I think I’m violating some kind of rule by going so long without blogging on this subject. I found the image to be neither especially funny as satire, nor especially outrageous as bad satire. The problem, though, is that the actually existing whispering campaign against Obama is so severe that it doesn’t really admit of satire-by-exaggeration.
Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) provided a memorandum on his budget plan to the Washington Post. The plan calls for $150 billion in savings in 2013 “consistent with success in Iraq/Afghanistan.” The Wonk Room notes, however, that these savings are “only possible” with a “massive withdrawal” from Iraq:
First, U.S. spending in Iraq and Afghanistan totaled $171 billion in 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office – and that includes money for Iraqi security forces, foreign aid, and veterans benefits. If current policies continue – and spending grows with inflation – the war might cost $200 billion in 2013. Cutting the cost by three-quarters, especially when other costs (like veterans benefits and foreign aid) will remain, would require a sharp, perhaps nearly complete withdrawal of troops. The numbers from CBO look even worse. According to CBO, rapidly reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 would save only $55 billion in 2013.
Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) more aggressive plan to withdraw forces from Iraq will save only $90 billion a year, according to his campaign. The Washington Post notes that McCain’s budget plan is “not credible.”
This post is reprinted from Newsweek. See the original column here.
Tony Snow has died. A young man (with my next birthday being number sixty, I am entitled to the folly of calling a fifty-three year old “young”), with a facile mind, an easy smile, and a quick wit; a man who had a perpetual twinkle in his eye when he was doing what he he born to do; a man who loved his wife and his children; a man who loved politics and maybe a little more loved the verbal sparring that comes with politics well-played; a man who desperately did not want to die. And when he died, I cried. I know I cried not just for him, but—filled with fear—for myself as well. The diagnoses of our cancer recurrences (“recurrences” being one of those misnomers we simply endure) tumbled out upon one another by days, and I felt—and feel— connected to a man who loved what I loved, although we came to nearly every argument from opposite corners of the ring.
Last week—when Tony was still alive and I was not so afraid—I rode my bicycle in a small Fourth of July parade at the beach to which we have gone for close to two decades. When I got to the celebration and stepped off the bicycle, an older man approached me. I hope you are doing well, he said, and then he added—oddly, it is more often the case that people do feel obliged to confess the gap between us—”although we don’t agree on much of anything.” I thanked him for his good wishes and then I added—as I often do—”and I suspect we agree on more than you think.” He smiled, I smiled, and that was that. And then Tony died. And I thought more about the things on which we agree and the things on which we disagree. And as with my parade companion, I suspect Tony and I agreed on more things that we might have guessed. Read more
When it comes to energy policy, Amory Lovins has proven again and again that he’s a pretty smart guy. At the moment, nothing seems more insightful than one of Amory’s comments in the May/June issue of Mother Jones.
Asked what energy policies the next president should champion, Lovins was skeptical. He believes energy policy will continue to be made not at the national level, but by communities and states. “With modest exceptions,” Amory said, “our federal energy policy is really a large trough arranged by the hogs for their convenience.”
Right now, the hogs are eating very, very well.
I’ve been shocked by how little play John McCain’s recent remarks on Social Security have gotten, especially considering his record of support for the Bush administration’s unpopular privatization scheme. Maybe that’s soon to change:
On Tuesday, a coalition of Democratic strategists, labor unions and liberal activist groups that helped defeat Bush’s efforts in 2005 plans to launch a similar campaign. They intend to target McCain and dozens of GOP congressional candidates who have supported proposals to allow workers to divert some of their payroll taxes out of the Social Security system and into private investment accounts.
If this can soften McCain formidable support among his fellow seniors, that’d be a big deal for obvious reasons. We’ve rarely had a presidential nominee who’s been so openly contemptuous of America’s retirement security programs.
David H. Remes, an American lawyer representing 15 Yemenis currently challenging their detention at Guantánamo Bay, recently made his seventh trip to Yemen to meet with his clients’ families and “to do what I can to promote the cause of these men.” During a recent press conference in Yemen, Remes promoted their cause by “demonstrating the mistreatment” and humiliation suffered by his clients at the U.S. detention facility in Cuba:
(HT: FP Passport)
Citing ‘Lawsuits And Things,’ White House Refuses To Release Logs Of When Payne Took Clients To Meet Bush
Over the weekend, the Times of London reported that Bush fundraiser and federal lobbyist, Stephen Payne, was caught on tape offering access to White House officials, including Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice, in exchange for “six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.”
Today, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino tried to downplay the long relationship between Payne and Bush, saying only that the President had “probably met [Payne] on a number of occasions.” When asked if the public would be allowed access to the White House visitor logs to “show whether or not” Payne had brought clients to the White House, Perino demurred:
QUESTION: And last thing — just to clear it up, then — would the White House be willing to release any visitor logs to show whether or not he was here with clients? Because he’s out there telling people…
PERINO: I’d have to check with counsel’s office. And, obviously, we’ve been down this road before with visitor logs. And there’s lawsuits and things. So I’ll have to check with (inaudible) visitors’ log.
Despite Perino’s claims, Payne has had a long — and public — relationship with Bush. Payne served as “George W. Bush’s personal travel aide during his father’s 1988 Presidential campaign.” Later, he bought the title of “Bush Pioneer” by raising $100,000 for Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns. More recently, Payne was appointed to the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council and currently serves the White House as a “Senior Advance Representative.”
The full extent of Payne’s relationship with the White House may soon be known, as a Federal appeals court last Friday refused to “consider reversal of a lower court ruling last December that the White House visitor logs were public records” and thus subject to Freedom of Information Act Requests.
Even without access to the White House visitor logs, however, the photographic record demonstrates quite clearly that Payne’s relationship with the White House has given him — and quite likely his clients — close access to the President, his inner circle, and even foreign leaders.
Transcript: Read more
I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m even familiar with this term, but I’ve always thought GURPS was a great acronym.
Paul Krugman wrote in today’s column that the vote this week on Medicare (that Ted Kennedy returned to take part in) encouraged him to believe that universal health care stands a good chance of becoming a reality should Obama win and the Democrats increase their majority in both Houses. If this is true, and you can comment on this, what are the chances of us ever seeing single payer? I would think the greatest obstacles to this would be the Socialist, Government Medicine charge (gov’t selects your doctor, the gov’t can’t run anything right) and the “loss of jobs” from the insurers.
I think the odds are really bad. And I think that the greatest political vulnerability a single-payer scheme would face is not so much the “socialist, government medicine” charge as it is desire among liberals to do something to ease the plight of the uninsured. Substantively, the most likely route to a single-payer health care system would be something along the lines of what John Edwards proposed during his late presidential campaign. That would have built upon the current system with the mandate/regulate/subsidize troika but would also have created a public sector health plan modeled on Medicare. The idea, then, is that if liberals and conservatives both have the courage of our convictions, we’ll see over time whether or not people like the public plan. If they do, we transition over time to a single payer system.
John McCain’s balanced budget plan relies on steep cuts to U.S. spending in Iraq, according to a memorandum written by economic policy advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin and published in the Washington Post today. The plan calls for $150 billion in savings in 2013, which is only possible with the kind of timed mass withdrawal from Iraq he has criticized.
Here is what the plan says:
“Balance the budget requires slowing outlay growth to 2.4 percent. The roughly $470 billion dollars (by 2013) in slower spending growth come from reduced deployments abroad ($150 billion; consistent with success in Iraq/Afghanistan that permits deployments to be cut by half — hopefully more) …”
Whatever McCain says about cutting deployments in half, achieving $150 billion in savings would require a massive withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
First, U.S. spending in Iraq and Afghanistan totaled $171 billion in 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office – and that includes money for Iraqi security forces, foreign aid, and veterans benefits. If current policies continue – and spending grows with inflation – the war might cost $200 billion in 2013. Cutting the cost by three-quarters, especially when other costs (like veterans benefits and foreign aid) will remain, would require a sharp, perhaps nearly complete withdrawal of troops.
The numbers from CBO look even worse. According to CBO, rapidly reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 would save only $55 billion in 2013. So CBO is saying that a much bigger troop reduction than McCain wants would save barely a third as much money as McCain claims.
Finally, Obama’s own, more aggressive plan to withdraw forces from Iraq will save only $90 billion a year, according to his campaign.
McCain has previously said that an Iraq withdrawal timetable would mean “disaster” and “chaos, genocide.” But his own budget documents contain a plan not merely for withdrawal, but for mass withdrawal.