Thursday, October 16, 2008

JOE THE PLUMBER, MEET JOHN THE MAVERICK

Well, that ends the debate season. And after three of these spectaculars we learn a few things:

1. McCain is one grumpy, grumbling, stumbling, pissed off old man, ain't he? Yikes. Get off my lawn? Get off my planet is more like it. Someone get this guy a glass of prune juice and the TV remote and then send him down to the VFW to trade POW stories with the other fellas.

2. Obama is cooler than a sled dog's nose. And that matters, in my opinion. I'm still not sure about half of his ideas (they all sound good, but who's paying for them?), but I like his demeanor. He's stays calm in the face of an attack, in the face of a challenge.

And unlike McCain, he's stayed calm over the past few weeks, sticking to his basic plan -- which may suck, but that's beside the point, because . . .

3. They're both largely business as usual. They both supported the Paulson Boondoggle™* for instance.

* Excuse me as I shamelessly go all Posnanski on your asses in this post, but I need to digress and this asterisk-to-an-italicized-paragraph thing that he uses seems just the way to do it. So, over the past few weeks, central banks the world over (including the Fed) had injected billions, if not trillions, of dollars worth of liquidity into the system. And have promised billions and trillions more from treasuries. Yet, markets are down, commodities are down, inter-bank lending hasn't really gone up. Could it be that the banks have said, "gee, thanks for all this mo-nay," and have decided to just . . . sit on it? In other words, do nothing but keep it? Maybe for the good of the bankers themselves? You know, just be greedy? Hmmmm.

Last night both guys offered lots of ways to spend their way into our hearts. But each had one really serious flaw in this plan, beyond the obvious fact that we can't spend as much as they suggest, and neither answered the question of what spending they'd cut.

McCain took the creative (read: insane) tactic of promising to buy mortgages and create jobs as he institutes a complete spending freeze. This, my friends*, is not voodoo economics, it's crazy-ass economics. Ramblings-Of-A-Madman economics.

* Get it? "My friends"? Just like McCain always sa-- Never mind.

Or, you might just call it . . . lying.

Meanwhile, Obama "missed" the chance to offer a surefire way to enormously cut spending, one that dovetails with a centerpiece of his own campaign! And what humongous spending measure is that? What cost could he claim to wanna cut?

The Iraq War! The war he's so firmly against! The war Americans hate! The war that costs something like $10 billion a month! The War that requires an exclamation point every time I talk about it!

But he didn't mention it. Maybe because he's beholden to the defense sector? He demonstrated with his support for the Paulson Boondoggle™ that he's beholden to Wall Street. Maybe not as much as McCain, but still beheld. Perhaps, juuuuuust perhaps, he's got some skin in the game with Big Defense too. He can talk about ending the war, but to directly link it to a cut in spending related to the war and defense? Maybe that's too radical. All that said . . .

4. Obama kicked McCain's ass all over the place last night and throughout this debate cycle. Unless something disastrously disastrous takes place that drives the fearful masses into the figurative arms of a man they think can keep them safe*, this is looking good for Obama.

* Into the arms of the guy who was captured and held prisoner in a war we lost. After he crashed his plane for like the 63rd time. Who is a vocal member of the war-wing of the party in charge when we suffered the worst foreign attack on our soil since . . . 1812. That's the guy who can "keep us safe."

It's looking good for Obama unless the economy somehow completely recovers in the next two-and-a-half weeks and an angel of the lord decends into the CNN studios while Anderson Cooper is having his hair done to inform the American people that John McCain, and John McCain alone, is responsible for the miraculous recovery.

Or unless Diebold and the GOPers perpetrate some massive voting fraud.

(Ooooooooooo, that one perked ya up, huh?)

Otherwise, I think Obama's gonna take this bitch. November 4 here we come.

Labels: ,

23 Comments:

Blogger Toast said...

They're both largely business as usual.

Whatever you say, Ralph.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Who's Ralph? Does he work with Joe the Plumber?

But seriously, if he's not at least somewhat "business as usual," how do you explain his support for the Paulson Boondoggle™? Why hasn't he once explained all the money we'll save by withdrawing from Iraq?

7:57 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"Why hasn't he once explained all the money we'll save by withdrawing from Iraq?"

I don't know what campaign you've been watching this season, but I have heard it said dozens of times. I didn't hear it last night, but Obama has said it a lot.

I thik the line is something like: "My opponent wants to continue to spend $10B in Iraq, when the Iraqi's have a $72 B budget surplus..."

9:03 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

But he didn't mention it.

So, Mike, that means he suddenly is in support of the Iraq war, because he didn't say it in last night's debate? That by not mentioning it last night he is suddenly in bed with the defense industry?

Bob said it best: don't know what campaign you've been watching this season, but I have heard it said dozens of times.

And Obama says it on his web site and in every stump speech he has made over the past several months: My opponent wants to continue to spend $10B in Iraq, when the Iraqi's have a $72 B budget surplus

And my final bitch:

I'm still not sure about half of his ideas (they all sound good, but who's paying for them?)

Barack Obama's web site actually goes into a wonkish amount of detail about what his specific plans are and specifically how he will go about paying for them. Its address is www.barackobama.com. Here's a snippet of how he will pay for his health care plan:

Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.

So not only does he mention how he'll pay for it, but he knows actually how much his health care plan will cost.

Another gem, from the Q&A section of his web site about exactly how families will save $2,500 per year under his plan:

Through a combination of developing efficiencies in the system, expanding
coverage to all Americans, and picking up the cost of some high-cost cases.
Specifically:
􀀁 Health IT investment, which will reduce unnecessary and wasteful
spending in the health care system. Examples include extra hospital stays
because of preventable medical errors and duplicative diagnostic tests;
􀀁 Improving prevention and management of chronic conditions;
􀀁 Increasing insurance industry competition and reining in the abusive
practices of monopoly insurance and drug companies;
􀀁 Providing reinsurance for catastrophic cases, which will reduce insurance
premiums; and
􀀁 Ensuring every American has health coverage, which will reduce spending on the “uncompensated” care of uninsured people who end up in
emergency rooms and whose care is picked up by institutions and then
passed through higher charges to insured individuals.


And from there his site goes into greater detail about how each of those gets accomplished.

Sounds pretty detailed to me...

10:25 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Listening to John McCain speak is like going down a huuuuuge time tunnel... into the past. He has no new ideas, no new thoughts, no new nuttin'.

Combine that with his disaster of a hockey mom NRA gun-toting running mate, who shamlessly parades her family around the country decked out in whatever pro sport garb is appropriate for the area in which she visits, and you have a singularly unappealing and uninspiring ticket.

And then you have the debates...where McCain indeed comes across as a hopelessly out of touch anachronistic figure, and frankly, what I don't understand is how ANYONE can be supporting the McCain/Palin ticket.

Sure, I have problems with some of Obama's plans. But at least he is calm, reasoned, intelligent, non-reactive and sensible. These are all attributes we need so much in the White House right now, especially after the last eight years, with the slobbering folksy bible-toting Bushpeak idiot.

Honestly, haven't people learned ANYTHING?

10:50 AM  
Blogger DED said...

The absence of Iraq from the debates may be because that plays to McCain's advantage. There's a perception (albeit misguided) that the surge worked in Iraq and things have calmed down. That makes McCain look good. So Obama is not going to bring it up as it'll risk opening himself up to attacks of "waving the white flag of surrender" and other nonsense. Better to let Palin spew that before crowds of rabid rednecks than have it come up on a nationally televised debate.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Sure, I have problems with some of Obama's plans.

deb, when I type what I am about to type, it's not against you or your comment post here, which, as usual, is well-conceived (especially because I agree with it!).

I think that the sentiment behind "sure I have some problems with Obama's plans" is a somewhat toothless statement meant to appease the cynical election-year "lesser of two evils" mindset. Does one actually have problems with his platform? Or is it that one hasn't actually read or fully understood the platform.

I do not in any way mean that if you're not a Droolong Sycophant For Obama then you must be for McCain or are simply uninformed. Not at all. I do mean that it is empty to say you have problems with someone's agenda but haven't qualified what those problems are, other than to appease some sentiment that nobody can be perfect, thus, you must have a problem in there somewhere.

Deb, again, don't feel like you have to even justify my rant with an answer, because I read your posts here and other places and you are a truly informed voter. I am railing against a particular sentiment that I see in a lot of blogs, and for some reason, I am on the war path today.

[/war path]

11:36 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

S'alright, Smitty. S'alright, I getcha :).

One of my problems with Obama involves his health care plan, and how he talks about concentrating on preventative health care. My issue there is how far is he going to go? When he talks preventative, or maintenance health care, is he talking about routine maintenance, similar to most dental plans, paid at 100%, then a cap on major services, or worse yet, a requirement that a person have, say, a mandatory checkup, or mammogram at age 40, or colonoscopy at at 50? I worry about mandating procedures across the board for insured people, and that if people don't choose to have the procedures, they may be penalized if something develops.

And although I generally agree that the middle class needs some tax relief, I don't necessarily feel that the top 5% of earners should necessarily have their taxes raised.

Specific enough?

1:26 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

preventative, or maintenance health care

See...now we're getting somewhere!

His plan, as far as I could get into it on his web site, is not specific to a cap on other benefits in lieu of unlimited preventive measures. But part of the "evil insurance company" thing he is fighting is that there are ofen lifetime caps on benefits that most insurance certificate holders don't realize until they've exceeded them because of cancer or some such. It seems to figure in my mind that since some form of benefit cap is in opposition to Obama's philosophy, that he is indeed working on the "health care costs decreases in the long run because of investments on preventive health in the short run" as opposed to capping benies. But since I don't know for sure, I emailed him on the email links connected to his policy proposals.

or worse yet, a requirement that a person have, say, a mandatory checkup, or mammogram at age 40, or colonoscopy at at 50?

I know you're not arguing against those particular procedures. I also agree with those procedures, especially since the American Cancer Society shows that the life-years-saved for doing those tests is worth the investment in them. If I read you correctly, if someone chooses to skip or accidentally skips one of those procedures that they will get slammed with some sort of fee (beyond getting whatever disease the mandatory test is working to prevent)...that's what you would object to.

Again, Obama's proposal is not specific to that. In my own work lobbying on behalf of chronic disease-related organizations, it's been my experience that all that is being established is a covered benefit for a preventive measure. The way these "mandates" typically work is that cost savings are derived solely from less of that particular disease happening, or by catching that disease in a less-expensively-operable state. I have not seen an example of there being a trade-off: we cover this screening, but if you don't do it, you not only get the disease in question, but also a fine or a loss of benefit.

Not to say an insurance company wouldn't want to see that happen, but again, I just can't see that being a part of his plan. But again, I asked in email.

I don't necessarily feel that the top 5% of earners should necessarily have their taxes raised.

I don't feel too guilty about that. Let them eat cake.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Whoa. So I post about what a cranky old man McCain is, and a few throw away lines about Obama get the troops into a mutiny-ing mood.

I didn't realize we weren't allowed to criticize The Leader.

Anyhow, to explain it all, I'm not a Democrat (and surely not a Republican). I have major problems with the Democratic party, much of which should be clear to regulars here: for instance unwillingness to challenge the GOP status quo when they get the chance, which relates, I think, to their connection to many of the same lobbyists and industries as the GOPers.

The fact that Obama, like McCain, supported ramming the Paulson Boondoggle™ down the American people's throats, despite their strong indications that they didn't like the plan disturbed me.

That's the "business as usual" I spoke of. When the "candidate for change" votes for an unpopular measure in lock-step with Bush, Cheney, McCain, Pelosi, Reid, etc, that ain't change. Sorry, the definition of words matter.

That said, I support Obama in this election because (i) McCain is SO unacceptable and (ii) the third party candidates suck this year too. Bob Barr isn't a libertarian, he's a disgruntled GOPer (a "Libertarian" who all-but created the Patriot Act? Uhhhh, no). Cynthia McKinney? No.

To repeat: I support Obama in this election (a point I thought was clear). I also plan to criticize him when I disagree with him. Both during his campaign, and also he (hopefully) moves in at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

If that's unacceptable, then I don't wanna be acceptable.

As to the specific comments:

I don't know what campaign you've been watching this season, but I have heard it said dozens of times. I didn't hear it last night, but Obama has said it a lot.

Point taken. But he didn't say it last night in response to a question where that was THE appropriate answer. Instead he dodged the question.

I'm sorry, but fiscal conservatism is important to me, especially in the current climate. So it worries me that he doesn't really plan to sharply reign in spending.

That by not mentioning it last night he is suddenly in bed with the defense industry?

I don't know why. But when someone notably neglects to do something, he invites folks to suspect the worst. Same with notably doing something. His support of the Paulson Boondoggle™, so inconsistent with his campaign message, leaves me with no conclusion other than he's in bed with large financial institutions.

And that doesn't make him a maniac or a fascist. No, it makes him a normal American politician. Business as usual.

Same with a strong connection to the defense industry. He'd be the first president in a long time (read: never) to drastically cut defense spending. Maybe Big Dog didn't spend on defense like Reagan and Bush, but he wasn't exactly a dove on that.

(And don't forget, Obama has said repeatedly that he'll ramp up the Afghanistan war, and has never demanded an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. So maybe that won't really save the money and that's why he failed to answer the question last night.)

Barack Obama's web site actually goes into a wonkish amount of detail about what his specific plans are and specifically how he will go about paying for them.

No it doesn't. I went to his site as you requested, and it does not explain how he'll pay for it.

It says, as you note, "Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level."

Uhhhh, ok. But that doesn't show me any numerical connection. Does rolling back the tax cut add exactly "$50 - $65 billion" to revenues? $75 billion? $43.94 billion, but with interest and investment he'll bring it up?

I like Obama's healthcare plan. But I don't believe for one second that any other abstract "cut" will pay for it. I want to know what cut will pay for it.

For instance, eliminating a $10 billion per month expense (i.e., the War) would accomplish that. But when will he bring the troops home? How much will his ramping up the war effort in Afghanistan cost? Maybe he has no area where he'd cut spending enough to cover health care.

Now mind you, my anger at that point wouldn't see me demanding he stop with his health care plan. No.

But it would see me wanting him to cut something else . . . like military spending or looting of the treasury to line bankers' pockets.

I think that the sentiment behind "sure I have some problems with Obama's plans" is a somewhat toothless statement meant to appease the cynical election-year "lesser of two evils" mindset. Does one actually have problems with his platform? Or is it that one hasn't actually read or fully understood the platform.

I hope this comment shows there are teeth in my concern.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

And although I generally agree that the middle class needs some tax relief, I don't necessarily feel that the top 5% of earners should necessarily have their taxes raised.

I am guessing this thought comes from the honorable idea that the rich shouldn't be punished to help out the middle class. The problem with this idea is that Bush and previous administrations have cut taxes for the rich at higher rates than the rest, so to pay our bills and create a progressive, fairer tax system; you have to get the money somewhere.

Frankly, I hope the Obama plan drastically raises taxes on the rich. This isn't because I hate the rich, or feel they should be punished. It is because the next Republican administration is likely to cut their taxes again and we need to give the Treasury some breathing room.

A progressive tax structure is the only way to balance the budget and not cripple the economy.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I didn't realize we weren't allowed to criticize The Leader.

Dude. This is your blog. Criticize what you want. I am decidedly UNcritical of ThatOne, so all I am doing is debating and challenging your criticisms. Sorry you took it personally.

And by all rights, in your lengthy comment, you bring up some great points that I think will end-up being okay, based on no other evidence than my own knee-jerk reaction that says that he can and will pay for his health plan and magically scale back Iraq while ramping-up Afghanistan.

At least now, via your and deb's reactions to my comments, there is an intellectually honest debate about ThatOne's assertions. Beleve it or not I need this discussion as much as anyone because it helps me make sure I have made the right decision.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"...because it helps me make sure I have made the right decision.

As if there is a possiblitiy that some new peice of information will make you vote for McCain?

12:18 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

As if there is a possiblitiy that some new peice of information will make you vote for McCain?

I'm insecure.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

A progressive tax structure is the only way to balance the budget and not cripple the economy.

The only way? How about reducing taxes, but reducing spending more? How does that not work?

Sorry you took it personally.

I didn't. And I'm sorry if I gave the impression I did. It's cool. Just a lil' vigorous written wrasslin', you know?

Oh, and I'm with Bob. Neither you, nor anyone with a brain, is switching to McCain no matter what we say about Obama.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Neither you, nor anyone with a brain, is switching to McCain no matter what we say about Obama.

Yeah. Not so much. One of those things where I asked myself if I really typed that.

10:01 PM  
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9:27 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"The only way? How about reducing taxes, but reducing spending more? How does that not work?

When has that ever worked? Really. When?

If you could list enough programs to eliminate or cut that adds up to this year’s deficit, that actually has a realistic, political chance of being cut, you would win the Nobel Prize for political and economic genius.*

The closest time to this happening was probably before the line-item veto was declared unconstitutional and President Clinton had a fun time taking an axe to some pet congressional projects.

You aren’t going to cut your way out of this problem. You can cut the military, which isn’t a popular thing to do. With health care inflation running as high as 14% a year, it’s pretty unlikely the country’s health care bill is going to be cut in real terms. You aren’t going to cut Medicare or social security politically. After that, what’s left? Not a majority of our spend.


*That Nobel Prize doesn't exist, but you get the point.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Bob, you supplied my answers:

You can cut the military, which isn’t a popular thing to do . . . . You aren’t going to cut Medicare or social security politically.

I'm not interested in "popular" or "politically" expedient.

But if we have any real hope of cutting the deficits as well as reducing the debt, we'll need to cut unpopular spending.

I'd start by cutting military spending, then I'd cut military spending and military spending. After that I'd propose some cuts to military spending and probably a few more cuts to military spending.

After that I might look at "entitlements" like SS and Medicare, but let's consider one step at a time.

I don't give a shit about the defense industry, and the fact that both parties do give a shit is a big reason why I'm not a Democrat or a Republican.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Rickey Henderson said...

Speaking as somebody with family members who works for these companies, hopefully, there's a way of cutting the military budget without putting the entire defense industry out of work. Perhaps a Rumsfeldian streamlining of the armed forces actually might work...

9:16 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

Sure, McCain and Obama vote much the same on the important issues. But the lies they tell are dramatically different.

This election is going to be based on the quality of the fable they narrate. The lies that sound the sweetest, and have the crunchiest nugget of truthiness will carry the day.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

My problem with Obama is that he votes opposite of what he preaches.

As a Senator he keeps lying to us about how he'll vote.

If he lies so often, then why should his words about his plans as president matter? They are just words and he doesn't honor them.

McCain tells lot's of lies to.

So in a choice between a liar and a liar, Should vote for and support the liar, or vote for and support the liar?

How else can this be anything but voting for the lesser of two evils?

Now Obama and McCain have both told the truth. Obama voted against the Patriot Act one. Then voted for it when it was revised and came back around.

Obama said he would filibuster the Telecom Immunity Bill, but he actually voted for it instead.

McCain has always been for these things, and says so. But then McCain will say things like, "I have always been for A and against B." Then later say, "I don't know where you got that idea. I have always been against A and for B."

I feel like I'm being offered a choice of fresh dog turds to eat. I really don't want to eat a dog turd. Yet people keep telling me that I have to hold my nose and eat one if I want to be a true patriot.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Speaking as somebody with family members who works for these companies, hopefully, there's a way of cutting the military budget without putting the entire defense industry out of work.

On a personal level, I hear ya', Rickey.

But it's also why politics and the nexis of politics and economics is so freakin' dangerous. Because, frankly, everyone knows someone who's in some area of the economy . . . and, you get the idea.

I want to be a true patriot.

But you'll have to stop hating America first. ;-)

6:46 AM  

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