Social Security

A Low Rumbling Noise Out of New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie in Illinois this month [Feb. 2015]. His office vowed to appeal a judge’s ruling on public employee pensions. (Credit Jim Young/Reuters)

It is not exactly what we might call vacation, but sometimes we find ourselves somewhere else, doing other things, and the result is a cheap, quick-hit, read-this blog post.

You know, kind of like this. Read this bit from Steve Benen:

If the GOP candidate is comparing himself to the American norm, Christie is in rarefied economic air. Unless his income fell dramatically last year from 2013, it’s both factually and politically wrong for him to say he’s “not wealthy.”

In a speech on entitlements this week, the New Jersey Republican said, “Let’s ask ourselves an honest question: do we really believe that the wealthiest Americans need to take from younger, hardworking Americans to receive what, for most of them, is a modest monthly Social Security check?” He added, “I propose a modest means test that only affects those with non-Social Security income of over $80,000 per year, and phases out Social Security payments entirely for those that have $200,000 a year of other income.”

In other words, Christie this week defined “the wealthiest Americans” as those who earn far less per year than he does.

The Chris Christie Show would seem to be counting down to liftoff, and one can only wonder at the advisability of doing so with such odds of a deeply-reverberating crash. We must remember that the Clown Car is mostly an entertainment spectacle, so try to keep all this early disgrace in perspective. After all, even Herman Cain had his moment atop the polls during the 2011-12 primary season. Maybe these failed political campaigns should try a PR stunt―a dollar a vote, given to charity after they drop out. At least then it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time and money.

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Benen, Steve. “Despite 1% status, Christie says he’s ‘not wealthy'”. msnbc. 16 April 2015.

Mitch and the Mailers

A Kentucky GOP mailer intended to deceive voters in the 2014 election.

Narratives.

Detail: Eric Lewis, "Animal Nuz #223".  1 November 2014.  Via Daily Kos.Eric Lewis certainly shows confidence, titling his latest installment of Animal News (#223), “Buh-Bye Mitch Edition”. And whatever we might believe about the polling, the averages, the aggregators, the modelers, year-six elections, or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s advantage in the numbers heading into election day, it really does seem as if the incumbent’s campaign senses greater insecurity in those numbers; of all the close races leading toward what is predicted to be a Republican triumph, the senior senator from Kentucky has one of the most visible advantages.

Then again, he did fall back to trying to cover his Social Security gaffe with an astoundingly innovatinve campaign argument: “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance.” Far be it for us to pretend to be any arbiter of all things, but something seems amiss about that formulation.

And that would have been what it was, except, well, Lewis has a point with is sensational “headline”:

Senator McTurtle’s illeglally deceptive mailer is just one of many signs his campaign is starting to panic.”

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Republican Cake

Karl Rove

Couldn’t see this one coming, could you?

After all, the idea of Republicans changing their mind and complaining that Democrats have been such unfair scoundrels as to agree with or concede to the GOP really isn’t anything new. Still, though, it is the ultimate dodge; even in the twenty-first century, it is uncouth for politicians to look at voters and wonder what the hell is wrong with them.

Lori Montgomery of The Washington Post explains the latest Republican cut-and-run (-and-scream-like-a-drowning-diva):

Cutting federal health and retirement spending has long been at the top of the GOP agenda. But with Republicans in striking distance of winning the Senate, they are suddenly blasting the idea of trimming Social Security benefits.

Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc put it:

Just so we’re clear, what we have here is Republicans condemning Democrats for agreeing with Republicans. When the Washington Post asked Crossroads and the NRCC for comment, neither would defend their campaign messages.

Imagine that.

Just so you know, the issues involved here are chained CPI, a method of reducing Social Security payouts by using an more flexible index designed to lower payments, and the Simpson-Bowles budget report, which anyone paying attention to federal politics in recent years knows is something Democrats loathe but are willing to compromise on, and Republicans love but are willing to attack others for.

And if something seems amiss about that, well, sure, to the one, there is. Then again, to the other, if that strangeness is just occurring to you now, you probably haven’t been paying as close of attention as you otherwise would have thought.

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Montgomery, Lori. “GOP changes tune on cutting Social Security with elections on the line”. The Washington Post. 23 October 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Dems face betrayal after accepting Republican concessions”. msnbc. 27 October 2014.

A Necessary Reminder

The recent budget sweepstakes in Washington, D.C., in which at least five Beltway factions have proposed their fiscal plans for the nation, have drawn much attention. President Obama’s budget has drawn many headlines for putting Social Security on the table, resulting in morbid political comedy akin to a Mack Sennet film.

Democrats are mortified, and Republicans are so confused by the president’s maneuver that they cannot seem to figure out how to respond.

But that’s the thing: It’s a political maneuver.

Political cartoonist Bob Englehart explains:

Bob Englehart, "Obama's Budget"President Barack Obama is supposed to be showing his willingness to compromise with the GOP on the budget by going after some of our most vulnerable citizens, people on Social Security and Medicaid. The funny part is that the Republicans have wanted this for years, but since Obama is offering it, they say it’s not enough.

In the meantime, the liberals are freaking out that Obama has turned against the very ideals that the liberals found so compelling in the last election. Look, a presidential budget is a political tool and that’s all. It won’t be enacted. It’s designed to help moderate Senate Democrats win re-election next year.

Meanwhile, everybody’s pissed, the conservatives because there’s nothing Obama could ever do to assuage their rage. The liberals are in a snit because any proposed cut to any social program, no matter how transparently a Trojan horse, sets their hair on fire.

You could say he’s trying to out-GOP the GOP for effect. He has an eye on the 2014 elections. He needs a Democratically controlled House and Senate if he hopes to get more done, but that will be almost impossible with the gerrymandering and election stealing going on in the red states.

There are, of course, various ways to interpret the responses.

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