Per John and ABL yesterday, this:
Rep. Barney Frank says Minority Leader Pelosi reassured House Democrats that the COLA change (which amounts to escalating cuts to Social Security over time) floated in the press will not happen.
Democrats are far from perfect, still waaay to naive about GOPer feral behavior, and all that, but they aren’t bone stupid — certainly not of the balanced budget amendment/weeks-wages-in-wine-swilling variety. They know (from recent, bitter experience — remember that 1/2 trillion buck Medicare “cut” that was actually simply an end to the transfer payments to private insurers) that there is a reason entitlement support, and especially Social Security, is called the “third rail” of politics. One that the Republicans seem determined to lick.
I’m coming to something of an eleven dimensional chess explanation for Obama’s current behavior — which is to me very scary, because even if you win the game, when you play with clout-foreheaded louts, the inevitable smashing of the board is a real loss. And maybe I’m wrong, and this isn’t clever strategy at all, and Obama really is trying to solve a problem I don’t think is the one we actually face in his global attempt to reframe the US budget. But I’m with ABL and John: there’s enough to be angry about in the world before blowing skull shrapnel all over the ceiling about some disaster that hasn’t happened yet.
Oh — and it looks like one of the most cynical and disastrous politicians of my lifetime is finally waking up and smelling the coffee. Too late, I fear.
Image: J. M. W. Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed-The Great Western Railway, 1844
The reason Boehner is waking up and smelling coffee is that Wall Street and Chamber have collectively read him the riot act. Took away his whiskey, Also Too.
Jay in Oregon
It’s either that or Boehner thinks that:
a) the Dems aren’t actually going to cave on the spending cuts and
b) the Republicans are going to get buried because of it.
Boehner will pass the debt limit with all republicans and he will dare the Senate to ignore his draconian bill. Boehner will not be caught holding the bag.
The disaster has already happened; yet to be determined is the magnitude.
I know that raising the debt ceiling needs to be priority number 1 for the WH, but if they don’t pivot to the fact that jobs–or the lack thereof–are a big fucking deal as soon as the debt ceiling issue is resolved, then they will pay.
These are not pretty graphs and neither are these.
Agreed, Dexter. Which underscores the fact that the President could have demanded a clean bill to raise the debt limit, and let Wall Street and the Chamber of Horrors beat their GOP employees into submission.
But the President didn’t want to. He wanted the Grand Bargain he’s been seeking since he came into office.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Translation – Never pop a trial balloon.
“I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough.”
david mizner The democratic members could have raised the debt limit last December but should have, could have scenarios buy us nothing.
Remember, the only thing that needs to happen by Aug 2 is passage of a one page bill. Something that typically happens by unanimous consent and without debate.
Both sides can posture all they want up to that time about entitlements or cuts or revenues or whatever, with no general agreement, but the only thing that needs to happen is that one page get approved. That’s it. All the rest can fall safely away.
This isn’t the budget fight where this stuff actually needs to find common ground. Honestly, there’s isn’t even anything to debate since Congress already passed the budget earlier this year which defines what the debt ceiling needs to be raised to. Even that part is already resolved.
Keep our powder dry. Fight another day. After all, why worry? What’s the worst that can happen between a neoliberal administration determined to cut $4 trillion in a shitty economy and an ultra-conservative Congressional negotiating team?
One more thing: It’s odd to me that people think others are overreacting to reports that the President an entitlement-cutting Grand Bargain, when he’s been open out wanting just such a thing. Here he is shortly he came into office.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me press you on this, at the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your presidency some kind of a grand bargain? That you have tax reform, health care reform, entitlement reform, including Social Security and Medicare where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And when will that get done?
OBAMA: Well, the — right now I’m focused on a pretty heavy lift, which is making sure that we get that reinvestment and recovery package in place. But what you describe is exactly what we’re going to have to do.
What we have to do is to take a look at our structural deficit, how are we paying for government, what are we getting for it, and how do we make the system more efficient?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And eventually sacrifice from everyone.
OBAMA: Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.
I’m 37 years old. So all my working life, I’ve paid in more SSI payroll taxes than my parents.
Over this time, taxes have been lower than before, and the payroll taxes I’ve paid have been used to cover the difference. We’ve still accumulated massive amounts of debt despite the extra taxes of working people being thrown in the pot.
I feel like Ive done my part. Go cut some shit from someone else Obama.
@Martin: And yet I would still lay money on the fact that the debt ceiling won’t be raised by 2 August.
david, what’s wrong with getting a “Grand Bargain”?
“Ralph! Stop chewing that Turner!”
Obama is absolutely the worst US president in office today. Worse still, he’s the worst African-American US president ever.
@Tom Hilton at 16. You are so right.
At this point it is impossible to know what Obama really thinks about economics. Or whether he has any coherent thoughts at all about it. Same for the GOP leadership for that matter. The whole carnival entered a gigantic hall of mirrors long ago.
I signed a MoveOn petition, and wrote the Chief Presidentin’ Dude saying that I would oppose needless and unwise cuts to Social Security. Not sure what else can be done.
TL: I love that Turner picture. But wouldn’t Wreck of the Minotaur be more appropriate?
You already used the slave ship pic, so that would be to repetitious. I think Turner did a pic of the hulk of some famous warship being towed into harbor to rot and fall apart, but can’t remember the name, or if someone else painted it.
But, maybe you are saving up those pics for later, which would be good idea.
David Mizner @ 11
For all the talk about how the Sunday Morning talk shows are fulla crap, on this blog and others, you sure seem to believe that anything that gets said there is true.
The wrong lies in the difference between the Republican and Democratic definitions of “Grand.”
Oh my god that painting is amazing. That’s not what I’d expect from Turner. I think it’s my new favorite painting ever.
@jl @ 18: yup, the Minotaur is a fine picture, as is the Fighting Temeraire picture — one of my all time favorites, in fact. To be used soon, I hope.
uh oh, Hamsher has siced the Mizner on us. She must be getting pissed.
When she gets a minute free from screaming about cat food and sucking Grover’s dick, she’ll probly call Cole a misogynist, thereby prompting him to apologize profusely and delete the last 3 posts.
And as I noted in previous thread: from the wealthy big money peoples’ perspective, there is in fact a very dire Social Security crisis looming in the next few years: the government will have to start paying the trust fund money they borrowed back.
Other than that, Social Security is the only major federal program that can be put on a sound financial footing over the long term with minor tinkering. But the need for that is 20 to 30 years away. And with good macroeconomic policy, the need for that minor tinkering could be never.
Culture of Truth
At this point it is impossible to know what Obama really thinks about economics.
One thing we do know – he reads internet comments assidiously
Anyone seen Mike Kay? He was having his usual fun yesterday in pointing out that Barney Frank was undercutting Nancy Pelosi by saying that the 14th Amendment solution was a bad one. Turns out that Pelosi agrees with Frank. I am sure Mike Kay will be by to apologize and to thank Frank for supporting Pelosi.
It was Pelosi, if I’m not mistaken, who convinced the White House to keep fighting for the HCR bill last winter after Scott Brown was elected, so if it comes down to a headbutting match between Obama and Pelosi over how to deal with the Republicans, I’d bet on Pelosi. And it looks like she has all the cards again-Boehner can’t raise the debt limit with only Republican votes, and with what he’s said today he knows he can’t not raise it, so Pelosi will be squeezing him for all he’s worth these next few days. I have faith in her as a negotiator.
@22: You HOPE to use it later. Wow, nice to see you are optimistic about how things will turn out.
You’ve used the Raft the Medusa already, right?
Jerry Cole did some nice portraits of insane people, they might come in handy for the next election and would be fun to see again.
Culture of Truth
If the COLA adjustment doesn’t happen, will Pelosi get the credit?
I think we’re safe. I’d be willing to bet the delete button has also vanished, never to been seen again.
I’m in lurv….
It has occurred to me that the strategy could be to use the event to try to get the long-term cuts in the rate of growth in entitlements that most in the reality-based community seem to think necessary in a way that can be blamed on the GOP. Not saying that is what the strategy is, or if will be possible to obtain the right sort of cuts, but if it is and it will be, then that is sort of clever.
@jwb – I’m guessing it will be raised 9 August so that the macho men can proove their point. We should start a debt-baby-pool to pass the next few weeks.
I dunno, Spaghetti Lee, sure pols lie and make promises they don’t intend to keep, but when a President says he’ll seek a long-term debt-reduction package that cuts Medicare and Social Security, I consider it a possibility that he’ll actually seek a long-term debt-reduction package that cuts Medicare and Social Security — enough of a possibility so that I’m not going to dismiss multiple reports that he’s now seeking a long-term debt reduction package that cuts Medicare and Social Security.
Naw, Warren G. Harding was much worse (so far).
Well, if we do default, who get’s hurt? Wealthy people or middle and poorer class people? It seems to me a lot depends on where (and in what currency) the rich have their money tied up. They would be hurt if it’s dollars, euros not so much. The middle and poorer people would have to pay more at Walmart, Dollar Store, etc. All imported goods would go up and the government wouldn’t be able to borrow to finance the debt. For the Plutocrats who just happen to be living in America right now, a default might not be so bad. For the money churners, it would be just another opportunity to make money. So I don’t know if the really wealthy are really scared of a default at all.
Mike Kay ( Geronimo!!)
Actually it was the other way around. She told him the caucus could never vote for the Senate version. The White House came up with the reconciliation procedure.
OTOH, what if ALL the buttons vanish? What’s to become of us all??
I don’t know about others here, but I find 17 dimensional chess as reflected by several fun house mirrors hard to follow.
I’m trying to skill up by learning to solve sudoku puzzles with cuniform numerals, but it isn’t going very well.
It occurred to me that lots of booze and mushrooms might help, and will report back on that soon.
To be fair-ish to Boehner, he signaled a month or so ago that he was willing to compromise (I’m not saying he would back a decent policy outcome, just that he wasn’t resolutely against compromise), and Cantor promptly indicated that should Boehner attempt to broker a compromise, Cantor would leverage this “betrayal” of the Teahaddist base to pry Boehner out of the speakership and claim the leadership for himself.
It’s ironic, really: Boehner took over the House by using the subordinate status of the Republican Caucus within the House as a license to criticize everything without actually having to take any responsibility for the state of affairs or work to make anything better – and now Cantor is doing the exact same thing, using his subordinate status within the Republican Caucus as a license to criticize everything without actually having to take any responsibility. There’s some grim justice in this, of the “as you sow, so shall you reap” variety – but however satisfying it is to see Boehner realizing that the chalice he’s grasped has been poisoned by his own work, it’s not likely to work out too well for the country.
Somebody please tell those emo manic progressive dirty hippies at the AARP that they should shut up. Jesus Christ, it’s almost like I can feel the patronizing pats on the head coming through the screen.
Seriously, Balloon Juice FP’ers, can we please dial back the condescension? I know you enjoy yelling at and mocking some of your readers, but given the economic environment I think it’s a bit insensitive. And given the DC antics in both parties, it’s not really irrational to get nervous about this stuff. The potential pain is real and credible, and it’s not an “emo freakout” to worry about this.
Mike Kay ( Geronimo!!)
ya know there’s a greater chance the NFL will cancel half the season over the lock-out than a default.
This is all kabuki.
In case you didn’t see it earlier today, here’s Grover Fucking Norquist telling Minnesota to suck it:
As for how he would deal with the president? How about this philosophy of governance?
It may have been a cute stunt to sign on with Grover Fucking Norquist to try to get rid of Rahm, but she lost all credibility with this blog commenter when she did so.
You and John seem to be making something of an internally inconsistent (perhaps even incoherent) argument. The very purpose for floating a trial balloon is to gauge the reaction to what’s being floated. If you don’t push back against the policy being floated (and you ridicule those who do) then don’t be suprised when the policy you don’t want but were to cool to get all worked up about is that one that the Obama administration decides to go with.
So, if you don’t like the policy is it really wise not to freak out the moment the trial balloon starts rising? And if you don’t, then aren’t you telling Obama that you’re actually okay with whatever illiberal policy he’s pushing today.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
You would be paying a LOT more if those programs weren’t helping to support your parents.
Mike Kay ( Geronimo!!)
btw, why do the emos hate Pelosi so much? They still harbor anger because she didn’t impeach bush. And currently she’s teh evil over the weiner resignation. I mean really, to get pissed at her over weiner? You think FDR would have put up with some sicko running around exposing himself.
James E. Powell
Totally agree. I have always believed that the right-wingers on the supreme court were comfortable with their decision to appoint a president because, if one were to watch the news, Republicans were rioting against any and all attempts to count the vote while Democrats were just waiting for a decision so they could go back to whatever.
BTW, @Tom Levenson, that art is insufficiently emo. Not enough mascara or dyed black hair.
Ugh, the Ryan fancypants three-hundred-buck Burgundy tale is a nice “tell” isn’t it?
Also, too, I’m flabbergasted the Turner painting is mid-19th century. Fantastic.
@TK-421 at 43 and @Mitch Guthman at 46: 1: I don’t see these as trial balloons — at least by anyone actually close to power. I do think firm and loud “noes” are fine when these trojan horses are let loose — which is what a lot of folks, including Carney, Pelosi, and Frank have all done. It’s the presumption that Obama is going to sell out/fail that I find so destructive — because it plays into exactly what got us into such deep trouble in 2010: an electorate on our side that chooses not to vote.
I’m no fan of AARP (partly because they started calling me when I was a mere pup of 49, which was not what I wanted to hear, and partly because they botched the politics of the Bush II adminstrations), but I’m not telling them to shut up. I’m telling anyone who’s inclined that way to judge Obama on the actual actions he takes within the political landscape in which he works — and then to figure out where our interest and aspirations lie when next we come to work and vote for a presidential candidate.
The problem for the plutocrats with that line of thought is, if the US defaults on payments and/or it gets downgraded by the ratings agencies, you’ve got financial bombs embedded all over the financial system that can go off.
An enormous amount of debt is held under statutory or contractual conditions that it is AAA rated or not in default, and if that trigger goes off I’d guess trillions of dollars’ worth of debt and derivatives will, by contract, have to be dumped right then at whatever price to somebody who can take it. This became a huge issue in 2008, when mortgage-related downgrades started to happen and nobody on Wall Street knew who was affected or how bad a hit they’d take and what it would do to anybody trading with them. Ibanks and hedge funds blew up.
You’d have to be nuts to think that you’re sure to make money off of this. It’s like tossing a grenade under a safe and betting that you’ll catch all the flying $100 bills without getting hot shrapnel through your head.
First prove that that Washington Post column by Lori Montgomery that started this now two day old freak out contained a trial balloon floated by the White House, then you’ll have a point. It’s going to be hard to do that, though, because even she didn’t pretend it was actually an administration source she was quoting.
Mike Kay ( Geronimo!!)
It wouldn’t be so easy to mock you if you didn’t unnecessarily freak out over everythin. A perfect example is when Obama appointed Elena Kagan to Court. The wailing was unbearable, and it was based on the ridiculous charge that no one who worked for Bill Clinton could be trusted. And all the hysterics were unfounded; she’s a reliable progressive on the bench.
Culture of Truth
Live and let live, I say – more power to you.
Let your freak out flag fly!
Culture of Truth
[ hums Cat Stevens song from Harold & Maude ]
“If you want to freak out, freak out…”
plz. its all 13D now.
Honestly, no. One day John Cole tells me it is comically stupid to freak out about unsourced anonymous reports that President Obama is offering cuts/slashes/The Amazing Jay Carney Hand Puppet Show to Social Security in order to secure a debt limit vote. ABL then follows up and reiterates the anonymously-sourced report should be ignored and that the White House’s position on Social Security is “unchanged.”
The next day comes around and it appears that while cuts/slashes/The Amazing Jay Carney Hand Puppet Show to Social Security may or may not be offered in exchange for a debt limit vote, Tom Levenson tells me that it isn’t a trial balloon and that it is actually okay to generate lots of negative noise in response to this thing that was not a trial balloon.
No, I am not clear on what Balloon Juice is trying to tell me. Yes, I understand that multiple posters == multiple opinions, but the contradictions seem pretty stark here. Yes, I understand that we don’t really know what’s going on and should therefore calm down, but the former always applies and yet I don’t think JC or ABL or you truly believe the latter also always applies. No, I don’t understand the logic here. It’s entirely possible it’s because I’m too stupid.
I have no idea what happened here, nor what is happening (which again, is always the case for everyone here, including FP’ers). But none of it is a joke, and IMO none of it is an appropriate opportunity to mock those who might be alarmed by whatever the latest news is.
Seriously, the economy sucks…for liberals, moderates, and non-wealthy conservatives. Have some compassion and dial back the “emo freakout” and “manic progressive” crap. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think any of us are in the mood.
Because I did that, apparently. Except…I didn’t.
And even if I did, I am amazed at how resistant some people have become to voluntarily choosing to be decent and sensitive to the worriers among us. As if being compassionate on the internet is incredibly costly.
Yes, definitely mock people’s arguably unnecessary concerns about their economic safety net by doing a touchdown dance about Elana Kagan. Awesome.
Too bad if you’re not in the mood to hear it because I’m totally in the mood to make fun of manic progressives, not for “being alarmed,” but for taking Lori Montgomery and David Frum seriously. People who do that deserve what’s coming to them. Just like wingnuts.
Et tu, Orangeman?
Cheryl from Maryland
Don’t forget Turner’s Hannibal Crossing the Alps. Elephants in a snowstorm while people are dying.
Medicare & SocSec Trust programs are “not sustainable”. They “need a legislative fix” according to the Trustee Report. I really don’t think you can blame this Fact on Obama. It’s His Bitch to fix though; like everything else that is fucked up & broken that he inherited. He’s not “cutting” anything for Fun or to make hippies scream; etc. It’s just one more damn problem he didn’t cause, but should fix soon because all Hell breaks loose in 2026, per Trustee report.
I’m not saying floating it in the newspapers is the correct thing to do; but everyone knows this, right?? Who do you want to Fix it?? Paul Ryan? I don’t!
Tom – thanks for the Turners. I used to spend my lunch hours in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square just sitting looking at those. Beyond magnificent in real life.
“But I’m with ABL and John: there’s enough to be angry about in the world before blowing skull shrapnel all over the ceiling about some disaster that hasn’t happened yet.”
Yes, clearly the better option is to wait until the disaster is already behind us, and then set about figuring out why it wasn’t Obama’s fault. I get that you guys here at BJ have some trouble with this whole idea of how issue advocacy works, but damn.
@54 — So as individuals, we’re allowed to express opinions about politics to the degree that we can ‘prove’ what’s going on behind the scenes?
You people are truly ridiculous. Prove there isn’t a trial balloon, then maybe you’ll have some standing to make decrees to others. See what I did there?
@61 Uh huh. And if you’re wrong and entitlements do end up getting cut, what will you deserve?
Ahh, so we should actually wait until he throws Social Security net under the bus before we get upset.
OK I get it, getting upset before hand and letting him know not to even consider it, is a stupid idea.
Just like the Republicans getting upset before hand about Harriet Myers and the Supreme Court was a stupid idea.
Just like the majority of Americans (Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Crazies, etc) getting upset before hand about every previous attempt to attack Social Security was a stupid idea.
got it, thanks for the strategic advice.
WTF? Dayton is a millionaire or maybe a billionaire. I doubt he has much hate and envy of money.
At least for social security, there is zero need to worry about the possibility of it not being sustainable now outside of lowering unemployment and underemployment. In any case Social Security as currently constructed will never add a penny to the debt, which doesn’t mean there won’t be problems in 10 or 15 years if unemployment stays high that long, but the problem is unemployment not social security.
In terms of source:
(a) Trial Balloon floated by president, or high-ranking member of congress: feel free to respond.
(b) Unsubstantiated trial balloon reported in untrustworthy rag (or that Beutler guy on TPM): maybe wait until (a) happens.
In terms of content:
(a) Railing against potential change (“I think a social security change would be bad”): fine.
(b) Claiming the change has already happened (“Obama’s planned this from day one, he’s an awful president”): bad.
It’s pretty straightforward.
oh so we need to be sure who is sending out those trial balloons. and just listen to you say, “it’s not true or it is true.”
i’m glad to know you know what going on and who is doing what.
thank god that is over.. trust that you guys are 100% sure of what is and isn’t worth getting “emo” over. and it is always a good idea to belittle those who have problems, just because you know better. Helping others through “their own shit” by trashing them works wonders, i must assure you.
really good way to win friends and influence people.
, and i have wetland in West Texas, too
As an individual, embrace whatever stupid bullshit that’s placed in front of you if you’re looking to freak out. I didn’t say not to. Just that I, as an individual, will make fun of you for it.
stop lying or start listening. Obama did demand a clean bill.
Obama and Pelosi are NOT ENIMIES! She was not solely responsible for moving him to do anything. He has a mind of his own and decided that if he came this far just pass the damn bill. Again, Obama and Pelosi are not enemies.
God. Perfect example of the duality. Good things = Obama did it.
Things didn’t turn out = Obama had no way to change that outcome.
Pardon my bluntness, but that’s stupid. Trial balloons are floated all the time, and the skull shrapnel on the ceiling is what’s going to prevent the morons in DC from gutting Social Security among other things. If we were all quiet and patient as you advise, then these idiot policies we hear about would be more likely to actually become law.
Obama may think he’s playing chess but when he uses the bully pulpit to espouse failed, hurtful, Hoover/austerity economics, he is doing real damage to the working people of this country.
Why don’t we, first, judge him by the words he speaks? And by those words, he is closer to the economic policies of John Boehner than John Maynard Keynes.
What Krugman said: