February 25
Weather beaten, divorced father of 4 through a lot of changes and far happier than I have been in my entire life... in spite of the day to day crap coming my way. The ability to find the humor in it all and maintain a sense of openness and respect with those with whom I choose to share my free time, makes it all worthwhile. Expect intermittent rants of whimsy as time permits. And maybe the occasional political rant to get my left leaning friends all in a dither.


Gwool's Links
NOVEMBER 19, 2012 11:40PM

Republicans, DO the Grand Bargain ... or Else!

Rate: 6 Flag

(Yes, it's been a long time.  Politics has a strange way these days of ticking me off.)

 Here's a novel concept for Republicans.

Give Obama the $1.6 Trillion in tax cuts that he requests.  Hell, make it $1.7T just to show what nice guys we are.  Don't put up a fight.  Capitulate on it.  Create a 4th marginal tax rate at a top end of about $250K and be done with it.

Take the "protect the rich" theme off the table.  Remove the class warfare rhetoric from the debate.  Pull the curtain back from the great and mighty Oz. Light scarecrow Harry Reid's hair on fire to boot and let Nancy Pelosi melt.

 Hold democrat's feet to the fire on spending cuts and improved government efficiency.

I know.  George Bush, Sr. lost his job over breaking his "read my lips" pledge.  He went first with Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell promising $3 in spending cuts for every $1 Bush agreed to raise, and he didn't deliver.  It is alleged Bush Sr lost his interest in governance over being bamboozled like that, muttering something along the lines of "If you can't take people at their word in this town, then what is the point."

 That was 1988.  Damn near a quarter century of this political gamesmanship has been going on down there and the american people are fed up with the bickering.  So give the democrats what they want.  Acknowledge they got more of the popular vote as Obama has piously intoned in lectures at the podium in press conferences and then hold democrats accountable for swallowing hard, ticking off THEIR special interest groups and exacting more efficiency out of the government services delivey model.

Republicans control the house.  They can set the agenda on the governmental reforms and belt tightening and then dump it in the lap of Harry Reid.  Harry Reid calls the shots in the senate, thanks in no small part to the repeated rounds Republicans shot into their feet nominating extreme candidates in senate races where moderate republicans could have taken a seat.  Dick Lugar goes down to a dolt calling rape God's Will.  McCaskill sneaks out alive based on similar non starting disertation on abortion in cases of rape. Shays in MD loses to a moonbat, ceding another reasonably safe Republican seat in MD.  And, of course, Harry Reid got brought back from the dead running against another extreme candidate.

$1.6 Trillion sounds like a lot.  It does.  But over a ten year span with the structural deficits we have, it is not enough.  The need.  The true need is for paradigm shifting operating reforms to the way in which we deliver governmental services.  We have an economy we lament is transititioning from being manufacturing-intensive to services-intensive.  We have leading global services companies in the country who know how to delivery services across disparate geographies with different public policy regulations.  We have best practices we can learn from private enterprise to inject into the public sector DNA.

So cede on the tax issue, remove their objections, and hold them accountable for deep governmental reforms and efficiency measurements.  If government can push the auto industry to improve their Car Average Fleet Economy (CAFE) standards, or average MPGs per vehicle, then let's take that policy weapon and turn it on government.

Set standards on overhead costs versus net direct benefit to recipients and force government to learn how to deliver more service with less overhead.  Force government to rethink their business practices.  You cannot point to the other side calling for their sacrifice and their expending political capital with their core constituents if you still stand firm on taxation issues at this point in time.  

 We have serious, long-term deficits fueled in large part by government transfer programs predicated on woefully dated actuarial tables.  We're living longer, period.  We have to pay more and expect less.  Cede the payments for our top earners and force democrats to determine which constituents they have to confront on expecting less.

I am sure any folks defining themselves as "True Republicans" who are still reading likely deride this as the rantings of RINO.  Well, folks, deride all you want.  Deride yourself into permanent minority status.

What's the worse that happens?  That our leaders come together, make some tough decisions, and we get our fiscal house in order?

Or the democrats fail to come across with the spending cuts the way George Mitchell did?

24 years ago, Bush Sr lost his job over it.  This time around, with the public fed up with this steady drum beat of stalemate and bickering, I suspect the public will see it much differently.  Make it quite clear to the public.  Reference Bush Sr and the risk he took.  Point to the seeds that effort planted that helped fuel the Clinton economic recovery.  (Note I said HELPED.  Not the only reason, but not a non factor, either.  Economic turnarounds take time.  Obama sold that to the public in 12, so acknowledge the contribution of that effort to the early 1990s economy.)

Besides, to get out of the ditch we have dug with abortion/rape statements, harsh immigration policy suggestions, and socially harsh stances around gay rights not to mention talk of gifts and binders full of women there isn't much more we can screw up. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Put country ahead of political point scoring.  Give the democrats what they want on taxes.

And then remind them to be careful what they wish for, because coming up with the spending cuts will be really hard to do once you can no longer point at the other side and blame them for getting in the way.

Raise your sights, Republicans.  Try the high road. 

Be the first to compromise.  This 24 year game of tug-of-war has got to end.  Consciously let go of the rope and see who's standing as a result of it.

 Give Obama his $1.6T in tax increases. Make it $1.7T.  It's only "fair," after all, right?


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Gwoooooool!!!!!!!!!! Just when I thought the last thoughful conservative had been tossed in an unmarked grave. A few points for discussion. I think we've done the transition and are living in a services-based economy.

"and force government to learn how to deliver more service with less overhead." Like Medicare, which has far less overhead than private insurance. Both sides can argue till they drop dead over funding of Medicare. The ratio of total cost to claims paid (which is pretty much claims paid + overhead) is completely in favor of Medicare. I'm certainly not arguing that there isn't massive government waste. While conservative headline-grabbers cry out against PBS, I wish both sides would take a serious look through the Pentagon budget. Can anyone argue that there isn't ... I don't know ... say a 5% waste within the Defense Dept. budget? The U.S. Government Accountability Office hasn't been able to properly audit the DOD for the previous two years (at least) because the financial statements from the DOD are such a horrid mess.

I'm sure we agree that the tax code needs a massive overhaul, though we may disagree where the emphasis should be. But the common goal, I would hope, would lead to good faith negotiations.

"We're living longer, period." Higher wage earners and, of course, the wealthy are living longer. Those who do the traditional blue collar work or the "menial" jobs, mostly translating as those with lower pay and less chance of having health insurance -- they're dying at essentially the same age as their grandparents did.

That's enough for one night. It's really good to see you back here.
Stim: Careful on Medicare. Medicare sets the rate they will pay for service. It is at times, below market. So, since all gov't is about 50% of the purchasing power and if they get to dictate what they will pay, then guess what? Cost gets shifted to the private side. It is not fair to point to medicare as a solution when they have that market power over pricing. This is not to say the private health side is solid... it is just to say that Government health practices is part of the problem.

On DoD we can agree. Rumsfeld, it should be noted, was in there seeking to re-engineer it all and therefore not ingratiating himself to the top tier bureaucrats (just below political appointee, and therefore capable of inflicting a world of hurt on the upper managers who rotate in and and out.) All sorts of ways to re design supply lines, purchasing, IT systems, collaboration between departments (something global services firms do really well) and on and on.

Tax code overhaul? Republicans led that charge in 1986 as a way to enhance revenue without raising rates. I think it was the largest net tax hike in history in absolute dollars (as in not adjusted for inflation). It was so convoluted and extensive set of revisions that I know for a fact one of the Big 4 accounting firms filed extensions for all its partners that year to see how the IRS would interpret the new laws.

This is what Romney was saying he would do. Other thing would be to cap deductions. We all get to play by the code book, but the well, well heeled would be capped at whatever amount in terms of deductions. Pinging Romney on his 14% bracket was fair to a point, but they glossed over how much he donated to Charity which I recall was high 20s as a percentage of total income.

So, yeah, DoD is obviously a key place to look for efficiency. Government healthcare management is not one of them sadly. Remember Romney care? That came in twice the projected expense levels in the first year. Medicare outlier years were off by a factor of 10, for example, and prescription drug was hugely expensive and poorly projected. Healthcare is a real complicated mess.

But what services firms do? They model out test cases with incredible hands on management. Once perfected they "push it down the organization" once they have the "frameworks" built to bracket it out. Federal govt emulation of state best practices takes place now. It needs to be done more. More test cases by specific demographic areas. How to deliver health services in New York City, for example will have best practices that would clobber rural Maine, for example. Fewer monolithic edicts from the feds, more creativity in execution at the state and local level. Services firms get this... what works in the U.S. may not in India, Brazil, or emerging economies in Africa, for example. What works in inner cities won't fly in suburbia, the exurbs, or rural America.
Woooollllyyyy! Glad you're back, and glad you're talking sense. Some of us have known for decades now that the cut taxes/raise revenues meme was a Laffer -- or worse, part of a grand plan to starve the beast into submission (as David Stockman confessed).

For decades, the putative representatives of all the people's interest -- in both parties -- have instead been representing the interests of a very few of the people -- read big campaign contributors. It's long past time that came to a halt, and let us hope the results of this election provides the impetus for change in DC. Let us also hope that Turdblossom Rove and Poopyhead Norquist are consigned to the ash heap of Republican politics.

As for the nut-cutting, we all know that must be done as well, tho as the experience of Europe makes plain, that damn well better be done carefully. This is no time to throw the baby-step recovery out with the bathwater.

In my unlettered and not so humble opinion, nothing could do more to alleviate our present malaise than to strengthen unions and the social safety net. I suspect you see it differently, but as an employer I'm sure you're aware a contented workforce is far more productive than a fearful and angry workforce. By the way, there's a study done by an English researcher (Lanyard?) that confirms that hypothesis -- as does the experience of the Scandinavian countries.
Welcome to Open.Salon new blogger!!!
I feel your pain.
Yes, before seeing any governmental reforms there has to be a reform of the GOP. The difference is gov reform would be easier than a demolition of the current GOP framework and reforming it as a rational political party, capable of governing. The propaganda system the conservatives created and the GOP welcomed and became captured by is out of the control of the dwindling Republican or "real" conservative intelligentsia.

That aside, the conservative ideas have been total failures. As long as the generously labeled "intelligentsia" is addicted to "proving" those ideological shibboleths are "true" and only need "proper messaging," the GOP will be dysfunctional.

I'm all for streamlining government services, reducing waste, increasing efficiency, yada-yada. But while the present debt is due to those foolish conservative ideas, future debt is related to h-care costs, not the fat-surplus Soc Sec, which only needs a tiny tweaking.

Medicare doesn't cost-shift, resulting in higher private insurance company payouts. That fable is yet another "conservative media" spin story. The numbers and the AMA, etc, don't support the story. One market-driven reason they can pay less is volume. Another is the rules are clear and the payments reliable. Consider the cost of a group of employees whose only function is to argue with private insurance companies over allowed payments.

Are you a victim of cost shifting because you pay top-end retail for a widget while those buying in volume get a 20% discount? If I knew far more about the hospital biz, I'm sure I could better discuss a lot of reasons and "unreasonables" for ever-rising costs.

But on the issue of insurance alone, there will never be a way for a private company to match the admin costs of Medicare. There's that carved-in-stone fact, and the fact that private insurance, seeking profit, doesn't spread risk--it stratifies it. That's counter-productive to efficient function overall, and counter-intuitive to the idea of controlling costs related to federal--and private--debt.

If we had the same h-care system most industrialized countries have, we'd have no debt problem. As long as Republicans (and some D's) refuse to capitulate to reality, we'll continue looking at cutting spending on other programs and arguing about taxes and revenues to displace what we spend on a discombobulated h-care Leviathan.

There's the true Cost-Shifting. From people insuring themselves to people paying tribute to counter-productive and unneeded private insurance. From the lower cost of drug negotiation of price to paying about 300 billion extra per year by pricing well above what the VA and other countries pay due to volume discounts. We're sinking in debt due to a foolish effort to prop-up private inefficiencies for ideological -- and political bribery -- reasons.

The GOP has run and re-run out of bad ideas. Don't let the added problem of ideological dimwits saying stupid things obscure the Greater Truth.

PS--McCaskill won by 15.5%. That's hardly sneaking out alive.