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Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:06 AM

The Fiscal Cliff Is a Lie

The Fiscal Cliff Is a Lie
By Michael Lind
Salon

The need for a “grand bargain” involving taxes and entitlements — in the next few years, if not immediately — has moved to the center of discussion in Washington. But it’s the wrong grand bargain — and a very bad deal for Middle America.

According to the conventional wisdom, any grand bargain should be modeled on plans like the Bowles-Simpson plan or the Rivlin-Domenici plan — financing lower tax rates on the rich by closing tax loopholes and cutting Social Security and Medicare. In the aftermath of an election in which the candidates of the rich were trounced at the polls, America’s plutocratic conservatives might be satisfied with merely maintaining existing low tax rates on the rich, while capping loopholes and cutting Social Security and Medicare.

This entire approach should be rejected. It is based on two fallacies — first, that the existing low (or lower) personal income tax rates on the rich promote growth, and second, that America can’t afford Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the decades to come. A number of “astroturf” propaganda groups in Washington and elsewhere will be paid tens of millions of dollars in the next few months by the conservative Republican billionaire Pete Peterson and his allies to repeat these fallacies and get Beltway pundits and journalists to parrot them. But endless repetition does not turn fallacies into facts.

America does need long-term reforms to its entitlement system and tax system — but they have nothing to do with the specious reforms peddled by Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Alice Rivlin, Pete Peterson and allied CEOs. In addition to regulating excessive healthcare costs, the United States needs a middle-class welfare state that is bigger, not smaller. It’s the restricted, elitist private welfare state that needs to be cut, not the universal public social insurance system.

The rest: http://www.salon.com/2012/11/27/the_fiscal_cliff_is_a_lie/

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Arrow 60 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Fiscal Cliff Is a Lie (Original post)
WilliamPitt Nov 2012 OP
Lasher Nov 2012 #1
Mnemosyne Nov 2012 #2
BlueStreak Nov 2012 #47
nenagh Nov 2012 #3
summerschild Nov 2012 #4
radiclib Nov 2012 #27
summerschild Dec 2012 #60
antigop Nov 2012 #5
jsr Nov 2012 #6
Liberalynn Nov 2012 #7
NRaleighLiberal Nov 2012 #8
blackspade Nov 2012 #9
forestpath Nov 2012 #10
lalalu Nov 2012 #11
hue Nov 2012 #12
BlueCaliDem Nov 2012 #13
truth2power Nov 2012 #14
erpowers Nov 2012 #15
mike_c Nov 2012 #31
FarCenter Nov 2012 #48
mike_c Nov 2012 #49
FarCenter Nov 2012 #50
mike_c Nov 2012 #51
FarCenter Nov 2012 #53
mike_c Nov 2012 #54
BainsBane Nov 2012 #16
Savannahmann Nov 2012 #17
Martin Eden Nov 2012 #18
Gold Metal Flake Nov 2012 #19
dchill Nov 2012 #22
grahamhgreen Nov 2012 #38
Faryn Balyncd Nov 2012 #20
dchill Nov 2012 #21
humbled_opinion Nov 2012 #30
lib2DaBone Nov 2012 #23
colsohlibgal Nov 2012 #24
salinen Nov 2012 #25
Baitball Blogger Nov 2012 #26
humbled_opinion Nov 2012 #28
WillyT Nov 2012 #29
NashvilleLefty Nov 2012 #32
Up2Late Nov 2012 #33
NorthCarolina Nov 2012 #45
Rosa Luxemburg Nov 2012 #34
Jim Warren Nov 2012 #35
grahamhgreen Nov 2012 #36
Rosa Luxemburg Nov 2012 #56
grahamhgreen Nov 2012 #57
grahamhgreen Nov 2012 #37
tomp Nov 2012 #40
tomp Nov 2012 #41
ProudProgressiveNow Nov 2012 #39
Iggy Nov 2012 #42
trusty elf Nov 2012 #43
SHRED Nov 2012 #44
CaptJasHook Nov 2012 #46
Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2012 #52
preventivePhD Nov 2012 #55
libodem Nov 2012 #58
Arugula Latte Nov 2012 #59

Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:13 AM

1. Wish I could rec this twice.

I can't, so I'll just kick it.

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Response to Lasher (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:40 AM

2. Another...

:kick:

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Response to Lasher (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 09:38 AM

47. Me too. We should be talking about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

How the hell did we get to the point that the MSM and the Beltway morons are allowed to go for 60 days never once mentioning JOBS?

My hope is that Obama is cleverly using this shock doctrine myth of "the cliff" to set up another stimulus. His first stimulus was remarkable, not just that it passed and did stimulate the economy, but that it moved the country significantly forward on many new industries. His people intentionally set up "the cliff. The confluence of these factors (Bush taxes expiring, the sequester, and the debt ceiling) were all carefully orchestrated by Obama to come at the same time, just as he is kicking off his second term. That is no accident. Let's see how he uses it.

I have a lot of confidence that Obama is going to score here. I have been listening to Republicans a lot the past 2 weeks (that's all the MSM seems to talk to) and those morons have no clue what is happening. They have no plan. They are just babbling about "the cliff". This is the perfect setup.

And the Republicans are right panicked -- and that is before their constituents see their taxes go up January 1. I fully expect that Obama will let the whole thing blow up on them, unless the Republicans come forward with a very sweet deal before the end of the year. I think the odds are very low. The best deal Obama will get is AFTER the cuts expire and AFTER the Pentagon loses their money. That is when Obama has maximum leverage.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:45 AM

3. Thank you...I have bookmarked the article..

Economics is tough to understand... so reading that ' "astroturf" propaganda groups in Washington' have set the agenda...

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:55 AM

4. Thank you for this post, WilliamPenn!


The "fiscal cliff" is The Shock Doctrine in action.

We knew it was coming.

Are we shocked?

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Response to summerschild (Reply #4)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:20 PM

27. That's "Pitt"

William Penn was a Quaker, and I happen to know that Mr. Pitt is no Quaker.
Understandable, though. Pitt is in western Penn, after all.

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Response to radiclib (Reply #27)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 04:48 PM

60. Thanks for catching that - and my apologies to Mr. Pitt!

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:57 AM

5. K & R. n/t

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:03 AM

6. But but we need to cut (ahem REFORM) Social Security and Medicare NOW!

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:42 AM

7. K&R

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:54 AM

8. kick and rec...for the truth. n/t

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:13 PM

9. Indeed it is.

K&R

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:16 PM

10. K&R

 

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:45 PM

11. Agree, but you will get some disagreeable responses

 

I posted something similar several days ago and was accused of wanting to let the unemployed and the children starve to death

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:51 PM

12. "fiscal cliff" = another Tea/Repuke fear laden lie/Kool aide/meme to intimidate the sheeple.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:02 PM

13. Will, according to Prof of Econ at the U of Michigan, Justin Wolfers,

if we go over the real fiscal cliff (that would be in March of next year) it would, yes, make all deficit go away BUT we would be plunged into a recession.

OTOT, there should be NO "grand bargain". It's just a really bad deal, and the Republicans had their chance years ago. That ship has sailed, and should be gone for good after last election.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:04 PM

14. Thanks for posting, Will. For more information on the fiscal cliff and the deficit, check out

Prof. Richard Wolff's Brecht Forum lecture for November. I just finished watching it. It's an hour and a half long, but well worth your time.

Link:

http://www.rdwolff.com/content/global-capitalism-monthly-update-discussion-november-2012

Prof. Wolff states that those most worried about the deficit are those who lend to the U.S. govt. That would be banks, insurance companies, large corporations, the wealthy, and of course, China. So you see whose interests are being served by all this hoop-la over the deficit. Certainly not us, the 99%.

He also dispenses with the "rich create jobs" argument.



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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:30 PM

15. Disagree Somewhat

I agree with Mr. Lind that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid should not be cut. However, I do not think the system should be expanded.

First, there should be an effort to help workers get better pay and better jobs. Second, there needs to be an effort to prevent employers from benefitting from keeping workers out of 401(k) plans.

According to Ellen Schultz, in her book Retirement Heist, companies deduct contributions to employee benefits plans and the plans grow tax-deferred. However, to get this status employers have to prove their plans do not discriminate. Even if workers are not treated equally in benefits plans a company can be said to not discriminate. One of the best ways to be said not to discriminate is prevent the lowest paid workers from participating in the plans. If the lowest paid workers participate in benefits plans, but cannot contribute enough higher paid workers are not allowed to contribute the max amount. As a result, some companies just keep certain workers from participating in some benefits plans. The discrimination rules should be changed so that low income workers cannot be excluded from benefits plans.

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Response to erpowers (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:32 PM

31. 401(k) is an AWFUL standard to apply-- NO ONE should have their retirement hopes...

...pinned on 401(k)s. No one. Not the least paid workers or the best paid. I have a defined benefit pension-- THAT should be the standard, not 401(k)s. Sheesh. Why would ANYONE want a 401(k) rather than a fully funded defined benefit pension? With health coverage? Survivors' benefits?

Screw 401(k)s. Join a union and get a real retirement plan!

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Response to mike_c (Reply #31)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 09:44 AM

48. Defined benefit pension plans were based on 8% return on investment -- most will go broke

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #48)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:57 AM

49. Calpers is the largest and best funded pension system IN THE WORLD....

I'm not worried. And my defined benefit pension is for life. That's the standard that every working person should demand. If tens of thousands of Californians can have such a retirement plan, every American should.

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Response to mike_c (Reply #49)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 11:46 AM

50. Calpers has a huge unfunded liability -- estimates may vary but it is likely to go broke

In the zero growth economy going forward, the estimated return on investment will not materialized. They are still using "smoothed" estimates that include data from the boom years in doing their math.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #50)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 11:50 AM

51. sure, if everyone in the system were to retire at once....

Like I said, I'm not worried. I'm retiring in five or six years, at 64-ish. Every worker in America should have the peace of mind that I have about retirement.

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Response to mike_c (Reply #51)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 12:16 PM

53. You're likely to get your pension -- but 30 to 50 year olds will be holding the empty bag.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #53)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 01:08 PM

54. that's what people told me when I was 40....

But really-- are you seriously arguing that a 401(k) is a better retirement vehicle than a defined benefit pension plan that's sufficiently funded to meet reasonably foreseeable obligations twenty or thirty years out? Seriously? I'll take my lifetime pension any day!

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:04 PM

16. It is not simply tax cuts on the rich that expire

But cuts on everyone, amounting to a 17% increase for those at the bottom of the tax scale. The payroll tax expires, and a number of other provisions. Since I am in the 25% bracket, my income tax will increase to 28% and like everyone else my payroll taxes will go up 2%. But those who will fare the worst are poor Americans who dropped off the tax rolls after the Bush cuts. These are waitresses and Walmart workers, people barely getting by, who will have 17% of their paychecks disappear if no deal is reached. It bothers me that many here see this cliff or whatever you want to call it as about political brinkmanship. Why is that people here refuse to consider the impact of what they advocate on the nation's poorest Americans who already have trouble securing basic food and shelter?

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:07 PM

17. Now if we could just get the selected in Washington to understand this

We might make some headway. Give me any odds you want, and I'll never bet money on that outcome.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:19 PM

18. K&R n/t

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:41 PM

19. The Fiscal Bluff

...is how one caller to Stephie referred to it.

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Response to Gold Metal Flake (Reply #19)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:21 PM

22. +1 - Much more apt.

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Response to Gold Metal Flake (Reply #19)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 02:25 AM

38. +1

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 03:39 PM

20. Most important. Thanks!

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 04:20 PM

21. I don't detest the Republicans pushing this meme...

half as much as the Dems and journos who are joining in. Two wars on the credit card combined with two tax cuts for the rich - there's your problem. Not social programs.

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Response to dchill (Reply #21)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:21 PM

30. True

and I think it bares repeating that these current tax rates were supposed to have ended in 2010, the deficits that we are seeing are largely because they got extended. I Love Obama but I think it was a bad decision to extend these tax cuts in 2010 even though I know the thugs were holding the middle class rates hostage in their negotiations but we have to face facts the CBO reported that if we were to extend the current rates permanently it would add 3.3 trillion to the national debt in 10 years....

I will not support any cave in on the social safety nets, none no age raises, no benefit reductions, no increased costs.

Maybe it's time for a march on D.C.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:18 PM

23. Get Ready America BOHICA.... (bend over......here it comes again..)

 

What we are witnessing is the greatest transfer of wealth from the working poor and middle class to a select group of elites than at any time since the Robber Barons of the 1800's.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:24 PM

24. Totally Misleading

Stephanie Miller and her gang renamed it the Fiscal Cliff Clavin this morning, a bunch of blather like BS.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:52 PM

25. Why

 

is it that every time I see Alan Simpson I want to punch his face?

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Response to salinen (Reply #25)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:19 PM

26. He has the smug over-confidant look down pat.

I've learned to distrust that look because of him.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:13 PM

28. We lose....

when we continue to allow them to define the narrative.

It is important that the Democratic lawmakers do not wobble at this point, all this talk of grand bargains is nothing by chicanery perpetrated by political sore losers. They are trying to cut benefits (they only know one tune and that is privitization) and refuse to raise taxes on the weatlhiest at a time when people are most vulnerable due to a slowly recovering economy.

The absolute truth about the 2012 election of President Obama is that it was a clear choice, America has spoken, there is little need to rehash these debates.

Start making the historical argument that tax rates have been much much higher in times of crisis, i.e., in 1942 the effective tax rate on people making 200K and up per year was 88 percent and guess what the rich didn't disappear, they didn't die off, they paid their fair share and many continued to gain even more weatlh.

Demand the weathly pay a fair share.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:32 PM

32. Not exactly...

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:38 PM

33. We know this, why doesn't Dick Durbin?

...and the rest of them who keep repeating this?

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Response to Up2Late (Reply #33)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 08:56 AM

45. How do you convince an entire public that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are unavoidable

without a "fiscal cliff" boogeyman? We are witnessing a grand deception that has been been scripted in advance, and is now being played out in DC and by much of the media. Likely it will even include some posters here on DU who will be at the ready to reassure folks that the cuts are not so bad considering the "dire circumstances" that forced them upon us. Transparent kabuki to some of us, but for many folks it is sufficient and believable. I have a sister in law that used to talk about Soap Operas she watched regularly as if they were stories about a neighbor or family member. Some have difficulty in separating reality from fiction, and that is the bedrock of their plan.


"It is the president's position that when we're talking about a broad, balanced approach to dealing with our fiscal challenges, that that includes dealing with entitlements," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday, referring to the mammoth benefit programs.

Centrist Democrats in the Senate argue that fellow Democrats must be willing to consider cuts to Medicare and Medicaid:

"It has to be both – a significant revenue increase as well as spending cuts," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who is retiring as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said rising health care costs in Medicare and Medicaid are helping to drive future spending, making them an essential part of a long-term deficit-reduction package.

"I've been part of every bipartisan group here. We've always put everything on the table," Conrad said. "If you're going to solve this problem, you're going to have to deal with where the spending is and the revenue can be raised."

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:43 PM

34. Who thought up the name 'fiscal cliff?'

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Response to Rosa Luxemburg (Reply #34)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:28 PM

35. can't say

Can't say offhand but it has the ring of Luntz newspeak.

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Response to Rosa Luxemburg (Reply #34)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 02:23 AM

36. It was Bernake. We need to use the term Fiscal Bluff.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #36)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 07:56 PM

56. it's sounds scary

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Response to Rosa Luxemburg (Reply #56)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 09:18 PM

57. Yes, it's a lie meant to scare people, because it really is debt reduction.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 02:24 AM

37. Let's use the term "Fiscal Bluff" as it is a lie, a deception....?

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #37)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 06:20 AM

40. a "bluff" that is given credence by our beloved democratic party...

...remember, this "cliff/bluff" is a result of another "bargain" by obama and the dems.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #37)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 06:21 AM

41. a "bluff" that is given credence by our beloved democratic party...

...remember, this "cliff/bluff" is a result of another "bargain" by obama and the dems.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 02:47 AM

39. K&R nt

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 07:00 AM

42. Soooo... WHY Are Numerous "Democrats" in Congress Going Along With

 

the Scam??

Aren't they the ones signing the blank checks (along with the repugs) for bush's TWO wars of choice? what's the tab thus far- $3 Trillion??

the notion "we can't afford" important social programs is total BULLS***, and I think most people here know it.



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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 08:37 AM

43. Hear, hear!

k&r

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 08:50 AM

44. When the wolves are at the door



You don't open the door to have a "discussion".
You open the door to beat them down with a baseball bat.

Plouffe, Durban, etc...need to understand that the wolves at the door are the private sector vulture corporatists and banksters disguised as the mainstream media and the Republican Party dying to feast on our safety nets.


---

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 09:08 AM

46. Ambiguity

The issue is the ambiguity and unease created by the current lack of explanation of the numbers. I still can't make out what the hell is happening to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I have to rely on he said, she said. I have seen the jumble of numbers a dozen times and I still don't feel good about them. Especially when we have a large Baby Boomer population that wants to live until they are 90 soaking up a lot of those funds.

Does anybody have a solid, reliable Nate Silverersque website that explains it all? And why don't Progressives have someone out there pounding away at a counter message? The Wall Streeters have great marketing skills, where are ours? Is Bill Clinton the only dubious asset we have?

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 11:53 AM

52. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed....

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 05:03 PM

55. Just another example of why its pointless to listen to the MSM

... because they're all still trying to sell the right. People should just boycott them.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:10 AM

58. Not an 'entitlement' system

That is what the rich are born into. That is THEIR word.
Ours is a benefit.


Benefit.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:11 AM

59. Does anyone know if there is an anti-"fiscal cliff" b.s. group on Facebook?

We need to start countering the propaganda in social media.

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