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Dec 11 2012

Will democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory?

Victory is ours! If nothing is done taxes go up on everyone at the first of next month, and everyone in DC will rush to cut taxes in January. The Senate will prevent any bill that includes tax cuts on the highest incomes from even reaching the President’s desk, so there’s no need to veto anything. Large majorities support raising taxes on taxable gross income over 250k, large majorities do not want Medicare benefits reduced in anyway, and a big nasty election was just won on both those ideas. So how could democrats in DC possibly fuck it up?

CBS News — Republicans, however, insist that cost-saving measures be made to entitlement health programs, especially Medicare. The president has proposed $350 billion worth of cuts while Boehner has proposed about $600 billion to the health program for seniors. One possibility is raising the age to receive benefits from 65 to 67.

By giving into that bullshit demand, that’s how.

In this particular case I don’t think the dems will fuck it up. I think the classic timid democrat is rapidly fading into stereotype and the ones left know they hold all the cards. But past performance is indeed an indication of future returns despite what the prospectus for your 401-K growth mutual fund says. That’s the whole reason we care about past performance in mutual funds. Hopefully, this is one case where the CYA disclaimer is true, where history is not a guide, and democrats won’t throw their base under the bus to earn fleeting applause from the usual Very Serious Gasbags.

Really, they should do nothing, go home, enjoy the holidays. That’s all they have to do. And since doing nothing is one thing everyone in DC excels at, it shouldn’t be asking too much for them to do nothing one more time.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    I am really sick of hearing that Social Security and Medicare are “entitlements.” They are not: they are a pension and a medical insurance program that, by the time I am eligible to get anything out them, I have been paying into for more than half a century. Why should I be denied something that I have been buying over time for 50 years?

  2. 2
    Gregory in Seattle

    As for your question, the answer is almost certainly Yes. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is all that the Democrats are good at nowadays.

  3. 3
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Well, “entitlement” was a perfectly serviceable word, until it was co-opted and used ironically as a dog-whistle. You paid in, you’re entitled to a pay out. (And I also believe that humans who cannot fully do for themselves are entitled to help.)

    Now if you want to talk about “entitlements” (in the ironic negative sense so popular with the right), let’s talk about property owners, businesses, and governments who are still incredibly stupid about building and living in stupid places, and the money that gets paid out for “disaster” relief and rebuilding. Hurricane example: One-time buyouts → public parkland → better natural coastal protection. Stop beach nourishment, which is also costly and stupid. There’s your Medicare “deficit” right there.

  4. 4
    carolineborduin

    I completely agree with your assessment.

  5. 5
    harrysanborn

    Gregory, I understand the sentiment. But, the current pension and medical insurance programs aren’t solvent. And it’s more likely that any one person’s contributions aren’t covering the cost that they will eventually take back out of the system. So, I understand that we shouldn’t be pretending social security and medicare are “free money programs” but they also shouldn’t be untouchable when we’re looking for fix things.

  6. 6
    Randomfactor

    The smart thing to do is the opposite of what the Republicans propose. They want to raise the eligibility age? LOWER it.

  7. 7
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Social Security is solid until the 2030s, Medicare for close to a decade. To put that in perspective, both of these programs have been under attack in the past time and time again for being “about to run out money” and this time is no different. It’s been fairly easy to tweak them for the next few years every time just like it will be this time. The fact is the masters of the universe almost threw us into a black hole, we saved their bacon, a handful of the more conservative self entitled deluded zillionaires are “repaying” us by trying to reduce earned benefits many people like me have completely or mostly secured by premium payment for decades and redirect them into tax cuts and corporate welfare.

  8. 8
    shripathikamath

    I think that Obama should go with Boehner’s cuts for Medicare, but no age increase.

    Let the wingnuts who blindly vote for Republicans finally realize that that has consequences.

  9. 9
    Ben P

    Social Security is solid until the 2030s, Medicare for close to a decade. To put that in perspective, both of these programs have been under attack in the past time and time again for being “about to run out money” and this time is no different. It’s been fairly easy to tweak them for the next few years every time just like it will be this time. The fact is the masters of the universe almost threw us into a black hole, we saved their bacon, a handful of the more conservative self entitled deluded zillionaires are “repaying” us by trying to reduce earned benefits many people like me have completely or mostly secured by premium payment for decades and redirect them into tax cuts and corporate welfare.

    You’re missing an important point.

    Both the SS and Medicare Trust Funds are almost exclusively held in the form of US treasury bonds. I.e. they make up that large chunk of the national debt that is “intra-governmental” debt.

    Now, this doesn’t mean the trust funds are meaningless. The treasury bonds held by the trust funds are just as safe as any other treasury bonds and the likelihood of default is near zero. (Almost $5T of the total debt is “intragovernmental.”)

    But that does mean that the argument that no real problem exists until the “trust fund” has been exhausted has a giant hole in it. Every dollar that is drawn down from the trust fund is a US treasury bond that is called in and must either be filled by government revenue or rolled over into new US debt.

    The Social Security Trust fund is right on the razor’s edge of breaking even. In 2011 it had $588 billion in regular (non-interest) income and $736 billion in expenses, it was in the black because in addition to the regular income it recieved interest payments (which also come from the federal budget as interest on the debt) of $114 billion and direct government payments (due to payroll tax legislation) of $103 billion.

    The medicare trust fund is in slightly worse shape, already being in the red.

    Any projections of “how long” the trust funds last is fraught with uncertainty because payroll taxes directly go up and down related to economic growth. But there’s still a serious catch to pretending we’re just completely fine until the trust fund is exhausted, because really drawing down that trust fund comes straight out of the government’s budget as well.

  10. 10
    d.c.wilson

    Given that McConnell is willing to filibuster his own bill, I doubt there is any deal to be had. No matter what gets proposed, the republicans will vote it down. We’re going over the cliff.

    Weeeee!!!!!!

  11. 11
    kreativekaos

    The fact is the masters of the universe almost threw us into a black hole,…

    –’Darkside’

    Exactly. This being another factor among others in the equation describing the sustainability of our future economic social safety net.

    With the ENORMOUS waste of capital and lives in unnecessary war over the past 12 years; with a Rethuglican party pushing for INCREASING military spending in spite of declarations by the Pentagon of no need for it; with a continuing FAILURE of Rethuglican elements in Congress to legislate serious, no bullshit financial sector regulation to put ‘cops on the beat’ on Wall Street.

    Of course there is a lingering threat to solvency of our safety net programs. But we would be in a much better position now, had it not been for these and many other factors, i.e., the ‘monkey wrenches’ thrown in by Rethuglican hypocrites bent on preserving plutocracy and stupidity at almost any cost to the greater society.

  12. 12
    kreativekaos

    correction…

    ‘The fact is the masters of the universe almost threw us into a black hole,…’—’Darkside’

    Exactly. This being another factor among others in the equation describing the sustainability of our future economic social safety net.

    With the ENORMOUS waste of capital and lives in unnecessary war over the past 12 years; with a Rethuglican party pushing for INCREASING military spending in spite of declarations by the Pentagon of no need for it; with a continuing FAILURE of Rethuglican elements in Congress to legislate serious, no bullshit financial sector regulation to put ‘cops on the beat’ on Wall Street, of course there is a lingering threat to solvency of our safety net programs.

    But we would be in a much better position now, had it not been for these and many other factors, i.e., the ‘monkey wrenches’ thrown in by Rethuglican hypocrites bent on preserving plutocracy and stupidity at almost any cost to the greater society.

  13. 13
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Republicans, however, insist that cost-saving measures be made to entitlement health programs, especially Medicare. The president has proposed $350 billion worth of cuts while Boehner has proposed about $600 billion to the health program for seniors. One possibility is raising the age to receive benefits from 65 to 67.

    And another possibility, which the amazingly objective CBS News has totally failed to represent, is to reform Medicare Part D so that Medicare can, just like the VA and public health systems worldwide, actually negotiate drug prices rather than just having to take whatever markup Big Pharma wants to offer.

    But of course, while that would constitute a spending cut, it’s not an acceptable one. In fact, it’s one the Republicans will spin like they spun the cost-saving measures incorporated into Obamacare — they’ll whine about “cuts to Medicare”, even though the cuts were the cost-savings kind, the good kind, not the kind that slashes the actual benefits received.

    Gotta love the MSM, though — you don’t hear about this unless you watch MSNBC, which is now starting to get labelled as somehow being the liberal equivalent to Fox for having even a few people liberal enough (like Ezra Klein, who is really no fucking liberal) to suggest these things, let alone radical stuff like Chris Hayes suggesting that the Treasury could make the debt ceiling literally meaningless with one coin.

  14. 14
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Technical matter: With the new layout I’ve noticed that FTBlogs that don’t force login, there’s no more login link, and when I log in somewhere else then try to comment on no-login blogs my comments get eaten, even though it says I’ve already posted them when I try re-posting them.

    I’d post this at Ed’s, except…Ed doesn’t force login, so it’ll get eaten. Thanks in advance xP

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