For those who still aren't clear about why Ezra Klein is wrong in assuming there is some imminent deal on the so-called "fiscal cliff" that includes what Republicans want with regards to Medicare, just take a look at how Republican Bob Corker framed the situation today.
CORKER: The Republicans know they have the debt ceiling, that is coming up around the corner, and, the leverage is going to shift, as soon as we get beyond this issue. The leverage is going to shift, to our side where hopefully we’ll do the same thing we did last time and that is if the president wants to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion we get $2 trillion in spending reduction and, hopefully, this time, it is mostly oriented towards entitlement and with no process. [...]
[Obama] has the upper hand on taxes and you have to pass something to keep it from happening. We only have one body. If we were to pass, for instance, raising the top 2 rates, and that’s it, all of a sudden we do have the leverage of the debt ceiling and we haven’t given that up so the only way the debt ceiling.
The real fault line the Republicans are trying to draw is to use the debt ceiling (not the fiscal cliff negotiations) as a way to force changes in entitlements. If you want to know just how serious President Obama is about NOT playing that game, read David Corn's article about the firm stand he took in not agreeing to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling during the last negotiations.
Obama believed a constitutional principle was at stake: If the Republicans could threaten default to get their way on budget issues, it would distort the separation of powers. This was not what the framers of the Constitution intended, he believed. Moreover, it was embarrassing for the United States. He was determined to prevent this scenario from occurring again.If there is any deal to be had prior to January 1st that includes something more than simply extending the Bush tax cuts to income less than $250,000 per year, you can bet that it will have to include an end to this kind of nonsense.
His aides could see that Obama would not bend. He was willing to go to the brink. Toward the end of that day's meeting with Hill leaders, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor raised the idea of a short-term extension, Obama angrily said, "I'm not going to do it. We're not putting the country through this again. Don't call my bluff."
After the killing of Jordan Davis, David Simon reprises an article he wrote about "stand your ground" legislation in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin. Its time for us to take a look in the mirror America.
That these laws sailed through legislatures and were signed by governors is indicative of a craven national culture, a panicked bunker mentality that now approaches the pathological. Despite becoming the most incarcerative society in the history of the planet, despite spending more and more of our national treasure on prisons and probation officers, drug courts and sentencing judges, despite the elimination of parole and the proliferation of mandatory sentencing, we are still ever more angry, ever more lethal, ever more afraid. Based on the scope and reach of our criminal justice system, Americans are now either the most evil people in modern history, or our view of ourselves, our neighbors and our national collective has been utterly corrupted by our own cowardice and rage.
What a shocker! Who knew that I would EVER agree with Peggy Noonan?
Mr. Alter provides a startling anecdote: "A congressman approached the first lady at a White House reception after the bill's passage and told her the stimulus was the best antipoverty bill in a generation. Her reaction was, 'Shhhh!' The White House didn't want the public thinking that Obama had achieved long-sought public policy objectives under the guise of merely stimulating the economy, even though that's exactly what had happened."The oddest thing about the leftward part of the president's base is that they're always angry with him, always disappointed. A conservative sees it differently: Slowly but surely he has been trying to give them much of what they want. And it wouldn't be because he disagrees with them.Funny they don't notice.
On that note, I'll end with a song I'd like to dedicate to all those who never seem to notice (with a shout-out to @sheriffFruitfly for adding it to my repertoire).