Extreme Liberal's Blog

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What “Spending” Is!

Republicans are masters at branding issues with labels, de-personalizing them, repeating them over and over and thus changing the paradigm that they exist within. Years ago, they turned the word “liberal” into a four letter word. They rebranded it and made it stick, liberals fled from the word and embraced “progressive” as the new label. Well, the right are working hard at rebranding that word too…see Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for examples.  I’ve been asked by friends and colleagues why I named this blog Extreme Liberal’s Blog. The reason is that I am proud to be liberal. I’ve never run from the word, I’ve embraced it even tighter.

The media follows right along with the right’s well-coordinated, lock-step messaging for a couple of reasons. The first is…it’s just easier that way. When Republicans trot out the new “phrase of the day”, by the afternoon, the anchors and columnists are already repeating their message, nearly word for word. Shit, the Republicans write their damn scripts for them. The second reason is that the owners and bosses of all the talking heads on our TV’s and writers from the Newspapers and websites, well, they are the richest of the rich in this country and clearly benefit from Republican policies. That isn’t news to anyone, is it?

The latest word that Republicans are attempting to redefine is “spending”. Notice how they say it in almost every sentence, with disdain, and hardly ever talk about specifics. The goal clearly is not to be specific, but rather to create a boogeyman called (dramatic music) “SPENDING!” You may have noticed over the last few weeks that whenever a Republican was asked about details of spending cuts, they immediately went into the standard talking point about how the American people voted them in last November to cut spending. They use a doomsday tone, demonizing that big bad “spending” monster that is eating up America. The platitudes were just unbelievable, and the repetition constant and in lock-step, word by fucking word. Democrats have been trying to push back against both the Republicans and the media, but are being drowned out for the most part. When you have cable news repeating the same Republican manufactured memes on the hour, and trotting out any number of right-wing talking heads and the “angry, pants-on-fire” talking heads who are supposedly left, how in the hell can the truth cut through the lies in that situation? The deck is stacked against the truth and the media are enablers.

What always comes to my mind whenever the right gets all sanctimonious about the deficit is, why didn’t you get your panties in a bunch over giving trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the richest 5 percent in our country? In fact, you were the ones giving wonderful speeches about how the wealthy are the job creators and make the economy grow and if we just give them trillions of dollars, they will rain down upon us. Oh let it rain! We all know how that worked out. And where was the outcry about deficits then?

That’s why I am encouraged that the campaign is getting in gear, it gives David Plouffe and the gang a reason to push back, run ads and begin to inject some reality into the bizarre alternate reality that the media and Republicans have created. I smell Karl Fucking Rove all over this trend. And unfortunately, a lot of Democratic politicians are such wimps that they just go along with it. I remember seeing a Democratic politician calling his own party, the “Democrat” party. That’s when I knew the Republican propaganda machine had won that one too.

And I agree with Bob Cesca when he reminds us that family budgets are not like government budgets. Although I disagree with him about why President Obama is using that analogy, to simplify things for that ignorant masses, not because he really thinks a family budget is like a government budget.

I’ve started a list to remind us all what “spending” is. How “spending” affects the lives of real people. How “spending” isn’t just a faceless monster that we should kill, but how it affects millions of people. People who don’t have a lobbyist, or a corporate lawyer or accountant, or any power whatsoever. Please add to the list in comments if you feel the need.

Spending is senior citizens and Medicaid and Medicare.

Spending is WIC money, food for poor children. WTF!

Spending is infrastructure…fixing that road with pot holes, those bridges that are collapsing.

Spending is an education for the next generation.

Spending is health care for women, birth control, cancer screening, counseling,

Spending is assistance with getting a mortgage and realizing the “American Dream”

Spending is helping starving people around the world.

Spending is making sure we have air that we can breathe.

Spending is research on cancer, Alzheimer’s and other insidious diseases.

Spending is investing in new technologies so we can compete on a global scale.

Spending is keeping an eye on Wall Street capitalists who are out to make a profit at any cost.

Spending is that small business loan that may create jobs.

Spending is making sure that women and children are protected from abusers.

Spending is…

April 10, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Economy | | 16 Comments

Paul Ryan’s “Path to Poverty” Ripped To Shreds!

Ezra Klein is one smart dude, in case you didn’t know. In this post, after the dust has settled on the Ryan proposal, he breaks it down in a concise way. I’m pasting highlights from each point, please go read the whole thing. It will empower you with facts to beat back the bullshit flying around the internet and around the water cooler. Go Ezra Klein…

1) Ryan’s suggestion that Medicare and Medicaid can or should be held to the rate of inflation is absurd. His budget has no way of making that happen, save for draconian cuts in both (this goes far, far beyond “means-testing”)

2) The idea that conservatives believe the savings in Ryan’s plan are realistic while those in the Affordable Care Act aren’t boggles the mind. For one thing, Ryan includes the supposedly unrealistic savings from the Affordable Care Act; they can’t be realistic in Ryan’s budget but not realistic in the ACA

3) I suspect Ryan capped Medicare and Medicaid at the rate of inflation rather than at GDP+1% because when he used GDP+1%, he couldn’t get the numbers to add up without including some tax increases.

4) The budget is much more regressive than I thought it would be. In the first 10 years, it has $4 trillion in program cuts, and most of them are coming from programs that primarily serve low-income or otherwise vulnerable Americans.

5) The implication of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis isn’t just that seniors would pay more for less under Ryan’s Medicare reform but that the gap between Ryan’s plan and traditional Medicare would grow over time.

6) This is related to No. 5, but there’s a big difference between cutting costs and shifting them. Cutting medical care for the disabled doesn’t cut the cost of their care; it just means someone who isn’t the federal government has to pay it.

7) The difference between Ryan’s treatment of spending that occurs through the tax code and Ryan’s treatment of spending that occurs through programs is both instructive and disappointing. On the one hand, he’s willing to slash Medicaid to reduce the deficit. On the other hand, when he slashes the deduction for employer-provided health-care insurance, he’s only willing to use it to lower tax rates. He could’ve slashed regressive tax expenditures to pay down the deficit and preserved Pell Grants.

8) The Heritage Foundation has done itself some serious damage.

Go read the whole thing and I recommend going back a few days and reading Ezra’s other posts on this subject.

It’s Friday, woooo hooooo. Have a great day!

Updated with link! Doh!

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Politics, Republican Party | 7 Comments

The Dust Has Settled – Paul Ryan’s Budget Makes The Republican Party Full “Anti-Senior”!

In the weeks and months leading up to the unveiling of Paul Ryan’s “Path To Prosperity Path To Poverty”, many pundits and talking heads weren’t so sure that the Republican leadership would embrace it. They knew that what he was proposing could really backfire on them. The mere suggestion of going after senior citizens health care was forbidden. In fact, I seem to remember back to the health care debate when the Republicans all of a sudden were defending Medicare when it suited their purposes, after a long history of trying to kill it. Well now they have gone and done it, they decided that they don’t need the senior vote to win in 2012. People have been asking me why I’ve had a “perma-grin” since Paul Ryan announced his plan. :) Steve Benen has the details on why I’m smiling so much…

But before the right gets too excited, it’s worth remembering that the Republicans’ plan isn’t popular. Election analyst Charlie Cook reports today that he’s been talking to GOP “pollsters, strategists and veteran campaign professionals,” and he’s heard “sounds of concern,” in part because their party is pursuing an agenda Americans don’t actually like.

[T]hese party insiders believe that taking on entitlements, specifically Medicare, could jeopardize the party’s hold on the House, its strong chances of taking the Senate and the stronghold that the party has been established with older white voters — not coincidentally, Medicare recipients. [...]

It is much too early to suggest that the Republican majority in the House is in danger, but the sequence of events that Democrats would need to have a legitimate chance are so far looking increasingly plausible.

House Dems need to gain 25 seats next year to reclaim a majority, and they figure the easiest way to get from here to there is to watch Republicans overreach, then target the vulnerable incumbents, especially freshmen, who go along.

Rut Roh! Maybe they should of thought it through just a little bit more. By announcing this plan and with the leadership standing behind it, the Republicans have gone “anti-senior” and provided us with a perfect example of why they can’t be trusted with anything. 2012 is looking pretty sweet, if you ask me. Dean Baker at TPM delves into this a little with this post, go read it. Here is a snippet…(emphasis mine)

The reason why this is so useful is that there is nothing in the Ryan plan that has not been circulated in policy circles for decades. Almost everything in the plan has been tried and failed. The plan ignores obvious economic realities, such as the bubble-induced recession that has left 25 million people unemployed or underemployed. It doesn’t lay a glove on the rich and powerful, while threatening to undermine the limited economic security enjoyed by tens of millions of middle class families.

Yet many pundits will applaud the plan as brave, innovative and creative. In making these pronouncements these pundits will immediately reveal themselves as worthless hacks who either lack the ability or desire to do their own thinking. Their endorsement of the Ryan plan will be like a scarlet letter permanently marking them as someone who has no place in a serious policy discussion. For this reason we owe Mr. Ryan a real debt of gratitude.

Got that, those pundits applauding Paul Ryan as brave and bold in his screwing over seniors, they are hacks. They are carrying water for their corporate overlords. You have to wonder if they even consulted with any economists, based on the scoring from the CBO and this from Paul Krugman, who seems almost gleeful in ripping this apart….he probably has a “perma-grin” too. (emphasis mine)

Then there’s the Medicare business. According to the CBO analysis, a typical senior would end up spending more than twice as much of his or her own income on health care as under current law. As Dean Baker points out, this means that seniors would end up paying most of their income for health care. Again, right.

But in a way, the worst part isn’t the Medicare plan: it’s the fact — which so far has not penetrated the debate — that the biggest source of supposed savings in the plan isn’t actually health care, it’s an assumption that federal spending on everything except health and Social Security can somehow be squeezed, as a percent of GDP, to a small fraction of current levels. Here’s the table, from Ryan’s own report:

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Notice the marked area at the bottom: Ryan is assuming that everything aside from health and SS can be squeezed from 12 percent of GDP now to 3 1/2 percent of GDP. That’s bigger than the assumed cut in health care spending relative to baseline; it accounts for all of the projected deficit reduction, since the alleged health savings are all used to finance tax cuts. And how is this supposed to be accomplished? Not explained.

This isn’t a serious proposal; it’s a strange combination of cruelty and insanely wishful thinking.

That was an extended clip from Paul Krugman’s piece, go read the whole thing and bookmark his blog. Although he calls out the President from time to time, sometimes the President needs to be called out. But at least Krugman, like Rachel Maddow, doesn’t filter everything through some strange hatred for our President.

This major blunder by the Republican Party makes the 2012 elections look so much nicer. Clear lines have been drawn in the sand and I’m afraid they can’t put the genie back in the bottle. It’s going to be a fun year and a half. Strap yourselves in, we’re going for a ride. Weeeeeeeeeeee!

April 6, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Economy, Republican Party | 4 Comments

The Republican Budget Plan Will INCREASE The Debt According To The Non-partisan CBO!

For all their hyperbole about how imperative it is that we cut spending, the Republicans big plan actually increases the debt AND makes health care much more expensive for seniors. WTF! Talking Points Memo has the story…

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s initial analysis of the House GOP budget released today by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is filled with nuggets of bad news for Republicans.

In addition to acknowledging that seniors, disabled and elderly people would be hit with much higher out-of-pocket health care costs, the CBO finds that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.

I think the President should throw it back in their faces and say, “nice try….what else you got, punks?” And the Republicans have been accusing the Obama administration of using smoke and mirrors as they use over the top rhetoric about cutting spending and bringing down the debt while trying to slip us a proposal that actually raises the debt. Once again, WTF? More from TPM…

In other words, the spending cuts Republicans would realize in the first 10 years would be outpaced by deficit increasing tax-cuts, which Ryan also proposes. After that, debt projections under the plan improve decade-by-decade relative to current law. That’s because 2022 would mark the beginning of the Medicare privatization plan. That’s when, CBO finds, “most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”

What they are trying to do, once again, is to take money from elderly, women, children, students…NPR funding etc. AND GIVE IT TO WEALTHY PEOPLE IN THE FORM OF TAX BREAKS! Excuse the language, but how many fucking times are they going to pull that shit and get away with it. How can so many Americans be so goddamn stupid and keep electing these greedy puppets of the corporate class and Wall Street. The fucking media just goes along with it too, since most of them benefit from Republican policies as well as the owners of all these media outlets. At some point, the rich people are going to regret squashing the working class people when none of us can afford to buy their fucking products.

April 6, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Economy, Politics | 3 Comments

President Obama REJECTS The Republican Plan To Screw Everyone!

From TPM…

The White House rejected Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “Path to Prosperity” budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 Tuesday, arguing that it unfairly guarantees the prosperity of wealthy millionaires while overburdening seniors and the poor.

[...]

“The President believes that dramatically reducing America’s long-term deficit is essential to growing our economy and winning the future,” Carney said in a statement. “Any plan to reduce our deficit must reflect the American values of fairness and shared sacrifice. Congressman Ryan’s plan fails this test.”

Ryan’s plan cuts taxes for millionaires and special interests, Carney said, while placing a greater burden on seniors who depend on Medicare or live in nursing homes, families struggling with a child who has serious disabilities, workers who have lost their health care coverage, and students and their families who rely on Pell grants.

April 5, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Politics, President Barack Obama | 5 Comments

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