This week’s Outside the Box is from my friend David Galland, an interview he did for The Casey Report, and it represents a philosophical train of thought more in line with Austrian economics and libertarianism than my own. But if we only read what we already think, then how do we learn? It is . . . → Read More: The End of QE2: Major Policy Shift Ahead
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I guess Republicans had to save Medicare in order to destroy it...in order to "save" it again.
The point about hypocrisy is that when words lose their meaning and arguments their internal consistency and intellectual integrity then democracy itself becomes just a battlefield of contending interests in which brute force prevails, even if the thuggery is only rhetorical and the clubs merely the product of millionaire evil word wizards like Frank Luntz whose unique skill is giving clients a vocabulary they can use which argues for the exact opposite of what they are actually doing. "Saving" Medicare by eliminating the program entirely, for example.
Jon Cohn of New Republic explains.
You've seen hypocrisy in politics before. But rarely have you seen the brazen kind Republicans just showed on the House floor, when they voted for Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity."
Ryan's budget calls for repealing most of the Affordable Care Act, including both the insurance coverage expansions and creation of an independent board to help restrain Medicare costs. But it would leave in place the rest of the planned reductions in Medicare spending, at least for the next ten years. Among those cuts are $136 billion in reductions to Medicare Advantage plans.
As you may know, Medicare Advantage plans are the private insurance alternative, already in existence, for seniors who prefer to opt out of the traditional, government-run insurance plan. About a quarter of all seniors now use them. The government pays insurers a fee for every senior who enrolls, but studies have shown the government is paying too much. That's how supporters of the Affordable Care Act have justified the $136 billion reduction.
Throughout the health care debate, Republicans not only rejected these and other arguments for Medicare cuts. They made the cuts a centerpiece of their attacks on Democrats, as the Associated Press noted recently:
"The new law's massive Medicare cuts will fall squarely on the backs of seniors, millions of whom will be forced off their current Medicare coverage," the GOP wrote in their Pledge to America, an election-season manifesto. ...
In addition to the Pledge to America, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and individual Republican candidates all criticized the cuts.
The National Republican Congressional Committee featured them in ads attacking Democrats in numerous campaign commercials, and some individual candidates made use of the cuts as well.
Ryan and his supporters claim the Medicare reductions in the new Republican budget are different, because Democrats used their cuts to finance more government spending. And that's partially true. Although Democrats bolstered Medicare drug coverage and arguably put in place policies that will lead to higher quality care, they used the bulk of the saved Medicare money to offset the cost of subsidizing insurance for working-age Americans.
But, by the same logic, Republicans are also diverting most of the Medicare Advantage money away from Medicare. They're using that money to underwrite the cost of tax cuts for the wealthy.
So Democrats are cutting Medicare to make sure everybody has health insurance, while Republicans are cutting Medicare to make sure millionaires have tax cuts. This is really an argument the Republicans want to make?
One of the interesting global personalities who made the economic discussions at the Bretton Woods Forum organized by the Institute for New Economic Thinking interesting was Swedish Social Democrat Parliament Member Leif Pagrotsky.
In the Twitterverse, Pagrotsky is an inveterate tweeter with about 4,000 followers who get a portal into his smart commentary in Swedish on economic policy. I follow him -- and put Google Translate to work on the stuff he sends out (I'm @SCClemons).
For instance, from a session up at the INET Bretton Woods Meeting at which we were both listening to a Gordon Brown who had managed to reverse the gravity that usually made him seem such a plodding and sluggish political figure, Pagrotsky tweeted:
Lyssnar på Gordon Brown, kåserar om sina minnen som krishanterare. Avspänd, trevlig, nu när han slipper väljarna och Blair
Google Translate of the original Swedish Pagrotsky:
Listening to Gordon Brown, Kaserer about his memories as crisis managers. Relaxed, pleasant, now that he will not have the voters and Blair
"Kaserer" throws me - but the rest is clear and reads almost like haiku.
That said, Pagrotsky is a serious intellectual who worked as a senior official in Sweden's Central Bank and Ministry of Finance before joining the Parliament.
In the video commentary above -- snatched from BigThink -- Pagrotsky comments about financier and economic philosopher George Soros and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. Pagrotsky had been called a "market fundamentalist" in a panel discussion by Soros -- and in this Pagrotsky responds. What I like in this commentary is that Pagrotsky clearly respects Stiglitz and Soros but defines and stands by differences he has with them.
This is the kind of reasoned debate and presentation that I think this country is letting slip out of view.
-- Steve Clemons
Jibber your jabber
Antemedius: Bizarre Republican Arguments Detaching Debt Problem From Reality
Redheaded Bitch: Scott Walker's Magical Thinking
His Vorpal Sword: The Same Old Treason in Dolby Surround
Beach Peanuts: Great Halls of Irony: The Uterus Edition
Miller-McCune: America in the Hands of a Professional Military
Round up by SwimGirl; send tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com
We don't know about you, Mr. President, but our values do not include sacrificing 15 million Americans without jobs to the filthy rich and the deficit hyenas.
Libya conflict: Gaddafi 'cluster bombing Misrata'Abdullah, a doctor in Misrata, told the BBC he had seen evidence of the use of cluster bombs The BBc Human Rights Watch said one of its photographers had seen three mortar-launched projectiles explode[...]
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Visual source: Newseum
By the time the President got to his own four-step proposal, which calls for higher taxes on the rich (euphemized as lowering ?spending through the tax code?) the Republican alternative was a smoking ruin. Given the position his own reluctance, until now, to stake out a clear ideological divide had left him in, Obama succeeded in constructing a reasonably solid fortification for the fiscal battles to come. Even Paul Krugman was pleased. Me, too.
The moral of the story for 2012 is that the presidential campaign trail is brutal and unforgiving?particularly right now, and particularly for Republicans. The early Republican caucuses and primaries will be dominated by conservative activists who want a crusade, not a mere political campaign, and will almost certainly punish candidates who don?t give the impression that they will fight for every vote. This is a very poor environment for a ?draft,? or for a politician pretending to run, reluctantly, out of a sense of civic obligation. Even Ronald Reagan got himself into early trouble in 1980 by campaigning as though voters owed him the nomination, with bands playing ?Hail to the Chief? before every speech. He lost Iowa that year, and had to run a savagely ideological campaign in New Hampshire in order to recover.Democracy Corps:
Confidence in Washington is at a low. This new survey shows an electorate increasingly doubtful about the economy and country?s direction, the performance of the president and particularly the ?Republicans in Congress.? They are also pretty negative about the Democrats in Congress, the Tea Party movement and above all, the ?Tea Party Republicans.?NY Times:
The Republican deficit reduction plan does not even win majority support, but when voters learn almost anything about it, they turn sharply and intensely against it. They have particularly grave concerns about the plan to end Medicare and slash Medicaid spending, pushing seniors into the private insurance market and costing them thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses.
A Valentine?s Day editorial in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons has set off a firestorm of controversy that has divided the largest professional organization of surgeons in the country and raised questions about the current leadership and its attitudes toward women and gay and lesbian members.Sally Kohn:
It would be one thing if Republicans were negotiating in good faith, recognizing that reasonable minds can disagree on the matters at hand and that each will have to bend. But the GOP has become so extremist that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) made clear after the 2010 elections that his party?s agenda for the next two years was not governing but ensuring Obama?s defeat in 2012. Meanwhile, as they have for years, Republicans have openly shared their desire to shrink government so much that they can, as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist once promised, ?drown it in a bathtub.? Democrats? tolerance of such destructive positions is a sign not of nobility but of pathetic self-loathing.Ouch.
Any time a politician find himself on the opposite end of considerable public opinion on a given issue, it?s a dangerous place to be.
Or as former Fix boss Charlie Cook wrote in a recent column about Ryan?s Medicare proposal: ?House Republicans are not just pushing the envelop ? they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it.?
Translation: the Ryan budget not only tees up a clash over entitlements and tax policy, it sets the stage for another shutdown scenario if the House and Senate can't?as is now widely expected?finish its appropriations work by September 30.Kathleen Parker:
As the number of Republicans declaring themselves potential presidential candidates has begun to look like a conga line without music, hope lingered that somewhere unnoticed was a brilliant dark horse biding his sweet time.
Wherever pundits and pinots merged, a mantra materialized. Surely, a miracle would occur, and The Candidate would emerge at just the right moment to rescue an ennui-stricken electorate from establishmentarians and their Tea-Partying ankle-biters. Cymbals would sound; angels would succumb to arias; Democrats would quake. And prosperity, world peace and well-adjusted children would follow. But who?
Turns out: The Candidate would be tall and rich and sport a coif that defies party identification. He would be a reality TV star. And his name would be known to all, such that even jaded veterans would slap their foreheads as the obvious became clear. But of course!
Luck is on our side and it's sunny and fairly warm today and probably also tomorrow. I spent the work week in London where it was a bit cooler and a bit drizzly so I'm glad to see the pleasant weather. After seeing the so-called "Boris Bikes" I'm still scratching my head wondering how in the heck they are named after the current London mayor Boris Johnson when it was the previous mayor that started the project and put everything into place.
And then there's those annoying "Barclays Bank" signs slapped on them. Really? Why do so many of our government officials think that we need to sell off naming rights to public property? The Velib in Paris is mostly funded by an advertising company but we don't have their ugly name all over. In the case of Barclays, they're a bunch of freeloading spongers who sucked up billions upon billions during the crisis yet now they get this advertising? How pathetic.
If you can't annoy somebody,
there's little point in writing.
Born April 16, 1922
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