In the Arena

From Cliff to Ceiling

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The relentlessly sane Michael Tomasky shows why the next silly Washington crisis is manufactured, synthetic baloney.

Regular readers may have noticed my lack of concern with the fiscal cliff. A resumption of the Clinton tax rates wouldn’t have been catastrophic–after all, the economy boomed under those rates in the 90s. And now we have the Republicans again threatening…di. sas.ter. Bankruptcy! A government shutdown! I’d guess that the public will see this as further evidence of the GOP’s lack of seriousness, and so will the business community.

In the summer of 2011, when the debt ceiling last threatened to devour Cleveland, the value of  US treasury bonds actually strengthened. The rest of the world didn’t believe that we were going to default on our bills. Our credit was still good. As it will be.

This doesn’t mean that the President shouldn’t work on the long-term deficit problem, especially a dysfunctional health care system. There are ways to make Medicare less expensive and better. I’ve written about these before. Senators like Ron Wyden(D) and Bob Corker (R) plus Reps. like Jim Cooper (D) and, yes, Paul Ryan (R) could develop a plan that will move us gradually toward a Medicare system that trends away from fee-for-service medicine. The data gleaned from electronic record-keeping will point doctors and hospitals toward the most cost-effective practices. This could save a lot of money–and eventually lead to a seamless system that includes Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare.

There are other steps the President needs to take to reform, and streamline, the federal bureaucracy. If he’s smart, he’ll make this part of his legacy. But these reforms need to be undertaken thoughtfully, without the foolishness of imagined cliffs and ceilings. That is the way a great country–one that is definitely not headed toward disaster–would do it. It is time to start ignoring the hog-callers who think, or pretend to think, that there are such things as cliffs, or ceilings, in the bright American future.

88 comments
kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

O-OT: Has anyone "followed" a LiveFyre comment thread? (Intentionally or by mistake.) What have been your experiences?

Do you know that the thread "What I Got Wrong: The Irrationality of Republican Voters" is still active 2 months later?

When LiveFyre was thrust upon us, I blindly clicked a few notification settings, including "Follow Conversations I Join". My email inbox exploded during the next locust infestation, so I quickly turned it off. This did not, however, affect existing "follows". Now, every couple of days, I get notified that "today, X has replied to Z" on a thread started back on November 8th. It boggles my mind.  


PapaFoote
PapaFoote

We like "Joe Klein @JoeKleinTIME" - BUT, Everyone That Cares, Needs to follow our President Obama, BECAUSE, it takes these "Other Folks" like Joe Klein, You, and Me, to make our USA WORK!

"...It is time to start ignoring the hog-callers who think, or pretend to think, that there are such things as cliffs, or ceilings, in the bright American future..."

The Old Mountain Goat says - Step Forward and Take Some of "Our Own, Personal, Burden", So "Our President Will HAVE A CHANCE TO SUCCEED"!


sacredh
sacredh

OT, but I'm coming down with the flu. It figures. My vacation started today.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Joe, there are good reasons you're not all that worried: you're a rich liberal, most likely you've got your home and cars paid for, you have a goodly amount of money in the bank, your money is well diversified and professionally managed, you have a stable job, even if the crap hits the fan. Therefore, you personally have very little to worry about. On the other hand, the simple math using really huge numbers tells us that by the end of president Obama's term our fiscal house has great potential to really begin to unravel. So go right ahead acting like a calamity isn't lurking around the corner. Again, you have very little to worry about. As the saying goes, you're good!

sacredh
sacredh

Yikes! Another post of questionable taste gets removed. I might a s well do some work.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

OT-we saw Promised Land yesterday. M'eh. 

The cuter P liked it better than I did but that my be more because of dreamy Matt Damon and John Krasinski .

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Q: Why are you such a stinkin' genius?

outsider
outsider

@kbanginmotown 


I turned mine off right away - and purposely chose never to follow conversation; just in case that happened. 


I find it funny someone is going back and commenting on something two months old.. though if we don't start getting regular stories here again, we're not going to have much of a choice.. 

La_Randy
La_Randy

@sacredh Go to your doctor and get a prescription for tamaflu, think I spelled that right.

drudown
drudown

@worleyeoe 

Conspicuously, President Bush inherited a record surplus and left a legacy of record deficits. Even VP Cheney famously stated "deficits don't matter". After the GOP Congress deregulated Wall Street during the Bush Era (e.g., legalizing credit default swaps), massive government bailouts were required to avert a collapse. Bush gave tax breaks to US companies to "outsource" our industrial/manufacturing base to India/China. And you want the People to believe Obama led us to this uncompromising position? Come correct.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

I'm curious if all the nay-sayers and financial doomsday preppers have factored-in the prediction that the US will be the world's largest producer of energy within 10 years into their thinking (or lack-thereof).  Pumping lots of oil and gas out of the ground tends to pump alot of cash into the treasury...just ask the House of Saud (or watch the Beverly Hillbillys...same deal).  Look at our bond rates and credit rating...the rest of the world seems to think that buying US debt is as safe of a bet as it gets.

La_Randy
La_Randy

@worleyeoe Our main problem has been the austerity imposed by an obstructionist party, otherwise known as Republicans.

Trying to reset spending during an economic downturn is disingenuous at best to profit the corporate class as they continue to lobby for their tax breaks at the expense of the elderly, poor and middle class of America.


kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@Paul,nnto Re-read your comment and forgot that you were referring to a movie. You sounded like one of Moses' backbiters "The Promised Land? I've seen it. M'eh. I've seen better..."

sacredh
sacredh

We watched "Lincoln". I thought it was great.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I see where you went there, SNL fan.

sacredh
sacredh

My brain was chemically altered. I'd like to thank blotter, windowpane, Owlsley white, mescaline, shrooms, purple microdot and all of their cousins. I know i killed a bunch of braincells, but it was darwinism at it's finest. Only the strong survived. I remember being 11 and then Sgt Pepper came out. Everything was kind of a blur until 1980. Why oh why couldn't I have missed disco instead? To this day, white leisure suits make me go ballistic.

sacredh
sacredh

Yeah, I clicked on the link and it looks like a mess.

sacredh
sacredh

Thanks La_Randy. I'll call in the morning.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

@drudown @worleyeoe Would you please stop living in the past like Obama. Blaming Bush for all of our problems doesn't do ANYTHING to solve them. Start coming up with solutions or shut up. All you're doing is making noise.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

@HudsonValleyTim We only make really good money by either taxing the hell out of the energy or charging exploration companies through the nose for licensing the rights to drill. Either way, we'd be paying more for it potentially than we are now. Higher energy costs isn't exactly a recipe for economic revival. Even still, go crunch the math for me and prove that our being energy independent in 10 years is A) really going to happen, and B) is going to solve our financial problems. With Obama starting that first four years off, I have my doubts.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

@La_Randy @worleyeoe Are you f'ing kidding me? Do you even know what austerity means? Do you understand what obstructionist means? So when Obama comes on and say, "I'm not negotiating any previous bills wracked up by Congress", what do you call that? I'd call it obstructionist. Saying "NO SPENDING CUTS" is the exact same obstructionist ways as saying "NO TAX INCREASES".

I don't care about disingenuous, which is a distractor anyway. I want us to balance the budget. Sure, I think it will take at least seven years once we get serious, but if we run seven more years of $1T+ deficits, we're going to be looking at enormous interest payments. It's that simple. When the bond holders demand higher rates of return, we're screwed and Joe Klein is being hugely more than disingenuous to suggest that it's no big deal.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@sacredh We saw "Les Misérables" yesterday. My wife brought a box of tissues into the theatre and several people nodded approvingly. I used my share of tissues as well. Brilliant movie.

bobell
bobell

@sacredh I finally saw "Out of Africa" -- on one of those commercial-free cable channels Friday night.  Great film.

Next: Gone with the Wind.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@sacredh That's on our list. We saw Graham Parker and the Rumour a couple of weeks ago (they were excellent) so we'll see This is 40 when it comes around. 

Still undecided on Zero Dark 30. 

sacredh
sacredh

kbang, let's go back to a November 5th thread and make predicitions. We'll look like geniuses.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

@drudown @worleyeoe Ah! No spending cuts. Say no more, Mr. Obama / Drudown. Again, all you're doing is ranting. Deregulation caused deficits? What school of economics did you attend?

FYI - I do not find you sophisticated in the least.

drudown
drudown

@worleyeoe @drudown 

Listen, dollface. I get it. Really, I do.

People like you don't like sophisticated people like me defining the proximate cause (i.e., THE GOP POLICIES of deregulation, 'no new taxes' and outsourcing, et al.) that created the record deficits. Instead of dispassionately accepting, say, simple arithmetic (i.e., cutting taxes LOWERS federal revenue), you prefer to dispense shopworn, Limbaugh-speak, as if, in the end, you even have the moxie to address my points. That's your response? I'm 'living in the past' by articulating concrete examples of GOP POLICIES that produced the fiscal shortfall? You coward. Afraid to match wits? Your toothless insults are like puppy cries from a pet store. 

As for "coming up with solutions", I will give you several: (1) eliminate all off-shore tax loopholes; (2) eliminate all subsidies for major Oil and Energy companies operating in the US; (3) effectuate a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq/Afgh. as soon as is practicable and seek reimbursement for reconstruction out of the former's oil production; (4) eliminate any attempts to "arms and train" illusory 'security forces' (5) eliminate the 'drug war'; (5) provide incarcerated criminals with opportunity to work for public works and/or to pick up trash and/or render remediation services for contaminated sites and, mist importantly, (6) REORGANIZE debt at the federal/state/municipal level. We can't 'cut spending' and achieve a balanced budget. Obama's predecessor spent too much money and cut too much revenue. 

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Oh great - Borat and Boxing Helena.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Les is also miserable.  Not sure if he survived.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@sacredh It's a musical tear-jerker. Although Sasha Baron Cohen and Helen Bonham Carter provide excellent (and much-needed) comic relief! 

sacredh
sacredh

Off to bed for me. I feel like crap, but after a hot shower, I'm sure I smelll better.

sacredh
sacredh

Pnnto, I think my wife would rather eat broken glass than watch a chick flick. My little princess likes horror movies and slasher films.

sacredh
sacredh

I didn't even know it was a tear jerker. I thought it was a musical.

La_Randy
La_Randy

@bobell @sacredh Can't believe you have not seen Gone with the Wind yet. They took us to theaters during grade school to watch this movie.

sacredh
sacredh

Robbert5, I have lots of insurance, 3 houses and a timeshare in Orlando. My sweetie keeps me because she loves me and works me like a dog. Plus, we're both so screwed up that no one else would have us. I'm safe. How could you not trust a woman that agreed to let me be cremated (when dead) and will put my ashes in a cookie jar?

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@sacredh Dexter is pretty fun, and Michael Hall making his character from 6 Feet Under (which is how we knew him) disappear 1/2 way into episode one of Dexter still impresses me. 

sacredh
sacredh

My wife loves Dexter. She's into crime stories like you wouldn't believe. I bought her a  book on serial killers for Christmas a couple of years ago. I think she has it memorized.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@sacredh We zipped through Dexter season 6 this week,

Today we'll watch the very funny, very overlooked, IT Crowd. 

sacredh
sacredh

I've been watching an episode of Speilberg's "Taken" each night in bed.