Friday, April 5, 2013

Beware the Trojan Horse

 Or... "Those aren't spending cuts, Jim."

Jim Kunhenn with the AP doesn't even realize his own bias.  Most people don't, but the AP would have you believe the are not biased, so it is important to realize they are.  It is also important to spot the bias before you fully read an article, so that you can know the author's starting position.

For instance, Jim gets this part right:
"President Barack Obama's proposed budget will call for reductions in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs while still insisting on more taxes from the wealthy..."  
President SCOAMT's current plan does call for "reductions in growth."

But then he gets this part wrong:
"Obama has also called for limits on tax deductions by the wealthy, a proposal that could generate about $580 billion in revenue over 10 years."  
First off, the limits he's calling for (last time I heard, maybe the new proposal is different), are not "on the wealthy," but rather are on deductions that SCOAMT would you to to believe only the wealthy take.  I have discussed before that this is simply not accurate.  There is no deduction that only kicks in when you're a millionaire.  Rather, there are deductions that people who run their own businesses can take, and (on paper at least) many of the "wealthy" do run their own businesses.  The "Corporate Jet Deduction" is exactly the same deduction that small businesses get to take for their commercial trucks or vans.  It's the same deduction that an IT business gets to take for the computers it buys.

The first part is said because it sounds good for SCOAMT- that is, it makes him sound "reasonable"- and therefore attempts to paint any opposition to the President's proposal as "unreasonable."  The second part was said because it also sounds good for the President, it makes him sound like he out "for the little guy," and therefore any opposition must be out "for the rich."

So, now that we have the issue of his unacknowledged bias out of the way, we can proceed with the rest of the article.  Click over and read it, but here is the main highlight:

A key feature of the plan Obama now is submitting for the federal budget year beginning Oct. 1 is a revised inflation adjustment called "chained CPI." This new formula would effectively curb annual increases in a broad swath of government programs, but would have its biggest impact on Social Security. By encompassing Obama's offer to Boehner, R-Ohio, the plan will also include reductions in Medicare spending, much of it by targeting payments to health care providers and drug companies.

By changing Chained CPI, the President a) gets to monkey (yet again) with the inflation numbers to hide actual inflation, and b) hurt Social Security recipients (the blame for which he would then lay at the feet of Republicans).  The sensible, reasonable way to "fix" Social Security is to cut the bureaucracy, and ruthlessly cut out anyone on SSDI who is capable of any work whatsoever.  I was laid up with back-pain so bad it made me immobile for most of a month recently- I still worked.  Not everyone can do that, but most people who are "disabled" aren't really- they could do work, they just couldn't work that construction job they've had their entire working lives.  It sucks, but that's not really the Government's job to fix.  Don't even get me started on people who are "disabled" because of depression.

Then note the changes to medicare- all in benefits (that is: payments to doctors and pharmacies).  Not even lip-service toward "waste, fraud, and abuse." 

This budget is designed to be a poison pill.  For the SCOAMT, it is a win-win-win.  If the Republicans uniformly (or nearly uniformly) oppose it, then he can blame the "obstructionist Republicans," for four more years.  If some Republicans oppose it, and others support it, he gets to further deepen the divide between the Conservative and Moderate factions of the Republican Party.  If Republicans agree, he gets to hasten the destruction of the political party he views as his enemy, and deepen the mistrust between Republican officials and grass-roots conservatives.

The only way Republicans have any chance of "winning" is not to play.  Remind people that Obama campaigned on 3:1 cuts to taxes, then moved the goal-posts to 2:1 cuts to taxes, and then moved them again to 1:1 cuts to taxes.  Tell people this is unacceptable; that the first might have been agreeable, but that you cannot negotiate with someone who refuses to negotiate in good faith.  Then point out- relentlessly- every chance you get that SCOAMT's cuts are all in services, he never once proposes to cut Government.

The rules of the current game are rigged.  Play a new game.

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