President Barack Obama will push leaders of Congress to stay focused on negotiating a large deficit-reduction package, despite the decision by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to abandon talks on a grand bargain, senior administration officials said[...]
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-1...Who would have thought that Hugh Grant would be one of the major players in bringing down one of the Fleet Street tabloids? Amazing. Good for Hugh! [...]
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Wherever you peg President Obama's level as a threat to Social Security and Medicare or his level of effectiveness in dealing with the spread of the Wall Street malignancy into every nook and cranny of American life...it's important to remember that Mr. Obama didn't just now reach those levels simply as a result of having to deal with intransigent Republicans for the last two years. Nobody has held a gun to his head and forced him to compromise and capitulate on every. single. major. item that's come up for discussion at a cost which can only begin to be counted by the outcome of the mid term elections last year.
Neither has this whole fricking debt discussion charade ever been anything more than a bunch of bad actors reading lines in low rent B western movie script. Something has stunk about this whole Social Security/MediCare and taxes for the rich business from the very beginning and as this dog and pony show begins to come unraveled in DC, more and more people have come to realize that the guy in the white hat just may NOT have been the hero come to save the town from the bad dudes but... in a classic case of Trojan Horsemanship... may have been the real threat all along while those hombres in the black hats simply provided the distraction this time around.
Then I found a single sentence in in a comment on one of Perris's posts at FDL that rounded up all those niggling little half thoughts and brought it all home. Hard.
There is NO way a republican elected as a republican could dismantle social security, there is NO way a republican elected as a republican could have extended the scheme to steal middle class assets again.
Obama is indeed the Manchurian candidate. He was very practiced at appearing to be liberal, but four days before his inauguration, he announced who he really was:
Obama Pledges Reform of Social Security, Medicare Programs
By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 16, 2009
President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare "bargain" with the American people, saying that the nation's long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.
That discussion will begin next month, Obama said, when he convenes a "fiscal responsibility summit" before delivering his first budget to Congress. He said his administration will begin confronting the issues of entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits soon after it jump-starts job growth and the stock market.
He has however, ALWAYS... forget the word bargain which implies that we would have something to say about it... intended to reshape it into something other than the system that worked fine until our government started borrowing money from it to make up the revenues lost largely through the Bush tax cuts... which come to think of it, he also obviously supports, given his statements immediately after being owned by the Republicans on not letting them expire when they had been promised to.
Now, I'm not one of those yelling "primary the sucker" at every turn... I know how destructive that would be to what's left of my hopes that this thing can be turned around.
And in spite of statements made at the height of some of the anger many his actions bring forth, I'm not all that likely to stay home on election day either. And the one thing that is MOST definite is that I'll never vote for a Republican so don't bother slinging that same bag of monkey poop that's become almost as much the trademark of Obama Democrats as it has the Republicans themselves. If he can't get himself reelected it's NOT going to be my personal fault (as some have intimated in the past), OK?
But you give me chance to work for the grass roots formation of a third party... one made up of some of the millions who have been effectively disenfranchised by the melding together of the ones we have now into the Wall Street party... and I'm on it like a duck on a june bug. As I always say... where there is no choice, there can be no democracy and we are rapidly running out of choice in this country.
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In dysfunctional families, parents, children and siblings will bend over backwards to humor and accommodate the sickest member of their clan in a desperate attempt to appear "normal."
That is the denial the Washington Establishment is engaged in every day as it constantly surrenders to the lunacy of a Republican Party that has lost its mind.
The only reason for reading Howard Kurtz is as a barometer for the extent of Beltway delusion, and in his Daily Beast column today he does not disappoint.
Writing about the on-going budget "negotiations" that Republicans are constantly abandoning every time they risk not getting everything they want, Kurtz is up to his old tricks blaming both sides for the consequences of actions that only one side, the Republicans, control.
"After months of savaging each other as the country moved perilously close to defaulting on its debt, Democrats and Republicans are now moving toward a deal that would slash spending between $2 trillion and $4 trillion, raise taxes and stave off disaster," says Kurtz.
How did that happen, exactly? "The answer is that while feeding red-meat rhetoric to their ideological bases, President Obama and the GOP reluctantly embraced the politics of adulthood behind the scenes, recognizing that they would pay a huge price-and shatter the fragile economic recovery--by failing to boost the debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline," says Kurtz.
No one wanted to cave, but in the end Democrats and Republicans needed "a mutual-survival pact."
Politicians have always "postured" and "dithered" over the debt ceiling, said Kurtz, to the point that "even grizzled veterans" grew disgusted with the process.
"My side's just as guilty. I think we're going to have a crisis because politics is going to trump the good of the country," says Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, employing that well-worn deceit by which Republicans are able to exonerate themselves for their party's failing by falsely implicating Democrats equally in political crimes for which Democrats are entirely blameless.
"This time may be different as Americans, beaten down by a painful recession, are hungering for leaders who can rise above the media frenzies about financial Armageddon and get them on a common-sense road to recovery," Kurtz pontificates.
Kurtz goes to great lengths to describe the behind the scenes maneuvering that tends to paint a flattering portrait of Republicans by softening their extremism, one in which Kurtz says that, "publicly, the air is thick with accusations of bad faith" but away from the cameras, "even sharp-tongued politicians recognize the imperative of avoiding the fate of Greece."
All of this was written, of course, before Speaker John Boehner once again walked out of budget talks the moment Democrats brought up tax hikes on the rich meant to balance the cuts to social programs that Democrats have signaled they'd be willing to entertain in order close the budget deficit.
What's so wrong with Kurtz's take on events is that the entire premise of his plague-on-both-your houses condemnation of "nasty partisan rhetoric" is that it is legitimate for the Republican Party to do what no other party in no other time had ever done before, namely hold the nation's credit rating hostage until it is able to win (non-negotiable) concessions from the governing Democratic Party.
Once you accept Kurtz' ridiculous premise that the GOP should be rewarded for blackmail, then all the rest of Kurtz's idiotic charges follows logically -- that Democrates will be equally culpable with those hostage-taking Republicans for the coming economic calamity if "partisanship" somehow prevents both sides from reaching a budget deal.
Never mind that it's Republicans who always seem to be walking out of talks, or that the Democratic objective boils down to somehow convincing Republicans to put away the gun they are holding to the head of the nation and raise the debt ceiling so that we can pay the bills for the last 10 years of GOP extravagance -- on tax cuts for the rich, on two unfunded wars, on a quadruppling of ear marks, on an unpaid prescription drug benefit, and on a doubling of the national debt to $10 trillion in just eight years.
To Kurtz, Washington's inability to pay this ransom demand will be a bi-partisan failure that seriously questions President Obama's leadership in that it exposes his inability to negotiate with political terrorists making non-negotiable demands.
This column also shows the extent to which Kurtz, as a respresentative for many other establishment pundits, will go to prostitute his intellectual integrity in order to maintain access with "both sides" and to keep those GOP party invitations coming.
After a week of flurries and fears that Democrats are about to give away the store to keep the nation from defaulting on its debt, Kent Conrad presented his budget proposal to Democrats. Unlike the Republican proposal, it's a 50/50 blend of cuts and tax increases.
?I explained to the President and Vice President how the Senate Budget Committee Democrats developed a plan that achieves $4 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced and fair way,? Conrad said in a statement. ?It is my hope the plan will help influence the bipartisan negotiations and help them reach a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction agreement.?
Under the blueprint, the top income tax rate would rise to 39.6 percent for individuals earning more than $500,000 a year and families earning more than $1 million. That group, which constitutes the nation?s richest 1 percent of households, would also pay a 20 percent rate on capital gains and dividends, rather than the 15 percent rate now in effect.
In addition to raising rates for the very wealthiest families, the blueprint proposes to obtain fresh revenue by targeting offshore tax havens and corporate shelters. It would also scale back the array of tax breaks and deductions known as tax expenditures, perhaps by focusing on the wealthiest households, which claim an average of $205,000 in tax breaks each year on average income of $1.1 million.
The blueprint would take nearly $900 billion from the Pentagon over the next decade ? the same amount recommended by Obama?s fiscal commission. It would slice more than $350 billion from domestic programs. And it would produce interest savings of nearly $600 billion attributable to reduced borrowing.
A majority of Senate Democrats have approved of this proposal. Will it be considered "bold", "courageous" and "innovative" by the Beltway media who used those terms with respect to Paul Ryan's plan even as they held their nose over specific provisions? Doubtful. I'll be amazed if it gets a fraction of the coverage Ryan's plan received, despite the fact that every one of these bold proposals is supported by a majority of the American people.
I'm already seeing a whole lot of negativity on the liberal side of the planet. Claims of 'too little, too late', that Conrad is just introducing a sweeping budget because he's retiring in 2012, that no one will take these things seriously because they've been involved in talks for so long.
I recommend looking at it differently. The President called for everyone to bring their bottom line deal to the table on Sunday. Conrad has just dropped the Democrats' bottom line on the table, knowing full well that it will be unacceptable to every Republican in the room. So what? It would have been unacceptable to every Republican in the room two months ago, two days ago, two hours ago. It still delineates the differences between the two and sets a negotiating line that is far more to the left than the administration proposals (on purpose, by the way).
The question at this point is not when Conrad brought his proposals to the table. The question is whether liberals, progressives, the left, whatever you want to call them, will use their formidable vocal skills to generate some buzz around these, since you can rest assured the so-called liberal media never will.
The thing is, this week's stupid news blurbs were all about one thing: Highlighting the fact that no matter how far Democrats would go to make a deal, there is no deal for the Republicans. After a week of that, Conrad laid down the budget most Democrats would view as one they could support and get behind. No one expects it to pass, any more than anyone thought Paul Ryan's budget would pass. But Ryan has paid a high political price for introducing his wingnuttery early and often, and Republicans in the House have paid an even steeper one for voting for it, as they will continue to do in the future.
This is all drama, all theater. Now that Republicans have shown themselves to be the party of ungovernance, Democrats step up with a set of proposals that actually reduces the deficit, preserves the social contract, and raises taxes on people who can afford it. Of course the Republicans aren't going to bend to this, either. They weren't going to bend to anything. So when nothing gets done, or some bandaid patch deal is done that doesn't solve the longer-term issues, there will only be one party to blame and it won't be Democrats.
Ignorant Democrats can't counter the stupid economic theories preached by ignorant Republicans.[...]
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Giorgio Zancanaro as Gérard at Covent Garden, with Julius Rudel conducting, 1985.
Giorgio Zancanaro as Gérard at Covent Garden, with Julius Rudel conducting, 1985.
In last night's preview I indicated that we're taking a slow journey toward the tear-jerker of all tear-jerker scenes, the Madelon scene of Act III of Giordano's Andrea Chénier, starting with the very opening of the opera and going up to, well, a particular point. We heard the bustle of the preparations for a grand party in the home of the Countess of Coigny, on the very eve of the French Revolution, including some of the ruminations of the household servant Carlo Gérard.
Here's what we've heard so far:
GIORDANO: Andrea Chénier: Act I, Gérard, "Compiacente a' colloqui" . . . "Son sessant'anni"
The country estate of the Coigny family. The winter garden, the grand conservatory.Louis Sgarro (bs), Major-Domo; Leonard Warren (b), Carlo Gérard; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Fausto Cleva, cond. Live performance, Dec. 28, 1957
The curtain rises on a scene bustling with activity. Servants, lackeys, valets, all under the command of an officious MAJOR-DOMO, run hither and thither carrying pieces of furniture about and placing it down where he instructs them to. GÉRARD, in full livery, lends a hand in carrying a heavy blue sofa.
MAJOR-DOMO: This blue sofa, let's put it there.
GÉRARD and the lackeys obey his orders. Then the MAJOR-DOMO goes to another part of the château followed by all the servants. GÉRARD, left behind, kneels before the blue sofa, unruffling the fringe, smoothing the satin covering, and arranging the curtains.
GÉRARD: Obliging to the discourse
of the dandy
who offered his hand
to mature ladies here!
Here Red Heels
said sighing to the Beauty-patch:
"Orinthia, or Chloris, or Nike, powdered,
oldish and painted,
I long for you
and, only on this account, perhaps,
I love you!"
Such is the custom of the times.
An old man comes in from the garden carrying a heavy piece of furniture. GÉRARD throws down the duster he is holding and goes to help him. Weak and shaky, the old man leaves, disappearing through the garden. GÉRARD, much moved, watches him go.
GÉRARD: It's sixty years, old man,
that you've been a servant here!
On your insolent,
you've lavished fidelity, sweat,
the strength of your nerves,
your soul, your mind . . .
and as if your own life didn't suffice
to carry on
the horrendous suffering,
you've given the existence
of your children . . .
[With immense disdain he strikes his breast with open hand, murmuring through tears]
You've fathered menials!
Someone's being played. First the Republicans walked out of the Biden talks. Now Boehner is refusing the President's more than generous offer to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a larger deal absurdly skewed towards GOP goals. It's those pesky tax increases, you see. It's just not enough that the President caved on a clean debt ceiling, caved on having an additional stimulus instead of spending cuts, caved on postponing spending cuts until the economy is well again, caved on at least making spending cuts equal to tax increases, and caved on keeping cuts to Social Security and Medicare out of this.
Mind you, it's not entirely clear what the Republicans have even agreed to here in terms of any tax increases.
So the GOP walks, and Obama will just have to sweeten the deal to "save the hostages." Did anyone else see this coming?
It's nearing time for the President to declare the Republicans not serious, decouple the debt ceiling vote from the deficit talks, and make clear to the markets that the US will continue to honor its debt regardless of whether the GOP holds the world economy hostage.
From Ryan Grim at HuffPost:
Obama had proposed to Republicans a "grand bargain" that accomplished a host of individual things that are unpopular on their own, but that just might pass as a huge package jammed through Congress with default looming. Obama offered to put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts on the table in exchange for a tax hike of roughly $100 billion per year over 10 years. Meanwhile, government spending would be cut by roughly three times that amount. It's no small irony that the party's dogmatic opposition to tax increases is costing the GOP its best opportunity to roll back social programs it has long targeted.Do you see what Boehner is doing here? He'll agree to "only" a couple trillion if cuts if the President stops asking for tax increases (or, at the very least, if the President drops any serious tax increase proposals).
Republicans are now banking on a smaller deficit reduction deal that would still make major cuts, somewhere in the range of $2 trillion.