Our Common Good
quickhits:

Poll: Voters want to soak the rich to avoid fiscal cliff.

Politico:
An American appetite for tax hikes gives President Barack Obama leverage in fiscal cliff negotiations.
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds that 60 percent of respondents support raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000 a year and 64 percent want to raise taxes on large corporations.
Even 39 percent of Republicans support raising taxes on households making more than $250,000. Independents favor such a move by 21 percentage points, 59 to 38 percent.
Only 38 percent buy the GOP argument that raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 per year will have a negative impact on the economy. Fifty-eight percent do not.
“Democrats really have a winning issue here, and we should drive it hard,” said Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster who helped conduct the bipartisan poll. “We’re in an era now where there’s a lot of cynicism about trickle-down economics.”

So Republican ideas are unpopular — no surprise there. This is pretty much just a continuation of the trend in polling. Obama won reelection, so it’s no surprise most people back his ideas here. The alternate Republican ideas were also Mitt Romney’s ideas.
But that last question is so odd you wonder why they asked it. 75% support “cutting government spending across the board,” which is pretty much the same as going over the fiscal cliff. I suppose it’s so vague that it’s appealing; when you start to get into specifics, spending cuts get a lot more unpopular.

quickhits:

Poll: Voters want to soak the rich to avoid fiscal cliff.

Politico:

An American appetite for tax hikes gives President Barack Obama leverage in fiscal cliff negotiations.

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds that 60 percent of respondents support raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000 a year and 64 percent want to raise taxes on large corporations.

Even 39 percent of Republicans support raising taxes on households making more than $250,000. Independents favor such a move by 21 percentage points, 59 to 38 percent.

Only 38 percent buy the GOP argument that raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 per year will have a negative impact on the economy. Fifty-eight percent do not.

“Democrats really have a winning issue here, and we should drive it hard,” said Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster who helped conduct the bipartisan poll. “We’re in an era now where there’s a lot of cynicism about trickle-down economics.”

So Republican ideas are unpopular — no surprise there. This is pretty much just a continuation of the trend in polling. Obama won reelection, so it’s no surprise most people back his ideas here. The alternate Republican ideas were also Mitt Romney’s ideas.

But that last question is so odd you wonder why they asked it. 75% support “cutting government spending across the board,” which is pretty much the same as going over the fiscal cliff. I suppose it’s so vague that it’s appealing; when you start to get into specifics, spending cuts get a lot more unpopular.

First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy. It would be terrible policy even if the Affordable Care Act were going to be there in full force for 65 and 66 year olds, because it would cost the public $2 for every dollar in federal funds saved. And in case you haven’t noticed, Republican governors are still fighting the ACA tooth and nail; if they block the Medicaid expansion, as some will, lower-income seniors will just be pitched into the abyss.

Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing? And no, vague promises about closing loopholes won’t do it: a rate rise is the real deal, no questions, and should not be traded away for who knows what.

So this looks crazy to me; it looks like a deal that makes no sense either substantively or in terms of the actual bargaining strength of the parties. And if it does happen, the disillusionment on the Democratic side would be huge. All that effort to reelect Obama, and the first thing he does is give away two years of Medicare? How’s that going to play in future attempts to get out the vote?

If anyone in the White House is seriously thinking along these lines, please stop it right now.
~Paul Krugman

Three-Card Budget Monte - Paul Krugman

barrywone-blog:

It goes without saying that the Republican “counteroffer” is basically fake. It calls for $800 billion in revenue from closing loopholes, but doesn’t specify a single loophole to be closed; it calls for huge spending cuts, but aside from raising the Medicare age and cutting the Social Security inflation adjustment — moves worth only around $300 billion — it doesn’t specify how these cuts are to be achieved. So it’s basically the Paul Ryan method: scribble down some numbers and pretend that you’re a budget wonk with a Serious plan.

What I haven’t seen pointed out here is the longer arc of GOP strategy. Does anyone recall how the Bush tax cuts were passed? The 2001 cut was passed based on the claim that the government was running an excessive surplus; the 2003 cut on the claim that it would provide an economic boost. Then the surplus went away, and the economy did not, to say the least, perform very well.

So now we face a substantial long-run deficit largely created by those tax cuts:

And the GOP says that because of that deficit we must raise the Medicare age and cut Social Security!

Oh, and for all the seniors or near-seniors who voted Republican because you thought they would protect Medicare from that bad guy Obama: you’ve been had.

In his letter he noted that Simpson is a former conservative Republican Senator who has said outrageous things about Social Security, including referring to it as “a milk cow with 310 million tits” and insisting that Social Security is not a retirement program.

Sanders was no less sparing of Erskine Bowles, noting that he was “a board member of Morgan Stanley since 2005 and made a fortune as a Wall Street investment banker.”

Bowles also, Sanders reminds us, referred to the Paul Ryan plan as “sensible, straightforward, honest, serious.”

Sanders said what he found even more distressing was the idea that Simpson-Bowles represented a “balanced approach.”

Sanders denounced their recommendations to cut Social Security benefits for current retirees and for middle class workers, to raise the retirement age to 69, to reduce taxes for the wealthy and corporations, to increase taxes on the lower class, and to increase premiums for people on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

These proposals “will cause major economic pain to virtually every American,” he said, “while lowering taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and large corporations even more than President Bush.”

Taxing the rich remains popular
In the new poll, 73 percent of Democrats support such tax hikes, including a majority, 57 percent, who do so “strongly.” Among political independents, 63 percent back an increase, while 59 percent of Republicans oppose such a move.
Other proposed solutions to shrinking the debt are far less popular with the public. Only 44 percent support new limitations on the deductions people can claim on their federal income taxes — a proposal that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney put forward during his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign.
Even fewer — 30 percent — favor raising the age for Medicare from 65 to 67, part of a bid by Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that would hit if there is no deal by the end of the year. 

Taxing the rich remains popular

In the new poll, 73 percent of Democrats support such tax hikes, including a majority, 57 percent, who do so “strongly.” Among political independents, 63 percent back an increase, while 59 percent of Republicans oppose such a move.

Other proposed solutions to shrinking the debt are far less popular with the public. Only 44 percent support new limitations on the deductions people can claim on their federal income taxes — a proposal that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney put forward during his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign.

Even fewer — 30 percent — favor raising the age for Medicare from 65 to 67, part of a bid by Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that would hit if there is no deal by the end of the year. 

A group of high-profile corporate CEOs are lobbying Capitol Hill this week toput Social Security and Medicare cuts at the forefront of deficit reduction negotiations. Their own retirement funds, however, are secure: The coalition includes 54 CEOs who have amassed combined pension assets of more than $649 million from their companies’ executive retirement plans, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, titled “A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts.”

The CEOs’ employees are much less secure in their retirement than the CEOs. According to the report, less than 60 percent of the 71 public companies offer pension plans for their employees. Of the 41 companies that do, 39 of them haven’t contributed enough to their workers’ pension funds to enable the plans to pay out their anticipated obligations. Among the companies with employee pension funds in the red, these deficits exceed $100 billion.

[…]

As the debate heats up over whether to cut Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid in order to maintain federal spending and corporate tax breaks, companies with well-compensated CEOs who preside over underfunded employee pension funds invite a new round of questions about the motives, and methods, of the CEOs pressuring Congress and the White House to cut programs for the middle class.

I sincerely hope that everyone reading this has been in touch with their Congressional Rep and Senators to tell them in no uncertain terms that we will not accept any cuts to safety net funding.  They will cave to these CEOs if the majority of us do not let them know we have not disengaged and are paying attention.

One running theme of deficit reduction negotiations is that both parties support domestic spending cuts in their opening bids — Republicans demand them, and Democrats champion them alongside tax increases for high income earners.

Now a coalition of three labor unions — AFSCME, SEIU and National Education Association — are launching a six-figure ad buy pressuring swing-state Senate Democrats and targeted House Republicans to oppose spending cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and education — three items that neither side has taken off the table in talks about defusing a looming austerity bomb.

The ad campaign reflects an effort to upend a Washington status quo where Democrats are pushing for spending cuts to lure Republicans into supporting tax increases. The groups are nervous that President Obama and Democrats may go along with a deal that cuts the safety net.

“We haven’t heard any assurances [from the White House or Democratic leadership] on anything at this point,” Mary Kusler, director of government relations for NEA, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “That’s why we’re continuing to remind everybody that we need to craft a deal that puts middle class families first.”

On the call, the three groups unveiled a new survey they commissioned, conducted by the Mellman Group, which said voters would oppose a “grand bargain” that goes after programs like Social Security, Medicare, education and funding for local police and firefighters.

House Republicans like to talk about the need to find common ground with President Obama to make progress on important national issues, especially after the election. Yet within days, they were setting an agenda to eliminate an important element of his signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, recently proposed that House Republicans set their sights on repealing the part of the law that creates an independent board that is supposed to help limit growth in Medicare spending. Increases in Medicare spending have already slowed substantially, but the board will be needed to make sure that they stay low after 2014, when most of the law takes effect.

[…]

If the projected growth rate in per capita Medicare spending exceeds specified targets pegged initially to an average of general and medical inflation and later to gross domestic product, the board must recommend changes (most likely cuts in payments to health care providers) to bring the growth rate back in line. Congress can override the board’s recommendations, but it must still find equivalent savings.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing the board might drive up federal spending on Medicare by $3.1 billion over a decade. Without pressure from such a board, Congress is apt to be weak in resisting demands by powerful health care groups and industries for higher Medicare reimbursements.

Mr. Cantor apparently believes that throwing around the false charge that the board will harm patient care will persuade enough members of the Democrat-led Senate to follow the House, which has voted twice to repeal the board. In a recent letter to House Republicans, Mr. Cantor said that “one of our most successful critiques” of the president’s health care reforms was that “Obamacare put the government between doctors and patients.”

Mr. Cantor has suggested that seven Democratic senators who will be up for re-election in 2014 in states that the Romney-Ryan ticket just carried might yield to Republican pressure. They would be foolish to fall for the scare tactics and force Mr. Obama to have to veto a repeal bill that would eliminate a crucial cost-saving measure.

Tell Congress: No Benefit Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (by AFLCIONow)

volumenometry:

like, for real.
for actually.
we all love looking at hilarious pictures of paul ryan acting like a douche bag on this website, but if we don’t vote he’s gonna be VP and the joke’ll be on us.

volumenometry:

like, for real.

for actually.

we all love looking at hilarious pictures of paul ryan acting like a douche bag on this website, but if we don’t vote he’s gonna be VP and the joke’ll be on us.

In 1959, 22.1 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

In 1969, 13.7 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

The poverty level has varied since 1969. It has gone as high as 15 percent. But it has never again gotten anywhere near where it was in 1959.

What changed during the 1960s to dramatically decrease poverty?

“Centralized, bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs” like Medicare (1965), Medicare (1965), the initiatives launched with the Food Stamp Act of 1964 and Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 programs such as the Jobs Corps (1964) and Head Start (1965).

Those programs worked.

msnbc:

From NOW with Alex Wagner:
The panel discusses why the future of Medicare hangs in balance.

msnbc:

From NOW with Alex Wagner:

The panel discusses why the future of Medicare hangs in balance.

During an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board last week, Thompson unveiled a new Medicare proposal in what appeared to be an attempt to distance himself from Ryan’s plan.

Instead of setting up a new system of plans for seniors to choose from, Thompson would give seniors two choices: stay on Medicare or buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, which is essentially a private exchange that federal workers have access to.

According to a report commissioned by Kaiser Health News in September, FEHBP does a poorer job of holding costs down than does Medicare. FEHBP grew by an average of 7.1 percent per enrollee each year, compared to 5.8 percent for Medicare.

But Thompson insisted that his plan has been “projected” to “save money,” arguing that the Congressional Budget Office looked at a plan that was similar to his.

"They have not looked at my plan," he said of the CBO, adding, "This is a plan by Paul Ryan, I’ve modified it. I think my plan is better … When I’m elected to the United States Senate, I have a chance to use the computers and have the access to CBO and I’ll be able to make the necessary things. I’m talking conceptually, about an idea out there that has been advanced by somebody else and I think it makes a lot of sense."

When pressed by the editorial board, Thompson hadn’t seemed to have thought his plan through, admitting he didn’t know if it would actually save the federal government any money and referring to FEHBP as the “Health Education Benefit Package.” The lure of the idea, in short, is that it isn’t exactly Ryan’s plan, and it isn’t Obamacare, and the two federal plans are quite popular. And according to Thompson, the status quo is not an option.

"So if you haven’t scored it and you don’t know how much it’s going to save, how do you know it’s going to be a big advance?" asked one of the board members.

"Because Medicare is going broke and we have to do something about it. It’s a plan," he said. "It’s a plan that I believe more than likely will work."

[…]

According to a HuffPost Pollster average of the polls in the race, Baldwin is currently leading Thompson by 4.7 percentage points.