Dumb, Dumberer, Dumberest

You’d think after having their asses handed to them in the November elections, Republicans might be a little more…flexible.
And you’d be wrong. The Great Orange Satan — No, not Kos, the other one — has stopped crying long enough to lash out at working Americans:

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner proposed $2.2 trillion of spending cuts and new revenue that lack what President Barack Obama calls essential for a fiscal agreement: higher tax rates for top-earning Americans.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, yesterday called it a “credible plan that deserves consideration by the White House.” The Obama administration promptly rejected the proposal, which would raise the Medicare eligibility age and slow Social Security cost-of-living increases.

[…] With the Republican blueprint, both parties now have their opening offers on the table. Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat, said the Republican plan signals “act two” in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. “There will be an act three undoubtedly, and hopefully the distance between the bid and ask is closed,” he said.

In fairness, at least one of the aspects noted above might make sense, in a perverse way: raising the Medicare eligibility age.

Look, people are going to have to work longer for a bunch of reasons (not least of which is the two major recessions that have triggered on the watch of President Bush, destroying 401(k)s), which means there is a good chance that they’ll have private health insurance available to them under Obamacare. By delaying the port over to Medicare, the nation could save billions over time.

Of course, who relies on Medicare but the folks who weren’t able to sock away shrinking wages for retirement.

Buried in the proposal is a signal that Republicans might consider a net hike in tax revenues (which I alluded to yesterday) but not a raise in rates. This would entail closing deductions like the home mortgage interest deduction (again, the hike would fall disproportionately on the middle class and destroy the housing market at a time it is already crippled, as it would discourage home buyers and deflate real estate prices, which fuel much of consumer spending.)

The Bush tax cuts benefitted the wealthy overwhlemingly. These “tax hikes” would impact them even less, in my back-of-the-envelope view. The Republican party is continuing guerilla warfare on the middle and working classes.
Senator Nelson speaks of a middle ground compromise, but I can’t see one that’s possible unless the Republicans are willing to go at least 70% of the way and start priming the pump for tax increases: actual rate rises, liek the capital gains and carried interest rates. Those cannot be made permanent or we doom the middle class to a life of servitude to the corporatocracy.
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Just go over the cliff, reset tax rates to what they were before Bush paid off his “base” and make the War Dept take a 10% cut. Then fix stuff later. It makes more sense to me to lower the Medicare eligibility age and start covering more people for less money!

  • after having their asses handed to them in the November elections

    Did you see Bhoener’s letter to Obama? He refers to it as a ‘status quo election”. Republican spin is that they kept the House, still don’t have the WH or Senate so it’s status quo ante. For them, there’s no reason to be more flexible.

    • I read that as bluffing. They lost Senate elections they should have won, like McCaskill, and some House seats they should not have, like West and Walsh. On a macro basis, he’s right: not much changed, but read my piece this morning for why he’s also very very wrong.

  • Krugman:

    the favorite VSP “solution” to the long-run budget deficit, raising the Medicare eligibility age, actually yields only minor savings. The point is that if you want to control Medicare costs, you can’t do it by kicking a small number of relatively young seniors off the program; to control costs, you have to, you know, control costs.

    And the truth is that we know a lot about how to do that — after all, every other advanced country has much lower health costs than we do, and even within the US, the VHA and even Medicaid are much better at controlling costs than Medicare, and even more so relative to private insurance.

    The key is having a health insurance system that can say no — no, we won’t pay premium prices for drugs that are little if any better, we won’t pay for medical procedures that yield little or no benefit

    But even as Republicans demand “entitlement reform”, they are dead set against anything like that. Bargaining over drug prices? Horrors! The Independent Payment Advisory Board? Death panels! They refuse to contemplate using approaches that have worked around the world; the only solution they will countenance is the solution that has never worked anywhere, namely, converting Medicare into an underfunded voucher system.

    So pay no attention when they talk about how much they hate deficits. If they were serious about deficits, they’d be willing to consider policies that might actually work; instead, they cling to free-market fantasies that have failed repeatedly in practice.

  • Defenders of the Bush tax cuts used to say with smarmy fatuousness that they were ‘progressive’ and actually a better deal for the lower orders than for the truly wealthy. So wouldn’t it be the case that in these times, when shared sacrifice is demanded of all of us, that letting the cuts expire would actually be more to the benefit of the wealthy than the rest of us? What then, could they possibly object to?

  • These dumb bastards got hit in the head with a 2×4 and they are just too goddamn dumb to duck as the electorate prepares to swing it again. God, this is so painful to watch…..

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