Krugman, The Critics and Reality

I’ve been frustrated since the beginning of President Obama’s election by the amount of carping from the left. I know Democrats went through a rough primary and there were a lot of open wounds from it on all sides. I think it was amazing that the Obama campaign pulled together enough votes to actually win, although I will admit that the Republicans didn’t do themselves any favors by choosing Sarah Palin as the VP. Doh! But even before the President was inaugurated, you had people beginning the assault from both the left and the right. Those “bitter” Hillary supporters who reluctantly voted for him, who never really knew much about him or his policies or cared to find out, began projecting their own hopes and pet issues onto him as if he had embraced them all along.

The perfect example of this is the Afghanistan War, which candidate Obama talked about expanding and how he was going to finish the job that Bush abandoned with his stupid ass venture into Iraq. I heard it, clearly. I didn’t necessarily agree with him, but understood that at least he was going after the people who had a connection to the attacks of 9/11. I don’t know how many times I had to remind people of that in comment sections of blogs or in face to face discussions. These people didn’t have a clue what he actually said in the campaign, but yet they got up on their little soap boxes and proclaimed that Obama went back on his word. Ah, well, he didn’t. You just weren’t paying attention, now were you?

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It’s The Jobs, Stupid!

I love Eugene Robinson, even though he frequently enables the idiots on “Morning Meme Generator with Joe” and lets things go that should be challenged. But at least he is able to get back on that show to counter some of the crap. I liked his recent post a lot. From Eugene’s Washington Post column…(emphasis mine)

Listening to the debate in Washington, you’d think the nation was absorbed by the compelling saga of deficit reduction. You’d get the impression that in households across America, parents put their children to bed and then stay up half the night sifting through piles of think-tank reports on the kitchen table, trying to calculate whether there will be enough in the Social Security trust fund to pay benefits beyond 2037.


But the Post poll found this argument untethered to reality. A definitive 78 percent of respondents said they oppose cuts in federal spending on Medicare. An almost equally impressive 69 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicaid. Social Security, the most sacred of bovines, isn’t even on the table — but Republicans and the debt-obsessed commentariat are trying to goad Obama into taking the first whack.

The wise men and women of Washington complain that the American people are sending a contradictory message — that, essentially, they’re acting like spoiled brats who want luxuries they can’t afford. But I think the people are speaking quite clearly and sensibly, and I think politicians had better start listening.

We want an America that takes care of senior citizens in their retirement. We want an America that ensures medical care for the elderly and the poor. We may not yet know how to guarantee these benefits decades from now, but we know precisely where to start: In both surveys, 72 percent of respondents favored raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year. Both polls showed some doubt about deep cuts in military spending, but suggested that after the wealthy are asked to contribute their fair share, the defense budget would be the next place to look.

Obama is being slammed by the deficit hawks for not providing “leadership” on the debt. But it turns out that Obama’s position is much closer to that of the American people. A president’s job is not to lead us off a cliff.

It’s kind of funny, in a sad way, that the rest of the media doesn’t seem to be able to make the connection between the President’s position and the American people’s, which are in line with each other. Instead, they have absorbed the Republican meme that “it’s the deficit, stupid”, even though there is no evidence in any polls that the American people are more concerned about deficits than jobs. We need more stimulus, but of course with the Republicans controlling the congress, we all know that will never happen. So instead, we are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I blame the idiots in the Professional Left for encouraging people to stay home in 2010. It shows that they clearly do not care for real people, are not progressive in any way and should be run out on a rail…except they probably are against high speed rail, because you know, the President supports it.

Running From Paul Ryan – Rats Fleeing A Sinking Ship!

I’m just loving the direction that the Republican Party has decided to pursue by hitching their wagon to Paul Ryan and his libertarian ideas. It almost makes me want to create a Jane Hamsher sock puppet to go on their websites and encourage them to “keep it up, you’re doing fine”. I would never do that, who has time, but it’s fun to think about.

I’ve said it before that I never expected that the Republican leadership would get behind Ryan’s plan, with it’s blatant assault on senior citizens who VOTE! But apparently their stupidity knows no bounds. The response at town hall meetings since the announcement of the plan shows that it is backfiring on them big time. They have a lot of explaining to do. From the Washington Post…

Democrats, eager to win back the seniors and independents who abandoned the party in last year’s midterm elections, have declared the vote a “moment of truth” and this week launched a media campaign accusing GOP House members of dismantling Medicare and endangering retirees.

The assault has taken some Republicans by surprise, prompting concerns that the party is ceding ground in a policy debate that GOP strategists already viewed as perilous.

I have a feeling that Paul Ryan is going to be a lonely guy pretty soon, he started a ball rolling down hill that is going to roll right over his party and bring Democratic rule back to the House of Representatives. More from The Washington post…

A Washington Post/ABC News poll published this week found that two-thirds of Americans want Medicare to remain as is. That includes 62 percent of independents and nearly eight in 10 people 65 and older — making for an uphill climb for House Republicans trying to reassure constituents.

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Bold And Brave, My Ass – Paul Ryan’s Plan Is Neither, According To POTUS! (Updated)

President Obama has been out selling his budget ideas this week. He is reaffirming his principles and goals for the country under his leadership. For those of us who are mature politicos, who are realistic with our expectations, who take ALL variables into consideration when judging the President, aren’t surprised at what he has been doing this week. He is out kicking some ass, educating people and reaffirming the liberal ideas that our country has embraced for generations. You know, taking care of our fellow citizens and not leaving them in the cold to fend for themselves, like so many on the right seem to want. At the Facebook town hall meeting yesterday, President Obama forcefully defended his plan and laid waste to Paul Ryan’s. How soon till the rats in the Republican Party flee the sinking HMS Paul Ryan ship? From the New York Times story on the event…

“The Republican budget that was put forward I would say is fairly radical,” Mr. Obama said. “And I wouldn’t call it particularly courageous.” He added: “I do think Mr. Ryan is sincere. I think he’s a patriot. I think he wants to solve a real problem, which is our long-term deficit. But I think that what he and the other Republicans in the House of Representatives also want to do is change our social compact in a pretty fundamental way.”

“Nothing is easier,” Mr. Obama said, “than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor, or people who are powerless and don’t have lobbyists or don’t have clout.”


He joked to the billionaire Facebook founder that wealthy Americans — “people like me and, frankly, you, Mark” — should pay higher taxes to reduce deficits. But Republicans, he said, would further reduce taxes for rich taxpayers and corporations and cut deeply from clean energy, education and transportation programs “to make his numbers work.”

“I guess you could call that bold. I would call it short-sighted,” Mr. Obama said, provoking another burst of applause.

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Hey Seniors, Republicans Hate You And Want Your Money!

I used to use a mnemonic device to keep track of the difference between Medicaid and Medicare and it went like this: Medicare has the word care in it, so my thought process was that Republicans only “care” about seniors, not poor people. Of course, now I can’t use that anymore because the don’t care about seniors anymore either. From Think Progress…

The centerpiece of the House Republican’s plan is a proposal that repeals traditional Medicare and replaces it with a health insurance voucher that loses its value over time. Because the value of the Republican’s privatized Medicare replacement does not keep up with the cost of health care, their plan will gradually eliminate Medicare because its increasingly worthless vouchers will eventually only cover a very tiny fraction of the cost of a health insurance plan.

Seniors will feel the effect of the GOP’s draconian plan long before it succeeds in phasing out Medicare. According to the CBO, total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old “would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the GOP plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare” in the very first year that the GOP plan goes into effect:

Republicans React To Speech By Telling Their Mommies “He Was Mean To Me!”

I wonder if the Republicans actually think that complaining about the President being mean and saying things they don’t like, makes them look tough? It may be the new “Blubbering Boehner” strategy, cry like a freakin baby and hope that people feel sympathy for you and give you a pity vote. When the tweets started flying yesterday about the reaction to the speech from Paul Ryan and others, my smile just kept getting bigger and bigger. I was smiling for a lot of reasons yesterday while the Republicans were running to their mommies.

I was smiling because I knew that the President was going to knock the shit out of Paul Ryan’s plan. In the days leading up to the speech, many in the Professional Left were making up all sorts of shit based on their insecurities and lack of maturity. They always underestimate the President in his progressiveness and ability to deliver a message. And then when he rises to the occasion and gives a major speech, many of them fall all over themselves like Rachel Maddow last night. She’s done it on several occasions using words like, “where has he been?” and other silly things like that. He’s been just a little bit busy in his day job. The unrealistic expectations people have projected onto this president have gone beyond ridiculous, they want him to be “Hand-holder-in-chief”, “Explainer-in-chief” and “Do-my-job-in-chief”…for all the people who expect him to sell everything himself, with no help from progressive pundits, politicians or bloggers. I loved it when Al Sharpton called out the whiners at the Black Agenda forum and basically said, get off your asses and do something. President Obama shouldn’t be expected to do your job for you, too.

I was also smiling because almost immediately, the reaction from the Republicans was juvenile. Now, just because Paul Ryan looks like Eddie Munster, doesn’t mean he should act like him. (I couldn’t resist the Eddie Munster reference, sorry) But this isn’t the first time that the Republicans who sure can dish out the nastiness, pettiness, birtherism bullshit, socialist crap….but when the President shares his vision for American, they take great offense to it. Mark Halperin and Joe Scarborough (yes, I watched his stupid ass) were all sorts of upset that, in the words of Rick Klein at The Note tweeted “President Obama took Paul Ryan’s plan off the table and then stomped on it for a while.“…after inviting him to sit in the front row for the speech. I guess it would have been better if Paul Ryan were holding his mommie’s hand in her living room, or something. If that is how they are going to react for the next year and a half of the election, man, they better just get some counseling. I know there are going to be some more asswhoopin’s coming down the road. I’ll say it again, don’t underestimate this President.

Steve Benen, the best blogger there is, of course nails this juvenile response to the wall with big huge nails…

But those expectations notwithstanding, I’d hoped the House majority party would come up with a response slightly less ridiculous than this.

[House Republicans’] responses thus edged beyond substance into the realm of personal grievance. Indeed, they implied that the speech may have poisoned the well so much that working together where common ground exists might now be impossible. […]

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) attacked the partisan bent of the speech, then characterized it as “a political broadside from our campaigner in chief.” […]

After the press conference he suggested Social Security might not be doable anymore. “I was hoping Social Security and some budget controls, and I didn’t even hear that,” he said. “I was naively optimistic that the President was going to give us a sincere olive branch.”

Ah yes, the anticipated “olive branch.” This from the right-wing lawmaker who drew up a budget plan that “deliberately constructed to be as offensive to Democrats as it’s possible to be,” and didn’t even bother with insincere “nods in the direction of bipartisanship.”

The president presented a proposal that was entirely mainstream, and would have been considered palatable to the Republican Party before it descended deep into the fever swamp. Yesterday, however, this debt-reduction plan apparently hurt the GOP’s feelings.

I have to say that the Republicans are ruining the tough-guy image that there messaging people have spent decades building. Democrats were painted as the wimps who couldn’t take a punch and quivered when confronted. The “Blubbering Boehner” strategy is an interesting approach to politics, I have to say. But out in the middle of the country, I’m not so sure it is going to play very well. But please, don’t tell the Republicans.

Negotiating Within Reality, Instead Of Fantasyland

I just read a most excellent post over at Booman Tribune, which is one of the links on my toolbar…he is consistently sane, which is a good thing in the blogotubes. In this post, Booman speaks to the subject of many on the left who never seem to take any larger context into consideration when starting their “whine-fest”. I hate to always go back to the health care debate, but it is perfect to illustrate the immaturity of some lefty bloggers. Single payer hasn’t been talked about by any serious politician since the Clinton’s tried to pass health care. That process basically killed the idea, you have to give the GOP credit for their messaging on that one. They put a stake in single payer as far as public opinion goes a long time ago. Then why would some on the left use that as a starting point, a starting point that isn’t even on the fucking map…it’s like off screen completely. And to criticize the President for not starting there as a negotiator is pretty stupid, considering it has never been a part of any serious politicians plan. Booman does an excellent job at getting to the heart of the matter…(emphasis mine)(sorry Booman, I’m pasting the whole thing because it’s so freakin good)

There is logic in advocating for policies that don’t have any realistic chance of being enacted in the short-term. It’s never wrong to ask politicians to the do the right thing, whether it is to free the slaves, give women the vote, end the war in Vietnam, or to close the prison in Guantanamo. On the other hand, there is something wrong with criticizing a politician for failing to do something he or she simply couldn’t do. Which brings me to Matt Yglesias’s dubious argument that not only can the deficit be safely ignored, and that we can use presently low interest rates as a predictor of future interest rates (how’d that work out in Greece or Ireland?), but that the president would find more stimulus spending to be “very much an option for the United States of America. It’s a good option, an appealing option, an option that will increase our wealth over the long term.”But Yglesias is totally, ridiculously wrong about this. I don’t know how he can sit there in Washington DC watching the House Republicans spew their nonsense and think there is any chance in hell that the president can get appropriations to borrow money “to put people to work on useful infrastructure projects.”

Now, the president could make an argument for why borrowing money while its still cheap is a good way to invest for the future and lower unemployment. But he can’t actually get the money out of Congress. This is the kind of cold reality that Glenn Greenwald so easily dismisses with his theories that constrained politicians are always happily constrained.

The president isn’t powerless, and he can use his bully pulpit to shift public opinion over time. But there is no talking to Boehner’s House when it comes to Keynesian economic theory. So, if more stimulus spending on infrastructure can’t happen, it obviously isn’t an option, good or bad.

And that’s where the disconnect happens. The president isn’t running a seminar. When he builds a decision tree, it’s filled with dead ends. A lot of liberal commentators want the president to take the time to explain to the public why all his decisions are sub-optimal. No thought is put into what happens when the president never takes ownership of his decisions, never sells his own decisions as sound, and always appears to be complaining about his impotency.

We’re not getting another stimulus bill out of this Congress. So, go ahead and keep beating the drum for a Keynesian solution to the unemployment rate if you think it will convince somebody, but it won’t convince John Boehner or Mitch McConnell, and so it isn’t going to happen.

That the president isn’t beating a dead horse is actually something that should comfort rather than concern you.

If Only The Left Had Just Waited For The Damn Speech!

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How many freakin times are people going to underestimate President Obama and assign motives and ideas to him that aren’t even close to what he thinks? I know some of them are motivated by other agendas, but many are just politically immature and have some wild expectations of what he should be doing, like holding their hands through every twist and turn, wiping the tears from their widdle eyes and being completely transparent on everything…which also means tipping your hand to the Republicans. But of course the whiners can’t think things through and really don’t take any larger context into consideration like the fact that Republicans control the House and write the bills. Unfortunately, he has to deal with them. But you sure can’t tell that to some of the haters on the left.