Saturday, December 8, 2012

To President Obama and all the Smarmy Wonks in D.C.: No Grand Deal, Period


Some disturbing ideas are trickling out of Washington about Obama making a deal with Boehner to only tax the rich at 37%, while raising the retirement age to 67, with cuts to so-called "entitlements" still on the table. In other words, Obama and Pelosi are close to caving in negotiations instead of simply letting us go over the cliff in January.

I can't even express how made of fail this is. Please: Just. Don't. Do. It.

Ezra Klein writes on the Washington Post writes as if this is a done deal:
Talk to smart folks in Washington, and here’s what they think will happen: The final tax deal will raise rates a bit, giving Democrats a win, but not all the way back to 39.6 percent, giving Republicans a win. That won’t raise enough revenue on its own, so it will be combined with some policy to cap tax deductions, perhaps at $25,000 or $50,000, with a substantial phase-in and an exemption for charitable contributions.

The harder question is what Republicans will get on the spending side of the deal. But even that’s not such a mystery. There will be a variety of nips and tucks to Medicare, including more cost-sharing and decreases in provider payments, and the headline Democratic concession is likely to be that the Medicare eligibility age rises from 65 to 67.

That’s not a policy I like much, but New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait accurately conveys the White House thinking here: They see it as having “weirdly disproportionate symbolic power,” as it’s not a huge (or smart) cut to Medicare benefits, and most of the pain will be blunted by the Affordable Care Act.

Ezra Klein surely considers himself one of the "smart people" in Washington, and when in doubt, Rachel Maddow swoons in to tell him just how cute and nerdy he is. But the rest of us out in the real world don't have such a glowing opinion.

There's smart, then there's smart. I know Klein says he doesn't like the deal as he lays it out, but then he turns around and agrees with this hideous article by his fellow wonk Jonathan Chait which again takes the nerdy approach that all of this would somehow be "good" for the elderly and the Dems. Honestly?

Jonathan Chait in NYMag: Go Ahead, Raise the Medicare Retirement Age
Many of my liberal wonk friends have been making the case against raising the Medicare retirement age — see Sarah Kliff, Matthew Yglesias, and Jonathan Cohn. Their basic case is that raising the Medicare retirement age is a really stupid way to save money because it just forces people to stop buying health care through Medicare, which is relatively cheap, and start buying it through private insurance, which costs way more.

They’re all totally right about this. Still, when the question comes to what concessions the Democrats are going to have to accept, rather than what policy makes the most sense, raising the Medicare age seems like a sensible bone to throw the right.

. . . raising the Medicare retirement age would help strengthen the fight to preserve the Affordable Care Act.
. . . a side effect of raising the Medicare retirement age would be that a large cohort of 65- and 66-year-olds would suddenly find themselves needing the Affordable Care Act to buy their health insurance. Which is to say, Republicans attacking the Affordable Care Act would no longer be attacking the usual band of very poor or desperate people they can afford to ignore but a significant chunk of middle-class voters who have grown accustomed to the assumption that they will be able to afford health care.

Huh? Is Jonathan Chait serious? Turning Medicare into Obamacare for two years would be better somehow and would "prove" something to the Right, and then all will be well? Dream on, brother.

it strikes me as completely delusional, and almost evil, to imply that seniors should throw themselves on the sword so Obama can strike a Grand Bargain with Boehner, who after all belongs to a party who thinks the elderly (except their own mothers) are a bunch of takers and moochers. And Chait really expects this plan to win over Republicans? I just don't get the logic of any of this.

Save us from the "smart people," or as Paul Krugman calls them, the "Very Serious People."

Last night, Chait was getting plenty of flack for what he wrote:

FireDogLake: Jon Chait's Miserable Endorsement of Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age

In my opinion, if this is a trial balloon, it's already lost altitude, crashed and deflated into an impotent pile, like Mitt Romney's Limp Blimp in Florida just before the election.

How many times do we have to reject an idea before Washington gets it?

Paul Krugman writes there is going to be a day of reckoning and hell to pay if Obama makes this deal.
Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age.
I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it’s a VSP fantasy about how we’re going to resolve this in a bipartisan way. Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay.
. . . this looks crazy to me; it looks like a deal that makes no sense either substantively or in terms of the actual bargaining strength of the parties. And if it does happen, the disillusionment on the Democratic side would be huge. All that effort to reelect Obama, and the first thing he does is give away two years of Medicare? How’s that going to play in future attempts to get out the vote?
If anyone in the White House is seriously thinking along these lines, please stop it right now.

Indeed, Mr. Krugman. This way lies insanity for the Dems. We would rather go off the flippin' cliff any day than capitulate to Boehner and the GOP.

I also saw a rather unbelievable twitter conversation in which someone wrote that Medicaid was more important than Medicare because one affects "poor children" while the other affects the "rich older people." What does that even mean? That the elderly have no value? Let's recall once again that in the population known as the 99% out here, or the 47% or whatever, most of us AREN'T Rich! Therefore, it is a myth that the elderly are rich people living on the backs of the young.

There are millions of lower middle class seniors dragging themselves to crap jobs for years, standing on legs with varicose veins, putting off procedures due to bad healthcare programs, putting off dental work, sacrificing everything BECAUSE they care so much for young people - their children and grandchildren. They have to keep going for them, not for some cushy retirement. With the state of 401K's these days, real retirement isn't even an option if you aren't Mitt Romney.

AARP know this - that's the same group that boo'd Paul Ryan off the stage just a few months ago. Do you folks in Washington think we are going to stay quiet now? God help you if you believe that.

To hear this damned message about a Machiavellian deal being blurped out by a bunch of smarmy wonks is an insult to all Democratic voters. It's even an insult to all Republican seniors because they are just as poor as anyone else! Red states are poor states, so this is a stupid deal for Boehner as well.

In fact, I keep trying to calm myself down with the idea that this trial balloon is floating in order to turn seniors against Boehner, but I'm not sure. We've seen Obama try to make friends with Boehner before,to win over the Republicans in an almost cringeworthy way, like casting pearls before swine. Jon Stewart told him "they will never be your friends, so stop trying so hard." And yet, President Obama is idealistic enough to think he can still do it.

But at what cost, Mr. President? How many times are you going to alienate the base and give the Republicans another victory they can chortle about in their all-white all-men meetings to which you will never be invited? And meanwhile, the base is up in arms over another bad deal in which we get the shaft and learn to like it.

No more. No more. No more. NO MORE.

This thing is no better than the Ryan plan to throw the working poor under the bus to protect the tax base of the young.

You know - it's like the Ayn Rand thing - Atlas Shrugged - Atlas didn't care - Atlas went home and had a martini and forgot all about the old lady in the checkout line and the man working the jackhammer and the nurse at the hospital and the guy washing dishes in the restaurant. Obama loves to tell these All-American stories on the campaign trail, so why not remember them while dealing with Boehner?

Voters rejected Ryan and his Randian ideas on November 6. If Washington has forgotten that, the voters are going to remind them soon big time, to the point that you'll never forget it again! I promise you. No more. No more.

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