Sunday, November 11, 2012

The press stumbles around trying to report on the phony fiscal cliff and the real danger of a Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Dean Baker (Washington Post Invents Flexibility for Stubborn Republicans Beat the Press 11/09/2012) and Digby (Does anyone think it's time we talked about what they are going to cut yet? Hullabaloo 11/11/2012) both spank the mainstream press for sloppy reporting on the phony "fiscal cliff" and what might be cut, like, for instance, benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Dean Baker:

Actually the Republicans are not offering a compromise, they are offering the same position that they offered before and that Governor Romney put forward in his presidential campaign. They are proposing to eliminate some loopholes in exchange for a reduction in tax rates. If the Washington Post is successful in convincing the public that this longstanding Republican position is a compromise, then there will be no need for them to offer a real compromise.
Credulous reporting that spins a drama that "both sides" are making compromises has to just ignore the intransigence of the Republicans, which our Pod Pundits and much of the press has managed to do for four years.

But in the real world, what's on the line are benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


So we have the general outlines of what revenues Boehner and the Republicans are willing to accept. Good to know. Does anyone have any idea what cuts the president and the Democrats are willing to accept in return? It seems as though it might be time to have a little chat about that because it appears that they've all agreed to accept some temporary chump change as a Big Victory and the Republicans may very well have wised up enough to recognize that now's the time to take the deal.

So, what do you think the Republicans will demand for the tremendous sacrifice of closing a couple of loopholes? What will be the price for this huge sacrifice?

I don't know, but I do know that the president once before agreed to 2 dollars in cuts for every dollar in revenue. He's said just recently that as Commander in Chief he can't go along with big defense cuts, so don't look for much money there. So, where are the cuts going to be? I'd think we could have at least as energetic discussion of that as these ephemeral revenues everyone's so obsessed with. [my emphasis]
And, of course, the lazy press focus on the public negotiating drama allows the Obama Administration and the Republicans to duck what should be the central issue, that a big cuts in expenses right now is a really bad idea.

And a cut in benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid long- or short-run is a really, really bad idea.

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