Stories to watch: 5/20/14.
Score one for poetic justice. After gun nuts swarm a Chipotle to
rub people’s faces in their guns demonstrate their Second Amendment right to arm themselves against the threat of guacamole, the restaurant chain decides they’ve had enough of that and bans firearms from their stores. The firearms fetishists did the same thing at Starbucks — showed up armed to troll people who dare to not get woodies when they think about guns — and wound up making guns unwelcome there, too. Clearly nothing at all was learned from that experience. If they keep being such assholes about everything, they’ll wind up getting guns banned everywhere themselves.
Sean Hannity brings some clown on to decry the “myth” of racism. You know, because Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling and Robert Copeland are all figments of our imaginations. It’s amazing what these people think they can get away with.
Related: a National Review writer denies there’s a problem with rape on college campuses and that drunk college students are just making stuff up. Why would anyone write something so stupid and awful? Because Barack Obama said rape on college campuses is a problem and, for conservatives who think largely with their jerking knees, Pres. Obama is always wrong. If Obama said the sun comes up in the morning, there’d be a sunrise truther movement in a heartbeat.
Louie Gohmert said something stupid again.
The US Forest is preparing for “what is shaping up to be a catastrophic fire season.” Because global warming is a massive conspiracy and all…
Dick Cheney seems to believe he lives in a separate reality from the rest of us.
Finally, Greg Sargent reports that Sherrod Brown has a plan to poach voters from the GOP over the summer. Republicans have requested hearings into Social Security Disability Insurance, which wingnut media has painted as wasteful and riddled with fraud — which is, of course, total bullshit. The thing is, the GOP relies on older voters and those older voters wouldn’t be happy to see disability cut. “So what if Dems campaigned on expanding Social Security, rather than allowing themselves to get drawn into another debate over how much to cut the program?” Sargent asks. Expanding the program would not only be the right thing to do, but it would appeal to a lot of seniors’ inner big gummint commie.
[cartoon via Cagle Post]
Oh, here we go again. After massive cuts to the budget, people in despair, and the rich doing better than ever, Obama thinks the way to stop the bleeding is to offer more human sacrifices? WTF is wrong with him?
Chained CPI would take food out of seniors’ mouths.
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin heard from Iowa seniors about their opposition to chained CPI at a townhall event yesterday. For those who aren’t familiar, the report explains chained CPI as “a less generous way of calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases that assumes seniors will change their buying habits as certain items become more expensive.” The problem, of course, is that Social Security benefits are hardly generous for many seniors and the assumption discounts the notion that they’re already buying the cheapest items they can find.
"Compared with the current model, advocacy group Social Security Works has said that a person who began drawing Social Security at the age of 62 would be receiving 7.32 percent less in benefits per year by the age of 88 under chained CPI,” the report goes on.
Pres. Obama has signalled that he would be open to chained CPI, despite the fact that much of the left is opposed to the idea. Obama originally conceived of it as part of a “grand bargain” with Republicans. He’s since stopped talking about it, but the fact that he hasn’t ruled it out in the future is extremely disturbing.
"I’m sorry to say that the president of my own party has advocated this and he’s wrong," Harkin told seniors at the town hall. "I’m so tired of people saying we’ve got to cut Social Security. I thought, we got to come back and say something, no, you’ve got to increase Social Security."
And then we get the instructive moment:
Many attendees also spoke out against the plan, but one woman, Sheryl Tenicat, became emotional as she begged for Social Security not to be cut.
“I have $624 a month, that’s what I’m living on,” Tenicat explained. “Ninety-nine [dollars] of that goes to Medicare Part D and B. After I get my check, in two weeks, it’s gone. I have nothing. I live with what I eat here. And I just do not want my cost of living cut because I’ve paid in since I was 16 to the government. I’m looking for work in my retirement years so that I can exist. I do own my house, but I don’t know how long that will go because I have property taxes to pay.”
Tenicat added that her car had broken down and she now had to take the bus to the retirement center to receive her free meals.
“There is no way for me to eat less,” she said.
There is no more money in many seniors’ budgets to cut. They can’t decrease spending as costs rise, because they’re already paying rock bottom now.
The fact is that cutting Social Security is a scam to avoid rasing taxes on those that can afford it. Social Security adds nothing to the deficit, so cutting benefits to pay down deficits is actually a transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top. If the president agrees to chained CPI, it’ll be a deep betrayal of Democratic values and it will literally put people like Sheryl Tenicat out on the street — the very situation that Social Security was designed to prevent.
The stupidest argument you’ll read today.
Politico: [The Obama budget] centerpiece is a highly controversial plan to trim Social Security cost-of-living increases — a move one longtime Obama adviser called a “goodwill gesture” to Republicans and liberals decry as a shocking departure from Obama’s 2012 campaign rhetoric, a betrayal that warrants retribution.
That liberal anger — boiling to a level not seen since the fractious debate over health care reform — serves a tactical purpose for Obama. Taking a page from Bill Clinton’s 1990s playbook, Obama is courting public confrontation with his party’s powerful liberal wing to prove he’s willing to flout party orthodoxy in hopes of reviving the ever-elusive “grand bargain” to set the country on a sustainable fiscal path.
“We’re not going to have the White House forever, folks. If he doesn’t do this, Paul Ryan is going to do it for us in a few years,” said a longtime Obama aide, referring to the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate who proposed a sweeping overhaul of Medicare that would replace some benefits with vouchers.
Yes, we should rush to hold Republican policy positions because Republicans will eventually take back the White House. By this logic, we should be banning abortion and same-sex marriage, pitching poor families off cliffs, making practicing Islam illegal, instituting the death penalty for undocumented immigrants, and launching an immediate attack on Iran, North Korea and — oh, I don’t know — Canada or someplace. After all, Republicans will just do all this crazy-assed, stupid shit eventually, so it makes absolutely no sense not to go ahead and get it over with now. Let’s just go ahead and privatize Medicare and sell off National Parks, while we’re at it. I mean, it only stands to reason…
I realize that this is just spin. But it’s the most idiotic spin I’ve seen in a good, long time — at least, from a Democrat.
And that it’s so hard to spin tells you all you need to know about how lousy the underlying policy is.
Obama’s Chained CPI Offer is Genuine.
It’s a rare thing these days when right and left agree in Washington, so take a moment to appreciate the bigfoot sighting. Although they both have arrived at this point of agreement for wildly different reasons, the fact remains that they are there, sharing the same space, breathing the same air. This isn’t exactly a moment of blissful brother- and sisterhood, but they are joined together in common purpose — kill the President’s proposed budget.
The right doesn’t like it simply because it’s from Obama. They’d reject renaming Washington “The Ronald Reagan Memorial Gun Refuge” if Obama proposed it. Their opposition is a given. These are not serious or honest people, they’re spoiled children holding their breath until they get exactly what they want. And what they want is a nuclear strike on our recovering economy; no new revenues, only deep, deep cuts to spending — which means hacking off demand at the knees. They’d practically guarantee a second recession. Luckily for us, if they can’t do this then they don’t want to do anything — including pass the president’s budget.
Which is where right meets left. The President’s chained CPI proposal is a smoke-and-mirrors cut to Social Security benefits. And Obama proposes cuts to other entitlements as well. Lefty dems say there are quite enough gaps in the social safety net already, thank you very much. We don’t need to take a scissors to it and start cutting more. Centrist and moderate Democrats, seeing that right and left hate Obama’s budget, are keeping their opinions to themselves — probably wisely.
The question is why would Barack Obama, a Democratic president, attack Social Security — one of his party’s greatest and most lasting achievements — in a budget proposal. What gives?
Some of what I’m seeing is an argument that Obama’s playing poker. He offers what should be a compromise they can live with to the Republicans, only to have them slap his hand away and reject the offer. This, the theory goes, proves that Republicans aren’t serious and will simply oppose anything Obama proposes for the simple fact that Obama proposed it. It’s supposed to be the final act in an episode of Scooby Doo, where Pres. Barack Fred tears the mask off the Phantom Prospector and shows it was just old man Boehner all along. With Republicans revealed as obstructionists, President Obama can turn to the American people and say, “Give me someone else to work with here.”
The problem with this theory is that it relies on an overly complicated plan and some inside baseball. This is the sort of explanation a beltway insider would come up with, because they don’t seem to realize that the average person doesn’t pay much attention to Washington at all. They’re not going to follow this whole roundabout good faith/bad faith stuff, they’ve got better things to do with their lives than stay glued to CNN to watch this whole drama unfold.
No, if you wanted to demonstrate GOP obstructionism, you’d do some polling, find the very most popular things in America, bundle them all up into a “free ice cream” budget, and let Republicans oppose that. Nobody knows what the hell chained CPI is, but they know what increased funding for schools, police, and firefighters is. They’re familiar with a raise in the minimum wage. They’d understand job creation programs. If you wanted to get Republicans on record as opposing something, you’d get them on the record as opposing things like these — not some arcane bit of bookkeeping mumbo-jumbo designed to hide cuts to entitlement benefits.
Barack Obama chose to make chained CPI the opening bid in budget negotiations because he’s cool with it, not because he wants to embarrass Republicans with it. Obama’s budget is exactly what it seems to be: a betrayal of the core Democratic principles of protecting the most vulnerable in America and providing at least some modest guarantee that seniors won’t go hungry when they can no longer work.
When the President formally unveiled his budget proposal, he told reporters, “There’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors in here.” That’s BS. Chained CPI is the very definition of smoke and mirrors. You don’t try to hide a cut when the plan is to bring it out in the open to show up Republicans as obstructionist. This is the President once again beginning negotiations by undercutting his own position — i.e., negotiating with himself and negotiating away protecting entitlements. He’s ready to do this, for real.
Thank goodness this budget is pretty much DOA. It hasn’t exposed Republicans as unserious, but it has exposed Barack Obama as untrustworthy. I’m afraid any other take is wishful thinking. That’s a shame, but that’s a reality. It’s up to congressional Democrats to protect Social Security, because the White House has completely dropped the ball.
[photo by faul]