Will the Reign of Witches end January 1st?
Will the Reign of Witches end January 1st?
(hat tip to Maggie Mahar at Health Beat blog)
A little patience,” Jefferson wrote, “and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolved, and the people recovering their true sight, restoring their government to its true principles. It is true, that in the meantime, we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war, and long oppressions of enormous public debt. … If the game runs sometimes against us at home, we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost. For this is a game where principles are the stake.
Thomas Jefferson in writing to John Taylor after discussing Mr. Martin’s patent.
Jefferson complains of President Adams, the Federalists, and the Sedition Act which was used to quiet dissent and criticism. Our present situation allows a Republican minority led by their leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to hold the nation hostage to the terror of cuts in domestic programs and defense in January after failing to compromise with the President on tax increases and spending cuts. In answer to the obstructionists, what if the second term President Barack Obama let the cards fall where they may and the cuts happen? Peter Orszag suggests it may not be so terrible to allow the nation to temporarily drive off the fiscal cliff to break the backs of the Republican party whose only weapon is to hold hostage the nation’s economy. Perhaps the newly elected president could have a plan to bring to an end the obstructionism of the Republicans whose sole goal was to keep Obama from being re-elected.
Jonathan Chait suggests there may be such a plan to end the reign of witches. November 7th
Obama does have a plan to break the legislative impasse and settle the long-term struggle over the scope of government. It does not rest on the GOP’s coming to its senses and thinking of the national good. The plan is the very opposite of naïve. And he can put it into effect even more quickly than Romney could enact his own plan. Here is how it will happen. On the morning of November 7, a reelected President Obama will do … nothing. For the next 53 days, nothing. And then, on January 1, 2013, we will all awake to a different, substantially more liberal country. The Bush tax cuts will have disappeared, restoring Clinton-era tax rates and flooding government coffers with revenue to fund its current operations for years to come. The military will be facing dire budget cuts that shake the military-industrial complex to its core. It will be a real-world approximation of the old liberal bumper-sticker fantasy in which schools have all the money they require and the Pentagon needs to hold a bake sale.
Allow the program cuts to take place, the tax breaks to end, and place the Republicans in their own predicament. He could then go back and restore the middle lower income tax breaks and domestic program funding. What Republican will deny a tax cut to its primary constituency and the restoration of funds to the third rail of Social Security and Medicare? Medicaid the program of choice for most of the middle income in going into Nursing Home care would not be far behind. Having opposed any compromise over the last two years with the objective of denying President Obama the presidency in 2012, the Republicans may have spent their powder in opposition and also in flexibility to compromise and in turn becoming a hostage to their own divisiveness. Lobbyists and executives are already pushing the Republicans to seek an agreement on tax increases and spending cuts. McCain and Lindsay have signed a letter calling for a bipartisan agreement to head off cuts to the military and defense contractors. Twixt and between . . .
Chait posits there is not an immediate need for a bipartisan agreement to head off the Thelma and Louise driving off the deficit precipice action of the US. With the resulting increase in taxes, revenues will swell and eventually lead to a deficit reduction allowing it to decrease to 1% of the economy and stabilize through 2022. All Obama has to do is wait and restore the programs he wishes after January 1st 2013. Of course, this begs another question.
Former 2008 Democrat transition lead John Podesta “does not envision Obama playing chicken with the Republicans even though the President comes off an election victory and holds the Republicans in a tight space.” Question for the Victor; How Far Do You Push?
I guess my question is, which Obama will emerge? One who has learned bipartisanship with this crop of Republicans will not work or the Obama who will go down in history as one of the weakest presidents ever who appeases the Republicans with cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to gain tax increases. During his campaigning, not much was heard on the domestic issues from the incumbent President until late in the campaign leaving a gap in what his positions truly were with regard to immigration, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. creating tension amongst his followers.
Mr. Obama seemed to address this tension in the closing speeches of his campaign. ‘I want to see more cooperation in Washington,’ he said in Mentor, Ohio. ‘But if the price of peace in Washington means slashing student aid, reversing his health care program or cutting people from Medicaid’ he added, ‘that’s not a price I’ll pay.’
The next 53 days will tell us which President has taken office in the second term.
The Sequestration only impacts militarists Keynesian stimulus which is in every way better spend on infrastructure than perperual war profits.
Boehner, Cantor and Ryan crafted the sequestrations and they deserve to get them.
Sequestration cuts in DoD are not near the reductions seen from 1992 through 2000.
Currently, the US spends as much of not more in inflation adjusted dollars, than during the highest budgets of the cold war, with Vietnam bombing going full out.
That is DoD spending is equal to SS retirement and disability outlays.
It is over 5% of GDP while the average in the EZ is 1.5%.
DoD accumulates 20% of US government outlays.
Sequestration is $500B over a 10 year plan to spend $7800B, 6.4% cuts. Not draconian, except the DoD needs double digit inflation to keep the inept weapons makers profitting.
The larger DoD cuts of $1000B on the $7800B is still far less than the cold war peace dividend. Still 12.8% is not draconian given the nature of the world with no industrial age threats.
Today there is no Red Army to worry on.
President Eisenhower, A Chance for Peace, 1953
And so it has come to pass that the Soviet Union itself has shared and suffered the very fears it has fostered in the rest of the world.
This has been the way of life forged by 8 years of fear and force.
What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?
The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.
The worst is atomic war.
The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.
We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.
Yeah, but Orszag also said
that even though Social Security is not a big driver of the debt (it is no driver at all. it has nothing to do with the debt.) it ought to be cut anyway. as a sign of good faith?
Once again Orszag is pushing the Orszag-Diamond SS plan. If you read his Bloomberg article, it is in there.
There are times when your opponent puts you in a spot, where your best course is to get what you can. The Tea Party Reps in Congress have apparently done that by refusing to raise the debt ceiling to allow already authorized expenditures to be made. There are legal arguments that the President could make those expenditures, anyway. But let’s assume that he cannot.
One response in such a situation is not to take what you can, but to take a loss while inflicting a loss on your opponent, as well. This can be best if you get your opponent to back down, or if the game is repeated, so that he backs down next time.
Failure to raise the debt ceiling is irresponsible. So this looks like a time when it could work for the
President to stand his ground and insist that the Congress raise the debt ceiling. Even if they do not and we get a bad outcome for a time, the future might be better. People would realize how bad it is not to raise the debt ceiling, and Congressional Reps would look bad.
However, I do not think that the President will stand his ground. For one thing, he has indicated that he will not. For another, he has already put social programs on the bargaining table, when he did not have to. For another, his background is one of bringing people together. That was true when he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, and it was true when he was a community organizer. If it has not been true during his first term as president, it is not for not trying. He will still try to make a bargain.
It goes beyond the military budget which is 50% of the reduction as decided by Congress. This comes on top of the reductions already planned for Defense spending. Here is a list of sequester targets. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/stareport.pdf
While SS is not on the list and is exempt, I have no doubt it will be dragged into the melee as it is one of the programs the Repubs have targeted along with Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is on the list for $54 billion. If we get the wrong president who blinks, you can bet he may offer up Social Security as leverage to balance the budget in return for tax increases. If we get the President who holds the course he has crafted by proposing sequestering; he will break the back of the Republican resistance rather than reinforcing it by giving in.
“Woodward’s reporting shows clearly that defense sequestration was an idea that came out of Obama’s White House. But the intention was to force Republicans to negotiate, not to actually put the cuts into effect.
Woodward summarizes the thoughts of the Obama team: ‘There would be no chance the Republicans would want to pull the trigger and allow the sequester to force massive cuts to Defense.’ Democrats, meanwhile, didn’t want to see their favorite domestic programs cut.
As the negotiations proceeded, Republicans seemed to think the same thing.
“Boehner told the House Republican leadership and other key members not to worry about the sequester … ‘Guys, this would be devastating to Defense,’ he said. ‘This would be devastating, from their perspective, on their domestic priorities. This is never going to happen,’” Woodward wrote. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/24/barack-obama/obama-says-congress-owns-sequestration-cuts/
Having been reelected, Obama is in the pefect position to go either way. If he offers up SS, every Republican president after him will propose cuts to it also as a Democrat President did it first.
There is much to fear and much to gain.
I agree with your analysis of the current situation. Obama has much to gain for the nation if he holds fast and forces the Republicans to move with him and not cut domestic programs.
I hope you are wrong and we now have a President who has learned from his attempts at negotiation with John Boehner for a bipatisan solution to increases and cuts in taxes and spending. I do believe he has crafted this position the Republicans find themselves in today to force the issue.
We shall see what president has took office. He has nothing to lose in either case as a second term president.
” you can bet he may offer up Social Security as leverage to balance the budget in return for tax increases”
one again, say it with me, Social Security has not a damn thing to do with balancing the budget.
it is paid for by the workers themselves. and they can always afford to pay for it. it is their own money,protected from inflation and earning interest through the magic of pay as you go.
the “bargain” is that tax increases “hurt” the rich, and Social Security cuts “hurt” the poor.
SS doesn’t cost the rich a dime, but if they are going to get hurt, they want someone else to get hurt. that’s the way they think.
Take your blinders off please.
It does not matter to the pols whether it is paid for by payroll wage earners and others, paid for out to 2033, and even if it went to zero dollars in the TF it still would be viable at 78% of future benefits. All of your firmly based facts fall on deaf ears amongst those in the constituency as they believe those pols who say SS is a problem and ignore (fr the most part) the facts.
Attempting to brow-beat me into submission about this possibility does you no good and it does make sense to prepare for such a possibility it may be offered up.
Your tree has fell in a forest where few have heard it.
i didn’t realize i was browbeating you. i thought you had made an unfortunate choice of words that i would attempt to clarify in case there is anyone watching who can profit by understanding the truth.
i am not sure what purpose i would serve by shutting up and letting people sell out Social Security because “it’s inevitable, so we should relax and enjoy it.”
so, one more time
Social Security has not a damn thing to do with the budget. Nothing.
It is the only way most workers have to guarantee they will be able to afford groceries when they are too old to work: They pay for it themselves, in advance, protected by, but not paid by, the government through pay as you go financing.
Understand that and you can stop the lies and stupid games politicians play with your lives.
Thank you for reminding me of Eisenhower. I remember him as a child and not old enough to understand his warnings. A sound SOLILOQUY