Tag Archive: entitlements

HumpDay Part III: Bush Tax Cuts for Richest a Go, per Axelrod, Walks back Afghantime

Just before midnight, Wednesday, November 10, 2010, Pacific West Coast time:

Just when you really wanted to effing just go to bed and bury your head in a pillow for the next 24 hours, White House top advisor (at this hour….) David Axelrod has been tasked with imparting this cheery news:  The George W. Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest, began at the beginning of the Afghan and Iraq wars (2001 and 2003) due to expire at the end of the year, are alive and well, and won’t be rescinded after all.  Yay Chicago Neoliberal Ekonomists !  


HuffPo 11/10/10

White House Gives In On Bush Tax Cuts

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

“We have to deal with the world as we find it,” Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. “The world of what it takes to get this done.”

“There are concerns,” he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. “But I don’t want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point.”

Axelrod said the President would not comment on the Deficit, aka the Catfood Commision’s, draconium domestic spending cut proposals until the report is formally finished and presented on December 1.  A preliminary report by the Presidential appointed co chairs, Simpson and Bowles, was released earlier today.

http://docudharma.com/diar…

Oh, and that story I deconstructed earlier, http://docudharma.com/diar…      that the Cable News Peeps were sort of ignoring or downplaying earlier this evening, from Tuesday’s McClatchy, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/201… which quoted “administration and military officials”   about the change in the timeline for beginning withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan ? Axelrod walked it back.


Meanwhile, on the war in Afghanistan — an expensive and increasingly unpopular conflict — Axelrod pushed back hard against the notion, floated in some recent stories quoting “senior administration sources,” that the deadline for beginning troop withdrawals had been pushed back from July 2011 to some time in 2014.

“If it is being sourced to senior administration officials, than someone has bad administration sources,” Axelrod said. “There is no change in the president’s position. There is no change in that basic commitment.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Well, look at the McClatchy story link again.


….administration and military officials have told McClatchy.

So far, the U.S. Central Command, the military division that oversees Afghanistan operations, hasn’t submitted any kind of withdrawal order for forces for the July deadline, two of those officials told McClatchy.

…. said one senior administration official.

….. one Pentagon advisor said

…. on Tuesday, a White House official who spoke with reporters in a conference call

“Bad administration sources ?”

This was a very coordinated trial balloon that fell like a lump of lead.  Or the guy left babysitting the press at the Oval Office in DC, Axelrod, is either out of the loop, or trying to spin it as nothing to see here.

Axelrod has lots of practice at spinning. In March 2008, Businessweek wrote “The Secret Side of David Axelrod, a master of astroturfing who has a second firm that shapes public opinion for corporations.”

The website is here http://askps.com/whatwedo.php  altho Axelrod’s name is not on the masthead now, they continue to specialize in “a disciplined focus on message development and message delivery.”  And they create lots of front groups for clients to do that.


March 2008

http://www.businessweek.com/bw…

From the same address in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients to tilt public opinion their way. He and his partners consider virtually everything about ASK to be top secret, from its client roster and revenue to even the number of its employees. But customers and public records confirm that it has quarterbacked campaigns for the Chicago Children’s Museum, ComEd, Cablevision, and AT&T.

Eric Sedler, 39, a former public relations director at AT&T and corporate-reputation specialist at PR giant Edelman, is the “S” in ASK and the company’s managing partner. The “K” is John Kupper, 51, a former congressional press secretary and ad-industry consultant…

In politics, Axelrod’s AKP&D is as partisan as they come. But ASK travels easily across the aisle. Gene Reineke, head of Hill & Knowlton’s Chicago office and former chief of staff for Republican Governor Jim Edgar, says his PR firm shared ComEd as a client and now works with ASK on the Children’s Museum. “Their firm is outstanding,” he says. “I think it’s one of the best in the field, to be honest.”

Here’s another version, in the New York Times, with names you might recognize.  Of course they were out of the bleeping country when they said it.  Maybe we should check with Julian Assange of wikileaks ?


US Tweaks Message on Troops in Afghanistan

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11…

Nov 10, 2010 By Elisabeth Bumiller

In a move away from President Obama’s deadline of July 2011 for the start of an American drawdown from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all cited 2014 this week as the key date for handing over the defense of Afghanistan to the Afghans themselves. Implicit in their message, delivered at a security and diplomatic conference in Australia, was that the United States would be fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for at least four more years.

The 2014 date will be a focus at a NATO summit meeting that Mr. Obama is to attend next week in Lisbon, Portugal, where the alliance is to be presented with a transition plan, drawn up by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, that calls for a gradual four-year shifting of security responsibility to the Afghans. Administration officials said that the document had no timetable for specific numbers of troop withdrawals and instead set forth the conditions that had to be met in crucial provinces before NATO forces could hand off security to the Afghans.

per the NYT, another “WH spokesman,” Tommy Vietor, insisted that there had been absolutely “no change” to the original drawdown policy.   And a “White House official” said that “we’re bringing some clarity to the policy of our future in Afghanistan.”

To paraphrase Bush’s Secretary of Unpreparedness, Rumsfeld:

You go to war with the tax rate you have, not the tax rate you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Even if it will add $700 billion more to that deficit the Republicans and the Catfood Commisssion are baying about.

______

update Thurs And we already have some “Democratic” Senators indicating a willingness to put Social Security on the table because of their “concern” for the deficit.


http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-…

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Thursday said Congress should consider all of the proposals coming from President Obama’s fiscal commission, including the controversial proposals to reform Social Security.

In a phone interview with The Hill, Udall said the 50-page proposal released Wednesday by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), the chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, should be seriously considered even though “none of them are going to be very popular.”

“This is going to be a very painful process. But we must bring down the deficit and the debt, and everything needs to be on the table.

Blue Texan at FDL asks   “If the White House Gets Rolled by the GOP on Tax Cuts, What’s the Point of Voting for Democrats ?”

_______

edited to add link to orig story Huffpo

and links to business week article on Axelrod and his old PR firm, ASK

edited thurs to add link from The Hill about Udall and from FDL

HumpDay Part II: Debt Commish Wants Your Social Security & Medicare, Too

Oh, this is just turning out to be an all kinds of post electoral inspirational day for the Democratic Party.

  First we had this, the Pentagon’s version of the “4 more years!” cheer, and here’s my reaction to that. http://docudharma.com/diar…

And if you liked that, you are going to LOVE this.

  Debt Commission Report Targets Social Security and Medicare.  


The most direct assault on Social Security, however, may not be the increase of the retirement age, but rather an attempt to tilt the program toward a welfare model and away from the current, universal insurance model that has made it popular and enduring despite 75 years of attacks. The co-chairs propose to “increase [the] progressivity of [the] benefit formula by creating a new bendpoint at the 50th percentile.” Such a move would require means testing. In other words, the government would determine benefits based on a beneficiary’s assets and other sources of income. Currently, beneficiaries are paid benefits based on their contribution over their working life. Replacing the social insurance model with a welfare model would erode support, encourage fraud and ultimately undermine the program.

If you want to look at the original doc from the co – chairs of the Catfood, er, Fiscal commission, co chaired by ex Republican Senator Alan Simpson and ex COS of Pres. Clinton, Erksine Bowles, here’s the pagestart.  Remember President Obama appointed these clowns. http://www.fiscalcommission.go…

And here are more commissioners.  See anybody familiar on this list ?  Why look, it’s Southern California’s Rep. Xavier Becerra (D, CA 31) one of the Leadership “Liberal” Democrats who wouldn’t commit to signing on for a Public Option.   Bruce Reed, another Clintonite, is the Executive Director.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA 31)

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI 4)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)

David Cote, Chairman and CEO, Honeywell International

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Ann Fudge, Former CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX 5)

Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute and former Director, Office of Management & Budget

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9)

Rep. John Spratt (D-SC 5)

Andrew Stern, President, Service Employees International Union

The White House is presumably tucked into bed in another Asian time zone, out of range of commenting and wondering if anyone is going to greet them at the airport tarmac on the way home next week other than John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Robert Gates.  Perpetual occupation of Afghanistan, secret drone wars, arms deals with India vs. Pakistan, and now the Cat Food commission turns loose the proposal to cut income taxes for the richest, and cut Medicare, and cut Social Security.   What’s not to like ?  

It is at this time I am going to relish my earlier assessment of Senator Kent Conrad (D, Fly Over State, North Dakota) as a duplicitous warmongering **** .


” We have now received a proposal from the bipartisan co-chairs of the President’s Fiscal Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. This is not the conclusion of the commission’s work. This is the beginning.

I commend them for putting together a serious proposal. It reveals just how difficult it is to put the nation on a sound fiscal course. Some of it I agree with; some I strongly disagree with. We will have a chance to offer alternatives as we advance the process later today and next week.”

Paul Krugman thinks they can’t be serious.  http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c…

Because the good stuff ends up going to the very affluent.


I mean, what’s this about? There is no – zero – evidence that income taxes at current rates are an important drag on growth.

Oh, and they’re talking about raising the retirement age, because people live longer – except that the people who really depend on Social Security, those in the bottom half of the distribution, aren’t living much longer. So you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever.

It’s here. And it really is that bad. The idea that co-chairs of a commission whose charge is fiscal sustainability should take it upon themselves to (a) declare that federal revenue must not exceed 21 percent of GDP – that’s right, putting a cap on receipts and (b) call for reducing the top rate from 35 to 23 is just awesome.

Oh, Kruggie, since when do the Repukes and the Repuke wanna bees rely on evidence that excessively favoring the affluent might not be good for all of the rest of us ?

Dave Dayen went thru the thing –  hey, there’s cuts for the Veteran’s Administration, and TRICARE, too.

http://news.firedoglake.com/20…

Best comment-

ralphbon:

Splendid timing, given tomorrow’s Veteran’s Day.  

And the other good comment from “ottogrendal”


Indeed. The DoD still grows. Over $700 billion for the FY 2011 budget. http://comptroller.defense.gov…

Yay America !   We’re number 22nd now in life expectancy behind Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Cyprus, and a lot of European countries like Switzerland and the United Kingdom.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Americablog says we’re actually ranked at 49th worldwide now.


In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands The last available measure of female life expectancy had the United States ranked at forty-sixth in the world. As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined.

Meanwhile, per capita health spending in the United States increased at nearly twice the rate in other wealthy nations between 1970 and 2002. As a result, the United States now spends well over twice the median expenditure of industrialized nations on health care, and far more than any other country as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Demographics can be a beautiful thing.

Raise the retirement age, get rid of health care,  and we won’t need that silly Social Security.  

Is Voinovich just the first brick to Fall from GOP’s Stonewalling Rhetoric?

There is a crack daylight, that may topple the Republican’s Wall of Inaction.

Voinovich breaks with GOP to push for small-business incentives

Lori Montgomery, Washington Post Staff — Sept 10, 2010

Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said he plans to help push a package of small-business incentives through the Senate next week, a move that would give President Obama and congressional Democrats a key victory on the economy in the final weeks before the November midterm elections.

In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support Republican efforts to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional amendments. Most of the proposed GOP amendments “didn’t have anything to do with the bill” anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan “messaging.”

“We don’t have time for messaging,” Voinovich said. “We don’t have time anymore. This country is really hurting.”

Finally a Republican Senator with some Integrity, who is willing work for the folks, that Voted him into Office  (instead of working against their interests, for his own gain …)

The ‘Elephant of Debt’ in Alan Simpson’s Entitlement Room

Bipartisan Elephants, Endless Debt and Entitlements, Cats without Food … Oh My!

What IS all this fuss about?

Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 rants.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE – CBO

The Long-Term Budget Outlook

JUNE 2010 – (Revised August 2010)



larger

Image: Federal Debt Held by the Public as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product

Under Two Budget Scenarios

CBO — The Long-Term Budget Outlook (pdf)

OK sometimes not … What does that Picture mean to me?

2035, Haah!  that’s like a quarter century from now …  you got to be kidding me …

The Amazing About-Face of Orrin Hatch — Mr Entitlements

Back in August, barely 2 months ago, Senator Hatch (R-UT), displayed a graciousness and a spirit of bipartisanship, rarely seen among the Party of NO.

Senator Orrin Hatch on Ted Kennedy’s Life

The Situation Room — Aug 26, 2009

BLITZER: […] the issue that was the most important to him, health care for the American people, you were — you’re a member of the Finance Committee. […] And since this was so important to your good friend, Senator Kennedy, I’ll ask you directly, Senator Hatch — are you willing to get back into those negotiations with the Democrats right now in memory — in honor of Senator Kennedy?

You know how important health care reform was for your friend.

ORRIN HATCH: …

Social Security Aint Broke and, No, McCain Can’t Fix It

A two part answer to the question of how McCain can fix Social Security. First, Social Security is not broken and does not need fixing. Second, McCain can’t fix Social Security.

Social Security and Medicare are often lumped together as “entitlements”, and the threat of Social Security not paying off to the current working generation is used to try to grease the wheels of efforts to allow Wall Street to gain income from Security taxes.

Ezra Klein capably addresses the point that Social Security is not “in crisis” in Social Security as Signifier, so I’ll focus on why John McCain can’t fix it. But to get the basic … look at that gentle slope in Social Security … look at that massive explosion in Medicare … Medicare, that’s an entitlement crisis. Social Security, not.

Let the Sacrificing Begin

Note: This essay is crossposted from BlueRage and was first published before the actual presentation of the budget to Congress.  We’ve had some time to see what it contains and we’ve already heard that it is pretty much DOA.  It’s a lame-duck’s final quack with nothing for anyone.  The issue, “guns or butter,” is not going away and will only heat up as crunch time for the budget approaches this summer.  So..The Post:

It’s time to show our “support for the troops.”  The guns or butter debate will heat up in Congress over the budget for next year.  It seems that in order to support our 600 BILLION dollar defense budget, we face cuts in so-called “entitlements.”  The choice will become clear that we at home, through cuts in the social services that support US, will be asked to sacrifice so that our military will continue to be the biggest, baddest, and most expensive in the world. American Progress reports: