The time to revolt draws near, my friends….

On Friday, it was announced that the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to support a $649 billion defense spending bill. According to the Associated Press, this represents a $17 billion increase over last year’s appropriation. This, as the AP article points out, is particularly noteworthy, given that drastic government cuts are being demanded elsewhere. The following clip comes from the article:

…On a 336-87 vote Friday, the Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly backed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Defense Department budget by $17 billion. The strong bipartisan embrace of the measure came as White House and congressional negotiators face an Aug. 2 deadline on agreeing to trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts and raising the borrowing limit so the U.S. does not default on debt payments…

By way of background, it’s probably worth noting that, we already spend far more than the next dozen countries combined when it comes to military expenditures. The following clip comes by way of Politicus USA:

…There is never any doubt that America needs and depends on a strong military to protect the nation’s interests around the world and defend the country from foreign aggression. Indeed, as of 2009, America spent more on defense than the next 16 countries combined, and that is 6 times the next biggest spender (China) and ten times the second biggest (Russia). With our involvement in two unnecessary wars, it is expected that America’s defense budget is larger than any peaceful nation’s, but this country’s propensity for imperialism and warmongering has kept defense spending at record levels for decades; even during the fleeting peaceful periods.

As Republicans decimate program after program with claims that America is broke and cannot afford to assist the unemployed, children and seniors, and struggling middle-class families, they always find plenty of funds to feed the military-industrial complex under the guise of supporting the troops and keeping America safe…

It’s also worth noting, before we move on, that several in the military, as well as the members of the President’s non-partisan Deficit Commission believe that the defense budget should be cut. Not only that, but some high-level military leaders are convinced that we’re putting our national security at risk by cutting education, healthcare and environmental protection.

Speaking of those Draconian cuts to all things non-military, our nation’s leaders are said to be meeting this evening, discussing the proper ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. At last report, they were talking about $4 trillion in spending cuts, with only modest increases in taxes… The following comes from the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein.

…The Obama administration has agreed to a debt-ceiling deal that’s 83% spending cuts and 17% tax increases — mere inches away from the magic 83:15 ratio that the Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee asked for back in March.

The Obama administration has functionally agreed to redefine a “grand bargain” as a deal that trades lots of spending cuts and some entitlement reforms for a small number of tax increases. And as the taxes go up, so will the ambition of the entitlement reforms. In today’s New York Times, Robert Pear reports that the “Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues”..

So, now that the President has come to the table with an 83%-17% compromise, which didn’t really call for any new taxes at all, but just the closing of existing loopholes in the tax code, the Republicans are saying that it’s not enough. They’re saying that last week’s unemployment numbers demand that we not raise any taxes on the wealthy, period, irregardless of the evidence showing that lowering taxes doesn’t lead to the creation of jobs. (If it did, we’d have been swimming in new job since the passage of the Bush tax cuts several years ago.)

Here, with more on the deficit ceiling talks, is a clip from the Huffington Post:

…Hours before a major White House meeting over the debt ceiling negotiations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday a grand bargain over the deficit may be dead, with Republicans unwilling to accept revenue-raising measures in exchange for major spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

“We have 9.2 percent unemployment, and their response is to raise taxes? I mean, my goodness,” McConnell told “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m for the biggest deal possible too, but we’re not going to raise taxes.”

Talks over a deal to raise the debt ceiling are stalled, after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced on Saturday he would not accept a major package of cuts if it included revenue-raisers. With the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling rapidly approaching, Boehner has said Republicans and Democrats are still far from reaching a deal.

“I think it is [off the table], because everything they’ve told me and the speaker is that to get a big package would require big tax increases in the middle of an economic situation that’s extraordinarily difficult, with 9.2 percent unemployment,” McConnell said. “We think it’s a terrible idea. It’s a job killer.”

Republicans had previously pushed for major spending cuts, including to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as part of a debt-reduction deal. But with reports that Obama wants a “grand bargain” deal that combines these cuts with roughly $100 billion worth of tax increases per year over ten years, Republicans are backing off, reaffirming they will not agree to tax increases even if they receive major concessions in the form of spending cuts and entitlement reforms. Now, Republicans are pushing for a deal that includes the $2.4 trillion in cuts from the Biden talks before they fell apart last month…

I’d like to go on, and continue to rant about the weak Democratic leadership in Washington, and their apparent inability to make the case to the American people that all of these problems stem from the fact that 1% of Americans have decided to stop contributing toward the long-term stability of our nation, but I’m tired of just saying the same things on this site night after night. I think that the time for ranting is quickly coming to an end. As much as I hate to acknowledge it, I think it’s coming time for me to get my fat ass off the couch and actually do something. Unfortunately, though, I don’t know what that something is. Here, while I consider the possibility of riding off into the night, ringing my bells like Paul Revere, is a poignant quote from Bill Maher:

“If you can look at a crime where everything points to one answer and not see it, you’re a dumbass. And if you can look at the deficit and not see that the problem is that the rich stopped paying taxes, you’re a Republican.”

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  1. Meta
    Posted July 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    From CREDO:

    Tell President Obama: Don’t cave to Republicans.

    It’s time to draw a line in the sand

    Go to the Credo Action website to add your name to their national petition:

    “President Obama: Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Don’t cave to Republicans and put some of the most important and successful programs in our country on the chopping block.”

    According to the New York Times1 and the Washington Post2, President Obama has offered Republicans a budget deficit deal that would lower the deficit with trillions of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – programs that had previously been off the table.

    This is disastrously wrong.

    Republican pundit David Frum had it right when he said, “The debt ceiling negotiations have amounted to a succession of retreats and concessions by President Obama.”3

    We can’t be silent and allow President Obama to cave to Republicans, and put some of the most important and successful programs in our country on the chopping block.

    House Democrats and most Democratic Senators have already said they will not go along. It is not too late.

    Tell President Obama: Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    The debt limit negotiations don’t have to play out this way. There’s absolutely no reason why negotiations about the federal deficit had to take place in the context of looming financial catastrophe if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

    By insisting that the debt ceiling vote be tied to long-term deficit reduction, the Republicans simply took the financial health of this country hostage. And rather than repudiating that strategy or calling the Republicans out for it, President Obama responded as though he could win the Republicans over through appeasement.

    We are now seeing the results of this negotiating failure. And the best thing we can do right now is speak out to prevent President Obama from making a catastrophic mistake.

    Tell President Obama: Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    The simple fact of the matter is that Republicans are willing to tank the economy for their perceived electoral benefit. And they’re willing to drive our economy into another recession rather than raise taxes on the Koch brothers. If anything we should be expanding these programs, not cutting them during this time of extreme economic duress.

    President Obama needs to stop trying to play the reasonable negotiator when the group he’s negotiating with does not have the best interests of the country in mind. If the New York Times story is true, President Obama will enable Republicans to push through a radical agenda to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – a feat that even George W. Bush couldn’t pass despite a Republican Congress.

    President Obama needs to stand up for something other than “the spirit of bipartisan compromise” with the most extreme and irresponsible elements of the Republican Party. Tell President Obama he needs to draw a line in the sand, for his own sake and for the good of the country.

    Tell President Obama: Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    Go to the Credo Action website to add your name to their national petition:

    Thank you for speaking out.

    Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    1 “Obama to Push for Wider Deal With G.O.P. on Deficit Cuts,” Carl Hulse and Mark Landler, New York Times, July 6, 2011.
    2 “In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts,” Lori Montgomery, Washington Post, July 6, 2011
    3 “Obama plays nice, GOP turns tough,” David Frum, CNN, July 5, 2011.

  2. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted July 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    It goes beyond the top 1% not contributing. That is certainly a problem, of course, but many others are actively working against what remains of the middle class. The union busting, the stagnation (and decline) of wages, the increase of personal debt to maintain a standard of living…that’s coming from all over. As I’ve said before, the saddest thing is how people who are IN the middle class are working against themselves and fighting against our their own interests. The public unions vs. private workers nonsense, the low income folks who vote against their economic interests (thinking they’ll be top 1% one day??), the sexism/racism…ugh! It’s depressing. But for reasons that I can’t understand, common working folks just won’t turn against the top 1% and the insane tax cuts for the superrich…..

  3. TaterSalad
    Posted July 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    The President of the United States is selling 125 – M1A1 Tanks to Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood. Just beautiful! What a moron! Is this because of the Israeli situtation?

  4. Posted July 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Taters, consider this your first formal warning. If you continue to make comments that don’t relate to the subject matter at hand, you will be asked to leave the site.

  5. Can't Buy Me Love
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Dear Mark, you mention “all these problems.” What are the core problems that middle class Americans are suffering from? Difficulty in paying for cable? Cell phone charges for every family member? Having to walk to work? Day old bread? What?

    (After internally defining the problems, please consider recent and ancient history and evaluate how severe problems have to become before people act. I’ll suggest that when you reach that point you won’t have to ponder “what to actually do”; you’ll jump off your couch — live or die.)

    I only ask the question because, I think, it’s worth considering how much “hardship” people have to endure before they are hungry enough to risk the violence of revolt. (Oh, we’re bothered by higher gas prices, but how many are you ready to rush the capital with pulled hand grenades? What if it risks your employability? Anyone ready to put “firebombed headquarters” on their LinkedIn page?)

    I said this before, and I’ll try it again:

    We need a cultural morality based not on self and wealth but on sacrifice for the other.

    I’ll be blunt and perhaps unduly provocative:

    “You’ll pry my guns outta my dead fingers” and “keep your hands off my body” come from the same philosophic (take some time, break it down internally) ideology. Self as ultimate. American morality = self as ultimate. Self is me, you and they.

    This isn’t a gun rights or reproductive rights post. I simply ask the few readers who make it this far to consider two things:

    1) If (=presupposition) you care for humanity, rather than nationality (plainly said, well being of all rather than yourself), why is the fate of the well fed, well wired middle class the breaking point for action? Morally speaking, why is the decline of the American middle class a “moral” issue rather than simply self preservation? If it is simple “self preservation” of the American middle class how is that universally moral? Isn’t it just, “I want”? Why is now the time to revolt? What are we revolting to gain? What might we lose by revolting?

    2) At the risk of being a broken record, I’ve said it before, and no one, left or right it seemed , was happy, but the budget is a moral document. Our credit card bills are moral documents. Our work ethics are moral documents. Our food bills are a moral document. Our hair styles are moral documents. And so on…

    America is, I feel, now more about a strange definition of freedom than an ancient definition of society.

    The American definition of Freedom, as I digest it, is essentially “no one has the right to tell anyone else what to do.” Self definition. Self determination. Get the fuck out of my [fill in the blank]. Psychotic individualism.

    Americans have two intellectually honest choices to slowly drift to:

    1) Anarchy. Morality defined by self. Self preservation the ultimate ends (the best route to self preservation open to debate.)

    2) Theocracy. Morality defined by external force. Self follows prescribed path. (the best, ultimately unquestionable, route open to debate.)

    Then they have, two contradictory options (both far more popular):

    3) Inconsistent Ambiguity: I think what I believe is externally morally right, and should be the law, even though I don’t believe in external morality. (Moral equivalent is theocracy … ultimate right and wrong.)

    4) Utilitarianism morality: It’s better to educate than incarcerate, because it cots me less in the end. (Moral equivalent is anarchy … do what’s best for self.)

    The Bill Maher’s clip, predictably, talked about the middle class. An appeal to self. Not the other (rich or third world), but an appeal to the dwindling “me.” Vote for You!!!

    That, from the gestation of the space age, has what we, as an nation, have been about, morally speaking.

    Protect you from this, profit you from that, free you from this and that, fear, free, fear, free you You YOU!

    If you can’t define an alternate story, one that isn’t about self but about sacrifice, you can’t do a god damned thing.

  6. Mr. X
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Your note, CBML, deserves a more thoughtful response. Unfortunately, I’m on my way out the door at the moment and don’t have time to craft one. I did, however, want to pass along my thoughts on anarchy, which you will find here.

    For what it’s worth, I agree with you that morality, which, to a large extent, has been left out of the equation, needs to be reintroduced. I don’t however, think that it’s a necessary prerequisite for revolution. At least I don’t recall it being a factor in our revolution against the British.

  7. EOS
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The top 1% of earners are already paying far more than their share. The top 1% of taxpayers pay about 40% of all income taxes, the top 10% pay 71%, and the top 50% pay 97% of all taxes. The bottom 50% pays less than 3% of all income taxes paid.

    Many in our country won’t be satisfied until the top 1% give 100% directly to the bottom 50%, and even sadder, most don’t understand how this would destroy the middle class entirely.

  8. Edward
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    “Many in our country won’t be satisfied until the top 1% give 100% directly to the bottom 50%.

    I’d like a reference for this, please. This is exactly the kind of bullshit you people love to spread. It has no basis in reality. No one is asking for the top 1% to give everything that they make in taxes. To suggest as much is ridiculous. That’s how the Tea Party works though. They spread lies. In reality, the most aggressive calls I’ve heard have been for people at the top to pay what they payed during the Reagan administration. You remember Reagan, right? Your hero.

  9. Edward
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    According to Facebook, 21 people actually “like” this. Why aren’t there more comments?

  10. Maria
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Good post Mark, and CBML and LOTP.
    At this point, their is a steady erosion of living standards of the middle class, certainly from the ridiculous heydays of the early 90’s. Everything, except someone’s house, costs more, work is not always a certainty, and no matter where in the spectrum of benefits and demands people were, now more is asked with basically less given. Is it like a frog in a slowly heating pot, we sit until we are boiled? Sort of.
    Noblesse oblige was a wonderful concept, and the rich in this country should reacquaint themselves with it.

  11. M23
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Can’t By Me Love,

    I would argue that people need not be starving to revolt. The division between rich and poor is less in Egypt than it is here, and yet they revolted. And the people in the street weren’t skeletal. They were young and healthy. I appreciate your point though, and doubt people here will take to the streets as long as their bellies are full, their cable is connected, and fear is in their hearts.

  12. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Happening Now: President Obama speaks on the status of efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction:

  13. Glen S.
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    @ Meta

    Any word on who will deliver the Democratic response?

  14. JSam
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Well keep dogging President Obama. He has to compromise…partly because a lot of lazy ass Progressives sat on their hands and DID NOT VOTE last election!!!! Now that the Dirty Regressive Repugnants have control you want Pres Obama to save the country for Progressives.
    The Regressives love it when you attack President Obama.
    You’re playing right into the Regressives hands.
    Thanks loads.

  15. Glen S.
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    @ JSAM

    On the contrary … Obama’s frequent lack of resolve and failure to make use of the enormous mandate he was handed in 2008 have only served to disappoint his progressive base — while simultaneously serving to both create and embolden the “Tea Party” wing of the Republican Party — who have quickly learned that when the chips are down, Obama will buckle to their political pressure.

    Now that Obama is openly (and brazenly) negotiating away key New Deal programs that are at the core of what’s left of America’s safety net — for some kind of vague promise to close tax “loopholes,” the Republicans can smell blood in the water.

    Blaming “progressives’ for pointing out Obama’s repeated strategic blunders does nothing to help the situation …

  16. Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget that a portion of this spending bill is just pure corruption aimed at keeping the defense industry moving.

    The DoD doesn’t think we need ten more Boeing C-17’s as 250 million apiece. Republicans do.

    That’s 2.5 billion dollars. That could go a long way to improving schools, or giving health care to the uninsured, or even in helping to spur new industries that are more in line with our future.

    I can’t believe that those who argue for “small government” and “fiscal responsibility” would support this clear example of political corruption at its worst.

  17. Tommy
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Part of me wants to end Medicare and Social Security. This will force the asshole Senior Citizens who have become greed ‘me first’ bastards who don’t support anything for anybody and join stupid organizations like the Tea Party to taste a bit of pain. Ditto for the Health Care industry and the Pharmaceutical Industry that would collapse. Ending Social Security would force the ‘me first’ middle aged populace to now care for their parents and taste what that feels like or, if not, have elderly starving by the score on every street corner. After we see an America that we no longer like or want, adults take over and something reasonable comes of it. then I wake up, reach for the remote, grab my iPad and surf the web for free porn.

  18. Eel
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s time to consider the fact that he’s neither weak nor inept, but that he doesn’t give a shit about those of us who aren’t in the top 1%.

    And this whole situation, I’d like to point out, could have been avoided if he had just done the right thing in December and allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire. This crisis was of his making.

  19. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Just to be clear, Glen, those weren’t my words. That was cut and pasted from a White House update on Facebook. Personally, I do not see it as a “balanced” approach.

    And I found your comment funny.

  20. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    You have to hand it to the Republicans. They’ve got balls:

    “Boehner says Dems not willing to make debt deal”

  21. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Obama on Boehner (from the press conference):

    “My experience with John Boehner has been good. I think he’s a good man who wants to do right by the country,” Mr. Obama said. But he added: “The politics that swept him into the speakership were good for a midterm election. They’re tough for governing.”

  22. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Video of the press conference:

  23. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    From the Huffington Post:

    According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations — including both Republicans and Democrats — the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues.

    The proposal, as discussed, would not go into effect immediately, but rather would be implemented down the road (likely in 2013). The age at which people would be eligible for Medicare benefits would be raised incrementally, not in one fell swoop.

    Sources offered varied accounts regarding the seriousness with which the president had discussed raising the Medicare eligibility age. As the White House is fond of saying, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. And with Republicans having turned down a “grand” deal on the debt ceiling — which would have included $3 trillion in spending cuts, including entitlement reforms, in exchange for up to $1 trillion in revenues — it is unclear whether the proposal remains alive.

  24. Glen S.
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 will mean adding millions more Americans (many of whom are already unemployed, underemployed, or with too many “pre-existing conditions” to obtain traditional health insurance) to the already growing pool of un- and under-insured — which means when they get sick and can’t pay the bill, the cost gets passed on to those who still have private or employer-paid insurance — making health care less affordable (and more expensive) for everyone.

    Instead, we should actually LOWER the age for Medicare eligibility (to say, 55), and use the government’s large-scale buying power to negotiate lower rates with doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

    If this rumor is true … according to Obama’s logic, why not just raise the Medicare eligibility age to 100? I mean, I’m sure that would save BILLIONS, right?

  25. Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Meta, I don’t think we are FB friends, but I posted on there what *I* would have said if I was Obama (and it wasn’t about no Boehner being a good man who wants what’s best) :)

    In a way, I kind of like what Tommy has to say…I feel bad saying that but yeah, cutting that sort of stuff might get the old folks to wake up. OTOH though, a lot of old folks are out there trying to do the right thing. On yet the OTHER hand, look at how up in arms and feisty they got when Tricky Rick started taxing their pensions, so we know that they CAN rise up….

    I’m not sure my judgment is that great though…I predicted revolt when they started talking about repealing child labor laws and that has happened already in at least one southern state (sorry, I forget exactly where) yet as far as I know, no one is storming the governor’s house….

  26. dragon
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    If this rumor is true …

    I just heard that the Rainbow Purity Pony didn’t shit gumdrops in little Glennie’s Froot Loops this morning.
    And pearls were clutched.
    Fainting couches were fainted upon.
    Oh my.

  27. Meta
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    From today’s Progress Report:

    The GOP’s Debt Ceiling Debacle

    Jul 11, 2011 | By Tanya Somanader

    The deadline to raise the debt ceiling is fast approaching. Come Aug. 2, the U.S. economy could face drastic budget cuts, a 2.3 percent drop in GDP, a disruption of Social Security, Medicare and military payments, a “double-dip contraction” in an already fragile housing market, a plummeting credit score, an increase in unemployment, and an overall economic regression if a debt deal isn’t reached. Apparently boxed in by his own party’s intransigence, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) walked away from a “grand bargain” offered in the latest talks with President Obama. Though the deal reportedly included the Republican demand for unpopular “sharp cuts to Medicare and Social Security,” Boehner torpedoed the deal over the White House’s insistence on larger, more balanced deficit reduction package that included $800 billion in new revenues to accompany the spending cuts. The GOP’s refusal to even consider eliminating tax breaks is all the more stunning given the excessive number of frivolous loopholes for the wealthy in the federal tax code. While the elimination of such loopholes seem obvious to most Americans, Republican lawmakers remain vigilant in their protection of the wealthy and are exposing their political motivations behind policies that will jeopardize our economic future.

    RESPONSIBLE REVENUE: Addressing our long-term deficit is both necessary and possible with a responsible approach. While the GOP’s slash-and-burn mentality toward spending unduly targets the most vulnerable populations and the middle class, the Center For American Progress’ Seth Hanlon and Michael Linden note that there’s more than $1 trillion of wasteful spending hidden in the federal tax code which, if cut, is far less harmful to the economy than gouging the social safety net. For instance, the oil and gas industry — whose top five companies made $32 billion in the first quarter of 2011 alone — “stands to collect about $4 billion in tax-code subsidies in the coming year and nearly $40 billion over the rest of the decade.” The “carried-interest loophole” allows hedge fund managers to treat payment for their services as capital gains, which is subject to a 15 percent tax rate rather than a 35 percent tax rate. Eliminating this “intellectually vacuous” loophole would, by one estimate, raise more than $4 billion just from the 25 wealthiest hedge fund managers and save taxpayers more than $20 billion over the next 10 years. Other blatantly wasteful tax breaks, including ones for the horse breeders, for corporate meals and entertainment, for vacation homes and yachts, and for corporate jets, would save over $12 billion in 2012 alone and more than $75 billion over the next 10 years. On top of that, Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) noted last week that if Congress ended the Bush tax cuts for those who earn above $1 million a year, taxpayers would save an additional $22 billion a year.

    A PATHETIC POINT OF VIEW: In the series of debt discussions, Obama presented many of these revenue raisers to Republican lawmakers as an opportunity to accomplish one of their main talking points of reining in wasteful spending. However, the GOP is drawing a hard line against the elimination of any unfair tax break and now will entertain smaller cuts to avoid touching tax breaks. Indeed, Boehner’s willingness to even consider revenue raisers was met with serious backlash from within his party. One veteran Republican lawmaker noted it as “another example of the speaker almost slipping beyond the will of the GOP conference.” Even his right-hand man Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who walked away from another debt discussion over tax increases, made it known that he “was plainly not with Boehner” in considering “tax hikes.” Both he and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) stated they’d only consider closing tax loopholes in exchange for new tax cuts. While Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) considered the idea of ending a tax cuts for millionaires “rather pathetic,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said, if given a choice, he would rather increase the deficit than increase the tax rate on the richest Americans. Tea Party Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is leading a growing number of GOP lawmakers who are willing to allow “serious disruptions” — also known as a comprehensive economic meltdown — to protect the wealthy. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), however, took it one step further and actually called to lower the debt ceiling, a move that would eviscerate his own party’s budget plan.

    FANATIC FRINGE: The GOP’s stubborn myopia stands in stark contrast to common sense. Even conservatives are beginning to view such recalcitrance with exasperation. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks viewed the GOP’s rejection of the “no-brainer” elimination of tax breaks as proof that the GOP “may no longer be a normal party” but a movement of “fanatic[s]” with a “sacred fixation” on tax cuts. Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson surveyed the GOP’s position and declared, “We’re at 15 percent revenue, and historically it’s been closer to 20 percent.” He added, “We’ve never had a war without a tax, and now we’ve got two…Absolute bullshit.” Hedge fund manager and Ryan’s dinner companion Cliff Asness stated that “if taxes have to go up, let it be on me first.” In a recent poll, an overwhelming 81 percent of Americans approve a surtax on millionaires, with 68 percent supporting an end to the Bush tax cuts on those making over $250,000. 56 percent believe that corporations are not paying their fair share in taxes. The degree to which GOP lawmakers are ignoring both common sense deficit solutions and the will of the American people begs explanation. Brooks attributed the intransigence to the burgeoning “psychological protest” faction in the party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), however, sees the party’s motivation during the debt ceiling negotiations as quite simple. For him and “every active Republican in the country,” the “single most important political goal” is to make Obama a one-term president.

  28. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Can’t Buy Me Love: “The American definition of Freedom, as I digest it, is essentially ‘no one has the right to tell anyone else what to do.’ Self definition. Self determination. Get the fuck out of my [fill in the blank]. Psychotic individualism.”

    Are there other possibilities? Maybe it’s the American definition as defined by some subset. Maybe it’s what we say but not what we really want–or need. Maybe Americans, collectively, by the majority, would define freedom as the ability to live by some standard of living at a minimum (take care of the poor, or have a living wage, or . . .). Maybe you can see it through the lens of property: no individual or group should disproportionately dominate our resources (we collectively define what proportions are called for).

    I wonder about the four choices you offer. Why not choose a fifth: secular government in some form of democracy or democratic republic where we choose to do what’s best for all? We do have voters who vote outside their self interests. Times might change so that they make up the majority of voters.

    Along with M23’s comment, I’ll add that inequality breeds contempt. There are tipping points that don’t require widespread suffering. A small group of people can get a revolution rolling.

  29. Posted July 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    “Can’t Buy Me Love: “The American definition of Freedom, as I digest it, is essentially ‘no one has the right to tell anyone else what to do.’ Self definition. Self determination. Get the fuck out of my [fill in the blank]. Psychotic individualism.””

    This is incorrect.

    For example, “freedom of speech” protects political speech as a right of the citizenry. The state cannot restrict you (or me) from criticizing it nor its policies in a public forum.

    “Freedom of speech” does not protect anyone from criticism, however. If you want to tell me to shut the fuck up, you are perfectly free to. The state, however, can’t force me to listen to you.

    People often make the mistake of believing that “freedom of speech” is, in fact, a protection from criticism. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

  30. Can't Buy Me Love
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    M23, I appreciate that there are many, in our society, who recognize inequality and sense dramatic action is needed. But in Egypt, 40% of the population was living on about $2 a day. This was, with many contributing factors, a bread revolution. As I walk and talk with family and friends, over specialty beers illuminated by iPads, about our hard lives and all we “lack,” I just don’t get a sense that we’re ready to pop. We’re more anxious to see “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” I’m not implying revolt shouldn’t occur but my deft pulse on America tells me it’s a long way off.

    Dirtgrain, I don’t mean to suggest every American is focused on their benefit over the greater good. And, I agree that their could (and should) be alternate definitions of “freedom.” Freedom to work and work for a living wage, would be a good one. But, it, then, necessarily, overrides other freedoms (freedom of enterprise, freedom of competition, freedom to hire/self govern). But, here is how it’s framed. Cafe Sample owner wants to succeed in small business. To do so, he needs to pay workers $3 per hour. Government and/or union intrude say “pay them this.” He fails. His freedom has been squashed!

    You mention “our” resources. And therein lies the struggle. I have a big backyard. I bought it. Water it. Mow it. What right do the neighbor kids have to wear out my grass. Under American law/morality, how is what I own “our” resources?

    Finally, “Why not choose a fifth: secular government in some form of democracy or democratic republic where we choose to do what’s best for all?”

    I really like the idea of a government that “chooses to do what’s best for all” secular or not. But will it really be best for “all”? Best for billionaires? Best for the guy whose backyard was made an unwelcome playground? I think what you mean is “best for the majority.” And, if the majority is just voting for “what’s best for themselves” how does that differ from any of my options above?

    Here’s what I’m getting at. When you listen to politicians ask yourself how many times they appeal to the benefit of the individual (you and/or people you care about) vs. the benefit of society at the cost of the individual (you and/or people you care about). As a little dig on most all of us readers, why is now when revolt/revolution entered in when we’re still fatter and happier than many in our nation have been for decades? Is this a “we” revolution or a “me” revolution? (Frankly, I think “we” may be paying the price for failure join with others in their strife.)

    Peter L., I think I missed something? American freedom isn’t protection from criticism. It’s protection to do what you want. Therefore “Get the fuck out of my speech” is psychotic individualism. I realize that this will make me unelectable in any general election, but I’m in favor of anti public profanity laws. I don’t think someone should be able to run up to a five year old in a park and shout “I’ll fuck your momma up the ass till shit squirts out her eyes.” On the part of the shouter, it may be pure, honest self expression. And he/she should be ready for some criticism from the parent/child and bystanders. I’d prefer we locked him up for the good of the whole.

  31. Miguel Freyre
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t know that I’d advocate violence, but couldn’t we at least burn someone in effigy?

  32. Posted July 12, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    My comments were in reference to political speech.

    The Constitution provides no protection for threats of violence.

  33. JSam
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Letter written by a teacher…..
    July 11, 2011
    Paul Epstein: Obama needs our support
    (Epstein is a teacher in WV)

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Maybe I’m not progressive enough, or maybe I’m too trusting, but when I’m asked to sign petitions to Congress and the president to make no changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, I put that in the same category as Republicans who sign pledges not to raise taxes, not even close tax loopholes, or to only close loopholes if it doesn’t result in an increase in revenue (in other words, all government spending is bad).

    So put me in the category of having too much faith in the Democratic leadership, including President Obama, that they will protect entitlement programs from changes that hurt the most vulnerable. For instance, would I be in favor of changing Social Security in such a way that people in upper income brackets paid more into it or got less out of it? Yes. Do I have a problem with legislation that insists that Medicare and Medicaid providers move toward a wellness model and get Pay for Performance rather than Fee for Service? No. And I suspect that other people like me who consider themselves progressive feel the same way. So why do the progressive organizations we support get so panicked when the politicians we’ve elected and support start talk about compromise?

    Perhaps because they fear the worst. And don’t get me wrong, I do have fears about the negotiating prowess of our Commander in Chief. I have long wondered why he didn’t stand firm on returning tax rates on those earning over $250,000 to the rates of the Clinton years as he promised during the 2008 campaign. Had he had the revenue from that stream available to pay for more stimulus (the kind that actually creates jobs, like roads, bridges, rail, clean energy) or to use toward instituting health reform more quickly, or simply to stave off the debt increases we’ve experienced, our financial picture might be different today. By negotiating that away on several occasions, he has allowed the Republicans to continue making the false claim that raising those rates during a recession will further slow job growth. And by the way, we are not in a recession; we are in a period of slow growth.

    Can someone answer this question for me: Why are the American people (every talking head claims to speak for them) not really, really upset with the Republican Congress they elected in November 2010? Weren’t they elected to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs? Turned out that was bait and switch. Jobs meant spending cuts to them. Can anyone name a jobs bill they’ve produced? President Obama has of late been ticking off a list of jobs measures that he says have bipartisan support yet are languishing in Congress. Could it be true that the Republican Congress really does not want the economy to improve because their best chance to win the Senate and the presidency is a down economy?

    I know, that sounds like I’m accusing them of treason. Well, maybe I am. At a certain point, there should be a consequence for politicians who obey Grover Norquist (that’s the guy who gets all the R’s to sign the no tax pledge), who has famously said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

    So let me ask my progressive friends who are now threatening to sit out the 2012 election if President Obama compromises on entitlements, “How did sitting out the 2010 election work for you?” It’s not working for me, and it’s not working for the American people (they’re unemployed in large numbers, they’re watching their unions get busted, their educational systems get destroyed, their retirements threatened, and health-care reform teetering on the brink, which will leave no options for the poor, not just no public option).

    It’s not working for President Obama, who I believe is working tirelessly in our best interest as a nation. I just hope he has learned enough from his previous negotiations with Republicans to get the best deal he can while not allowing the destruction of the economy which would result from failure to raise the debt ceiling. Some Republicans proudly proclaim their intention not to vote to raise it no matter what, among them, Michelle Bachman, congresswoman and Republican candidate for president!

    President Obama can’t do it alone. He needs a strong base that supports him and calls on him and all of Congress to do the right thing for all of us, even if it means making some painful sacrifices — painful sacrifices that are shared by all of us according to our ability to bear them. That is part of what being progressive means.

  34. Meta
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    From CNN:

    President Obama “cannot guarantee” that Social Security, veterans and disability checks will be issued if Congress cannot agree on a deal that would raise the government’s debt ceiling by August 2nd, he tells CBS News.

    “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,” Obama said in an excerpt of the interview released by CBS.

  35. Glen S.
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I think mainstream Democrats and so-called “Progressives,” mainly want the same things in terms of policy outcomes. Instead, the chasm between the two groups — which seems to be growing by the day– is mostly about strategy and tactics.

    In short, it really comes down to whether you think it makes sense to try to “build consensus” or “compromise” with terrorists.

    Republican threats to destroy America’s credit rating rather than ask a handful of our richest citizens to pay a bit more in taxes is exactly that — a terrorist threat. If Obama ends up giving in on this (either by failing to raise taxes, or by making substantial cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security); the stakes will only be higher next time, and the next, and the next …

  36. Meta
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Joan Walsh has an interesting piece on Salon that I think might interest you, Glen:

    Is President Obama proving his political genius by floating a plan for a $4 trillion deficit cut deal to lift the debt ceiling, offering entitlement cuts that will enrage parts of his base knowing he’ll never face their wrath, because far-right Republicans will never take the deal? It could be. House Speaker John Boehner rejected Obama’s “grand bargain” Sunday and Monday, because his members won’t consider anything to raise revenue, not even closing loopholes for corporate private jets or a tax giveaway for hedge fund managers. Insiders say this lets Obama look like “the only grownup,” the man who was willing to snub key parts of his base for the greater good of the country, while Republicans bowed to their Tea Party and corporate masters. Everyone knows Republicans don’t care about the deficit. They’ve already voted for the budget-busting Ryan plan, whose tax cuts increase the deficit.. This is all about greed masquerading as supply side economics that have been discredited by the experiments of the last 30 years……

    I hope the president gets credit for being the great leader for this attempt at a grand bargain. But it’s impossible to deny that once again, he’s accepted the Republican view of the economy and what it needs. He bought into their argument that the economy’s central problem is the deficit, not jobs, even though the nation’s priorities are precisely reversed. It’s almost exactly a year ago that David Axelrod, who had been a prominent voice for economic populism within the administration, flipped to say the president’s highest priority ought to be deficit reduction. “It’s my job to report what the public mood is,” Axelrod told the New York Times. “I’ve made the point that as a matter of policy and a matter of politics that we need to focus on this, and the president certainly agrees.” Axelrod’s talk crushed hope that Obama might do anything to address joblessness before the midterms, and maybe even before 2012. And even though the unemployment rate has now begun to climb again, after the stimulus wore off, there are no plans to address the crisis of unemployment under discussion in the present debate. That’s morally and politically wrong.

  37. Elida Maria
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Does Bash Boulder still teach hand to hand combat in the park, or have the thrown him in jail.

  38. TaterSalad
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Seems Ya’ alls boy, Baracka Obumer is the biggest, lying hypocrite while all the left wing loonies follow him like a blow up plastic doll.

  39. TaterSalad
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Who are you with?

  40. TaterSalad
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Hey Mark……JSam needs a formal warning also. How many do we get before we have to leave this site? Scarey!

  41. Edward
    Posted July 14, 2011 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    As no one has mentioned it yet, Obama walked out of yesterday’s debt ceiling negotiations. I’m hoping it marks an end to his “I’ll give the Republicans everything they want” phase.

  42. Posted July 15, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    That such ignorant BS to say that the budget is screwed up because the top one percent aren’t paying enough taxes. Our country is dying and the budget is screwed up because our government spends too much damn money. It’s simple. We were never meant to take on this much debt. And now all of our spending is catching up to us. Does the military budget need to be cut?


    Does over spending need to be cut?


    Don’t make it more complicated that it already is.

    I’m fairly young and I want to opt out of social security because I can analyze economic data and I know that it is unsustainable.

    I do not want my future ruined because people are too damn sensitive too look at the real issues. Spending needs to be cut, and yes unfortunately that means they have to restructure all of these social welfare programs too.

    And before you begin to bash me as a tea party loon, just know that I hate the GOP as much as any liberal.

    Can’t you guys see that politics is a game? Divide and conquer? Does that ring a bell? They want you liberals to hate anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Just like they want GOP to hate anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    Please just try and think outside the box. This is bigger than party politics.

    If we fall into financial ruin like Rome, Germany etc., it won’t matter if your a liberal or GOP.

  43. Posted July 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I think that only the most narrow of people would suggest that the budget is in trouble solely because of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest of earners (as an example).

    I think it is well known that the problem stems from cutting taxes while a) spending on irresponsibly spending on big ticket items such as multiple wars around the globe b) allowing banks to take on excessive risks while assuming (rightly so) that the public will bail them out when they lose, c) mass political corruption which funnels defense dollars to support state employment numbers and big defense related businesses, and d) allowing health care costs to run amok .

  44. Mr. X
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    There’s also the fact that the baby boomers are moving into retirement, and demanding health care at unprecedented levels. When Social Security first came about, the retirement age of 65 was just about a year or two short of the average lifespan. Now, people are living longer. As much as I’d like to blame the right, that’s a undeniable driver in the current crisis.

  45. Mr. X
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I should also add, David, that I don’t think anyone here would deny that cuts need to be made. All we’re saying is that the ratio of cuts to tax increases should probably be more balanced than 85:15. The rich, as we’ve discussed here on many occasions, are now contributing less than they have at any time in recent history. That has to stop. For the good of the country, we need to stop closing public schools, and axing programs that serve our communities.

  46. Posted July 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    “As Republicans decimate program after program with claims that America is broke and cannot afford to assist the unemployed, children and seniors, and struggling middle-class families…”

    Exactly which federal programs have the republicans in the U.S. House “decimated” since taking majority control in January? The answer is nary a one. For our non-constitutional scholars, I will remind you that any appropriations bill to spend money on a federal program must start in the House, but also must pass the (Democrat controlled) Senate and be signed by the (Democrat) President.

    Other than the inconsequential changes in the 2011 budget reconciliation bill (fixing a mess the previous Democrat controlled House leadership left behind), no reductions in federal spending have gotten through this process to reach the President’s desk for (autopen) signing. No federal programs have been “decimated” or even scratched or dented by the GOP.

    Get a grip, folks. Washington, D.C. is still spending your great-grandchildren’s inheritance with great abandon.

    …now if the House GOP can keep a tight hold on themselves and vote “No!” on any federal debt ceiling increase, then it will be up to President Obama to implement some of those “deficit reduction measures” he keeps saying he is willing to do to ensure that our existing debt is serviced and essential federal government services receive funding.

    I expect to be disappointed about that.

  47. Posted July 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Glen S. – “Republican threats to destroy America’s credit rating rather than ask a handful of our richest citizens to pay a bit more in taxes is exactly that — a terrorist threat.”

    Glen, the numbers are in, or haven’t you read about it yet? If the federal government confiscated 100% of the assets (not just income, but everything) owned by the top 1% richest Americans, the result would put a small dent in our 2011 federal budget deficit – not enough to even fund the government for more than a period of days. More importantly, this would be a one-time action, as next year there would be no more “top 1%” to go back to again.

    Washington DC doesn’t need more taxes, it needs to go on a spending diet – and that is exactly what would happen if the federal debt limit is not raised. Washington DC needs to experience a mini-Great Recession of its own so the rest of the country can begin to return to prosperity.

  48. Posted July 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that anyone seriously believes that raising taxes on wealthy people now will have much effect on the 2011 budget. That is a long term issue. I am sure that it is fun for you to twist it into something it’s not, though.

    And I hate to point fingers, but much of what got us into this budget mess is the result of an irresponsible Republican administration, or perhaps you’ve forgotten that. Personally, I tire of hearing boring mantras of “tax and spend Democrats” when what I see is “don’t tax and spend Republicans.”

    I’m no Democrat, and personally believe that both parties are complicit, but the narrow rhetoric thrown around smacks of a collective forgetting. As a non-Republican, I personally see a group of people unwilling to own up to a disastrous 8 years that they themselves not only helped maintain, but widely encouraged. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I see.

  49. Maria
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Designated Republican looks like a pro’s plant…yeah,the bit about no more taxes, hmmm, who could you be representing, really??A spending diet, nice phrase, now who wants to the government not to collect more money, now who could that possibly be?? Could it be big Oil?
    Big Pharma? Wall Street Types?Walmart execs?. Has an ALEC representative stopped by

  50. EOS
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    No Maria,
    DR’s been around longer than you. He does sound professional and intelligent because he has a correct point of view. Kudo’s to DR.

  51. Maria
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Ah, there are shades of grey in this world EOS.

  52. M Castle
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    It would appear that you just a little off, but not much.

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