AP’s False Claim That ‘Some’ Democrats Open to Entitlement Cuts

In a November 28 article, the Associated Press tried to give cover to Democrats by insisting that they are somehow divided over cuts in entitlements to help solve the “fiscal cliff” problem. But the truth is, Democrats are united against these cuts, not divided.

In its piece headlined, “It’s Not Just Taxes: Benefit Cuts Divide Democrats,” the AP attempted to demonstrate a “division” that doesn’t exist by citing two Democrats that meekly offered to consider cuts to entitlements.

It’s not just about taxes. There’s another big obstacle to overcome as Congress and President Barack Obama work to skirt the fiscal cliff: deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether to consider cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

This is flat out absurd. There are no deep divisions among Democrats over cuts to these programs. In fact, just the opposite.

This tall tale goes on to present the weak claims of “considering” cuts to these programs uttered by Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana) and Kent Conrad (D, N.D.). But one, Conrad, is retiring and the other has no support from his fellows — especially Democrat leadership — for the idea.

Despite the AP’s claims that there are “divisions” over such cuts, the real story is that Democrats have a large and growing coalition refusing to go for any cuts at all.

There were reports that Dick Durbin (D, IL), the Senate majority’s number three man, made some noise about “reforming” Medicare but that suggestion did not include any cuts at all. Further he offered no actual plan, he just gave lip service to the idea of “reform” without making any substantive policy suggestions. That way he got to sound reasonable without having had the discomfort of thinking too hard about his suggestions.

Quixotically, even as its own report begins on such a false note, the AP story goes on to prove just the opposite of its starting premise saying, “But senators like Baucus and Conrad increasingly are being drowned out by other Democrats emboldened by the recent election results to fight against benefit cuts.”

In any case, the false premise that the AP was trying to float was that there are Democrats other than the two they mentioned urging spending cuts, but there just aren’t enough to prove “deep divisions.” Having one or two or even ten saying that entitlement spending cuts should be on the table when the other 90 percent of the party says “no” does not show any such “deep divisions.”

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  • jim_m

    Some unicorns like oats too.

  • ackwired

    I think we are going to see a deal at the last minute. What we are seeing now from the parties and their supporting media is posturing. Both sides have signaled that they are willing to give a little and both sides have submitted proposals. Looks like a last minute deal to me.

    • jim_m

      I think David Gergen has it right when he says that the dems are more interested in hurting the GOP than they are about fixing the country’s problems.

      • ackwired

        I suspect that we would all expect you to think that, Jim.

        • retired.military

          I will be very suprised if there is a deal. Last minute or otherwise. It is a win win for Obama either way.

          • ackwired

            Well, we’ll know in a few weeks.

          • 914

            I suspect the ceiling will be raised yet again.

          • Carl

            Obama drew a line in the sand. If we go over the cliff it’s because the Republicans want us to.

    • Wild_Willie

      If the GOP signaled they are willing to raise revenues, the dem’s should come out and say they will target entitlement cuts. The first was a good faith offer. There has been none coming from the other side.
      I say go over the fiscal cliff. It is obvious we have a huge electorate that does not understand the seriousness of this problem. Just like any addiction, some people have to hit bottom to realize there is a problem. ww

      • ackwired

        Actually, they are arguing like kids in a schoolyard about who should specify what cuts to entitlements should be mentioned. In other words, under the posturing, the D’s are signalling that they are ready to talk about it.

        • Of course they’re willing to ‘talk’. Talk’s cheap. Talk gives the illusion of progress. Talk kicks the can down the road a bit further. Talk keeps them from having to actually do something about the problem.

          I can’t believe they’re not looking at Greece and seeing the problems there, and not thinking “You know, maybe we should be a bit more proactive on making sure we don’t travel up the same Shit Creek…”

          But I’m SO glad to hear that the Democrats are willing to ‘talk’. Do you really expect them to DO anything though?

          • 914

            “Talks cheap”

            Every time these clowns talk we get it in the ass! So, actually talk is not cheap. But yes, they are full of shit.

          • ackwired

            LOL…but talk is how you get to agreement. These folks all negotiate for a living, and they are good at it. Expect posturing on both sides with hints as to what would be acceptable.

          • jim_m

            They don’t negotiate. They lie. They claim to be interested in compromise right up until they get elected and then miraculously there are no more problems. Entitlements are fine and don’t need reform.

            The posturing is on the side of dems, who prior to the election said they understood that entitlement reform was necessary and today say that it is off the table and cannot be done.

            Too bad you have such a short memory that you never seem to recall these facts.

          • ackwired

            Calm down Jim. We’ll know in a few short weeks whether they can come to an agreement.

          • jim_m

            We know already. Harry Reid is preventing obama’s plan from being voted on in the Senate. This is classic negotiating in bad faith. The only reason to not vote on obama’s plan is that it is not serious, that the dems do not want to fix the crisis, that they are only interested on ,making it worse and trying to blame the GOP.

            obama and the dems are dishonest and they do not desire the best of this country. They desire to capitalize on financial collapse and the misery of millions.

          • ackwired

            Your insight into other people’s motivations is much clearer than mine.

          • If the two parties are negotiating in good faith, then talks do help.

            I believe the Democrats have lost the ability (and indeed the desire) to do that, though.

          • ackwired

            Well, it is politics, and both sides have to feed their partisans. That is what a lot of the posturing is for. I don’t take it too seriously.

          • We’re past the point where posturing is entertaining.

            I think they’ve forgotten that at the end of the day the country still needs to function – and at present they just don’t care. In this case, I’m talking much more about the Democrats than the Republicans.

            (I know your mileage varies on that, but that’s as may be.)

            The Dems have control – and they’ll crash the country rather than admit that what they’re doing isn’t working and give up any of their ideas. As long as they can fuck up the Republicans, they don’t care about the collateral damage to the country.

            So I think we’re going to go over the cliff due to Democratic unwillingness to negotiate – and they’ll be blaming Republicans all the way down.

          • ackwired

            I agree with you that the D’s care more about making the R’s look bad than they do about benefiting the country. Unfortunately, the R’s operate just the same. It is a result of our having to choose between only two parties. Both parties spend more energy making their opponents look bad than they do serving their country. The two party system has failed us, and we need to abandon it.

          • “Unfortunately, the R’s operate just the same.”

            I disagree – it seems more to me like they’re the ones who get the Dems pissed off because they won’t give the Dems all the money they want. SOMEONE has to control spending – and historically it hasn’t been the Dems. (Repubs haven’t done a great job, but they’re better than the Dems. Faint praise, damning, ect.)

            Anyhow, the Dems have had the keys to the candy store since 2006. It’s really been working well, hasn’t it? 4 years without a budget means you never worry about overspending, lol. And now you see Reid not allowing any budget votes to come to the floor of the Senate. Right. They’re not serious at all about dealing with the problems, as long as they get their pay and perqs it can wait.

            And really, the only problem with our 2-party system is that it’s self-selecting for people who can win elections, which would be the problem even with more parties. We need to institute severe term limits – maximum 12 years, then out and don’t come back – and age limits. If 65 is the max for a commercial airline pilot, then I’ve got no problem with it being the max for a politician…

          • ackwired

            You are going to have a lot of trouble convincing me that our fiscal troubles started in 2006. Three presidents have borrowed more money than all of their predecessors combined, Reagan, W. (and Obama surely will). It’s pretty clear that it is a two party problem.

          • http://cdn.pjmedia.com/instapundit/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/bushchart.jpg

            And the article that’s from is here…


            They didn’t start then – but we were at least on course to a break-even scenario re incomes/outlays.

            However, once Congress went Democratic in 2006, the shit really hit the fan. It’s like there’s a default spending limit built into Washington where they HAVE to spend at minimum 120% of the money collected.

            I don’t see adding more parties to be a solution. It’d be different – but also likely to bring its own spending problems.

          • ackwired

            That was about the same time as the economic collapse also, which caused the drop in revenues.

            I don’t know that more parties would solve the problem of fiscal irresponsibility either. But at least the parties would have to sell us on their ideas to improve the country rather than spend all of their time telling us how the problems were caused by the other guys.

          • That’s not a bad thought…

          • jim_m

            Evidence? You think that offering a plan based on the Simpson-Bowles Commission was feeding the right wing partisan crowd?

            The dems won’t vote on a budget and now their solution is that there should not be any budget and there shouldn’t be any ceiling on the debt. That is an unconstitutional abdication of the power of the legislative branch.

            Not only do you claim that the 2 party system isn’t working , but you believe that we should just be trashing the constitution. (I make this claim based on your support of the dems and their platform)

            Based on the party you support I assume that if you don’t like the current system you are in favor of a dictatorship as that is what the dems are proposing when they demand a Presidency that is not restrained by Congress and can spend anything he wants in any amount on any program.

          • ackwired

            Get a grip, JIm. It sounds like you could go over your own cliff. Take a few deep breaths and try to realize that people can disagree with you about some things without disagreeing with you about everything. You do not have to be afraid.

          • jim_m

            I’m not afraid. I think you are off base when you make the claim that the GOP is more interested in hurting the dems than fixing the country. I think that since the dems have already lined up as being in favor of hurting the country in order to hurt the GOP that the best thing you can do to hurt the dems is to help the country.

            At every turn the dems are unwilling to stand up for this country. They are unwilling to put aside ideology and partisan politics and actually sit down and compromise.

            obama put pout a plan that was all tax increase and said that he would not accept spending cuts. That is not serious and is totally ideologically driven. He said that he would not talk with the GOP until they produced a plan and now that they have he still will not meet with them. He produced a bogus plan that his own party will not debate or vote upon.

            None of what they have done is serious and none of it is intended to fix the country’s problems. You try to sound high minded and even handed by saying both parties have problems, but the truth is that only one party is refusing to negotiate. Only one party is clinging to ideological grounds and petty partisanship. Only one party is willing to sacrifice this nation on the alter of their ideology. It’s the democrats.

          • ackwired

            I’m glad you are not afraid. You know all anger is fear, and sometimes you seem to have a great deal of anger.

            Let’s agree to disagree for a few weeks, and then we’ll know if they were able to reach an agreement to avoid the cliff.

          • jim_m

            they’ll crash the country rather than admit that what they’re doing isn’t working and give up any of their ideas.

            Historically, the excuse has always been that leftist ideology works, but that either it has never really been tried (the common excuse for communism) or that it simply wasn’t far left enough (the failure of the stimulus). They are always correct in their ideology.

            No failure brings a reexamination of their ideas. If you spend yourself into bankruptcy then the answer is not that you should have spent less, but that you should have spent more.

          • Communism’s an very attractive idea, to be sure. The trouble is that it simply doesn’t work large-scale or long-term without a high body count, and the record shows it.

            But yet there’s always going to be people believing that they’re smart enough to do it right THIS time. It’ll just take… more. More believers. More money. And if it’s necessary to break a few eggs to make the omelet, then those lives will be ‘regretfully’ spent, in the pursuit of the ‘utopia’ they desire.

          • jim_m

            So the GOP offering a plan that increases taxes is what you call “feeding their partisans”?

            You’re just dishonest or stupid.

          • ackwired

            And you are rude, inconsiderate, and disrespectful. If you want to see the posturing that the GOP is feeding it’s partisans, just read your own posts.

          • jim_m

            At least you agree that I’m not dishonest like yourself.

          • ackwired

            Again, you make my point.

          • ackwired

            As I have said, I expect an agreement. Simpson Bowles said that to fix the fiscal problem we need to cut military spending, cut entitlements and increase revenues. They are looking at two of the three. If they wanted to prevent agreement, the easiest way would be for one of them to throw in military cuts. I think we will see an agreement to not go over the “cliff” and hopefully to continue some more substantive talks on the debt and deficits.

          • jim_m

            Just a few months ago obama was in favor of entitlement reform

            “There have been times when our side, when Democrats aren’t always as flexible as we need to be,” Obama said. “Sometimes I do get frustrated when I hear folks say, ‘You can’t make any changes to any government programs.’ Well, that can’t be right.”

            “We will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up,” he said in late July. “I mean, it’s not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing.

            Too bad the ideological sack of $4!t has decided that since he has won the election he doesn’t need to compromise.

            Funny how the left talks a good talk about actually fixing the country when they are up for election and once elected they go right back to looting it.

  • 914

    If they were serious they would skip vacation and donate their salary’s to the poor.

    • jim_m

      If they were really serious they would save this country by throwing themselves off of a real cliff.

    • Carl

      Notice how none in the GOP are promoting spending cuts to defense?

      If Republicans were serious about the deficit they’d talk about defense cuts.

      How many $3000 crescent wrenches do we need?

      But the “conservatives” (laughable) don’t really care about cutting spending… except to the poor, minorities, women — etc.

      It’s not about “the deficit,” to them. It’s about screwing anyone who isn’t a white male.

      • jim_m

        Defense is 20% of the government spending. Entitlements are over 45%. Defense was also cut significantly under Clinton when we went through the base closings.

        So you are suggesting that we go after a smaller portion of the budget which has already been cut previously (and therefore would have less to cut in an easy way), and that we should ignore a far larger part of the budget that has never been cut and in fact has recently been expanded.

        I also call racism that you expect that only minorities are poor.

        But this isn’t about racism. This is about what is sustainable and the current entitlements are not sustainable. Not that you understand the math. You seem to think that if we just tax enough rich people that we would have more than enough money. That has been demonstrated time and again to be a fallacy.

      • Money spent on defense actually goes to companies that make the goods and services the military uses. For instance, the cost of an F-35 will provide money for Lockheed, which will be spent buying materials, paying their providers, which in turn will be paid to employees, which in turn will be spent BY said employees buying food, clothing, goods, cars, homes… not to mention the salaries of the folks who put the plane together, the designers of the planes, programmers for the computers in the planes, the folks who maintain the buildings that the people work in, and the janitors who clean the toilets for all.

        Take that away – and (a) the unions ain’t gonna be happy because they’ve got a lot of members in the IAMAW, and (b) those members will suddenly not be able to pay dues. Unemployment will go up, as will entitlement costs.

        If government spending actually does provide a stimulus to the economy, I’d argue that more needs to be spent on durable goods like aircraft, ships, tanks, and other items needed for defense, and a revamping of our entire electrical transmission infrastructure than just continually tossing money and benefits at folks who don’t, won’t or can’t work. Do we need a safety net? Sure. But for a lot of people that’s turned into a hammock, and they see little to no reason to get out… and every reason to stay in as long as they can.

        Of course, it’s much easier to just throw money at entitlements. That way, you don’t have to judge and balance what the effects will be in the various economic sectors. It also gets more in the way of votes quickly – but I’m SURE that isn’t ever a political consideration… /sarc

        • Carl

          Suggesting that there aren’t defense cuts that can’t be made is absurd.

          But that’s the way the Teabilly right rolls these days…

          • I’m not saying there aren’t – but then actual comprehension beyond your limited opinion set isn’t really anything I’d expect from you.

            I’m saying that money to the military provides more economic benefit to a wider spectrum of people and to the economy at large than an equivalent amount thrown out as welfare checks and food stamps.

            But if you’re a politician, you get a better return (IE more votes) for money tossed on the entitlement bonfire.

      • 914

        Your race card hes been declined!

        No, seriously.. I’m a conservative tan male and would like a conservative party to materialize because the two we have are clearly incapable of doing the job.

  • Commander_Chico

    Wait a second. Weren’t you all campaigning against Obama a few weeks ago by saying he cut Medicare?

    They should cut the wars before they cut Medicare.

    • They should cut their salaries before they do anything else. Pay for Performance – you don’t figure a way to save money, you don’t get paid.

    • 914

      Too late! Obama already took a trillion out!

    • jim_m

      Cutting Medicare in order to push funding to obamacare is not exactly what we’d call rational and well thought out reform. Hell, no one knows what lies in the depths of the obamacare law yet, how could it possibly be well thought out when no one knows WTF is in it? (particularly it cannot be well thought out when the politicians selling it had no idea what was in it)

  • Vagabond661

    100,000 protestors against Morsi’s power grab. Wow..Storming the castle. What a concept.