Hailing Obama’s budget address this week as “a victory for math” Rachel Maddow proclaimed that Obama had brought needed arguments to the table that were “sorely lacking.” Maybe she meant clarity of language like this, which would have George Orwell scratching his head:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA “… It calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion dollars in tax expenditures—spending in the tax code.”
Guess what that means. Think it through. Give up? Maybe that’s because you don’t think every dime you have is at the good graces of government which “spends” it by letting you keep it.
Tax reform usually means lowering rates and closing specific breaks… now think exactly the opposite.
Yep, that’s how Barack Obama describes a $1 trillion tax increase! And you thought Clinton’s “contributions” phraseology was Orwellian.
But Obama’s view of the world is forever informed by his days as a Chicago community organizer. ACORN’s view of the world is that people are poor because the rich have taken too big a slice of the pie and left nothing for the proletariat.
That is precisely the point of Barack Obama’s budget speech—perhaps the most class war-driven speech any President has ever given– and the reason for the ecstatic reaction from MSNBC socialists Rachel, Ed, and Lawrence.
Here is Rachel’s complete True Twit Two-Step happy dance after the speech. It’s long, but informative as to how these people view the world, the economy and just how little regard they have for the idea that Americans can make any economic decisions for themselves.
Rachel started off with a weird stretch of an analogy that made Chris Matthews strangest movie clip seem apropos…
MADDOW” There are a few problems in American public policy that cannot be explained a little better with help from the great allegory that is “Three‘s Company.”(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Sorry. Imagine if you will that our roommates in this allegorical case are Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Barack Obama, and your adorable but unemployed and desperately broke cousin, who in this case looks a little bit like Suzanne Somers.
OK. So, technically it is four‘s a company, not three‘s company.
Maybe Mrs. Roper lives them or something, whatever. We give a break.
In any case, these are the roommates, and the roommates‘ problem is that their rent is too high. They can no longer afford the place that they are all staying in. It was all right when they moved in, but the rent has been going up and up and up. And now, it‘s just too darn high. They cannot afford the rent anymore.
So, roommates John Boehner and Paul Ryan go away together and come up with a plan for dealing with the too darn high rent. They say their plan is that roommate Paul Ryan, roommate Barack Obama and roommate John Boehner should pay less rent than what they are paying now, and the difference should be paid by your cousin. They say that‘s their plan for making the rent cheaper.
Does that actually make the rent cheaper? No, no, it does not. But as far as they‘re concerned, it does. If nobody is really looking out for your cousin‘s interests, then you‘re sort of getting away with saying that it did. Thank you “Three‘s Company.”
But that is what the Republican budget does about health care. It doesn‘t reduce health care costs at all. It just makes cuz pay for more of those costs and thereby calls it cheaper for everybody else. It looks at the problem of rising health care costs over time and says the government should stop paying its share of those costs, and let poor people and old people and disabled people—let them just pay more for it on their own. Sorry, cuz. (Ummm, Rachel, since it’s the people using Medicare that you claim are going to have to pay so much more, this is an inane analogy. In reality, Cuz has been living there for less than his quarter share, because Cuz doesn’t make as much. Cuz is the one using all the hot water, has the TV on all day running up the electric bill and eats twice as much as everyone else. Now that the rent is going up, you think the three roommates who work should continue to pay more… because they can.)
That‘s how Republicans deal with health costs—or rather how they do not deal with health costs at all. And that rather brutal but true point was one of the many brutal points made today by President Obama in his big, perhaps unexpectedly satisfying speech on the budget and spending, and what is the difference between a Republican and a Democrat in America today?
Now, as I say, I think this point about Republicans and health care was a brutal point. I demonstrated this brutality by putting in the context of “Three‘s Company.” Listen to how the president did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Now, here the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clear. Their plan essentially lowers the government‘s health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government‘s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He could not have sounded more genial and professorial when he said it. (Yes, Rachel, we can see where you would call a smug lecture “congenial.” That would make you Miss Congeniality) It could not have sounded any less blunt. But the point he was making there was both blunt and confrontational and important, and it needed to be said. And that‘s what the speech was like today.
Whether or not you saw the president‘s speech, my advice to you is to read it at some point. It‘s not very long, it only prints out to eight or nine pages long. But you can actually print it out from our Web site tonight, we posted it at MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com. We got the full text of it there. (But somehow you haven’t included the Orwellian way of discussing tax increases above in your long discussion here…)
If you did not see the speech and your first contact with it is going to be reading it. You will think when you‘re reading it that when he gave the speech, he must have been breathing fire and pounding the podium. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was utterly sedate. It look like a Rotary luncheon address.
But the message was less rotary and more roundhouse. That point about the Republican‘s plan for making health care cheaper by making old people and poor people and disabled people just pay more for it, that is a blunt confrontational point and it is a good point. (Yes, he bluntly called Paul Ryan “un-American.” For trying to enforce some minor budget discipline. Remember the outcry when people hinted that openly rooting for the other side in a war was un-American? )
The president‘s next point on that was that the whole point of health reform is to bring down the cost of health care. (No, the whole point is to take it over and make in an entitlement. No one still believes it will cut costs, unless there are wholesale death panels…) Republicans are still attacking that, even as they have no plan of their own on health care costs. (The fact that you don’t like their plans, that trial lawyers who fund the Democratic Party especially don’t like their plans, that their plans are market based and won’t socialize medicine does not mean they don’t exist.) That is a good point that is both true and has been sorely missing from all the political complaints about health reform.
The president made the point today that the Paul Ryan proposal to privatize Medicare kills Medicare. That intrinsic to the whole idea of Medicare is that it is an entitlement, that is it exists as a safety net that everybody can defend on it. Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid are entitlements for a reason, and by the way, they work. That was a good point from the president today and one that has been missing from the debate over budgets and deficits. (Actually, it hasn’t been missing, this lie is as everpresent as oxygen, it has been screamed from the rooftops by such geniuses as Elijah Cummings ad nauseum, and repeated in every MSM news show on the planet.)
Amid the nonsense arithmetic-free rhetoric about deficits and debt, the president made the point today that historically, you know, it makes sense to run deficits when the country is at war or when the country is in a recession. But that when you are not at war or in a recession, you should aim to get back in balance. In other words, deficits themselves are not evil. They have a purpose. They should be used strategically. (That was an arithmetic free argument… it was also economics free, but not intentionally. There is no evidence that government spending brings anyone out of a recession—unless you count tax cuts as spending, oh, right. I forgot, you don’t know the difference.)
That, again, is a good point and one that has been sorely missing from the debate about deficits and debt and the budget. The president made the point today that after the huge Reagan deficits for the 1980s, we actually did get back to balance in the 1990s. We even got back into surplus. (Wait, the Reagan tax cuts worked? Uh, wasn’t that “supply side?” Yikes!)
He made the point that America‘s finances were in great shape by the year 2000. Quote, “We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track,” he said, to becoming completely debt-free. (Yes, and here is the point that Democrats love to forget about. Clinton did raise income taxes slightly, but he also made trade deals and brought down tariffs faster than any president in recent memory—which were all effectively tax CUTS.)
And we were prepared for the retirement of the baby boomers, (No, we weren’t. This ticking time bomb has been there ever since birth rates dropped to replacement rates, and probably before then. It just depends on what accounting trick is being used in what year to put the date Social Security goes broke wherever somebody wants it to be.) but then what happened? After Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, he lost, we lost our way in the decade that followed. Yes, bingo!
Mr. Obama continued, “We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program. (Which was about HALF THE COST OF THE DEMOCRAT PROGRAM) But we didn‘t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problems worse with trillions of dollars in tax cuts—tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country, (and everybody who pays taxes. Ummm, gee Barack, remember when you said if you didn’t extend the Bush tax cuts, it would be a big tax increase for the middle class, so big that you had to renew them, even if it would help the hated rich?) tax cuts that will force us to borrow $500 million every year over the next decade.”
“By the time I took office,” Mr. Obama said, “We once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a baby boom retirement that is now starting to take place. When I took office,” he said, “our projective deficit annually was more than $1 trillion. And on top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession.” (and when Nancy Pelosi took the office of Speaker, it was about $150 billion and shrinking…)
And what do you have to do in a recession? Like he said, before, right, earlier in the speech, in a recession, you are supposed to be able to run a temporary deficit in order to keep the economy ticking. (By cutting taxes and boosting the private economy, not by growing government and making the overhead and expense to the economy heavier and permanent!) Having to do that itself makes sense, he made the case for that today.
But having to do that while starting from an already catastrophic fiscal position that George W. Bush left the country in, that‘s what does not make sense. That is the disaster. That is true. And that‘s a good point.
And that has been missing from the debate about deficits and budget. Just naming that the Bush tax cuts were unpaid for, that the Bush tax cuts exploded the deficit—just naming that, frankly, is a hallelujah moment. That is a victory for math. Cutting tax revenue reduces tax revenue. I know, I know, it‘s barely even math. It‘s almost an axiom. (Here’s some math, if you taxed millionaires at 100% it wouldn’t take care of this year’s deficit. Forget about the fact that they would stop working, so you’d only get it for this year…)
But at this point, it is a point that has been almost from the debate. And the president saying it today is a good point, and one that really should re-center the way that people talk about this stuff.
Mr. Obama today confessed to signing an extension of those tax cuts this past December. But he again said that he didn‘t think it was a good idea. He only did it under duress in order to stop something worse from happening that the Republicans were going to force. (Again, what consequences. Oh, right, the BUSH MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS WOULD HAVE BEEN REPEALED.)
Will he let those tax cuts get renewed again? Mr. President?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)OBAMA: We can‘t afford it. And I refuse to renew them again. (END VIDEO CLIP) (Just for clarity’s sake, do you refuse again to renew them, or refuse to renew them again? You said you wouldn’t once before, and you did…)
MADDOW: I refuse to renew them again, cut that out and stick it to the fridge. (That’s right, middle class, you have a date certain for a tax increase if you re-elect the economist from ACORN) Beyond nailing the last Republican president, though, for the disastrous impact of his unpaid for tax cuts, President Obama today nailed the Republican Party for proposing even more of the same, fiscally irresponsible, arithmetically challenge tax cut nonsense.
“House Republicans,” he said, “are calling for $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.” “Think about that,” he said, “in the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that‘s who needs to pay less taxes?” (Note, he didn’t say their taxes went down, just that their income went up. This is pertinent to the discussion HOW? There income didn’t go up the mere 3% that their taxes went down, so therefore, the tax cuts stimulated economic activity… ooops.)
Again, when you read this speech, you would think he would be fire-breathing here, right? I mean, he‘s making fire-breathing points. He was not fire-breathing. He could not have been more calm, cool and collected.
He was doing math out loud—math out loud. But it is devastating math. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: That‘s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that‘s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That‘s not right, and it‘s not going to happen as long as I‘m president. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) (Now the LAST part of that is a promise I can live with!)
MADDOW: And that was as wild as the crowd went during the whole speech. (Maybe they liked the talk of the end point to this disaster too?)
Again, this does not sound like barn burning stuff. But the point President Obama is making here, is exactly the point that the president‘s supporters have been waiting for him to make. You almost have to telestrate the arithmetic while he does this. But if you are willing to do it, the impact of what he‘s saying really can hit you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut.
MADDOW: OK, stop. So, a $200,000 tax cut. OK, keep going.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP) OBAMA: That‘s paid for by asking, 33 seniors – (END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK, wait, wait. Thirty-three seniors—do we have an icon for seniors or something? Yes! OK, 33 seniors. OK, keep going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: That‘s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Freeze. Stop it. Thirty-three seniors pay $6,000 each. The math—(Really, are you afraid that none of your viewers have finished 3rd grade? That simple division is a new concept to them?) OK, finish it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: That‘s not right, and it‘s not going to happen as long as I‘m president.(APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What he‘s saying is that in order to get his $200,000 tax cut as one of the richest people in the country, right, the way Republicans want to finance that is by extracting 6 grand from 33 different old people. (How about this, the failed stimulus plan that went to bail out public employee unions and push the problem down the road to the current crop of governors was like having around 162,000,000 – for those of you in Rachel’s audience, that’s 162 million—seniors pay $6000 more for their health care. That did happen, and it happened while Barack Obama was president. Rather because Barack Obama was President.)
He is right about that. That is a good point. That is exactly what the Republicans are trying to do.
They are claiming to reduce the deficit enough to afford this kind of thing for rich people by squeezing that money out of old people (Are Warren Buffet, Ross Perot and George Soros YOUNG people),and disabled people and other people (who are you callin’ “Other people?”) who this country has historically made a commitment to take care of.
Now, whether or not you can tell us straight out in your head while he‘s saying it, it may not have hit like a ton of bricks when he said it, but the president here is making the case that the Republicans‘ proposal for America is transferring resources and money from people who really do not have it to spare in order to give a ton of those resources and money to people who are already rich. Good point. (No, not taking something from Person A and giving it to Person B, is most assuredly NOT the freaking same as taking it from Person B and giving it to Person A, it just isn’t.)
And because that is a transfer of resources, and not a saving of resources, it not only isn‘t courageous or brave or serious, or any of the other things that the Republicans are getting called right now on the Beltway media. It‘s not brave or courageous. It‘s not even those things. It‘s not even a real plan to reduce the deficit.
Oh, and the president said that, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: There‘s othing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending $1 trillion on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don‘t think there‘s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don‘t have any clout on Capitol Hill. (Old people don’t have clout on Capitol Hill? Ask Dan Rostenkowski, ask every congressman who spends half his campaign budget on absentee voter programs, as the Republicans who joined George W. Bush in promoting even the tiniest privatization of Social Security for those who volunteered to participate— and boy, that would be a LOT of wasted AARP contributions. That‘s not a vision of the America I know. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is about transferring money from politically powerless people, who don‘t have much, to rich people, and claiming that‘s about the deficit when it is plainly not. (It’s about NOT taking from those who have and giving it to those who don’t, so they can afford to employ those who don’t, and oh, because they EARNED IT.) That is not serious or courageous. In fact, it is radical and it is something that does not resonate with American values—so said President Obama today. (It doesn’t resonate with Swedish values or French values anyway.)
Whatever you heard about this speech, whether or not you believe the way that I am describing it, whether or not you watched it today, I never say on this show—print out and read this thing, or very rarely say it. In this case, if you have a second, print it out and read it. Print it out and keep it around, so if you have minute, spend a few minutes reading it.
If you are a liberal or if you are a centrist, if you are a person who voted for President Obama, if you were worried that President Obama would not confront the Republicans on what they are trying to do with the economy and instead would triangulate against it—Mr. Obama did not do that. (Really, that’s what CENTRISTS were worried about? Center of WHAT?)
If you were worried the President Obama would sell out Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and say we can‘t forward them any more, like the Republicans wanted him to say—Mr. Obama did not do that. (If you were worried about that, you haven’t been paying attention.)
If you were worried he would let the Republicans and the Beltway media get away with this bogus assertion that they make constantly that Social Security is causing the deficit, when it is not—he did do not. He, in fact, called that out as bogus today. (No, he pretended that the tax cut to the rich was bigger than the looming payouts to Baby Boomers in Social Security demagoguery of the worst order and not even in the same classroom with Math. Maybe a Philosophy Course at Berkely…)
If you were worried that Mr. Obama would follow the Republican line that deficits themselves are always evil, that he would ignore the fact that Republicans are the ones who create the worst ones and at the worst times, Mr. Obama emphatically did not do that.
I am a liberal. I am a liberal, and, therefore, I am a professional worrier about Democrats talking smack about what liberals value, and about Democrats trying to sound like Republicans, and about Democrats who are afraid to confront Republicans and who instead eat Republicans‘ framing about what‘s wrong with the country, in particular what‘s wrong about the economy and what are available options are.
You know, coming out of this last deal on the budget that President Obama made with the Republicans on Friday night, frankly this president gave liberals reason to worry all over again.
But today, if this is the start of 2012, if this is how the rest of this term is going to go, leading up to his re-election effort, if this is how President Obama is going to run for re-election, if this is the way he‘s going to call Republicans out for what they‘re for and explain what‘s really going on in the economy and speak up for his own values and explain to the country why he believes Democrats values are the right ones on this stuff—then as a liberal, I am less worried than I was.
My only worry really at this point is why did he give this speech at 1:30 on a Wednesday and sort of whisper it. (It was because this kind of blatant class warfare doesn’t work with the majority of the American people who, despite a generation of neglecting economic education, still don’t believe the government can spend us into prosperity. But Obama knew that no matter when he “whispered” it, you would be listening Rachel, you and the rest of the restless twit base, and that you would make sure all of you got the word. With a little fine-tuning, I think this could be a barn burner. I could imagine this one in a stadium over and over and over again! (See it worked, now you will quit badgering the guy for a while– until the next time he stumbles into doing something right, or is forced to by reality.)
We‘ll be right back.
VIDEO CLIP, BARACK OBAMA:These aren‘t the kinds of cuts you make when you‘re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These are the kinds of cuts that tell us we can‘t afford the America that I believe in, and I think you believe in. I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “These are not the cuts you make when you‘re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget,” he said. So why would you find them then? Implying these are the kinds of things you do when you‘re trying to fundamentally change the country. (Wait a minute, “fundamental change” was what Obama promised and that’s a promise he is doing his damndest to keep.) In other words, it‘s not about the budget. (That’s right Obama could give a rip about the budget. Fundamental change from a private sector economy to public sector-driven economy is the goal.)
The president also today called out the Republican‘s plan for claiming to reduce the deficit while also giving away another $1 trillion tax cut to rich people, which means that the president committed math live on television—very dangerous. (What the President committed was Mathicide. His cuts are fictional and happen after he leaves office– long after. Therefore the savings on the debt are fictional too– especially since they assume ludicrous “savings” from Obamacare’s implementation. The “tax reform” i.e. tax increases, however are real. You can take it to the bank. Whenever Barack Obama says he will raise taxes, he means it– even if he can’t quite bring himself to actually SAY it.
The president‘s brushback in criticism of the Republicans today was, I think, stronger than most people expected. Does that buy him from his own party, his supporters, more faith that his assurances that he will defend and protect Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security even as he said today that they need reform? (Of course it does, check out all your rave reviews above. You were the audience he had to fool. And fool you he did.)