The Case of the Missing President (Or: Negotiations, Part III)

This anonymously-sourced report from The Hill, which clearly derives in good part from Republican sources, is pretty damning about President Obama’s leadership, if it turns out to be accurate:

GOP aides and lawmakers, speaking on background, portrayed Boehner as the calm negotiator who repeatedly exasperated President Obama.
Boehner last month asked the networks to televise his response to Obama’s address to the nation, a request which infuriated the White House, Republican sources said.
On July 23, they claim, the White House called Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), telling her not to participate on a call with Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Pelosi informed Reid, who declined to participate, and the call was canceled, the Republican sources said. (A Pelosi spokesman could not be reached for comment.)
Later that day, the four leaders met with Obama at the White House. At one point, GOP officials said, the Democratic and Republican leaders asked Obama and his aides to leave the room to let them negotiate.
A tentative deal was subsequently struck, but Obama privately threatened to veto it, the sources said.
Reid has repeatedly denied that he ever signed off on such an agreement.

The following day, staffers for Boehner, Cantor, Reid and McConnell continued to work on an agreement, according to Republicans.
After more twists and turns – and involvement from Vice President Biden – a bipartisan deal was reached a week later.

The article’s worth reading in its entirety for a good deal more color on how Boehner overcame the dissension within his own caucus on passing the second House bill (the first being the Cut, Cap and Balance plan, not counting the vote on the Ryan roadmap). If that’s how it went down, it seems pretty clear that Obama was simply an obstacle to getting a deal done – not the only adult in the room, as he portrayed himself, but the one guy who had nothing to contribute to the process and was actually in the way.
Which brings us to the next point. A big part of why the whole political spin war was so acrimonious throughout these negotiations was the asymmetry in transparency among the participants. The House GOP side of the argument was played out in public: the House passed two plans before the Senate even held a vote on a plan backed by Senate leadership. Everybody knew what the House would do if it controlled the process, and what its negotiating posture was. (The House Democrats, of course, were marginalized, as the House minority always is). The Senate Democrats and Senate GOP leadership each floated plans that were less concrete (until the point late in the game where Reid held a vote on his own alternative), but at least could in some general way be evaluated by the voters and the media.
But throughout the entire process, President Obama never put a plan where the voters could see it. No proposal was circulated by the White House, and the President and his spokesmen refused to go into any specifics beyond a few public statements about small-bore issues like depreciation rates for corporate jets. That posture has its advantages – on an issue of less intense public attention, closed-door back-room dealing can be the way to get rhetoric set aside and the parties moved ahead on reaching their bottom lines. It also gave Obama political advantages, since he could take potshots at the GOP plan while offering no target to be criticized without complete deniability for the White House.
But the downsides manifested themselves in other ways that helped poison the process and ultimately cripple the President. Denied competing plans to pore over, the media coverage ended up focusing on he-said she-said disputes about things that had happened behind closed doors (like Obama’s blowup with Eric Cantor) and competing spin over what Obama had or had not offered. Energized Tea Party activists were given a choice between a no-compromise conservative bill they could see, and a closed-door backroom deal with Obama they couldn’t evaluate beyond their willingness to trust the DC establishment that created this mess in the first place. Even liberal activists were offered very little to work with. Obama ended up sending out mass emails like this one last Friday:

Imagine you got to be a fly on the wall in a closed meeting of the House Republicans yesterday.
Would you hear sober talk of the solemn responsibility our representatives have? Or empathy for those having a tough time in this economy?
No. You’d hear one freshman Republican tell his colleagues to “put on your helmet, buckle your chinstrap, and knock the sh** out of ’em.”
This group thinks holding our economy captive is a game.
But right now Congress is running out of time to reach a resolution to this debt crisis before Tuesday’s deadline — or put our economy and American jobs at risk. President Obama has called on both sides to compromise and get this thing done — and he’s asked all Americans to contact their representatives and tell them to do their jobs.
“If you want to see a bipartisan compromise — a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign — let your members of Congress know,” the President said this morning. “Make a phone call. Send an email. Tweet. Keep the pressure on Washington, and we can get past this.”
So let’s do this. Our records show:
You’re represented in the Senate by [Senator, phone number]
and [Senator, phone number]
In the House of Representatives, you’re represented by [Representative, phone number]
Call them now and say this isn’t about politics — it’s about doing the right thing for the country. Then click here to let us know who you called and how it went, so we can keep track of who we’re reaching.
House Speaker John Boehner, who’s responsible for bringing people in his party to the negotiating table, needs to hear from you, too. You can call his office at (202) 225-0600.
If Congress fails to act, millions of seniors may have to go without the Social Security checks they rely on. Veterans may not be able to get their benefits. We could lose our AAA credit rating.
President Obama has made it clear from the beginning that he will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a balanced, responsible approach to dealing with the nation’s debt.
What’s not clear is whether the fringe ideological faction on the other side refuses to come to the table because they’re genuinely unwilling to give an inch, or just because they think they can benefit politically from appearing that way. Either way, they need to be reminded that Americans know the stakes and want them to compromise and get the job done.
It takes just a few minutes to make a call. If you can’t get through, keep trying. Then help us track our progress by reporting your calls and letting us know how they go:

First of all, in all my years receiving direct mail and emails from Republicans, I do not believe I’ve ever gotten anything so abjectly begging for a deal, any deal. Obama was hectoring his supporters to get behind absolutely anything that would pass, without even the slenderest nod to what might be in it (this is how he ended up with a progressive Congressman describing the final result as a “Satan sandwich”). Second, the barrage of Tweets from Obama then targeting each and every state’s delegation made him sound like a 13-year-old girl trying to start a trending topic about Justin Bieber, rather than the Leader of the Free World directing events. Remember when liberals sneered that Sarah Palin was “president of Facebook”? Well, that was Obama last week – President of Twitter. Except as the actual President of the United States, he should have had better ways of influencing Congress than Twitter. Third, Obama’s expectation that the voters and swing-district Congressmen and Senators would rally behind a backroom deal without any public defense of its specifics was a disastrous misreading of the public mood in general and the mood of newly-elected, Tea Party-backed Republicans in particular.
And finally, Obama’s backroom strategy destroyed his leverage. As John Podhoretz noted in the Post column I linked to earlier today, Obama’s inability to either work out a deal in private or rally public support behind any particular plan resulted in a deal that left out the one thing he had demanded, any tax hikes. And indeed, whether or not the Hill’s account is accurate, it is telling that Obama insisted that his entire role be performed offstage where the public couldn’t verify what he was doing or where he stood except by taking the word of him and his spokesmen. That amounted to a total surrender of the ‘bully pulpit,’ despite Obama’s frequent appearances to repeat his vague appeals for a “balanced” approach – Republicans could see that he wasn’t willing to take any stand for which he’d be held accountable, and so they inferred, correctly, that he’d never stand ground he’d taken in private if he feared to take it in public. His silence on the specifics rendered him weak and vulnerable, and ultimately impotent. He became the man who’d take any deal, so of course he got none of what he asked for.
That part, no amount of spin about the blow-by-blow of the closed-door negotiatons can conceal.

74 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing President (Or: Negotiations, Part III)”

  1. I do not think he is weak negotiator, though it’s very much time to dispense with the idea that he is a radical liberal. I think his statements about revenues was posturing. Yes, I thinking he would have preferred revenues, but this was so politically toxic, he was not going to get in the away of any plan that (1) he didn’t have to create, and (2) was fine with both parties in Congress.

  2. He never was a liberal democrat, but a pragmatic one. I think the one time he showed a liberal bent was when he voted no on the Roberts confirmation (which was wrong of him). And voting no on the Iraq war didn’t make him a liberal, it made him intelligent and unafraid. The assumption that because he’s black (and would everyone please remember that he’s as black as Derek Jeter?) that he’s a liberal is as fallacious as claiming Clarence Thomas is a traitor because he’s a conservative.
    He is, in my mind, more than anything, an Adlai Stevenson Democrat. A very intellectual and smart man who thinks you can win the argument by providing more facts. Which doesn’t work in politics. Well sometimes, but not in times like this. Not when you are dealing with a frankly cowardly Republican leadership who was so afraid of offending a group of people they think of as their base (costume wearing Teabaggers are nobody’s base) that they adbicated a leadership role. Think about this: Obama did deliver the centrist Democrat and some Republican votes. Grudgingly, but they did. Boehner, the man THIRD IN LINE for the White House caved to the Teabaggers. The tail wagged the elephant.
    This was very much a lose lose proposition. In the end it might work out, but as long as we have a climate where any tax change that results in things like Exxon/Mobil actually paying for something you get a knee jerk reaction, while continuing to write checks for two wars (much bigger money drains than any stimulus package, and also on credit), makes this situation untenable.

  3. He campaigned as a liberal, no question, and he knows he has to throw the base a few bones, e.g. DADT repeal. But he’s never gone out on a limb for anything terribly liberal. He only paid lip service to the public option; but he gave me the impression that he would have signed just about anything Congress passed on the issue. The health bill he did sign wasn’t terribly different than Republican proposals from a decade or so ago.
    His general philosophy has been to let Congress legislate, and stepping in only when he wants to. He wants to stay disassociated from the low Congressional approval ratings to the extent possible. To some this is a failure of “leadership,” but frankly many of those people just want him to put out proposals so they have something to criticize.
    Though the details weren’t public, I believe Obama was very serious about offering up reforms to SS and Medicare with the Republicans, which probably gave Pelosi and Reid a heart attack. This may be a reason that Reid’s own propsoal was so far to his right. I’m not sure that Pelosi and Reid wanted any part of the grand bargain Obama was proposing, and I suspect that the Republican leadership also did not want Obama to get credit for any long-term fiscal solution.

  4. The plain truth is the entire country has shifted to the right, and it was probably predictable 30 years ago. As we Boomers aged, we had less of a stake in being shipped to Viet Nam, which was among the prime movers of the “movement,” and for that matter, less of a civil rights stake. While I think few might argue that it’s harder to be black or hispanic minority than white in many places, just watching TV or reading books from the 1970s tells you just what kind of change has occurred (and not even including the election of Obama).
    The average Democrat today has politics very similar to those of a moderate to slightly right of center Republican of a generation ago. What Nixon started, and Reagan manufactured has continued harder to this day: The Republican Party has shifted so far to coddle the right that it’s unrecognizable. And far too much of the Reagan not criticizing Republican dictum has gone on. When you shut down any kind of criticism, you eliminate critical thinking. Crank, look at your posts of, say 8 years ago, and see what you are writing and defending now. It’s very different, and shame on you for that.
    Look at Fox. It’s become such a parody, such a Newspeak, “Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia” mentality, they actually contradict with no shame what they’ve said 24 hours earlier. They do make Jon Stewart’s job easier as a result. And The Daily Show does make fun of MSNBC as well, and CNN. Fox won’t ever criticize themselves. It’s something Conservatives simply made themselves not do. So the first Ryan proposal is pristine as it emerged and must stay that way no matter what. Hmmm, a political movement that cannot admit its own mistakes. Sounds far more like a Communist or Fascist movement than a democratic one. And certainly, any business that ran that way would have its doors shut fairly quickly.

  5. “And voting no on the Iraq war didn’t make him a liberal, it made him intelligent and unafraid. ”
    Goodness. Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004. The Iraq war vote was in 2002.

  6. Obama is in way over his head – not that it really matters since the dem/repubs are all the same Washington elite. Alls we will get is more debt, more wars, and less individual liberty. Governments are failing all over the western world.

  7. “The plain truth is the entire country has shifted to the right, and it was probably predictable 30 years ago.”
    It has to shift right or else go broke. Socialism is running out of other people’s money from California to Greece.
    The books will be balanced one way or the other. The smart people are trying to balance them now, the stupid people are trying to keep the welfare state going.

  8. @ don – good point. The facts are Obama is just as much a chicken hawk warmonger as Bush was. Now Obama wants to extent the troops in Iraq past the deadline agreed upon in the SOFA agreement. We are wasting more lives and money in Afghanistan, while we bomb and give foreign aid to Pakistan. Oh and let’s nit forget about the bombings in Yemen or Libya. Lol….these repub/ dems are crooks. Its funny watching you partisans take sides. The whole thing is a house of cards brought to you by years of slow constitutional circumvention.

  9. If the Tea Party’s energy had been channeled to get a long-term debt deal, then I wouldn’t have cared. But it wasn’t. I understand Crank’s point about the trust issue, but that really shouldn’t be the main concern at this point. The headwinds are deflationary, not inflationary. Short-term, large cuts in gov’t spending at this point is absolutely stupid and causes more harm than good to the economy.
    Pelosi and Reid made a huge strategic mistake when they didn’t raise the debt ceiling when they both had majorities, but that doesn’t make this current deal any more sensible.

  10. I’m a bit shocked to read that Obama is not a liberal. He had the most liberal voting record in the Senate, so they tell me. He forced healthcare “reform” that is certainly not “market-based” nor middle of the road, it is very much about central planning and control – that is, progressive. To say he argues from facts is also a stretch to say the least. He nearly always argues using platitudes and emotional triggers (those darned private jet owners, you know). He scolds others for not wanting to compromise, all the while digging in his heels, and we are to believe he’s being intellectual? I truly do not understand this meme that President Obama is supremely intelligent and some sort of master tactician. He was barely able to get healthcare “reform” through a congress dominated by his own party. Were he really in a position where he had to negotiate and compromise (as Clinton was in 94), he simply has not proven to me, or anyone, that he could handle that. So please give all of us skeptics some examples of his intellectual prowess and pragmatism because I cannot see it and I very much pay attention.

  11. My position is not the same as Daryl’s. My point is simply that Obama has hardly governed like the radical liberal that many on the right feared when he entered office. Seriously, concerns of his ties to communist parties and sympathizers sound a little silly at this point, don’t they? I’m not saying he doesn’t lean left, but he’s no Nancy Pelosi.
    It is this view of him as a radical liberal that has caused many on the right to view him as ineffectual – “he barely got health care passed,” “he doesn’t stand to his principles.” Too many have not stopped to consider that he might not have been ideologically wedded to these principles in the first place. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your perspective.

  12. Goes to show that a career of voting ‘present’ may not exactly be the best training for an aspiring Executive.
    There is no denying that Obamacare is a liberal program. Just because it didn’t immediately impose single payer doesn’t change that – it is designed to eventually force private insurers out of the market, much as was done with student loans. They pass off the government as being simply another market participant except that the government will not have to suffer the consequences if it can’t economically compete. Not so the private sector, the private sector players can fail or otherwise get out of the market altogether so only the government is left standing.

  13. Obama is directly responsible for gas and electricity sky rocketing. His policies will do nothing but make us more vulnerable. His EPA, Dept of InJustice, NLRB, even the dept of wildlife and fisheries are pushing his agenda everywhere. I far as I can tell he is pushing the liberal agenda anywhere he can and especially behind the wall of bureaucracy… He could create a quarter million jobs in the Gulf region by simply allowing drilling instead of stalling the permit process. His administration is the ‘demolition of jobs’ king of all time. If he wasn’t so stuck on his agenda of greening the economy, he could kickstart job creation by simply getting the bureaucracy and regulatory insanity out of the way… He will never do that and that is why he will be a one term president always and forever linked with Carter as one of the worst in our history.

  14. Let’s be clear about a few things here. I certainly wished Obama had done a number of things differently, but make no mistake: there is no set of government policies – none – that could have been enacted at the time of the last election that would made the economy significantly any better off at the moment. (That is, apart from an absolutely enormous stimulus package, which would have caused its own problems with our debt.)
    The economic problems have resulted from years of ill-advised behavior from businesses and consumers, and it is hitting every developed economy at once. If you think that a Republican president and Congress would have made a bigger dent at this point in time, you are absolutely kidding yourself.

  15. MVH – I agree to a point. The roots of these problems go way back. The stimulus is all Obama, however. And with it is the adjustment of the baselines for federal budgets – ie, they have all been adjusted as if this ‘spending shock’ set a new normal. It’s bad enough that baseline budgeting causes Dems to scream ‘cuts’ even in the case of suggesting that the same amount be spent on a program next year as was spent this year (or for suggesting that more be spent next year than this year, just not as much as more as they had planned). But the stimulus skyrocketed budgets that need now need serious reductions from their current projections. These are not cuts – and nobody sees them as cuts except for the people wedded to government funding (and their media allies). I’m not saying Obama invented baseline budgeting, but he’s exasperated the problem. Additionally, his policies and priorities (eg, as mentioned above) are not calculated to address the root problems, but are an attempt to ‘fundamentally change this country’ – to what exactly has never been explained.
    I agree that the country would still be in a deep hole if McCain had won, but these current policies are making things worse. It’s going to leave some low-hanging fruit for the next administration to pick and make things better quickly for a lot of people hit hard right now. But I would rather see these policies reversed now to sooner ease the burden for those people.

  16. Obama’s a liberal. But at his core is also a beta male. He had to be a beta male at his core to get elected, because had he been an aggressive alpha male (as some of his supporters apparently assumed he secretly was), that kind of testosterone combined with his liberal voting record and associates would have made not just Republicans think “Al Shparton”, Democratic Party primary voters would have had the same alarm bells go off, and Obama likely would have placed behind not just Hillary Clinton, but John Edwards in the 2008 primary.
    Obama’s conundrum and the Democrats is the exact same as New York City Dems were facing three years down the line during the David Dinkins mayoralty. The same personality that made NYC voters comfortable in believing Dinkins was not Al Sharpton, so they could vote for him over Ed Koch in the primary and Rudy Giulaini in the general election, made Dinkins a weak mayor, because he was fearful of overtly challenging his base to change direction, and reluctant to take charge of the problems facing the city at that time without someone else going first. Which is why even in a city as liberal as New York, Giuliani was able to beat Dinkins in the 1993 rematch.
    That’s Obama’s situation, though he still has time to reach down and find his inner alpha male and present himself as a “modified/moderate” Democrat, as Bill Clinton did between the summer of 1995 and the ’96 election. But Clinton also got swing voters back on his side by following Dick Morris’ advice and signing the welfare reform bill pushed by Congressional Republicans, over the howls from the left of his party. That’s what Obama’s going to have to do — he can’t win the moderates back just by making liberals howl because he wasn’t a tough enough negotiator with the Republicans; he’s going to have to actively would with Boehner in some fashion on some future plan to limit federal spending. Given his beta male psyche and his greater reliance on the left side of his party for support than Democratic Leadership Council leader Clinton did, even contemplating doing a deal with the GOP devil is going to eat Obama up inside.

  17. “The stimulus is all Obama, however. ” But the stimulus skyrocketed budgets that need now need serious reductions from their current projections.
    Seriously? A lot of the stimulus was simply 1-shot spending, and as everyone knows, it’s the entitlements and military spending that make up the vast majority of our spending. Given the severity of the crisis, I didn’t have a problem with the gov’t having the initial stimulus. You needed spending very quickly – and the goal was to prop up the economy at a critical time. I do have a problem with the composition of that stimulus package, but it wasn’t all bad; and the goal was to stop a great depression, not to magically transform the economy.
    Again, the question is what were the gov’t alternatives at the time? A general tax break to all businesses is great for long term growth, but would have done very little in the short-term. You aren’t going to get big job growth when demand has fallen off a cliff.
    And that’s the problem, a lot of that demand is not coming back any time soon. It was financed by consumer debt spending driven by cheap consumer credit and high housing values. Businesses aren’t going to hire and expand when demand has fallen off the table.

  18. Obama got rolled here. He should have said he would veto any deabt ceiling bill that was not clean and, if necessary to prevent default, invoke his powers under the Constitution.
    As to Crank’s argument about transparency, from the day he took office the GOP has made it clear and has acted in a way that they were against anything he was for. Given that fact, there is no point in staking out a public position since the knee-jerk reaction would have forced Boehner to reject it.
    The notion that the GOP and the Tea Party cares about the deficit doesn’t pass either the laugh test or the smell test. Cutting spending in the middle of an economic downturn does nothing but punish the poor, the sick and the elderly. Simplification of the tax code with revenue increases PLUS entitlement reform is the only way to halt the disastrous debt expansion caused almost entirley by the Bush tax cuts and an unfunded and unnecessary war.

  19. Then where did the stimulus money go and what did it really do? It was sold as going to ‘shovel ready projects’ (“which turned out not to be so shovel-ready”)? People are demanding more transparency from government and are growing more skeptical of the ‘experts’ who assure us that some bill must be passed without full review. Having to ‘pass the bill to find out what’s in it’ has hopefully seen its high-water mark.
    We could do a lot for the energy sector by reopening the Gulf to drilling, increasing production on the North Slope (and yes, ANWR), and developing new fields in the US. The demand remains, but we are increasingly relying on foreign sources. Production today is the result of permitting from the previous administration. Permits for new US finds are on hold. We could reduce our dependence on foreign oil, lower prices, and put people to work if we add to the supply. Instead, we’re being sold ‘green energy’ which can’t economically support itself and is seeing US production plants closing due to foreign competition. Granted, it makes an emotionally-satisfying sound bite, but it can’t deliver. When somebody figures out the technology, the world will beat a path to their door – until then, we shouldn’t subsidize the failures.

  20. FWIW, I’m fine with expanding drilling and eliminating all of the subsidies, but the benefits of doing so have been blown greatly out of proportion. If you believe that expanding US drilling, in the near term, is going to meaningfully affect either (1) the price of oil; (2) global supply; or (3) the unemployment rate, then I have a bridge to sell you. The idea that not doing so is “killing the economy” is hyperbole.

  21. I should clarify was not quoting anyone here as saying “killing the economy,” but that’s the general gist of the political message.
    As for the stimulus, it certainly had an effect on the economy. Just about any non-political economic analyst will tell you that. People can debate until the cows come home just how big of an effect. Regardless, it was never big enough to make a big dent, but it was sufficiently large over the first two years to prevent a further slide. Obama’s big mistake was actually trying to quantify its effect in terms of employment.

  22. No worries, MVH, your posts consistently display good-faith reasoning and any such clarifications indicate to me that I need to be sure that I am being clear enough in my posts.
    I don’t argue that increasing domestic oil production will turn things around, but it is an example of the low-hanging fruit that can be picked to start undoing some of the damage. Domestic production keeps the money here (or brings it here), increases employment, and generates revenue. It can take ten years to bring some of the new sites online, but there are plenty of near term wins to be had by re-opening the recently closed fields. Fighting ANWR in the 90’s has hurt our capacity today, and threatens the North Slope as, by statute, the Alaskan pipeline has to be dismantled should its delivery fall too far below its maximum capacity. What’s more, the Saudis’ goal is to sell us refined product, not just the unrefined crude – domestic production can thwart that. I would like to see more discussion from a global perspective (and not just environmentalist fretting)land all of the effects our policies will have.
    And I agree that people will long debate the effectiveness of the stimulus, which is all the more reason to see these debates and negotiations out in the open. As Crank’s original post shows, the GOP has won to the extent that their positions were opened to review and debate (up until the final bill that the Dems would sign onto) – the mere fact of these debates hurt the Dems who continue to offer little more than spin instead of proposals.

  23. Clearly Obama did not follow the advice of his economic advisors with the poorly designed stimulus. Keynes favored spending on intrastructure and said government spending should not exceed 20% of GDP. The shutdown if Libyan oil production caused oil prices to escalate. Anyone who thinks shutting down Gulf and Anwar oil production does not hurt is in denial. 250,000 lost American jobs is a shame. Obama showed his lack of experience by letting others design his fail Stimulus and the ReidPelosi healthcare bill that robs insolvent Medicare of a half trillion dollars.

  24. Some comments:
    “As for the stimulus, it certainly had an effect on the economy. ” Yes, 12 billion jobs saved or created.
    “Clearly Obama did not follow the advice of his economic advisors…” His advisors are socialist (as is he) and they did what they wanted. So advice was given and advice was followed. The result was another liberal failure.
    “Obama got rolled here. He should have said he would veto any deabt ceiling bill that was not clean and, if necessary to prevent default, invoke his powers under the Constitution.” Yes but that would have cut into his golfing time-can’t do that.
    “Obama is in way over his head” Yup! Been over his head (above his pay grade) most of his life.
    I challenge everyone to locate people who voted for McCain in 2008 that will now be voting for the Bamster.

  25. Lee, if we can agree on nothing else, then we can that being president is insanely difficult. Failure is probably the norm more than we want to think. This is NOT the most dire stage we’ve ever been in, 1856-65 was. And Buchanan was not the man for the job either. Because he was too partisan, as W was. When things become polarizing, it’s important for the president not to be.
    So whom is to blame for much of this mess? Do I blame the Tea Party? No, as much as I can’t stand them. because when they are right, they are right. The problem is they don’t know what they are right about or why. I blame Boehner and the entire Republican leadership more than any. Because they pandered instead of doing their job. They threw up roadblock after roadblock for a little personal gain on the right. Where is the Tea Party right? The same as the guy who put up the national debt clock near Times Square, which dated back to about 1974 or so (I remember seeing it during a summer job). Because we do have to balance our books, and it can only be done by making radical changes to Social Security, Medicare and Defense. And adding revenue. To the Tea Party and the grand idiot Norquist, any tax is bad. No, a badly or unfairly applied tax is bad. Because like it or not, we DO have to have bridges and roads, powerplants and a grid, air traffic, national policing, national medical research (can you imagine how many people will die without the NIH, or is that a state issue too?). As long as we have social security, it has to be administered. And let’s be real, as much as the Tea Party says they want to eliminate social security, the Congressman who votes for that will be gone so quickly as to be impossible.
    Raise the social security age from 65 to 75, and do it over 12 years or so, cut defense by a shitload, and totally revamping our international police force to one that can defend ourselves. Do we really still need to be in Korea? Medicare is a really tough one, because in the end, people LIKE the idea of getting covered when they are old and burning through medical bills. But taxation, especially in the south, is a cultural issue that has to be understood.
    And Lee, which McCainite who will vote for Obama depends upon who runs against him. But there sure won’t be many, I agree there.

  26. Daryl,
    I noted that not once in your post did you mention the party in power, the Democrats. They were given the keys to the kindom in 2008. The Bamster had total support from the people.
    So what did they do? Spent $1T (as in trillion) on pork and then passed Obamacare. The Bamster then had his underlings enact regulation after regulation to promote their socialist agenda that has killed business and the private sector. All the time they have tried to ignite class warfare.
    As for SS and Medicare, the primary issue is that the Democart congress kept taking money out of these funds and using it for social programs, leaving IOUs. Well ya gotta pay your debts buddy!
    So it is time for socialism and liberalism to die. As Margaret Thacker said “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].” Well the money has run out.

  27. Lee, I have to make one correction to your last post (well, more of a clarification than a correction): the Dems took control of both the House and Senate in 2006. But apparently they were too weak against the onslaught of executive power that marked Bush’s last two years.

  28. Hence my statement that they got the “keys to the kindom in 2008” when when got the presidency as well.
    Also, until the Republicans got control of Congress in 1995, the Democrats controlled the House for some 40 years. It was during that time the SS dipping began.
    The Dems own it.

  29. When we get to 2012, the question I’ll be asking myself is what do I get if I vote Republican? The Republican formula since Reagan is tax cuts and deficit-financed military spending, the spending which also serves as economic stimulus. I know the counter-argument – you try to pass spending cuts that Dems block – but that fact doesn’t stop Republicans from spending on their own priorities, and we wind up deeper in debt.
    The other question I ask myself is whether the Republican candidate will be judicious about foreign policy. Seriously, after going to grad school at an undeniably conservative program for international relations, I am nervous about how Republicans message national security. It’s not just about US national interests, it’s about “leadership” and avoiding “isolationism.”
    It’s not good because it makes it very difficult for a Republican president not to respond militarily to a foreign policy problem, or simply not to intervene at all. And God forbid if we leave it in the hands of an international coalition not led by the US.
    Typically, countries cloak their national interests in grand language and universal concepts. The overarching, realist view of 20th century American foreign policy is not allowing a single power to conquer Western Europe (Germany twice, the Soviets once). The messaging, according to this view, was secondary. Yes, we were making the world safe for democracy – but mainly safe for us in particular.
    After the Cold War, the US is in danger of allowing that messaging to dictate our national interests rather than vice-versa. Our national interests are now somewhat different, and so is our financial position. No single power is knocking on Europe’s door (though I maintain that a united Europe in any form is not in US interests), and our financial position is by itself a national security problem.
    In other words, it is not in our national interests to be the world’s policeman, or for that matter, to transform other countries into democracies as matter of policy (and that includes Libya).
    So when John McCain warns about Republican isolationism, it makes me wonder, if he had been president, whether we would be spending the same amount of money or more (and on credit) on some foreign adventure of dubious benefit to our security. I’ll be wondering the same thing in 2012.

  30. MVH,
    Good question but I’d frame it a different way. If I vote Democrate what will I get and if I vote Republican what will I get. Then compare then two options and make your choice.
    We have seen the Democrate approach and the disaster it has created. Would the Republican approach been any worse? I doubt it. That is my opinion.
    I’m hoping for change!

  31. Lee, we’ve seen both, and I’m hoping for a change too. But that would mean a third way, because what we’ve done for the last 60 years is set ourselves up for a demographic nightmare. FDR created programs that were desperately needed in the 30s. I truly think people today really don’t understand that the Great Depression was not just lots of people who had trouble finding jobs, but an era when the question was: would there be food on the table, or for that matter, would there be a table, today?
    In the midst of that we got the beginnings of a then modern country, from dams and bridges to a power grid. Eisenhower then created a Robert Moses dream of an interstate highway system predicated on cheap gas and oil.
    Social Security was never meant to be a pension, just an emergency of last resort. Only we Boomers are staying healthy too damn long.
    Medicare is underfunded for what it has become: national health insurance for senior citizens.
    Pensions for public employees who retire at 55 will destroy us.
    Our military is probably twice the size is should be, but that too is a jobs program.
    We’ve bought EVERYTHING on credit, and it’s not going away. The idea that we have to lower what are already low tax rates is base stupidity. The idea that we can continue to raise a debt limit without understanding our grandchildren will douse our corpses with gasoline (if they have any money for it) is also stupid.
    So Lee, the Republican approach took a problem that was clearly going to happen, but sped it up much faster. And all we hear from either side is that the OTHER side is to blame. Walt Kelly was smarter than we all clearly are. We are indeed our own worst enemies.

  32. Lee,
    We differ on that one. There are any number of decisions by Obama that I have called “stupid” in this forum, but I would not call his presidency a “disaster.”
    I would call the US economy a “disaster” with no easy solution. The conundrum is that you cannot fix one problem without making another one worse. If you cut government spending in a liquidity trap, you will contract the economy – a dangerous business with deflation looming in the background. If you increase government spending and not raise taxes, you will worsen the debt problem. If you increase government spending and raise taxes, consumers will have less to pay off their debt. Add to that the mess in Europe, and it just gets worse.

  33. I realize it is hard for the wing nuts here to deal with the real world — facts are stubborn things — but there is no doubt, none zero, nada that the Bush presidency is responsible for the vast majority of the deficit.
    Wars off the books, tax cuts for the “job creators” (how did that work out?), unfunded entitlements, etc.

  34. Yup those dirty Republicans are the culprits. OK, so they have not run the Congress since 2006, and yes they have did not run the House for over 40 years when the entitlements were enacted, and yes the only balanced budget in a really long time came when the Republicans held both the House and Senate in 1996, and yes the Democrats did not pass a budget for like 2 years, and yes the Democrats spend $1T we did not have on pork, and yes the Democrats passed Obabamacare which we could not afford, and yes the President proposed budget back in Feb spent another few trillion we did not have, and yes the Democrats and the Public Employee Unions have been working a kick back scheme for years that has bankrupted most of the states.
    But it is those darn Republicans who want to stop spending money we don’t have, reduce taxes to spur the private sector to reduce the 10% unemploment, and spent money to defend the country from terrorists-yea let’s blame everything on those guys ’cause heck the MSM will just parody whever we say!

  35. Lee, your last points are on some very thin ice.
    “But it is those darn Republicans who want to stop spending money we don’t have…,” Except they funded (and Democrats don’t get a pass either, but since you like to blame the President for everything, fair is fair) two world wars, one of choice, on credit, also known as money we don’t have,
    “…reduce taxes to spur the private sector to reduce the 10% unemploment…” which was caused by a non regulated financial sector fueling uncounted greed by all,
    “…and spent money to defend the country from terrorists.” which meant in W and Cheney’s case, was do demonize a large and smart, but not that large, a threat, into this existential threat, making it OK to fight those two world wars, when one was all we needed.
    This is the biggest shame of Republicans. That they have no shame, no memory, no sense of guilt. It’s always someone else’s fault. You guys are the kids in the mirror shop, with the broken mirror, the hammer in hand saying, “What hammer?”

  36. Lee,
    This is the part of your post that causes me the most problems: “reduce taxes to spur the private sector to reduce the 10% unemploment.”
    How do you explain, under current economic conditions, that a further reduction in taxes will reduce unemployment within say, the next few years? Saying that busineses and consumers have an incentive to spend and hire is not the same as saying they will act on that incentive.
    If you own a business, and your demand has fallen off, why would you hire, particularly given the state of the economy, even if you had extra money? If you are a consumer, and you are deeply in debt, how much of that extra income are you going to spend when you are already deleveraging and possibly fearing for job?? It is a classic liquidity trap.
    If you want to reduce *business* taxes for long-term growth, fine, but I don’t see how you can believe it would provide any short-term relief. (The case for reducing personal income taxes for growth is even weaker.) And once you reduce taxes, what are you going to do about the fact that you’ve just made the gov’t debt worse?
    I don’t see any reason to get excited about this policy in the short term.

  37. Oh come on, that’s going too far. If you cut government spending enough, you can afford the wars and the tax cuts, that’s basically what the Republicans are saying. That is not a ridiculous argument. You might not agree with it, but it’s not a “no shame” moment.

  38. People get hired when employers need people to make products or provide services that other people as willing to pay for. Once these people get jobs, they pay taxes which means more income for the government. Also, a business who sells more will pay more in taxes. So expanding the private sector causes more revenue rather than less. This is simple economics 101. And it really works that way. It’s only when the government starts to manipulate the private sector that things start to spin out of control. Politicians of both parties (but the Liberals are the worst) are guilty of this.
    So what role does the government play in effecting the demand for goods and services? As shown by the porkulus, the government cannot cause long term growth by spending money-even $1T! What it can do is the following:
    -Stop taking money from the people/businesses who can more efficently spend it. Federal government wastes 50% of the tax revenue it collects. Private industry would go out of business with such an overhead; the government just keeps rollin along.
    -Stop wasting the money on stupid things. Some of these do include weapons systems that are not needed. The vast majority a social programs that have failed and not amount of $s will ever make then successful. Kill them off!
    -Stop making sensless regulations that restrict the growth of business and industries. The Bamster has had his people doing this since he got in office.
    -Stop running up debts that future generations need to pay off. The government needs to spend only what it brings in-just like everyone else.
    -Stop growing itself. IMHO, less government is better. It has some things only it can do, but it is a monster that has grown and never shrunk. Now is the time to kill the monster.
    The Bamster and his fellow Democrats in Congress have violated all of the above and refuse to ever consider that there is another path-or that they are wrong. No facts will penetrate their minds, not reason can convinve them. They act like children when they are challenged-they throws fit and call people names. Or in the Bamster case he goes golfing while other try to clean up his messes.
    There are tough decisions, but it not as hard as people fear it to be. As has been pointed out, if we just rolled back the budget to 2007/2008, we would not had to raise the debt ceiling.

  39. “People get hired when employers need people to make products or provide services that other people as willing to pay for. Once these people get jobs, they pay taxes which means more income for the government. Also, a business who sells more will pay more in taxes. So expanding the private sector causes more revenue rather than less. This is simple economics 101.”
    What you are describing is an economic theory – now ask yourself if this theory holds up under current economic conditions. Businesses right now have extremely little incentive to add jobs due to a huge drop in demand – some of which is never going to come back. This is not your average business recession.
    So if you are a business, and you receive a tax cut from the government right now, what are you going to do with that extra revenue? Are you really going to hire more workers? No – because the demand for your product likely doesn’t justify hiring anyone.
    The businesses will simply sit on that money until . . . well . . . everyone else stops sitting on their money. This is part of what grinds the economy to a halt, and it’s why I’m not at all confident that a business tax cut is going to help in the near term. You might – and I stress might – keep unemployment from getting higher, but I doubt it will make a huge dent in the numbers.
    The better argument is that a general drop in business taxes might encourage businesses – to the extent they are producing – to invest here rather than abroad, but again, you still have to account for the loss in government revenue because these tax cuts will not pay for themselves in revenue.
    There is no magic bullet.

  40. I agree that right now business have very little reason to invest since there is little demand. So how to increase demand? Look at my list. Decrease taxes on the people paying income taxes (the 50% that do) so they can spend the $s thus creating demand.
    Also we have demand for products but they are being built overseas due to government regulations and taxes here at home. Attack that.
    Get the goivernment out of private business. Let the private sector do what it does best-make the best product for the best price.
    MVH-we are not in a situation we can’t work our way out of. We just have to stop doing what we have been doing. It is not working! Socilaism and the welfare state is not the answer; it is the problem!

  41. “Decrease taxes on the people paying income taxes (the 50% that do) so they can spend the $s thus creating demand.”
    Again, don’t forget, consumers are the ones deleveraging – they aren’t spending either. Taxpayers will be using that money to pay down debt and saving the rest due to job uncertainty.
    That in a nutshell is the problem: you can’t have businesses, consumers and the government not spending all at the same time – it’s the sure recipe for deflation.
    I’m not saying that the situation is not escapable, but Republicans are more excited about their solutions than is actually warranted.
    What I would do, in the short term, is lower business taxes and close loopholes – make it as revenue neutral as possible; focus on *long-term* entitlement reform and cuts in military spending – not short-term cuts.
    If you want to go beyond revenue neutral and raise corporate tax rates even lower, and I’m a big fan of that, then let the Bush personal tax cuts expire to make up for the lost revenue. Those personal tax increases are not going to kill economic growth.

  42. The first sentence of that last paragraph should read “lower corporate tax rates even further.”
    Oh, and no further gov’t stimulus unless absolutely necessary, but keep an eye out for further signs of deflation. If things keep turning south, the government will have to step in and spend, preferably on something growth-oriented.

  43. “Oh, and no further gov’t stimulus unless absolutely necessary” is totally wrong! Gov’t stimlus DOES NOT WORK! IT HAS NEVER WORKED!
    Sorry to shout, but people need to understand that the government taking money (or borrowing it) and spending it does not help-it hurts!
    As for entitlement reform, the 1st reform is to stop giving money to people who have not paid in. Return SS to what it was supposed to be. I would be fine with adjustment to age and payments, but first the gov’t needs to paying off it’s IOUs to the SS fund. It is our money not theirs. Pay us back!
    1st step is to do a cross the board 10% or more cutback from 2008 baseline, not cuts in projected increased spending.
    Getting back to Crank’s topic, the Bamster has shown why he voted present so many times-he has no ideas worth anything and has nothing to contribute. The adults have to stay in the room to clean up the mess while he goes out to play.

  44. So the President who said he “admired Ronald Reagan” doesn’t know shit about the economy. Shocking.

  45. “The adults have to stay in the room to clean up the mess while he goes out to play.”
    Lee, and all the other right wingers out there, seem to have this common refrain, referring to themselves as “adults.” Sorry, but when you pull an Eric Cantor, or see the world (oops, sorry, country, Republicans seem to think a world view is bad) in black and white (in just about every way; when you actually talk about your favorite supreme court justice (yeah, like anyone really has one); you are acting like an adolescent. Big enough to cause damage, immature enough to not understand the damage you cause, and angry when you don’t get your way. Which is why in the latest polls, Republicans are doing so much worse than Democrats. Because the people really do want adults in charge, and they finally see the right wingnuts for what they are.

  46. Daryl,
    Actually the “adults” I was referring to was the Congressional leaders that include the Democrats who had to carry the load for the Bamster. So I was not just saying Republicans were the adults, I included Democrats as well.
    As for the rest of your post, I can’t make any sense of it at all. What the heck are you talking about?

  47. Fair enough Lee. Republicans are always referring to themselves as “the adults.” I was trying to say that you can say you are adult, but are acting like an adolescent.

  48. “Gov’t stimlus DOES NOT WORK! IT HAS NEVER WORKED!”
    Lee – if government spending is to prevent deflation, then it will “work,” assuming it is it big enough, and at least up to the point where it stops. If you are truly facing a deflationary spiral, then there isn’t anything else you can do. We aren’t there, and hopefully we won’t get there, but nothing is worse than a deflationary spiral.
    The problem Republicans have is explaining why consumers and businesses, in the short term, would spend any tax breaks they receive. They rely on theory alone, and are blindly following an economic theory that does not work well under these economic conditions. The economic situation will not get appreciably better until the deleveraging process stops, and until then, you have to make sure the economy does not grind to a hald.

  49. Something about the subject header was bothering me and I couldn’t tell what. Then it hit me. It was the parenthetical phrase “Negotiations, Part III)”
    First, the word “negotiations.” A quick cut and paste from Wikipedia:
    “Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people or parties, intended to reach an understanding, resolve point of difference, or gain advantage in outcome of dialogue, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests of two person/ parties involved in negotiation process. Negotiation is a process where each party involved in negotiating tries to gain an advantage for themselves by the end of the process. Negotiation is intended to aim at compromise.”
    Second, you need two to tango. Two parties willing to negotiate, to deal with something, give something up to get something else. I do this all the time. Crank. so do (or should) you. It can be money, power, Twinkies, whatever. Almost every single member of the Republican Party has signed that stupid Nordquist Pledge, and feels “bound” to enforce this pledge, no matter their lying to do so. Why?
    Article 6 of the Constitution: “I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
    Once you take this oath, it supersedes any pledge you’ve taken it supersedes your family or religion. It means it’s IMPORTANT. It means when you sit to negotiate the financial well being of the country, you don’t do it to try to get an edge in an upcoming election, you don’t blow up the economy and keep people jobless to win in two years, you actually sit and DO stuff. Give and take. It’s in our history, the very thing Teabaggers seem hellbent to not understand, or care much about.
    So Crank, you can negotiate all sorts of things. Grant and Lee managed it (OK, not much of one by then), but the last time our lawmakers were unwilling to truly compromise led to 1860. The real 1860, where we butchered by the hundreds of thousands. Not the nice little re-enactments that seem to be popular, not the dress up in tricorn hats teabaggers like; but real blood and gore. Real death and misery. That’s what stupid lameass things like the Nordgquist pledge leads to.

  50. Daryl,
    It looks like your post were taken from this post:
    So I guess your point is that any person who makes a pledge/promise not to raise taxes is violating a “higher” pledge they took to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States ..” since Congress has the right to tax and taxes are needed to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States..” Correct?
    Hmmm…I think this is quite a stretch given the level of taxation by the Federal government. You point would only have merit if the government was unable to defend us due to too low of taxes. Which is certainly not the case now and would not be if taxes were not increased. So I am calling this one a no point made.

  51. Daryl, tricorn hats relate to the popular headgear of the American Revolution, not the Civil War. The Tea Party antedates the Revolution. Do you have no concept of history, or were you just going for the mother of all non-sequiturs? Also, Grant’s nickname was “Unconditional Surrender” – so why bring him up in a post lamenting the lack of compromse in one side – unless you are comparing yourself to the squealing hardline Confederates who were opposed to ending hostilities on Union terms?

  52. Lee, it’s not that a pledge was made, but that so many Republicans have not only signed the pledge, but put great store in it. Their job is to govern, not be led by such a pledge to a ridiculous, hamstringing degree. And tanny, I am quite aware of where a tricorn hat is from. I got too caught up in the civil war reenactments. Grant had many nicknames….and there is a difference when you are waging a war that is clearly running on far too long, worn down by too many previous generals who wouldn’t fight at all.
    All this over a budget deal that says no to any tax increase, loophole fixing, or anything at all? From the party who states that the country should be run more like a business? It’s simply stupid, and a clear misreading of the public tealeaves (no pun intended. Well, OK, a bit intended).

  53. “And tanny, I am quite aware of where a tricorn hat is from. I got too caught up in the civil war reenactments.”
    Riiiight. You got so caught up in the Civil War reenactments that you focused on hats from the previous century. But you know your history.
    “….and there is a difference when you are waging a war that is clearly running on far too long, worn down by too many previous generals who wouldn’t fight at all.”
    And this relates to . . . ? It seems that you are now comparing the full prosecution of the Civil War to the fight against budget deficits that have gone on for far too long and people who are worn down by too many previous politicians who wouldn’t fight the deficits at all? That would seem to support a Tea Pary/Grant who takes charge to achieve the result that should have been obtained long before. Your arguments are so desperate now that you have all but admitted defeat.
    There’s nothing wrong with saying that the government should be run ‘more like a business’. Businesses look to reduce costs and increase revenues. The Dems are seeking to increase costs while their policies reduce revenues. The government has a lot of fat to cut without risk of cutting muscle. The Dems are often said to be the party that thinks government should act like our parents – except that the job of parents is to produce the next generation of adults and Dems want the people to be their dependent children in perpetuity.

  54. “…It’s simply stupid, and a clear misreading of the public tealeaves..”
    Are you kidding? The liberals/Democrats got their lunch fed to them last November by the Tea Partiers. Or did you forget that?
    Also, you seem to hold this belief that taxing is way out the budget/deficit issue. You can’t be serious! We don’t have a revenue problem at the federal level, we have a spending problem. If you are grossly overweight, your solution is not to eat more.

  55. Lee, everyone, well every sentient being, knows that if you are overweight and want to lose weight you must eat less (and eat better) — cut entitlements — and exercise — raise revenues.
    Your analogy proves how thoroughly know-nothing the tea baggers are .
    tanstaaf lunch, were you trying to not understand Daryl’s post? Again, any fair-minded reader understood that he was not suggesting tri-corner hats were warn during the Civil War. But, I guess, when you have nothing of substance to offer you go with what you have. In the immortal owrds of Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”

  56. Why do all you liberals keep wanting to raise taxes/revenues? Stop spending money we don’t have and stop stealing the hard earned $s from us who actually work and pay taxes!
    We have had a enough of this spend, spend, spend mentality. That was the message in 2010 election and that will be message in 2012 as well. So either hear it now or hear it later, but either way start listening to the people who pay the bills and stop listening to those who want to spend the money.
    My gosh, how thick are you guys?

  57. No argument here about how stupid businesspeople are (having paid attention to how Wall Street cratered the world economy through fraud, begged for a $14 TRILLION government bailout, then whined about the “problems” of government spending), but it still kills me that they say they won’t make deals with million dollar profits, because then they’d have to pay an extra $50K taxes.
    Seems we’re back to another game of “Morons or Liars”.

  58. Lee,
    Cut government spending on defense to zero.
    Or are you one of those big-spending, thick-headed people you drone on about?

  59. Lee, Republicans spend just as much money we don’t have as Democrats. It’s just Republicans won’t call it the Defense Jobs Creation Act.
    It’s been made very clear that people don’t want Medicare to be touched. OK, it should be, because those same morons who say that say taxes shouldn’t be raised to pay for it (well not their own taxes anyway). That’s what makes them morons. Same with social security. Same with anything really. Of course you should only pay for what you have, or know you can pay it back. Where the message gets lost is that people want other people’s programs cut, not their own. Ever see a Republican try to close an obsolete army base? Uh, yeah. Now, you ever see one try to close it in their own district. You never have. You never will.
    Intelligent funding and spending means, like any buisness (and the government is NOT and never should be, a business), is to first decide what you want to spend money on. There you see large differences. Privatized prisons come to mind. I can’t ever see a good reason to have a privately institutionalized service that exists to make sure that people (no matter how dangerous or manic they are) keep their constitutional rights from being granted. That’s what courts are for. Unless you are for a privatized court system as well.
    So where we differ is the role of government, and there the message is so screwed up it’s scary. Because I do think that Democrats see a bigger role for government than Republicans. But then it gets back to what programs get cut. The voters will always say, “Somebody else’s.”
    But Berto, I don’t say cut defense spending to zero. But let’s get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and for a change, NOT spend the savings.

  60. “Intelligent funding and spending means, like any buisness (and the government is NOT and never should be, a business), is to first decide what you want to spend money on. There you see large differences.”
    I totally agree with you. We must decide what we should spend $s on. And I agree that is the big difference among Liberals, Democrates, Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians, etc. That and the role government should play in our lives.
    The Tea Party is a group who has their own views of what we should spent $s on and the role of government. They are not wackos, rather they have a position. Right now they have some political weight and (as they should) they are using it to move things in their direction. This is exactly what the Liberals have done over the years to get their positions enacted. Now someone else is doing the same thing, so they should not complain when the shoe is on the other foot.
    So if we want to have intelligent and constructive debate (one where we don’t revert to name calling), we must first agree to respect each others ideas. We don’t have to agree, but we have to respect them.
    I was taught that you can’t have an intelligent debate until you can understand and articulate your opponents position and have them agree you understand it. Only then can you articulate your position.
    That is what has been missing from the whole budget debate. Our leaders-espsecially the Bamster-have reverted to name calling. This will not solve anything. That is one reason he must go.

  61. Lee,
    It is my contention the Tea Party is the Republican Party with ONLY a name change. Karl Rove in a tri-cornered hat, confusing the brain-dead media into believing it’s something new and different.
    Perhaps you can explain to me what makes their positions in any way different than Reagan-era GOP boilerplate.

  62. Lee, you’be been calling him the Bamster since he took office. You seemingly had no intention of ever wanting him to succeed. Fair enough, since I could say the same for Dubya. And let’s be real: since this entire farce started, name calling has been the norm, not the exception, from everybody.
    And yes, the Tea Partitians (from the planet Teapartia I guess) are wackos. Because whenever they are asked what they would cut, you never get a concrete answer, except defense is always off the table, every tax increase or loophole plugging likewise. That makes them non-negotiable wackos.
    For these kinds of cuts to work, everyone has to feel the pain, even Exxon-Mobil, who seem to be invulnerable. Here is their dirty little secret: even if we tax their profits a bit more, they aren’t going to take their oil and go home.

  63. First, I don’t care really if we call each other names here on this blog. What is critical that the politicians don’t call each other names like terrorists, wackos, etc. When the POTUS (and his people) engages in name calling, well that is not going to help things at all.
    I don’t agree that the Tea Partiers are wackos. Since they are not a political party, no one would expect them to propose a solution. Congressman who identify themselves with the Tea Partiers (like Paul Ryan) have proposed solutions which the Democrats have dismissed.
    The reason people of that ilk have said tax increases are off the table is because the Liberals and Democrats (including Obama) have not made a case that everyhting presently in the budget are critical and can’t be cut. That is their position, but they have not bothered to shows facts to prove it.
    As I stated before, alot of people focus on the US having a spending problem to solve. So until it can be proven that we MUST spend more than we are taking in, discussing raising taxes is not appropriate.

  64. Lee,
    Agreed. There is no proof that we MUST spend more than we are taking in. In fact, to assure this is not the case, I propose we raise taxes to rates to the pre-Reagan era.
    I understand and can articulate my opponents position: The money spent on children’s mental health programs are not as important as tax-breaks for the nation’s richest of the rich.
    Now, since we know taxes are at the lowest rates they have been in 6 decades, and we know the ballooning deficit is closely correlated to the Bush tax cuts, let’s rescind the Bush tax cuts to put the nation on more secure economic footing.

  65. Lee,
    That is now 2 proposals I have laid on the table. One cutting spending, one raising taxes. I’m like the Tea Party without the lying, the stupidity, or the courting of bigots.

  66. I know I am going to reget this but..
    Berto-please provide facts to support “…since we know taxes are at the lowest rates they have been in 6 decades, and we know the ballooning deficit is closely correlated to the Bush tax cuts, …”

  67. I DO recall the top tax bracket during the Eisenhower years was 90% or so. My guess is we had all those inconvenient IOUs to pay for WWII because we spent more than came in. Yeah, and that kind of rate, with no medicare and far less social security to pay out for, really really hurt our economy then. Smite us with such a lack of prosperity.
    So yeah, teabaggers are wackos for unilaterally saying no. Unmarried Teenage virgins should always say no; everyone should say no to tobacco and narcotics; but you don’t start basic fiscal policy by saying no. OK, maybe it doesn’t make you a wacko. Maybe it just makes you stupid. (not ignorant, since teabaggers don’t seem to want to learn).

  68. And let’s now get into the name calling bit, and the new one. Rick Perry stating that if Ben Bernanke pursue a policy that Bernanke hasn’t said he would do, it would be treason. OK, let’s look at this, since it’s frankly a bigger insult than my calling Teabaggers morons.
    Rick Perry did indeed take the oath of office of governor of Texas, which does make him swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, which I assume, includes Article 3. Meaning he is already supposed to know what is in it. Well, last I looked, printing paper money is not waging war on the US of A. Treason, punishable by death, is clearly noted as the most vile of crimes in the Constitution. In fact lawyers, is it the only one mentioned? If not, are any of the others capital crimes? So Perry is clearly flouting either his lack of knowledge of his prime purpose, to preserve protect and defend, or just lying and daring someone be executed for a cheap headline. No, it doesn’t get lower than that. It really doesn’t. Not even missing Elvis’ birthday. Close, but no cigar.

  69. Berto,
    I reviewed the two articles you linked to and here are my comments:
    USA Today article: I am not sure where they are getting their numbers from. From a Federal perspective, total Federal revenue fell in 2009 to 2005 levels and then went up slightly in 2010. A smiliar thing happened in 2001-2004 where levels in 2001-2004 fell from 2000 levels. Generally Federal Revenue has risen every year.
    As for State Revenue, I did not look at that. Maybe the drop in State Revenue led to the USA article results. Since they don’t indicate where they got their numbers, how do we know?
    As for Business Insider article, well that was just a politcal piece with no pointer to how they came by their conclusions.
    During a recession and with high unemployment, you expect a drop in revenue since people earn less and less people are working. Also with our progressive income tax system, as your income drops you a lower percent in income taxes.
    That does not mean that the tax burden is less for those people who are working and earning the same amount they did before. A better judge of tax burden is what a person who has kept a steady income has paid. If you can find that data, it would be interesting.
    What is more interesting from this site was Federal spending by year. In 2009, Federal spending jumped almost 18% from 2008. And 2008 was an increase of 9% from 2007. Those were the two biggest increases going back to at least 1991. Who controlled the House and Senate back in 2008 and all thre branches in 2009?
    In 2003-2005, the Republicans controlled all 3 branches of govt and the increases averaged 7.1%. Since Pelosi took over the House in 2006 the avg increases from 2006-2009 have been 9.4%.
    When the Democrats got control of all 3 branches in 2009, the increase was 18%. Also the debt went from 458B to 14T in 2009. That was ofcourse included the famous Porkulus which created/saved over 1 Billion jobs.
    The data I used came from:

  70. “In 2009, Federal spending jumped almost 18% from 2008. And 2008 was an increase of 9% from 2007. ”
    If you had been a sentient individual during those years, you would have noticed how Wall Street fraud cratered the world’s economy to the point that it took a $ 14 Trillion dollar government bailout to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing.
    I’ve read your comments here, and so I am in no position to give you the benefit of the doubt regarding you being a sentient individual at that time.
    Also, ask some conservatives who were alive during the 1990s what the term “rule of law” means and how that applies to the epidemic of Wall Street fraud which has increased government spending. It’ll be good for a young’un like you to see how gibberish is created.
    Finally, some economic advice for you: Go BIG on gruel, torches, and pitchfork futures. If you can get in on the groundfloor for Guillotines R US, you should jump on that also.
    It’s only a matter of time before the rich tell the rest of us to “eat cake”. And that is when the fun parts of Class Warfare come in.

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