While we’re all basking in the glory of yesterday’s victory, here’s something to unbask in the dissipating glory. Steve Israel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was interviewed on NPR this morning and promptly confirmed that entitlements reform will be on the table, specifically Medicare but I’m sure Medicaid and Social Security will find themselves in the pot as well.
Why the hell is it the FIRST thing out of these “Democrats’” mouths is agreement with Republicans on entitlement reform before the negotiations even begin? Oh yes, he’s also talking spending cuts but then added the Democrats would also try to seek new revenue from closing tax loopholes for the rich, and from ending farm and oil subsidies.
Talking about entitlement reforms wouldn’t irk me if only Democrats would stop calling them entitlements but call them what they actually are–earned benefits. Bernie Sanders gets it–why can’t Israel? And John Warner. And Harry Reid. And Barack Obama.
Earned benefits reform is the last thing that should be put on the table, especially after the damage the sequester continues to inflict on low income persons with/without families, and this latest Republican government shutdown debacle. Increase revenue first, then talk spending cuts and reform.
Just when I thought it was safe to be a Democrat again. Sen. John Warner (D-VA) goes and shoots himself, President Obama, and the Democratic Party in all their feet.
It was at the end of an interview on last night’s “All Things Considered” on NPR . Over the course of the 5-minute interview he basically said things we Democrats want to hear, but for some reason he repeated the phrase “in uncharted territory” three times. Maybe he thinks it’ll be the wild new catchphrase sweeping the nation. But anyway, just when he was almost home free, when he could see the goalposts standing there free and open before him, he drops the ball and this bomb:
“…And then, yes, Democrats will have to give on entitlement reform, Republicans are going to have to give on revenues to tax reform…”
This is the NUMBER ONE reason why many liberals are about to give up on a Democratic Party controlled by corporatists like John Warner. Obama floated the same junk on entitlements reform during the Republican-manufactured budget crisis that gave us the laughably inept and doomed Super Committee. It was made clear in Liberal article after article and interview after interview that Social Security and Medicare benefits are NOT entitlements. One can argue that SSI and Medicaid are but with those programs the problems are not with the recipients at all. The waste in Medicaid would be on the provider and prescription medicine costs side. But guys like Warner, who at least twice flaunted his years of business experience, insist on pushing the “everyone has to tighten their belts” mantra. Everyone except for members of Congress who mandate that belts be tightened while loosening theirs.
So, with his vast years of business experience where Warner probably staffed out giving his employees the bad news that belt tightening lost them their jobs so his could remain loose and profitable. You can’t run social services like you do a business. So, Social Security recipients getting an annual COLA (sometimes) is still too costly for him? Still pushing the Chained-CPI, are we? Giving Medicare recipients an affordable fee schedule will throw the program into bankruptcy? And again—THESE ARE NOT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS—THEY’RE EARNED BENEFITS.
I’m too cynical and realistic to believe that by “reform” Warner had in mind raising or altogether removing the FICA tax ceiling. And while he’s at it, about eliminating entirely the Republican-manufactured Medicare Part D, which would reform both the donut hole and prohibition against the government negotiating drug prices out of existence.
Warner’s words feel me with free that once again the Democrats will compromise with the Republicans over both the budget and the debt ceiling over the backs of the elderly, the sick, and the poor. The corporatist Democrats may have kept this bargaining chip fish on ice but it still stinks.
I love it when “progressive” Democrats put me down for stating that there’s not much difference between Democrats and Republicans because then Harry Reid goes and proves me right. Actually, Reid also proves the BIG difference between Democrats and Republicans: with the Republicans, you know what you’ve got. They are overtly destructive to the middle class and you can see through their every lie. The Harry Reid Democrat talks about introducing liberal legislation but that’s as far as he goes—just talk. Dianne Feinstein got the assault weapons bill out of committee with great fanfare. The majority of Americans are on record as supporting a total ban on assault weapons. So what does Reid do? He refuses to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. Why? Because he claims he only has 40 votes and not the 60 required to end a filibuster. And why is there still a filibuster in the Senate? Because Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, left it in place despite all the calls from liberal Senators to have it eliminated.
Oh sure, Reid may introduce the assault weapons ban as an amendment to another bill the Senate Republicans may be forced to vote for, but he knows any gun control legislation is DOA in the House, so once again he looks like a good guy instead of the weasely wimp that he is.
Why would he do this? Because Harry Reid is a lousy and incompetent Majority Leader. In the House, Speaker John Boehner typifies how the GOP frames itself. He’s just as incompetent as Reid, but he projects the image visually and aurally of a politician at the peak of his power, which in a way is true because the Tea Party still controls the House as it gives him his marching orders. In fact, the Republicans ALWAYS act as if they’re in power. With Reid, he always acts—or refuses to act—as if he’s AFRAID of losing power. It’s his timidity that is projected loud and clear visually and aurally. But in his case, he may be the Senate Majority Leader but it is clearly the coalition of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the fake Democrats who control the Senate.
Reid has FIFTY-THREE Democrats in his Senate, and he can only convince FORTY of them to vote for the assault weapons ban. Fake Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp , Max Baucus and Mark Pryor may be proud of their pro-gun stance and their Republican-friendly stance on other major issues, but some other stealth fake Democrats get just plain worried about having their names linked to a “No” vote on banning assault weapons, especially with 2014 looming ever closer. If Reid keeps the filibuster in place, these phonies are spared the embarrassment of revealing their right wing natures to their possibly more liberal constituents since the vote will be blocked by the Republican filibuster. A real majority leader would tell the fake Democrats to either toe the party line or get used to not getting any prestigious committee assignments or pork for their home states. The only choice left to those phony Democrats would be to switch parties and take their chances with the voters in the next election. But Harry Reid isn’t a real majority leader.
Another handy use of the filibuster is that enables Reid the opportunity to position himself as a Democrat, to excoriate the Republicans for acting like Republicans, and to otherwise do absolutely NOTHING in the way of bringing Democratic legislation to the floor of the Senate. It’s all for show and—that’s all, folks!
Reid is too much of a chicken heart to employ the tactic of introducing the assault weapons ban to the Senate and then sitting back and allowing the Republicans to preen and filibuster it until it is dead. Let the Republicans take the hit come 2014 for their blocking of stricter gun ownership laws and their focus on pushing anti-abortion ones.
Trouble is, there are fellow Democrats who might be forced to publicly take sides during the filibuster, and we wouldn’t want to embarrass our fellow Democrats by having them unmask themselves to the national electorate as the gun nuts their constituents already know they are, would we? Hence, the safe protection of the filibuster which also enables Harry Reid to do absolutely nothing and get plenty well for not doing it. Lyndon B. Johnson may have been a scoundrel, but he knew how to get Democrats to be DEMOCRATS and pass laws that would benefit the country as a whole. With a Democratic majority in the Senate, no Democrat crossed him and no Republican caused much trouble if they knew what was good for them, professionally and personally. If Reid had been Senate Majority Leader in the sixties, we wouldn’t have to worry about cuts to Medicare and Medicaid because neither program would exist. I’d hate to think what other programs—Social Security—would also not be around had Reid been head of the Senate in 1935.
At least with Republicans you know what you’ve got: they intend to cut all social programs out of existence. With Reid, he talks about protecting social programs and then agrees to start implementing these same cuts behind closed doors.
After having read “The Shock Doctrine” and now plowing my way through “The Wrecking Crew” by Thomas Frank, I find my sunny progressive enthusiasm sinking slowly in the Left into a sea of cynical disillusionment. I’m like a drowning swimmer slowly being pushed underwater by a heavy hand upon my head. The game is rigged so that liberals no longer truly get to play. The conservatives control the 3 M’s: money, the media, and the military (which explains the militarization of city police departments).
GOP conservatives attempt to paint President Obama as a liberal for two reasons: 1. to convince liberals they actually elected a liberal president. 2. to convince conservatives that the liberals actually elected a liberal president so that they fall back into line and elected an actual conservative president next time. You see, while Obama does do the bidding of the Right by getting “free trade” agreements that only free up trade for a few multinational conglomerates and enslave poor workers passed, by keeping the banksters and Wall St. securities traders who knowingly melted the financial industry in 2008 out of prison and in power, by going even further than Dubya did in using the PATRIOT Act to trample over the Constitution, he also has a recurring nasty habit of doing good for the American people. Installing fairly liberal justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, favoring the repeal of The Defense of Marriage Act, supporting choice if not exactly favoring abortion, and all that nastiness of creating public works jobs and raising taxes on corporate and wealthy Americans (corporations are people, too, my friend). Redistribution of wealth, some would call it. Obama has made some half-hearted attempts to mollify his sponsors—I mean, the conservatives, by raising trial balloons about budget cuts in Social Security and Medicare, but no one thinks he really means it anymore. He issues executive orders to expand mortgage loan modification programs but made sure to keep lender participation in them voluntary. Remember, Obama is supposed to appear liberal, not actually be one.
What adds to my cynical disillusionment is that here we are 4 years into the Obama administration and nothing has really changed in Washington. Why in the first two years of their administrations, both Reagan and Dubya decimated entire federal agencies and de-fanged hordes of liberal, consumer protection laws. Reagan alone drove the first stake in the heart of the labor movement by firing the striking PATCO workers. Seems to me the least Obama could have done during his first two years is to bounce any lingering Reagan and Bush I & II appointees and staffers out of D.C. and install his own guys. This is exactly how the conservatives took control of the federal government. Unless in actuality the old guys ARE Obama’s guys.
So, there’s Occupy Wall Street camped out, well, no longer camped out in parks and around city halls because the Obama administration FBI hooked up a conference call to all the city mayors and gave them identical battle plans for getting rid of the insurgents—I mean, protesters. They even coughed up a few free on-site advisors, similar to the American advisors once dispatched to South Vietnam, Indonesia, Argentina, Chile, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Nicaragua, in fact, all over the globe. But still OWS is singing the “We Can Change The World” chant of the 60’s, which was silenced by a hail of bullets at Kent State and Jackson State universities. We were shown who was boss then and all the parents and grandparents of the OWS protesters still remember that lesson.
The futility of it all kept them away from the ballot boxes for over 40 years, and kept them from running for public office in majority numbers for the same length of time. Along the way, some of them defected to the other side and saw their personal and financial fortunes significantly improve. Another lesson learned. The last great liberal wave crested in 2008 to land what was perceived as the Great Liberal Hope in the White House. Three years later, it’s the liberals who feel like the wave crashed on top of them and now there’s that heavy hand pushing them underwater.
So, does OWS march from the streets into the ballot boxes next November, joined by the 63% of Americans who support them, the over 75% of American who want taxes to go up on the rich and the corporations, and the 16% of Americans who are out of work (I know, they’re kind of all the same group)?
Make no mistake—the guys we’re up against are all professionals. They not only brought down the liberal movement in this country—these guys have brought down whole countries. They’re very good at what they do and they have the wealth of this nation—including the Federal Reserve—and, thanks to Citizens United, the wealth of nations worldwide to fund their war. Make no mistake again—it IS a war, class warfare or whatever you want to call it—call it a war game where we’re forced to play by the rules while the other side can do what it wants. It’s like the centuries-old Bill Cosby Revolutionary War joke where the colonists can dress in camouflage and hide behind trees and bushes while the British have to wear redcoats and march in a straight line. Anyway, if I squint real hard, I think I can see the waterline up there above my head. But with OWS there’s hope and where there’s hope there’s enthusiasm. With enthusiasm comes buoyancy so perhaps I can break the surface again. If I’m too be pushed underwater again, please let it not be by the Hand. Please make it the Monty Python Giant Foot. At least I can laugh on the way down.