He was talking about “factional fever” that the “framers” referred to as a concern for majorities acting in a partisan manor. And yet, here we are.
After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and after signing off on a $675 billion Defense budget, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, Tuesday, October 16, 2016;
“The only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security1.”
More McConnell: “It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem.” The deficit, grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. “It is a bipartisan problem and a problem of the unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”
The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.
A new Treasury Department analysis on Monday revealed that corporate tax cuts had a significant impact on the deficit this year. Federal revenue rose by 0.04 percent in 2018 which is a nearly 100 percent decrease from the previous year’s 1.5 percent. In fiscal year 2018, tax receipts on corporate income fell to $205 billion from $297 billion in 2017.
Still, McConnell insisted the change had nothing to do with a lack of revenue due to the tax break or increased spending resulting from new programs since 2015. Instead he insists the deficit increase is due to entitlement and welfare programs. Now he does the old switcheroo from the yearly deficit to the national debt.
McConnell said, the debt is very “disturbing and is driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. There has been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully, at some point here, we’ll get serious about this.”
What McConnell does not tell you is 8 years out those tax decreases will go away for much of the population and many will see tax increases. McConnell and Republicans needed a way to keep the 60% of the total tax break going to the 1% of the Household Taxpayers making greater than $500,000 annually since this tax break was passed under Reconciliation rules (Democrats could not block it without 60 votes). Robert Reich has called this a Trojan Horse tax break.
Recently, Mitch McConnell has been considering his legacy. I think it would be adequate to paraphrase it as: “I saved the 2018 tax break for the 1 percenters. To hell with the rest of you.”
1. PGL pointed out the variance is barely audible on scale of the deficits. “I have skipped the chest thumbing about the economy from Mnuchin and Mulvaney to focus on the stupidity ala CNBC. Real government spending barely kept pace with inflation, which is why outlays relative to GDP fell from 20.7% to 20.3%. Real tax revenues clearly fell in absolute terms and as a percent of GDP went from 17.2% to 16.5%. I guess this is what one gets when one lets Lawrence Kudlow become a chief economic adviser. But this kind of dishonesty is well known ever since Kudlow and his ilk tried to pull this intellectual garbage in the 1980’s. Does anyone at CNBC not realize the Trump White House is playing the same games with numbers?”
I kept my post the same because it is just another ruse by McConnell to get something done for no reason what-so-ever. It is a lie by McConnell.
by run75441 (Bill H)
At least as of yesterday morning, the Democratic establishment still didn’t get it. Then again, as of late yesterday, neither did the Republican establishment. And neither did Donald Trump. [UPDATED]
CHUCK SCHUMER’S TOUGH BALANCING ACT: CNN reports on an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on:
“For Schumer, the challenges will be formidable. He’ll have to listen to the vocal and outspoken progressive wing of his caucus, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have legions of supporters. But he also has five red-state Democrats in states Trump won convincingly — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — up for re-election in 2018. And if Schumer takes his caucus too far to the left, he’s bound to could put his moderates in a difficult political spot.”
Worth watching: Whether those red state Democrats claim the party has moved too far to “the left” when it resists Trump’s agenda.
— The first big political war of Trump’s presidency will be explosive, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, yesterday at 9:55 a.m.
Late yesterday I received a listserve email from Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, asking what we most wanted the organization to do immediately. I haven’t responded yet, but my message will be a plea that it begin an intensive effort to inform the public in the Rust Belt states, and the Midwest generally, of what exactly the Conservative Legal Movement was, and is, up to regarding handing control of the federal courts, and federal law, to billionaires and mega-corporate interests.
That’s what Citizens United was really about. But it’s also what a slew of other 5-4 Supreme Court rulings have been about since the Conservative Legal Movement gained that majority on the Court. And during the three decades when it thoroughly controlled the federal appellate and trial-level courts.
The Supreme Court effectively rewrote the Federal Arbitration Act to forced-arbitration clauses in almost every aspect of employment, consumer (including banking and credit card law), and securities law. It also rewrote that Act so that it uses those forced arbitration clauses to effectively eliminate class actions.
It literally rewrote the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(a), that sets the parameters for what lawsuit complaints, the legal pleading must state
It has been extremely hostile to labor unions; Samuel Alito openly invites the filing of litigation whose very goal is to undermine or outright eliminate them.
Every single one of these attacks, and many others, were born and grew up through a precision pipeline system of think tanks and so-called legal foundations, small, non-profit (thus “Foundation” as part of their title) law firms, all funded by extreme economic self-styled libertarian (the Madison Avenue-inspired ideological label they use) billionaires, including the Kochs, financial-industry billionaire families that include the Mercers and the Ricketts and who were top funders of Trump’s general-election campaign, and oil-and-gas billionaires, including top funders of Trump’s general-election and primary campaigns.
And that includes, extremely significantly, the Federalist Society, cofounded in about 1980 by Antonin Scalia, and whose most aggressive and unabashed members include Alito, Clarence Thomas and a slew of high-profile members of the federal appellate bench. John Roberts also apparently was a member, although very quietly, throughout his career as a lawyer.
What I want most, and most immediately, for Our Revolution to do is to begin a major public-awareness push to tell all those Midwesterners and other Rust Belters—including those in rural areas and small towns—what exactly Trump was saying when he promised during the campaign to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia. And who, exactly—who, exactly—is feeding him the names on list of possible Supreme Court nominees. And who exactly will be feeding him recommendations for lower federal court appointments.
Suffice it to say, it ain’t the Rust Belters and Midwesterners who brung him, late in the game, to this dance because they support the Paul Ryan fiscal plan whose goal is to all-but-eliminate both taxes on the wealthy and the social safety net programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that many of them rely upon for, literally, survival.
Nor was it because they salivate at the thought of industry lobbyists writing legislation to be fed quickly through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk for him to sign.
Nor, I’ll venture, was it because they want the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to be proxy arms of economic-winger billionaires and industries ranging from Wall Street to Walmart to communications to chemical and pharmaceutical, to Big Ag, to fossil fuel and lumber industries. As they were for roughly three decades.
Mitt Romney received the votes of the deplorables, without whose support Trump would not have won. But Romney isn’t president. Barack Obama is. Trump’s bizarre efforts beginning in 2011 to change that fact, notwithstanding.
Yet throughout the day yesterday, the news was filled with Ryan’s and McConnell’s exaltation at their expectation that President Trump will effectively be President Ryan. Puppet Trump, in other words. They’ll serve him avalanches of legislation to sign. And they will control the key appointments to every single federal agency and commission that they want to control. Which is almost all of them.
Including the SEC and the NLRB, the FDA, the FTC and the FCC. As well as the Interior Dept., which they presume now will simply hand over to the lumber and fossil fuel industries massive amounts of federal lands.
Which brings me to this: Every bit as important as informing the public of this, for Our Revolution, for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, for Democracy for America, and the reconstructed, soon-to-be-Sanders-supported DNC—and for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren themselves—to do, right now, is to begin a massive public information campaign about this that targets House members and Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2018. In their states. In their districts. Including seemingly safe ones in the Rust Belt and the entire Midwest.
We have their number. As we do Donald Trump’s. And we have the grass-roots movement and the social-media networks to determine their latitude for installing these virulently anti-working class, pro-billionaire, pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-powerful-industry cooptation of each of the three branches of the federal government. Including that professed savior of the working class, Donald Trump.
I still remember looking that the map of Michigan’s counties the day after the primary last March, showing how each county voted in each of the two primaries—and being utterly stunned looking at the one for the Democratic primary. If I recall correctly, every single county except Wayne (home to Detroit) and Genesee (Flint and surrounding area)—both counties largely African-American—voted for Sanders. The Republican stronghold counties in the western part of the state all the way along or near Lake Michigan, went heavily for Bernie. And, had African-Americans in Wayne and Genesee voted for Clinton roughly 3-1, as projected, instead of roughly 2-1, as they did, Bernie still would not have beaten her.
Apparently Chuck Schumer is unaware of this. Bernie should tell him. The old sheriff is gone, run out of town, or more accurately, the country, on Tuesday. There’s a new sheriff in the country. Named economic populism.
It could have been our sheriff; thanks to folks like you, it wasn’t. But we can make due with the one who is not ours.
One side of this divide—the wealthy Republican and corporate elite, proxied by Ryan, McConnell, and the Federalist Society, or the folks responsible in such large part for bringing Trump to the dance—will control the federal government. Puppet Trump. Puppeteers Ryan, McConnell, Wall Street and other industry lobbyists, and the Federalist Society. On the other side, Rust Belt and Midwestern blue-collar voters. Including labor union members.
Better yet, believe Bernie Sanders.
UPDATE: Holyyyy macaroni. Chuck Schumer’s gotten the message now. It took two and a half days. But he’s gotten it now.
See “Schumer throws his support behind Keith Ellison for DNC chairman,” posted about an hour ago on the Washington Post’s website.
Updated added 11/11 at 11:19 a.m. Just past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It’s Veterans’ Day, folks. Not to equate the two events, of course. Just to acknowledge the meaning of Veterans’ Day, which originally was called Armistice Day.
Greg Sargent confuses Obama with Elizabeth Warren. Or with Harry Reid. While Obama confuses the congressional Republicans with Michelle.
Presuming Republicans win the Upper Chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will claim a new era of constructive governance has arrived, while simultaneously claiming a mandate to chip away at President Obama’s already achieved policy gains. (Those who profess a love for bipartisan cooperation will politely ignore this absurdity.) But McConnell’s only way to re-litigate Obama’s policies will remain budgetary guerrilla warfare that will only work if Obama allows it to work, which he won’t, which he won’t. This election won’t resolve any of the larger arguments of the Obama era — whether backward looking or forward looking — and while compromises may be possible here and there, the big picture will mostly be more stalemate.
— Morning Plum: Get ready for more gridlock and dysfunction, Greg Sargent, this morning
McConnell’s only way to re-litigate Obama’s policies will remain budgetary guerrilla warfare that will only work if Obama allows it to work. Which, if past is prologue, he will. And with Obama, past is always prologue.
Obama spent the first three years of his presidency, and, intensely, 2011, waving the budgetary white flag so desperately that it was only the farthest-right contingent of House members that prevented significant changes to Social Security, Medicare and other major safety-net programs. The House contingent that blocked the deal did so because it didn’t go far enough, in their opinion. But it went very far.
What I remember most strikingly from that period, and what Sargent apparently has forgotten, is Obama’s angry public response to the death of this Republican-dream legislation. Always one to invoke some stunningly stupid family-is-like-government analogy, however clearly the analogy adopts the Republicans’ factually erroneous and very harmful policy mantras (“Families are tightening their belts, so the government should tighten its belt, too.”), Obama said he was willing to give the Republicans 90% of what they wanted if they would give him 10% of what he wanted, because that’s his arrangement with Michelle.
His party controlled the executive branch and one-half of the legislative branch. But he was willing to give the one-half of the legislative branch controlled by the Republicans 90% of what they wanted. If only they would stop looking that gift horse in the mouth.
Biden said yesterday that “we’re willing to compromise.” Read: “We’re willing to cave.” And the Dems’ standard-bearer-apparent—who’s aggressively blocking anyone else from running for the presidential nomination—couldn’t explain Keynesian economics, or cite healthcare coverage or healthcare-cost-reduction specifics, to save her life, yet she’s what will pass for the Dems’ fallback voice.
“He thinks that another six years on top of the 30 he’s already had constitutes change, well we don’t buy that,” Grimes said. “He thinks that we can’t live without his seniority, well has he seen that we’re at the bottom of every national indicator that’s out there? Henderson, are ya’ll better off after having Mitch McConnell for the last 30 years?”
“No!” roared the crowd of more than 150.
— Kentucky Democrat Tears Up on Campaign Trail, Jay Newton-Small, Time.com, reporting yesterday from Henderson, Ky
Actually, there’s one important national indicator that Kentucky is no longer at the bottom of: the percentage of residents who have no healthcare insurance. That’s because of Kynect and the Medicaid expansion, under the ACA. Y’know, under Obamacare. Paid for 100% by the federal government.
Hey, Alison Grimes, why not mention THIS? Ah … because it would require a sentence or two of substantive explanation.
Given the exceedingly favorable atmosphere for Republicans this fall, McConnell’s direction on Obamacare has been closely watched as he both battles for reelection against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and as the GOP prepares for Senate control for the first time since 2006.
McConnell’s office said there are multiple avenues that a GOP Senate would have to attack Obamacare — particularly through budget reconciliation, a parliamentary maneuver that would require only 51 votes but would not be equivalent to the standalone repeal votes that have frequented the House.
Reconciliation was omitted during the Tuesday Fox News hit, but has not been dropped from McConnell’s game plan, particularly given that individual mandate was ruled by the Supreme Court to be a tax and could be reversed by a majority vote.
— McConnell reassures GOP on Obamacare opposition, Burgess Everett, Politico, today
Awesome! Out of the mouths of babes. (One babe, anyway, albeit not a very cute one.)
Might Bill or Hillary Clinton be willing to cut an ad or web video pointing out what this means? As in: Hey, all you Kentuckians who now have healthcare insurance through Kynect or the Medicaid expansion won’t, come 2016, if McConnell succeeds in his plan?
And, all you folks in, say, Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas and Alaska: How do you think that that shutting-down-the-government thing will work out for ya next year?
Grimes has absolutely nothing to lose by making these points herself this weekend. And the DSCC doesn’t, either; it’s committed money for the last few days of the campaign—something it probably now regrets. But Kentucky apparently doesn’t have early voting, so it’s still theoretically possible for these last few days to make a difference in the election’s outcome.
The silver lining in a Grimes loss will be the end of the idea, finally, that if you’re a Democrat running in a red state, you shouldn’t run as, y’know, a Democrat. But of course a surprise win for Grimes as a result of a very late campaign posture as a Democrat would not undermine that lesson.
Two major Kentucky newspapers have endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes for Senate over incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).
In its endorsement, the Courier-Journal’s editorial board praised Grimes’ stance on issues like the minimum wage and early childhood education, while accusing McConnell of “lacking a vision for Kentucky.”
“[McConnell] lost his way to the point where he now is identified largely as the master of obstruction and gridlock in Washington,” reads the endorsement. “Kentucky needs a U.S. senator who sees a higher calling than personal ambition and a greater goal than self-aggrandizement.” …
The Lexington Herald-Leader‘s endorsement strongly rebukes McConnell, who the editorial board says has “repeatedly hurt the country to advance his political strategy.”
“The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction,” reads the editorial. “He poses as a champion of the right to criticize the government, but it’s really his rich buddies’ right to buy the government that he champions.”
— Kentucky Newspapers Endorse Alison Lundergan Grimes, Mollie Reilly, Huffington Post, this morning
Two weeks ago, the big political story out of Kentucky was that Grimes refused to answer when a televised-debate monitor asked her whether she had voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. So important was this, politically, that Chuck Todd reacted to it by saying (in)famously that Grimes had disqualified herself, and McConnell immediately began featuring Todd’s comment in an ad, and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee ended its ad buys in the state.
At the same debate, though, McConnell said that Kynect, Kentucky’s ACA-funded healthcare insurance exchange—through which Kentuckians can purchase independent-market policies that comply with the statute and apply the statute’s tax credits toward premium payments—actually is just a website that lists healthcare policies and allows sign-ups but has no financial benefit to purchasers of the insurance plans. This, too, was reported nationally and highlighted, apparently, in local news recaps of the debate, but it was presumed, I guess, that it wouldn’t matter. Although McConnell had made a vaguer but substantively similar statement earlier in the campaign, and although it was reported by national and Kentucky newspapers, its significance apparently hadn’t penetrated to much of the electorate, mainly because Grimes was perfectly happy to have Kentuckians think that the popular Kynect had nothing to do with the hated Obamacare—much less with Obama himself.
And, although by then consistently down by several points in the polls, and appearing to lose ground as the election neared, she didn’t blink in this. Asked about McConnell’s brazenly false claim about the nature and effect of Kynect, a spokeswoman for Grimes’ campaign responded with something like, “Alison Grimes will always choose Kentucky over Washington.” That’s right; Alison Grimes will vote to remove federal financial support for the website and, especially, end the federal tax subsidies for purchase of the policies.
It was a day or two later that the DSCC announces its removal of financial support for Grimes’ campaign. But then something apparently completely unexpected happened: A Bluegrass Poll showed Grimes suddenly trailing McConnell by a single point. And then last week Grimes, who dismayingly had failed to highlight in ads or appearances a video that surfaced a couple of weeks earlier showing McConnell outlining to a Koch brothers’ group his exciting plans as Senate Majority Leader, suddenly began running an ad showing a clip of the video. A day or two later, the DSCC restored its financial ad-buy support for Grimes’ campaign. Asked why, a spokesperson for the DSCC said that polls were showing that undecideds were moving toward Grimes.
And so they must be, because a day or two ago it as reported that McConnell had just committed $1.8 million of his own money for the campaign.
The problem with Grimes’ campaign—and with candidates like Grimes herself—can be seen in a nutshell in an article by Richard Eskow published on Huffington Post on Friday, discussing the specifics of McConnell’s comments to that Koch brothers crowd in August, captured on that video. McConnell promises not only to defund Obamacare but also the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and to force a repeal not only of the CFPB but of the entire Dodd-Frank law that created that agency and that includes the financial-industry regulations enacted in the wake of 2008 economic collapse. But, of course, no one knows of the existence of the CFPC and no one knows that the Senate Republicans and candidates are pledging to repeal the post-2008 financial-industry regulations. Just as no one knows, or at least no one remembers—because the Democratic candidates apparently won’t be caught dead mentioning it—that among the new regulations enacted by the Democratic-controlled Congress during the first two years of the Obama presidency (and pushed entirely by Democrats such as Dick Durbin)—are ones ending the banking-industry practice of exorbitant overdraft fees for small, sometimes-momentary checking-account overdrafts, and the so-called “Durbin Amendment” that prohibits disproportionately high payments by retailers (including small ones) to Visa and Mastercard for customer purchases using those cards.
Look. If you want to run a Washington-vs.-our-state campaign as a Democrat, you need to make that campaign about the issue of who it is that determines specific Washington policy—in other words, about whether it’s the Kochs who effectively write legislation and dictate what legislation is filibustered or never brought to a vote, or instead small-business owners or ordinary individuals who play some meaningful role in this process. A campaign for Congress by a Democrat that amounts to a generic ideological “Washington vs. our state” is a campaign that is incoherent. Grimes’ campaign is Exhibit A, but it’s certainly not the only current Exhibit.
The Louisville Courier-Journal, in its endorsement editorial, points out that Grimes supports such policies as a raise in the federal minimum wage and federally sponsored universal access to preschool. But these are federal programs; she’s running for the United States Senate, not the Kentucky Senate. “Washington vs. our state” as a generic ideological precept precludes these. If Grimes’ ideology is really the same as Joni Ernst’s, then she should switch parties. If it’s not, then she should make that clear, and make clear why it’s not.
And if Grimes wins, it will be precisely because of why it’s not—and because McConnell, not Grimes, finally made that clear to Kentucky’s voters.
And next time someone like Ashley Judd wants to run for Senate in a state like Kentucky, the Democratic Establishment should not insist that she not run because, after all, a “centrist” would have a better chance. Judd would win this election comfortably, I’d bet.
Finally, though, the spot-on eloquence of the Courier-Journal’s and (especially) the Herald-Leader’s editorials should be noted for their courage, their emphatic directness and their specificity.
Sooo …. which of Obama’s economic policies do you want to repeal or defeat, Repubs?? And replace those policies with whose–I mean, what–economic policies, exactly? Do tell!
Barack Obama wanted to galvanize Democrats when he insisted this week that his economic policies are on the ballot in November. Instead, the soundbite has already become the centerpiece of new Republican attack ads.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell uses the clip in a new commercial, shared first with POLITICO. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts turned his own ad earlier Friday morning. And New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown is using the clip in a web video against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
“Alison Grimes says this election is not about her support for Barack Obama and his failed policies,” a narrator says over footage of a Grimes commercial that showed her shooting a gun. “But Obama himself says a vote for Alison is a vote for his policies.”
Obama’s comments Thursday came in front of a supportive crowd in Illinois during a speech billed as an attempt to refocus the national discourse on his economic agenda.
“I am not on the ballot this fall … But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them,” he said.
— GOP ads pounce on Obama’s economy comments, James Hohmann and Kyle Cheney, Politico, today
The article goes on to say that Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and New Hampshire Repub. Senate nominee Scott Brown will run similar ads in their respective states.
To which I say: Please do. It is, after all, Obama himself, not Obama’s actual economic policies—which most people have no clue about—that creates the problem for the Democrats. Much less is the problem for the Dems the Senate Democrats’ proposed economic policies— which most people have no clue about. The economic policies that the Senate Republicans are blocking.
“There’s a reason fewer [Republicans] are running against ObamaCare — because while good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world,” the president said.
The day after the anniversary of rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, Obama argued that a “dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of healthcare” had led to more individuals being covered and prices staying lower.
“If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are,” Obama said. “That’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of our pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like an $1,800 tax cut.”
And, Obama said, the cost of government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid are decreasing alongside the costs of private insurance.
“Healthcare has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits,” Obama said. “Healthcare is now the single biggest factor driving those deficits down.” …
“In just the last year, we’ve reduced the share of uninsured Americans by 26 percent,” Obama said. “That means 1 in 4 uninsured Americans — about 10 million people — have gained the financial security of health insurance in less than one year.”
The president also argued that the availability of insurance through ObamaCare meant young entrepreneurs were freed “to strike out on your own and chase that new idea,” rather than remaining in jobs that provided medical coverage.
It’s great that Obama finally deigned to speak publicly about the specifics—including specific results—of one of his policies, Obamacare. He generally doesn’t do speaking publicly about the specifics (and certainly not specific results) of his policies, or, regarding most of his and the congressional Dems’ economic policies, even the existence of their policies and policy proposals. Which may be why no one knows the specifics, or even the generalities.
But, the press being the press, and the political punditry being the political punditry, what matters is that Obama said the words, “I am not on the ballot this fall … But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.” “These policies” could mean … well … it doesn’t matter.
As it happens, a majority of the public, even in “red” states, aren’t all that keen on the prospect of the Koch brothers’ policies becoming Congress’s blatant policies. So the new Republican ads about Obama’s policies being on the ballot should be countered not only with a demand to know which specific economic, fiscal and regulatory policies these candidates want to repeal but also with reminders that the Koch brothers’ policies are on the ballot, too.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.