Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What Keith Said And A Super Congress That Is Neither

Man, at least there's a spot somewhere on cable for freedom of news. Countdown is a port of call — Rachel and Big Eddie, too — from the storm-tossed seas of collaborationist corporate media everywhere else on cable.

The Idiot Punditocracy have largely dismissed the so-called "Super Congress" composed of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, 12 in all, as just another do-nothing Congressional committee or commission that is a meaningless part of the debt deal. WRONG. It may thrill Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, and their cohorts because they will not be directly blamed for cutting the Big Three (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security).

Senate Democrats and Republicans have colluded to take Big Three cuts away from the beaten path of political discourse, under the radar so to speak, by handing it off to a slash-and-burn committee composed of Republicans and Democrat/DINOs. As usual, Democrats were routed by goose-stepping Republicans who will always vote in lock-step to make cuts and prevent tax increases, while peeling off one or two DINO votes to pass the cuts, because all it requires is a simple majority.

My candidate for the Medicare executioner in the Democratic Party is Kent Conrad. He's a retiring DINO from North Dakota who has already come out in favor of so-called "entitlement reform" on the beneficiary side. Another one is the corporatist DINO from Virginia, Senator Mark Warner. They are members of the so-called Gang of Six. Understand, the Gang of Six have already agreed in principle to beneficiary cuts. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican right winger has proposed with Traitor Joe Lieberman a hike in the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 67. Call it a trial balloon. This is their "die quickly with no health care" proposal for seniors between the ages of 65 and 67.

And the COLA "adjustments" which are agreed to for Social Security, will cost beneficiaries, "According to the advocacy group Strengthen Social Security, the chained-CPI could lead to annual Social Security benefit cuts of $560 for those aged 75, $984 for those aged 85 and $1,392 for those aged 95." Hey, to millionaires like President Obama and Senators Conrad and Warner $984 is a pittance they write off in their tax returns. But to millions of retirees, that's real money.

You won't hear this from the Idiot Punditocracy or from the Obama apologists out there with their hear-see-speak no evil attitude. And you won't hear it from good folks fighting the good fight like Senator Bernie Sanders, because Senate decorum constrains him from naming names. But he has already sounded the alarm about this probably unconstitutional "Super Congress." He has already warned that if the cuts to the Big Three come, they will come from Democrats.

So I'm naming names. Obviously, the "Super Congress" will have at its core the Gang of Six. It makes sense for a whole lot of reasons, not all of them conspiratorial. These guys have been immersed in this downsizing government cutting frenzy — just on paper for now — for months. They have the expertise, they've done the groundwork, and they've already agreed on a broad, conservative bipartisan framework for real cuts that will hurt millions of our citizens. Based on his compulsive obsession with "finding the center" in  all things, as the astute Howard Fineman noted, can't you just picture President Obama loving this?

Some of those who are feverishly powder-puffing and slapping lipstick on this PIG of a deal say, not to worry, the "Super Congress" won't make any cuts in an election year. That may be, but it's a gambler's calculation, not a certainty, I don't care how many bridges out there they've got to sell us. The composition of this group is intended to be, well ... shadowy, just like in those sinister conspiracy movies. It's a stealth cut-and-slash torpedo aimed at the weakest point of the so-called phony "firewall" protecting the Big Three. And since at least two or more of the prospective members (Conrad, Coburn, Lieberman?) are retiring, the political pressure will be off their backs and they'll be able to give cover to the rest of their Senate colleagues. Congress likes nothing if not the avoidance, at all costs, of making tough decisions — or should I say, standing up on principle, even if it threatens their political careers.

Today, once again, the President served notice that "YES" (that's the latest version of "yes, we can" — CUT) so-called eye-of-the-beholder "modest" cuts to Medicare are coming. He is in general agreement with proposals by the Gang of Six, which will soon morph into the "Super Congress." And these cuts are to be funneled through this stealth "Super Congress" process. It's insidious and it's gutless — perfect adjectives for Congress. That's why "institutionalists" like Reid, McConnell, and Boehner are so excited about such a diabolical legislative device, whose principal function is to give them political cover for cuts to the Big Three that are opposed by 60 to 80 percent of Americans.

So please, when it happens, I don't want to hear Stephanie Miller moaning and bawling into her coffee. No need to pour coffee on your genitals, Steph; feed your brain instead. Accept that President Obama isn't the knight in shining armor who will ride in to save the day — as your naïve, starry-eyed Obama-lovers believe — but a center-right, corporate conservative Democrat who has choices to make and options to take. He has a presidential decision-matrix like no other. He has the bully pulpit. He's not "handcuffed" by anything or any faction, unless it's by choice and except by his constitutional duty and the duties of co-equal branches of government.

The Tea Party faction in Congress threatened its insanity to roll our risk-averse president. And it worked. It didn't have to be this way. As a result, millions of people who are hurting too much already will hurt more. That's the reality.  It's time for the President to take sides. (And I find it unbelievable that it's even necessary to say this.) But ultimately, it's up to us to take our government back. The front lines are in the states. In Wisconsin, where we are fighting back against Republican insanity and overreach. Then it's on to Washington.

If the President is unable or unwilling to lead, then we will take the point. As Keith was saying:

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