Go Ahead! Make Their Day!

Robert Creamer is a political organizer and strategist for the Democratic Party.  Recently, he wrote an article for Huffington Post entitled “Dirty Little Secrets the Republicans Don’t Want You to Know.”  Actually these are, as the author admits, not so very secret after all.  As we all know, starting in 2000, the Bush Administration, sitting as a cabal in their dark suits somewhere in the basement of the White House, possibly around a pentagram with candles, methodically set out to destroy the America that the great Bill Clinton left him.  In these eight short years, they deregulated Wall Street that led to the financial collapse of 2007-08.  They unshackled oil companies and are directly responsible for the Gulf oil spill.  They allowed health insurance companies free reign allowing the huge increases in premiums- so bad that the government of Obama had to ride in and save the health insurance industry from itself.  And, of course, the the ill-advised Iraq War and our involvement in Afghanistan.

Against that background, the alleged “dirty little secrets” are introduced as Republicans not learning from their mistakes and relabeling and trotting out the “same failed policies of the previous eight years.”  How tiring this is becoming from the Democrats as they try to deflect attention from their failed policies in their Catch-22 philosophy.  If they succeed, all the better.  If they don’t, well the hole was so deep.  How far that is from the promise that Obama’s stimulus would not allow unemployment to rise above 8%.  Creamer then indirectly confirms the worst fears about Obama and his policies when he states that Republicans “still actually believe…that by freeing big oil, the insurance companies and Wall Street banks of the burdens of government accountability…that the invisible hand of the market will lead America into the promised land of economic prosperity.”    Read another way:  screw capitalism and the free market.  Put yet another way: support the socialist policies of Obama!

He then goes into some specifics of an alleged Republican platform and what would happen if they assumed control of Congress in 2010.  First, he goes after Rep. Paul Ryan over Medicare reform claiming that one of the most popular government programs should be abolished and replaced with a voucher system or private insurance.  His solution to prospective Democrats is to highlight these facts and that Republicans want to hand over Medicare to private companies.  In actuality, Ryan’s plan specifically states that it preserves Medicare as is for those currently enrolled and those coming due for enrollment (those 55 and older) within the next ten years.  Then through attrition, it would be phased out and stipends of $11,000 per year to purchase insurance would replace the fixed entitlement.  Additionally these amounts would be indexed to inflation and benefits liberally based on income level.  It would also allow for popular Medical Savings Accounts and reform of risk pools at the state level that would address the truly elderly sick Americans.  In short, Creamer makes it seem like Republicans will swoop into power and trash Medicare as we know it.  He also conveniently ignores the fact that the CBO estimates that this would make Medicare permanently solvent without increasing payroll taxes.

Second, he mentions that Boehner openly endorses the Ryan idea of raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70.  This is partially true.  Under Ryan’s plan, the retirement age would indeed reach 70 years old- in the YEAR 2100!  It would be gradually phased in at the rate of one month every two years which would roughly keep up with increasing life spans for Americans.  Remember that when Social Security was enacted as part of the New Deal some 70 years ago, the average life span of an American male was 60 whereas today it is 75 years.  The plan also specifically states that those already receiving Social Security would not be affected, but would be eliminated through attrition (death) and that the phase in would be gradual (over 90 years)!

Third, he states that Ryan’s plan and the Republican plan is to privatize Social Security.  He also claims that Bush’s proposal to do the same was the start of his downfall.  And here I thought the start of Bush’s freefall was Iraq.  Or was it Harriet Meiers?  No wait…it was Katrina.  No…it was our failure to nab Bin Laden at Tora Bora.  Damn it…it was that “Mission Accomplished” banner.  Ryan’s plan, in fact, leaves Social Security alone for current recipients.  It does offer those younger than 55 the option of investing up to one-third of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts that would be overseen by the government.  Note how Creamer talks about the lack of government accountability while Ryan’s plan actually notes government accountability in this area.  Incidentally, this proposal is quite close to the popular Federal Thrift Savings plan federal employees currently enjoy.  He cautions that this is merely a plan to divert worker “savings” to Wall Street bankers and mentions the losses in 401(k) values as a result of the economic collapse of 2008.  However, if one is in this for the long term, then values of 401(k)’s make cyclical rebounds.  Assume you are 45 and have 25 more years of work.  The market collapses.  Your personal investment makes declines.  Creamer neglects to mention that this would give that worker 25 years to make rebounds.  Additionally, it would be a property right (something Socialists really don’t like let alone understand) and would be transferrable to heirs.

Turning to some current legislation, he notes that Republicans are against Wall Street reform.  This is false.  They are just opposed to certain sections of the proposed reform.  This is reform, mind you, that it’s author, Christopher Dodd, recently said he did not know how certain provisions wopuld play out in the real world.  In fact, some Democrats have reservations for different reasons about the reforms and the names Lincoln, Nelson, and Feingold come to mind.  It is gaining support only because of special deals being cut yet again.  As if Democrats haven’t learned from that debacle called Obamacare, they continue to wheel and deal for a few votes in the Senate.  In the meantime, businesses and banks are left with the uncertainty that even the bill’s authors admit to.  I think you can call this stagnation…as economic indicators seem to, well, indicate.

He mentions the patent falsehood that Republicans have repeatedly denied extension of unemployment benefits to workers.  All Republicans are asking for is that those benefits be paid for and have offered proposals that Democrats dismiss out of hand.  Why doesn’t Creamer mention the seven or more Republican proposals to do just that?  In fact, at this point, even mitigating or lowering the estimated $34 billion hit to the deficit would probably suffice.  But it is the Democrats who are holding up this legislation and insisting that the spending be permitted to add to the deficit.  Of course, Creamer fails to mention that technically there is no budget since the Democratic-controlled House walked away from that very important government responsibility.  He also says many Republicans want the minimum wage lowered to spur employment.  Although these proposals are occasionally floated, they are a political no-go.  They do, however, make sense in certain targeted areas.

The final area he highlights for prospective Democrats in November is Joe Barton.  He claims he would become head of the House Committee that oversees the oil industry.  This is classic demonization of an industry.  Granted, BP didn’t really help the cause.  But hopefully the Republican leadership realizes that Barton’s comments did not help the Republican cause.  Perhaps an off-the-record apology, but not certainly one that provided a great soundbite to the Democrats.

He closes his article by citing that Democrats need to go national with their criticisms of these ideas instead of localizing elections.  And, naturally, he closes his article reminding us that the President is black.  using Democratic/liberal/socialist tactics, that is a code word for the fact that if you disagree with their agenda, you are a racist.  Creamer fails to mention the voter disgust with the process of Obamacare not to mention the fact that four months after its passage, more than 60% of Americans still do not approve of it.  Sort of like that nagging 9.5% unemployment rate.  He fails to mention Obama’s utter lack of leadership in the Gulf of Mexico.  Yes, he cannot plug a hole in the ocean floor, but his response to pleas from Gulf state governors is appalling.  His solution?  Put oil workers out of work.  He fails to mention how proposed cap-and-trade would increase energy bills in pursuit of some spurious claims.  He fails to mention the cost of Wall Street reform on average bank consumers.  Or how about the proposed Democratic proposals to tax internet purchases and/or ATM withdrawals?  So, if the Democratic Party wishes to hold out Republican proposals to ridicule, do so.  Bring it on!  This is the same Democratic Party being egged on to take on Republican policies they allege Republicans lack in the first place.  Hypocrisy at its best- the new slogan of the Democratic Party.  If Democrats follow the advice of Creamer, I say “Go ahead!  Make my day.”