Monday, December 31, 2012

Sardonicky: Bargaining Chips and Chomping Chains

Sardonicky: Bargaining Chips and Chomping Chains


Bargaining Chips and Chomping Chains

How can I put this delicately? If you are old, or if aging is in your future plans, your president just doesn't seem to think your life is worth very much. That average $1200 monthly Social Security check you've been counting on?  Way too extravagant for Barack Obama's refined sensibilities. 

In the past, he has been more circumspect about his plans for a "balanced approach" in which the little people share the sacrifice are sacrificed to the predators of the financial class. But yesterday, he got his machismo up. It probably had a lot to do with being mere inches away from fellow corporate apparatchick and gerontophobe David Gregory. Familiarity breeds contempt.... for people beneath their exalted class. Bullies are often too cowardly to work alone. They need at least one flattering sycophant close by.  From yesterday's Meet the Press: 
DAVID GREGORY: You’ve got to talk tough to seniors --
DAVID GREGORY:–don’t you about this? And say, something’s got to give?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:–but I already have, David, as you know, one of the proposals we made was something called Chained CPI, which sounds real technical but basically makes an adjustment in terms of how inflation is calculated on Social Security. Highly unpopular among Democrats. Not something supported by AARP. But in pursuit of strengthening Social Security for the long-term I’m willing to make those decisions.

Much is being made of how Harry Reid and his minions "stood firm" against chained CPI being part of the Feckless Cliff negotiations. But people are missing the point that when the Democratic leadership balked at putting Social Security on the table now, it merely means they don't want to waste this valuable bargaining chip in a game of penny ante. They won't add Chained CPI to the kitty until the high stakes game of poker known as The Grand Bargain takes place in the Debt Ceiling Casino next year. 
"The idea was if you are going to do debt ceiling, you would then do chained CPI," (a) Democratic aide said, speaking anonymously because talks are ongoing and extremely sensitive. "They can only ask us to make that concession in that pairing. We are not going to do anything with chained CPI now [without a debt ceiling deal]. That's a poison pill.
It has come to this. The lives and livelihoods of America's most vulnerable citizens have been reduced to political concessions. Our monthly retirement checks are something that millionaire political hacks "do" the same way they do lunch, do cocktail parties, do the revolving door shuffle. They're doing us. But even though they're bold and serious and macho, they pride themselves on being very sensitive lovers. They wield their whips and chains discreetly, out of public view. Once we start feeling the lashes, we won't even remember who it was that actually beat us to a pulp. We'll just keep inviting them back for seconds.

The Better to Tweak You With, My Dear

Richard Eskow of Campaign for America's Future has written a far more serious and sensible prescription for how we can address the almighty deficit without torturing innocent people. There are plenty of ethical and more effective solutions out there than Chained CPI. The problem is that there are no ethics left in Washington. And being ineffective in the Beltway Bubble doesn't ever get you fired, especially if you're a member of Congress. The president just rewarded the do-nothingest legislature in history with a pay raise. Seriously.

Gridlock Theatre is good. Just ask the lobbyists and the corporate advertisers funding the corporate media perpetuating the gridlock. Action delayed means the serious people get paid. Lots and lots of cash:
  Washington is getting richer because the intensity of the struggle for influence at the centre of power has a natural tendency to keep spiraling upwards, and influence groups have to spend more on their struggles in the capital just to stand still. This isn't a conspiracy by a unified ruling class of takers against the far-flung makers, as in the Capitol of "The Hunger Games". It's an unavoidable, never-ending political battle between powerful clans to protect their interests at court, as in King's Landing in "Game of Thrones".... Gridlock between powerful vested interests can be very profitable for experienced, well-connected court players who can promise to preserve the gridlock.
So when the deficit scolds blame the "dysfunction" in Washington for all our ills, don't believe it for a minute. It's not dysfunction that's killing us. It's the corruption. It runs wide, it runs deep, and the stain just won't come out.