But the politics of one core dispute between Democrats and Republicans — what to do about Medicare — are changing. And some of those changes complicate President Obama’s agenda, even as he continues to flex his postelection muscle.You see, if the entitlement deficit isn't what they say, nothing else is either. Not that it doesn't exist (it does), but the terms and urgency just ain't there.
One shift is the shrinking magnitude of the Medicare spending problem — a consequence, at least for now, of a recent slowdown in the rise of health care costs. That diminishes the willingness of Congressional Democrats, and perhaps the administration, too, to accept the sort of Medicare curbs that Mr. Obama has indicated that he favors.
Another is a moderation in the public stance of Republican leaders. In recent weeks, they have advocated smaller changes to Medicare than the “premium support” or voucher plan that Mitt Romney advocated and that Mr. Obama denounced in last year’s presidential campaign.
As a result, Mr. Obama’s ability to deliver a bipartisan compromise on entitlement spending may be waning even as Republicans edge closer to one.
The reduction in Medicare spending levels is the more drastic change.
Four thousand children in Georgia who won’t get free vaccines. More than 2,000 food safety inspections cancelled. Four million meals that won’t go to homebound seniors.What makes you a Republican is not caring what happens to kids and seniors. And no, that's not an exaggeration or hyperbole. Alas.
The Obama administration is scrambling in the last few days to gin up pressure on Republican members of Congress who increasingly look like they will willingly let what was supposed to have been unthinkable – a budget sequester – happen by Friday.
The budget sequester was designed to be a consequence so dreadful that members of Congress would come up with more sensible budget cuts instead. Now it’s been delayed so long that if and when it does hit, it will mean a 5 percent across-the-board cut for government agencies, squeezed into the seven months left in the fiscal year.
“It will affect all disease areas, all research areas,” says Bill Hall, a spokesman for the Health and Human Services department. “Because it is across the board and deep down in every single institute, it would affect virtually everything. It is a five percent cut on everything.”
What's whacky is the end game. The GOP is going to lose on this like they lost on the 2012 election, the fiscal cliff, Benghazi hearings, Bush tax cuts for the rich, Hagel nomination, etc... And they are also going to lose on immigration and gun legislation. So what's their brilliant plan? Delay their future losses by inserting some current losses. No wonder America hates them. The only question is how often John Boehner has to break the Hastert rule and let Democrats vote to get anything done. More below the fold.
President Obama traveled to Newport News, Virginia, today to highlight the damage the sequester will do to the military-heavy area. He took special care to give a shout out to GOP Rep. Scott Rigell, who was at the event, having previously called on Congressional Republicans to consider new revenues to avert the sequester cuts.Harold Meyerson:
The highlighting of Rigell contained a clue as to how Democrats will proceed in the sequester battle, and as to why they are content to wait Republicans out in hopes that they’ll cave in the end. Democrats are hoping that the sequester deepens the divide between defense hawks and spending hawks in a way that makes the GOP position untenable over time.
At least the leaders in power in 1930 had an excuse when the economy began to collapse. Then, there was genuine bewilderment among economists and governmental chieftains across the political spectrum about how to induce a recovery. From British Laborite Ramsay MacDonald to the German centrist Heinrich Bruning to American conservative Herbert Hoover, leaders cut spending to bring their budgets into balance.Austerity doesn't work. How hard is that to grasp?
These austerity policies proved an unmitigated disaster. By reducing government spending while business and consumer spending were tanking, these heads of government constricted all economic activity. In turn, unemployment continued to soar. Frustrated with the inability of mainstream political parties to stop the collapse, voters in some nations turned to extremes — most notably, of course, in Germany.
Unlike their predecessors, today’s leaders have models on how to revive depressed economies. The example of Franklin Roosevelt, whose public investments in jobs and defense turned the U.S. economy around, and the writings of John Maynard Keynes, who demonstrated that the solution to depression is boosting demand, are plain for all to see. Seeing isn’t believing, however, when ideology dims the eye.
Minutes later, Jim Inhofe (Okla.), ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, repeated the allegation that Hagel had claimed “Israel committed ‘sickening slaughter.’ ”And , no, both sides don't do it. Republicans do it. How hard is that to grasp?
There was something sickening about this, but it wasn’t Hagel’s quote. As Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pointed out, what the nominee had in fact said, during a Senate speech on the 2006 Lebanon war, was this: “The sickening slaughter on both sides must end.”
It was one of many moments from the past few weeks that Joe McCarthy would have admired.