Debt negotiations

Ga-a-ahhh!!!!! Some statements from the President just drive me absolutely crazy! They were made in response to Speaker Boehner’s question to him that:

“After embarking on a record spending binge that left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?”

Okay, first off, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was talking about the Republican Speaker’s failure to put up any jobs-creation bills after being the Speaker for 163 days (That was on 16 June), so yeah, where are the jobs, Mr. Speaker?!?!?!?! Money bills begin in the House, after all.

Second, someone ran a chart of spending year-to-year increases going back to John F. Kennedy. Yes, Clinton had relatively small increases during his two terms of 3.1% and 3.48% respectively, but Obama’s increase of 6.71% is quite similar to George W. Bush’s increases of 6.41% and 6.82%. BTW, Ronald Reagan had increases of 9.62% and 5.79% and Lyndon Johnson led the way with 10.79%. It’s far from clear that Obama oversaw a “record spending binge,” especially when one considers that Obama added the war spending to the normal budget. He didn’t try to keep war spending sequestered off from the rest of government spending.

As to the President’s infuriating statements:

And over the last 15 months, we’ve actually seen two million jobs created in the private sector.  And so we’re each month seeing growth in jobs,  But when you’ve got a 8 million dollar — 8-million-job hole and you’re only filling it 100,000-200,000 jobs at a time each month, obviously that’s way too long for a lot of folks who are still out of work.

[snip]

It’s estimated that we have about $2 trillion worth of infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.  Roads, bridges, sewer lines, water mains; our air traffic control system doesn’t make sense.  We don’t have the kind of electric grid that’s smart, meaning it doesn’t waste a lot of energy in transmission.  Our broadband system is slower than a lot of other countries.

For us to move forward on a major infrastructure initiative where we’re putting people to work right now — including construction workers who were disproportionately unemployed when the housing bubble went bust — to put them to work rebuilding America at a time when interest rates are very low, contractors are looking for work, and the need is there, that is something that could make a huge, positive impact on the economy overall.  And it’s an example of making an investment now that ends up having huge payoffs down the road.

Now, my objection is not to the accuracy of any of this, but goes to the President’s priorities. Why on Earth is the President concentrating on deficit reduction at this point in time when there are so many obvious needs that need to be tackled now?!?!?!!
I strongly agree with this piece, which says Obama is destroying the Democratic “brand.” Obama clearly wants trillions of dollars in cuts, taken out of programs that help less wealthy Americans. AARP and the very wealthy, strongly anti-Social Security Pete Peterson are of course, on the same page along with him. All three use “clever” euphemisms to disguise the fact that they want to impoverish the non-rich. And yeah, I’m completely on the same page with this statement:

Now if you think that this is something the President is doing because it’s the only way to get Republican cooperation you can stop reading here, because we’re going to disagree.  From the moment he took the White House, the President has wanted to cut Social Security benefits.  David Brooks reported that three administration officials called him to say Obama “is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending” in March of 2009.  You can only live in denial for so long and still lay claim to being tethered to reality.

It’s been apparent for quite awhile that the President is holding his own arm behind his back and chuckling while he complains about his arm being twisted by those terrible Republicans. That’s not to say Republicans haven’t completely swallowed the Tea Party Kool-Aid and aren’t the flaming maniacs that they’re accused of being. I’m just saying it’s hard to say who’s really representing the American people here.

What we’re watching is the death of the Democratic Party.  Or, at least the Democratic Party as most of us have known it.  The one that has taken its identity in the modern era from FDR and the New Deal, from Keynsianism and the social safety net.  Despite any of its other shortcomings (and they are myriad), the Democratic Party has stood as a symbol for commitment to these principles.

AARP makes a pretty good statement here, but I’m bothered by the inclusion of one word (emphasized):

“AARP is strongly opposed to any deficit reduction proposal that makes harmful cuts to vital Social Security and Medicare benefits,” Rand said.

I’d have much preferred that word not have been in there at all. There’s a big potential difference between “harmful cuts” and just plain “cuts.” There’s no demonstrated need to make any cuts whatsoever.

Looks like at least some of the House Progressives are standing firm. We need to encourage them to keep it up.

The gist of [Pelosi’s] remarks: “Members of her caucus won’t vote for a grand bargain to raise the debt limit and reduce future deficits if the final deal includes cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits—and that means it probably won’t pass.”

Fortunately, no deal has been reached as of yet, but Sunday (10 July) is the next day for negotiations.

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