Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obama willing to lie to scare seniors

Obama went on CBS and brazenly lied about whether or not Social Security checks would go out August 3 if there were no debt ceiling deal. There is money to cover both interest on the debt and Social Security payments plus Medicare and essential defense with some money left over, as James Pethokoukis shows in this chart of the money the federal government will have in August.
But Obama wants to hold seniors hostage if it means scoring some PR points. James Taranto has an answer to those in the media who are buying Obama's "I'm the adult in the room" shtick.
The kids are acting up, so he threatens to starve Granny to death. That's just how a strong father behaves.
This reminds me of living in California right while Prop 13 was debated. There was such gnashing of teeth as liberals and the media strained to try to portray the drastic cuts that would have to be made if property taxes weren't kept at a high level. They always threatened the things that people cared about most - schools, firefighters, the police. Those were going to have to be the first budget items cut. And then it passed and lo and behold! we still had schools, firefighters, and police. Amazing how that worked out, wasn't it? The tactic hasn't changed in over 30 years. Threaten what people are most worried about and hold those fears hostage in order to score political points.

Mark Tapscott has also been running the numbers
to call the lie on Obama's scare tactics.
But wait just a minute. If Washington receives about $200 billion in monthly revenues and sends out roughly $50 billion worth of Social Security checks and the same amount of Medicare payments, why is Obama claiming the checks may not go out?

Isn't $200 billion minus $100 billion still $100 billion?

Because Obama is playing the demogogue, that's why. Pure and simple. He is trying to scare seniors into making panicked calls to their congressmen begging them to do whatever Obama and the Democrats want in order to keep the checks coming.

This is demogoguery of the worst sort because Obama has to know that what he is saying is false. When you and I say something we know to be false, it's called a "lie."
Obama might want to pretend that he has made real proposals and the Republicans are just acting out of blind ideology to reject his mature, adult attempts at compromise, but actually he hasn't proposed anything. You want to know what cuts Obama and Biden have put on the table in exchange for their request for raising the debt ceiling over $4 trillion? Two measly billion dollars in savings!
In the nearly two-hour-long White House meeting Monday afternoon during which leaders reviewed savings found last month by a group led by Vice President Joseph Biden, McConnell asked only one question, according to a Republican source familiar with the talks.

“How much does the Biden plan actually cut from next year’s discretionary spending budget?” the Kentucky Republican asked the room.

Obama’s Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew told him, “$2 billion.”

A second source close to the original Biden group confirmed this number.
As John McCormack points out,
Two billion dollars is slightly more than 0.1 percent of next year's deficit.
While the media might want to portray Obama as being willing to make substantive changes to Democratic hobbyhorses like Medicare and Medicaid, what he is really proposing is basically the same sorts of cuts already in Obamacare - cutting rates to doctors.
The main source of confusion is about Obama’s supposed willingness to cut entitlement spending in return for higher taxes. In fact, as best as we can tell, what Obama is offering in the main is several hundred billion dollars in Medicare and Medicaid cuts of the kind already embodied in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (e.g., regulatory tinkering of payment rates). That is not structural entitlement reform that Republicans have in mind; it is, in fact, an old and bad Democratic idea (for example, as payment rates to doctors are lowered, volume increases and quality goes down). If Obama were serious about entitlement reform, he would embrace, at least directionally, the Medicare and Medicaid reforms in the budget put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

What Obama wants, in other words, is Republican approval of his previous proposals – though this time it would be accompanied by (a) more than a trillion dollars in tax increases; and (b) raising the debt ceiling. This is hardly a compromise, and Republicans would be fools to accept it.
He's not talking about structural reforms to save money going forward. He's just talking about more of the same.

That's why Mitch McConnell figured that he should call Obama's bluff with his plan.
“We all saw how it worked. The Administration carefully leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions of dollars in spending cuts.

“The lack of detail concealed the fact that the savings they were supposedly willing to support was at best smoke and mirrors. The hope here was that the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening.

“But the practical effect would have been at most about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow. We’ve seen this kind of thing before. It’s just this kind of sleight of hand governing that’s put our nation more than $14 trillion in debt. And I will not associate myself with it. I refuse to join in an effort to fool the American people.
That's been the administration's plan all along. Go out in public and talk about the importance of being adult and eating our peas. But behind the scenes they didn't put forth any concrete plan of their own - just some phony cuts and demands for tax increases. They knew that they could rely on the media to follow their spin.

I'm not thrilled with McConnell's plan, but face it, with control of only one house, the GOP was never going to get what they wanted - massive spending cuts with real reform of taxes or entitlements. That wasn't going to happen. At least McConnell's plan puts the onus back on Obama to have to propose really spending cuts. The WSJ explains this to those conservatives who bought into the hopes of making real change through these debt ceiling debates.
The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won't vote for one, then what's the alternative to Mr. McConnell's maneuver?

Republicans who say they can use the debt limit to force Democrats to agree to a balanced budget amendment are dreaming. Such an amendment won't get the two-thirds vote to pass the Senate, but it would give every Democrat running for re-election next year a chance to vote for it and claim to be a fiscal conservative.

We agree with those who say that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can cut other federal spending before he allows a technical default on U.S. debt. No doubt that is what he will do. We'd even support a showdown over technical default if we thought it might yield some major government reforms. But Mr. Obama clearly has no such intention.

Instead he and Mr. Geithner will gradually shut down government services, the more painful the better. The polls that now find that voters oppose a debt-limit increase will turn on a dime when Americans start learning that they won't get Social Security checks. Republicans will then run like they're fleeing the Pamplona bulls, and chaotic retreats are the ugliest kind. By then they might end up having to vote for a debt-limit increase and a tax increase.

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren't prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.

The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election. The Obama Democrats have staged a spending blowout to 24% of GDP and rising, and now they want to find a way to finance it to make it permanent. Those are the real stakes of 2012.

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He'll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He'll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he'll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor's so decides.

We'd far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase. But if Mr. Obama won't go along, there's no reason Republicans should help him dodge the political consequences by committing debt-limit harakiri.
And that's why I strongly doubt that Obama and the Democrats will accept the plan. So everyone should just cool down and see what develops. Obama's PR push was one move on the chess board. McConnell has just made another move. All those conservatives who thought that this was the battle worth dying for are mistaken. Forcing Obama to take responsibility for the cuts and the raising of the ceiling might well be the best that the GOP can hope to get out of this.