Now that the famous Chinese spy balloon is no more, whatever will we talk about?
“A senior defense official has said there have been four previous known Chinese balloon incursions over the continental United States: one early in the Biden administration and three during the Trump administration,” it says here.
I do want to talk more about the debt ceiling. WaPo has an article that lists seven proposals for budget cuts that the Republicans are considering. It’s a bit wordy, but to sum:
One. Big cuts to discretionary spending, “which includes funding for the Defense Department and other federal agencies.”
These cuts would hit politically popular programs such as spending on energy assistance for low-income Americans; K-12 education; Pell Grants for college students; the National Institutes of Health; NASA; and others. There are other, potentially less dramatic options, such as freezing future increases in non-Pentagon spending or just cutting spending by less, Riedl said. Another idea being batted around is to demand $3 of spending cuts for every $1 increase in the debt ceiling, although that still leaves the all-important question of what to cut.
Two. Cuts to Social Security and Medicare. In recent days a lot of Congress Critters have backed away from this, but they haven’t given up on it entirely.
Three. Undo the IRS Increase. A lot of them want to reverse last year’s $80 billion funding increase for the Internal Revenue Service. This would actually increase the debt considerably, but they’re too stupid to understand that. Or they understand it and want to do it anyway.
Four. Claw Back Covid Aid. There isn’t enough of it yet unspent to make that much difference.
Five. Various Anti-Immigrant Proposals. Some of them want to hold the debt ceiling hostage until there is a commitment to finish Trump’s moronic border wall. Some of them want to block all undocumented immigrants at the borders, including asylum seekers.
Six. Work Requirements to Receive Aid. Or, let’s force the destitute into indentured servitude or, even better, sharecropping. Some guy from the Manhattan Institute points out that as much fun as this proposal is, a lot of states have already done it. “There aren’t that many places to go with work requirements that we have not gone already,” he said.
Seven. Let It Burn. Some of them want to push past the debt ceiling last days, figuring the economic chaos would give them even more leverage to cut spending they don’t like. Some of them are still talking about a “prioritization plan” would specify what payments Treasury should prioritize over other payments. That would still screw with the nation’s credit score and drive up the cost of borrowing.
In brief, they don’t have a real plan at all. They just have fantasies.
I think the plan was and is to define a dollar amount or a percentage they want to cut and very generously leave it entirely to the Democrats to decide WHAT to cut. No matter who gets gored, the Republicans would blame it on the Democrats. Brilliant! And it would work if none of the Democrats was over six years old. Biden (and I really expect to hear this articulated in the SOTU) is going to be very willing to negotiate on the BUDGET but not the debt ceiling and Biden will be eager to see the exact proposal(s) from Republicans what programs will get the axe. And you're right – they have no plan that adds up to the financial goal they have articulated. SO it's gonna stay where it is for months. Republicans will say Joe isn't negotiating in good faith. The President will continue to demand they define an exact plan
The radicals in the House think they can force the 'prioritization' plan which would fund the payments that would otherwise trigger a default and force Biden to suspend other programs – cut back Social Security and Medicare payments. This is their preferred method because it allows them to blame everything on Biden. I think it's in Biden's power to order such a plan but I don't think he will. Politically, it's smartet to let everything go to hell and blame Republicans. This is their doing – make them take the heat.
In other news, the Koch machine announced they are going to pump big money into the 2024 election and they aren't going to back Trump. The organization is Libertarian – DeSantis isn't their style either. Libertarians want no taxes and no government interference – they also hate social programs. Everyone is responsible for their own retirement and health care. The flip side is personal freeedoms – Libertarians believe in the 2nd Amendment, legalized grass, abortion rights, sexual liberties, and they favor immigration. So DeSantis messing with Disney is a no-no and demonizing trans people is a violation. Pence came out in favor of privatizing Social Security but his religious views are medieval. I'm not sure if Nicki Haley might fit, but it may change the mix if the two-way primary (Trump v DeSantis) becomes a three-way primary with a well-funded corporatist candidate who renounces the culture wars. Problem: most registered Republicans ARE enrolled in the culture wars – independents can't vote in most primaries. That's the group most likely to be attracted to a less-hateful conservative.
But it could make the GOP debates interesting.
I loved the SNL cold open with Bowen Yang as the (Alleged) Chinese Spy Balloon! This whole story has been hysterical; actually, the hysteria IS the story. Sadly, US media took it seriously, to the point where the Biden Admin felt compelled to shoot the thing down.
I do find it odd that we – USA, with all our alleged technical expertise and expensive military equipment – had to shoot it down and then dredge it out of the ocean, rather than going up & grabbing it out of the sky. Sure, it's a complex engineering feat, but we used to be able to do those.
Song of the day:
The Chinese accomplished one thing at least, they embarrassed the hell out of our tabloid corporate media, the coverage bordered on hysteria, five days (and counting) of mindless speculation. They spent one thousand times more air time on this balloon "spy" than they did on a real Spy (McGonigal, FBI agent turned Trump/Russia asset) just last week. But who will call them out? Democrats need to get their shit together before going on the air. How about this: "the President followed the prudent advice of military leaders keeping the safety of the American people as his first priority". That's it, that's all that needs to be said, it is the truth so why the fuck can't they stick to a message?
"Seven. Let It Burn."
I would argue that is the first and only reason, they couldn't give a rip about cutting spending, they only want to crash the economy, it's the one chance they have for getting the Russian asset, twice impeached rapist back in the WH!
Oh and if I were a democratic congress critter I would also point out that many of the GQP'ers calling for the immediate shooting down of the "Spy Balloon" are also the ones what want to carry loaded guns on the floor of the house and senate (though they don't allow guns at their campaign rallies?). So there is that!
Sorry, we had a major power outage just as it was getting dark and REALLY cold on Friday, and I've had intermittent inter-tube issues since then.
It was kinda nice and quiet for a few days there, though…
Ok, I've convinced myself!
I'm going back to rereading Bertie Russell's history of philosophy.
See all y'all tomorrow!!!
The local public television station held one of its periodic shows featuring local representatives, all republican as they are here-abouts. One of them had the audacity to suggest changing the state income tax structure to a flat tax. You can certainly tell who pulls their strings, the ones that are rich and keep getting richer. Yet they feel no shame in proposing such a regressive change blatantly aimed at subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor working people. They want all the control and none of the fiscal responsibility…or social responsibility either for that matter.