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Social Security
  • Quote Unquote: Michele Bachmann on Self Reliance

    Michele Bachmann addressing the conservative Christian lobbying organization Family Research Council on the virtue of denying food to the hungry

    "Our nation needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves. That provides the principle of a national work ethic that we have sadly forgotten. That means an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat."

    Very inspiring! Reminds me of the Biblical story in which Jesus miraculously creates all the loaves of bread and then sells them to the hungry masses at market value and pulls in a tidy profit for him and his apostles.

    Tags: Family Research Council, Michele Bachmann, Primaries, Republicans, Social Security, Welfare
  • Cain-Gingrich Debate Recap: You Won! No, YOU Won! No, We Won!

    When your great-grandchildren have the American History 101 microchips implanted in their forebrains they will learn about the event we witnessed last night: historic importance upon historic importance, as a scandal-plagued former fast-food executive and a formerly-scandal-plagued former Speaker of the House massaged each other's egos at a Tea Party fundraiser, just like Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. (":</ {^&," your great-grandchildren will tweedle on their iThinks, as they grasp the significance of the moment.)

    In case you "had plans on a Saturday night" or "have friends" or whatever, here's what you missed.

    * Iowa Rep. Steve King kicked things off with a slideshow about deficit spending, unenlivened by zingy graphics. (As everyone on the internet knows, the secret to a great slideshow is Kardashians, cute animals and/or foods that will kill you.) I fell asleep for a minute. When I woke up, Steve King was still talking. I ran over to the deli to get some coffee. Finally Steve King stopped talking (temporarily).

    * The first order of discussion: How great is Paul Ryan? No for real, how great is Paul Ryan? The greatest? The greatly-greatest? The greatliest greatest great in the entire Reaganverse?

    * It occurred to me that if the Ryan budget had passed the Senate last spring we probably wouldn't be having this debate. If only they'd known.

    * Newt repeated his line about "$70 to $120 billion in Medicaid and Medicare is paid to crooks." This is partially true! It would be a lot more true if he said that "about $70 billion in Medicaid and Medicare is considered improper payments, ie routine administrative errors, overpayments and fraud," but that is less of an adrenaline rush.

    * While we're on the topic of math, Newt called for the abolishment of the Congressional Budget Office, which he called a tool for expanding government because of the way its analytic models work. An hour later he cited CBO statistics to boast about his record in the House, so who even knows. (See also: his website.)

    * For Herman Cain, the complex question of entitlement reform boils down to one answer slogan: "It's your money." How will that work, for people who have already paid into the sys- It's your money. What about the- It's your money. Or, if you prefer: "When you treat it like it's your money, that's how you wean people off expecting that other people are gonna pay for it."

    * You know that old saying, if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish, he'll use this story as an argument against government activity in the private sector for the rest of his life? According to Herman Cain, a young waiter–who was black, he hastened to add–once approached him in a restaurant and said "I want to fish." I can only assume this waiter is now running Herman Cain's health policy team.

    * Cain did have a strong answer to a question about choosing defined benefit plans or a premium support system: "You go first, Newt."

    * Newt wants to apply Lean Six Sigma to the federal government and outsource Medicaid/Medicare payments to American Express and IBM, who have been begging President Obama to let them use their existing private-sector technology to evaporate government bloat, only to be met with bureaucratic silence. Again, this is just trueish.

    * Paul Ryan is super-smart and soooooooo dreamy!

    * Early in the evening Newt said that he and Herman were "the two most radical candidates" in the race. Among the radical, principled stands these two out-there types took: Cain is "a firm believer in 'Let's solve the problem.'" Newt "believe[s] in health information technology." OKAY, WILLIAM AYERSES.

    * Speaking of technology, Newt illustrated his free-market approach by asking people to imagine the situation if a government bureaucracy stood between them and the purchase of a new iPhone. But later he added that "crooks" get so much federal money because they have iPads, whereas bureaucrats only have notebooks, so… what is the solution here? Tighter government regulation of iPads but not iPhones? Buy iPads for all federal workers?

    * Standard-issue welfare reform talk: Cain says "We gotta make people want to get off those programs," Newt says "There's a certain tough love that we need to adopt," which is not what he says to Callista when she's racking up bills at Tiffany's.

    * At the end the candidates were allowed to lob softballs at each other, so Newt asked Cain what his biggest surprise of the campaign has been (surprise, it's "the nit-picky-ness of the media," what with all its questioning and investigating and so forth). Then Cain, who had been waiting for this moment all night, asked Newt what his first assignment should be if he were Vice-President of the United States. "Well, I wouldn't go hunting," said Newt. Thanks, you've been great! They'll be here for… oh, maybe another three months!

    * Sorry, almost forgot. Since this was a "debate," we are legally obliged to find out who "won."

    There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

    Yep, just add one more set of quotation marks to the twelfth word there, and that's about right.

    Photo by Lew Robinson/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
    Photo by Paul E. Tessier/Photodisc/Getty Images

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    Tags: Debates, Health Care, Herman Cain, Medicaid, Medicare, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Republicans, Science & Technology, Social Security, Steve King, Welfare
  • Ron Paul Proposes Bold, Principled and Insane Economic Plan

    Never one to abandon ideological consistency in the face of external reality, yesterday Ron Paul released a specific, internally consistent, audacious…and absolutely crazy fiscal reform proposal titled a "A Plan to Restore America." In short, Ron Paul is still Ron Paul.

    Paul announced his plan in Las Vegas, Nevada, an apt symbol for the economic future young adults can expect to face in Paultopia, which would allow workers to opt-out of the Social Security and Medicare systems in favor of personal investment/dancing for change before their Galtian Overlords. Other key aspects of the plan, which would cut approximately $1 trillion in federal spending in the first year of the Awakening of the Elves Ron Paul's presidency (actually, both time-lines are equally plausible), include…

    * Ending all funding for wars and foreign assistance.

    * Eliminating five cabinet departments: Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, and Education. Paul would also eliminate the Transportation Security Administration and privatize the Federal Aviation Administration. These measures are part of an effort to "[slam] on the brakes and puts America on a return to constitutional government." Because if James Madison had wanted the federal government to regulate magickal flying machines from the future, he would have put the FAA in the Constitution, somewhere between the three fifths compromise and the power of Congress to "grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal."

    * Converting the Medicaid program into block-grants distributed to states, because if you can't trust the State of Alabama to adequately fund healthcare services for the poor, who can you trust?

    As for the likely impact of the proposal, Paul was sanguine

    "I have a personal conviction that this will not hurt anybody. You cut government spending and it goes back to you," he promised a crowd of roughly 200 supporters who gathered in a conference room at the Venetian hotel to hear him unveil the plan.

    Yep, I'm sure phrases like "Supplemental nutrition for women, children, etc – discontinued" won't have an impact on anybody important, if implemented. I mean if Rush Limbaugh is okay with it

    Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Constitution, Economy, Medicaid, Nevada, Primaries, Ron Paul, Social Security, Taxes
  • Rick Perry Drops to Fourth Place in New Florida Poll

    Holy hell! Have you seen this new poll from Florida? Did that guy murder a flamingo or something?

    WRL, which the St. Petersburg Times (Fla.) says typically polls for Republicans, showed Romney in first with 28 percent, Cain in second with 24 percent, and Gingrich in third with 10 percent. Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, fell to fourth place with 9 percent — a 15 point drop from a WRL poll taken before the Florida debate.

    Okay, so Perry dropped from sharing a lead spot with Mitt Romney to being fourth behind Romney and Herman Cain. Call me old fashioned, but usually fourth place spots are reserved for those who are behind three other people. But The Examiner makes no mention of a third place candidate. What's going on here? Who can possibly be running behind Cain but ahead of Perry?

    Let's check another source

    Perry had been tied as a Florida frontrunner with Mitt Romney at about 25 percent on Sept. 20, dropped to third/fourth place with 9 percent of the vote where he’s statistically tied with Newt Gingrich (10 percent).

    Newt Gingrich?! Newt Gingrich is polling higher than Perry?! Okay, "statistically tied" with Rick Perry?! It doesn't matter if Gingrich has three more votes than Perry, that's goddamned embarrassing. That guy doesn't leave his house except to get limo driven to a debate or to pick out a new diamond choker for his wife, and he's "statistically tied" with Perry?

    How could this have happened? Could it possibly be something he said?

    Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Florida, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Polls, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Social Security
  • From the Pork Barrel: John Boehner, Socialism and Other Words That Obviously Go Together

    * John Boehner's primary challenged David Lewis states the obvious: "John Boehner is a socialist." ("Socialist" is a generic term meaning someone I don't much care for, right? Yeah, I thought so.)

    * Hey, since we've already lost the last four years to crippling bottomless recession due to the failings of unregulated capitalism, hey, why not just throw the rest of our lives down that well, too.

    * Andrew Breitbart to Tea Partiers: "We outnumber [liberals] in this country, and we have the guns." Not sure about the numbers, but they definitely have the guns. And the heart medication; don't forget that.

    * The deification of Ronald Reagan continues apace.

    * The Daily Show's head writer thanked Glenn Beck after winning an Emmy, as well he should have!

    * Glad to see Paul Krugman's singing career going so well.

    Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    Tags: Andrew Breitbart, Glenn Beck, Guns, John Boehner, Lindsey Graham, Music, Paul Krugman, Pork Barrel, Ronald Reagan, Social Security, TDS Writers, Tea Party, The Daily Show, The Emmys