Newtown Shooting May Cool Washington’s Partisan Passions
mouthpiece correspondent Jackie Calmes writes that the slaughter of 20 first graders has a miraculous silver lining! It seems that mass infanticide is magically greasing the skids of the Two-Man American Catfood Team. Boehner and Obama may be coasting to the finish line* in the Grand Bargain Olympics! They're putting the brakes on just in time to avoid that terrible horrible plunge down the pretend Fiscal Cliff.
Other players on the corporate media's Trial Balloon Team are signalling that our Social Security benefits will be cut after all, thanks to that sneaky cost-of-living adjustment known as chained CPI. It's sneaky, because not only will our lifetime benefits be cut, but middle income people will actually end up paying more in taxes now for less generous monthly checks when they retire. Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post explains the horror so I won't have to:
The group getting the biggest tax hike is families making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Their increase is almost six times that faced by millionaires. That’s because millionaires are already in the top bracket, so they’re not being pushed into higher marginal rates because of changing bracket thresholds. While a different inflation measure might mean that the cutoff between the 15 percent and 25 percent goes from $35,000 to $30,000, the threshold for the top 35 percent bracket is already low enough that all millionaires are paying it. Some of their income is taxed at higher rates because of lower thresholds down the line, but as a percentage of income that doesn’t amount to a whole lot.
Meanwhile, consummate centrist cheerleader Jackie Calmes is framing this as a great victory in her news analysis. You may remember that she'd dutifully helped get the austerity ball rolling with her recent puff piece about the Catfood Duo of Simpson & Bowles. The Chained CPI Plan of Death comes direct from their shriveled little reptilian brains.
Think about it this way -- two other political hacks named Obama and Boehner are actually using the slaughter of children as cover for slaughtering old people. In the stifling world of Jackie Calmes, anyway, children's deaths are having a "salutary effect" on the deal made in hell. Her nauseating analysis:
While seemingly unrelated — the emotionally wrenching holiday-season massacre of 20 first graders and six of their guardians, and Washington’s mind-numbing fiscal fight to reduce deficits — the first cannot fail to have a salutary effect on the latter, say veterans of Washington’s partisan wars from both parties. (I am taking bets on whether the initials of these "veteran insiders" are B&S).
For all their dissimilarities, past horrors — like the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, the 1998 killings of two Capitol policemen, the Columbine school murders the following year in Colorado and certainly the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — at least for a time cooled partisan passions that had been high beforehand, and in some cases prompted bipartisan actions on unrelated matters. (The two factions of the Money Party came together in a wondrous Kumbaya moment to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act just a few months after the massacre at Columbine High School. And who could forget the way they joined forces to kill the Bill of Rights after 9/11? Ain't disaster capitalism da bomb?)Yeah, put the emphasis on the "unrelated matters." If you were thinking, as I was for about five minutes, that Obama meant what he said at last night's memorial service and would be bully-pulpitting on gun control today, you were sadly mistaken. To the contrary -- the White House is already tamping down any great expectations. Spokesman Jay Carney was characteristically mealy-mouthed:
"I think we all recognize that this is a complex problem and there are obstacles to taking action coming from a variety of places. What the president hopes is that everyone steps back and looks at the situation that has to be addressed and thinks broadly and thoughtfully about how we can move forward."But back to our looming diet of cat food. Paul Krugman is on the fence about it, agonizing over whether we should agree to a bad deal in order to save the most vulnerable from an even worse deal. His commenters (me included) are understandably gobsmacked. This is just one more chapter of lesser-evilism in the 50 Shades of Sadism series of schlock that we are being forced to listen to, day in and day out.
Carney suggested that the most Americans can immediately expect to see out of the White House will be an effort to engage the public "in the coming weeks." (wait till after Christmas when low attention spanned citizens will have forgotten all about Newtown.)
* The Times is now reporting that Obama made the latest counter-offer. Obama put Social Security on the table. He didn't cave, he didn't capitulate. He is simply making good on his promise to piss off his base. Now we have to hope that the Republican wingers will give it a thumbs-down and we can all merrily sled down the slippery slope.