Monday, February 11, 2013

Common And Foolish Wisdom

At Crooks and Liars, Heather has a great post boosting the budget proposal of the Progressive Caucus, which suggests measures to increase revenue, "cut Pentagon waste," and promote job creation.

She also blasts Meet The Press host David Gregory for "repeating Republicans' talking points for them" when, interviewing Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, he asks- nay, comments

I want to get back to the automatic spending cuts and ask a fundamental question that I think Republican critics of this president are asking. Do you not concede that there is a spending problem in Washington? Even when it comes to the 50% cuts out of the sequester that are for the Defense Department. You have said in recent interviews you could live with those. You don't like the manner in which the cuts would be made, but you could live with those cutbacks to the Pentagon. So isn't there a spending problem here that must be addressed? 

A journalist ought to challenge a liberal/progressive with the argument from the other side. Unfortunately, Gregory is hardly likely to ask a conservative Republican (excuse the redundancy) "Isn't there a problem with unemployment which, in the presence of low interest rates and absence of spending in the private sector, can be remedied primarily by injection of job-producing spending?"

That won't happen because Gregory is a leading spokesman for the conventional wisdom of the Village, as this exchange with GOP strategist Mike Murphy demonstrates:

MIKE MURPHY: ...[T]he President's got a pretty simple choice. And the clock is running. Politics will take over everything in two years. The presidential primaries and everything else, and the midterm elections. If he wants to move now, it's got to be "Nixon to China." And there are seven magic words. If he would say this, he would unlock a lot of Republican votes. He'd have to fight his own party. But it's time for some of that. And those words are, "Change CPI and beneficiaries pay a little more."


MIKE MURPHY: That's what we pay--

DAVID GREGORY: That's for Medicare, that's for Social Security.

MIKE MURPHY: That's the serious look at entitlements.


MIKE MURPHY: As the country needs.

So, too, as Duncan Black points out, is Bob Woodward, who last month on the same NBC program declared "if you stabilize the debt in some reasonable way, we're going to have growth. The unemployment rate should come down."  

More disturbing, though, is the White House clinging to the Repub agenda.   Check out the Twitter correspondence today between Politico Chief Economic Correspondent Ben White and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer (who demonstrates that he does not know how to spell "includes" anymore than he can string more than 140 characters together):

White:  If all WH has in return for another tax increase is superlative CPI I reallly don't see any deal materializing.

Pfeiffer:  Remember we have an offer on the table that includes CPI, but also inclues Medicare changes and spending cuts.

Pfeiffer: R's have no offer on the table, no plan, and no longer agree all with their previous position that tax reform can reduce deficit.

Nothing screams establishment media louder than Politico, and White just knows that Democrats are unreasonable if all they want to do to their base is cut (with chained CPI) the most popular government program in history; gotta do more than kick old people to the curb. Pfeiffer, representing the President, assures him that Medicare also will be reduced and hints that "tax reform," a catchy GOP bromide, is another aim.   But this is how I would have liked to have described the Administration's approach:

See?  We really do want to cut Social Security but that's not all! We also want to "change" medicare and cut more spending.  Really!  We just dying to enact more austerity and we're willing to do it as far as the eye can see! Those Republicans won't even agree to tax reform, (which everyone knows means that we're going to lower corporate rates.)

Ok, how about if we agree to slash funding for education and Veteran's health care?  Would you give us credit then? How about if we agree to ritualistically kill Big Bird on national TV? Then will you believe that we're Grown-ups?  CAN'T YOU SEE THAT WE ARE THE GROWN-UPS!!!! Why won't you give us credit for being grown-ups ? We try so hard....

It's the budget cutting bug, and anybody who is anybody has it.

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