Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guess which "extreme" the public agrees with?

by digby

If you want proof that the Villagers are out of touch, get a load of this:
Most Republicans don't actually support the House Republican plan to avert the spending cuts known as the sequester, according to a new poll conducted for Business Insider by our partner SurveyMonkey.

The poll asked participants to consider the core points of three sequester replacement proposals in Congress, without telling them the partisan affiliation of those plans. It found that in some cases, both Democrats and Republicans actually opposed their own party's plans and/or backed their adversaries' proposal.

Here are the three plans we tested:
  • The Senate Democratic plan cancels the $85.3 billion in 2013 sequester cuts and replaces them with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. The plan saves $27.5 billion by cutting farm subsidies and raises $55 billion by cutting tax deductions for oil companies and by implementing the Buffett Rule, which sets a minimum tax rate for incomes over $1 million. 
  • The 2012 House Republican plan would cancel the $55 billion in sequester defense cuts for 2013 and replace them by shrinking funding to food stamp programs, cutting $11.4 billion from the public health fund in the Affordable Care Act, and cutting the Social Services Block Grant program, among others.
  • The House Progressive Caucus plan replaces the entire sequester with a new plan with equivalent savings. It accomplishes this by ending subsidies to fossil fuel companies, closing several tax loopholes, cutting the corporate meal and entertainment tax deduction at 25 percent, and enacting a 28 percent limit on certain tax deductions and extensions.
Surveys have found that asking people about just titles of plans or telling people who proposed policy, changes the results, so the point of this poll was to see what people thought of the plans when they were fully explained, but also stripped of partisan labels.

SurveyMonkey's poll, which surveyed 550 people, focused on congressional proposals exclusively. Here are some interesting findings of the poll:
Surprisingly, the plan that polled the strongest was the House Progressive Caucus plan. More than half of respondents supported it compared to sequestration and just a fifth of respondents were opposed.
A plurality of people — 28 percent — believed the House Progressive Caucus Plan would have the least financial impact on them personally. This makes the most sense, as only 14 percent of respondents reported having income over $150,000.

Shockingly, 47 percent of Republicans preferred the House Progressive plan to the sequester. This means that Republicans supported the House Progressive plan just as much as they supported their own party's plan.

Support for the Senate Democrat plan was weak, with just fewer than half of respondents preferring that plan compared with the sequester.

Opposition to the House Republican plan was strong, with 57 percent preferring the sequester to that plan.

Twice as many Republicans supported sequestration as Democrats.

One-fifth of Democrats prefer the sequester when compared to the Senate Democrats' sequestration replacement plan. About one-quarter of Republicans prefer the Senate Democrat plan to the implementation of the sequester.
It shouldn't come as any surprise to you to know that the Progressive Caucus Plan is also the one that's considered so kooky and outside the mainstream that Andrea Mitchell and her pals can hardly keep from rolling their eyes when they mention them --- on the rare occasions they even bother. And yet, if what you care about is the deficit, the House Progressive caucus plan reduces the deficit just as much as the other plans and doesn't even put a dent in our status as a global military empire and world's policeman. And it's clearly something the people would prefer (although they undoubtedly wouldn't if they knew the Dirty Hippies were the one's proposing it.) Yet, it's literally not even being discussed in any of the non-stop sequester blather-fests on TV.

And I hate to say it, our allegedly progressive White House is equally dismissive. And that's because it isn't progressive. It's "centrist" which means that it's one of the architects, not victims, of,the deficit brinksmanship we're now using as an excuse to slash the hell out of government.

This excellent commentary by political scientist Joseph White explains why it's facile to simply blame the crazy Republicans for the mess we're in:
Who is to blame for this deficit brinksmanship? It may seem logical to finger Congressional “extremists.” In fact, Tea Party-oriented Republicans have recently shown the most enthusiasm for holding the nation’s credit and economic prospects hostage. Yet fiscal brinksmanship is nothing new, and it has been pursued at least as much by “centrist” budget hawks. Since the 1980s, a large segment of the Washington policy world has acted as if all other concerns are less important than shrinking the deficit, equating budgetary terrorism to “responsible government.”

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is a prime example. Its board includes many former budget officials along with leaders of the House and Senate budget committees. As a leading cheerleader for hostage-taking and brinksmanship, the Committee viewed the 2011 debt ceiling hostage crisis as an “opportunity” not to be wasted. It endorsed the threatened sequester, worrying only that it might not be tough enough. In December 2012, the Committee argued that Congress and the President did not have time to work out a detailed package of big deficit cuts, and called for any deal to include “enforcement mechanisms” such as yet another sequester...

In 2011, the Financial Times editorialized that, “sane governments do not cast doubt on the pledge to honor their debts – which is why, if reason prevailed, the debt ceiling would simply be scrapped.” Yet instead of endorsing this common sense, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has called the debt-ceiling “an effective lever… to require law makers to enact debt reduction legislation.” This promotion of budgetary extremism, however, is nothing new:
 In 1985, two centrists – Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina andRepublican Senator Warren Rudman of New Hampshire – joined with ultra-conservativeRepublican Phil Gramm of Texas to block a debt ceiling increase until Congress passedthe Gramm/Rudman/Hollings law requiring crude automatic cuts to domestic and defense programs – with no deliberation about which cuts made sense given national needs. 
 In 2009-2010, the centrist Senate Budget Committee Chair, North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, first blocked sensible budget process reforms and then objected to a debt ceiling increase in order to force appointment of a special Fiscal Responsibility Commission. 
 In November of 2010 former Senator Alan Simpson, co-chair of the deficit commission,boasted that the co-chairs’ recommendations could succeed even though not supported by the required number of commission members. “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April,” declared Simpson, pointing to the next Congressional decision on the debt ceiling. Simpson is a Republican long viewed as very conservative, but he now is considered a centrist by Washington DC reporters (and apparently also by President Obama, who appointed him).
Centrist hawks have systematically exaggerated the economic risks of deficits, predicting high interest rates for the past five years and continually being disproven. They also have promoted a biased and inaccurate view of the causes of budget imbalances. Forecasts show that spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will increase, while taxes at current levels are not projected to cover the costs. Although most American voters are willing to pay for health and retirement programs, budget hawks proclaim the deficit “crisis” is due to excess “entitlements.”  It would be just as logical to say that valuable health care and pension programs need more  funding. The report of the chairs of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission called for an artificial  ceiling on federal spending to be set at 21% of Gross Domestic Product forever. This is an  arbitrary political move – and one that simply encourages right-wing extremists trying to force unpopular cuts in social spending that could not be enacted in normal proceedings. 

That it is an arbitrary political move is proven by the fact that the House progressives have come up with a deficit reduction plan that does not cut the so-called entitlements and reduces the deficit by the same arbitrary number the president and the Republicans agreed upon. And if said deficit must be cut, the public prefers that it be done in this way! And yet, it is dismissed out of hand.  At this point we know that deficit reduction per se is a secondary concern. It's about cutting government.

This is largely a result of centrist deficit hawks (and the presidents of both parties who bought into their hackery.) Don't forget that the first item of business the new Democratic president initiated, once he passed the stimulus plan at the beginning of his first term, was to convene a "fiscal responsibility summit" that was to include Pete Peterson as a featured speaker (until the shocked outcry of Democratic allies made them rescind the invitation.) And they have never really wavered from that goal.

Here's Joan Walsh today:
[I]t’s worth remembering that according to Noam Scheiber and others, Obama himself opened the door to hostage-taking Republicans by agreeing to negotiate over a debt-ceiling hike, which had until that point been a pro-forma ritual: partisans from the out of power party, like Sen. Barack Obama, might cast a symbolic vote against it, but it always went up. In his excellent book “The Escape Artist,” Scheiber reveals that some administration officials knew that would change under the new Tea Party-led House GOP elected in 2010, and they pushed to include a debt-ceiling hike in the December, 2010 deal Obama made to extend the Bush tax cuts. But when Republicans (predictably) balked, it was dropped.

The White House was already looking for a way to craft a big deficit-reduction plan, thanks to the warnings of deficit hawk Peter Orszag, with political advisors like David Plouffe insisting it would make good politics in 2012 after the “shellacking” of 2010. As one administration official told Scheiber, about a crucial deficit-cutting meeting: “Plouffe specifically said, ‘We’re going to need a period of ugliness’—he meant with the left—‘so that people in the center understand that we’re not wasting their tax dollars.” (Funny, Plouffe said the same thing publicly right after Obama’s 2012 victory.)
"Deficit reduction" is becoming to centrist Democrats what "tax cuts" are to Republicans -- and all-purpose cure for what ails us.

This powerful centrist faction in the nation's capitol has been creating a sense of ongoing crisis for decades and its effects on our politics cannot be overstated.  It's strangled the social safety net and empowered the most extremist members of our government to use it for their own ends. Combined with the nonsensical insistence that adding "revenue" is akin to signing on with Al Qaeda and you have a recipe for the dysfunction we see today. Don't blame the Tea Party.  They're just playing their designated role in this.

After all, as everyone in Democratic circles keeps shouting to anyone who will listen:
[T]he federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II.

In fact, outside of that post-WWII era, the only time the deficit has fallen faster was when the economy relapsed in 1937, turning the Great Depression into a decade-long affair.
If U.S. history offers any guide, we are already testing the speed limits of a fiscal consolidation that doesn't risk backfiring. That's why the best way to address the fiscal cliff likely is to postpone it. 
While long-term deficit reduction is important and deficits remain very large by historical standards, the reality is that the government already has its foot on the brakes.

It certainly looks to me as if the deficit hawks are doing very, very well. And they obviously aren't done yet.