Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 26, 2009 6:46PM

The Budget: Shock and Awe

Rate: 49 Flag

The coverage of the President's budget announcement today is surprising for the amount of surprise it seems to contain. The Post's David Broder is leading this Charge of the Shocked Brigade:

The size of the gambles that President Obama is taking every day is simply staggering. What came through in his speech to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience Tuesday night was a dramatic reminder of the unbelievable stakes he has placed on the table in his first month in office, putting at risk the future well-being of the country and the Democratic Party's control of Washington.

Let me summarize the rest of his column for you: how dare Obama, how DARE he, include spending on health care in his budget when the country is in a Serious Economic Downturn and is Fighting Two Wars. He accuses Obama of pursuing health care reform just because he can, right now, and ends with the line, "When we elected Obama, we didn't know what a gambler we were getting."

I have two problems with all of this surprise.

First, it misunderstands a basic tenet of Obama's Democratic vision.  To pursue health care reform isn't something he's taking on in addition to the stimulus plan -- it's part of the overall Democratic effort to improve our national economy. I thought the president was pretty clear about this on Tuesday night, when he made reform of the system one of his top three economic priorities, and outlined the ways in which current rising costs hurt our economy. But David Broder and friends were apparently napping during that part of the speech, and woke only to hear the Democrats cheering -- and have therefore assumed that the only reason for pursuing this program is political.

That's an enormous leap, and one that I didn't see most of the same folks making whenever President Bush proposed some new program. Bush said, let's go to Iraq, and everyone said that was about national security. He said, let's cut taxes,, and everyone said that was about economic stimulus. Both of those proposals were very popular with Bush's political constituency, and yet I don't see the David Broders of the world saying then, "Wait, we're in a war already, we should focus on that," or "wait, we're in two wars, let's focus on that." Instead they said, "This is Bush carrying out the policies his ideology demands," which -- though a deeply troubling answer for most of us, was also true.

So Obama says, let's reform health care, like I've been talking about doing for the last two years, and he puts it in print in the form of his budget, and suddenly David Broder is shocked. Shocked!

Which leads me to my second problem with his column, and with some of the coverage of the budget in general: why so surprised, everyone, at the huge deficit numbers?   Why so quick to say it's this president who's endangering our overall well-being, "gambling" with national security and stability?  He's doing exactly what he said he would do in the campaign, making the same programs priorities that he pledged to, trying to maintain two wars he didn't start, and coming into the whole process with a $1.2 trillion deficit.

What bothers me in the coverage of this overall is that everyone is focused on the big number1: the Post says "Obama's spending plans would push the 2009 budget deficit to a massive $1.75 trillion." There are two ways to report this, of course, and the second way, still honest and a bit more explanatory, is, "Obama's 2009 budget will add $550 billion to the already staggering $1.2 trillion deficit." Which makes it seem a little disingenuous when Sen. Mitch McConnell calls the budget full of "unprecedented spending increases." There's precedent in the New Deal, which I understand conservatives are uncomfortable with; there's also substantial precedent in the last 8 years.

The righteous indignation and shock is, well, shocking. Why do I feel like I keep waking up to a world where the campaign never happened, where Obama just fell out of the sky for a large chunk of the Washington commentary class?  Is, perhaps, their actual shock not over what Obama's doing, but at seeing a president actually do what he set out to do?  Were they expecting a reversal of fiscal behavior such as that under the last president -- a renunciation of declared principles in support of unexplained priorities?

If so, I'm delighted to see Mr. Broder disappointed. I only wish he would recognize the root of his surprise -- that Obama's carrying through -- and name it as such, instead of acting like Obama is recklessly and unpredictably "gambling" with American dollars in pursuit of political gain. He's doing what we sent him to Washington to do.  Just because it's rare doesn't automatically make it risky.

1 The WaPost seems particularly guilty of this. The four budget headlines running up front now: "Obama's Budget Would Raise Taxes on Wealthy," "Budget Would Limit Federal Worker, Military Raises," "Economy Watch: Budet Kills Sallie Mae Stock," "GOP Attacks Spending in Budget."

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I'm sorry where was Broder during the Bush adminstration. He's is as senile as McCain.
Great post, once again.

This is a great example of the new times we live in: I received this email this afternoon that said that 'Friends in the White House are passing on this invitation to state advocates.'

We invite you to join key Administration officials on a call today to discuss how the FY 2010 Budget will impact vulnerable populations. Your participation is important to us as we want give you an opportunity to hear firsthand from key officials who are working on this issue. We will be joined by members of the White House Office of Public Liaison, Office of Management and Budget, the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships."

Seriously!!! Vulnerable populations? Hearing from us???

This new world still amazes me.

Alas I couldn't be on the call because I was presenting at that time at a meeting in Denver, but I had two coworkers get on for me.

Soooo exciting that VULNERABLE POPULATIONS deserve a call from the WHITE HOUSE!!!
But David Broder and friends were apparently napping during that part of the speech, and woke only to hear the Democrats cheering ...

Not likely. More likely, they were wining and dining themselves... eating cocktail weinies and imbibing imported beers. ;~) ...while discussing amongst themselves what they would say in the punditathlon afterwards.

David Brooks, I noticed was on PBS and had to pay attention, or else be done in by Lehrer and Shields.
How dare he and us indeed.
You are all soon going to find out what a mistake all of this "STIMULUS" is. We cannot afford it. We are not collectively worth as a country as much as he is approving to spend. We cannot spend more than we are worth and survive. We WILL experience a depression like that of the Great Depression. There is no way around it. His stimulus is only making it worse and delaying the inevitable.

I cannot believe how selfish people are. They don't care what we are doing to our kids and grandkids or OUR COUNTRY!

The Dems are also doing all of this without even allowing the Republicans a say in the matter. Won't even let them express an opinion. The Republicans never did that to them...I am so dismayed. I wish I was wrong...but I'm not. Logic and the mathmatical law will prevail.
I think what they find so AUDACIOUS and are simply IN SHOCK about is that he is just laying it all out there up front, not trying to cover it up or bury the numbers in off-budget spending bills. HOW DARE HE!
YEAH! How dare he start two wars, cut taxes, take us from a surplus to historical deficits, fail to handle the Katrina...

Oh...never mind.
OE, I admit I wasn't reading Broder regularly during the Bush years, for reasons something like that -- and his particular love for Karl Rove was a turn-off.

WakingUp -- that IS amazing! What an encouraging sign of the new times. They really are new times!

ktm, you know, what I really can't understand -- who *likes* cocktail weenies? They're all... slimy. But I think you're right about what many were doing during that time. Bleh.

I know, I feel very much like a risky gambler now, Kind of Blue; how dare we, indeed.

thesagejournal, I don't agree with the assertion that Republicans aren't allowed to voice their opinions -- the fiscal summit this week seemed like an example of an actually unprecedented move, bringing the GOP over to express their opinions and propose their ideas directly in front of the cameras and behind them. And I guess time will tell on who's right on the rest of this -- I feel like I'm protecting the children and grandchildren of America by supporting Obama.

LPS, it is a SHOCKING move toward honest accounting, you're right. DRAMATIC. WONDERFUL. etc. :)

Ha, Zuma. Exactly.
Thanks for an excellent article, Your posts are some of the most informative and incredibly well written on any site (for some reason accurate research and readability often seem to be mutually exclusive in the press).

I have wondered at the apparent memory loss in the media. The campaign was nearly 2 years in length. Candidate Obama laid out ever so clearly what President Obama is actually attempting to do.

Perhaps the real shock and awe that’s baffling the media is a President offering not just words but decisive and thoughtful actions.

Rated and appreciated as always.
Thanks, Dennis, for the kind comment. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one baffled by the spreading amnesia in Washington, and I think you're right about the root cause of the shock.
SS, thank you so much for actually reading David Broder; I'm quite certain he appreciates it. One can assume he is very much aware of the large amount of time and energy it takes to tease apart his incoherent, opaque, and most often misleading arguments.

Personally, I can't even open the Post's opinion section any longer without my eyes starting to bleed.

Again, many thanks for the public service you provide.

Sorry, SS! I really meant pigs-in-a-blanket. The "cocktail weenies" was me channeling something else from somewhere else.

A big criticism of our beloved press has long been that they care more about maintaining their status on the cocktail weenie circuit (thanks for the sp!) than they do about providing us with reportage.
Thanks, as always, for so clearly breaking it all down.
Of course, we know what many Republican were doing during Obama's speech---twittering. All except Jindal, who was doing god only knows what, because it sure wasn't listening so that he might adjust his speech to make some small semblance of sense as a *response.*
Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do through two years of campaigning.
Really, there are some Dems who are equally surprised by this on other topics. Troops in Iraq come to mind. Tomorrow, we should all try to remember "we will be as careful getting out as we were getting in."

What else did he expect the President to do? Our situation is at the point where he has to "come big or stay home." Everything he spoke about on Tuesday night is necessary and needed to take us to the next phase. Too bad that prior presidents didn't show the cojones and do the prep work at least, then it would be a matter of upkeep now, rather than a beginning. Rated for common sense.
Mm, OK, pigs-in-a-blanket... even as a vegetarian, I can appreciate the goodness there. (Mostly the blanket).

Heh, Mercury, glad to help out.

m. a.h, you have it right on -- both sides are getting some surprises, here. Which... well, I'd like to think it's going to be good listening training.

Thanks, serendipity. It does seem like common sense, but I guess "doing what you said you'd do" is pretty uncommon in D.C. anymore.
Ah Saturn. You always provide the best voice for my thoughts when I don't think I can voice them right.

The Beltway...home to disturbingly bi-polar and out of touch journalism.
Yes, a lot of DCists manage to be at least 3,000 miles away from everywhere, at least in their reporting, Hipployta, you're right. Thanks for the comment.
Regarding: He accuses Obama of pursuing health care reform just because he can, right now, and ends with the line, "When we elected Obama, we didn't know what a gambler we were getting."

What is Broder talking about? We elected him because he made it a central aspect of his campaign that he would take on these two issues together. There was one day where Obama mentioned that given the economic problems, some parts of his platform would have to wait, or something like that. It was a somewhat overlooked remark in the press, and I was surprised there was not more overt discussion of it to get at the detail. But the press certainly had the opportunity. It was a far cry from “I guess we won't be doing health care.” And certainly many people voted expecting him to tackle health care even along with the other issues.

As far as I can tell, my personal views on health care actually differ substantially from those espoused by either McCain or Obama, so I didn't vote for Obama expecting to get this health care plan, but rather in spite of knowing he would pursue health care as I imagine he will. I just figured he'd do the best job of those offering me options, and I continue to believe that.

But I definitely believe this was no secret then and that it should be no surprise now.

I think you're precisely on target here focusing on the structural aspects of Obama's plan. A budget with no plan, whether the number is big or small, is doomed to fail. A budget with a coherent plan, whether the number is big or small, is more likely to succeed. There are no sure things in this game. But at least he's not shooting in the dark.

I have more to say sometime on the issue of working “by the numbers,” but for now I'll just say that the mere fact that the Republicans are pointing to the size rather than the structure of the money speaks volumes.
Thanks Saturn for a great post. I am very excited about the new direction the country is taking with the new budget priorities. Pooh-pooh to the naysayers--it was past time for big change in this country.
I'm contracted to a major software corporation and in my opinion universal health care -though it's true Obama didn't mention this in his speech- would go a long way to getting American companies hiring American workers. Talk about outmoded ways of thinking... health care, as well as pensions, should be decoupled from the employers.
Yeh, duh. Obama said what he would do if elected. People elected him. He is doing what he said. No brainer. Duh. Duh. Duh.
What hypocritical BS (not you SS, Broder). The estimated full cost of the Iraq war will be in the range of $5-10 trillion. The bulk of the cost hasn't hit yet; the ongoing medical care for the injured, who outnumber the dead at least 10-1.

And that's just $ costs. The human suffering is incalculable. Bush bankrupted our country, and bill hasn't even arrived yet. Obama is just trying to deal with the destruction.

To paraphrase Stephen Colbert:

"The question is, has Bush handed Obama a shit sandwich, or a deluxe shit burger?"
Saturn, I said a lot of this on Hardball yesterday -- first of all, this is exactly what Obama said he would do: cut taxes on the middle and working class, raise taxes on the wealthiest, move quickly on health care for all (well, he was dodgy on that during the primary, but not during the general), begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. The shock is because they aren't used to a president delivering on his promises. Bush campaigned as a fiscal conservative who didn't believe in nation building and did believe in a humble foreign policy, who was nonetheless a "compassionate conservative" and "a uniter not a divider." He turned out to be the most profligate, divisive, arrogant, uncompassionate nation-occupier if not quite builder in our history. Were they expecting Obama to do the same 180?
The blogs are surpassing the Broders of the world. Writers like you and so many others, abetted with the speed of technology are overtaking the chatterers and sycophants who too long have enabled Washington.

I have more faith in Obama than I did before. He gets it and is doing what he said he would, as Joan has mentioned.
First, SS, well thought post. Yes there has been a disconnect between many in the Beltway and the rest of us. Such is the reason the GOP faded in the stretch when they thought they were on the way to a permanent majority. It might happen with the Democrats as well.

This as you mentioned should not be a surprise. The alternative is worse and that is what is missed. Obama is not able to do all that he had hoped to pursue though and that because of the economic situation.

But, if you are to get some programs eventually in place you need to grab the initiative now and not wait until you solve the other problems. Health care reform is going to be a long process. How many times do you have to read of it being the major reason for bankruptcies in families for this to set in as a major economic threat? Those numbers do not appear on the bottom line budge but someone is paying for it. It is just not on the Governments ledger but surely on the rest of ours and a huge part of it.

Since my retirement I have to pay 80% of my wife’s health care insurance which was over $9,000 last year. Yes it is an excellent health plan and that expense was borne by my company before. Now that is not a tax but it is still an expense that does have to do somewhat with economic considerations. Now my compliant is not the expense as one way or the other I would be paying this. But I would rather pay this amount in taxes if I knew everyone had this same or at least a facsimile of coverage.

I could on much farther on the budget, taxes, expenses etc, and may in a separate post, if I can set aside the time. I am one of those who in retirement are busier than when I worked.

I do have one more comment before I go.

I want to make a comment on this from Thisagejournal.
“The Dems are also doing all of this without even allowing the Republicans a say in the matter. Won't even let them express an opinion. The Republicans never did that to them...I am so dismayed. I wish I was wrong...but I'm not. Logic and the mathmatical law will prevail.”

Where the hell have you been from 2000-2006? The Republican’s completely shut out the Democrats far more than has ever been done to another party in history on any legislation in consideration. If it didn’t have a Republican sponsor it never hit committee. This I feel contributed to their losses in 2006, not the entire reason but a part of it. Recently they were offered to work with the legislation but either refused or offered completely unacceptable alternatives. For the most part they locked their selves out. I am not a Democrat, so don’t look at me as a one who is knee jerk on this. But the Republicans are still in that mindset that they only play with their marbles or they don’t play at all.

As one who was at one time heavily involved with politics this is not the way to get things done. Politics are supposed to be the “art of compromise”. Something the Old GOP understood. Now you have a party of ideology, one separate from logic and reason and forget about empathy.
Obama has to work on health care reform. I think that if unreformed, the health care system in the U.S. will be in a state of collapse within 10 years. People are being eaten alive by deductibles, copays, non-covered charges, etc. Many people can't afford private insurance, and many who could afford it can't get it.

Hospital charges these days are astronomical. I know a woman who recently had gall bladder surgery. It was an outpatient procedure, and from admission to discharge was less than 8 hours. The hospital charge itself was almost $19,000. When the surgeon and anesthesiologist professional fees show up I expect the total cost of the procedure will be at least $25,000. And this, for what is basically just a two-hour operation. Insurance will pay 80 percent, but that still leaves the woman with a $5,000 balance. Someone without insurance could be virtually wiped out by the cost of a relatively simple procedure.
I agree that Obama is moving smartly (meaning quickly, not intelligently) ahead with his agenda. For me, the surprise is only the clumsiness which he has exhibited in making his appointments and his willingness to be treated as a rookie by Congressional oldies such as Reid, Pelosi, Dodd, and Frank.

But these are relatively minor matters. In a few months, the Obama Plan will have discouraged the producing class, endangered the survival of revered charitable organizations, tanked the stock market, exascerbated a falling real estate market, and set our feet firmly on a path leading to a truly shitty healthcare system.

Perhaps if the Democrat loyalists can continue to hold Obama's feet to the fire in terms of making good on his campaign promises relating to Iraq, he'll be able to screw that up as well.

2012? Is there a word for reverse nostalgia?
One thing in addition, this budget also has added into it the actual cost of the wars. Bush kept this off line so the budget looked better than it really was. Who was spending our children and in my case grandchildren s future?

Where was the Republican outrage on this?

Also I notice that Fox was effusive in Jindal's speech after Obamas. As I read it I thought, these guys have their own private stash of good herb, they can't' be that far separated from reality, can they?
i think the "shock" will be when the bill comes due
and we will all be saying "awe" when were sleeping under that almost completed bridge overpass.
i always crack up when i read the reponses to a post like this. it's like yeah, that greedy fat cat in your nieghborhood that has 3 or 4 mcdonald's franchises. the new kid who just started makes $7/hr,
the the guy whose been there two years makes $9/hr. now the owner who put up all the millions for the franchises if i read what some of you say correctly you want him to make $25/hr. or less, maybe a little more, as opposed to the potential hundereds of thousands of dollars that he is due?
it's funny to me, i can see it will be like a huge woodstook festival. only there won't be any drugs ,and and the speakers won't work.
we are so fucked.
Saturn -

I'm SHOCKED YOU MISSED the real story here. (or at least the one most fun)

Forget about analyzing Obama's plan, and the obviously idiotic particulars of what Broder et al. decry.

Watching the desperate hilarity as a whole generation of right leaning "journalists" attempt to protect their reputations as "thinkers" and prescient sages is priceless.

The magic carpet right leaning pundits have enjoyed for the last 30 years has finally crash landed. Now they're scrambling to clear themselves from the debris.

The majority of the Public is finally getting it. Supply side and nation building and has been undeniably proven to be be bunk. Like abstinence education, the drug war, banking de-regulation and all the rest of the wing nut power grabs.

As the nation spirals further into the vortex in the next few months, more and more people ( from the right who will no longer have a choice because they're home has been foreclosed, they're hopelessly unemployed, and their 15 yr daughter is pregnant, and their 20 yr son is back from Iraq with PTSD) are going to wake up from the fairy tales Broder and his bunch have been spinning.

And this leaves 30 years of spouting nonsense as a career where for these guys?

Of course they must be SHOCKED. But as you point out, they have no principled reason to be. All they have left is to play the out the clock as the loyal opposition.

They see the handwriting on the wall. Look for the next six month to be a helluva horse race as these guys jockey for a viable position.
(oh, and nice piece of writing as usual)

If anyone is interested in a serious discussion of this matter, you might want to check out DJohn's excellent blog entitled, "What's the rush?"
Broder, and maybe even to a greater extent the WaPo, are mere shadows. I haven't heard a rational word from Broder in years.
Let's reverse this and Obama says, "I am going to lead us out of the wilderness by continuing to let business pay the exorbitant costs of health care in this country." Would that be considered inspiring leadership? They always respond that improved national health care will kill business when the opposite is true.

The GOP also expresses shock at the total numbers in the budget because it includes the costs of military operations, as if Obama himself just began spending this money.
hi aaron,
i'm not waving my finger, i never do that. and i hear and listen to what you are saying. i just think you have slow down. i know what was presented was just an outline and nothing carved in stone. i think we need to let some of the "stimulus" and tarp 1 &2 work there way through the sysem. education, healthcare, housing of course they are worthy investments not only today but in our future as well. but you need to read the details, look at the costs. i'm not saying there's anything wrong with the agenda, but it does seem like all the eggs are in the same basket. don't you think it's strange that even in the supplemental budget $410 billion it's ok that 8-9 billion is wasteful(dems & rep). where does this mindset come from. it kind of reminds me of the digital tv transition that was supposed to occur 2/17. the government (fcc) was to send out 2 $20 coupons to offest the costs of the converter box. requests came fast and furious as the switch date approached. the money ran out, not enough coupons, and the transition date moved to june 09. i'm not sure what the budget was for the coupons, but let's just say it was $5 billion(i'm sure it was less). so the way i see it you want the same government that can't even adminster a$40 coupon program be in charge of hundreds times that amount. how can that be good? i just don't know? i say were fucked with a smile on my face because i've been fucked and fucked over before.
GordonO writes: " . . . and set our feet firmly on a path leading to a truly shitty healthcare system."

Here is an interesting perspective on our "superior" healthcare system by fellow OS member idahospud44, from his most recent post:

I just went completely blind in my left eye and need $3500 to get an operation that may or may not restore my vision. I had some health insurance, but it cost so much monthly and the deductible was $5000 so basically it was just a mini-catastrophic prevention deal. I eat Aleve all the time because my teeth hurt. I have Hepatitis C, which I mostly ignore. I know that I am not alone or anything really special, as many are suffering.

I am much more fortunate than idahospud since I am only half-blind in my left eye. I can still see shapes and some detail. A simple operation can fix it, but even having insurance, with the deductible and copay, it is unaffordable right now. Maybe a year from now. . . .

We hear from the right-wing all the time about how terrible the Canadian system is. People have to wait a few months for surgeries. Well, I think it's better to wait a few months for a surgery and then have it all paid for, than to wait one or two years because it's unaffordable, and then at the end owe thousands of dollars.

What we have now is a shitty healthcare system, except for those people who have excellent health insurance. But that number is shrinking. The company my wife used to work for had "insurance" with a maximum annual payout of $25K per person. Hell, a single trip to the ER followed by an appendectomy would more than exhaust that. After that the person would basically be uninsured, even though continuing to pay insurance premiums.

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. are only one illness away from bankruptcy, and if that isn't a shitty system, I don't know what is.
Here is an interesting comment from Laura Bush from the ABC interview:
"What we see is it's very easy to destroy something, but very, very difficult to rebuild," she said. "And that's what we're watching now."

What we are seeing is exactly this, rebuilding and system that though not destroyed very close to it. It will not be cheap or easy.

As I read the comments from Gordo and MJGott I wonder if they truly understand the alternatives. MJ, people are now living under those bridges, people are losing their homes, retirements, their jobs. We are already in that place and to do nothing means more will join them. The cure here may be painful but by continuing the same old policies is even worse.

Get real, this is not going to change by cutting taxes again to the well to do. They already have more than enough money to invest if they are inclined to do so. Something is out of balance here, they are worth not mere millions but billions or close to billions.

It is those who are in pain, now with no home, no job or prospects for one, no health care and losing hope by the day. Small businesses are closing, no credit, no one willing to invest, even if they are given a tax break. The Federal Reserve recently said tax cuts may help the economy to a minor degree but with zero interest it would more likely cause inflation that would negate the recovery.

So, the only institution that has the ability to infuse money into the economy is the Government. There is a problem with this as the last administration has left us with so much debt that to infuse this money also is more painful than it should be.

I also want to point out that few have ever personally known those who came through the depression, fewer more who were the extreme poor from the that economic crises. My grandparents were one of those who were among those who lost everything and more, one of those who worked for me would tell me stories of being an “Oakie” in the Central Valley of California, days when a slice of bread with gravy was a delicacy on the only meal of the day. My grandfather going from being a business owner to picking apples in the Valley.

So, here my rant. To hear you complain that we are plunging into debt trying to recover from the policies of the past 30 years, not just 8 years as it took 22 years to make these last 8 possible.

Where is your sense of outrage? Where is your empathy for those parents and children now either homeless or about to be? Where is your outrage at policies rewarding those who made their fortunes from these people while ruining their lives? Are you so deluded that you have closed your eyes to how this came about?

Perhaps you are comfortable, still able to pay a mortgage, still employed with benefits that fewer each day can look forward to. Where is your conscience? Where were you principles that you now say you stand on when this entire diabolical period of Government excess and lack of oversight was happening? This is of your making. Why are you shocked it happened and you are no suddenly opposed to any reasonable attempt to fix it?

Now tell us why we should think you are credible after supporting nearly everything that brought this about? Now it is time for you to take your head out of the sand and take a good look around. Spend a few days in the homeless camps, and then talk to me. Yes some are dysfunctional in these camps but more often you are seeing a reflection of you and me, or for the grace of God we are not one of them.
WaPo in general, and Broder in particular, are living in a self-constructed fantasy world. Their pursuit of the mundane will hasten their irrelevance.

"Is, perhaps, their actual shock not over what Obama's doing, but at seeing a president actually do what he set out to do? " I think the answer to that is yes (and I think that Obama's execution of his stated plans actually makes them unhappy). I'm thrilled that the President's team just keeps on marching, trying to do what the voters asked them to do.
What is this MJ obsession with Woodstock? Are you envious of those who were there and indeed did enjoy it? I happen to know several people who did happen to be at Woodstock and all are more successful than the average. You wouldn’t know it today that they were among those sliding in the mud, partaking in the illicit drugs listening to an exceptional lineup of music. Having the time of their lives. Later they became interesting adults who just happened to also become successful entrepreneurs or often holding down good jobs.

I really don’t see the analogy or connection in any way with Woodstock. Unless in your own mind somehow you still see those young people in the movie still stuck in that time, not in the present where most have done as well and according to a study I read several years back, even better than the average individual.
In case no one has posted this here already, it's telling to remember that Broder was the one who complained after the second debate that when Obama was asked about what part of his plan for the presidency he would be forced to give up because of the economic downturn and lender bailout, O responded by listing three priorities: energy, health care, and education. Whines Broder, "but [he] did not acknowledge that he might have to choose among them." ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/08/AR2008100802929.html)

It's telling in that apparently Broder does not know that the word "priority" already implies a choice -- these things and not those; and a choice among them as necessary; they are *prioritized*. So yes he's shocked that O is saying he's going to do these things together. He didn't understand him when he said it last fall, and he doesn't understand him now.
For me, any healthcare plan that begins by trampling on the 4th Amendment and making one of the more odious property seizures in the history of the nation, fails Constitutional muster.

Yes, your healthcare records are -your- property. The Congress, in collusion with this President, just took your property without compelling interest or having to prove in court why the seizure is in the public interest.

Obama-Care is nothing but the new healthcare scam on the block. The fundamental fixes to the system that are timely and -needed- are nowhere to be found in these proposals. They took the easy way out, as usual.
Hey thesagejournal, did you catch the coverage of the economic responsibility summit Obama hosted at the White House the other day? He invited the Republicans to share their opinions and the first one up was John McCain to complain about the cost of the President's new helicopter. The Repubs had a chance to respond to his speech the other night and Jindal attached the $140 million for volcano monitoring. The opposition party has had plenty of opportunities to give its input and it seems to have no useful policies to suggest. Instead they cherry-pick individual items they know will sound wasteful to the base and they play those up.

As for your comment about what we are doing to our kids and grandkids, where have you been since, oh, 1980 or so? This country has been living high on the hog and dumping debt onto future generations for years. It has finally caught up to us.

I find it refreshing that we have a president so willing to re-orient our priorities. Yeah it means more debt now. But he's making investments in our future that can pay off down the road, something his predecessors (particularly Reagan and Bush II) never even considered. We will be a stronger, less selfish country for it.
hi folkmuse.
i mispelled woodstock that's why it appeared alone. i made a comparison that if things get really bad it would be like woodstock without drugs and music with no speakers. and no i didn't eat the brown experimental i ate the purple.
And Virginia Legowik, what rock do you live under? Nobody is seizing anything. Part of the health plan involves getting peoples' health records into databases so any doctor anywhere has a complete picture of your medical history when trying to figure out how to treat you. So if you live in California and move to New York and go to a new doctor for a sudden ailment, that doctor will have the information available right away to decide on the proper treatment. Comparing this to an illegal Fourth Amendment violation is so over the top it's probably not even worth the three minutes it has taken me to type this.

Are you a medical professional who knows something else about Obama's proposals that I don't? Are you a law professor with particular expertise on the Fourth Amendment? Have you even SEEN an in-depth proposal beyond what was on his campaign website? If the answer to all of these questions is no, then you should try educating yourself a little before spitting out nonsense.
As usual, I'm the last on board the comment train. What this affords me, though, is the chance to read everything that's gone before. And what I've found -- here as elsewhere -- is that the quality and thoughtfulness of the comments are a boon to such excellent posts as Saturn's.

I can't emphasize this enough -- look at the comments attached to most daily papers and you'll feel like you're reading diaries from Bedlam. Contrast this discouraging muck with what you see above and you'll understand what I'm saying about OS. There's passion and empathy and patience on display here. Civility, even.

With newspapers on the ropes, it's way past time to figure out a new paradigm for whatever shape journalism is going to take. It strikes me that this format makes the deification of the Olympian pundit less and less viable. Unless a columnist is willing to mix it up with his readers, as Saturn does here and we all aspire to do in our own blogs, the punditocracy will collapse of its own rotting weight. And none too soon.
If the Republicans really believed in their sacred mantra of "get out of the way and let small businesses prosper", then you'd think they'd be all for a plan that relieves businesses of a HUGE albatross that's holding them back, namely the cost of providing health insurance to employees. And, no, just having everybody pay their own premium is not acceptable. That's not too far from the system we have today, and it's a huge drag on our economy for less-well-off people not to have access to good preventive care.
Two other things the bloviators seems to be shocked about, Saturn:

o) Obama has so far--and continues to--propose legislation and programs that he *promised during the campaign*. There have been some alterations, of course--19 months instead of 16 months in Iraq, for example--but he keeps saying "OK, now we're going to do *this*," when "this" is something he promised during the campaigns. And the punditocracy is absolutely stunned. As if, "Yeah, but campaign promises are *lies*; don't you know that? Now that you're one of us, you need to fall in line!"

The second thing they keep ignoring--or burying--is the fact that, of that stunning deficit total, *1 trillion* of it is left over from Bush, and several more hundred billion is due to the two wars left over from Bush that were *never* on any budget. So yes, there's perhaps 200-300 billion in additional spending--I don't have all the figures here, so I can't say how much. But easily $1.25 trillion or so of that massive deficit is directly attributable to Bush and his policies. (I'm actually astonished that he thinks he can cut it so much in the next four years, honestly.)

I know--and GlennZilla has often pointed out--that Broder and his ilk are captives of the "Washington common wisdom," but this seems like an extreme case even allowing for *that*. I mean, don't these people know how to *read* and *understand* basic, simple English sentences? Yeesh.
Pssst, Mr. Broder,

It's not "gambling" when you holding a Royal Straight Flush and the republicans are holding a deuce of hearts, the seven of clubs, a nine of spades, the jack of diamonds, and the card entitled "Instructions on Poker".

Thx for playing.
If someone else already posted this, I missed it, but I think it bears repeating, anyway... [emphases are mine]

from Mike Madden's column, This is not George Bush's Budget, I'm pulling this short bit...

"Where is the spending restraint?" asked Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who was all set to join Obama's administration as commerce secretary until he (allegedly) realized he didn't actually agree with him on economic policy.

Administration officials had a ready answer to any complaints about the deficit -- it wasn't their fault. Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag started off a briefing for reporters by saying Obama's White House had inherited two different $1 trillion deficits from Bush. The first one, caused by the crumbling economy, represented the difference between what the country's economic output should be and what it will be this year; the second was the actual federal budget deficit left by the previous administration. If the government simply stuck to Bush's policies for the next 10 years, Orszag said, the deficit would eventually reach $9 trillion.
Oh, Jeremiah, you capture it so well: As usual, I'm the last on board the comment train. What this affords me, though, is the chance to read everything that's gone before. And what I've found -- here as elsewhere -- is that the quality and thoughtfulness of the comments are a boon.

It's great to come here and see debate within the comments, to see So Polite and MJ and Aaron Rury and folksmuse mixing it up. Thanks, everyone, as always, for the thoughtful responses.

Mishima, that hospital example is EXACTLY what he's talking about when he says this is a priority. Good example (though, you know, also -- horrible).

Dereck, I had forgotten about that second debate comment; thanks for the reminder. Broder is certainly consistent in his... bizarreness.
For Broder, what Presidents say to the rubes must be rejected when they come to Washington. The Capitol is David and the Villagers' town, Presidents are just the help and need to know their place. So Broder sees carrying out campaign promises as unseemly, not just surprising - snif.
one more thing - between Broder, Krauthammer, Will, and now Gerson and Rove -

what is The Washington Post thinking? Are they trying to somehow prove the liberal left doesn't exist? Methinks thou doest protest too much. Egads! I don't know that I can read any more of their schlock.
Amen! Amen! rated and posted
I think you and CCC should team up:


Well written post that explains where Obama's opposition (the hypocritical/hysterical right wing) is coming from.

"Is, perhaps, their actual shock not over what Obama's doing, but at seeing a president actually do what he set out to do? "

Ding ding ding. This is the winner. The Republicans are notorious for saying one thing during the campaign and doing things utterly differently once they're governing. After 8 years of that, this behavior is apparently shocking.

Put your portfolio of posts together.

Start shopping them around.

You deserve a paid gig.
I'm not feeling as nice as some people are to republicans.

Know what I say?

Work with the ones who you can, and the rest of them can go shoot themselves in the head. Give them gun and a bullet. Of course, they're so brain dead that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but hey, at least you tried.

Lying, hypocritical sons of bitches like Boehner and Cantor need to be destroyed. They are the enemy.

Since Boehner and Cantor opposed the stimulus package, not one dime should go to their districts. Not one penny. And call the mayors and county execs in those districts and tell them that their obstinate congressional reps are why they're not getting any money. Run ads in those districts saying that they're not getting any stimulus money because of their reps.

Destroy them, without mercy, pity, or remorse.

Remember the scene in The Untouchables, where Al Capone goes on rant?

"I want him dead! I want his family dead. I want his house burned to the ground!"

Now, it's illegal to kill people and their family and burn their house to the ground.

But I'd like to figuratively do that to every single one of the obstinate republicans in the Congress. And when they are packing their bags in disgrace, shuffling back to their backwater districts to die an undignified and forgotten death, know what I'd do?

I'd make one last phone call to them.

"You lost, you dumb son of a bitch. I won."
As for the sagejournal, where the hell have you been for the last eight years? Obama will, unfortunately, pile about two trillion bucks onto the national debt.

Your boy did four times that and you didn't say a goddamn thing.

When you look in the mirror, do you see a hypocrite? Because you should.
After years of heavy doses of Ambien, the media is waking up to this collective amnesia of 1) Obama performing exactly what he said he would do, and 2) Repulican rule over 28 years and what that did to the economy. - I include Clintons 8 here because he cowtowed to George I with his flip on NAFTA and then spent the next 6 years dodging Gingrich's goons.

I just watched Meet the Press. I am stunned how carefully both the right and left are when it comes to talking about Reaganomics and its implications. Everyone is quick to pile on Bush (deservedly so) but no one dares touch Saint Ronnie and his budget busting, regulation slashing, labor destroying, constitution shredding years in the Oval office. Yet there are many people holding views (like thesagejournal) that seem to start on 1/21/09, as if that's when this economy tanked. Obama threatening our children and grandchildren? Unless your children and grandchildre are inheriting the concentrated wealth of the upper 1% they are already at risk of living in the United Stores of Walmart.
Frankly, I think the sheer spectacle of a president following a coherent, consistent policy with concentrated effort confuses some people.
Read what Broder wrote and he was one of the easiest on Obama. I read article after article as a reviewer on Nestrust.com, and believe me, he got it easy with Broder. He's been called a socialist, a nationalist, and a pox on his own party. Even the blue-dog liberal's are jumping in his shit about this huge budget. Do they forget, that he inherited a trillion dollar debt and two wars. One thing about it, it doesn't seem to faze my-man. PEACE