These Guys Are Miles Apart

Bruce Krasting's picture



Should be a big week for cliff diving. All the deciders are back in town, and they will be talking. We got a whiff of what’s coming when #1 ranked Republican Senator Lindsay Graham (SC) squared off with #2 Democratic Dick Durbin (IL) on This Week. (link)




These guys made it sound as if they were in love, with plenty of things to agree on. Graham said taxes had to go up, while Durbin said he was willing to put entitlements on the table. Those are huge concession.


I’m watching the show, thinking Grover Norquist (no tax increase pledge guy) must be crapping in his pants when Graham said:


Grover is wrong.


I will violate the pledge.



If this were truly the thinking of the big shot deciders, then it would seem as if a deal could be had, and just maybe we will hit a bit of a speed bump in January, but nothing to worry about at all. At least that is how ABC and the Senators made it look.

The appearance of concessions was just for show. The two sides are miles apart when you peel back their words.


What Graham actually said was that he was willing to talk higher taxes, but he had a very big "If"s. He is insisting that there has to be be a deal that includes entitlements:


Republicans should put revenue on the table. I would trade more revenue for entitlement reform by the end of the year.



Entitlement reform? By the end of of the year? Not a chance in a million.


The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is willing to go the mats to protect entitlements. If Medicare and Social Security have to be part of a deal, then there will be no deal. At least not before another five weeks goes by.


Durbin responded to the big “If” from Graham. The good Senator actually made it sound as if he was being reasonable, but in reality, he wasn't. His counter to entitlement cuts was that maybe there could be some tweaking with Medicare to extend the solvency of the program for a few years, but no way in hell could Social Security get touched.


Durbin backed himself into a corner with his positions on both Medicare and Social Security. Medicare = Obamacare in a few years. There is no way the Administration is going to open the door on this. The Republicans, on the other hand would love it.


Then there is the position Durbin took on Social Security. He said it should not even come up for discussion as:


Social Security does not add one penny to the debt. Not one penny.


This statement is a lie that is covered over by a dopy accounting system called the Unified Budget. In this magical world, the deficits driven by entitlements are hidden. The reliance on this accounting fiction is a dangerous path for liberals to take. The fact is, SS (and the other government retirement programs for Federal workers and the Military) are running billion dollar cash deficits today and will run Mega-Trillion dollar cash deficits for the next seventy-five years. Every penny of those deficits will result in more borrowing from the public.


These deficits may be “Off Budget” in the magical world of Unified Accounting, but they do add to the publicly held debt on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The Rating Agencies are part of the Cliff discussion (like it or not); those folks are no dopes and they fully understand that Senator Durbin is all wet with his talk of Off Balance sheet debt.


Anyway, Graham responded to the totally weak arguments by saying he did not agree and said as flat is could be:


It's not realistic to look at entitlements without adjusting age limits.


Both Social Security and Medicare benefits have to me "means" tested.



Means testing entitlement benefits is something that has to happen at some point. (sorry – it has to) But is this something that could be considered as part of some deal in the next few months? Not a chance in hell is my thinking. Who might be apposed to this?


- Everyone on a military pension that had other income or assets. Think of most of the former officers.


- All the folks who worked at a Federal job, got a pension, and then moved to the private sector and earned a nice buck and yet another pension. They’re screwed with means testing.


- At least 10mm aged souls who are now getting the odd $24K a year from Social Security, and who also have assets exceeding $2mm (or income over $100k).


- Every liberal democrat in the country.

The reality is, a means test will prove (finally) to be the death knell for the entitlement programs. They will lose the claim of being self-funded (they are not today). They will lose the claim that payroll taxes are “forced savings” (they are not –they are another income tax). When these shields are lost, so will support for the programs. The “lefties” know this, may of them are pushing to go off the cliff versus accept cuts in entitlements:




So I’m sitting back listening to the happy talk that the two sides are coming together, and I don’t believe a word of it. There is no “fix” without entitlements being exposed for what they are. And there is no way that after their “big win” the Democrats are going to cave on their most sacred cows. For ten-days we’ve been hearing the Kumbaya talk. This week we will hear a different story. These guys are miles apart.






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MarcusLCrassus's picture

Entitlement reform?  Sure, if that means reducing the corporate welfare now comprising 40% of the entire US government's federal budget that is given to weapons manufacturers.

q99x2's picture

Garnish their wages.

FleaMarketPete's picture


#1 Dick Durbin and Obama still claim that they don’t have any idea what happen in Benghazi.  It was a “terrorist act” carried out spontaneously by non-terrorist civilians inadvertently acting in collusion because of some youtube video that no one in Benghazi could see.

#2 Obama will NEVER put entitlements on the table.  His base is homos, illegals, and minority parasites waiting by the mail box for their free gas, Obama iphone, and $200k government job for high school drop outs.

#3 Obama and liberals are pressing Republicans (ie whites) for their only bargaining chip which is tax cuts.  After Obama rolls the white middle class on tax cuts, he can release the productive assets to his base.

#4  Why are Anglo-Europeans cheering this transformational sift in Western Society.  UK do you “owe” your hard work to Indian immigrants?  Germany do you “owe” your hard work to Turkish immigrants?  The UK and Germany are some of the most racist countries that I have been to.  Can you image?


blunderdog's picture

I realize you're a racist piece of shit, so don't want to get into a real debate with you, but just for the record: *most* welfare recipients are straight whites.

realitybiter's picture

I think we should just keep borrowing a trillion and a half a year.  Let more poor people with 5 kids come in (hey it is only a 10k a head load on schools).  Just let it burn, baby, burn.

It is the only way to right the wrongs.  Every unearned pension will get destroyed.  The new currency will have all sorts of new strings attached to it.

This is what has happened to other nations - Argentina.  Germany.  Soon to be Greece.

It really is the only way.  There is no way some public pensioner who set aside a whopping 90k during their entire career, is going to give up their 70k pension.  No way.  Only through currency destruction.

The "cliff" is a joke.  If you look at the tax increases that are supposed to take effect, the payroll and middle income tax is the big whopper.  The rich is like a 5% of the pie.  Yet, all we hear is rich, rich, rich...

The problem is that we are nation of idiots.  Most voters couldn't even begin to explain how our money is spent.  big the budget is around 3 1/2 t, and 2.4 or so is medicare, ss, dod......which is how much tax we collect....Most pensioners have no idea how little they have contributed to their insane benefit.....yet, they all feel so deservedly entitled.  Like whiney 4 year olds bitching about their ipad not having any juice left.  I can't believe 18 year old men died in Normandy for these a-holes.


and btw, medicare is not paid by anybody.  All in, it is over 100 trillion dollah liability.  It is impossible to pay.  It needs to be massively reformed.  And not with Obamacare, aka, my insurance premium has increased and my doctor quit his practice to work for a hospital that charges more- care.  It is all a cynical, retarded joke.  It is simply painful to see intelligent people buy into it.

Bear's picture

A cliff? Bring it on, the Bear will basejump and land on his feet.

Curt W's picture

I don't know why they call it a cliff, I call it a first step in the right direction.

Let all tax cuts expire and cut spending 10% every other year until we balance.

The news should be celebrating, we finally have a turn around in the rampant excesses of spending over the past decade.

blunderdog's picture

"Entitlement reform" doesn't really have any meaning, does it?

Augustus's picture

Not when the phrase is used by Obama.

It is somewhat the same as "immigration reform."  It generates MORE illegal immigrants.

Obama's version of "entitlement reform" will generate more entitlement funding.

blunderdog's picture

A nonsense-term is a nonsense-term no matter whose mouth it comes out of, actually.

Cult_of_Reason's picture

Actually, these guys (left and right) are NOT miles apart.

Both left and right (Krugman & Norquist) agree about the Fiscal Cliff.

Krugman: "Just say no, and go over the cliff"

Norquist: "The world won't come to an end if this isn't resolved before January. Take the sequester (same as Krugman's 'go over the cliff')..."

Oldwood's picture

Means testing effectively converts the social security System into a welfare program. If they do this they should eliminate SSI taxes and the welfare system should be funded from general revenues. I may well be screwed but just don't lie to me about it. I know, I know, our governmental system would cease to exist if they stopped lying, but I'm just saying.

Augustus's picture

Social Security has always included a "means testing" component.  People with more income (means) pay more into the system.  The system was always a Ponzi Scheme but might have been bearable if it had not been continually abused by the Pols.  Much greater increases in benefits for those with the minimum checks vs those with the maximum amounts.  What was once a fairly simple system designed to keep the widow from starving is now expected to actually provide a comfortable retirement.

The new proposals are designed to screw the people who have actually put some real bucks into the system, for years and years.  Now, if those people also acquired other assets, they will get screwed out of this one.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

You'll have to deal with the nitwits who insist that SSI is an "entitlement".

MrSteve's picture

you mean nitwits who paid according to the plan and now will have their payments CONFISCATED via means testing? Those are Fifth Amendment nitwits who will chllenge this theft in court. Not saying they'll win, but theft will be called theft unless they refund the "contributions".

Bicycle Repairman's picture

No.  I mean the nitwits who say SSI = welfare. 

It's easy for corporate shills to run their mouths like that.  Any politician that tries to walk that kind of talk had better have their retirement plan in order.

SmoothCoolSmoke's picture

Repubs know Obama has them by the short hairs.  Just listen to Kudlow pooping his pants every night and you know the score.

Fact is the 1% will lose WAY MORE from a 20% Fiscal Cliff drop in the markets thna any tax hike.

Augustus's picture

Just my opinion, but it seems to me that it is Obama who will have to pluck his own pubes.

He campaigned with a day after day, time after time after time reminder that entitlement reform is necessary.  He has been stating that for over a year now.  Where is the PLAN, Mr. President?  Where is the PLAN?

If I were in charge of the Republican effort I would tell the American people that as soon as President Obama presents a plan it will be made available to them for review and comment.  No closed door deals and sneaky taxes.  I would announce daily that I am available if the president needs drafting assistance in creating the plan to cut the deficit to under $200 billion as he promised in 2008.  Standby for News.

booboo's picture

Is it that time of year already? I swear the MSM starts playing Fecal Cliff music earlier every year. This morning they had a economist on saying how not raising the debt ceiling will negatively affect CONsoooomer spending. The consooomer must not be denied. The MSM is so effective in carpet bombing the sheep, then there are the tards on this site that think tweaking entitlements, cutting a few defense programs and raising taxes on producers is the answer. 

and Mr. Krastings is doing his part in keeping some thinking that there is an actual political solution to a parabolic problem. Keep voting suckers, I think you got the fucking bastards right where they want you.


otto skorzeny's picture

Durbin won't give up the massive subsidies to our poor farmers-how else are they going to buy $300K "Made in IL" Deere combines?

earnyermoney's picture



Good to see you arrived on the other side of frying a turkey for Thanksgiving. I'll give thanks.

disabledvet's picture

Sorry 'bout that...wrong class of ship in the Eastern Med. what I thought I saw pictured here is the Kirov Class Battlecruiser. Nuclear powered...and armed. If true this is a hair raising escalation of a situation that our Government has completely lost control of. This is a NUCLEAR escalation I might add. To my knowledge there's only one of these guys "with plans to build 3 more." That sucker is to the Russian Navy what the Enterprise is to ours. I war gamed that thing once...let's just say that ship was all I had left...and I won. That stuff does get the market's attention BIG TIME. Needless to say the USA will have to have plans for the Counter-strike...and have probably had the President sign off on those plans already. I think under Early Reagan was the last time we "had one of these things." Of course by all means "move along...nothing to see here."

woggie's picture

the beast is on the gobble and all that matters is we're all headed for it's belly

Stuck on Zero's picture

The $1 trillion deficit in entitlements is absolutely devastating.  However, the $12 trillion in bailouts and perks for billionaires is okay. Huh?


hairball48's picture

"...and then in January you reduce the taxes on the lower income folks of about $30,000 and less. That way you have lowered taxes for the middle class which should sell well,..."

Who are you kidding????????? <$30,000 is "middle class"? I'll make right at $30k this year. Even here in MT $30k is hardly "middle class". Try bordering on dirt poor.

DeadFred's picture

I'm betting they do it like the Europeans. Assume 12% growth next year and that all the white-headed people will suddenly die off then extend the debt limit based on their courageous budget reform measures. We would then get to find out exactly how bought off the credit agencies are.

Big Ben's picture

The fiscal cliff legislation was a bad deal for the Repubs because spending cuts are much easier to undo than tax increases. But the Republicans are in a weaker position now than they were when the deal was worked out. So what are the chances that they will get a better deal now?

The house should just pass a bill that kicks the can until 2015. At that time Republicans would be in a better bargaining position since going over the fiscal cliff in 2015 would tend to hurt the Dems. in 2016. If Obama or the Senate refuses to kick the can, then they will get blamed for sending the country over the fiscal cliff. My sense is that the budget deficit is not really a big issue for the majority of voters and implementing painful measures to fix it is not a recipe for electoral success.

steve from virginia's picture


Biggest source of the fiscal problem? Medicare.


Unlike Social Security, it's not an entitlement. The so-called 'beneficiaries' (you) never see a penny. Funds flow to doctors, hospital corporations, 'medical associates' (cartels), pharma companies, medical services corporations, hardware manufacturers and insurance companies (by the back door). This bit of racketeering determines treatments at what price the crooks 'need'.


The patients are conduits. The source of funds is finance (by way of the Treasury). The real beneficiaries are the health 'care' racketeers. The conduits are the justification for the massive, multi-trillion dollar flow of funds: 16% of US GDP. "Oh, those poor, sick retirees." All victims/Guinea pigs in cash-stripping racket.


Best is to make retirees actual beneficiaries and give them lump-sum payments. Let them as customers in a free market spend what they like on health care. If they decide not to spend at the hospital, they can leave the cash to their kids after they die.


Believe it or not the last year of a person's life is the most expensive: + $200,000! This is hospital bill for complications of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease. Patients don't spend their own money, the hospital 'system' decides how to treat, what to treat and how much to charge. The government simply pays.


Instead of open-ended fee-farming grant seniors a lump sum one-time payment at any time during retirement of $20k. Seniors could save or spend as they please. Medical rackets would have to meet the market or go out of business.


Oh yea, I'd also ban private insurances of all kinds. Best incentive to take care o' yourself. After senior illnesses, Americans need healthcare due to car wrecks, after that is firearm injuries/fatalities, then 'lifestyle' choices ... eating the wrong stuff or too much, no exercise, drug/alcohol abuse.


Chortle! I love the idea of a doctor having to take the bus to work. Poverty can be lyrical at times.


Additionally, breaking up the health 'care' cartels and investigations/prosecutions would let the air out of the racketeering balloon.


Long prison terms would serve to warn others.

StychoKiller's picture

Hmm, sounds good -- until it's YOUR life that hangs in the balance!  HOW much are you willing to pay for even a few extra weeks of life?

New_Meat's picture

Yo, Stevie, so can you give us an indicator?  an Oscillator or an OBV or maybe a MACD that tells us when the O/U  is going bad so you can pull the plug on the poor bastard who has come into her time to be aced by your inaction?

c'mon you can do it.  Just establish the rules.

And I'm not in any disagreeing with your analysis


Then, please do same with respect to the endowed colleges and their clientele and employees.


Then, please do same with respect to...

and you, well you don't know, but we do that the lump-sum ain't gonna' hack it.

- Ned

blunderdog's picture

If someone could maybe suggest some kind of means-testing OR funding requirements for Medicare-D, you'd think it'd stand up for discussion.  It's young--it's not like it's based on 80 years of bad air--and so far it's been a gigantic nightmare of waste and counterproductive incentives.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

You've nailed it, Steve.  The sickcare system is sinking this country.  We need free market reforms, yet we get ObamaCare from Obama and Medicare Schedule D from Bush.  What's wrong with this picture?

Orly's picture

One hundred percent exactly correct.  Very well said, steve.

And the same scheme works with regular medical insurance and was the big reason Obamacare was passed in the first place: No one ever sees the bill!  We are told that prices are out of control and the government needs to come in and control costs before they get more out-of-control.  "Control," obviously, being the key word there.

We go to the doctor, pay our fifteen dollar co-pay, he scribbles something on a pad, we take it to the pharmacy and they charge us ten bucks for whatever he wrote.  No one ever says, "Hey, let me see the bill."

As long as payment is delivered essentially in secret and behind closed doors, they will always have control and always be able to charge anyone whatever they want.


Oldwood's picture

Insurance is a wealth redistribution scheme and the only reason why anyone would ever purchase it is because they believe that ultimately it will cost less than paying the direct healthcare costs. The same reason people will willing pay taxes, because they think they are getting more than they are paying for. Our government is the single largest insurance/redistribution company in the world. Nothing will stop the escalating costs as long as we are spending other people's money.

ebworthen's picture

Oh they'll come to an agreement alright; raise taxes on everything and everyone, and "cut" spending by reducing projected increases by 1% over a 20 year period.

401K's and IRA's to be "converted" (confiscated) into annuities "backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government" and pissed away like all the S.S. payroll taxes.

Same Shit Different Decade.

Orly's picture

Politics aside, means testing makes sense.  Who cares if one side loses face to the other: they are basically one party anyway and it's not like honour is a very important matter to them.

I'm with Boehner, though, in that the entire system needs to be revamped, including entitlements, government pension plans, social security and the massive, incomprehensible tax code.  The sooner we can get on with real solutions, the better.  I don't really care which side wins.


lindaamick's picture

There is no cliff.  There are not two sides.

There is one side.  The side that reduces taxes on the filthy rich and pays for it by extracting moneys from the poor and middle class via reduced EARNED BENEFITS. 

Social Security is PAID FOR by workers. 

Medicare is PAID FOR by workers. 


are we there yet's picture

correction .... SS and Medicaid were paid for by empty ponzi promises years ago.

max2205's picture

Graham is a fucking fiscal traitor. Hug a root asshole!

Bicycle Repairman's picture

Someday people will wise up to the fact that the leaders of the Republican party do not care about the "grass roots" of the party.

quasimodo's picture

Not to mention he loves the back door "live action!"

gould&#039;s fisker's picture

All the Dems have to do for the Bush tax cuts to be repealed is wait until the New Year--what was the Republican's bargaining strategy again?

BeagleOne's picture

Graham looks like he's been to Gitmo as a prisoner. Being gay has its perogatives...(Snark).

Bicycle Repairman's picture

What Graham is doing in the senate is beyond me.  He is useless.

Lednbrass's picture

He is trying to do the work of his masters as quickly as possible, Sen. Lohan is dead meat in '14. There is almost no chance whatosever of him getting past a primary.

Orly's picture

He's the one who got Clinton off for the big boys.  He's getting his payback.


leftcoastfool's picture

I thought Monica Lewinsky got Clinton off...

Zer0head's picture

Bruce much like the latest stick save for Greece so too will there be an 11th hour kumbaya moment. The GOP are in disarray and the mid-terms are now in view they are still raw from the beating handed to them; they will cave, and sooner than most think. 

earnyermoney's picture

The Dems are greedy. They want to gut the military, shift the spending to entitlements while pushing a cynical income tax rate increase that will do nothing to generate revenues because the wealthy have their carve outs in the tax code. The media push this cynical bullshit all the time. It's nothing more than tax and spend liberalism. The Dems want to accelerate over the cliff, let them accelerate over the cliff.