1.) White House trying to ‘appear reasonable’ over budget cuts — A White House offer to cut $20 billion from the budget “appears designed to convince the public that Democrats are the ones being reasonablem” reports The Hill. “It is intended to show the White House is meeting the GOP halfway, and that it is the new Republican House majority that is unwilling to negotiate.” An additional $20 billion in cuts on top of $10 billion in cuts from two CR extensions would theoretically put the White House within swallowing distance of an initial offering by House GOP leadership ($35 billion), or spitting distance of the conservative coalition’s eventual $61 billion proposal. If Republicans fail to accept the offer by April 8, Chuck Schumer will probably write another op-ed about how John Boehner is a friend of his and the Tea Party is full of unreasonable hicks. Also the government could stop working for a bit, which, if it had happened three weeks ago, might’ve kept the U.S. from starting its third war in a decade! The lesson here is that Democrats lied when they said not a penny could be cut from the budget. The other lesson is that if House leadership had insisted on the totally unrealistic (but totally reasonable) amount of $100 billion in cuts, the White House would perhaps have agreed to meet them halfway in an attempt to appear “reasonable” (or, “sane,” considering the size of ye old deficit!). Boehner then could have fed that $50 billion in scraps (and they are scraps, mind you) to the ravenous Tea Party freshmen, his dignity intact. SADLY, IT IS TOO LATE FOR THAT.
2.) Harry Reid unveils bold new strategy for fixing Social Security: Do nothing — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada joined Sens. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, and Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, at a ‘Hands Off Social Security’ rally where all of them insisted that Social Security is not a cause for immediate concern, reports The Daily Caller’s Chris Moody. Believe it or not, their conservative colleagues agree with them. Social Security “faces a long-term funding challenge,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad during a TV interview last week. “Long-term” means that Congress has lots of time to fix the program–means test benefits, raise the retirement age–so that the Social Security problem does not “get” America in the keister 30-odd years from now! If intelligent, thoughtful, forward-looking men and women comprised the Senate, they would think of fixing Social Security as a form of preventative medicine. Instead, the Senate is run by Harry Reid, who subscribes to the No insurance? No problem! school of governing: “Let’s worry about Social Security when it’s a problem. Today it is not a problem.”
3.) Fannie Mae lobbyist would ‘kill’ and ‘piss on the graves’ of Capitol Hill types who got in his way — A three-part investigative series by Planet Money explores Fannie and Freddie’s reign of terror. Part one describes the fervor with which the GSEs’ lobbyists threatened people who tried to stand in their way. “The Fannie Mae lobbying operation achieved legendary status on Capitol Hill. It was rumored they could cost you a committee assignment, or even your job,” writes Planet Money. “It was always an us against them,” said Chief Fannie Mae lobbyist Bill Maloni. “If you punch my brother I’ll burn down your house. I want to kill them, bury them, and piss on their graves.” When threatening death or career destruction didn’t work, Maloni would talk about how the poors were never going to be happy until they had their own three-bed/two-bath ranch-style fixer-upper in an up-and-coming part of the exurbs. “Literally to a person, from cafeteria workers on up, we felt we were the most important thing in the nation with regard to helping low-, moderate- and middle-income families afford home ownership.” All of that is pretty much true, except for the “afford” part. That, they got wrong.
4.) National security ‘insiders’ would do things differently if they were in charge, according to ‘insiders only’ poll — “In a new survey of National Journal National Security Insiders, two out of three respondents said they would support deeper spending cuts than those proposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, with the most backing cuts in weapons-acquisition programs.” One “insider” said that the Pentagon’s budget could be cut in half, with the unused half going “toward fighting America’s real threats, including cancer, heart disease, a crumbling infrastructure, a decrepit educational system, and other areas far more important than launching new wars or battling the overhyped ‘war on terrorism.’” To which another insider said, “That’s the last thing that should be done,” because if you want peace, you have to be ready for war all the time, ad infinitum. Apparently, ‘insiders’ disagree just like regular people!
5.) After years of playing to the mushy middle, Joe Scarborough woke up a conservative this morning — “For a decade now, we have been told of George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s moral failings. They have been regularly compared to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and every other tyrant of the past century. Bush has been damned by the ministers of the far left as a war criminal, a fascist and a Nazi when labeling his policies as overly ideological and deeply flawed would have sufficed,” Scarborough writes in his US Weekly* column. “But in the morally murky afterglow of the Obama years, the certainty of these secular saints has melted away. President Barack Obama bowed to his generals’ demands by tripling troops in an unending war. CODEPINK did nothing. Obama backed down on Guantanamo Bay. Anti-war protesters stayed at home. America invaded its third Muslim country in a decade. The American left meekly went along. Without the slightest hint of irony, liberals defended the president’s indefensible position by returning again to a pose of moral certainty.” Who is this guy!?
6.) Why aren’t more Congresscritters erasing the deficit with their own salaries? — “It sounds like the perfect political gesture for the moment: Congress is getting ready for an epic fight over the national debt, and House rules allow members to give back a portion of their salaries for debt reduction,” reports the Washington Post. “Last fall — as the issue of spending helped Republicans storm back to power in the House — exactly one sitting Republican and one Democrat chose to dock their pay for the cause.” Their combined donation of $2,610.39 is “how much the debt grows every five one-hundredths of a second.” This probably explains why more Congresscritters do not give up their salaries. As far as empty gestures go, the payback program is right up there with rich people who complain that the IRS doesn’t tax them enough.
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*Clarification: Sarcasm is defined as “sardonicism, bitterness, ridicule.” It comes from the Greek sarkasmós, a derivative of sarkázein, which means “to rend.”