Monday, July 25, 2011

Bargain Hunter in Chief

Standard & Poors, the same credit rating agency that gave AAA ratings to Enron just a few days before it went bust, the same tool of Wall Street that said subprime mortgage-backed securities were just dandy investments, now runs the United States.  Actually, Wall Street and the "jittery investors" and the profit-bloated corporations run the United States, and S&P is just the messenger.  Either you lower the deficit by four trillion at the same time you raise the debt ceiling, or we will give you a bad score, USA!  The four trillion in cuts, of course, is the same figure Obama has proffered to the Republicans, with no urging from them at all.

He said he wanted a Grand Bargain with revenues, but the latest scuttlebut this morning is that Harry Reid agreed to a 2.7 trillion cut with no revenues.  And the world is ending, so President Obama will have no choice but to "cave" to the GOP yet again.  And he'll claim he is a responsible adult for doing so, and that he must now be re-elected as the hero who allowed Grandma to get her social security check this month. 

This is all pre-arranged bullshit, of course.  His only goal is his own re-election and to hell with the Depression and 20 percent real unemployment and actual people.  It'll be interesting to see what he will campaign on now.  The Joy of Suffering?  Masochism for the Masses?

I'd love to see a contingent of congressional Democrats converging on the White House to inform the president that he no longer enjoys support from his own party and should give up seeking a second term. In my dreams of course.

Let's start another thread.  The situation will likely be changing by the hour.  It's all part of Kabuki Suspense Armageddon Theater, and we're just the little people in the peanut gallery.


Ciara said...

Good morning, Karen. Thank you for your update on what's happening and for your usually trenchant analysis. My question at the moment is -- what is up with Reid? Wasn't it only a week ago that he was Holding Firm and Refusing to Give In?

As to the Obama platform for 2012, I can only assume that it will be the same as the Democratic platform for 2010. Namely, "We're not as bad as they are."

It had little appeal in 2010, and I don't think it's going to have much in 2012 either.

John in Lafayette said...


The Democrats can try playing the "we aren't as bad as they are" card, but people are finally waking up to the fact that that just isn't true. The Democrats ARE just as bad. Karen is correct; this is all just pre-scripted Kabuki. The outcome has never been in doubt.

Thomas Friedman had a column yesterday concerning Americans Elect, ostensibly a centrist group dedicated to bringing true bipartisanship to the presidential election by finding a ticket that includes both a Democrat and a Republican. I had a response which the Lord of the Comments chose not to publish. In it I said that the notion that pairing a Democrat with a Republican on a presidentail ticket would give us centrism is absurd, since the Democrats are already the party of the center-right, while the Republicans are the party of the hard core right.

What Americans want - and poll after poll tells us this - is a progressive candidate. Someone who will actually deliver on the promises Barack Obama made back in 2008. Americans Elect is not about to provide us with that, certainly not with the method they've chosen to identify a candidate.

Of course, they don't really want to do what they say they want to do, anyway. Friedman glosses over where Americans Elect's money is coming from: hedge funds. Need I say any more?

Ciara said...

John, I'm a little puzzled as to why you addressed your remarks to me. Didn't I say that "We're not as bad as they are" had little appeal and was not likely to have more?

As far as the Dems not being as bad as the Republicans . . . that's almost true. But it just isn't actually true. You yourself draw a distinction between the center-right (Democrats) and the extreme hard right (Republicans).

Need I say more?

Marie Burns said...

If the whole purpose of the Dance of the Deficit is, as some commentators have suggested, to divert our attention from the fact that Washington is too dysfunctional to come up with a jobs program, it isn't working very well, is it?

The news for the past day is that the House & Senate are going to go on their merry separate ways, each crafting their own, unique bills. To what end? In all the weeks of Crazy Debt Deals, this has to be the craziest. And ABC News is reporting that the White House is giving 50-50 odds that the government will go into default.

There has not been a more irresponsible Congress in my lifetime. Thank you, Karl Rove, Mr. & Mr. Koch, Dick Armey and all the rest of you Tea Party enablers. You have brought the country to its knees. We were a lot better off when you boys were just rallying around anti-flag-burning Constitutional Amendments & DOMA.

The Constant Weader at

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Hello Karen.

You've got a great blog. You don't mince words here, and of course you can say what "All the news that's fit to print" won't themselves say, and won't let you post.

I've just started my own blog at:
and my first post is up. I welcome you and your other readers to visit. My style is much more formal, very low key compared to yours, but hopefully people will find something of value anyway. My posts will probably be fairly infrequent, and mainly at times when I need to exceed the New York Times current 2000-character limit, which can be quite limiting when I want to develop a line of thought. Eventually I may also post on environmental issues, a subject I know a bit about.

Keep up the good work!

Fred Drumlevitch

Karen Garcia said...

I visited your blog and was mightily impressed. (For those of you who don't know, Fred is a frequent NY Times commenter). I will link to it under my blog roll.
Incidentally, I tried to leave my own comment on your site, but couldn't get through. Will try again later. Blogspot has annoying glitches at times.

James F Traynor said...

The brothers Koch et al seem to getting what they want. What worries me is that the Democratic pols don't seem at all worried, Obama least of all. Why? If this were anything like a democracy and they listened to the polls concerning things like 'entitlements' they'd be scurrying around like cockroaches.

We are half in and half out of the markets. The 'half in' is in conservative funds and one stock, the sole survivor of our stock portfolio. We have depended on social security and a pension for the greater part of our income, now even more so after the debacle of '07-'08. Poor Krugman, I saw him on Charley Rose with David Brooks. He looked almost demented and ready to explode. Rose is a sleazy bastard, but really knows how to manage an interview.

I guess the general public has been pretty much sold on having to trim 'entitlements' to some extent in order to be 'fair'. God, what ignoramuses. We don't have enough money to flee to a place like Australia which requires foreign residents to have at least $750K as an 'investment'. I'm eligible for an Irish passport under dual citizenship and am thinking about that. I don't think this country could survive under complete Republican control. The political atmosphere is getting more an more like the last days of the Weimar Republic.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

We might as well just get used to living in a country in ruins.

Napoleon said...

Though the price has been high and a lot of trust in particular elected officials has evaporated, still we have learned a lot, enough to be wary and to dampen our expectations. A somber political reassessment is clearly in order but with recognition that we can still be driven over a cliff or can help drive ourselves over the cliff.

John in Lafayette said...

Actually, Ciara, I wasn't trying to argue with you. I thought I was agreeing with you, at least as far as the "we're not as bad as they are" argument goes.

But for all practical purposes, I don't see much difference between the center right Democrats and the hard right Republicans. Both are prepared to dismantle Social Security and Medicare. Both are prepared to give even more tax breaks to the wealthiest while balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class and our grandchildren. Both are prepared to roll over for the banks and multinational corporations.

True, the Democrats might not be quite so bad as the Republicans (Supreme Court nominees come to mind), but the tragedy of the Democrats is not what they are, but what they are not. They aren't the strong voice for the working class they used to be. They aren't the voice of the poor any more. And that, for me, that betrayal makes them as bad as any Republican.

The Black Swan said...

I don't understand how the acts of Congress aren't treasonous. These guys are purposefully damaging our country! This is worse than anything 'al-Qaeda' ever achieved. Our government (well, not really ours) is actively pursuing policies that are going to harm the majority of Americans. How is this possible? Why is the media so quiet? What can be done? It is overwhelming. I know many people here are frustrated, and angry and want to be able to do something, anything to save us. But outside of a full scale revolution what can we do? The government does not care. They have the state police out there trampling over our civil rights, they wholly own the media, they have people too tired and/or scared to stand up for themselves. The people have no power within the current system. It is frightening.

Ciara said...

The police, in attempting to find the perpetrator of a crime, routinely ask: Cui bono? (Who benefits?) So I'd like to ask: who will benefit from a default? Politically, the answer will depend solely on perception. Whomever the public sees as responsible will lose a great deal of credibility, and earn a good deal of opprobrium.

Assuming we are correct, however, in believing that huge financial forces are at work -- who will benefit financially from a default? We sort of know who will be harmed (us). But who will benefit?

Ciara said...

One of my deepest fears is that "independent" voters will look at the political landscape in 2012; see that Republicans have made the country ungovernable so long as Obama is president; and decide to elect a Republican.

Ciara said...

Looking at FireDogLake's analysis of the Reid plan, and noting that no new revenues are raised under this plan, the question suddenly occurs to me -- do Democrats get anything at all under it? anything? Some of the cuts will come from Afghanistan, etc., so I guess that is supposed to be "something." Once Obama becomes aware that there are a few grains for Dems in that gruel, I think we can trust him to "negotiate" them away.

James F Traynor said...

If you have 2 or 3 billion dollars and lose 1/2 of it, what does that mean? And how does one evaluate the holdings of the really rich? Their power?
Who gains by a default? Certainly the Kochs and their like gain in political power. The rest of the super rich? At worst it would be a slight downward movement in their holdings, lessened by short positions in strategic securities. For some it would be a slight gain. For the rest of us? Why even ask?

Valerie Long Tweedie (VLT) said...

You know, I just can't believe people aren't protesting about the government, led by both Republicans and Democrats, going after Social Security and Medicare. All of us who once had healthy retirement accounts and pensions saw them decimated by the crash. Many have gone into what was left of their retirement savings to save their houses, pay off overly inflated credit card bills, pay medical bills, help children and grandchildren or just survive financially. The Middle Class are working harder than ever – frequently doing the work of one-and-a-half people yet afraid to complain about the overload of work, loss of benefits and loss of rights for fear of losing their jobs. Many of us who were once secure, barely make enough to pay our bills let alone save for an uncertain retirement. This same Middle Class now will be forced to rely heavily on Social Security and MediCare to make ends meet in our later years. It is something we all have in common, regardless of political affiliation.

My husband says it is like the United States is regressing back to the times of Feudal Europe where the peasants (most of us) are worked until they drop and then are cast aside (no retirement, no health care) easily replaced by younger people who will then repeat the cycle.

I know that Tea Party types have helped get us into the economic mess we are in and are heavily manipulated by Fox News and the corporate oligarchy but let’s be fair; the Democrats in Congress, with very few exceptions, and Obama and Co. have betrayed the Middle Class just as much by colluding with the very same oligarchy. I never thought I would be proposing it, but maybe it is time for the Progressives and the Tea Party to work together to fight for the things we have in common.

We all agree that it is unfair that the Middle Class is having to pay for the excesses of Wall Street, we all agree that off-shoring jobs has decimated our Middle Class and we need those jobs back, we all agree that our regulatory agencies are corrupted, we all agree that our tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on wars and corrupt foreign governments while we don’t have enough to pay our bills at home, and we all agree that we need Social Security and Medicare to survive. We have been pitted against each other for far too long. I admit there is a big chasm – the issue of big government vs. small government, more taxes vs. fewer taxes - but at least these people are willing to get out in the streets and fight for something. Right now, if feel that apathy amongst Democrats who are willing to drink the kool-aide, believing that Obama and Co are doing their best, and close to 50% of our population who don’t bother to become informed and vote at all is the biggest problem in our Democracy.

What is going on in our government is indeed Kubuki Theatre – our elected reps (for the most part) on both sides of the aisle are selling us out and we need all the troops we can find to fight this battle. We can’t afford to be pitted against each other any longer and the sooner we understand this, the better. We need to focus on what we have in common and agree to disagree on the rest.

I am really scared for my country and if we as a Middle Class don’t get our act together soon, it will be too late.

John in Lafayette said...

Anyone care to bet on what the Bargain Hunter in Chief is going to say tonight? I'm betting he puts down a take it or leave it offer to Republicans that includes big cuts to both Social Security and Medicare. I will also bet that he will have tax increases in his offer, but that the spending cuts will be at least three times as large as the tax increases. I'll also bet that his tax increases will consist of "loophole closing" and not actual increases in rates. Under no circumstances will the wealthiest actually be called upon to pay more.

He will then dare the Republicans to walk away.

It will move from kabuki theater to a game of chicken, a game where the only losers will be the American public.

Ciara said...

Now that Reid & Schumer have offered Republicans everything they wanted, and now that Republicans have moved the goalposts once again, I can only assume that Obama is getting ready to give Republicans what they now want. If there is time for another round, perhaps Republicans will make a new set of demands, and Obama can cave on those too.

James F Traynor said...

I think John is probably right; we're toast.

Napoleon said...

@Valerie Long Tweedie

Wow! What you described in the first paragraph of your last post is exactly how Democratic Congressional leaders and Obama should have described the reasons why now is not the time to allow a debt default to risk interfering with payments of social security and medicare benefits.

Similarly, these reasons should have been cited as reasons not to curtail future payments of these benefits given the uncertainty that exists in knowing what type of permanent changes in the labor force and unemployment statistics have been wrought by the economic recession Republicans created.

So stated, the reasons would parallel the kind of reasons Republicans offer for why the rich can't be taxed more, except that they would be honest and true reasons.

adirondax said...

Unfortunately President Obama has come across as pretty much of a rook since he took office. Simply not ready for Prime Time.

He has been successfully intimidated by the Republicans, and doesn't seem to understand that the bully pulpit is his and his alone to use as the Commander in Chief.

The 2010 election results fall squarely at this President's feet, and he continues to run from rather than turn and face an angry mob that he helped create by his lack of leadership. Imagine turning over the single payer option to the likes of Max Baucus, a senator from a state with what, 600,000 people?

His post-partisan political stance is just simply a re-run of his Harvard Law Review episode. Get elected by Liberals and Progressives, and then abandon them while playing to all the Conservatives in the room.

Giving away social safety net programs is no way to balance any budget issue. Reinstating normal tax rates on the wealthy is. As is a bringing home of the troops and dismantling the "war without end" organization that is the Pentagon.

But it's going to get worse before it gets better. Let's just hope the next "change" candidate doesn't have a group of brown shirts standing in front of the American flags on the podium behind him during that election cycle.

Regrettably, it could happen. Mark my words.

Denis Neville said...

Another view from the peanut gallery…

Compare Barack Obama with Herbert Hoover.

Today’s image of Hoover is that of an indifferent president who allowed the nation to self destruct.

Kevin Baker in Harper’s Magazine, “Barack Hoover Obama,” tells about President Hoover’s attempts to provide jobs, charity, and a private banking pool for the unemployed masses. He initiated Home Loan Discount Banks to assist home owner refinance their mortgages in order to save their homes. He created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation as, Baker suggests, “a direct rebuttal to Andrew Mellon’s prescription of creative destruction. Rather than liquidating banks, railroads, and agricultural cooperatives, the RFC would lend them money to stay afloat.”

Fast forwarding to the presidency of Barack Obama, “it’s as if, after winning election in 1932, FDR had brought Andrew Mellon [and his prescription of creative destruction] back to the Treasury,” Baker writes.

Where’s the compassion in Obama’s passion to gut New Deal and Great Society programs? In his destructive creation, Grand Bargain, to cut Social Security and Medicare?

Obama is no Herbert Hoover. In fact, he is worse than Hoover. Obama, the “Bargain Hunter in Chief” with his prescription of creative destruction.

Welcome to the Lesser Depression.

Ciara said...

This will complement Denis' post (above) pretty nicely. It's a paragraph from Obama's 2008 speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president --

"The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals."

Read it and weep, eh?

Janet Camp said...

@Clara (speech quote)

Indeed. The essence of that speech is what got Obama elected. It was behind the unbounded joy of winning the election and the inauguration. But then....the Fox, Koch, John Birch Society, Tea Party, et al, machine went into overdrive.

When I read Brooks column this morning (NYT), my jaw dropped when he blathered on about how Obama must "move to the center". I really could not go on and just skipped to the "comments".

VLT said...

Unlike MLK, Obama doesn't write his own speeches. They don't come from his heart and they don't reflect his beliefs. They are written by speechwriters with the intent to manipulate the masses into trusting O'Betrayer - despite the fact that he proves over and over again, that he can't be trusted. I agree with Denis, Obama is worse than Herbert Hoover.

Adirondax - I share your fear. As the oligarchy accumulates more and more of the pie and the Middle Class continues to lose out to those entities that can pay campaign contributions, you can bet those in power are working to assure that no one can take their ill-gotten gains away from them. While we have been distracted by war, economic woes and false crises like the debt ceiling, our civil rights continue to be eroded.

John in Lafayette said...

Well, I was wrong about what Obama would say in his speech, but what he did was hardly any better. The bottom line is we'll either default on Tuesday or we'll gut Medicare and Social Security.

What's really sad is Obama is throwing Social Security under the bus when it's not even a budgetary issue. If you think he hasn't been on the side of the Republicans all along, this ought to prove it.

And you're absolutely right, VLT. The only one of the first ten amendments that still is secure is the second. How's that for a kick in the pants.