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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 17, 2013

 
Fiddling while the world burns

by digby

Speaking of "professional activists who profit from conflict":
Fix the Debt, the organization that took flight last year from the very deep pockets of octagenarian Blackstone co-founder Pete Peterson, held an afternoon event at the National Press Club to remind everyone that, crisis averted, the real problem in this country remained our crushing long-term debt...

“My hope is that everyone learns the…lesson: that it’s time to govern, to roll up their sleeves and get to work,” said Leon Panetta, the former Defense secretary, CIA director, congressman and Clinton administration chief of staff who was last seen taking not-so-veiled swipes at President Obama and whose deficit hawk credentials have apparently not been undermined by his having spent some $1 million in taxpayer funds on weekly flights home on a military jet to his spread in Monterey, Calif. “The place they should be is in a budget conference….working on the key issues they need to address if we’re serious about reducing the deficit...”

“Most in a bipartisan way can say that fixing the debt has got to be the ultimate goal. Everything else, yeah, we’ll have those fights, we’ll have those disagreements,” chimed in Jim Nussle, a former Republican congressman from Iowa, budget director under President George W. Bush and member of Fix the Debt's steering committee. He offered: “We can give them the tools for that toolbox as they go in to build that consensus.”

“How deeply has our nation sunk into the trenches of partisan politics,” lamented Javier Palomarez, head of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, one of several speakers enlisted by Fix the Debt to buttress its message. “Our Congress has been plagued by divisive politics…Ask Congress to put an end to this hostile era of partisanship and brinksmanship.”
They're feeling their oats for some reason. Alex MacGillis writes:
Yes, let’s ask “Congress” to do that. That such rhetoric lives on, zombie-like, is a reminder of how much lies ahead of President Obama and congressional Democrats, even as they relish their victory over Republican hostage-takers. 
One of the heartening developments during the standoff was the willingness of some Beltway score-keepers to start calling things for what they were, a noted improvement over the reporting of the hostage crisis of July 2011. But Washington’s attachment to outdated notions of cloakroom comity runs deep, and it will take a concerted effort by Obama and congressional Democrats to press their advantage against not only Republicans but the earnest chin-strokers in the establishment who continue to talk as if red ink is the country’s great existential challenge even as unemployment remains stuck above 7 percent and middle-class wages continue their generation-long stagnation.
Like these three:


(starting at 5:20)Andrea Mitchell: Ruth very quickly, Simpson and Bowles are out with a new ad today to reiterate what they think the approach ought to be. What if the president years ago had forcefully signed on to that? We would be in a very different place today.

Ruth Marcus: This is the great "what if" question of Washington and it's one that I've been asking for quite a long time. But the White House argument would be that it would never have been acceptable, that it never would have made it through the Senate, no less the House, that anything he was associated with would have been per se unacceptable to Republicans. 
But boy, you really wish that moment had been seized because ...

Chris Cilizza (nodding): totally, Andrea ...

Marcus: ... if you could run that counterfactual we couldn't be in a worse position if he had seized on that so ... That's always been my bottom line: what about trying guys?
Or this guy last Sunday, in response to David Gregory stating that so-called entitlements are "cannibalizing the budget":
Senator Dick Durbin: David this may be heresy. But I think Simpson-Bowles got it right. Put everything on the table. We know that come 10 years from now Medicare is not sustainable financially. We've got to do something. Why wait ten years to see that reality. We know that Social Security has 20 years or perhaps less. What are we going to do about it? Today, in a small way, that will give it longevity?

Despite the fact that all the evidence shows that austerity is destructive, these elite leaders are all so insular that it doesn't even sound ridiculous to them that they keep proposing to "solve" a problem that may or may not even materialize 20 years in the future (and even then could be fixed very simply) by cutting benefits for the most vulnerable populations. Even as we face a terrible jobs crisis in the here and now, young people strangled by debt as far as the eye can see and a looming irreversible global environmental disaster that does require immediate intervention, they continue to cast solving this alleged "long-term entitlement crisis" as some sort of panacea for all that ails us. Talk about fiddling while the world burns ...

Update: #fixthedebtqa on twitter is hilarious. The "extreme" (left) had a lot of fun today trolling them.


Update II:  This is interesting.  Harry Reid says that Democrats will absolutely not agree to cut Social Security without revenues.  The president on the other hand:

President Obama made a similar commitment during a meeting with the Democratic Senate caucus last week, but added that if the Republican offer also included infrastructure money or investment in early childhood education, a major priority of Obama's, it would at least be worth considering. The president added that he was open to reforms to Social Security Disability Insurance.

I hadn't heard that before. It would appear that the WH may be dropping its revenue requirement after all.

Not that it matters. The last I heard progressives didn't think we should cut Social Security. Period. Not for revenue, not for infrastructure money, not for early childhood education. It is not a bargaining chip. Find something else to barter,k boys.

(In fairness, Reid does not sound keen on this. But he should take it off the fucking table if he isn't.)

.


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