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Paul Krugman writes: "But let's be frank. It's getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama's motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the GOP's diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it."

Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)

What Obama Wants

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

08 July 11

On Thursday, President Obama met with Republicans to discuss a debt deal. We don't know exactly what was proposed, but news reports before the meeting suggested that Mr. Obama is offering huge spending cuts, possibly including cuts to Social Security and an end to Medicare's status as a program available in full to all Americans, regardless of income.

Obviously, the details matter a lot, but progressives, and Democrats in general, are understandably very worried. Should they be? In a word, yes.

Now, this might just be theater: Mr. Obama may be pulling an anti-Corleone, making Republicans an offer they can't accept. The reports say that the Obama plan also involves significant new revenues, a notion that remains anathema to the Republican base. So the goal may be to paint the GOP into a corner, making Republicans look like intransigent extremists - which they are.

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+42 # DesignCreature 2011-07-08 10:46
Playing games with the debt ceiling. Playing games with SS and Medicare. How nice these people play puppet masters while the rest of us lose sleep over our ultimate fate. A real pox and the lot of them and Obama, in particular, if he is as inept as he seems since his election.
-43 # Tyriq 2011-07-08 11:50
Like you didn't know that politics is just a game to the rich? I don't lose any sleep over their shenanigans. The whole country can go to hell in a handbasket and many will still rise from the ashes like the Phoenix.
You either learn to play the game or sit on the sidelines and watch; but don't get your panties all in a bunch over it. Life goes on.
+39 # Lulie 2011-07-08 17:07
But if someone can't afford the basic necessities, life does NOT go on. People who are old, or nearly so, don't have the time or ability to make up the difference if the country renegs on Social Security and Medicare. Worrying that you won't be able to pay your medical bills or buy food is not exactly "getting your panties all in a bunch."
+13 # Dee D 2011-07-08 22:31
That's when we have to hang together and look out for each other, like our grandparents did in the 30's. Life will go on for most of us - but the wanton destruction of our (economy, climate, soil, oceans, schools, etc.) will mean suffering and even death for too many.
+2 # rf 2011-07-09 10:31
Medical bills? That's what robbing banks is for! It's the future!
+1 # sedulous 2011-07-12 12:28
Not if your six feet under because if you had insurance you could have gotten the care to save your life. Do you breath air? It's not a game for the families who's love ones were killed in the wars we were hoodwinked into. Tis sad indeed!
+11 # rm 2011-07-09 05:41
Politics may be a game but it has very real consequences for the people in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other places that Bush/Cheney/Oba ma are bombing and killing. And the destruction of social security will have real consequences for 95% of Americans who have paid into the system all their lives and depend on it. Same for Medicare.

It is a game with very well known and understood rules. Obama is playing to lose. He's been bought off. The basic move in political games is control the frame and context of the debate. Obama has allowed the republicans an uncontested free hand in doing that. They have posed the problem as spending in the very long term -- 30 years. Their problem is the so-called "unfunded liabilities" the USG has for Social Security and Medicare over the next 30 years. They are simply ignoring the budget problems of this year.

The correct frame or context is past 10 years -- war and massive tax cuts for the rich, all on borrowed money. The long term debt, the unfunded mandates, are actually already planned for.

The republicans want to steal money from the future (i.e., people's social security income) and spend it today on war and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. This is what Obama should be making clear to the people. Instead, he plays entirely on the republican frame. What an idiot! Or a traitor!
+6 # rf 2011-07-09 10:31
Republicans didn't have a problem raising the debt ceiling 7 times for Bush. fObama needs to call them on their bs. tell them raise it now with no added crap or he will veto it and let the country default. Reps. will come around...their core constituency (the rich) will make sure of it!
+42 # Barbara K 2011-07-08 10:57
The nasty games played by the Republibaggers have been enough to cause outrage in this country. They do all they can to destroy this country and the people with their crappy cuts and assaults on women. Their only stated goal is to bring down Obama. They seem to be doing that with just lies and inuendo now. I won't believe he is cutting Medicare and Social Security until I hear it from HIS MOUTH. I don't believe anything that comes from the Rs. They seem to have started this rumor as the final nail in the coffin. Let us see them eat nails.
+59 # BradFromSalem 2011-07-08 11:11
I find it astonishing that an intelligent man such as the President has succumbed to 2 falsehoods that reflect the absurdity of American political dialogue.

First is the notion that cutting government services and consequently jobs, will in any sane universe revive the job market. Second, is as Paul Krugman points out, the irrational belief that both sides of a disagreement are defacto both right.

With each fiscal 'crisis' since Obama has become President, he walks over to the right another step. Each time we see the results do not help the economy. All the recovery we have seen came from the center position where Obama started. As he walks over to the right, the economic recovery stumbles. And still he believes them,

Maybe, Obama is not as intelligent as he talks?

I really hope that from the group of Sen. Sanders, ex Sen. Feingold, Gov. Howard Dean, ex Rep Weiner, ex Rep Grayson, Rep Ellison and many others, including Van Jones; leaders with the chutzpah to tell the Republicans they have failed, now let the people with functioning brains run the show.

Oh, and end the wars, already; for crying out loud!
+2 # rf 2011-07-09 10:33
Obama...the Rodney King of out time..."Can't we all just get along?"
0 # Cassandra2011 2011-07-14 15:58
Yes, and the simple reality is that

THE REPUGNICANS DON'T EVEN HAVE THE COMMON SENSE FORD HAD when he made sure is auto workers could afford to BUY the cars they were slaving over!
+6 # Dr. T. Leneoir 2011-07-08 11:26
I am really sick of liberals. They are like a bunch of crying babies. Progressives and liberals need to unit behind the president and do everything we can to expose the Republican conspiracy to defeat him at any cost. Who is backing the Republicans? The K street boys and corporations. Find the lies and expose them. Build voter coalitions to defeat any Republican candidate. The current redistricting is aimed at voter nullification. If we get a REpublican controlled Congress, it's all over. Look at the Supreme Court decisions. Wake up!
+49 # BradFromSalem 2011-07-08 11:52
Dr. We know all that. And we don't just cry. We march, we have legislators introduce important, progressive laws and ideas.

All goes nowhere. The MSM ignore the marches, no matter how many show up. At Best the Progressive Budget is laughed off because it cannot be passed.

We are wide awake and know exactly what is happening. We know who is backing who. We write our Congessmen and send our $$ to progressive groups that get villified.

You are damn right we are crying.
But still I am optimistic, the American public is waking up. THe MSM and the politicians are, as usual, way behind.

I really am.
0 # Blue Skies 2011-07-09 09:07
Blue Skies I totally agree with Dr. Leneoir that unlike Republicans who stick together through thick and thin even when they disagree with one another, liberals fall apart and naively believe every damn lie no matter how outrageous. Instead of whining they should get up off their sorry butts and deluge all congressman with emails, phone calls. letters etc., liberal and republican and let them know that we are tired of welfare for corporate America and demand that they stop holding this president hostage until he gives in to their corporate greed while with holding the creation of jobs which is destroying the middle class. Enough Already!!!!!!
The telephone number for the White House is 202-456-1414 or 202-456-llll.
+38 # fredboy 2011-07-08 11:39
As one who supported and had high hopes for Obama, I can at this point only assume he wants to be well liked by Republicans. Someone please tell him that will never happen--they hate his guts. They hate his ideas, policies, programs, and his party. And many of them hate his race. And they interpret his appeasing manner as weakness, thus they don't respect him either.

Obama blew it, and there's likely no recovery. I can only home the Dems and those of us who have left the party and are now independent can come up with a positive, dynamic leader who cares most about our nation and world for the 2012 election.

We are nearing the end of the road. We need a great President.
+41 # Heide Krueger 2011-07-08 11:46
when will the Democrats learn not to trust any Republican??
+41 # NHpete 2011-07-08 11:51
Quoting Mr. Obama:

"Government has to start living within its means, just like families do."

I watched in disgust as my gazzilionaire brother-in-law (formerly head of a major American airline and later the head of the 2nd largest advertising agency in the world) whined that his Social Security check hadn't yet come in the mail. This guy owns 3 multi-million dollar houses!!!

And we (the little guy) are supposed to live within our means so that this guy can get another check!!!????? WTF!

Right now, we have two major political parties. The Rich Party and the Richer Party.

What's become obvious is the need for a STRONG Third Party.

Maybe we should form a Poor Party. And since we're poor, alternative methods would be needed to get the country's attention.

Imagine if all the credit card processing clerks in the country went on strike. Just for one day!!!?

And the next day all the bank clerks went on strike for just one day!!?

Etc,etc.... Etcetera
+10 # rf 2011-07-09 10:37
Your bro-in-law should get a check AND he should pay the same percentage of hi income into Social Security as you and I do...there should be not cut off for SS tax...he should pay on every penny...and his stock options.
+2 # R. H. Ellert-Beck 2011-07-11 11:27
I fully agree with you. Why is there a cap on SS? If you make $40,000, you pay on 100% of your pay. If you earn $500,000, you only pay Social Security on the first $105,000, or roughly on 20% of your income. And multi-millionai res pay only a minimal fraction into S.S.
Social Security should be paid on all of your income, and if that represents unduly high levels, then by all means, reduce it to 2% or 3% of income for everybody.
+13 # Sallyport 2011-07-08 11:51
The Democratic party made a terrible mistake in nominating Obama in 2008. He was arguably the most conservative of the candidates, and any democrat would have won in the wake of the Bush disastrous years.
+14 # BradFromSalem 2011-07-08 12:01

Hillary is/was no Progressive either. And the progressive candidate, Kucinich, was only invited to the debates so he could provide a comedic break by answering questions about space aliens.

Obama was the only hope. Pun very much intended.
+4 # rf 2011-07-09 10:39
Obama...a hope for what??? More war, more torture, more money to bankers, more tax cuts to the rich...
+15 # Saberoff 2011-07-08 12:32
Say what you will, I talked to NOT A SINGLE person around my city and state during the '08 primary election cycle, that DID NOT support John Edwards. Literally, everyone I talked to supported Edwards. Before he was "exposed," the press did everything possible to sideline his candidacy, making The Only News Fit to Talk About center around the novel idea of electing the woman, or the black man, president. Oh well, what with the revelations, he IS probably the only Demo that would have lost. We’re so morally pure.
+12 # BradFromSalem 2011-07-08 12:57
No argument here.

The MSM, including MSNBC only to a lesser extent, marginalizes the Left, while they legitimize the far right. Even when they point out out how crazy these right wingers are, they still point out that they have many followers. A lefty says something and it is described as an untenable proposition.

Case in point, the budget debate and the Right Wing no tax increase position vs. the Progressive Budget's no cuts to the so-called entitlement programs.

The first is called crazy, but is something that could happen, the latter is mentioned in passing as something that cannot happen, so why discuss it.

The same happens to candidates.
+31 # LeeBlack 2011-07-08 12:02
We have seen two good recent examples of how cutting back government spending decreases jobs: The Minnesota shut down and the end of the space shuttle program.

We desperately need government spending to upgrade our infrastructure - that alone will bring jobs.

In what universe is cutting Medicare and Social Security going to bring about more jobs?
+16 # davidiste 2011-07-08 12:27
LeeBlack: cutting to save the economy helps the people who run the economy. It shows up on their quarterly reports, helps them keep their jobs. It has nothing to do with any other reality. The ultimate short term gain. It has always been about self interest over the community interest, to the point now where the entire organism is on the edge of a serious illness. But those elite people are padding their accounts for the rough times ahead, every man/woman for themselves. Everything Obama has done including mandated health insurance is for big business. Nothing has changed but the style.
+7 # LeeBlack 2011-07-08 13:12
davidste, I think a lot of problem is short-term thinking; the NYSE gaining a few points; the next stock-holders meeting; the next election.
-11 # BradFromSalem 2011-07-08 12:32
Maybe we should ask Rep Kucinich! He knows all about Alternate Universes from his discussions with Space Aliens!

(Its Friday, we gotta have some humor)
+25 # in deo veritas 2011-07-08 12:51
Dennis has a better grasp of reality than anyone else in the running including Obama.
+14 # BradFromSalem 2011-07-08 13:43
It was a joke. I voted for Kucinich. If he gets redistricted out, I have stated that I would support him to move to MA and run against Scott Brown (unless Warren is available).
+10 # amye 2011-07-08 12:13
Obama is a sellout! Look at his actual track record to see where he really stands! Its called giving away the farm! Hes doing it in the name of politics! Disgusting! No different than Bush, except he may just be more successful in bringing this country down!
+3 # davidiste 2011-07-08 12:15
The stranger emerging truths are that Obama is the least destructive of the Republicans, as he has always acted like one, but is still better then any of those who would have won had Obama lost. That's the first tragic truth. The second one is that the best thing we can do is elect a Republican in order to get Obama out, and then work like hell to get a true Democrat, four more years of risking it all to elect someone who represents his own party. Four more years of Obama means Republicans rule the White House and whatever else they win.
+8 # sanfrass 2011-07-08 12:46
I agree with you. Obama is the worst thing that ever happened to the Democrats because he is, in reality, a center right Republican. Someone else proposed that we next elect a Republican and a strong Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. That's probably the best scenario that could play out. We would have 4 years of stalemate, would rid ourselves of Obama, and could use that period to get stonger nad find a more honest a effective leader.
+10 # rm 2011-07-08 12:41
You can be sure this is not theatre. Obama has a pretty clear way of dealing with republicans. We have the model for healthcare and the Bush Tax cuts. He allows the republicans to set the agenda and frame the debate in negotiations and in the media. Then he take his role in their frame, essentially trying to get ahead of them in doing something they way. This is Clinton's and Blair's practice of "trangulation"; that is, liberals doing the work of the right wing with as if it were their own.

Obama is a sock puppet for the bankers and corporations like GE -- in short, the investor class. Their main goal is to transfer a ton of the money that goes into social security and medicare to themselves. No republican could ever do that. But a democrat, esp. an Obama, could get away with it. And that is just what he is doing.

In this sense a republican president is better than Obama. When Bush set out to use the political capital of his second victory to "reform" (i.e., destroy) social security, he was stopped, dead in his tracks after the first week. The same would happen to any republican. But a democrat will do the same thing and not be questioned. The mass media just cannot understand the principle of "trangulation" or the British "third way." It is too deep for them. But it is really only getting a democrat to do what the republicans want.
0 # rf 2011-07-09 10:43
REmember...O paid taxes on well over a million bucks this year...1.8 I think...who do you think he works for?
+21 # Bill Pamm 2011-07-08 12:42
Pres. Obama is becoming the greatest disappointment in our lives. We worked for him and were thrilled when he was elected. He has completely abandoned his campaign rhetoric.He appears to be under the spell of his Wall Street advisors while caving into the Tea Party Thugs who want nothing less than the abandonment of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If this horrible deal actually goes thru, Obama will be a one term Pres. It is time to look for a genuine liberal like Sen Bernie Sanders of Vermont. It is better to go down fighting than fold up like a dead dog.
+3 # in deo veritas 2011-07-08 12:49
I wonder what would happen if McCain was willing to run again and had a real running mate and not a lunatic waiting in the wings to finish us off? How about Romney?What a shame the Dems don't have anyone instead of Obama! Kerry and Liebermann have betrayed our trust. Gore? At least one who in concerned about the environment and not profit!If we manage to hang on until 2012 it might just be that the Mayans were right. Except instead of natural disasters it will be our own ignorance and folly that will be our downfall. The writing has been on the walls for some time-we have just been too busy watching "reality shows" to behold the unpleasant reality of what we have become.
+11 # Magars 2011-07-08 12:53
Obama never wanted to listen to Paul Krugman's opinions and recommendations . If Obama is playing a game with republicans,is because the election 2012,kind of show off,because he could do much better in these 3 years,like for example,tell the truth about the real unemployment data,(no the official one)that was perfectly explained by Senator Bernie Sanders,one of the few legislators with dignity in Congress,which tried to call Obama's attention suggesting to him real solution for the sake of the Nation and its American people.Obama's problem is that he doesn't want to listen or is afraid to take real steps that will affect the rich people and the corporations.
+2 # ruthee 2011-07-08 13:00
What a lot of tragic and thoughtless remarks, i see here today. A few hold some hope, but what have we all DONE to encourage Obama? Do you call and write letters and emails? Do you bombard him with your insights? I DO! I get form letters back, but they are on topic. Yes, i think he has feathered his nest but at the price of his health whether he knows it or not. Listen folks, he ARE the pres. for now, and we should absolutely trounce him with our demands, prayers, noise, complaints, compliments, and all else that comes to mind! Call DEms. in the government and trounce them too. By all means, call all repubs and vilify them to the very ends of this earth! My "reps" of Mo. are B.Long and the gold-digger, Roy Blunt. Think what I suffer at Their hands! And i aint dead yet!
+3 # davidiste 2011-07-08 14:42
Absolutely, the relentless argument to move the mountain never rests in all it's forms, plus engaging people in the conversation and not hiding from it. But loyalty to Obama or even the party as it sells you down the river for pragmatism's sake doesn't appeal to me. A leader has to more then say the right words. He has to act on them. We aren't inexperienced enough to expect a political leader to do everything he claimed to represent. But we sure can see the rug pulled out from under our feet for what it is. Reality.
+11 # Jorge 2011-07-08 16:24
Obama could have picked Krugman or Reich or other Progressive economists to create jobs. Instead he picked little Timmy Geithner and Summers (stooges for Goldman Sachs) to further enrich the uber-wealthy. We need to face facts, President BO is more like Richard Nixon or Herbert Hoover than FDR, he is "Tricky Barry". We need another Gene McCarthy to challenge this sitting president on his failed policies (and extreme bias to the ruling MIC/Wall Street folks). Elect Sanders, Warren, Grayson, Howard Dean, Kucinich, etc.
+6 # jwb110 2011-07-08 13:18
Well placed tax cuts, on the consumer class, would alter the economy. Supply side doesn't work. Anybody with the brain of a planaria knows that. Tax breaks for the least wealthy has two benefits. It puts consumer $$$ into the economy, 71% of GDP, and keeps tax revenue from getting to Washington to be frittered away by using it to give tax breaks to business and the wealthiest in the nation. Put tax breaks for the least wealthy members of the country on the table and see what the Republicans do. It may give the Dems a club for the next election.
The very least the Dems could do is explain how tax cuts placed by the Rep are subsidized by taxes on the lower earners.
+7 # croc1 2011-07-08 15:48
Now that Obama's economists have fled, he has only political advisers to guide him. Obama is depending on the supposition that Democrats have only him to vote for so he is free to pander to the right and Independents. As a Democratic political activists and political leaders here in CT are saying "boy has he got a surprise coming" when no one will work for him. Does he think Independents elect him when he cuts their mothers out of health care and social security or Republicans will adopt him? Despite his eloquent talk to the contrary, he is a lousy president, lies and abandons his base for expediency, and has gone back on his campaign promises. We will remember and "primary" is the word.
Peter Brazaitis
+7 # Peacedragon 2011-07-08 16:10
I agree with Bill Pamm. Others that could take the place of Bernie Sanders in the comment are Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank.
+6 # tcatt57 2011-07-08 22:30
President Obama always intended to destroy Social Security & Medsicare. He is the enemy inside the Trojan horse. This is the black George Bush, everything is going as planned. If you think this is because of GOP constant pressure your a fool. Unless we begin to look like Yemen these Socio/Psychopat hs will steal every thing and then start going door to door. Their all guilty of treason at the least, they murder at will steal whatever & whenever and you people defend this trash like there is some redeeming quality! There is zero Justice and no mercy because of complete and total corruption in the Supreme court, the DOJ, both Houses and a military ready to murder at the comand of the Corporate Criminals drop of the hat, with their freeze dried media to promote any story line regardless of
+6 # fionaferal 2011-07-09 23:09
Why are we not all in the streets.... It is time to take back our country!

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