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 Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge 
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Post Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
Politico wrote:
Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
Opinion Contributor
By JOE SCARBOROUGH | 7/11/11 10:22 PM EDT

The reviews are in, and it’s safe to say that most media elites won’t be voting for Republican candidates in 2012. Of course, most of them voted Democratic in 2010, 2008 and in every other election in modern political history. But if you’ve scanned editorial pages and news shows in recent weeks, you know that this time conservatives have really, really offended the national press corps by their refusal to raise taxes.

At issue is the GOP’s handling of the debt ceiling negotiations. Washington pundits are shocked and offended that conservatives refused to cave in to President Barack Obama’s demand to raise taxes.

The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen thoughtfully described the Republican position on fiscal matters this way: The GOP “has become a political cult” and its presidential field is “a virtual political Jonestown.”

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait employed the type of subtle style that makes his articles sing when he made reference, in a Daily Beast column in late May, to his fondness for a former Clinton administration official’s description of the conservative base of the GOP as the party’s “Hezbollah wing.”

The Post and New Republic columnists weren’t alone in rolling out comparisons between the GOP and cults and terrorists. The New York Times’s David Brooks drew a straight line from fiscal policy positions to the morality of current-day conservatives, concluding that Republicans who have a good faith difference of opinion on tax rates possess “no sense of moral decency.”

My goodness. Those are awfully personal attacks to launch against a politician. Who would have guessed that last year these same columnists were then attacking Republicans for — get this — saying nasty things about Democrats.

Cohen wrote a piece titled “On the Right, Hateful Words Are Fired Like Bullets” in which he bemoaned the fact that GOP candidates used heated rhetoric to attack Democrats. Cohen concluded that the “language of rage fuels too much of the tea party.”

This past week, the man who was so concerned with civil political discourse on the right used his column to compare bland GOP candidates such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty to psychopathic cult leader and killer Jim Jones.

Meanwhile, Chait — who once criticized mainstream Republicans for using an apocalyptical approach against their opponents — compared the GOP’s leadership to a terrorist organization that killed over 250 Marines in Beirut, tortured to death a CIA operative and a Marine colonel, kidnapped scores of Americans and hijacked TWA Flight 847.

I wonder why Chait and Democratic officials from past administrations feel the need to associate fiscal conservatives to bloodthirsty terror organizations. I also wonder how such inflammatory rhetoric does not qualify as the kind of politics that Chait himself criticized not so long ago.

As for Brooks’s over-the-top attacks against the Republican Party, I suppose it is the price conservatives pay for having a moderately conservative voice showcased in the Times. I regularly take comfort in knowing that Brooks will never set back the conservative cause by launching hyperbolic attacks against Democratic officials. Unfortunately, sometimes David lacks the same restraint when expounding on his disagreements with the GOP.

During the 2009 TARP debates, Brooks called conservatives who voted against the three-page, $700 billion bill “the authors of the revolt of the nihilists.” The Times columnist also accused conservatives who opposed TARP as “being on a single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party.”

But the larger point here is not about Brooks or Cohen or Chait’s childish insults aimed at anti-tax Republicans. Instead, it is a reminder of the type of abuse Republicans take every time they dare to stand athwart history and growl “not this time.”

For 50 years, the federal government has grown at a sickening rate. Whether Republicans or Democrats run the White House, Washington’s establishment always gets its way — bigger budgets, bigger deficits and higher taxes.

In 1980, the annual budget was $590.9 billion. By the beginning of the next decade, the yearly budget was $1.253 trillion. In 2000, the budget was up to $1.789 trillion in annual outlays, and by 2010, it was up to $3.456 trillion. After a decade of Obama’s budgets, the CBO projects our annual budget will explode to $5.451 trillion in 2020.

Many Republicans now in Congress have been around long enough to see annual budgets explode from $500 billion under Reagan to $3.45 trillion under Obama. They have also seen the top marginal tax rate go from 28 percent under Ronald Reagan, to 31 percent under George H.W. Bush, to 39.6 percent under Bill Clinton, to 35 percent under George W. Bush. Considering that the size of Washington’s annual budget has doubled in the past decade, more than a few Republicans see no need to ask taxpayers for more money to feed the federal government’s voracious appetite for spending.

As media types blast away at their barbaric Republican opponents, it is worth noting that just last year the GOP won the largest nationwide landslide victory in modern history based in large part on its pledge to oppose tax increases. Over 230 members of the House signed the no-tax pledge while 40-plus Senate members also signed to oppose tax increases.

I suppose some could be offended by a politician’s belief that paying 35 percent of one’s earnings to Washington is sufficient to fulfill their patriotic duty and support the operation of the government. I personally believe that after local, county and state taxes are added to the toxic tax brew, paying close to 50 percent of one’s income to government on all levels is obscene. But I believe reasonable minds can differ in this matter, even if many in the media do not.

It is interesting to see politicians savaged by the mainstream media as hostage-takers, members of Hezbollah and deranged cult leaders for doing no more than following through on a signed campaign pledge. Wasn’t keeping one’s word to voters once seen as a positive political characteristic instead of a personal moral deficiency?

Of course, keeping one’s word to the voters was once seen as a virtue, and it still will be when 2012 rolls around. Republicans who vote to raise income tax rates in 2011 can expect to be sent home in 2012. Period. End of political career.

That doesn’t mean a grand bargain is out of reach this session of Congress. If Obama moves forward with specific cuts on entitlement programs and Pentagon expenses, Republicans must work aggressively to close loopholes that favor billionaires and multinational corporations. I am quite confident that even tea party members would be fine with Warren Buffett paying more than a 14 percent income tax rate and would be happy to see the world’s largest corporation, GE, pay more in taxes than their own household.

There is room for compromise. There is still hope for a grand bargain. But launching hyperbolic attacks at conservatives for staying true to their campaign promises only keeps us further away from that final deal.

A guest columnist for POLITICO, Joe Scarborough hosts “Morning Joe” on MSNBC and represented Florida’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/07 ... z1Rv4f0aO0

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July 12th, 2011, 3:10 pm
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
The deal is... we'll vote to raise the limit, you cut $X in spending. Obama then says, well you have to raise taxes so its fair, forgetting that raising the debt limit at all is part of the deal.

The rhetoric is nothing new. They're worried, actually seriously worried about losing everything in the 2012 elections. They dominate the media, so most of what is out there is the left's message, but most people I run across aren't buying it. You don't pay off your credit cards by spending more credit. Its financially irresponsible and until you can get your spending under control, its just a stop-gap, not a fix.

I think it was telling today when Obama threatened to not send out SS checks on Aug. 3rd. Rile up the old people to put pressure on the Republicans. But the Repubs signed an agreement not to raise taxes when they were voted in just 8 months ago. The pressure isn't on them, except in the media which is already not on their side.


July 12th, 2011, 3:21 pm
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
Maobama hit an all time low today when he said that he can't guarantee that social security checks will go out on August 3rd without a debt ceiling increase. Well, I'd like to see him try to use the FICA taxes the government brings in every week on anything other than social security or medicare benefits. That would be grounds for impeachment and/or criminal charges. Keep up the hostile, political rhetoric douchebag, and see what happens.

As for the lamestream media, of course they side with the libtards and always will, but they take it too far sometimes. Are Republicans some racist extemist cult? Nope. How about conservatives and the tea party? Nope, once again. But, there are elements of all three that have had just about enough of this corrupt, lawless, ant-American, socialist, hateful, ignorant, hypocritical, lying, extremist regime and aren't gonna take it anymore. I should probably leave it at that.

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July 12th, 2011, 3:53 pm
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
It's a proven fact that the govt. takes in enough money per day/month to pay all the Soc. Sec. payments, and military paychecks. I believe Medicare can be paid for too out of monthly revenues, but I'm not certain on that one (although I'm 90% certain). Democrats are making the disingenuous argument that "it is wrong to distinguish who gets paid and who doesn't (meaning, it is wrong to take away THEIR paychecks and the paychecks of people that work for the govt. while paying the people that do not), which is complete B.S.


I hope this thing gets ugly (I don't mean default, that would be bad for everyone, and catastrophic for the Country) and real cuts are made. This kicking the can BS is ridiculous. What really pisses me if is if B.O. would have ran on his TRUE platform of govt. growth, tax increases, etc. he never would have gotten elected, and he KNOWS it. The people didn't vote for this crap and the people don't want this crap.


July 13th, 2011, 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
Quote:
I don't mean default, that would be bad for everyone, and catastrophic for the Country


Don't buy into this propaganda.

It's better to default now and get our situation under control, than to let this ponzi scheme keep building and face a Greek situation down the road.


July 13th, 2011, 6:53 pm
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
The situation isn't as bad as Obama tries to make it out to be. The government takes in roughly $200B of revenue per month and the Treasury can prioritize where the money gets spent. Depending upon who you listen to, they spend between $15B and $30B per month servicing the debt. That should be the first priority. Social Security and Medicare costs just under $100B per month, which would probably be priority #2. That leaves $70B-$85B for everything else. Cut everything that isn't crucial and scale back everything else until the situation is resolved.

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July 14th, 2011, 11:23 am
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
FWIW:
PolitiFact wrote:
Barack Obama said Social Security and other federal checks may not go out on Aug. 3 if the debt ceiling is not increased

President Barack Obama and Congress are in intense discussions on raising the debt ceiling -- the legal limit on how much money the government can borrow. But the negotiations aren't going so well, leaving observers -- and some participants -- to consider whether there are Plan B's, Plan C's and Plan D's if the negotiators can't reach an agreement in time.

After hitting the debt ceiling earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury Department juggled accounts as a temporary measure that bought time for further negotiations. But officials now expect the debt limit to be reached on Aug. 2, 2011.

While most if not all federal accounts are affected in some way by the debt limit debate, the most urgent items for many ordinary Americans are direct transfer payments, most notably Social Security and veterans' benefits.

Obama was asked about this in a July 12, 2011, interview with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley. Here's their exchange:

Quote:
Pelley: "Can you tell the folks at home that, no matter what happens, the Social Security checks are going to go out on August the 3rd? There are about $20 billion worth of Social Security checks that have to go out the day after the government is supposedly going to go into default."

Obama: "Well, this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out each month."

Pelley: "Can you guarantee, as president, that those checks will go out on August the 3rd?"

Obama: "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."


We heard from a lot of readers who wanted us to check whether that statement was factually accurate or if Obama was using scare tactics.

Back in February, we examined a similar statement by Obama -- that if there's a government shutdown, "people don't get their Social Security checks." We rated that Barely True.

Social Security is a mandatory program supported by a trust fund, so Social Security benefits don't have to be formally approved by Congress every year. However, Social Security Administration employees are paid through appropriated funds. The real question about a government shutdown was whether those employees would be kept from going to work and if so, whether the checks would sit idle rather than arriving in mailboxes nationwide. The rules that cover government shutdowns provide some leeway for federal workers to carry out core Social Security functions. This flexibility allowed checks to go out during a 1995 shutdown, even as less-urgent agency functions lagged.

However, the two scenarios -- a government shutdown caused by the absence of funding approved by Congress and a debt ceiling impasse that prevents new borrowing -- are different. So the consequences of one do not necessarily match the consequences of the other.

The Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, put it this way: "Failing to raise the debt ceiling would not bring the government to a screeching halt the way that not passing appropriations bills would. Employees would not be sent home, and checks would continue to be issued. If the Treasury was low on cash, however, there could be delays in honoring checks and disruptions in the normal flow of government services."

This is because the government receives both cash, including tax revenue, and bills at irregular intervals. So it doesn't always have enough cash on hand to pay all its debts at any given moment. (Families and businesses will recognize this as the always-dreaded "cash flow problem.")

The Treasury Department has argued that failure to raise the debt limit actually would have more dramatic consequences than a government shutdown. "If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, the government would have to stop, limit, or delay payments on a broad range of legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and many other commitments," the department said in a statement.

How broad would the impact be? The Bipartisan Policy Center -- a Washington, D.C.-based think tank with a board that includes former politicians from both parties -- conducted an analysis of what the government's fiscal situation would be if a deal on the debt ceiling is not reached.

When the center analyzed the government's inflows and outflows for the rest of August 2011, it found $172.4 billion in cash coming in, to offset required payments of $306.7 billion. That works out to a deficit of $134.3 billion.

With that amount of income to work with, the government -- if it could prioritize payments, and we'll say more on that later -- could pay the monthly costs of Medicare and Medicaid ($50 billion), Social Security ($49.2 billion), Pentagon vendors ($31.7 billion), interest on the debt ($29 billion), and unemployment benefits ($12.8 billion). Those categories total $172.7 billion.

But doing so would mean delaying other payments -- for instance, Pell grants and other educational programs ($20.2 billion), salaries and benefits for federal employees ($14.2 billion), welfare and food programs ($9.3 billion), health and human services grants ($8.1 billion), housing assistance ($6.7 billion), and many other programs, including military active duty pay ($2.9 billion), veterans affairs program ($2.9 billion), Department of Justice funding that includes the FBI and federal courts ($1.4 billion) and IRS refunds ($3.9 billion).

If the government could prioritize payments to creditors it deemed most important -- bondholders, say, or Social Security beneficiaries -- it could be a viable stopgap, at least for the favored creditors. But does the government have the power to prioritize whom it pays?

The answer is somewhat in dispute. Here's how CRS describes it:

"Some have argued that prioritization of payments can be used by Treasury to avoid a default on federal obligations by paying interest on outstanding debt before other obligations," CRS wrote in a study published earlier this year. "Treasury officials have maintained that the department lacks formal legal authority to establish priorities to pay obligations, asserting, in effect, that each law obligating funds and authorizing expenditures stands on an equal footing. In other words, Treasury would have to make payments on obligations as they come due."

But CRS added that this view contrasts with one expressed by the Government Accountability Office in 1985 (when the office, the auditing arm of Congress, was known as the General Accounting Office). The GAO found "no requirement" that Treasury pay its bills in a first-in, first-out fashion. "Treasury is free to liquidate obligations in any order it finds will best serve the interests of the United States," the GAO concluded.

Even if the government has the authority to prioritize payments such as Social Security checks, doing so would still entail some downsides, and some of these might be considered politically or practically untenable.

Doing so merely kicks certain payments down the road, where they may accrue additional interest charges, worsening an already difficult fiscal climate. "A backlog of unpaid bills would continue to grow until the government collects more revenues or other sources of cash than its outlays," CRS wrote. "In some cases, delaying federal payments incurs interest penalties under some statutes such as the Prompt Payment Act, which directs the government to pay interest penalties to contractors if it does not pay them by the required payment date, and the Internal Revenue Code, which requires the government to pay interest penalties if tax refunds are delayed beyond a certain date."

Even if payments to bondholders were prioritized, the bond market may still be spooked by the delays in other federal payments, risking harm to the nation's creditworthiness. "If the federal government were to prioritize payments on debt obligations above other obligations, it is not clear whether financial markets would find this distinction to be significant when deciding whether and how to invest in federal government Treasury securities," CRS wrote. CRS added, "if creditors lost this confidence, the federal government’s interest costs would likely increase substantially, and there would likely be broader disruptions to financial markets."

Delaying certain payments, even while making others, could ripple through the economy and drag down already weak economic growth. "Removing a portion of government spending from the economy would leave behind significant economic effects and would have an effect on" gross domestic product, CRS wrote.

There are also some specific technical challenges for shifting funding into and out of the Social Security Trust Fund, which our friends at the Washington Post Fact-Checker column looked into here.

Most of the experts we interviewed agreed that the federal government, if push came to shove, could probably find a way to prioritize Social Security or other payments, though none expressed absolute certainty. However, most of the experts also acknowledged practical challenges of using such tactics.

While he thinks the GAO's green light for payment prioritization carries significant weight, Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute added that "with so much being borrowed, it is hard simply to pick on a few programs" to continue in the face of a debt ceiling impasse.

Ronald M. Levin, a professor at the Washington University School of Law said, "I interpret the president to be saying, 'Stopping Social Security checks would be hugely costly, but other curtailments would also be hugely costly. ... Something will have to give, and I cannot responsibly guarantee that it won’t be Social Security.' That is not quite what he said, but to my mind it’s close."

Where does this leave us? The critics likely have a point when they say Obama is playing up the risk to the most sympathetic potential victims -- Social Security recipients, 23 percent of whom live in households that depend on the retirement system for 90 percent or more of their income. While it's not a certainty that the Obama administration could prioritize cutting checks to seniors, there's a reasonable shot that the administration could do it.

On the other hand, doing so would likely cause a lot of collateral damage to other American creditors, federal workers, students, Pentagon vendors and countless others -- and could also hamper the broader economy at a particularly sensitive time. The president is probably justified in saying that the possibility of an un-raised debt ceiling jeopardizes Social Security checks -- after all, it hasn't happened before, so no one knows for sure. But we also think the president probably has tools at his disposal to avoid the worst-case scenario for seniors that he expresses concern about. Acknowledging that there are a lot of uncertainties, we rate his statement Half True.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter ... er-federa/

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July 14th, 2011, 2:56 pm
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Post Re: Media meltdown over GOP tax pledge
Blueskies wrote:
Quote:
I don't mean default, that would be bad for everyone, and catastrophic for the Country


Don't buy into this propaganda.

It's better to default now and get our situation under control, than to let this ponzi scheme keep building and face a Greek situation down the road.



I mean default, as in stop paying our debts/print money to make up for it. I think that would cost us the dollar as the world standard, and I think it would screw us big time. I don't mean that I think we need to raise the debt ceiling and keep kicking the can down the road. I think we should open the oil reserves, sell off some oil, use that to pay down the debt slightly to give us a cushion, and get the budget under control now.


July 14th, 2011, 3:35 pm
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