Posts Tagged Bill Clinton
Which path for the right?
By E.J. Dionne Jr.,
In the weeks since the election, my hopes have been buttressed by conservatives willing to say that, since Republican candidates have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, new thinking might be in order. Democrats went through the same dismal cycle between 1968 and 1988, producing a reformation on the center-left. Conservatives are surely capable of the same.
Oh, yes, and conservatives realize they can’t win elections if they keep turning off Latinos, African Americans, Asians and the young, particularly younger women. As one conservative friend said recently, “It’s not exactly a great approach to go to a Latino voter and say, ‘Well, we’d really rather you weren’t here, but we’d still like you to vote for us.’ ” The potential of a renaissance in conservative thought is enormous, if the right can overcome a certain intellectual laziness and inflexibility that, in fairness, have at other times afflicted the progressive side of politics.
There is, unfortunately, another school of thought on the right that rejects adjusting to a new electorate and to circumstances very different from the ones that Ronald Reagan inherited in 1980. Strategies for future victories are based on a naked use of government power to alter the political playing field in a way that diminishes the political influence of groups likely to be hostile to the conservative agenda.
The tea party movement cast itself as an authentic grass-roots expression of democracy, and in some ways it was. But the conservative legislatures it swept into office in so many states in 2010 took decidedly anti-democratic actions aimed at reducing the size of the electorate through a variety of voter-suppression measures — hard-to-obtain voter IDs, shorter early-voting periods, new barriers to voter registration drives and long ballots that slowed the lines on Election Day. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the meantime, changed the rules about financing campaigns in theCitizens United decision, enhancing the sway of wealthy people and moneyed interests.
Now comes Michigan’s new right-to-work law, passed Tuesday in a travesty of normal democratic deliberation. This effort to weaken unions would be problematic in any event. The moral case for unions is that they give bargaining strength to workers who would have far less capacity to improve their wages and benefits negotiating as individuals. Further gutting unions is the last thing we need to do at a time when the income gap is growing.
But beyond that, the way Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and the Republican Michigan Legislature rushed right-to-work through a lame-duck session was insidious. The anti-union crowd waited until after the election to pass it. Snyder had avoided taking a stand on right-to-work until just last week, when he miraculously discovered that it would be a first-rate economic development measure. The law was included as part of an appropriations bill to make it much harder for voters to challenge it in a referendum.
The political motivation here is obvious. Union families are the premier cross-racial Democratic constituency. Nationwide, President Obama carried union households by 18 points but non-union households by only one point — a “union gap” of 17 points. In Michigan, the union gap was an astonishing 32 points: Obama won union households 66 percent to 33 percent, the rest of the electorate by 50 percent to 49 percent.
But the most disturbing aspect of the Michigan power grab is what it says about where the conservative argument may go. Those willing to expand the appeal of conservatism by refreshing it will face opposition from those who would try to make new thinking unnecessary. They’d simply rig the rules to chip away at the political capacity of groups that don’t buy into conservative orthodoxy.
A movement dedicated to markets should have more confidence in democracy’s free market of ideas and stop trying to distort it.
- E.J. Dionne Jr.: How do you vote for compromise? – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- What path will conservative politics take?: E.J. Dionne Jr. (oregonlive.com)
- E.J. Dionne Jr.: The inconvenient truths of 2012 – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Is E.J. Dionne smart enough to be a major columnist? If so, does he think his readers are stupid? (troglopundit.wordpress.com)
- E.J. Dionne: The Gilded Age vs. the 21st century – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Which Path for the Right? (themoderatevoice.com)
- E.J. DIONNE: How do you vote for compromise? (tauntongazette.com)
- The No-Tax-Hike Pledge Is an IQ Test for Republicans (conservativeread.com)
- Tea Party Alive and Well – Democrats Scared (conservativeread.com)
- E.J. DIONNE: The inconvenient truths of 2012 (tauntongazette.com)
Challenged on Medicare, G.O.P. Loses Ground
ORLANDO, Fla. — Maria Rubin is one of the coveted independent voters in this swing state — so independent that she will not say whether she is voting for President Obama or Mitt Romney. She does share her age (63) and, more quickly, her opinion on Medicare: “I’m not in favor of changing it, or eliminating it.”
Her attitude speaks directly to one of the biggest challenges facing the Republican ticket this year: countering the Democrats’ longstanding advantage as the party more trusted to deal with Medicare.
In the 2010 Congressional races, successful Republicans believed that they had finally found a way to do that, by linking the program’s future to Mr. Obama’s unpopular health insurance overhaul and accusing Democrats of cutting Medicare to pay for it. This summer Mr. Romney resumed the offensive, eventually joined by his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan.
Initially, polls suggested that the Republican strategy was working. Democrats fretted that Mr. Romney would win the retiree-heavy Florida and increase his support nationwide among older voters, who lean Republican anyway. David Winston, a Republican pollster, wrote a month ago of “a structural shift in the issue” that left the parties in “a dead heat” and Mr. Obama unable to mount an effective response.
But in recent weeks Mr. Obama and his campaign have hit back hard, and enlisted former President Bill Clinton as well, to make the case that the Romney-Ryan approach to Medicare would leave older Americans vulnerable to rising health care costs. Now their counterattack seems to be paying off.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted over the last week, found that Mr. Obama held an advantage over Mr. Romney on the question of who would do a better job of handling Medicare. That is consistent with other recent polls and is a shift from just last month, before the parties’ national conventions, when the two men were statistically tied on the issue.
At the heart of the conflict is the proposal backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan to change the way Medicare works in an effort to drive down health care costs and keep the program solvent as the population ages. Under their plan, retirees would get a fixed annual payment from the government that they could use to buy traditional Medicare coverage or a private health insurance policy. Supporters say the change would hold expenses down by introducing more competition into the system.
Critics say the fixed payments might not keep up with rising insurance costs and could leave older Americans facing cutbacks in care or paying more out of their own pockets. Democrats contend that Medicare’s rising costs can be held down within the existing system.
In the Times/CBS poll, more than three-quarters of voters favored keeping Medicare the way it is rather than switching to a system like the one backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan. From the White House on down, Democrats are calling the Republican approach a “voucher” plan, suggesting that it borders on privatizing the system; Republicans prefer the term “premium support.”
As that poll result reflects, the Democratic message is resonating with voters like Ms. Rubin, who joined other independent and Democratic voters last week to hear Mr. Clinton make his pitch for Mr. Obama’s re-election in the packed ballroom of a resort hotel here.
“I don’t trust anybody who says ‘voucher,’ ” said Gary Fieldsend, 62, a recently retired employee at a Navy shipyard who was vacationing here with his wife Pamela, 64. The Fieldsends, from New Hampshire, another swing state, describe themselves as Democratic-leaning independents, and both said they were voting for Mr. Obama.
“I think it’s very important that we keep it under control on cost,” Mr. Fieldsend said. “But you have to cover people. Even if you’ve got millions of baby boomers, you’ve got to find a way to do it.”
Given the political risks, Mr. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, this year changed his 2011 budget passed by the House from a plan that would have made private insurance the only option available to beneficiaries to one that offered a choice between traditional Medicare or private coverage.
Democrats focused heavily on Medicare at their convention and have kept up the assault since then. Last weekend in Kissimmee, Fla., Mr. Obama spoke of Republican plans for “voucherizing Medicare,” while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. says Republicans will institute “vouchercare.” Mr. Obama will address AARP’s annual convention this week by satellite; Mr. Ryan will appear in person.
And soon, strategists say, Democrats will buttress their Medicare message by charging that a Romney-Ryan administration could also seek to alter Social Security, the other popular entitlement program. They will point out Mr. Ryan’s support in 2005 for President George W. Bush’s proposal to allow workers to divert Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts, a plan that flopped even though Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.
It is a paradox of recent politics that despite Democrats’ usual advantage on Medicare, voters 65 and older are the age group least supportive of Mr. Obama and his party. His challenge is to depress Mr. Romney’s support among older voters by raising doubts about Republicans on Medicare.
“It’s pretty clear that Medicare is the one issue that could dislodge the Republicans’ headlock on those voters,” said Andrew Kohut, the president of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
“The Republicans brought it back to life,” Mr. Kohut added — first by House Republicans’ approval this year and last of the Ryan budgets, which died in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and most of all by Mr. Romney’s elevation of Mr. Ryan to the presidential ticket.
Medicare is an especially resonant issue in Florida, and Mr. Ryan has appeared in the state with his mother, a Medicare beneficiary, to emphasize the message that Republicans are trying to preserve the program, not end or curtail it.
So it was no accident that Mr. Clinton’s first post-convention trip as a surrogate for Mr. Obama was to Florida. Or that he was preceded here last weekend by Mr. Obama, who made four stops in the state and will return again this week.
Mr. Clinton brought up Medicare Advantage, a private insurance option for Medicare beneficiaries that is used by 2.1 million Floridians. Begun late in the Clinton administration as an experiment to cut costs through market competition, Medicare Advantage has instead proved more costly than regular Medicare.
The 2010 health care law reduced Medicare subsidies to insurance companies to help save $716 billion over 10 years, which added eight years to the program’s financial life. But Republicans have been on the attack since, charging Democrats with robbing Medicare beneficiaries to pay for “Obamacare.”
Mr. Clinton pointed out that a record number of insurance companies and beneficiaries now participate in Medicare Advantage, and that premiums are lower. “So if the president was trying to wreck Medicare Advantage, he did a poor job of it because it’s in the best shape it’s ever been in,” Mr. Clinton said.
Then he repeated one of the biggest applause lines of his nationally televised address at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C. Noting that Mr. Ryan is attacking the $716 billion in savings although his budgets also included them, Mr. Clinton quipped, “You got to give it to Congressman Ryan — it takes real brass to attack somebody for doing something he did.”
For now, the Romney campaign has stopped running advertisements attacking Mr. Obama on Medicare. But House Republicans are continuing to press the issue.
A commercial in Iowa, for example, accuses Representative Leonard L. Boswell, a Democrat, of taking $716 billion “from current recipients of Medicare to take care of a government takeover of health care that benefits other people.”
Democrats are striking back. Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa last weekend became the first Democratic Congressional candidate to run an ad featuring Mr. Clinton’s folksy convention put-down of Republicans. It features Mr. Clinton saying: “Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare. They strengthened Medicare.”
Instead of Mr. Clinton, the Obama campaign is using a similar testimonial from AARP in its ads for the president.
“We were going to talk about Medicare whether they brought it up or not,” said Joel Benenson, a pollster for the Obama campaign. Republicans, he said, “were trying to get ahead of an issue that was a big problem for them. And it is a big problem for them, especially after they put Paul Ryan, the author of the voucher scheme, on their ticket.”
- The Vacuum Behind the Republican Political Slogans – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Challenged on Medicare, G.O.P. Loses Ground (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Medicare Rises as Prime Election Issue – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Challenged on Medicare, G.O.P. Loses Ground (nytimes.com)
- Mitt’s plot to confuse you – Salon.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Pelosi says Ryan pick makes it easier for Dems to take House (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Mitt’s plot to confuse you (salon.com)
- Florida Purple Poll: Obama-Romney tied 47-48% — and tied 45-44% over protecting Medicare(!) (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Obama hits Romney with new Medicare study (miamiherald.com)
- Obama Erases Romney’s Edge on Economy, Poll Finds (nytimes.com)
Better Off? Hell Yes!
Damn right America is better off than it was four years ago.
Four years ago was September 2008. George W. Bush was president and Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers was collapsing. It was a time of fear. It was a time of panic about the future. Recalling that anxiety is unsettling. But it’s important for comparison sake.
Lehman filed for bankruptcy this week four years ago – Sept. 15, 2008. Global financial markets spun into a panic. Credit markets froze worldwide. The stock market plunged. GM and Chrysler fell into crisis. Foreclosures were spiking and housing prices plummeting. Main Street shops and factories couldn’t get ordinary loans essential to sustain routine business. Nearly half a million workers lost their jobs that month. It was the ninth consecutive month of massive job losses. The Bush administration had converted a vibrant economy and budget surplus it had inherited from former President Bill Clinton into the Great Recession and massive deficits. America was still mired in two wars, including one Bush started on false pretenses.
Now, in September 2012, global financial markets have stabilized. Credit is available to Main Street. GM and Chrysler are building cars and creating jobs. Unemployment is declining as the private sector has added jobs to the economy every month for the past 30 . The value of housing is rising once again , creating wealth for the middle class. Now there’s a financial reform law to prevent another Wall Street bailout. There’s Obamacare to help families retain and secure health insurance. The war in Iraq is over and Osama bin Laden is dead. Is America better off than it was four years ago? Hell, yes it is!
September 2012 can’t be described as boom times. But it’s sure not the dread-filled days of September 2008. As former President Clinton so eloquently said last week in his convention speech, describing the Republican attitude toward President Obama:
“We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.”
Republicans want Americans to put them back in charge. Their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has promised to “restore” America, to return the country to the days before President Obama.
The Romney plan to “restore” America involves repealing, revoking and rejecting every advance President Obama has achieved, including health insurance reform and Wall Street regulation. As Andy Borowitz suggested , if Romney could, he’d revive Osama bin Laden and kill Detroit. Anything to take America back(wards).
Luckily, Romney wouldn’t be able to undo President Obama’s auto bailout – although he opposed it from day one, urging “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” He wrote:
“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.”
Well, GM and Chrysler got bailouts, and both are doing fine, thank you, Mr. Romney. In fact, in January GM reclaimed for a few months the title of world’s largest car manufacturer. Both companies are repaying the government loans and1.45 million people are working as a direct result of the bailout, according to the nonpartisan Center for Automotive Research.
Would America be better off without GM and Chrysler? No, it would not. That according to 1.45 million employed people.
Also luckily, Romney couldn’t undo President Obama’s stimulus. He’d like to, though. His campaign is repeating the false GOP meme that the money was wasted .
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the stimulus created or saved as many as 3.3 million jobs . Romney would have preferred no stimulus. He’d have abandoned those workers – your father-in-law, your kid, your neighbor – rendering them unable to pay their mortgages, unable to support their families, unable to imagine a future.
Would America be better off without the stimulus? No, it would not. That according to 3.3 million employed people.
A President Romney could, however, reverse the financial and health insurance reform measures. And he’s pledged to do that “on day one.” Without financial reform, Wall Street could resume, unfettered, the same risky betting that plunged the country into the Great Recession.
Without the health reform law, insurance companies would immediately cancel coverage for millions of young adults now on their parents’ plans and cut off untold millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and those who have exceeded the now-banned lifetime caps . In addition, senior citizens would have to pay more for prescription drugs and preventative care.
Would America be better off without the financial and health insurance reforms? No, it would not. That according to Americans who would be sicker and poorer and at greater economic risk without the laws.
Romney also promises to restore America to the Bush days of special deals for the rich and up the ante by giving the 1 percent additional tax reductions. Bush didn’t pay for his tax cuts, resulting in massive deficits, and Romney hasn’t specified how he would either.
Would the country be better off if the rich paid even less in taxes? No, it would not. That according to the 99 percent and President Obama. He pledges to end the Bush tax cuts for those making over a quarter million and begin paying down the nation’s debts.
President Obama plans to take the country forward, to create a better tomorrow.
As former President Clinton walked onto the convention floor last week, the Fleetwood Mac song “Don’t Stop” played in the background. This is the refrain:
“Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”
Yesterday’s gone. Thank goodness because America is much better off than it was four years ago. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
- 7 Mitt Romney Statements As Idiotic as His Libya Response | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- 10 Rankest Hypocrisies of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Paul Ryan and Allies Dance on Grave of Slain U.S. Diplomat at Right-Wing Confab | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Better Off? Hell Yes! (ourfuture.org)
- Why Do Americans Have to Crush Others to Get Ahead? | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Osama’s killing made US safer: Romney (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
- Allergic to Facts… or Maybe It’s a Disease (aglobalpolitico.com)
- The 99% Take On the Republican National Convention | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Bill Maher: Romney’s Reaction To Violence In Egypt And Libya ‘Lost [Him] The Election’ (mediaite.com)
- Romney Says Typical Middle-Class Homes Earn $250,000 A Year | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
Raging Moderate, by Will Durst
And now a few words on the Democratic National Convention, which was ALSO interrupted by bad weather, and from this we can deduce that God is not overly fond of politicians. Proving that he/she indeed has something in common with a majority of the American public. We are special.
David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star
The Dems opened their quadrennial confab headlining Michelle Obama, and the president’s wife loud wowed the crowd. Authentic and classy and inspiring, people immediately started examining the 25th Amendment for loopholes that would allow the First Lady to jump to the top of the line of succession. At least leapfrog Boehner. If not Biden.
The next day, Elvis re-entered the building. The Obama folks buried their ’08 bones of resentment in yesterday’s backyard to let the Big Dog off-leash, and the whole house howled at the moon. For 48 minutes, Bill Clinton barked it out old-school. Some naysayers scoff the only reason he was in North Carolina was confusion over whether Charlotte was host city or a dinner date set up by Eharmony.com.
No matter the motive compelling the 44nd POTUS to attend, it became obvious from the get-go that whatever it was that Hillary’s husband at one time had, he’s still got it. In spades.
While thunder rumbled just outside the Time Warner Cable Arena the real electricity was on the inside. Single-handedly he systematically laid out the most persuasive argument yet to re-elect President Bill Clinton… er, unh, Barack Obama.
Delegates swooned. MSNBC collectively spilled coffee on their laps wetting themselves. Even Michelle couldn’t hide a secret grin. Wouldn’t be surprised to find out Ann Romney had one too. Perhaps even he with the lean and hungry look, Paul Ryan.
And when you think about it, wasn’t really fair. Trotting out a former president to rally the troops. After all, Republicans don’t really have a former president to… oh wait. Yeah they do. Never mind. On a side note, Clinton said more nice things about George Dubyah than were heard from the entire GOP convention. Two.
After smashing his guitar on the floor of the podium you could almost hear the Man from Hope whisper to Mister Hope and Change as the two embraced, “Follow that Mofo.” And on the closing night he did, proceeding to give the third- or fourth-best speech of the convention.
While Tampa may have been bereft of Bushes, Charlotte curiously featured a distinct lack of former Democratic vice-presidential candidates. Not a Gore or a Lieberman or a home-state Edwards to be seen. Ain’t life odd.
On the final night, Edwards’ ticket mate, John Kerry, gave a rousing speech that had delegates wondering where this funny, self-deprecating guy was hiding in 2004. Jennifer Granholm assumed Ann Richards’ mantle getting in the best lines of the week; “Romney loves our cars so much they have their own elevator.”
Finally Joe Biden teared up, and Barack Obama tore it up. Not soaring to the golden-throated suburb that is Bubba Heights, but dignified, hopeful and focused. Dare we say, presidential.
Spending two weeks watching the best our political parties have to offer, it’s apparent the Democrats have a deep bench, while the Republicans seem to focus on an empty chair and two empty suits. But to be fair, they’re very nice suits. And they have balloons.
- High Atop the Deep Bench (Guest Voice) (themoderatevoice.com)
- Transcript of Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention (johnny99america.wordpress.com)
- Will convention ‘reset” bring Dem voters to polls? (cnn.com)
- Bill Clinton to campaign for Obama in Orlando, Miami (tbo.com)
- Arkansas Delegates Attend Former President Bill Clinton Event in Charlotte, NC (arkansasmatters.com)
- Stewart/Colbert Punchline News: Show Me Your DNC (rr.com)
- Two Insanely Smart Speeches (thedailybeast.com)
- Clinton calls young people to the polls in support of Obama (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Bill Clinton set to campaign in Florida for Obama (tbo.com)
- Clinton speech hit Obama’s marks (cnn.com)
Obama: GOP Selling Tax Cuts to ‘Help Your Love Life’
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mocking his opponents’ economic agenda, President Obama says Republicans are pushing tax cuts as the prescription to cure the ailing economy, “help you lose a few extra pounds,” and even “help your love life.”
The president unveiled the new quip Friday, but today he got a unique response as he kicked off his two-day campaign tour through Florida.
“It doesn’t help!” shouted a man of his lacking love life.
Obama, seemingly caught off guard by the joke, laughed in response. “You tried those tax cuts, huh?” he asked.
“Actually it does help when you give it to folks who need it,” the president continued, never missing an opportunity to push his economic proposals. “But I don’t believe, and you don’t believe, that another round of tax breaks for millionaires is going to bring good jobs back to our shores, or pay down our deficit.”
Two days after formally accepting his party’s nomination, the president reflected on the convention, suggesting former President Bill Clinton should be given a new cabinet position after his rousing speech.
“After he spoke, somebody sent out a tweet — they said, you should appoint him Secretary of Explaining Stuff,” Obama told the crowd of 11,000 gathered in the sweltering heat at St. Petersburg College-Seminole Campus. “Although, I have to admit, it didn’t really say ‘stuff.’ I cleaned that up a little bit.”
Obama is spending the weekend on a campaign bus tour through the Sunshine State, part of his post-convention battleground state swing.
After his rally in St. Petersburg, the president rolled through Tampa, Fla., the site of the GOP convention two weeks ago, where he stopped for lunch at a Cuban sandwich shop.
“At their convention, they were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t say much about how they’d make it right. They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan,” Obama said.
- Obama to GOP: America is not in decline (cbsnews.com)
- President Obama and Charlie Crist hug (again) (content.usatoday.com)
- Obama out to renew magic; Romney hits defense cuts (cnsnews.com)
- On campaign trail, Obama denies nation in decline (washingtontimes.com)
- Romney faults Obama on jobs and defence cuts (nzherald.co.nz)
- Obama targets Florida seniors, Hispanics (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Obama jokes about superior Clinton speech (thehill.com)
- Obama and Charlie Crist hug again (politico.com)
- Obama Gives Bill Clinton A New Title: Secretary Of Explaining Shit (buzzfeed.com)
- Obama hits Romney with new Medicare study (cnsnews.com)
His goal isn’t to win over voters on Medicare. It’s to make them throw up their hands in frustration
What’s most noteworthy about the new Medicare-themed ad that the Obama campaign today is its defensive tone. The spot opens by referring back to that claims the president “robbed” $716 billion to pay for the new healthcare reform law, then contrasts AARP’s favorable assessment of Obama’s actions on Medicare with its ominous take on what Paul Ryan has proposed.
There’s a lot going on here, and that might be problematic for Obama.
Medicare is a supremely popular program, and attempts to cut or alter it dramatically always poll terribly. The hope for the Obama team is to replicate the success that Bill Clinton and Democrats enjoyed in 1996, when they positioned themselves as the last line of defense between Medicare and the Republicans who would (in the famous words of Newt Gingrich) let it “.”
But the issue is more complicated in this year’s campaign, because of the Medicare changes that Obama made through the Affordable Care Act. That the law is true, but the reductions do not affect benefits; instead, they’re aimed at hospital reimbursement rates and the excessively costly Medicare Advantage private insurance program, with smaller cuts for home healthcare providers and others. What’s more, Ryan’s own Medicare plan, which House Republicans almost unanimously endorsed (and which Romney has indicated he would have signed as president), upholds all of these cuts. But Ryan says he’s now running on the Romney plan, not his own, and the Romney plan () calls for wiping out the Medicare cuts.
It’s all rather slippery, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. The upshot is that Romney and Ryan are now running around blasting Obama for making savage cuts in Medicare, and running ads to the same effect. This, of course, is also what Republicans did in the 2010 midterms, when their landslide was keyed in part by an anti-Obama backlash among senior citizens. This complicates Obama’s hopes of replicating Clinton’s reelection strategy. Clinton never had to answer for his own cuts; he could just fire away at the “Dole-Gingrich” attempt to raid Medicare. Obama’s task is trickier. He has to explain his own actions first, then pivot to an attack on his rivals. As , all the GOP needs to do here is to muddy the waters enough that swing voters throw up their hands in confusion and move on to other issues – like the economy.
If there’s a silver lining for the Obama side, it’s that voters still instinctively regard his party to be more supportive of Medicare than the GOP. A poll a few months ago that voters trust Democrats over Republicans by a 40-24 percent margin to look out for the program. Obama has also enjoyed a wide advantage over congressional Republicans on this front. The gap is tighter when Romney enters the picture; a poll of swing state voters this week found Obama running 8 points ahead of Romney, 42 to 34 percent, on who would better handle Medicare. By comparison, Clinton was running more than 20 points ahead of Dole on the issue at this point in ’96. (Of course, he was also running about 20 points ahead of Dole in the horse race.)
That said, voters are more inclined to give Obama and Democrats the benefit of the doubt on Medicare than Romney and the GOP. And the Democratic assault on Ryan-ism is only beginning. The polls may look different a few weeks, or months, from now. But just because Romney’s running mate is the author of a reviled Medicare plan doesn’t necessarily mean that the GOP ticket will pay a price for it.
- Mitt’s plot to confuse you (salon.com)
- Barack Obama: Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan “could raise future retirees’ costs more than $6,000.” (politifact.com)
- Matt Miller: Recognizing Paul Ryan’s ‘tell’ when he is trying to avoid something – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Dems use GOP words against Ryan on Medicare (politico.com)
- Romney, Obama Fight for Medicare (abcnews.go.com)
- Ryan takes Medicare mother on campaign trail (miamiherald.com)
- The GOP Counter-Argument On Medicare (decoded.nationaljournal.com)
- Obama defends Medicare record in new ad (washingtontimes.com)
- New poll finds Medicare more important to voters than healthcare reform law (thehill.com)
- Romney: Obama campaign using ‘smear,’ ‘dirt,’ ‘deception’ (firstread.nbcnews.com)
On Facebook, the Semantics of Visibility vs. Privacy
By NICK BILTON
Nick Bilton/The New York Times
When I called Facebook on Monday to ask why the company had changed the settings for the display of people’s e-mail addresses without their permission, potentially violating users’ privacy, I was told that the swap was not a “privacy” change, but rather a “visibility setting” change.
I offered a genuinely confused response to Jaime Schopflin, a Facebook spokeswoman I spoke with. “Um, isn’t changing the visibility of something actually changing the privacy setting?” I asked.
“No,” Ms. Schopflin said, explaining that they are two different things.
The company recently changed e-mail address settings to automatically show @facebook.com addresses on user profiles where other addresses were once visible. All of a user’s friends can see that address, even if the user specified that no addresses should be visible on the profile.
To Facebook, the words privacy and visibility may be as different as peas and carrots. But Facebook users and one linguistic expert I talked to seem to disagree.
Jesse Sheidlower, the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, said Facebook’s effort to draw such a distinction was “worse than playing semantics.”
“It is giving a different name to something that has aspects of privacy to it,” Mr. Sheidlower explained. ”Publishing a picture of someone naked might be regarded as a ‘modesty’ issue, but that does not mean that it’s not a privacy issue, too.” He added: “Even Facebook can’t possibly think that doing this has nothing to do with privacy.”
Facebook’s attempt to shuffle words around is reminiscent of the famousquote by President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when the President responded to a question from a lawyer by saying, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Mr. Sheidlower mentioned another quote from Mr. Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” He noted that when the president had used the term “sexual relations,” it was in a limited way that he had worked out with his lawyers, not a more widely understood meaning. “If everyone agrees on what it means, then there’s nothing to argue about.”
Of course this is where things differ with Facebook. After all, peas and carrots are both vegetables. Although I’m sure Facebook would disagree.
- On Facebook, the Semantics of Visibility vs. Privacy (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Like It or Not, Facebook Changes E-Mail Settings (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Facebook Hides Your Email Address Leaving Only @Facebook.com Visible. Undo This Poppycock Now (techcrunch.com)
- Facebook Continues to Be Really Creepy (slog.thestranger.com)
- Facebook Users Upset About New Email Format (snspost.com)
- Facebook Just Changed Your Email Without Asking – Here’s How to Fix It [Facebook] (gizmodo.com)
- Facebook’s e-mail switch draws flak (thehindu.com)
- Facebook is trying to hijack your email (kshb.com)
- The Creep of Social Media Raises Big Questions – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
June 21, 2012
The Debt Ceiling Escape Hatch
Alex Wong/Getty ImagesNancy Pelosi during her weekly news conference June 21, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Last year, when House Republicans pushed the government to the point of default by threatening not to raise the debt limit, there was a lot of frantic talk about using the Constitution as an escape hatch. Because the 14th Amendment prohibits any action that raises doubt about the public debt, the theory went, President Obama could declare the ceiling unconstitutional and simply ignore the House’s threat.
The idea was endorsed by Bill Clinton and several economic scholars, but it never really caught on among elected Democrats. Mr. Obama expressed skepticism about it, and Democratic leaders – who lack the confrontational DNA of their Republican counterparts – decided not to push it.
But now that Speaker John Boehner is promising a rerun of the whole fiasco within the next year, the Constitutional option is starting to have a little more appeal. On Wednesday, in a meeting with a group of columnists, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, urged the president to use the 14thAmendment to protect the nation’s credit from another extortion attempt.
“You cannot put the country through the uncertainty” again, she said, according to Matthew Yglesias of Slate.
Ms. Pelosi’s statement is an encouraging sign that Democrats may take a very different approach when Mr. Boehner reloads later this year or early next, whenever the current debt limit is reached. Led by Mr. Obama at his most naïve, the Democratic reaction to last year’s extortion was to negotiate, to seek a grand bargain that inevitably disintegrated when Republicans refused to raise taxes on the rich.
What they got instead was a brutal sequester of military and domestic spending—
parts of which are loathed by virtually everyone in Washington—that threatens to derail the economy when it begins next January. The crisis deeply damaged the country’s financial reputation, produced a downgrade in its credit rating, and led to single-digit approval ratings of Congress.
Ms. Pelosi obviously doesn’t want to go through that again, and it’s hard to imagine why Mr. Obama would, assuming he is re-elected. If other Democrats begin pushing the idea that the debt limit is unconstitutional, it might stiffen the president’s spine to use the option, particularly now that Republicans have stated they will never again raise the limit without getting huge spending cuts in return.
It’s not as if he’d be ending a hallowed American tradition. The debt limit was always a fraud on the public, providing the illusion of a firm outside boundary to government borrowing when none was ever needed. Congress controls spending and taxes, and can raise or lower the debt as easily as it regularly used to increase the debt limit. A terrific 1961 editorial in the Times chided President Kennedy for not trying to repeal this “meaningless” statute.
Using the 14th Amendment option would lead to a messy fight, and the legal outcome is far from clear. But it’s a fight worth having, because the alternative, as the country has seen, will be far worse.
- INSANE ALERT: Obama set to bypass Congress and raise the U.S. debt limit by declaring it unconstitutional (investmentwatchblog.com)
- Taking Note: Debt Ceiling Debate: Will Democrats Use the 14th Amendment? (takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Pelosi: Obama Should Raise Debt Limit Directly, Go Around Congress (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Pelosi: Boehner ‘wants to go over the edge’ in debt-limit debate (thehill.com)
- Mr. Boehner and the Debt – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Pelosi and Boehner At Each Other’s Throats Over Upcoming Debt Ceiling Fight (inquisitr.com)
- Budget debate taking center stage in Washington, D.C. (fox6now.com)
- Pelosi: Attacking Holder part of GOP voter suppression plan (rawstory.com)
- Top Dems Suspect Political Sabotage By GOP Leaders (huffingtonpost.com)
- Democrats go on offense over Holder contempt push (foxnews.com)
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012 10:54 AM CDT
After a new rant about Obama’s birthplace, Romney needs to cut all ties with the birther loon
Yesterday it was funny: Mitt Romney announced he was having a fundraising contest to let supporters win a dinner with the farce that is Donald Trump. President Obama has raffled off dinners with George Clooney and former President Bill Clinton; Mitt’s got Trump. Any questions? Do you see a stature gap between the two campaigns? Do you want to have dinner with two guys who like to be able to fire people? Whatever floats Mitt’s boat.
Today it’s appalling: puffed up by Romney’s flattery, the preening, orange-haired narcissist doubled down on his idiotic birther claims against the president, telling the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove: “Look, it’s very simple. A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book, he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.”
If you haven’t been following the story, and I tried not to, the addled spawn of Andrew Breitbart found a dusty 20-year-old catalog from Obama’s former literary agency that said he was born in Kenya. An assistant quickly said that she wrote down incorrect information. Trump doesn’t believe her.
“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump told Grove. “That’s the way life works … He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said … He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia … Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”
Give us a break, Mitt. It was already embarrassing that you were using Trump as a fundraising lure – why not raffle off a dinner with Dick Cheney, who’s hosting a fundraiser for you in July? At least Darth Vader has gravitas; Trump is a joke. Pretending to run for president, Trump made birtherism his big issue, and ultimately Obama responded by prevailing on the state of Hawaii to release his long-form birth certificate – a truly sad moment for this country, when the overwhelmingly elected president, a black man, has to show a nasty rich white guy his papers.
If you ever want an example of the vicious political double standard that helps Republicans in this country, here it is: Democrat Hilary Rosen said something inartful about Ann Romney being a stay-at-home mom, and the entire Democratic Party had to denounce her; Obama campaign leaders tripped over themselves to be the first to push her under the bus; Rosen immediately apologized. But Romney has been able to keep his ties to Trump as well as misogynist Rush Limbaugh without political penalty — so far.
This is a moment for the presumptive Republican nominee to stand up for sanity and distance himself from the crackpot birther fringe, and tell Trump he’s going to have to cancel their dinner date. Maybe he’s got to wash his hair that night. Or one of Ann Romney’s cars.
Does Romney have the integrity and courage to do that? I don’t think so, but I’d love to be surprised.
- Trump Embraces Birtherism, Romney Embraces Trump (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Following Obama’s Dinner With George Clooney, Romney Campaign Offers Dinner With … Donald Trump (mediaite.com)
- Breaking: Donald Trump sends investigators to Michigan to look into Mitt Romney’s birth certificate (dailykos.com)
- Romney Campaign Offers Chance To Dine With Donald Trump (buzzfeed.com)
- Trump insinuates self into Romney campaign (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Donald Trump Wants To Be Vice President, Is Still Delusional (VIDEO) (manolith.com)
- Trump angles for RNC keynote speaking slot (thehill.com)
- Trump: I would be the ‘best choice of all’ for Romney’s VP (rawstory.com)
- Does Anyone Care That the GOP Presidential Candidate Courts Birthers? (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- TRENDING: GOP triple play: Romney, Trump and Gingrich to campaign together (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
Clinton Appointed to Secret Service Chaperone Position
May 11, 2012
By Orbson Rice
States Secret Service. In reaction to the recent controversy involving alcohol, strippers and prostitutes in Colombia, the Secret Service has instituted new “rules of conduct” for its agents. One of the measures involves the appointment of a “chaperone” to monitor agents’ actions and enforce the new higher standards. Within hours of the announcement, President Clinton made a formal request to fill the position. According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “The former President was adamant that he would be able to provide the proper oversight for the after-hours activities of Secret Service agents and President Obama agreed.” On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton was appointed to the position of Chaperone of the United
After examining the old version of “The Secret Service Rules of Conduct”, it is unclear whether the ”new rules” were needed or just a reaction to the controversy. In the section labeled “Engaging prostitutes while visiting foreign countries”, the rules clearly stated:
1. Agents may entertain no more than five prostitutes per room, per evening.
2. If agents are garbed in outfits including but not limited to sexy kitten costumes, French maid outfits or latex body suits, they should refrain from leaving their hotel rooms.
3. Agents should refrain from creating a scene with prostitute(s) due to unrequited articulations of love or refusal to pay for services rendered.
Had the agents followed the previously established protocol there likely would not have been a scandal in Colombia. Still, according to Clinton the inclusion of a chaperone will create an aura of respectability. “The agents can still have a good time, but they’ll do it in a more discreet and professional way. I understand blowing off some steam, but they need to be believable when they deny it later.” The first test of the new regime will occur this weekend in Bangkok, Thailand where the former President is already getting comfortable in his new position by thoroughly vetting potential escorts.
- Secret Service agent fired in 2008 prostitute case (heraldonline.com)
- Teenage wasteland: Secret Service to now have chaperones. No, really (twitchy.com)
- Apology from Secret Service Boss for Prostitution Scandal (fox4kc.com)
- 4 Secret Service agents plan to fight firing over Colombian prostitutes (640whlo.com)
- 4 Secret Service agents plan to fight firing over Colombian prostitutes (radio.woai.com)
- Three DEA agents ousted in secret service prostitution scandal (bazaardaily.com)
- Secret Service sex scandal agents fight dismissals (theweek.co.uk)
- 4 Secret Service agents to contest dismissals over prostitution scandal (undisputedlegal.wordpress.com)