it doesn't mean that there aren't better alternatives. That's what primaries are for.

I just want to send a message to the party establishment that we aren't swallowing their election time populism hook, line and sinker, and that their going to have to take some meaningful actions in the right direction to convince a lot of us that they aren't just feeding us some "feel good" bullshit.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 20, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

@chi res: Nothing sexist about it. I was simply using the gender-appropriate term. For you, feel free to use your big boy words to show how Durbin isn't paving the way for a sellout.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK
It really is us vs them and making it we doesn't win elections.

"Making it we" rahter than "us v. them" was a pretty big feature of Obama's last electoral campaign, which, as I recall, he did, in fact, win, which plays a pretty big role in why there is any focus on what he is saying now.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

@bdop4: What you said. Thanks!

I can understand the Repubs constantly dissing the Dems - that's what they stand for, after all. I can even accept that the DC Talking Heads Punditocracy, royalists all, doing the same.

But what I will no longer accept is the Democratic President getting laughs and kudos by insulting his Democratic base. Not to mention giving in to the Republican agenda, every time, and then talking about how proud he is to have done so.

The historic Health Care Act? Pure Mitt Romney, barely a Democratic idea made the cut. December 2010 tax give-aways to the rich? Everything the Repubs demanded, plus he took a big cut out of Social Security while he was at it and denied raises to all federal employees, excluding himself and Congress.

Obama needs to be pushed back to the center, even to the Left, if at all possible - or replaced by someone who's already there. And he needs to start playing to Democrats.

Posted by: zandru on April 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

No one seems quite to appreciate the bind the Republicans put Obama in from the get go when they declared they would filibuster EVERYTHING he sought. They succeeded in many cases in doing so. They are completely niggardly in their 'representation' of the American people.

That said, it is true that a more direct and combative style is what is needed now, when he isn't really trying to pass the big ticket items that he did manage to wring out of the obstructed legislative process.

Yes, the budget and the debt ceiling are in the hopper. But the fact that NONE of the hideously damaging House-generated 'legislation' is going to pass the Senate means that for all the angst surrounding these two issues, the Republicans will not be able to pass their odious bills into law.

That in itself would be an accomplishment.

I say, "Go, Obama!" and name these guys for what they are; the tools of the ruling class of the rich.

Posted by: jjm on April 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

@June, I've watched the clip multiple times. If YOU think that my characterization is inaccurate, then YOU can explain why. Preferably with actual quotes from Durbin.

Ad hominem accusations that I sound "like a tea partier" accompanying demands that we all just clap louder are not particularly persuasive.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

@zandru and bdop4 - as the well-worn saying goes, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. The premises of both your arguments make for a great rundown of "progressive" talking points, but that doesn't make them any more accurate.

Would Sanders and Wyden agree that "barely a Democratic idea made the cut" when they were practically walking on air after their push to include billions in funding for new community health centers nationwide, and to include a path for states to go single-payer, made the cut in the HCR bill - amongst other items?

Also, to state emphatically that the reason Republicans won the mid-terms was because people couldn't tell the difference between the two parties is off the mark. Republicans won the House in large part because they obscured the Democratic message with a massively well-funded campaign of lies and fear-mongering on one hand - and on the other, from what I can tell -the "progressive" talking heads did their level-best to "punish" Obama by discouraging voter turnout through their own brand of fear-mongering and outright dis-information (e.g. - "Cat Food Commission" and other nonsense).

There is no way to delve through the signed and pending legislation, intiatives and other widely available information of Obama's first term, and then truly still insist there's no difference between him and a Republican, or that he has not taken a Democratic view in making his choices. If this is about hurt feelings because of perceived slights to "progressives" from Obama, then that's another matter.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

No one seems quite to appreciate the bind the Republicans put Obama in from the get go when they declared they would filibuster EVERYTHING he sought.

@jjm: This is simply nonsense. Obama put himself in the bind by choosing to promise that he would "change the tone in Washington" rather than promising popular policies, with or without GOP support.

By personally promising bipartisanship, Obama took ownership for the dysfunctionality in D.C. The more the GOP obstructed, the more Obama got blamed.

Democrats should have rammed -- that's right, RAMMED! -- through a fully liberal agenda: Closing corporate tax loopholes, raising taxes on the wealthy, fixing the structural hazards in the financial services industry.

All of these fixes are net revenue generators and could have been passed via reconciliation. With the cost savings, Democrats could have proposed a much larger "job-creating" stimulus bill.

Anything that the Democrats couldn't pass, the Democrats should have blamed the GOP for obstructing and made the 2010 elections a referendum on the GOP obstructionism.

Inexplicably, instead of blaming the GOP for blocking economic recovery, the White House ran around saying how "productive" Congress had been.

Well the American public responded rationally: "If the Democrats have gotten everything that they wanted and unemployment is still at 10%, then maybe I should vote for the GOP." It isn't rocket science.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

June,

I'm going to agree with you that the Dems messaging on this remains impotent - but one thing I'd like to point out is that in terms of Social Security cuts, what I've heard Durbin talking about is looking at delaying Social Security payments to wealthy people who are receiving 100% benefits, and who don't need it

Doesn’t matter what Durbin or anyone else is proposing for Social Security. Social Security is NOT contributing to federal budget deficits and does NOT require fixing.

Posted by: Joe Friday on April 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

@square1 - You misrepresented the context of Durbin's perspective with "Sanders is too extreme to take seriously but Ryan is a voice of reasonable economic thought. This is a Democrat saying this."

No, that wasn't a Democrat saying that. And if you honestly think that's what you heard in Durbin's own words, then posting quotes from the video here for you to read, I suspect, still won't convince you that Durbin never said anything like "Democratic leaders agree more with Ryan than Sanders."

Just because a self-professed "liberal" or "progressive" says something on the internets doesn't mean I'm going to take their word for gospel. I want to see/hear/read for myself whatever it is that's being discussed. And when I watch the video, and hear Durbin's remarks in his own words, I have to maintain that your post did not accurately reflect his perspective on the budget.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

@Joe Friday - not unless you take the long-term view. I haven't read the wonkery, but CBO seems to think something needs to be done so that come 2037, people can still receive 100% of their well-deserved benefits, instead of 85% or less.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Correction to my last post: according to a CBO study published in July 2010, the projected year for a Social Security short-fall is 2039.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

@June: Durbin framed the negotiation as one with Ryan ("who I know and like") on one side of the spectrum and Obama on the other side of the spectrum and a deal would be in the middle. It couldn't be more clear.

There was nothing stopping Durbin from saying, for example, "the President has given a proposal that reflects both sides' concerns. Mind you, there are many Democrats who want something far stronger, far more liberal than the centrist plan proposed by the President. But, in order to get something done, we are going to have to end up with something pretty close to what the President proposed."

He was then asked about Sanders' Social Security resolution and he said "I think Bernie is going too far with his language".

Mind you, if Durbin personally thinks that Sanders language goes too far then I would only criticize him for being misguided. But my primary objection is that Durbin is pre-emptively yanking support from the liberal side away before the negotiations even begin.

Durbin's first response to being asked about Ryan was that he "liked" and "respects" Ryan. When pressed, Durbin threw in that, yeah, Ryan's plan pretty much ends Medicare as we know it, but hey that is no reason to give the guy a hard time.

Every indication is that the White House intends to end up a Gang of Six/Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan and is going to try to bamboozle the party base into believing the final plan is the proverbial 95% of what was in Obama's speech and anyone who complains is a purist demanding a pony.

Posted by: square1 on April 20, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

@square1, given your first paragraph in your most recent posting, how do you go from that to your initial conclusion: "I will take Durbin at his word that Democratic leaders agree more with Ryan than Sanders." Durbin says Ryan's plan is on the right, the President's plan is on the left and they will meet somewhere in the middle in a bi-partisan fashion. Yes, I would have preferred to hear Durbin say, "f*ck Paul Ryan!" but that's not going to happen. What I didn't hear is that Democratic leaders are more on board for Ryan's plan than Obama's plan.

And you still did not include the critical reason why Durbin thinks Sander's language (broadly phrasing)"no cuts under any circumstances" goes too far - Durbin's view is that there is room for means-testing in terms of Social Security, so that the very wealthy - or as Durbin puts it -"millionaires and billionaires" who can do without the monthly check free up that money in order to shore up Social Security for those to whom it will be vital. That's why Durbin said he thinks Sanders' language goes too far. Durbin was asked a question and he answered it honestly, but that translates to "yanking support away from the liberal side"? I think that goes too far.

Durbin also said he respects Ryan, but he agrees with Pres. Obama. Personally, I think Ryan is an obnoxious little weasel who wastes everyone's time creating busywork that ultimately produces nothing of value - but that's me, so yes, I'm gagging when I hear Durbin say he respects Ryan. However, in the interview, Durbin lays out the damage Ryan's plan would do, and instead of following up, the interviewer moves on to another question. However, Durbin clearly says he disagrees with Ryan's point of view.

I also don't agree there's "every indication" that Obama is going to put aside his stated goals and vision for the budget and just rubber-stamp the GoS/S-B proposals. But what I'm almost 100% sure of is that whatever the proposals are, in the left blogosphere, they will at first for the most part be largely mis-characterized and villified, and then maybe somehwere far down the line, actually looked at on their merits.

Posted by: June on April 20, 2011 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

June,

not unless you take the long-term view. I haven't read the wonkery, but CBO seems to think something needs to be done so that come 2037, people can still receive 100% of their well-deserved benefits, instead of 85% or less ... Correction to my last post: according to a CBO study published in July 2010, the projected year for a Social Security short-fall is 2039.

That’s only if one assumes forecasts that have been repeatedly wrong.

According to the actuaries, Social Security is solvent through 2085, and they only do 75-year forecasts:

SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST FUND RATIOS

Even if Social Security did require fixing, which it does not, because it is self-financing, it STILL would not contribute to federal deficits.

Posted by: Joe Friday on April 20, 2011 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Really, the lack of historical knowledge and amongst "progressives" is appalling!
zandru, it might interest you to know that, while it's true that Roosevelt DID propose SS; it was Theodore Roosevelt, not Franklin. I guess that means SS is damned as well as the ACA, then? After all, a Republican idea is a Republican idea, right?
You appear to be angry because President Obama hasn't fought as a "Democrat", hasn't reviled the Republican/Teabaggers and has compromised, even though those compromises provided aid and help to millions, when what you wanted was "a line drawn in the sand".
Why? Because that'll show those Republicans! Won't get anything worthwhile accomplished or make any progress (as in "progressive") but, according to your standards, that's preferable than a half a loaf. Whatever the gains, unless they're 100%, we've lost.
In your idea of what a progressive politician is, you seem to focus on the actions AS ACTIONS in and of themselves and not on what those actions accomplish. As for myself, I prefer to concentrate on what's actually been accomplished, not how closely the accomplishment matches some imaginary guide. Even as it shows me how far we still have to go, I can see how far we've come.
You might say it shows me how much "progress" we've made...

Posted by: Doug on April 20, 2011 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK
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