Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,256
Number of posts: 15,256
It is officially still now in play. Unofficially... it is still now in play. I do not subscribe to "1984" logic. War is not peace and peace is not war. When Obama says he would accept a deal that includes a Chained CPI on Social Security it really means... Obama will accept a deal that includes a Chained CPI on Social Security.
No doubt there is strategy and counter strategy at work. It would not be politics without it. There are those in fact who believe that Boehner had Obama convinced that the big deal was close at hand, which is why Obama offered the Chained CPI because Boehner convinced the President that is what he needed in order to get the votes. Maybe yes, maybe no. The opposite theory could also be true. Obama might have offered it now knowing the Republicans would reject it now, believing that the Republican response would strengthen the Democratic hand.
Either could be true but even if it is the latter that does nothing to convince me that Obama isn't willing to include the Chained CPI as part of the final deal, whatever it is whenever it is reached. I still take Obama at his word. The offer was and is legitimate. All of the inside chess analogies pertain to one thing only. How much will Obama get out of the Republicans on other aspects of the coming deals that will be made in return for that concession? The Fiscal Cliff will not stand unaltered in the next session of Congress. Obama is planning to give the Republicans the Chained CPI in return for that classic Sports World vague entity called "a player to be named later". That is where Obama's maneuvering lies.
Obama has thrown Republicans that bone and they will not allow it to be pried out of their jaws once it has been thrown to them. Republicans do still control the House. "Cuts in entitlements" is the biggest scalp left that they can come out of the coming talks with. It is the only political cover the Republican House can go home bragging to their constituents about later. Obama may have increased the value of that Social Security concession through clever political timing, by underlying how reasonable he is to the public while spotlighting how dysfunctional the Republicans are
Obama may well have just tricked the Republicans into going over the fiscal cliff and taking the blame for it. That gives him more leverage after January, true. It does not however give him dictatorial powers. A deal will be cut and a deal means that both sides get something out of it. There are many items on the negotiating table now, and the Republican hand is now weaker, but unless there is a Congressional Democratic revolt, Republicans will ultimately leave that table with what Obama promised them for their trouble, the Chained CPI for Social Security. That is the only scalp left of political value to them.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Dec 21, 2012, 08:18 AM (168 replies)
That is NOT what Democrats, yourself first and foremost, were just elected to do. You won't be the one who feels the pain you now are willing to agree to, nor will Americans earning between $250,000 and $400,000 a year.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 07:32 PM (143 replies)
They are about seizing power and using it for their own ends everytime, and they only "negotiate" when all other routes are closed to them. The Bush tax cuts NEVER were popular, polls at the time showed most peole saw them as a giveaway to the rich. Bush LOST the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000. Republican paid staffers mobbed the offices in Florida when the recount was taking place. Republican appointees to the Supreme Court over rode the State of Florida Courts and forced the recount to end - giving the electoral votes to Bush. The Supreme Court then went out of it's way to insist that their ruling should not be seen as establishing any legal precidents. Once in office Bush pushed through his tax cuts over almost unamimoust Democratic objections (one of two supporting Democratic Senators later defected to the Republican Party. The The Senate wsa tied 50/50, and Dick Cheney cast the deciding vote.
The Republican Party didn't worry about public opinion or seeming "reasonable" then, they flat out used their power to grab what they wanted. They don't care about it now either. Republicans don't care that the American people strongly support letting those tax cuts expire on all incomes over $250,000, as the recent election showed. They don't care if Americans say don't touch Social Security and Medicare. They want what they want and Americans will just have to learn to deal with it once they get it. That is the Republican way.
Republicans have no shame over making a laughing stock of the Senate with systematic Fillibuster abuse. They have no remorse about bottling up Obama's judicial appointees at a record pace. Republicans seize and wield power, all other consideratons are secondary at best. Democrats are the ones who worry about "seeming reasonable". Even when we win the elections and the public is on our side, we stand ready to give the Republicans through "negotiations" what they can not win at the ballot box.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:38 PM (8 replies)
Letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire is settled law. They are scheduled to end by stature, but on a more profound level that law was settled by the public in a presidential year national election. The 2012 elections were fundamentally about making the rich pay their fair share. Obama won in a landslide. Against all odds and expectations, Democrats also picked up two seats in the Senate, and Democratic candidates for the House got more votes overall than Republicans, while Democrats there picked up 8 seats. Voters took preserving tax cuts for the rich off the table and Democrats should never have put it back on. That flies against the public will, and the public is equally adamant about protecting Social Security. Overwhelmingly polls say they Americans don't want those benefits cut
Republicans insist that we still can afford letting Americans earning over $250,000 a year to keep getting tax cuts that were designed to be temporary. Clearly our backs can't be against the fiscal wall with such low hanging fruit left unplucked. Yet Obama is willing to take $112 billion out of the pockets of current Social Security beneficiaries over the next 10 years alone, and hand it over to Americans making ten to twenty times more than the average person on Social Security annually has to live on. That is income redistribution of the worst kind. It mandates putting the squeeze on the elderly and the seriously disabled, people no so called “job creators” will ever hire no matter how much Bush tax cut savings they manage to keep pocketing.
Yes the American people expect compromise, but not the sort that compromises the health and well being of the least among us. After the rich pay their full fair share, then we can look at what further revenue increases and budget cuts are needed to bring our fiscal house in order. That will take more revenue increases not less, and yes further spending cuts too. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy have been fully litigated in the court of public opinion; they belong to history now. With that as the starting point let negotiations begin next year, after we cross over the fiscal cliff.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 03:28 PM (8 replies)
It is also theoretically possible for a gun belonging to a teacher to fall into the hands of a student resulting in the death of other students and/or teachers, by accident or on purpose. Which is a more likely scenario?
Even in our gun crazed culture, shooters rarely enter schools. Allowing teachers and principals to have weapons inside schools would bring guns on site daily. Unlike the police or other security personel, teachers and administrators have other jobs that call for their constant attention, but there are plenty of instances in which professional security officials end up shot by their own guns also. Why would guns be safer wth teachers?
In hindsight one can always say that there might have been a lapse in judgent or carelessness that contributed to guns being taken from their lawful owners and used in crimes, but lapses in judgement and momentary carelessness can always be counted on to happen. We all know that. Even the NRA knows that.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Dec 17, 2012, 11:32 AM (18 replies)
A small but increasingly influential element of the Republican Right opposes all efforts to regulate assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons, and high capacity ammo magazines precisely because they are effective in combat situations, but no one seems willing to say it. All of the eminently reasonable comments about hunters not needing automatic weapons to bag a deer miss the point completely. The NRA tries to muddy the waters whenever they can but no one seriously tries to make a case for hunters needing semi-automatic pistols with large ammo magazines. Even the NRA knows no one would buy that line. So instead they raise the specter of "a slippery slope" that begins with machine guns banned and ends with hunting outlawed. They then shift the focus to crime and personal security, because they know only a shrinking small minority of Americans still hunt or engage in sport gunmanship.
But an insistence that individuals need access to semi-automatic weapons to protect themselves is irrational, if the threat envisioned is common crime. If the solution to street crime is arming the public with semi-automatic weapons, than the cure is far more deadly than the disease. Innocent bystanders already are killed in shootouts. No one is safer if threatened individuals begin spraying their near vicinity with a hail of bullets. Semi-automatic assault rifles are offensive weapons, designed to kill large numbers of people. A standard pistol or a shotgun is far better suited for defensive use, unless of course you are defending yourself against a hoard of heavily armed attackers
Which begs the obvious unasked question: Is that why the most unflinching opponents of reasonable gun control measures refuse to give an inch? Are they arming themselves with the weapons most appropriate for future combat scenarios? I think it naïve to assume that the answer to that question is anything other than yes. Right wing militias have been forming for decades, training for overt military confrontations. Mainstream candidates for the U.S. Senate now talk openly about “Second Amendment remedies”. Increasingly the phrase, “Government is the enemy” has taken on literal implications. And then there are the survivalists, large segments of which believe that in some coming apocalypse roving lawless mobs will descend upon rob and kill anyone who had the foresight to assemble the provisions needed to weather the collapse of civilization. Heavy weaponry will be needed, they believe, to survive that approaching crimson dawn.
Would most of the individuals now motivated to defend themselves against the specter of a full blown “Communist Fascist U.S. Government”, or the inevitable Zombie hoards, hesitate before actually turning their combat weaponry against fellow American citizens over perceived but non-existent threats? I like to think most would, if push ever came to gun. That might prevent a future slaughter along the lines of a civil war, but it doesn’t help us now. In subservience to their paranoid delusions sane gun regulations are off the table today. American is held hostage to right wing political zealotry that accepts increasing mayhem and slaughter on American streets as unfortunate but necessary collateral damage. It is time to face that reality.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:41 AM (19 replies)
I know I am pointing out the obvious here but this angle is being completely ignored by talking heads and politicians alike. With all the DC talk of either nibbling away at Social Security and/or Medicare, or taking away larger bites instead, this trend is not being acknowledged. Even if NOTHING is done to cut ("ahem" reform) either program, serionrs are already getting squeezed and the outlook for future retirerees conturs to deteriorate.
Socuial Security is not a fixed benefit. The amount anyone qualifies for receiving once they start collecting Social Security directly depends on ones history of earnings, which determines how much equity each of us has in our account.
In an earlier era, most workers had their best earning years in the decade prior to retirement - as promotions, seniority and accumulated pay raises added up to increasing incomes. Unions, by and large, were responsible for establishing that now fading template. Unions protected higher wage earners from being targetted for layoffs, allowing workers to retire at peak income levels - which meant that their Social Security benefits upon retirement were calculated based on an ascending rather than descending income curve over the course of their working careers.
Seniors in the future, on average, can look forward to receiving smaller social security checks (adjusting for inflation) than prior generations qualified for. That is increasingly now locked in and will not be reversed unless the decline of organized labor is somehow reversed instead. That is what is happening now, even without forcing seniors to wait another two years before they qualify for Mediare.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Dec 12, 2012, 02:36 PM (7 replies)
The overwhelming majority of Americans will continue to tolerate a tiny minority of self entitled elites hoarding vast sums of obscene personal wealth in return for an adaquate fully functioning economic safety net for the rest of us. Without that minimum guarentee, the Social Contract is Null and Void. Class warfare will no longer be waged exclusively on battlefields of the super wealthy's choosing.
Peace and stability comes with a price, and that is the price. Deal or No Deal?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Dec 11, 2012, 09:19 AM (12 replies)
Social Security and Medicare were instituted to combat the damning scourge of Senior poverty in America. Today most Americans may be living longer, but becoming poor younger. Our economy has changed since the 1960’s and that change has not been kind to the Middle Class, especially to workers over 50. Increasingly they are targeted as a cost cutting opportunity by company managers seeking to fatten their bottom lines. Once people in their 50’s and early 60’s could count on achieving their highest incomes in those years that directly preceded retirement Not any longer, now their larger paychecks make them the prey of corporate knives.
When layoffs happen in that age group, future job prospects are uncertain at best. One thing though is certain, odds are that any employment they might still secure will be at substantially less pay and with fewer, if any benefits. That is the essential backdrop to the current negotiations about the so called fiscal cliff. The wave of new poverty now hitting Americans over 55 is, to a large extent still happening below the radar. Older Americans who had been preparing for their pending retirement have had to revise their plans radically. Many now stay afloat in a manner reminiscent of a middle class lifestyle only by tapping into resources now that were meant to sustain them in later years.
Gone are the days of corporate pensions and gold watches gratefully given for decades of loyal service. Millions of Americans are now limping toward the finish line of their working careers, trying to hold on until programs like Social Security and Medicare finally kick in to give them a life sustaining boost. What is the response out of Washington to the emergence of this new window of Senior poverty? A drive to cut back “entitlement” spending is now gathering momentum. One of the proposals getting most of the buzz, especially in Republican circles, is to raise the eligibility age for Medicare by two years to 67. With their incomes plunging and their personal resources drained, how will many Americans survive being forced to forgo the availability of affordable health care for an additional two years? The answer is some won’t.
How much money will the federal budget save by denying Medicare to Americans until they reach 67. Most say on the order of 15 Billion a year, or 150 Billion over a decade. Let’s put that into perspective. By allowing the Bush Tax cuts to fully expire, as originally intended, simply on incomes ABOVE $250,000 a year, nearly a trillion dollars in new revenue will enter federal coffers over the next decade. But Republicans are balking. Not only would they rather raise that money by closing unidentified tax “loopholes” (likely including charity deductions and tax write offs for health care costs), they want that figure cut back to 800 billion instead, so the rich can pocket the 200 billion dollar difference. The Republicans prefer all Americans be forced to wait two more years to qualify for Medicare so that the wealthiest 2% of Americans won’t need to pay the full Bill Clinton era tax rates on their incomes above $250,000.
Here is another way of viewing our budget choices, credit to this Reuters article:
Exclusive: U.S. sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.45 trillion
Note the timely coincidence. The Pentagon expects to save $15.1 Billion through 2017 by postponing orders for 170 of those planes. That’s what Republicans want to cut Medicare by annually.
Life is full of choices. We pay for a military in the belief that it will protect our life and liberty. We pay for health care for essentially the same reason. Our Air Force is already dominant in the world, how many F-35’s do we need when they compete in cost with Medicare?
Our neighbors to the north just faced a similar decision making process and Canada seems to have thought better of buying a fleet of F-35’s given its current price tag:
Federal government cancels F-35 fighter purchase: source
Michael Den Tandt
Published: December 6, 2012, 1:46 pm
“Faced with the imminent release of an audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30 billion, the Harper Conservatives have decided to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said. This occurred after Chief of the Defence Staff Thomas Lawson, while en route overseas, was called back urgently to appear before members of the cabinet, the source said.
The decision was to go before the cabinet planning and priorities committee Friday morning but the outcome is not in doubt, the source said.”
Of course we wouldn’t be facing decisions like this today if the last Bush Administration had done what American Presidents have always done before to pay for the guns of war when major armed conflicts emerge; raise the revenue to pay for them. If Republicans don’t like forcing the wealthy to pay their fair share so that Medicare remains available at age 65 for Americans who need it, there is a ready alternative. Tell them they are just picking up their share of the cost for George W. Bush invading Iraq.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Dec 10, 2012, 12:14 PM (34 replies)
If Democrats compromise Medicare or Social Security now they wil lose in 2014 also When the most important advance in social welfare legislation since Medicare was handed off to the private Insurance industry virtually exclusively to monopolize, it was like a gut punch to progressive forces. An energized movement that had swept back to back elections in 2006 and 2008 for the Democratic Party spontaneously deflated.
I am not focusing on policy per se right now, not on the argument over what was and was not possible to actually achieve regarding health care, just on the predictable outcome that happens when hopes and dreams are dashed. Politics comes down to people, especially on the Democratic side of the equation.
Democrats by and large are not as self centered as are the elites that fund the Republican Party. We actually do embrace the concept of shared sacrifice, we expect to have to give as individuals to help keep our nation great. But we also believe that what makes our nation great is a society that does not demand that citizens give up what they literally can not afford to lose. We do not believe Americans should be forced into "sacrifices" that jeopardize their health and physical well being, to the point of risking their very lives. Not while there is great, even obscene, wealth awash in confined sectors of this nation we don't
Any betrayal of that core sense of fairness, which underlies the loyalty that motivates millions of liberals and progressives to work their asses off for Democratic candidates for office and to donate hard earned dollars to Democratic campaigns, will cripple the Democratic Party in the next mid-term elections. It is really that predictable and unavoidable a dynamic that Democrats would do well to ponder now during negotiations with the Republicans over the so-called Fiscal cliff".
Raising the age of Medicare eligibility is the very last option that the core Democratic base would consider in regards to cutting our deficits. To put it in blunter terms, if one dime of the Bush tax cuts for the rich gets preserved as the result of current negotiations, if the top tax rate on the wealthiest Americans does not rise all of the way back to Clinton Administration levels, or if the threshold for those cuts is raised above the $250,000 a year income level, that will mean more food and health care denied to some of the neediest in our nation. Democratic voters will revolt if that happens, just like what happened in 2010.
It will happen at a level deeper than any appeal to reason can touch. People can be talked into continuing a relationship for pragmatic reasons after experiencing personal betrayal, but they can't be "reasoned into" continuing it with the same passion and devotion. In a post "Citizens United" political universe, Democrats literally can't afford that type of drop off in voter base enthusiasm.
Republicans argue that even if the rich resume paying the tax rates they paid in the 1990's, the added revenue won't be nearly enough to right our fiscal ship. All the more reason to demand that the wealthy pay those rates now in full AND close tax loopholes closed that predominantly benefit the upper class - who collectively have flourished while the rest of the nation has suffered. Instead Republicans perversely argue that the rich are the ones who should be spared greater so-called sacrifices.
Millions of Americans are today living in part off of savings they once earmarked for their retirement. Americans who lose well paying jobs after they turn 50 can't replace them. Increasingly those approaching retirement age are limping toward that finish line, just trying to hold on until they can qualify for Social Security and Medicare. Pushing Medicare eligibility back two years would be the functional equivalent of a death sentence to tens of thousands of Americans. That is not a Democratic value, and voters know when their interests are being sold out.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:57 AM (18 replies)