Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Catfood Commission Again

Paul Krugman has another excellent comment today regarding the Catfood Commission, this time at his blog, the gist of which is that we should not be discussing the desirability of individual features of the report, but should be weighing the overall effect of it.

What the commission was supposed to do was something much harder [than come up with some good deficit-reduction ideas]: it was supposed to produce a package that Congress would give an up and down vote. To do this, it would have to produce something much better than a package with some good stuff buried in among the bad stuff; it would have to produce a package good enough to accept as is.

This package is, of course, far from that for any number of reasons. For one thing, it includes Social Security, which is not part of federal revenue and does not belong in such a package. Such adjustments, while needed, should be in a separate package altogether.

This package, as Krugman and others have pointed out, is overwhelmingly slanted in a conservative political direction, and it represents a massive transfer of the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle and lower class.

Chris Matthews had the authors of Game Change on his show Hardball yesterday. Why two guys who wrote 480 pages of 100% unattributed Washington gossip are qualified to discuss this topic escapes me, but Matthews not only listened to their infinite wisdom on the topic, he agreed with it entirely and fawned over them even more than is his usual habit.

They began with all three of them agreeing that the commission’s report was heavily tilted toward Republican ideology and no one actually suggested that, with the commission having been formed by a Democratic President during Democratic control of both houses of Congress, there was anything surprising or wrong with that.

Mark Halperin went on to say that he thought “the thing is extraordinarily timid,” but then waxed rhapsodic about it at some length. No transcript is available, so my quote may not be exact.

It does a brilliant job of spreading the pain around, of deferring things that need to be deferred, of taking things on that need to be done in the right order… I think this is a great opportunity for people who want to get things done. That includes the President, and we’ll see if it includes Republicans in Congress. It’s a great opportunity to build on this thing. I think progressives who are squeaking and squawking on this thing because they don’t want to let the nose of the camel under the tent are going to be left behind if there is a coalition of Obama, centrist Democrats and centrist Republicans.

That last sentence may be the most idiotic thing he said all day. There are no "centrist" anything left in Washington, and if there were, they would be keeping their heads down and not coming within miles of Obama.

Chris Matthews brilliantly asked if Americans really cared about debt and would they actually accept spending cuts and deficit reduction, and John Heilemann replied that the only way this commission report would be accepted by the American people would be, “If they are led to accept it, by the President primarily, but also by the Republican leadership.”

Matthews, who likes to call himself a progressive, supported that position, and speaks almost as glowingly of the commission report as do these two clowns who have written off the Democratic Party as irrelevant, and are saying that it's up to Obama and the Republicans to lead the country forward.

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