Dispatch From The Vineyard

by digby

In case you were wondering what the spoiled, wealthy celebrity villagers believe Obama should do to pay for his agenda, here it is on CNN this morning:

Gloria Borger: Out of crisis comes opportunity. And they're thinking, as long as we're not paying so much attention to the deficit this year, next year, why not go for it all? Why not do what we want to do on healthcare and energy? Got it done with the understanding that two or three years down the road we're going to have to start paying for this.

Blitzer: But if he wants to deal with the deficit, the national debt, he's got to deal with htose entitlements, social security, medicare, medicaid.

Borger: This is the opportunity. This is the opportunity, because everybody understands right now that won't have the money. So this is what you call a teachable moment here right now for Barack Obama. The American public can't keep these entitlements at these levels.

That's completely incoherent, of course. Universal health care is the very definition of an "entitlement" and will be vociferously opposed on the very grounds that Borger cites: "we don't have the money." (And if the "grand bargain" is that these programs have to be paid for on the backs of old people, I have a feeling it's going to run into some resistance from a large political constituency as well. )

This is why talk of "entitlement reform" at a time of great economic peril is a dangerous thing. The Republicans and wealthy villagers get all excited again at the prospect that they might finally be able to destroy social security and this provides them with a great new excuse to push for it. And in doing that, they scare the hell out of people who are more dependent on those
"entitlements" than ever. They make no sense and nobody should ever listen to them.

It's not that deficits don't matter, mind you. But they don't matter more than anything else and they certainly don't matter right now. And by putting "entitlements" on the menu it becomes nearly impossible for Obama to pass health care and makes cuts in social security and medicare the price that must be paid for the Republican sponsored financial meltdown. How convenient.

Social security was passed during the great depression when the country finally understood that the elderly simply had to have a guaranteed pension. It's incredibly ironic that in a time which many believe may be the worst economic crisis since then, it's becoming common wisdom among the elites that the only answer is to ensure that they don't.

You should have seen the smug, satisfied look on Borger's face.

BTW: If people seriously want to know how to pay for what neds to be done in this country, they should read this.

I doubt that the rich media celebrities who decide the parameters of our political agenda will ever agree (after all, it means that they will have to kick in) but it's certainly doable.