When the movers and shakers of the Beltway realize that "Grand Bargain" is now one of the most loathed phrases in America. When the bipartishits realize that the whole country is on to their collusion to defy the wishes of 80% of the American public by "reforming" the great social insurance programs of the 20th century. When they resort to weasel words and to Grand Bargain Denialism to throw the AARP and various progressive groups off the scent.
The liberal blogosphere was orgasming today over the news that Majority Leader Harry Reid has finally grown a pair and vowed to protect Social Security and Medicare from the budget chopping block!
“If you give a bully a dollar today, they ask for a dollar and a half tomorrow,” he said in a radio interview with Nevada's KNPR. “It has taken a while for all my caucus to come to that understanding. And quite frankly, the president, wonderful man that he is, he doesn’t like confrontation and he likes to work things out with people.”
“I was too lenient. Don’t blame it all on him,” Reid added.
He also ruled out the possibility that a budget conference committee convening next week will reach a "grand bargain" that would cut entitlements, raise taxes and reduce spending.
“We are not going to have a grand bargain in the near future,” he said.Not so fast with the congratulations to Give Em Hell Harry, liberals. Read the fine print. By "near future," Reid means in the next six weeks, or until mid-December when the latest bipartisan gang has deadlined itself into striking another nibbler of a deal to only temporarily stave off disaster.
There's always early next year. The government could shut down again on January 17th, and the debt ceiling is again in danger of being breached right before Valentine's Day. And thus, in only a few short months, Reid will again be open to some grand-bargaining on "entitlements":
The Democratic leader signaled that he could be open to minor trimming of some Medicare or Social Security spending as part of deal that involves tax revenue. Obama in his last budget included more means testing for Medicare and lower Social Security benefits as part of a new inflation calculation.
“The president has stuck his neck out ... there has to be some reciprocity here,” he said.
Asked about entitlements, Reid said: “I am happy to do that on some grand bargain ... that is not going to happen this time.”Reid said this even while admitting that Social Security is "the most successful program in the history of the world. It's not about to go broke."
Thus does Harry Reid echo the sentiments of chief GOP budget negotiator Paul Ryan, who has once again pivoted from Tea Party Crazyville and is safely back in Third Way New Democrat (centrist plutocrat cult) territory. Remember, it was only a couple weeks ago that Ryan, too, was heavy into Grand Bargain denialism. Of course, it's just a matter of employing the right semantics and weasel words. Although, like Reid, he proclaims himself opposed to a Grand Bargain, he, too, still wants a grand bargain of entitlement cuts in the not-so-distant near future:
"If we focused on doing some big grand bargain, like those prior efforts ... then I don't think we'll be successful because we'll focus on our differences. Each party will demand that the other compromises a core principle and then we'll get nothing done."
Ryan, who will lead Republicans on the 29-member negotiating panel that convenes on October 30, said there is a better chance of finding common ground with Democrats on "smarter" spending cuts to replace the across-the-board reductions to discretionary spending. He said these include reductions and reforms to expensive federal benefits programs known as entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare and some farm subsidy programs. (Karen here: he means cutting food stamps to starve people, but is too cowardly to say so right out loud.)And don't despair, all ye who entered here in hopes of finding a stocking-full of cat food for Christmas. Because President Obama is suddenly agreeable to
And now I know what Obama really meant when he appeared before a group of disabled people last year and promised he would "have their backs."
As an antidote to the Grand Bargain propaganda campaigns of Plutopundit Tom Friedman and his pluto-pal Stan Druckenmiller, and all manner of Doomsday Coots in Suits, Paul Krugman has written a great column ripping them all a new one. My response:
Druckenmiller belongs to the Forbes 400 billionaires who now possess more wealth than 150 million other Americans combined. Yet there he goes, touring the country, whining to college kids and scapegoating Grandma as the Cruella DeVil stealing their hopes and dreams and puppies. Not he and the austerian masters of high finance!
They've got a bad case of plutocratic paranoia -- fear that the old, the disabled, poor families, and veterans are scraping by at their expense.
Druckenmiller, Pete Peterson and the whole gang of media-dubbed "thought leaders" think they own the place. Well, actually they do own the place. And they want to own the people inhabiting the place. They're the ideological descendants of feudal lords, plantation owners and robber barons. They want their labor free or cheap, and they want the right to discard it when it's outlived its usefulness.
And the people at the bottom are starting to get restless. McWorkers are demanding a living wage. Retirees are refusing to accept chained CPI cuts to their earned benefits. Teachers and students and other victims of privatization are striking. The SEC is threatening to enforce a Dodd-Frank rule that CEOs must reveal the obscene gap between their wealth and the peanuts they pay in wages. (average ratio is now 350 to 1 and climbing.)
The paranoid plutocrats know they've gone too far, but they're powerless to overcome their own addictions. It's past time to give them some hefty taxation therapy, wouldn't you say?