Thursday, November 29, 2012

Democrats Could Make Sure Working Families Come Out Ahead In The Grand Bargain-- But Do They Want That?


Remember how the Republicans whined all year about how Obamacare was cutting Medicare and what an outrage that was? Their base was paying attention and now conservatives are sold on the notion that Congress must not cut Medicare. I bet Ryan, Boehner and the crew would like to strangle Romney if they could find him now!
Sixty percent of Americans favor raising taxes on incomes over $250,000. Sixty three percent of independents, 65 percent of moderates, and even 47 percent of conservatives, agree. By contrast, 67 percent of Americans oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age-- as do 68 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of conservatives... There is a widespread consensus that higher taxes on the rich must be part of any deficit solution, and that the core mission of major social programs and the safety net-- and the social contract underlying them-- should be left untouched for beneficiaries.

So Americans clearly DO NOT want to see Medicare cut, right? That won't stop our political elites, who are beholden to the corporate interests that demand it, and who are, themselves, too distant from the governed to govern in their interest. Reports show that Obama and Boehner have agreed to a framework for a Grand Bargain that, as of this morning, includes "at least" $400 billion in Medicare cuts. Any Member of Congress who votes to cut Medicare will have to explain that to his or her constituents in primaries and the general election in 2014. There will probably be a lot of turn-over in the House.

Although it should be, in a not unrelated development, Oklahoma conservative Tom Cole, a former NRCC chairman, is urging his fellow Republicans to go along with President Obama's demands that the Bush tax cuts on working families-- defined as anyone making under $250,000 a year-- be extended immediately. He claims this doesn't even go against the Grover Norquist Pledge. Cole says he isn't the only high-ranking House Republican taking this stand. “I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,” he said of freezing income tax rates for all but the top 2 percent of earners. “It doesn’t mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don’t.” Cole says his approach robs Obama of his ability to paint Republicans as hostage takers against American working families. Boehner says he doesn't agree with Cole (and refuses to give up his hostage-- us.) The NY Times editors say they're "unimpressed" that a few Republicans claim they would drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub. No one's going to believe them 'til we see the bloated purple corpse for one thing. Or, as the Times editors put it:
No credit is due to a party that has suddenly accepted the obvious when it has no choice, particularly after two years of irresponsibly reducing the deficit only from the spending side. True flexibility means acknowledging that tax rates for the rich have to go up, and then negotiating how much and which ones. But, so far, Republicans have been just as closed to that reality as they have been for years, ignoring both the election results and the plain arithmetic of deficit reduction.

“No Republican will vote for higher tax rates,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, announced on CBS News’s Face the Nation recently.

Raising rates on the rich remains so taboo to party leaders that they have twisted themselves into knots to avoid it, coming up with several convoluted alternative schemes to bring in revenue just so they can tell their supporters that rates were left untouched. Most of them involve putting caps on popular deductions like the vital one for charitable donations. Apparently, Republicans are so wedded to keeping the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich that they would prefer to hurt charities and the vast nonprofit sector, which would inevitably suffer if donations from the rich could not be deducted.

A deduction limit also doesn’t raise very much money. Capping deductions at $50,000, as Senator Bob Corker, a Republican of Tennessee, has proposed, would raise only $727 billion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center, far less than the $1 trillion in revenues from ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Excluding the charitable deduction from that cap would raise only $473 billion.

In exchange for these nonconcessions, Republicans want vast cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit the middle class and the poor.

Fortunately, President Obama is ignoring these head-fakes and holding firm to the principles that won him re-election. This week, he is embarking on a campaign to take his case to the public, meeting with middle-class taxpayers and visiting a toy company in Pennsylvania that he says would be hurt if a tax cut for middle- and lower-income levels isn’t restored.

So far, the House has refused to pass a Senate bill to keep those tax cuts, hoping to use them as leverage to preserve cuts for the rich. Speaker John Boehner even threatened yet again to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless he gets his way, another sign of how far Republican leaders are willing to go to cling to the failed policies of the past.
Over in the Senate, where the Democratic caucus is filled with conservative Wall Street whores, there's a lack of unity on how to proceed. Distance between senatorial elites and normal American families is now so vast and unbridgeable, that many Democrats in that body find it perfectly natural to make common ground with Republicans to balance the budget on the backs of ordinary working families. Not even countering a whore like Lieberman, right-wing, corporately-oriented, anti-populist Democrats like Ben Nelson (NE), Joe Manchin (WV), Mary Landrieu (LA), Mark Pryor (AR), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Warner (VA), Michael Bennet (CO), Max Baucus (MT), Tom Carper (DE), Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Udall (CO), Jim Webb (VA), and Kent Conrad (ND) have far more in common with extreme right Republican senators than they do with the Democratic grassroots.

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At 1:32 PM, Blogger Pats said...

Fortunately, even in this day and age, the rich still only get one vote each. The Republicans who are up for re-election in two years should think about that. If 98% of the population is pissed at you for raising their taxes and not the taxes of the ultra-rich, you will not be going back to Washington.

Let the top 2% be mad and spend all the money they want trying to buy the next election. They tried doing that to get Romney elected, but they couldn't convince enough of the 98% to vote for him. It warms my heart to see people not voting against their own best interests.

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous me said...

Based on past observation, I predict, with great confidence, that Obama will sell us out yet again.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger John said...

WHAT "Senate bill to keep those tax cuts" ... "for middle- and lower-income" Americans??

Please give the bill number ... and several reasons why Mr Israel did not base his job of repopulating the House with Democrats on the need to pass this bill.

OK, OK ... I'll settle for the bill number.

John Puma


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