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CNN: Obama Losing Liberals Over Bedrock Democratic Programs

11:11 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

When a Democratic President continues to shove Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid back onto the negotiating table after being offered a clean debt ceiling deal by the Senate GOP, CNN polling shows liberals are taken aback:

“… 13 percent say they disapprove of Obama because he has not been liberal enough – nearly double what it was in May, when the question was last asked, and the first time that number has hit double digits in Obama’s presidency.”

Looking at that figure another way, roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he’s not been liberal enough.

Obama’s approval and renominate numbers are at their lowest point ever, as well:

Obama’s approval rating among liberals has dropped to 71 percent, the lowest point in his presidency. And the number of Democrats who want the party to renominate Obama next year, now at 77 percent, is relatively robust by historical standards but is also down a bit since June.

CNN polling director Keating Holland provides the “why:”

“It’s likely that this is a reaction to some of Obama’s recent actions, including his willingness to discuss major changes in Social Security and Medicare as part of the debt ceiling negotiations,” adds Holland.

Worth noting: this poll closed two days ago, before public notice from Senators Mikulski, Feinstein, and Cantwell that they weren’t on the same page as the president. Long-tenured, mainstream Democratic Senators’ complaints about the White House don’t reverse this polling trend: they amplify it.

Senate Gang Skews Further From Majority Rule

10:03 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Skew

"Skew" by funkandjazz on flickr

The whole point of Senate gangs, whether of Four, Six, or Eight — or even Fourteen — is to obliterate the will of the American people having been expressed by electing Senators of one majority party or another. Right now, the Senate is firmly in Democratic control, but Gangs that emerge are evenly balanced, like the Gang of Six.

Evenly balanced Gangs mean that more conservative, GOP-friendly solutions will emerge, because there is no majority as there is in committees and subcommittees, where the people’s will is expressed through majority control. In order to get agreement on any ideas that emerge from evenly-balanced Gangs, the majority Democratic party members need to move to the right to accommodate the more conservative views of the GOP.

Views those Democrats might also hold, but now can blame on the need to obtain full Gang agreement. It’s rotating villains, Gangland style. Read the rest of this entry →

Ellison Takes the Progressive Caucus People’s Pledge: Won’t Vote for Cuts [UPDATE]

8:45 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Thanks to The Last Word substitute host (take all the time you need, Lawrence) Chris Hayes, Washington Editor of The Nation, we have the first hard pledge not to vote for a package with cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, from the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

CLH: Finally, since it’s gonna come down to a squeaker, I think, in the House, if and when there’s a deal that’s struck, it seems — if you do the math — the Progressive Caucus is going to have genuine leverage here. And the reason is that they are going to need Democratic votes to get this passed. Will you pledge that you and your colleagues in the Progressive Caucus will not vote for a package that includes cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and/or Medicaid?

Keith Ellison (D-MN): Yes. [pause] Full stop.

I’m calling this pledge the Progressive Caucus People’s Pledge. While it deserves a version number (3.0? — remember the war supplemental and the public option?) let’s give Chairman Ellison the benefit of the doubt since he wasn’t in charge back then.

As of Friday, July 8, this pledge of Chairman Ellison’s on his own behalf and on behalf of his caucus is one day old.

UPDATE: Reiterated on Keith Olbermann’s CurrentTV Countdown:

In Defeat, Failed Catfood Commission Chairs Issue Flawed Report While President Travels Abroad

10:15 am in Executive Branch, Government by Teddy Partridge

Issuing any presidential commission report while the president himself is out of the country is bad form. The failed chairmen of the Catfood Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, both avowed enemies of Social Security and Medicare, are holding a press conference on Capitol Hill today to issue their flawed ‘report,’ endorsed by no other members of the commission, while President Obama continues his Asia trip.

Utterly defeated in their attempt to build consensus among commission membership stacked with faux deficit hawks, Simpson and Erskine appear to be folding their tent as quietly as they can, while their presidential sponsor wrestles with the G-20 halfway around the world.

Bloomberg reports that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois has dismissed the chairmen’s mark:

Schakowsky said no one outside of panel co-chairmen Erskine Bowles, former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, a Republican former Wyoming senator, has endorsed today’s proposal.

Senator Dick Durbin, also from the President’s home state, made clear there isn’t really a way forward for the commission to approve this report:

“We’re not going to have an up-or-down vote on this,” said Durbin. “There are proposals in there that are painful. I told them I said there are things in here which inspire me and other things which I hate like the devil hates holy water. I’m not going to vote for those things.”

Let’s hope this is the last we hear from these doltish failures, who, after chairing a stacked commission rejected by Congress and appointed by a president with a mandate to avoid electoral consequences, may now slink off into the sunset never to be heard from again. This blot on both their copybooks will forever stain their public record.

Let’s hope this ends the Catfood Commission era in America.

Obama Insults Youth Voters, Calls Election Time “Silly Season”

12:02 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

At the youth town hall this week, young voters came to ask President Obama questions about his past policies and future intentions. These young voters understand that this time of year, the mid-term elections, is when we interview candidates for the job of representing us in Congress. The president, though, called it "silly season" — an insult to them and to all American voters trying to decide whether to re-hire incumbents or look to another candidate for the job.

Speaking of the very suspicious timing of his own Catfood Commission report about how to reduce the deficit and debt on the backs of poor people while protecting the rich from tax increases, Obama said:

They’re supposed to report back to me after the election because we specifically designed it so they wouldn’t get caught up with silly season and would be able to just focus on what makes sense.

I wouldn’t be motivated to go vote in an election next month that my own president had called "the silly season" — does this motivate you?

Why insult the very voters sitting in front of him, participating in the job interview process by asking him questions about what he’ll expect from the new Congress?

Would you go to a job interview and call the process "silly?" I wouldn’t.

White House Accepts Simpson Apology. D’oh!

7:13 pm in Financial Crisis by Teddy Partridge

This whole "I never intended" Alan Simpson apology has gotten entirely out of hand: the person to whom the insult was directed still wants Simpson to resign from the Catfood Commission, while the White House, an unrelated party to the insult or the apology, accepts Simpson’s apology.

But at the White House, Jennifer Psaki, the deputy communications director, said, “Alan Simpson has apologized and while we regret and do not condone his comments, we accept his apology and he will continue to serve.”

Ms. Psaki, you can’t accept an apology that was not tendered to you or the White House for an insult directed to someone other than the White House or you. It doesn’t work that way, not even in "I never intended" apology-world.

The organization headed by the person to whom Alan Simpson directed both the insult and the apology, on the other hand, has not modified its stance regarding Simpson’s continued "service" on the Catfood Commission:

OWL has said Simpson should resign from the panel, and if he will not, that Obama should ask him to leave.

As Alan Simpson’s younger, smarter, prettier, wittier, and less boorish relative, Homer, might say: D’oh!

Under What COLA Formula Does Congress Earn a Raise While Our Most Needy Don’t?

8:45 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Hurray for Congress for turning down their cost-of-living-adjustment-warranted raise this week. Under what formula does Congress merit a COLA when Social Security recipients’ payments are flat for two years?

Under the law that governs congressional pay, senators and representatives were due to get an automatic cost of living increase on January 1, probably an extra $1,600 or 0.9 percent, unless they voted beforehand to turn it down.

And yet America’s elderly, disabled, and surviving children were told that there was not enough of an increase in the cost of living to warrant a COLA bump for them in 2010.

Here’s Robert Seigel and Scott Horsley’s discussion of the Social Security COLA last fall on NPR:

SCOTT HORSLEY: Well, Robert, it’s pretty simple. Seniors and others who collect Social Security are not getting a cost of living increase because the cost of living has not increased. In fact, according to…

SIEGEL: It decreased.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: That’s right. According to the Labor Department’s calculations, it went down about two percent in the last year. One could argue, therefore, seniors – even if their checks stayed the same – will have more buying power than they have in the past. But that’s not good enough for the White House, and so they want to send a one-time check to all the people who get Social Security and veterans’ benefits of $250 some time next year. They point out that other parts of the stimulus package extend into next year. And so, in a way, this is just putting seniors on the same plane as workers.

A Texas paper explains the lack of COLA adjustment for our most needy Americans, those who qualify for federal assistance through Social Security:

For the first year since annual automatic cost of living adjustments (COLA) were established for Social Security and supplemental security income in 1975, Social Security payments remained flat.

Raises in Social Security and SSI are attached to inflation. To determine the adjustment, the third quarter inflation rate is compared to the one the year before. Consumer prices determine the inflation rate. In 2009, the rate fell 2.1 percent in the third quarter, compared to 2008.

“By law, the Department of Labor uses the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, and by law it’s used to calculate Social Security payments,” said Aurora Lopez with the Dallas regional public affairs office for the Social Security Administration.

Is there a special Elected Official Consumer Price Index? Or a Village Price Index that supercedes the one used for Social Security? This is simply another example of elites treating themselves differently than those who elect them.

So: Hurray for turning it down, Congress! But explain, please, the corruption that earns you a COLA while the most needy Americans do not.

It’s nice you are not taking it, but why were you offered it at all?

Social Security: Unfair to LGBTs

2:55 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Please watch this video of LGBT widows and widowers deprived of Social Security benefits because the federal government is prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act from recognizing their decades-long relationships. Would a civilized society behave this way?

Join Rock for Equality on FaceBook to protect ALL our senior citizens from discrimination. Learn about or organize actions in your area to end this discrimination against LGBT seniors.

Feinstein Joins The Fiscal-Scold Seven to Make A Crazy Eight

3:42 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Dianne Feinstein has put her foot down: she’s teamed up with the Fiscal-Scold-Seven on Social Security and Medicare. She won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling (required within a month or Uncle Sam defaults) without a law establishing a "bipartisan commission" that’s sure to ruin Baby Boomer benefits just as the Democratic coalition cracks over choice and Stupak.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining 6 [sic] other Senators to demand that Speaker Nancy Pelosi approve a commission to recommend cuts to Medicare and Social Security – or else they’ll refuse to vote to increase the US government’s debt ceiling:

Congress is under pressure to raise the cap on what the federal government can borrow by mid-December. If the debt ceiling is not raised above its current $12.1 trillion mark by then, the government will exceed its borrowing limits and will be forced to default on the debt. Economists have warned that the inevitable result would be a lowering of the U.S. credit rating, triggering substantial increases in the interest rates the government is already paying.

Look at the lovely crowd welcoming DiFi to their travesty:

But before Tuesday’s hearing was over, Sens. Conrad, Gregg, Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) publicly vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling if a budget reform commission bill doesn’t come along with it.

Great. Just great.

Kent Conrad, who thinks co-ops will work for health care. Judd "I was almost Barack Obama’s Commerce Secretary" Gregg, Evan "Married to Wellpoint" Bayh, Mark "Telecom Millionaire" Warner, Short Ride Joe, Lame Duck George and Jeff "Couldn’t Get Confirmed as a Federal Judge" Sessions.

What a team.

It’s absolutely shameful. Dianne Feinstein should not be lending her name to this effort, a response to the Fiscal Scolding of billionaire Pete Peterson who fears he’ll have to pay his share of taxes when Baby Boomers demand our due.

Is the White House on board with this effort? Obama’s team has bucked up the Fiscal Scold play in the past, but endangering Uncle’s credit by talk of default is no path to success on the President’s Asia trip.

Any problems America’s elected leaders foresee with Social Security and Medicare need to be solved in the light of day where Americans can see what’s happening; we’ve learned from health care reform how bad things can get when policy is made in the back rooms.

Chris Bowers defines what the Fiscal Scold Seven (and DiFi) want:

Let’s review the threat that these five Democrats are making:

* They will allow the United States to default on its debt, which will vastly increase the overall amount we have to pay on our debt

UNLESS

* Speaker Nancy Pelosi turns over Congressional power on Social Security and Medicare to an unelected commission that will almost certainly propose deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare entitlements. Keep in mind that deep cuts to Social security and Medicare that pass under a Democratic trifecta would doom the party at the ballot box for years to come.

This is completely insane, and there is no choice but to call this bluff.

The Speaker needs to call this bluff. It’s an unconscionable way to legislate and needs to be smacked down. It will also trump Stupak as the ruination of the Democratic coalition, for decades to come.

[Ed. note: Be sure to read David Dayen's related post on fiscal scolds at this link.]