Today's Fiscal Flim Flam update
Yesterday the White House met with business leaders and the president of the Chamber of Commerce so I guess this was "get the left onboard" day since they trotted out Dick Durbin (an odd choice considering his total cave on Simpson-Bowles) and a big meeting with all the important unions and assorted lefty groups.
Dday has the whole story, which basically says that Social Security is off the table (which we knew was likely for months) and Durbin danced around the issues of medicare and medicaid leaving more questions than answers.
I think dday's conclusion gets it just right:
Overall, Durbin tried to put a happy face on a grand bargain deal expressly to encourage the Professional Left in DC. Many of them came out of a meeting at the White House encouraged by the Democratic lineas well. I think there’s a serious case of “trust but verify” needed here. And it should be noted that this is where the party is at before one minute of negotiation with the other side.
Right. But then the president has been very explicit in his desire to have a "balanced approach" where he rich are asked to "pay a little bit more" so they didn't have much to work with unless they were very willing to go over the cliff (which, unlike others, I believe they are terrified of actually doing.)
Ryan Grim reports that Durbin tried to clarify his remarks, but it's still unclear to me what specifically they're talking about:
"What I'm saying is, what I'm talking about now is the immediate -- what takes us to the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff," he said, adding that Medicare and Medicaid should not be part of those talks. But, he said, "When you're talking about long-term deficit reduction, $4 trillion worth, entitlement reform needs to be part of it."
Social Security, too?
"No. Social Security you take off the table and put in a separate commission," Durbin said.
If David Corn is any indication of what the liberal establishment thinks about this, the necessity of making a "deal" is so paramount that the crazy hippies are just going to have to be willing to "give something up" on entitlements in order to make it happen. On Martin Bashir's show earlier, he seemed not to understand that unlike the whining billionaires, we crazy hippies aren't screaming because we have to give something up. It's not personal, fercryingoutloud. We're screaming because vulnerable people who cannot afford to have the slightest bit of their meager benefits slashed without dire consequences are being asked to put their "skin in the game" with plutocrats for whom there will be no consequences at all. This amount of money is insignificant to them. That's not a good deal by any definition. Exhorting the left to "give something up" is telling us to make the weakest members of society suffer in exchange for nothing --- and for what? A terrible deal to solve a phony "crisis" that doesn't need solving? This is crazy talk, particularly since the alleged crisis that needs solving will be magically fixed if they don't make a deal!
This isn't really a poker game, guys. The stakes aren't abstract numbers on a computer model. These are real human beings being used by politicians in a beltway power play. And the losers in this game are not going to be beltway celebrities or Senators or members of the Chamber of Commerce, no matter what happens.
Update: Greg Sargent spoke with some of the people in the meeting today and they are encouraged.
Update II: Oh hell.
And from what I hear, some people in that meeting today are not so sanguine about the possible cuts.