Flap’s Links and Comments for April 13th on 12:20

Posted Posted in Pinboard Links

These are my links for April 13th from 12:20 to 12:52:

  • How Congress could cut the deficit to zero in eight years by literally doing nothing? – So how does doing nothing actually return the budget to health? The answer is that doing nothing allows all kinds of fiscal changes that politicians generally abhor to take effect automatically. First, doing nothing means the Bush tax cuts would expire, as scheduled, at the end of next year. That would cause a moderately progressive tax hike, and one that hits most families, including the middle class. The top marginal rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, and some tax benefits for investment income would disappear. Additionally, a patch to keep the alternative minimum tax from hitting 20 million or so families would end. Second, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama's health care law, would proceed without getting repealed or defunded. The CBO believes that the plan would bend health care's cost curve downward, wrestling the rate of health care inflation back toward the general rate of inflation. Third, doing nothing would mean that Medicare starts paying doctors low, low rates. Congress would not pass anymore of the regular "doc fixes" that keep reimbursements high. Nothing else happens. Almost magically, everything evens out.

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    Sorry but this is a joke.

    ObamaCare will do nothing of the kind in reducing the deficit and how will you replace all of the physicians after they quit practicing medicine.

    This is a stupid left-wing exercise.

  • GOP Senators: Raise retirement age to 70 and Cut Benefits for Wealthy – Three Republican senators on Wednesday will propose a Social Security reform package that would raise the retirement age to 70 and cut benefits for the wealthy.

    Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) previewed their proposal on Fox News, saying that it will put the entitlement program on a long-term path to solvency without raising taxes.

    The senators said that their plan would gradually raise the retirement age from 67 to 70 and would not affect individuals age 56 or older. Graham said that the proposal uses the same formula Congress used to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67, so that people born in 1970 would become the first group to have a retirement age of 70.

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    Makes the most sense…….

  • Obama’s solution to deficit: spending, ObamaCare, and tax hikes – If it was possible to fail to meet the already-low expectations set for this speech beforehand, Obama managed to do it.  Not only did Obama fail to resurrect his own deficit commission’s plan, he offered nothing specific in response to the specifics Paul Ryan and the GOP have already laid on the table.  It’s almost impossible to present a substantive criticism of the proposal because it contains nothing substantive, an impression that more and more people have of this White House.

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    Nothing substantive is correct. It isn't even a fair debate between Obama and Paul Ryan.

Flap’s Links and Comments for April 13th on 10:12

Posted Posted in Pinboard Links

These are my links for April 13th from 10:12 to 10:34:

  • Why Hasn’t Barack Obama Called Paul Ryan? – If the president were truly interested in a “spirit of cooperation,” such a conversation would seem a logical place to start. After all, Ryan has spent the better part of the past decade studying America’s fiscal health and more than anyone in Congress has proposed serious solutions to avert the coming debt crisis.

    So how did their conversation go?

    It never happened. A spokesman for Ryan confirms that there has been no call since the president said he would reach out on February 15.

    If that’s a sign of Obama’s commitment to a “spirit of cooperation,” it’s not a good one. 

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    Because Obama is "The One."

    Actually, it is because the GOP has Obama in a box and he doesn't know what to do.

  • Why is Obama talking to us today? – A Republican communications guru also takes a dim view of the effort, telling me, “This speech, to me, is incredibly reactionary, as is everything they seem to do at the White House. Paul Ryan made a big splash with his plan, and now the White House is playing catch-up. Notice that the speech is in middle of the day and not at the White House but instead at George Washington University. So, it’s a ‘major-minor’ speech?” The guru sees a White House obsessed with spin: “All the White House believes the president has to do with this speech is reclaim the headlines. So, he just has to sound good. In their mind, he could be reading out of the phone book.”

    George W. Bush’s press secretary Dana Perino doesn’t think much of sending the president out either. She says she wouldn’t advise the president to give such a speech, “but, then again, I would not have put forward his budget. I suppose they think they’ve really got the GOP in a corner now.”

    But rather it’s Obama who finds himself in a box. He recaptures the center and endorses specific entitlement reforms? He sends his base around the bend. He talks generalities or tax hikes? The independents roll their eyes in disgust. Sometimes if you don’t have anything productive to say it’s best to say nothing at all. But that is not the mindset of the White House, which still is fixated on the notion that Obama can convince the voters of things that simply aren’t so. Have those officials read the polls on ObamaCare lately? And was the 2010 midterms just a fluke in their minds?

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    President Obama and the Dems are playing defense

Flap’s Links and Comments for April 12th on 16:16

Posted Posted in Pinboard Links

These are my links for April 12th from 16:16 to 16:41:

  • The Real Medicare Divide – The Treaters Vs. Rationers – That’s why I’m convinced the major fault line in the health care debate in the coming decades won’t be between those who do and don’t want to diminish the  government’s role–by, say, replacing the open-ended benefits Medicare recipients now get with a Ryan-style limited subsidy for purchase of health insurance. Sure that’s one debate, and it’s happening now. But the bigger fault line will be the line that is just emerging, between those who want Americans to keep getting whatever health care will make them better–which is more or less Medicare’s current, costly posture–and those who accept some system, whether public or private, that would deny them some treatments because of their expense: The Treaters vs. the Rationers.**

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    Read it all

  • Is Obama going to endorse the debt commission’s plan? – Obama will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. Instead, he is expected to offer support for the [debt] commission’s work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans, according to people briefed by the White House.

    Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency. On health care, last year’s tax deal and the recent battle over 2011 spending cuts, Obama has repeatedly waited as others set the parameters of the debate, swooping in late to cut a deal. The tactic has produced significant victories but exposed Obama to criticism that he has shown a lack of leadership.

    The Post reporters also note that Obama will speak favorably of the so-called Gang of Six, a group of senators who favor a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts.

    But what does this really mean? Saying nice things about a panel whose specific proposals he never endorsed and which are an anathema to much of his party doesn’t seem like a formula to move the ball ahead. A senior Republican Senate aide deems the “let others lead” approach as “ridiculous,” given the necessity of presidential leadership if we are to make progress on the debt.

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    Well, Obama has to do something and class warfare is the easiest – despite the details.

    Obama has not led on the economy, unemployment or foreign policy. What makes anyone think he will do anything different on the federal budget deficit?

  • Paul Ryan’s desperate critics on the LEFT – The Democrats have a problem. They can’t abide by the notion that we have to spend less on entitlement programs in order to solve our long- term debt, so rather than offer their own plan they’ve resorted to name-calling and straw-man arguments.

    Ezra Klein, for example, deems Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan a “joke,” accusing him of failing to raise taxes (well, yes that’s true) and of savaging “programs serving the poor.” Actually, Ryan would impose means-testing of the rich on Medicare and give block grants to the states to try to more effectively manage health services delivered to the poor. If we do nothing, of course, these plans will collapse. A Ryan spokesman had this to say:

    The CBO warns that if policymakers don’t take action to save Medicare, taxes “would reach higher levels relative to the size of the economy than ever recorded in the nation’s history, payments to physicians under Medicare would be reduced well below current rates, and payments to other Medicare providers would grow more slowly than the cost of their inputs; nevertheless, federal debt would continue to grow relative to GDP.”

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    Read it all.

    So, what does Ezra Klein want to do when Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare collapse under their own weight?

    Another government bailout? And, that works how when the country is bankrupt?

  • Sen. Rand Paul says he’s considering filibuster of budget agreement – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he's considering a filibuster of the budget agreement to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year.

    Paul, who said yesterday that he would vote against the agreement reached last Friday to cut $39.9 billion between now and September, acknowledged that he's considering waging a filibuster, which would make it so that leaders need 60 votes to pass the deal and advance it to President Obama's desk.

    "Yes, but we haven't really made a final decision on that yet," Paul said on conservative talker Sean Hannity's radio show.

    A filibuster would make it difficult for the Senate to pass the budget deal by midnight Friday, when the government's spending measure expires.

    Paul acknowledged that even if he were to filibuster, it's unlikely that he'll attract 40 other senators' votes in order to sustain his procedural roadblock to the budget deal.

    But such a move might crystallize conservative dissatisfaction with the deal brokered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in last-minute negotiations with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Conservatives are angry the deal falls short of the benchmark of $100 billion in cuts below Obama's original budget proposal for this fiscal year.

    Paul said that he would be more inclined to block action in the upper chamber if it led to consideration of the Senate GOP's balanced budget amendment.

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    Tilting at windmills here.

    The government might shut down for really no reason and the GOP extremists would be blamed to the detriment of the entire party.

    Better to hold his fire for the debt ceiling vote.

Flap’s Links and Comments for April 11th on 12:28

Posted Posted in Pinboard Links

These are my links for April 11th from 12:28 to 16:31:

Flap’s Links and Comments for April 9th on 05:45

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Pinboard Links

These are my links for April 9th from 05:45 to 05:49:

  • KEY FACTS: Bipartisan Agreement on Spending Cuts to Support American Job Creation – ” Here are some key facts on the bipartisan agreement:

    THE LARGEST SPENDING CUT IN AMERICAN HISTORY.  The agreement will immediately cut $38.5 billion in federal spending – the largest spending cut in American history in terms of dollars – just months after President Obama asked Congress for a spending “freeze” that would mean zero cuts. 
    HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS IN SPENDING CUTS OVER THE NEXT DECADE.  The agreement will cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the federal budget over the next decade – “real money,” as the Wall Street Journal editorial board recently noted.
    OFFICIALLY ENDS THE “STIMULUS” SPENDING BINGE.  The agreement begins to reverse the “stimulus” spending binge that began in 2009 – signaling the official end of a period of unprecedented government intervention that former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and other economists say hurt job creation in America by crowding out private investment. 
    SETS STAGE FOR TRILLIONS MORE IN SPENDING CUTS.  Clears the way for congressional action on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget – The Path to Prosperity – which cuts trillions in spending and offers a long-term blueprint for American job creation.

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    go to the link and read it all

  • Boehner Wins Big – The Numbers – President Obama’s 2011 budget called for a spending increase of $40 billion. Tonight, he touted a bipartisan agreement on “the largest annual spending cut in our history” — some $38.5 billion [emphasis added].  All told, he got $78.5 billion less than he originally requested.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) didn’t want to cut anything at first. But bowing to political reality, eventually ponied up about $4.7 billion in cuts. He ended up with $33.8 billion less spending than he wanted. And he called it an “historic” accomplishment. (Not surprisingly, the left is appalled).

    House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), on the other hand, initially proposed $32 billion in spending cuts. House Republicans, led by an undaunted freshman class, bumped that number up to $61 billion ($100 billion off the president’s budget), before settling on $38.5 billion. That’s $6.5 billion more than Boehner asked for to begin with, and $5.5 billion more than the $33 billion that Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats claimed had been agreed to less than two weeks ago. It remains to be seen how much of that will be cuts to discretionary spending, but all told it would appear that we’'ll see a substantial reduction in baseline spending that will yield hundreds of billions in savings over the next decade.

    But unlike Obama and Reid, the speaker didn’t quite feel the need to pat himself on the back over it. “We fought to keep government spending down,” he told reporters in a brief speech after the deal was announced. And they’ll keep fighting, because the biggest battles — over the debt limit and the 2012 budget — are still to come.

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    Boehner will probably need some Dem votes though.

Flap’s Links and Comments for April 8th on 19:54

Posted Posted in Pinboard Links

These are my links for April 8th from 19:54 to 20:06:

  • Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing – Right Turn – The Washington Post – Speaker Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing
  • Speaker Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing – Boehner did have something going for him: a completely incompetent White House. The errors include never having an alternative short-term continuing resolution on the table (letting the GOP’s short-term CR be the only “stop the shutdown” document out there for two days); not stepping in to signal that the troops would be paid in some fashion; issuing an incomprehensible veto threat with no alternative; overestimating Boehner’s need to get the Planned Parenthood rider; and underestimating Boehner’s ability to make this about the most popular issue (cutting the deficit). These major White House errors compounded the error of never getting a 2011 budget done when there were large Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.

    By contrast, Boehner kept his caucus with him, beginning with a productive Monday meeting with his members. He didn’t flinch when the veto threat came. (Informed sources say that was not expected.) He kept both the rider and the cuts open to the very end and persuaded Reid to overvalue the Planned Parenthood rider.

    Boehner is now the most powerful and effective leader in Congress, maybe in Washington. His power will increase immensely. We know who knows how to make a deal at the end (Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Tom Coburn and others supported Boehner publicly when it mattered.) Sen. Jim DeMint showed why he is a Tea Party favorite but is ineffective in the Senate (i.e., staking out the most extreme position and not knowing how to close a deal).

    I imagine the Democratic base will be enraged, and liberals should be. They control the Senate and the White House and gave away the store. It doesn’t augur well for them in 2012 budget negotiations, does it?

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    Boehner wins and Harry Reid loses