A damning judgment of Boehner’s recent budget

Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote:

House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.

The plan is, thus, tantamount to a form of “class warfare.” If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.

This may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. The mathematics are inexorable.

And:

In short, the Boehner plan would force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor. It would do so even as it shielded all tax breaks, including the many lucrative tax breaks for the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations.

President Obama has said that, while we must reduce looming deficits, we must take a balanced approach. The Boehner proposal badly fails this test of basic decency. The President should veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Congress should find a fairer, more decent way to avoid a default.

Just to remind ourselves of our current situation, the current and prospective Federal debt has not produced a fiscal crisis, Social Security is not in trouble, the United States has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios of all the OECD countries and an austerity budget can trigger a severe economic contraction during a time of high-unemployment. This whole ‘debate’ is class war in its simplest and vilest form. It is a war that the rich are winning, as Warren Buffet pointed out.

The Yves Smith Real News interview

This is her gloss on Barack Obama’s’ “Nixon goes to China’ moment.”

About Obama’s treachery?

Is it a superficial product of Obama’s pragmatism and the situation he confronts? Or does his treachery originate from the bottom of his soul?

The audacious one

In the quoted passage, Glenn Greenwald suggests that Barack Obama is rotten to the core, an opportunist and a committed elitist who cares not at all about the “lesser people”:

Obama knows full well that he can slash Medicare, Medicaid and even Social Security — just like he could sign an extension of Bush tax cuts, escalate multiple wars, and embrace the Bush/Cheney Terrorism template recently known in Democratic circles as “shredding the Constitution”—and have most Democrats and progressives continue to support him anyway. Unconditional support ensures political impotence, and rightly so. He’s attending to the constituencies that matter: mostly, Wall Street tycoons who funded his 2008 campaign and whom he hopes will fund his re-election bid, and independents whose support is in question. And he’s doing that both because it’s in his perceived interest and because, to the extent he believes in anything, those are the constituencies with which he feels most comfortable.

George Carlin — They’re coming for Social Security (NSFW)

Let us thank Glenn Greenwald for bringing this gem to the attention of his readers.

Reactionary politics and the deficit

Chad Stone, the chief economist for The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, informs us that “…the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.”

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

This debt projection is instructive, although, as Kathy Ruffing and James R. Horney, also members of The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, point out, “Some lawmakers, pundits, and others continue to say that President George W. Bush’s policies did not drive the projected federal deficits of the coming decade — that, instead, it was the policies of President Obama and Congress in 2009 and 2010. But, the fact remains: the economic downturn, President Bush’s tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years ….” The debt projection may be instructive, but only those willing to evaluate the facts of the matter and then soundly draw conclusions from their evaluations will learn something pertinent about America’s economic predicament.

I guess the Washington elite along with their finance capital paymasters are not among those individuals capable of learning anything about the economy they regulate.

The Republican Party hates poor and old folk

The Washington Post reports that:

The top Senate Republican sought Thursday to clarify his party’s stance on Medicare heading into high-stakes talks with the White House, telling President Obama he wants “significant” changes to the program in exchange for lifting the legal limit on government borrowing.

After the entire Senate Republican caucus met with Obama at the White House, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said he would not insist on a controversial House GOP plan that would partly privatize the popular health program for the elderly. But with Medicare and Medicaid projected to be the major drivers of future borrowing, he said tighter eligibility requirements and reduced benefits must be part of any deal.

So, McConnell threatens to wreck the economy by shutting down the Federal Government if Obama and the Congressional Democrats in his party refuse to put the screws to the aged and infirm in the United States. Obama and the Democrats cannot avoid resolving this dilemma simply because they too are strongly committed to a low-tax economy and government and to the American empire as we have known it.

There is a lot of hypocrisy in the Republican’s current position on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as Paul Krugman argues here:

This has to be one of the funniest political stories of recent weeks: On Tuesday, 42 freshmen Republican members of Congress sent a letter urging President Obama to stop Democrats from engaging in “Mediscare” tactics — that is, to stop saying that the Republican budget plan released early last month, which would end Medicare as we know it, is a plan to end Medicare as we know it.

Now, you may recall that the people who signed that letter got their current jobs largely by engaging in “Mediscare” tactics of their own. And bear in mind that what Democrats are saying now is entirely true, while what Republicans were saying last year was completely false. Death panels!

Well, it’s time, said the signatories, to “wipe the slate clean.” How very convenient — and how very pathetic.

Anyway, the truth is that older Americans really should fear Republican budget ideas — and not just because of that plan to dismantle Medicare. Given the realities of the federal budget, a party insisting that tax increases of any kind are off the table — as John Boehner, the speaker of the House, says they are — is, necessarily, a party demanding savage cuts in programs that serve older Americans.

“This is,” as Jon Walker asserted, “chutzpah in its purest form.” It is unfortunate that the Republicans will get away with this gambit if the Democratic Party fails to take a sensible alternative to the American people, thereby forcing the Republicans to defend their reversal on Medicare and their attack on the elderly.