Our Common Good

Medicare is among many government programs, including the military, that could face significant cutbacks as a result of the debt compromise.

Advocates for the elderly say the Medicare cuts, though relatively small, could force critical medical providers to scale back services, or even stop serving them entirely.

“These kinds of cutbacks do build, and you are always wondering if this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a New York-based advocacy group.

The debt compromise will not impose any immediate cuts in Medicare spending. But if Congress does not come up with a plan by the end of the year to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, the plan requires the federal government to impose a 2% across-the-board reduction in payments to Medicare providers starting in 2013.

That is one of several so-called triggers that would also slash domestic discretionary spending and cut hundreds of millions of dollars…

letterstomycountry:

I think when all is said and done, Liberals are going to see this deal in a better light than they do currently.  Obama and the Democrats managed to secure significant cuts in defense spending, while leaving entitlements intact (who in their right mind ever thought such a thing was possible?).  Even though preserving entitlements will come at massive costs to just about every other domestic program that Liberals hold dear, if one measures success by protecting the Big 3 (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security), then by all means, the Democrats have done so.

It is no secret to reasonable people, I think, that this bill should’ve contained more revenue increases.  America is one of the least-taxed nations in the world.  Our State and Local tax system, in real terms, is actually regressive.  Nearly every time we have raised taxes in the past, predictions of gloom and doom for the economy were patently false.  Repeatedly.  And studies show that the rich do not, in fact, flee high-tax states.  And cries that the rich are paying too much already are laughable:

Yet today, America has the lowest corporate tax burden in the developed world.  Many of our largest corporations pay nothing in taxes to the Federal government.  Many more pay very little.  Wealthy Americans are paying a lower average tax rate than at any time in recent history.  18,000 Households making over $500,000/year paid zero Federal income taxes in 2010.  And if there is such a thing as shared sacrifice, then returning to Clinton-era tax rates should not be such a Shibboleth for the Right, given the fact that Clinton-era rates had no demonstrable negative impact on growth.  If anything, the deficit reductions that Clinton-era rates facilitated gave global markets more confidence in the fiscal fortitude of the United States.

The idea of killing record deficits with no tax-increases and only spending cuts is ludicrous.  Even Britain’s infamous 2010 austerity budget increased taxes by making a temporary bank tax permanent, and raising the nation’s Value-Added Tax by 2.5%.

What’s more: the private ratings agencies, on which both domestic and global credit markets turn, are expecting the Bush tax cuts to expire.  And rightfully so, given that the Bush tax cuts are the largest contributor to the Federal deficit, even when you take the negative revenue impact of the recession into account:

And this is where the silver-lining of the Debt Deal may rest: Obama came out of this looking weak to his base, but he also looked like he was more willing to compromise than the GOP.  Obama’s political purpose here may very well have been to give the GOP what they wanted in spending cuts now, in exchange for vetoing an extension of the Bush tax cuts later.  This by itself would result in the revenue increases that most Liberals were looking for out of a debt deal:

So even though many of Obama’s supporters view this Debt Deal as a capitulation, the reality is that this may very well be a win down the road.  Giving the GOP what they want now gives Obama the moral authority to finally put an end to the Bush tax cuts later, and help us get back on the road to fiscal sanity.

You may well be right.  I certainly hope you are correct. I do think that President Obama has the best interest of the nation at heart - though I wish he were a better/harder negotiator.  And were a little more progressive and less centrist.  Even while acknowledging he has to work with the Congress we give him.   Guess, we’ll see.

The so-called super committee that would be responsible for cutting $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit is poised to create a new class on K Street: The Superlobbyists.

"The Democratic Party is running away from its traditional role of protecting the poor, the elderly, and the working class," writes Congressman Dennis Kucinich. "To whom do these groups now turn?"

We turn to ourselves, Congressman. You know that. And you know I love you. But we’ve got to stop turning to people, much less parties. It’s killing us. We can work with you and all of our friends, but we’re going to have to do this ourselves. There’s nobody so poor, so elderly, so working class, so sick, so weak, or so wounded that they can’t help this country a hell of a lot more themselves than can your colleagues, Congressman, the vast majority of whom, politically speaking, aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.

BTW, if you are left leaning Democrat, consider joining Progressive Democrats of America - good folks working to change the party from the inside out.

thenationmagazine:

Debt Deal Losers: Seniors
Medicare is subject to across-the-board cuts in the super-committee, and if the trigger is pulled, provider payments will be slashed—though only up to 2 percent. The makeup of the super-committee and outside-the-Beltway campaigns to protect Medicare will determine a lot about the degree of cuts, but remember that inside the Beltway, the “left” side of the debate has been defined by President Obama and the Gang of Six as raising the eligibility age to 67 and/or $500 billion in cuts. So this probably won’t end well.
Credit: AP Images

thenationmagazine:

Debt Deal Losers: Seniors

Medicare is subject to across-the-board cuts in the super-committee, and if the trigger is pulled, provider payments will be slashed—though only up to 2 percent. The makeup of the super-committee and outside-the-Beltway campaigns to protect Medicare will determine a lot about the degree of cuts, but remember that inside the Beltway, the “left” side of the debate has been defined by President Obama and the Gang of Six as raising the eligibility age to 67 and/or $500 billion in cuts. So this probably won’t end well.

Credit: AP Images

soupsoup:

 
President Barack Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

soupsoup:

President Barack Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


‎If we’re patting Washington on the back for not creating an unnecessary global financial crisis, then our expectations have become criminally low.
Ezra Klein, on the Rachel Maddow Show, August 1, 2011 (via lilmaj132)
Obama reached a compromise with the Republicans. I think it’s the same kind of compromise that Custer had with Sitting Bull.
David Letterman, 8/1/11 (via reflux)

The President, I guess, could have included a debt ceiling raise in previous legislation that Republicans were desperate for — like when they wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts back in December — so that the Republicans wouldn’t have had such a significant amount of leverage over the White House going into the deficit reduction negotiation.

But even a Jedi master strategist wouldn’t have seen that coming.

JON STEWART, in his intro to a video clip from a December 7, 2010 press conference in which a National Journal reporter raised this very question — to which the president responded “When you say ‘it would seem they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House,’ what do you mean?”, on The Daily Show.

The President added “Here’s my expectation — and I’ll take John Boehner at his word — that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse.”

Double sigh.

(via inothernews)

brooklynmutt:

Biden, McConnell and the making of a deal
He had given away his demand for a clean increase in the debt limit. He had given up on tax hikes on the rich and closing corporate loopholes. He had even given away billions in cuts to domestic programs close to his heart.
But by 4 p.m. Sunday — two days before the country would plunge into default — President Barack Obama drew the line against congressional Republicans who wanted assurances that defense spending would be cut less than many other programs.
“We just can’t give there,” Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s chief emissary to the Hill in the budget negotiations, pointedly told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
With that, a grim Obama contemplated the unthinkable: pulling the plug on a deal and precipitating a global economic crisis. Huddled in the Oval Office, the president and his top aides proceeded to discuss how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner might step out later that night and prepare the country for the inevitable market crash.
Then, almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships.
Continue reading… Politico

brooklynmutt:

Biden, McConnell and the making of a deal

He had given away his demand for a clean increase in the debt limit. He had given up on tax hikes on the rich and closing corporate loopholes. He had even given away billions in cuts to domestic programs close to his heart.

But by 4 p.m. Sunday — two days before the country would plunge into default — President Barack Obama drew the line against congressional Republicans who wanted assurances that defense spending would be cut less than many other programs.

“We just can’t give there,” Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s chief emissary to the Hill in the budget negotiations, pointedly told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

With that, a grim Obama contemplated the unthinkable: pulling the plug on a deal and precipitating a global economic crisis. Huddled in the Oval Office, the president and his top aides proceeded to discuss how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner might step out later that night and prepare the country for the inevitable market crash.

Then, almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships.

Continue reading… Politico

underthemountainbunker:

As Jay Newton-Small argues, if we lived in a world where the teaparty didn’t exist, this wouldn’t be a good deal. But the teaparty does exist — at least for now — and when you look at things a little closer, some of this deal is pretty okay:

  1. The 2012 budget: At one point in the negotiations, the 2012 budget was to be slashed by $36 billion. The final number of cuts: just $7 billion. And just to ensure we don’t have another bruising government shutdown fight over cuts in September, the deal deems and passes the 2012 budget. Yes, that’s right, the old Gephardt Rule or Slaughter Solution, is back. What’s deem and pass? It’s a legislative trick that essentially means that Congress will consider the budget passed without ever actually having to vote on it.
  2. The trigger: This is counterintuitive, but the trigger is actually pretty good for Democrats. For all that MoveOn thinks that it would force benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, it actually wouldn’t trigger benefit cuts to any entitlements. The only cuts it would force would be a 2% or more haircut for Medicare providers. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with most Democrats, has never opposed provider cuts. Not only that, most progressives actually want the Pentagon cuts. So if the committee deadlocks and the trigger is pulled, Democrats won’t be miserable.
  3. The commission: Again, for all the liberal carping about a “Super Congress,” the commission of 12 members — three from each party in each chamber — set up to find the second phase of $1.5 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving is actually rigged to force some revenue increases. Yes, the Bush tax cuts are off the table. But there are plenty of loopholes, subsidies and other corporate welfare programs that are on the table. And with such a strong trigger, it’s hard to imagine at least one Republican not voting to kill corporate jet subsidies over slashing $500 billion from the defense budget – even if the revenues aren’t offset. The question is: who are Republicans more afraid of, Grover Norquist or the joint chiefs? Democrats’ money is on the joint chiefs.
  4. The immediate cuts: It may seem like a lot, but the $917 billion in the first phase of cuts were carefully negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and his group. They include $350 billion in Pentagon cuts – a win for liberals. They don’t touch entitlement benefits, another win. And they set top line numbers for the next decade of budgets that aren’t draconian. It still cuts where liberals might prefer to spend, but most of the savings are backloaded to avoid extreme austerity in next few years of fragile economic recovery.  Just $7 billion would be cut in 2012, and only $3 billion in 2013. And of that combined $10 billion, half would come from the Pentagon. On top of that, the discretionary spending caps on budgets in future Congresses are subject to revision by those bodies.
  5. The debt ceiling: Raising the debt ceiling through 2013 will not be contingent on the second round of cuts. There will merely be a vote of disapproval. This avoids another messy fight in January and another round of painful forced cuts.

Maybe someday, say after the 2012 elections, the teaparty will be a bad memory. That’s something everyone can help make possible — if they just vote this time.

If Democrats read the fine print on the debt deal struck by President Obama and Congressional leaders, they’ll find that it’s a little better than it appears at first glance.

That’s not to say that the deal is a good one for them. It concedes a lot to Republicans, and Democrats may be wondering why any of this was necessary in the first place. But the good news, relatively speaking, has to do with the timing and structure of the spending cuts contained in the deal.

donna-moss:

Dear President Obama,

Why can’t you be this cool?

Sincerely,

A pissed off Democrat

The Republicans in this debt debate fought like wolves or alley thugs, biting and scratching and using blades and rocks and shards of glass and every weapon they could reach.

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn’t fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time — as fixed fights go, you don’t see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did — but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.