Sunday, April 07, 2013

That Manure Thing Would Be A Euphemism

US District Judge Edward R. Korman has ruled that the U.S. government cannot block an individual of any age, even if lacking a prescription or identification, from obtaining the emergency contraception pill.   One of the plaintiffs, Stephanie Seguin, responded by noting “This decision to grant immediate access to the Morning-After Pill is a huge step forward in the fight for women and girls to be able to control the course of their lives.”

Tell it to the President, Stephanie.  When HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in December, 2011 overruled the recommendation of the FDA  by banning Plan B One-Step sales to individuals under the age of 17, President Obama argued

As the father two of daughters, I think it is important for us to make sure that, you know, we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine. And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision, was she could not be confident that a 10-year- old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able, alongside bubble gum or batteries, be able to buy a medication that potentially if not used properly could end up having an adverse effect.

The adverse effect is likely to be less than with aspirin, all manner of medication, and junk food, alongside those benign-sounding bubble gum or batteries.  And if you don't have children, don't even bother weighing in on the issue- your opinion is surely without merit and lacks legitimacy.    As Salon's Rebecca Traister wrote at the time,  "Obama’s invocation of his role as a father is an insult to the commitments and priorities of those on the other side of this issue. Are we to believe that those who support the increased availability of emergency contraception do not have daughters? That if they do, they care less about those daughters than Barack Obama does about his?"

After the Judge issued his ruling, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President still "supports the decision" of the HHS Secretary. Apparently, the evolution of Barack Obama has been selective.  So, too, is some of his rhetoric designed (no accident) to reinforce conservative myths.  In February, 2011 the President asserted in a radio broadcast "Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget.  Well, it's time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do." A few months later, Bill Craighead blogged in the L.A. Times

Decisions about the federal budget are fundamentally different from those of individual households, because policymakers need to account for how their choices affect the economy as a whole. It is more appropriate to liken government budget deficits to prescription medicine. Just as medication can be helpful to a sick patient, deficits can aid a failing economy.

The U.S. economy slumped largely because of a reduction in spending by households and businesses. For households, this was a reasonable response to declining property values, job losses and insecurity. Likewise, it made sense for firms to cut back on investment as their customers spent less. If the federal government were to act this way, though, it would reinforce the decline in economic activity, not alleviate it.

To stabilize the economy, the federal government needs to counterbalance the swings in consumer and business expenditures by moving in the opposite direction. When consumers and firms cut back, government can help replace the lost economic activity through direct spending (on infrastructure projects, for example) and through indirect means, such as tax cuts, which increase households' disposable income.

Further, the federal government can print money.  Or it can borrow money- and not have to worry about paying it back soon.  The U.S. government never has reneged on its debt, and the bond buyers keep coming back.

There is a good chance the President understands he was promoting false equivalence.  So, too, is he aware that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit.  Apparently, however, that is not stopping him from including in his upcoming budget proposal a reduction in benefits by reducing the annual cost of living adjustment with use of the chained CPI, whose rationale is that people respond to price variations by adjusting their purchasing decisions. But as Dean Baker explains, elderly people are particularly ill-equipped to do so, both because of the nature of their purchases (e.g., health care) and their relative lack of mobility.

On to climate change (wait, there is a connection among all these issues.)  At a fund-raiser Wednesday night at the home of a well-healed opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama commented "You may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your No. 1 concern.  And if people think, well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by.”  Charles Pierce responds

This is the argument we get from the oil companies, the extraction industries, and all the politicians they have sublet over the past 40 years — that environmental concerns are the province of the liberal elites, as though small farmers are not being killed by drought, small businesses being killed by what's killing the small farmers, and small homeowners along both seaboards being killed by increasingly massive storms.

Pierce adds "The interested parties have done a good job selling this bag of manure to the American people. To see a Democratic president making essentially the same argument — And that's what he's doing here. He's not just assessing the lay of the land. — is more than simply distressing. It's downright mortifying."

This "Democratic" President is doing a good job selling a bag of manure to the American people on climate change.   On Social Security, which he has linked, inaccurately, to the national debt.  To the health of young women, which he implies only parents care about.  To deficit spending, comparing it to household debt, which anyone who has had Economics 101, and many who haven't, would know is ridiculous.  And then there are the dissolution of privacy, the crackdown on whistleblowers, and all manner of  unprecedented action taken by this President in the name of the war on terrorism.

To be fair, President Obama did advocate what is considered a progressive position on the matter of same-sex marriage- once his vice president and running-mate made his continued evolution on the subject untenable.  To which the old cliche (is there such a thing as a new cliche?), "God is in His heaven and all's right with the world," may be applied sarcastically.

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