Congratulations Mr. President: You’ve Failed Us

by on August 1, 2011 · 44 comments

in American Empire, Economy, Popular

The White House and Congressional Republicans strike a deal to prevent a U.S. government default, but it’s a deal slanted heavily toward Republican priorities with nothing of any significance for average Americans.

So Congress struck a deal to avoid the U.S. Treasury defaulting on its loans for the first time in this nation’s history.  Whoopdiedoo.  Color me unimpressed.

Once again President Obama and the rest of the Democratic coalition got taken to the cleaners by a Republican Party that doesn’t care one bit about the American people.  They got their clocks cleaned by a Republican Party that considers the word “compromise” to be in the same category as the four-letter words that would cause your mother to wash your mouth out with soap at their utterance.

So here we sit today, one day before the Treasury is set to default on its financial obligations, and the President and Harry Reid are all over the media extolling the wonderful compromise that they’ve managed to strike with Republicans, and how they’ve saved the United States from the catastrophe of default.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  Avoiding a default is a good thing.  But the manner in which it was achieved is nothing but complete capitulation.  Make no mistake about it:  This bill has all kinds of goodies for Republicans, and virtually nothing for Democrats.  This president proved once again that Democrats simply don’t have the stomach for a fight.

Here’s the thing:  Republicans were perfectly willing to run this country into default.  In fact, I’m almost convinced that’s what they wanted all along.  But what they also knew was what has been traditionally true:  Push them hard enough; play the brinksmanship game long enough, and the Democrats will cave, and the Republicans will get everything they want.  It happened last December when Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years in exchange for not shutting down the government (gee, what a marvelous bargain that was).  And it happened again when Republicans threatened to push us into another depression.  They knew Democrats would knuckle under.  They knew that this president—in an effort to win over moderates and independent voters—would eventually give up the farm.

And right on cue they did.  There is nothing in this “compromise” for Democrats to hang their hats on.  There is nothing in this “compromise” that even remotely puts this country back on a responsible fiscal track and will foster economic growth and job creation.  In fact, it is widely believed that this “compromise” will hurt the economy, and stymie already non-existent job growth.  Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said as much in his column today.

And I believe he’s right.  After Obama insisted that revenues be a part of any deal, there are no revenues anywhere to be found.  Taxes are at their lowest level since the 1950’s.  Revenues currently stand at 76% of 2001 levels.  We’re spending the same amount of money on education as we were in 2001.  We’re spending 174% of what we were in 2001 on the military.  And our health care costs have skyrocketed, becoming a significant driver of the current morass .  This is not a spending problem as Republicans gleefully insist.  This is a revenue problem.

The wealthiest among us are currently paying an effective tax rate of 18%, while the average household is paying an effective rate of around 25% (that’s after deductions and tax credits).  Let me say that again:  The wealthiest 400 people in this country—who average over $270 million per year in earnings—pay an effective tax rate of barely 18%, while the rest of us are stuck paying considerably more.  The main reason for that is capital gains taxes:  Capital gains (i.e. the entirety of the earnings of a hedge fund manager) are taxed at 15%, and capital gains are how most wealthy people make their money.  They don’t make it in salary or earned income.  Oh, and those hedge fund managers?  They don’t actually create any jobs, because they don’t actually produce anything.  They simply move money around from stock to stock, money market fund to money market fund, investment to investment.  Raising the capital gains tax will have virtually no effect on those “job creators” that Republicans like to tell us about so much.

Bush era policies account for over half of our current national debt, and nearly the entirety of the current budget deficit.  Three trillion dollars in tax cuts, $4 trillion in spending hikes on war and an unfunded, poorly written, and completely misleading prescription drug benefit package partnered with regulatory policies that allowed businesses to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted with exactly zero accountability crashed this economy.  In 2001, under policies left behind by Bill Clinton, the CBO said that our national debt would be paid off by 2009.  Yet here we sit today saddled with $14.3 trillion in debt.

But we’re supposed to take advice from Republicans?

Revenues must be a part of any deal, but they’re nowhere to be found in this one.  The “deal” being proposed, according to the CBO, cuts $917 billion almost immediately, with another $1.2 trillion to come by November via a new “Super Congress,” a commission of sorts made up of equal parts Democrat and Republican, House and Senate.  The White House insists that there’s a good chance that that special commission will come up with a deal that includes some sort of revenues in their plan.  Good luck with that.  Not gonna happen.  Republicans will NEVER go for it, and we’ll be stuck cutting more from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, education and research, and our infrastructure will continue to crumble because Democrats will cave like they always do.

Should this joint committee fail to come to an agreement, the “deal” includes certain triggers that will spur further automatic cuts that are onerous to both sides of the aisle.  It’s funny, though, that those triggers do not include any sort of revenue—the most onerous thing to Republicans.  Come Thanksgiving we’ll be saddled with even more drastic cuts to the most vulnerable, and the wealthiest people in America and the wealthy corporations who are raking in record profits but not creating any jobs in the process will contribute nothing.  Companies like GE and B of A will continue to not pay anything in taxes, and the rest of us will suffer even more.

The joint committee will not accomplish anything because the Republicans will not agree to anything except the complete obliteration of government.

There is no way to spin this in any other way than a complete victory for Republicans.  There is virtually nothing in this “deal” that even remotely resembles a Democratic principle.  Once again Republicans got their way, and President Obama and Congressional Democrats failed to stand up for average Americans.

There is very little to be pleased about today.  There is very little to be proud of today.  So congratulations, Mr. President.  You have sold us out yet again.


Economist Jared Bernstein and Robert Greenstein, founder of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities with Lawrence O’Donnell.  They discuss exactly what we should expect from this “Super Congress.”  Here’s a hint:  Exactly NOTHING.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar doug porter August 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

good job, andy.


avatar Garrett August 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm

How do people like you spew this ignorant nonsense without feeling the least bit embarrassed? Before 2008 the US budget deficit was roughly 350 billion a year. Under Obama this has risen to 1.5 trillion annually. SPENDING CUTS HAVE TO BE MADE. I know you liberals are repelled to facts like a vampire is to silver, but you clearly have no knowledge of national finance. Taxation does nothing other than lowering long term corporate competitiveness. Money that corporations would have spent on research and innovation gets mostly lost in piss poor government book keeping and the rest on useless government employees and projects that do nothing other than win votes from fickle minded people like the author of this post.


avatar doug porter August 2, 2011 at 7:45 am

i am all in favor of spending cuts. lets start with corporate welfare. are you aware of just how much the jump in the deficit was caused by the “deregulated” crash in our economy? we can no longer afford to subsidize the wealthy. let’s roll the tax rates back fifty years, when we actually had a progressive tax system–and our economy worked just fine!


avatar jettyboy August 2, 2011 at 9:01 am

“Taxation does nothing other than lowering long term corporate competitiveness.” – Garret
Here we go again with the same tired old shit of an comic policy that has been used and has FAILED for the last 20 years or so. Get a clue, this policy only works for corporations, & other wealthy thieves. Talk about someone with no financial knowledge . Are tax rates the lowest now than they have ever been? The answer is a big fat YES! So save your Tea Party crap for the idiots that are already stupid enough to but into this bullshit.


avatar Bill Ray August 2, 2011 at 9:20 am

Let’s start with the corporate loopholes that weren’t closed.

Now let’s move on to “Tar Baby“.

Methinks that this entire debacle is rooted in a sense of racism among republicans towards our president and wanting to protect their friends in high places.


avatar Andy Cohen August 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm

The federal budget deficit under ‘W’ did not include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and did not yet include the 2003 prescription drug act–the full effects of that disaster did not begin to be felt until around 2007. ‘W’ didn’t feel the need to include those small items in the budget; funding was done exclusively through budget supplementals, therefore they were unaccounted for and not reflected in deficit. Obama, on the other hand, has included all of the above in the budget. Thus, much of what is attributed to Obama’s administration is actually the responsibility of the George W. Bush administration.


avatar Bug August 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Every single dem in congress sold out, too. They only pretend to represent us.


avatar Vaughan Davies August 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Speaking as a businessman in the UK, I only have gratitude that America’s hideously self-interested Congress found any kind of deal to head off the collapse of the world’s economy. Your article is another example of the same small-minded policies that gave rise to the crisis in the first place. Your politicians have great power to destroy the wealth of people all over the world, yet show no sign f the responsibility that should accompany it. Most seem not to relise the potential damage they might do.


avatar CG August 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I agree Vaughn….Saying that the Republicans want to run this country into the ground or that they want zero government is no better than conservatives saying that Obama wants to turn the U.S. into a communist Utopia. The problem is that they are all incompetent narcissists who are only interested in slinging mud in order to get re-elected. It is made easier by articles such as this one. Andy, you should be ashamed of yourself. I am sure this is not how your father raised you.



avatar StuckInUtah August 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Wow, what a useless article! How about some suggestions for what he should have done. Since Republicans were clearly willing to let the default happen, and since we are literally out of time, what was the splendorous alternative, pray tell?


avatar wahtabi August 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Totally agreed! A true liberal Democrat should run against Obama in the Primaries. Or else he can run for re-election without my donations or my vote!


avatar annagrace August 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm

What a grand bargain “gift”- a super congress commission, aka the Catfood Commission on Steroids! That alone makes me want to heave.
Political polarization continues to deepen and sucks up all our energy while the real story- the massive, unabated transfer of wealth to a minuscule percentage of our citizenry goes unchallenged. A big bronx cheer to the Bananarepublican victors and their Dem-minions.


avatar Andy Tagliarino August 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm

“We’re spending 174% of what we were in 2001 on the military. And our health care costs have skyrocketed” (and education should be left to the states) but we don’t have a spending problem??? “according to the CBO, cuts $917 billion almost immediately”, ALMOST immediately? These cuts will never be made and even if they are it will be negated by higher interest rates. You have been brainwashed. Obama got exactly what he wanted, he can spend like there is no tomorrow and blame economic collapse on the freshman republicans. Why don’t we all just give all of our income to the federal government and they can dole it out to us as they see fit? Either you seriously believe the insanity you write or you want to bankrupt the country and remake it in your image, but don’t try to convince me that the “tea-baggers” won because nobody wins with this phony deal.


avatar barbara August 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Why isn’t there any discussion about corporate tax rates, the lowest in50 yrs? Or the largest US companies that pay zero taxes. The offshore tax havens? How about the offense indusrty? Defense, my a**. We are building newer, smaller, more lethal nukes all the time. A colossal air craft carrier fleet, planes that don’t fly, 172 US bases, black ops and prisons all over the globe. That is not even to mention the huge mercenary army that we ignore. No, instead, this president loves the made up Frank Luntz, think tank word, ENTITLEMENTS. It is not an entitlement, it is something we pay for our working lives. It should never ever even been part of this budget Kabuki theater. It’s a separate trust fund. Obama was a marketing campaign that has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The tea bags are bit players on this world scene. The big boys own Obama and he has shown time and again that he will do their bidding. No, he didn’t cave, this is what he is and what he wanted all along. The beginning of the dismantling of SS


avatar Paul August 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

It is unfortunate that Obama had to give in to republicans as a parent to a spoiled, fit throwing, stubborn child. Unfortunately, republicans will have to wait for their long deserved spanking during election time. By that time America should be in so much financial trouble it will take a miracle to get them back into their current offices. Sorry Boehner, but your title as a majority leader is about to change to something less significant.


avatar Andy Cohen August 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm

One positive side note: Gabby Giffords made a guest appearance to vote on the bill…….unfortunately, she voted ‘YES.’

At any rate, it’s great to see Gabrielle Giffords able to participate. Here’s hoping she can get back full time soon.


avatar stuart banks August 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Basically, this whole thing should have never come about in the first place. Why was it alright for the GOP to raise the debt limit on multiple occasions but nothing was said?
And can someone please tell me why these politicians are not being force to take a pay cut also?
The political.system. in this country is corrupt. Until Americans start taking their snouts out of the trough of self indulgence and “me, me, me” nothing will change. Until everything in the US stops being about money and the rampant, self serving interest nothing . will change. You have only got yourselves to blame. It seems to me that there is little or no compassion or care for one another. It disgusts me that those that are interested in politics are right wing extremists who are intent on turning the clock back. Last time I checked the Calender it was 2011 not1811. Until you yanks actually wake up and stand up rather than being absorbed in your big screen televisions, trucks and SUV’s and obsession with sports nothing will change.
The right wing believe that right is on their side and under that moron Bush there is a war going on to shift this country in that direction and things are only going to get worse. UNTIL YOU LOT GET OFF YOUR SELFISH SELF ABSORBED ASSES AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
I believe that. Barack Obama is a good man and could be a great President but he has all but bent over and taken it up the ass from the GOP. They are acting like rabid dogs and where I’m from we shoot rabid dogs.
Freedom in America is a lie. For a country that professes to be a forward thinking nation, I have never seen so much backwards thinking. Your belief in your own superiority is becoming your own undoing. The rest of the world is catching up and in some cases overtaking you.
The land of the free?


avatar jjjjjjj August 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Everyone has made some valid point. Say what u will but some things are just plain ols common since. Any household or business who looks at their finances and realize that their expenses outweigh their revenue would and should two things 1. Find ways they can cut their expenses 2. Find ways to increase revenue. It will jus not work one without the other. I’m sure there are probably some loopholes that can be closed up on both ends of the spectrum. And for all the so- called intelligence in this world there has got to be a way to do this while preserving the security of the average joe who is busting his hump paying into Social Security for it not to be there when he get there. Yet when I look out into the world all I see is politians squabbling, rich getting richer n poor getting the usual F U.


avatar JEC August 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Here! Here! – the people have no representation in Congress – and this passes for a democracy? Crap. We have to do better.


avatar annagrace August 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm

So here’s the vote from San Diego County. No’s R-Hunter; D-Filner: Yes’s- D-Davis; R-Issa. Politics makes strange bedfellows….
Source: Daily Kos


avatar barbara August 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I’m sure the votes were in the bag and those that needed cover to vote one way or the other got the okay. I feel Bob Filner is the only rep we have with integrity


avatar Seth August 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

A few unpopular thoughts… sorry in advance if I got too much sun today.

1. I’ll say it… we shoulda sent Hillary, and no one is to blame for that more than liberals. Obama is not a liberal, and never even claimed to be. The left heard a couple of fired-up campaign speeches (ironically, about the need to put aside partisan ideology and compromise with each other) and got all doe-eyed with this guy, who was a dyed-in-the-wool moderate with very little political experience. Hillary is of course no less moderate than he, but she is far more versed in DC politics and demonstrated a much more thorough understanding of the issues. She was also no pretensions about the far right and their willingness to negotiate reasonably. And it was liberals who capped her, simply because (a) she was not as inspiring a public speaker, and in many cases, (b) because she was a woman. Liberals want to be first in line to complain about this guy being exactly who he is, but really, they are last. He’s your guy. Own him.

2. Despite that, I actually think he is doing a fine job, and in the big picture, he won this whole issue going away. First of all, it’s just not a good plan to carry around a $14t deficit, especially when your entire annual budget is only $4t. Costs have to be brought down ASAP, and most of the cuts are backloaded. It’s not the apocalypse during a recession that people are portraying it to be. And while the may have won the policy battle, Republicans lost the political war. Big time. They were trying to run against Obama as populists fighting an elitist “spender-in-chief”, and he checkmated them with his initial proposal of a balanced $4t reduction over 10 years. Might not have negotiated that well from there, but he demonstrated repeatedly that their only line in the sand was protecting tax breaks for the rich. Good luck with that as a platform. Barring a double-dip recession, he is in very good shape for 2012, and by proxy, this is also true of all Democrats running under him on the ticket as well. So unless people want President Rick Perry and a Republican supermajority in Congress in 2013, the left might want to relax a bit on calling him a sell-out to his alleged liberal values.

3. Even though it was barely addressed, I am glad that we have opened the door to entitlement reform, and I say that as someone on the wrong side of that line. Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare (plus their share of the interest on the deficit) make up nearly half of all federal expenditures. This system might have worked well enough when there were 5 workers for each retired person, but it is pretty much a pyramid scheme. As the Boomers retire, and are then kept alive far longer than ever before due to (expensive) advances in medical care, it will probably be closer to 3 workers for each retired person — with an increasing number of the workers being low-wage earners that we barely educate. That is simply not sustainable without some serious adaptation. Not sure that this all had to be addressed with the threat of default hanging over our heads, but the idea of it was a political third rail as recently as a year ago, and I feel more comfortable that it will be taken on in earnest in the next few years.

4. To Obama’s credit, I think he very much understands this. His great domestic achievement was poised to be a 2-act restructuring of entitlements, IMO. Rather than have a bunch of young workers without health insurance paying into programs that they would never see benefits from them, I believe that Obama is trying to expand *basic* levels of health care and retirement benefits, while cutting the overall quality of benefits received. More socially-equitable, and more economically-sustainable in the long run. And as worried as Boomers have been about getting their benefits cut, I am not really seeing anything proposed that greatly affects people over the age of 50-55. Their voting numbers would never allow it, in any event.


avatar Frank Gormlie August 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Seth, whew! You’re always so verbose and articulate. Would like to respond briefly to some of your points.

1. Obama was driven to the front of the Democratic pack in 08 not only because he had a golden tongue, but he was the “anti-war” candidate. Do you remember? Hilary wasn’t there. The voting young and progressives voted in the guy who not only broke the Black ceiling but said he would bring the troops home from Iraq (but not Afghanistan). So, Obama was elected for the right reasons. Hilary, if you know any of her background, is much more of a hawk than Barack. (See Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars”.)

Many on the left or left of center (is there really any center left? LOL) don’t appreciate what his successful candidacy accomplished. For a society like ours where we developed the very first racially-based system of slavery using Africans to finally elect an African-American to our highest office is no small achievement or thing.

2. Don’t agree that Obama is in “really good shape for 2012”. He has damaged his base and has shown that he is in fact not a liberal, but a centrist. The problem is – as you say – there won’t be a credible left challenge to him in the primaries because everyone is frightened of the fascist tea partiers waiting offstage.

3. You are wrong to think that “entitlements” like social security need fixing. First, social security is NOT an entitlement – it’s our money collected over the lifetime of our work history. Second, it is not broken. Let me say that again: SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT BROKEN (sorry Doug for the titles). Anyone really versed in knowledge about SS agrees to this. It is solvent for – what – another 27 years!

Plus, we should be expanding Medicare, not cutting it back.

Government is not, should not, and can not be run like a business. Government is not a business. Government should invest in its people, the infrastructure, education, etc. It’s okay for government to run up a debt – for good things.

But, Seth, you don’t mention the military, the Pentagon. Have you forgotten that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us $3 TRILLION?

4. You refer to us boomers. We boomers are one of most highly politically conscious generations to come down the pike in a long while. We went through the civil rights era, the Vietnam War era, the hippie era …. It was our generation that challenged Jim Crow racism and the rampant sexism that permeated society. It was this generation that created the most successful anti-imperialist movement in modern western history.

Any wrongs to our peoples wrong us. So, when we see people younger than us being denied basic safety net benefits, we get angry. And of course, seeing people older than us being treated the same way, we get angry.

Now if only we can get off the couch and find the remote, we’d be happy. (Just kidding Seth – ) We’re not over yet, the Boomers ain’t dead yet. We’re still here – most of us, and if we hav ta kic you young’ums in da butt ta git ya goin’ – well, tat’s jus what we’ll have ta do.


avatar Seth August 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Thanks for the reply, Frank.. To respond to your responses…

1. During the primaries, Obama was clearly stating that we needed to ramp up operations in Afghanistan, and even stated that he would bomb inside of Pakistan without their consent if we had actionable intelligence about bin Laden. His opposition on Iraq was also kinda flimsy, in my view. He was not even in Congress to cast a vote on it, after all. Nor do I think that Hillary would have gone the pre-emptive invasion route. That war is all on Bush. As for electing a black man, that’s great… but it would have been a similar advance to elect a white woman. Personally, I just want the most capable President.

2. I think he is in good shape for 2012, or as much as he can be with the sagging economy and high unemployment. Every single poll the last few weeks demonstrated that all but the far right were displeased with the strident stance of the Tea Partiers, who now have solid control of the Republican Party. If I were a moderate Republican like Boehner, I would be furious at the isolationist direction of my party.

3. Social Security may be solvent, and even a lender, for the time being. But that is because they are living on Boomer revenues without yet having provide much Boomer benefits. Whether it takes 20 years or 25, we are still looking at the same timebomb with age/population demographics. The growth in retirees needs an accompanying proportionate growth in the working population. As far as I can tell, because of a more welcoming attitude towards immigration, we are actually in better shape there than a lot of other Western nations, like France (who raised their retirement age two years recently) or Italy and Greece (who are already undergoing austerity measures of their own).

4. I list SS/Medicaid/Medicare as entitlements because they are the 3 biggest ones that generally get that description, again, accounting for nearly 50% of our total expenditures (including their share of the interest on the debt). Iraq and Afghanistan are not on the same scale, nor are they as dedicated long-term. And let’s be fair and say that 9-11 pretty much required a large-scale response of some kind. I don’t think you can just take an anti-war stance to the extreme and we should have saved $3t and not responded at all. [I didn’t support Iraq, but perhaps in a different discussion, we can talk about the possible impact of eliminating Saddam in terms of in opening the door to the Arab Spring and maybe even a resolution in Palestine — the possible centerpiece of Obama’s possible 2nd term].

Now, as for you Boomers, you are actually going to end up taking out more than you put in, according to recent estimates. So be cool, haha. Any changes are far more likely to affect those left in your wake. The timeline Obama is working under with the restructuring I mentioned is more on a 30-40 year timeline, which is exactly the kind of foresight I like in a leader and exactly the conversation this country needs to have, IMO.


avatar barbara August 2, 2011 at 5:53 am

Great analysis.

Great discussion with Frank.

I beg you though, all of you who do this, stop using the made up, Frank Luntz, think tank word, ENTITLEMENT.

BECAUSE THEIR THINK TANKS ARE BETTER, THEIR VOICES LOUDER, THEIR MEDIA EMPIRES FAR REACHING, we do it all the time. They get to define right and left, They get to define the issues, while we just get pummeled.

P.S. KLSD, the movie, will be shown at La Mesa Dem Club tomorrow night.


avatar thinking out loud August 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm

The whole government is a ponzi scheme…


avatar Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 12:29 am

And little is said about jobs, how we desperately need them and nobody speaks for the “poor” by name: po’ people. We live in a world of sound bites and the biggest of these should be the need for jobs. Obama should talk about it non-stop like he did his health plan. People need work. Nothing contributes to the economy like working people spending money they earned. And the plight of the poor should be spoken of incessantly with the questions to the CEOs who hold the key to the the tenants of “trickling down” always being: What can you do for the poor? What jobs can you provide?


avatar odali August 2, 2011 at 3:41 am

Thanks for the article. I think, however, you are a bit harsh in your comments against the president. As you said, the republicans were perfectly willing to drive us into a default. What would you have him and other Democratic leaders do? He did the only viable and responsible thing. Is it a bad deal? Of course it is. I only hope that instead of just letting this ride, he and other democrats begin making a strong plan far before the new limit is reached. This is the only way to avoid such a problem, as republicans will do the same thing if we are brought back down to the wire. The difference here, between republicans and democrats, is responsibility. The democrats were willing to make some sacrifices, and while they are ones that were not easy to make, it was the responsible (read: only) choice. I, for one, am getting very sick of the “lesser of two evils” politics.


avatar Citizen Cane August 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

I would reduce military spending by bringing back the draft for five years. A draft with no age limits. A draft that could pluck a boomer off the golf course, and make him drive a fuel truck in Iraq for year. There are many jobs in the military that can be done by people over the age of thirty. Let nobody be exempt, unless they’ve already served. Send the plumber, the Senator, the rock star, and the burger flipper. Eventually Americans would seriously question the need for having military bases in foreign countries. We will bring the troops home when the troops are us…all of us.


avatar Patty Jones August 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

As Frank has pointed out to me numerous times, nothing mobilizes the anti-war movement like the draft.


avatar barbara August 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Patty, not THE antiwar movement, SOME OF US ARE ALWAYS ANTIWAR AND HAVE NOT STOPPED PROTESTING FOR A SINGLE DAY. The draft would beget an antiwar movement, people who might not even know we are at war or conducting war like activities with 6 countries right now. The problem is the partisans, the party over country crowd, we both know who they are. As in Bush war bad, very bad, Obama wars not so very bad.


avatar Patty Jones August 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

You’re right barbara, I should have said it differently.


avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Couldn’t this all have been averted had the Senate passed a budget within the last 820 days? As for who’s to blame, the President, himself, refused to vote for raising the debt ceiling in 2006, suggesting that even having to do so was an abject failure in leadership. Some around here throw terms like fascist (without understanding what it really means) and racist at the tea party faction of the republican party and blame them for wanting to drive the economy off a cliff. But in reality, they just won a landslide election to prevent runaway spending. It’s easy to use hyperbole when you’re argument is a losing one. The president’s proposed budget this year gave not the slightest import to the deficit, which is why it was voted down 97-0. Maybe it isn’t so much that the President got rolled, but maybe it’s just that the office is above his head, which I think we’re all finding out is quite apparent, unfortunately? When Congressmen are comparing republicans to terrorists because they can’t increase spending from the $3.8T level that we currently sit, something is certainly wrong.


avatar annagrace August 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Where in the world is this outright false hold coming from that we don’t have a budget? The 2011 budget was enacted on April 15, 2011, as Public Law 112-10. The fiscal year ends in Sept so we will be treated to a new round of budget bullshit a month from now.

Passing at budget is not the same as raising the debt ceiling. When a budget is passed the debt ceiling should be raised automatically to accommodate that budget.


avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

This could have all been avoided if the Democrats had passed a budget when they were in control of the legislature and the white house. the republicans passed a budget this year after getting control of the lower house. However, the senate has not passed a budget in something like 820 days. had they passed a 2011 budget, this debate would be moot. harry reid even said that it would be foolish to pass a budget in 2011. congress is currently operating under a continuing resolution which allows government agencies to be funded, which is not the same as a budget. i think the law you mention is the continuing resolution.


avatar annagrace August 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

What part of The 2011 budget was enacted on April 15, 2011, as Public Law 112-10 do you not get? Congress passed a budget. Prove that it is a “continuing resolution.” If you can’t, give it a rest.


avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I hope this helps.

Full Year Continuing Resolution for FY 2011 Signed into Law

On April 14, 2011, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bill to fund the Federal Government through a full year Continuing Resolution. On April 15, 2011 President Obama signed the bill and it became Public Law 112-010. The USGS is currently working on an Operating Plan that will be submitted to Congress that will specify funding amounts for programs under the 2011 full year Continuing Resolution.


avatar annagrace August 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm

There is a budget. I do not understand what you are fixating upon. You are using the office of geological survey as your source? Really?

Are you really saying that the US is operating without a budget? Yes or no.


avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

Good grief. This is pointless. Resolutions keep the government operating and funded, much like a budget does, but they are not one and the same. One is a stop-gap measure, the other funds the government for a fiscal year. So, yes, we have a budget based on the terms of HR 112-010, much like we had one during the last 7 continuing resolutions dating to last October.


avatar The Mustachioed OBecian August 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I guess one other note. When Republicans bemoan cuts to defense or Democrats do the same with everything else, perhaps we need some perspective. If I receive an 8% raise this year, but only a 2% raise next year, that isn’t a cut in salary. Afterall, I still received a raise. It seems to me the same can be said for how we view cuts to programs.


avatar Jonathan N. August 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I feel from what I have read from everyone else’s comments and my own personal perceptions of President Obama, is that the president is unable to do nearly anything without fighting huge opposition from both parties. The parties themselves are becoming divided and for what purpose?


avatar barbara August 3, 2011 at 7:12 am

That’s a very simplistic way of looking at it. He is opposed by the tea bags for racist, irrational , ideological reasons. He is opposed from within his own party because he sold himself as one thing and it turns out he is another. As Patty pointed out, it’s the war stupid. Instead of ending the wars, which the tea bags would hate, he has escalated war or war like hostilities in 6 countries. Since the tea bags are anti Muslim and are fully in favor of these actions, it would make sense for them to support him, yes? They accuse him of being a socialist when he has self described himself as a capitalist, a guy who thinks Jamie Dimon and Blankenfein, the guys who brought us to our knees, are “savvy businessmen.” His party wanted him to to what he said he would do which was investigate any crimes committed by the Bush administration. Instead, he gave Bush a pass, his whole 8 years of lawlessness a pass, and indeed elevated Bush to respectability but sending him to Haiti. The tea bag congress should appreciate this and show some respect, yes? I just think there is a big difference between ideological hatred and expecting the guy you voted for to be that guy and not someone else.


avatar john August 7, 2011 at 6:52 am

I agree we need to cut defense spending, way too much pork and waste there.

However anyone thinking we can tax citizens on our way to economic growth must forget what was the “in” thing to do for British rock stars in the 70’s…. they flocked in (relative) droves to America to avoid Britains’s exhorbitant tax rate.
Whether rich or poor, if you try to stick it to people, they will do their best to put money out of the reach of the gubmint. For the rich that means offshore investments in foreign assets and even incorporating overseas altogether. I’m in agreement I’d like to see the really rich pay more.
I even more concede if we’d like them to share it with us we need it here at home and give the impression we want to let them make more of it, as long as they share a little.
Establishing an “US vs THEM” atmosphere does little to accomplish that. Honestly, does lining up Republicans, the right , the rich, whatever label we pick today, and hurling insults and blame at them do anything to gaining concessions and a work together attitude later? You’re not even likely to want to cross the aisle yourselves, because just like a marriage is beyond saving when you’ve said so many hurtful things, you cannot work with people toward common good if you don’t respect them.
I say this as a moderate who refuses party affiliation, but really- we’re just going in circles with this partisanship some seem all too eager to continue.
Our system, economically and politically, may be so broken it’s beyond saving, we can’t say but one thing’s for sure- continuing the toxic actions that got us here is no way out of it.


avatar Andy Cohen August 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

The problem is, John, that these anti-tax Republicans refuse to actually see the problem for what it is, and that’s what’s killing us. It’s exactly the reason that S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating.

The simple fact is that we’re being taxed at the lowest levels in over 60 years. The United States Government is seeing its lowest level of revenues in over 60 years. That’s due to Republican policies, although in the 2009 stimulus Obama did cut taxes on the middle class even further–making the problem worse, but hoping that it would help to stoke demand. At the same time they were eviscerating the tax rates, Republicans–NOT Democrats–went on a spending binge unparallelled in my lifetime.

Republicans controlled both houses of Congress AND the White House when all of this went down, yet they refuse to acknowledge their role in this mess. During that time, the income gap between the really rich and everyone else grew exponentially, and the economy tanked. Job growth was stagnant during the Bush years; deregulation led to unscrupulous companies doing unscrupulous things in the housing market, creating the bubble that exploded in our faces. And now they want to cut taxes even FURTHER, telling us that the only way out of this mess is essentially to have no one pay any taxes at all? Because that’s the direction we’re going.

This is a disaster of Republican creation, and yet they REFUSE to accept any responsibility at all. As a group they put the entirety of the blame on Obama, who had nothing to do with how we got here in the first place. And you say we should be willing to “compromise?” We’ve done nothing BUT compromise with these ignorant ideologues, and the problem has gotten worse, not better.

Let’s look at the economy since Obama was elected: He inherited an even worse crisis than anyone could possibly have imagined. Data came out last week that economists drastically underestimated the depths to which this economy had fallen. And things were pretty bad for most of the first year of his presidency, but slowly and surely they started to get better. Not nearly fast enough in this instant gratification society but they were getting better–the economy was growing steadily, unemployment was falling.

Look what has happened since January 2011: The unemployment level has actually jumped UP. The economy ground once again to a halt. The first quarter of 2011 saw GDP growth of 0.4%. And this Congress–where Republicans took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, while still controlled by Democrats, saw their majority shrink to a minute majority–has been the least productive in the history of this country. Coincidence? I think not.

Republicans actually WANT to see this economy tank, because they think it’s politically advantageous for them. They gleefully point to the economic indicators and use it as a cudgel to beat Obama over the head with. But the fact is that nothing can get through Congress, and so nothing can get done. It’s an attitude where Republicans insist that it’s their way or the highway, and that’s not going to help anyone but Republican politicians who only care about their electoral opportunities.

So yes, John, it is “US vs. THEM,” because they set it up that way. Those of us to the left of center cannot negotiate with ourselves. Republicans don’t negotiate; they take hostages and make demands, and if you don’t meet their demands the hostages get it. That’s simply no way to run a government……but then again, it’s their goal to destroy government, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.


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