Bill Kristol tells GOP to come back to the table.

The GOP, the Media, and Reality.

It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/30...

Bloo Driver wrote:

If the Republican Party is coming around to what the Democratic Party is trying to do, isn't that something of the compromise everyone is wanting to see?

I want the GOP to negotiate from the current plan, not one that was a horrible compromise to the terrible plan that the GOP wanted to jam down America's throat last year. Thanks to the elections, the political dynamics that forced the Democrats to even present such a plan have since radically changed and, unless the GOP compromises for real, they're going to take the blame for increasing taxes on the middle class and kicking the economy over into another recession.

Regarding the marginal tax rate and a simple comment Warren Buffet had on the Daily Show. "If I called you at 1 in the morning and said I had a great plan you wouldn't say how much am I going to get taxed."

I've had this frustration trying to explain marginal tax to co-workers sometimes that it gets hair pulling frustrating. No your taxes are not skyrocketing by working that overtime. If you need the money then work it. If you rather spend Sunday doing something else don't. There is no magical 90% tax bracket that OT bumps you into.

Kinda is related to the Buffet comment that all the people who bitch and moan about incremental taxes are the kinds of people you might want to chase straight out of the U.S with taxes.

To simplify it I think rich people can sometimes be broken into 2 segments.

The real job creators/innovators like Gates and Buffet who could give a flying f*ck about how much their next dollar is taxed. To be clear I doubt this type are 100% fine with taxes and probably have issues with if they are efficiently used but they know the difference between strangling the economy and drop in the ocean.

Then you have the scrooges who obsess over things like this. They are not the 'job creators'. They just want to min max the hell out of every angle they can... to the point where in this election cycle you saw how much people could donate to try and influence the election. Its a upside down logic when increasing taxes on them = bad but allowing them to accumulate so much wealth they can attempt to swing elections = ok.

Demosthenes wrote:
Keithustus wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Keithustus wasn't talking about reforming Social Security and Medicare. He was talking about ending those programs entirely.

Carefully. They obviously have necessary functions. At times like this it's good to ask, what are they doing in Sweden? Since its not 1930 anymore we can probably design a better system.

So... the solution to conservatives having an issue with "entitlement programs" (I hate that term so much :() is to look at what another country that has higher taxes and more government services is doing?

I think I missed a 2.? somewhere. :)

OG_slinger wrote:

If those programs serve a necessary function then why did you even propose phasing them out?

I fail to see what it not being 1930 has to do with the discussion. We had old and infirm people back in 1930 and we have old and infirm people today, except we have more of them and they live longer. One could argue that there's likely a greater need for the programs today because so many more elderly live by themselves than did in the 30s.

Nor do I understand why you think we could design a better system today. What's simpler than giving people who qualify cash every month? If you want to talk about who gets what benefits, when they're eligible for those benefits, and how everything gets funded, that's fine. But that's a discussion on how to reform the existing programs, not phase them out.

And you also need to define what you mean by "better." Better for the people the program's designed to help? Or better as in it costs taxpayers less? Those are very different goals.

The biggest problem here is we're still stuck in the America bias: "we created it, it sort of works, therefore it's not worth our time to see whether someone has something far better". And by better, I mean a more efficient system that would accomplish these goals: 1) meet the same societal need (prevent abysmal conditions in the elderly), 2) be financially efficient and sustainable (not be a pyramid scheme, not run out of funds in x years), and 3) prevent freeloaders (because this is always a question for the microeconomics of any system). Tying the benefits to inflation and the poverty line would seem wise to me, and possibly limiting benefits to those who need it--not Mitt Romney, etc.

The reason I would want to end social security incrementally, not wholesale, is because according to information today, none of us will ever get any of it, despite it and Medicare taking up half-ish of our federal budget. If you're close to or already retired, then good for you that you are, but my generation is giving all our withholdings to you but will not get anything. So why don't we look around the world to other countries whose cost of living and quality of life have at least met ours and see how they address the same needs? Maybe there's something there that we could copy or learn from? Japan, Sweden, France, etc. probably have programs worth reviewing.

Most simple "reform" would almost certainly make the system more complicated and exploitable. How many times have we reformed our tax laws, and we all agree it's far from just. Maybe the answer really is as simple as making ALL income assess able for social security, not just the first $100,000, so that instead of Mitt Romney's $15,000 (complete guess) withholdings for ss/m he would have hundreds of thousands withheld for it? If that will resolve the issue, fine, but if we're still talking about social security and Medicare consuming more and more of our federal budget and yet those same programs being unsustainable, then it's time we rethought these things.

Final note: I'm not supportive of what little I know about what conservatives would like to replace social security with. Something about personal accounts, like big Roth accounts or something. The trouble with that is the same trouble with 401ks instead of defined-benefits retirements: market unpredictability. I don't like the idea of funneling more and more money dangerously through the hands of Goldman Sachs and saying the government has swept the problem off the table.

Keisthustus wrote:

How many times have we reformed our tax laws, and we all agree it's far from just.

Only twice - the tax code was overhauled in 1954 and 1986. That's it for major changes to the tax laws.

Probably not what you suspected, right? Very little work has been done on *tax reform* in our lifetimes.

The only way you won't get Social Security is if you change a law to say so.

Changing social security into a 401k/IRA like plan does not change the deficit at all.

To get rid of the social security benefits you also have to get rid of the tax.

Keithustus wrote:

The reason I would want to end social security incrementally, not wholesale, is because according to information today, none of us will ever get any of it, despite it and Medicare taking up half-ish of our federal budget.

I'm not following this logic. I can understand reducing benefits, increasing SS taxes, changing the age requirements, but why would we just "end" it "incrementally" or at all because as it stands we won't get it? I don't think the need for it is going away.

Because if it can be proven that the system will be bankrupt, which the Congressional Budget admits will be around 2033 with as many retires are entering retirement now and as few new workers replacing them, , and if the program being bankrupt means the government cant function and/or benefits drop because of it, then I don't want any part in it. Stop taking my money and pretending I'll get it later. Find a new solution, one better as other countries have experimented with since the archaic '30s, one that doesn't rely on a society-wide pyramid scheme. If social security and Medicare aren't allowed to operate in the red and must be self-sustaining like the post office, then change it or replace it, just stop taking money from those who won't get any from it. I'm glad to be taxed by my city, state, and the federal government, because those funds improve society, but I am frustrated on every pay stub seeing withdrawals for social security.

Ending it incrementally is the only just way of doing so, given the so many are already on the system or expect soon to be. As I mentioned a page or two ago, incremental elimination would mean 100% for current beneficiaries, and something like 80% for those in their 50s, 60% in 40s, etc. Prorate it per year.

Edit: added a bit while it was being replied to.

Tanglebones wrote:

You realize that what that means is that by 2033, Social Security payouts will have to be decreased slightly, not that they won't exist, right? And this is just assuming that in the next 20+ years, no additional revenue is ever added into the system, by such simple factors as removing the income cap payroll taxes.

Decreased slightly all the while the cost of living and inflation continue to rise. Fail. Replace.

If it is as simple as eliminating the cap on taxable income for ss/m, great. But let's not pretend there might be better systems than ours to learn from or try.

Keithustus wrote:

Because if it can be proven that the system will be bankrupt, which the Congressional Budget admits will be around 2033 with as many retires are entering retirement now and as few new workers replacing them, then I don't want any part in it. Stop taking my money and pretending I'll get it later. Find a new solution, one better as other countries have experimented with since the archaic '30s, one that doesn't rely on a society-wide pyramid scheme.

You realize that what that means is that by 2033, Social Security payouts will have to be decreased slightly, not that they won't exist, right? And this is just assuming that in the next 20+ years, no additional revenue is ever added into the system, by such simple factors as removing the income cap payroll taxes.

Keithustus wrote:

I'm glad to be taxed by my city, state, and the federal government, because those funds improve society, but I am frustrated on every pay stub seeing withdrawals for social security.

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

You realize that what that means is that by 2033, Social Security payouts will have to be decreased slightly, not that they won't exist, right? And this is just assuming that in the next 20+ years, no additional revenue is ever added into the system, by such simple factors as removing the income cap payroll taxes.

Decreased slightly all the while the cost of living and inflation continue to rise. Fail. Replace.

If it is as simple as eliminating the cap on taxable income for ss/m, great. But let's not pretend there might be better systems than ours to learn from or try.

Decreased slightly, as indexed for cost of living and inflation. The CBO isn't a bunch of dummies

Keithustus wrote:

Because if it can be proven that the system will be bankrupt, which the Congressional Budget admits will be around 2033 with as many retires are entering retirement now and as few new workers replacing them, , and if the program being bankrupt means the government cant function and/or benefits drop because of it, then I don't want any part in it. Stop taking my money and pretending I'll get it later. Find a new solution, one better as other countries have experimented with since the archaic '30s, one that doesn't rely on a society-wide pyramid scheme. If social security and Medicare aren't allowed to operate in the red and must be self-sustaining like the post office, then change it or replace it, just stop taking money from those who won't get any from it. I'm glad to be taxed by my city, state, and the federal government, because those funds improve society, but I am frustrated on every pay stub seeing withdrawals for social security.

Ending it incrementally is the only just way of doing so, given the so many are already on the system or expect soon to be. As I mentioned a page or two ago, incremental elimination would mean 100% for current beneficiaries, and something like 80% for those in their 50s, 60% in 40s, etc. Prorate it per year.

Edit: added a bit while it was being replied to.

Being in the red doesn't mean bankruptcy.

Is Defense Spending bankrupt?

Sorry man.. but you have fallen for half truths and lies or you are a perpetrator of those half truths and lies.

Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

It would, but only if it keeps my wife from starving in 30 years if our retirements accounts were to completely fail before then. Again, pyramid scheme.

Yeah.. that just sounds sociopathic to me. I think I'm done.

Tanglebones wrote:
Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

It would, but only if it keeps my wife from starving in 30 years if our retirements accounts were to completely fail before then. Again, pyramid scheme.

Yeah.. that just sounds sociopathic to me. I think I'm done.

It seems you're forgetting the point of social security....to keep grandmothers from starving. So if in 30 years, it won't do so, I don't want to support it. Nothing sociopathic about that.

Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

You realize that what that means is that by 2033, Social Security payouts will have to be decreased slightly, not that they won't exist, right? And this is just assuming that in the next 20+ years, no additional revenue is ever added into the system, by such simple factors as removing the income cap payroll taxes.

Decreased slightly all the while the cost of living and inflation continue to rise. Fail. Replace.

If it is as simple as eliminating the cap on taxable income for ss/m, great. But let's not pretend there might be better systems than ours to learn from or try.

I have a feeling this is an argument because people are not used to being disagreed with in the way you're disagreeing with them. I notice you said "Maybe there's something there that we could copy or learn from? Japan, Sweden, France, etc. probably have programs worth reviewing" and I get the impression people are making the assumption that you want to wind down SS/M in favor of something more conservative, when it looks like you're okay with something even *more* liberal than what we have now.

Conversely, I think you're assuming the people who don't want to wind down SS/M want to stick with it and reject any alternatives. I think a lot of the people you're arguing with have never considered "Japan, Sweden, France, etc." because they're working in the context of a political climate where that's unimaginable; in other words, they think SS/M is the best they can do and there's no hope of an even MORE liberal alternative.

Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

It would, but only if it keeps my wife from starving in 30 years if our retirement accounts and my pension were to completely fail before then. Again, pyramid scheme.

It's only a pyramid scheme if someone bails out with the money and doesn't bother to make sure the bottom level of the pyramid will always be rebuilt.

Tanglebones wrote:

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

It would, but only if it keeps my wife from starving in 30 years if our retirement accounts and my pension were to completely fail before then. Again, pyramid scheme.

goman wrote:

Being in the red doesn't mean bankruptcy.

Is Defense Spending bankrupt?

Sorry man.. but you have fallen for half truths and lies or you are a perpetrator of those half truths and lies.

Sorry man...but you're making irrelevant comparisons. Defense spending isn't supposed to be profitable. Although when we sell things to Israel and Taiwan and wherever else, the technological aspect of it can certainly become lucrative.

Two questions follow:

1) must social security be profitable and sustainable like the post office or a public good like the defense department?

2) if it's allowed to be unprofitable, like now, how badly is it allowed to consume the federal budget until either it or the federal financial system fails? How in debt or how much taxation must we have before our debt to GDP ratio positions our economy as meaningless as other once great economies have suffered?

Tanglebones wrote:

Decreased slightly, as indexed for cost of living and inflation. The CBO isn't a bunch of dummies

But Congress is, which is why we've got these problems in the first place.

Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

It would, but only if it keeps my wife from starving in 30 years if our retirements accounts were to completely fail before then. Again, pyramid scheme.

Yeah.. that just sounds sociopathic to me. I think I'm done.

It seems you're forgetting the point of social security....to keep grandmothers from starving. So if in 30 years, it won't do so, I don't want to support it. Nothing sociopathic about that.

Except for the part where you're just fine with other people's grandmothers starving, purely because you're not going to get yours.

CheezePavilion wrote:

I have a feeling this is an argument because people are not used to being disagreed with in the way you're disagreeing with them.

Yes, I want to always learn about issues in such a way to get at the empirical problems and position myself opposed to all of the predominant political biases. If I like the party's goals, I'll fault their details. If it like their details, I'll fault their intentions. That way I can express my distaste for all the political parties. :). And learn the most.

Jonman wrote:

Except for the part where you're just fine with other people's grandmothers starving, purely because you're not going to get yours.

That is a failure at reading comprehension or in my too concise writing. I qualified it being my wife in 30 years only to show that starving grandmothers now may be fine but I don't expect the benefits to be available when they matter to me...which is 30 years from now. And that sentence assumes that my wife's 401k and my pension won't be around, so I had to state that in the earlier argument.

CheezePavilion wrote:

It's only a pyramid scheme if someone bails out with the money and doesn't bother to make sure the bottom level of the pyramid will always be rebuilt.

That is precisely what is happening. Millions and millions of baby boomers are retiring and only millions of us are contributing. That is demographically why this is even an issue, why we see reports about the projected bankruptcy and potential death of social security.

Keithustus wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

It's only a pyramid scheme if someone bails out with the money and doesn't bother to make sure the bottom level of the pyramid will always be rebuilt.

That is precisely what is happening. Millions and millions of baby boomers are retiring and only millions of us are contributing. That is demographically why this is even an issue, why we see reports about the projected bankruptcy and potential death of social security.

I don't think baby boomers conspired to make that happen. Besides, is it really a demographic problem? Or is it a salary problem? Fewer people means a smaller supply of labor. That should mean higher wages. Higher wages would mean more money collected in payroll taxes per worker (I don't think the cap figures into this part of the issue). Fewer people contributing, but that should be balanced by people contributing more. Yet that's not happening.

Keithustus wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?

It would, but only if it keeps my wife from starving in 30 years if our retirements accounts were to completely fail before then. Again, pyramid scheme.

Right here, you state categorically that preventing old ladies from starving doesn't improve society unless we can guarantee that you'll get the same treatment in 30 years.

Which, I hope you can see, sounds sociopathic.

Jonman wrote:

Right here, you state categorically that preventing old ladies from starving doesn't improve society unless we can guarantee that you'll get the same treatment in 30 years.

Which, I hope you can see, sounds sociopathic.

Possibly. If we can't (which i grant is arguable) serve societal need x in 30 years, then it's troubling that we do now by emplacing hardship on those we won't support then. Would it have appeared sociopathic if I had used slightly the more generic term: "So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?" "It would, but only if it keeps my generation from starving in 30 years if our retirements accounts were to completely fail before then."

I'll grant you dispassion but sociopathic is entirely unreasonable.

The reason we are not seeing demand induced inflation is because social security taxes and medicare taxes are regressive.

Solvency for a country that prints its own money is a meaningless term. As is bankruptcy. This is why Defense Spending, Medicare or Social Security can never be bankrupt unless Congress says don't pay up.

Keeping high earner tax rates low will just keep deficit high without inflation. It is the savings account for those that have extra money and don't want to spend it.

CheezePavilion wrote:

I don't think baby boomers conspired to make that happen. Besides, is it really a demographic problem? Or is it a salary problem? Fewer people means a smaller supply of labor. That should mean higher wages. Higher wages would mean more money collected in payroll taxes per worker (I don't think the cap figures into this part of the issue). Fewer people contributing, but that should be balanced by people contributing more. Yet that's not happening.

You kind of mention it, but the issue is that there is a cap on how much is factored into what you pay for social security. As of 2013, I believe the cap will be around $113,000. Anything above that is not factored in when determining how much you pay into Social Security. So effectively, the social security tax is a regressive tax.

I currently pay 6.2% of my income to Social Security. Meanwhile, the guy who make $1 million a year pays 0.7% tax to Social Security. (And that assumes that all of his salary is from Income, not Capital Gains or other such means.)

Keithustus wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Right here, you state categorically that preventing old ladies from starving doesn't improve society unless we can guarantee that you'll get the same treatment in 30 years.

Which, I hope you can see, sounds sociopathic.

Possibly. If we can't (which i grant is arguable) serve societal need x in 30 years, then it's troubling that we do now by emplacing hardship on those we won't support then. Would it have appeared sociopathic if I had used slightly the more generic term: "So keeping people's grandmothers from starving doesn't improve society?" "It would, but only if it keeps my generation from starving in 30 years if our retirements accounts were to completely fail before then."

I'll grant you dispassion but sociopathic is entirely unreasonable.

Slightly unreasonable. I'll meet you in the middle

Your change in verbage doesn't really change the impact of what you're saying. In both cases, you're claiming that the quantitative "good" to society from preventing old ladies from starving is entirely contingent on continuing to prevent old ladies from starving essentially ad infinitum.

So, if we're not going to prevent old ladies from starving forever, then there's no point in preventing any old ladies from starving.

I can't buy that. Society is served handsomely by doing what we can to prevent old ladies from starving over a 30 year period, regardless of what happens after that time.

I keep seeing breaking updates on the budget talks but haven't seen much about defense cuts.While I'm a bit of a hawk, I'd still love to see a concerted effort to close down bases in places like Japan, England or Germany where our presence is no longer needed. Defense doesn't seem to be a big topic in the current talks though, except of course for handwringing about sequestration.

It almost seems like both parties want sequestration to occur because otherwise it would be incredibly difficult to take on the defense industry.

Cue the predictable moaning and groaning from the far right....

The level of stupid is beyond my comprehension....

They are clearly enjoying themselves over at Public Policy Polling.

49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn't exist anymore.

Yes, because getting out the vote = stealing an election... *boggles*

I can safely speak for all white republicans when I say we assumed ACORN was a rapper.