Medicare

Will Republicans Bargain Away Entitlement Reform in the Fiscal Cliff Deal?

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There are a large number of policies that make up the fiscal cliff: the expiration of the Bush-era income tax cuts, the end of a temporary payroll tax cut, budgetary caps on discretionary spending imposed by last year's debt deal, a reduction in planned spending on defense as a result the sequestration process, the so-called "doc fix" which governs physician's Medicare reimbursements. All of these policies are set to change automatically if Congress does nothing.

What won't change automatically is the fundamental shape and structure of any of the country's major entitlements: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Yet Republicans are hoping to negotiate changes to those programs as part of a fiscal cliff deal.

That's a good thing, at least in theory, because entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid in particular—are the biggest drivers of the long term debt. And the sooner that Congress starts looking for ways to restrain them, the better.

Republicans have indicated that they might be willing to bargain: They'll accept hikes in tax revenue in exchange for cuts or changes to entitlements. But the problem is that Republicans don't seem clear about what they're bargaining for. And the hints that they've been dropping about what sort of reforms they might accept in a trade suggest that they might be willing to give on taxes in exchange for not much in return.

Republicans have said they want "structural reforms" to Medicare, but haven't said what, exactly, that might mean.

That's a familiar dodge. Republican leaders supposedly seeking entitlement reform have spent the last few years saying they're for it, in vague terms, without giving any real hints about what they might mean. Mitt Romney offered a Medicare reform plan that lacked crucial details. In the weeks before the 2010 midterm election, top GOP House Representative John Boehner would say only that he wanted to have "an adult conversation" about reforming entitlements—but refused to provide any specifics.

It often seems as if Republicans are for the idea of entitlement reform—but not for any specific plan to accomplish it.

And sometimes the proposals they hint at would barely reform the system at all.

Over the weekend, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a step toward suggesting the kind of reform he'd like to see: Means testing of entitlements. Via The Wall Street Journal:

The senator's top priority is long-term entitlement reform. "Changing the eligibility for entitlements is the only thing that can possibly fix the country long term." He wants means-testing for programs like Medicare. "Warren Buffett's always complaining about not paying enough in taxes," he says. "What really irritates me is I'm paying for his Medicare."

Here's the thing: Medicare is already means tested, as the Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds points out. Thanks to rules put in place by the Obama administration, he writes, "monthly Medicare premiums now rise from $99.90 on single seniors with less than $85,000 in income to $229.70 (including drug coverage) at incomes from $107,000 to $160,000, and to $386.10 above $214,000."

More to the point, the possible savings from reducing Medicare spending on the wealthy are quite slim. According to Reynolds, denying Medicare benefits to the top 1 percent of earners would save just 1 percent, at most, out of Medicare's budget. And if the wealthy were denied benefits entirely, Medicare would actually lose the money raised from their higher premiums. At best this sort of meaningless means testing would provide Republicans with a fig leaf to cover a deal to raise tax revenues. But it wouldn't fix Medicare. It wouldn't fix the budget. It wouldn't fix much of anything.

But it does allow Republicans to talk about entitlement reform without actually describing anything that resembles meaningful entitlement reform. And it allows them to do it in a politically safe way that targets a narrow group of extremely wealthy individuals.

Indeed, there's a remarkable symmetry between Republican rhetoric about cutting benefits for super-earners like Warren Buffett and Democratic rhetoric about raising taxes on the rich. Neither will actually fix the problem they're supposedly intended to address. And they both allow their respective parties to maintain the fictions that the vast majority of voters in the middle and even upper middle classes can continue to enjoy the current mix of entitlement benefits and federal taxes.

That's just not the reality of the situation. As the Congressional Budget Office has made clear, a tax-centric approach to closing the budget gap would require "raising taxes substantially…for a broad segment of the population." If that's what Democrats really want, they should say so. But they don't.

Averting unsustainable growth in the entitlement system, meanwhile, would entail "significant changes in the laws governing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid." Republicans, though, seem ready to make a deal that wouldn't come close to making the entitlement changes that are necessary. Making the changes needed to put the budget on a sustainable course will be difficult no matter what. But it will be even more difficult given that neither party wants to say how big the necessary changes really are.

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  1. Will Republicans Bargain Away Entitlement Reform in the Fiscal Cliff Deal?

    The answer is: “More likely than Lindsay Lohan violating her parole on a coke bender.”

    1. “Entitlement reform” is a fucking oxymoron at this point.

      1. The exact same oxymoron as European “austerity”.

    2. What the heck are they supposed to do? Libertarians demonstrated on Nov 6 that they won’t vote for them under any circumstances, so why should they give a flying F about what libertarians want?

      1. Not voting for Romney is hardly not voting for them under any circumstances.

        They might give a flying fuck about libertarians if they want to pick up libertarian votes in the future. But, as we know from the primary and convention, the Repubs are much more interested in driving libertarians away from their party.

        And, of course, there is exactly zero chance that the Repubs might try to do the right thing just because it is the right thing.

        1. If the GOP implemented a policy wrt entitlements that Reason would approve of, the Dems would have 70% majorities in both houses after 2014.

          1. What’s the point in voting Republican if they’re going to support the policies we oppose?

            1. Because the policies they normally support are better than the ones the Dems normally support, and voting for them gives them leverage against the Dems’ worse policies.

              Right now they have absolutely no leverage.

              1. Because the policies they normally support are better than the ones the Dems normally support

                Ah yes, the old “evil as the enemy of pure fucking evil” card. Yes, please, please go forward with your policies that are only 10% less retarded than your opposition’s.

              2. Just because Boehner is a spineless shit and won’t use the leverage he has doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it.

                How else could Obama or other Dems get spending bills passed without House approval? The House being Republican controlled at this point?

          2. So what you’re saying is “vote TEAM RED just because“? Are you fucking retarded?

            Don’t answer that.

            1. We can answer it for him. AYE.

              1. I do not recognize your expertise to diagnose mental disorders over the internet.

          3. How does that matter?

      2. Are you retarded, Tulpa? Libertarians didn’t vote for them because they don’t represent any libertarian principles. If they want fucking libertarian votes, represent libertarian principles. Is this really beyond your capacity to understand?

        Don’t answer that.

      3. A more libertarian candidate? Not taking extraordinary measures to suppress internal, libertarian dissent? Not taking active measures to shove aside the RLC?

        There’s a long list. All the GOP has, really, is some rhetorical alignment with libertarians. Practically speaking, it doesn’t walk the walk. Case in point, the fiscal cliff. They should play the hardest of hardball, but we all know they won’t.

        1. So as less than 5% of the electorate, you expect them to do your dirty work and piss off the majority, and then maybe you’ll think about voting for them.

          That’s not likely to happen with someone who does play hardball.

          1. So the solution is to just go ahead and vote for them? If they’re gonna play politics to keep power (assuming this all necessary to do so), fine, go ahead. I understand. But don’t expect to get my vote

            1. The solution is to encourage them to lean more towards your way.

              The solution is definitely not to throw your vote away. BTW, how much media attention did Johnson’s vote total get? None? Yep. So you may as well have written in Mickey Mouse.

              1. How many swing states did Libertarians cost the Republicans? Oh, also none?

                Well, gee Tulpa, it looks like any number of libertarian or libertarian leaning voters in states like Ohio took your advice and voted for Romney, while people from relatively safe states sent a message with their vote.

              2. The solution is to encourage them to lean more towards your way.

                I think that not voting for them is a pretty clear signal of encouragement.

                1. No, no, no JW, you’re supposed to vote for them regardless of what they do. That will encourage them to cater to your wants.

                  1. Of course! The answer is so obvious! Right under our stupid, stupid noses!

                2. I think that not voting for them is a pretty clear signal of encouragement.

                  Not unless you demonstrate that they could have won your vote without losing other people’s votes.

                  1. Not unless you demonstrate that they could have won your vote without losing other people’s votes.

                    I’ll immediately wire them a telegram, signalling my disappointment with them.

                  2. Not unless you demonstrate that they could have won your vote without losing other people’s votes.

                    But doesn’t that work the other way around, Tulpy Poo? By courting the vote of those who want to spend more, forever, they lose our vote. Why shouldn’t they try to win other people’s votes without losing our vote?

                    Your circular logic is circular, Tulpa.

                    1. Sigh.

                      Because there are MORE OF the people who want to spend forever. If your position is “us or them”, politicians will choose them. Every. Flerking. Time.

                      The idea is to find a compromise position where our concerns are partially satisfied, but not to the extent that the other people will bolt. I know the C word is considered dirty around here, but you can’t understand politics without it.

                    2. Tulpa, your vote doesn’t go to them with a special disclaimer about what you want them to do. Even if it did, they wouldn’t care. Your vote to them is no different from any other TEAM RED dipshit’s.

          2. So as less than 5% of the electorate, you expect them to do your dirty work and piss off the majority, and then maybe you’ll think about voting for them.

            I understand and accept that everyone else if a fucking idiot and they will destroy everything good about this country but that doesn’t mean I should vote for their candidate.

        2. Hell, even shit like copyright reform would get me to start looking at them different. Its such a simple, common sense idea, and only hurts industries (movies, music, and books) who haven’t been historically their friends, and the Republicans are going to fuck THAT up.

        3. Try to make a bit of a distinction here. Remember, Ron Paul was a registered Republican. Gary Johnson was a registered Republican until he ran this year. I can go on.
          There’s plenty of support for libertarian ideas in the Republican rank and file. The fact that the party’s leadership is addicted to Washington power hardly negates that fact.

      4. Hey dipshit hows this for an answer…

        Because it is their friggin jobs?

        You know what is being complained about here is not that they don’t support the plans we like, it is that they don’t support ANYTHING save a vague platitude of “entitlement reform”.

        Come out with an actual plan, one which in theory at least could move the spending needle in a positive direction because that is your fucking job, then we’ll worry about whether libertarians support the actual plan.

        1. Wrong. Their job is to win elections.

          1. That’s like saying my job is to ace interviews.

            1. If you ace an interview every two years, you’re guaranteed to keep your job forever?

          2. You and them believing this is a problem.

            1. No, it’s being realistic.

              To believe that it’s a congresscreature’s job to fix the fiscal situation is like believing that it’s the plumber’s job to clean your bathroom floors after he fixes the pipe from the toilet.

              1. Well, given that Congress made the fucking mess and only Congress can clean it up absent a violent revolution, yeah, it’s every congresscritter’s fucking job to fix the fiscal situation.

              2. To believe that it’s a congresscreature’s job to fix the fiscal situation is like believing that it’s the plumber’s job to clean your bathroom floors after he fixes the pipe from the toilet.

                Are you serious with this? An actual apt comparison would be expecting the plumber to fix the pipes after you have hired and paid him. You know, actually doing the work he was contracted to do. That is like expecting congress to fix the fiscal situation. Campaigning might be good for them, but it’s not what they’re paid to do.

                1. Shh, don’t interrupt Tulpa with logic or facts. He’s busy fellating.

          3. Wrong. Their job is to win elections.

            If their “job” is solely to win elections, why not just try and out BLUE Team BLUE?

            Free shit for all! Death to the kulaks!

            1. No kidding.

              I think the precise reason that the Republicans failed is because they were the party of “let’s be everything to everyone”

              The Democrats have explicitly tossed middle-class voters over the rails on economic policy, but what do I get from Mitt Romney? More free pony talk.

              Start showing some leadership, Republicans. Get on television and tell the American people, to their faces, that we cannot afford this.

              1. The Democrats have explicitly tossed middle-class voters over the rails on economic policy

                This is the kind of thing I was talking about in the comment you responded to with a glib eyeroll. Explicitly? Do you know what that word means? I agree that Dem policies are bad for the middle class, but throughout the campaign every Dem went on and on about how important it was to help the middle class. And the middle class believed them.

                The GOP was saying we can’t afford this for two years. Look where it got them. The American people Do. Not. Want. The. Truth. Whatever they say.

                1. The GOP was saying we can’t afford this for two years.

                  No they weren’t. Look at what your party’s standard-bearer said in every debate.

                  Explicitly? Do you know what that word means?

                  Read it and weep.

                  1. So your evidence is someone else on the internet also misusing the word.

                    Find me a quote where a high-profile Dem explicitly tosses middle-class voters off the rails on economic policy.

                    1. *yawn* I am not going to be arguing pedantry with you today. You win.

                    2. It’s not pedantry. You’re arguing that the middle class knew (this is where “explicitly” matters) that the Dems were throwing them overboard, so Romney’s emulating the Dems was bad strategy. If the Dems were not explicitly throwing them overboard but promising them free shit (which they were) then your argument falls apart.

                    3. It’s not pedantry

                      Yes it is.

                      You’re arguing that the middle class knew

                      No I am not.

                    4. So what does explicit mean?

                  2. No they weren’t. Look at what your party’s standard-bearer said in every debate.

                    Government doesn’t create jobs. Several times in succession.

                    1. Mitt Romney

                      Romney also made it clear that he doesn’t want to reduce government revenues. He insisted that his 20 percent cut in tax rates would be revenue neutral.

                      “In order for us not to lose revenue — have the government run out of money — I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.”

                      Mitt Romney, a few minutes later:

                      “I’m not looking to … reduce the revenues going to the government.”

                      Mitt Romney on education:

                      “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on continuing to grow.”

                    2. source?

                      Not that I don’t trust you or anything.

                    3. Not that I don’t trust you or anything.

                      So if you do, why do you want the source? What purpose does that serve? Do you think I made those quotes up? I mean, honestly.

                2. The GOP was saying we can’t afford this for two years. Look where it got them. The American people Do. Not. Want. The. Truth. Whatever they say

                  This much we agree on you are just a duped by the Republicans in thinking they were speaking the truth or something.

            2. If their “job” is solely to win elections, why not just try and out BLUE Team BLUE?

              They’re going to come close in the next few years, bank on it. That’s where the votes are.

              They can’t go totally left wing because there’s a lot of distrust from left wing constituencies.

              1. They’re going to come close in the next few years, bank on it. That’s where the votes are.

                And that is somehow libertarians’ fault, eh?

                1. There’s a lot of factors at play there. But libertarians throwing away their votes and funds and volunteer possibilities sure as hell aren’t helping.

                  BTW: this was not a good point, in case you were wondering.

                  1. But libertarians throwing away their votes and funds and volunteer possibilities sure as hell aren’t helping.

                    You haven’t demonstrated any reason why I should expend any money or effort on the GOP. Not one reason.

      5. Pardon me, but what a load of horseshit. Plenty of libertarians (or libertarian-leaning conservatives) voted Republican this year. Almost certainly more than voted for Johnson. By an order of magnitude.

        1. For the record, I did vote Republican pretty much across the board this year, except for my Gary Johnson vote. Part of that was due to a lack of any (or any decent) alternatives, but still.

      6. And give up the huge libertarian voting block? I wish it weren’t so, but the libertarian vote is probably one spot ahead of the astronaut vote.

      7. What the heck are they supposed to do?

        Vote against unconstitutional shit. Mind their own fucking business. Balance the budget. End one or two of our pointless, harmful, evil wars (either foreign or domestic).

        Any of those would be acceptable. But we all know they ain’t doin any of that shit.

      8. I voted accross the board for Republicans except for president. This is because I actually met most of them during the caucus to state convention nominating process. The state party nominated a lot of ron-paul/tea-party leaning republicans this year for US congress and state legislature. I had no problems voting for these guys over the democrats on the ballot.

  2. “No, fuck you, cut spending.”

    1. Going off an earlier thread, maybe this should get turned into a meme.

  3. So after months of bashing the GOP, now Reason is pissed that they’re not doing your dirty work for you?

    1. Only if you consider basic economics as dirty work.

      1. Something that’s likely to cause you to get voted out of office is dirty work.

        1. slave thinking

        2. The American public has aptly demonstrated that anything other than free, gold-pressed latinum ponies won’t get you elected.

          1. What are you, some kind of Space Jew?

            1. Isn’t everyone?

              1. I know I am.

                1. Does it come with a planet full of naked ladies? Cause then I’m in.

                  1. Yes,but they look like Ferengiis

                2. You’re not a True Space Jew. A True Space Jew doesn’t associate with Warty.

                  And by “associate” I mean allow encourage him to anal rape you nightly because you can’t sleep unless your anus is enraged in flaming pain from a good Warty-rootering.

          2. I’ll amend ‘public’ with the “American electorate.”

        3. Something that’s likely to cause you to get voted out of office is dirty work.

          Jesus fucking christ. Just vote democrat you tool.

    2. After months of kissing the GOP’s ass, you are now happy that they suck in the exact manner that we noticed they have always sucked?

  4. Of course they will. Currently, the only conversation is about how much to raise taxes. Even under the sequester, the cuts to entitlements are trivial (and, of course, what cuts there are can be reversed at any time):

    Cuts in Medicare payments to providers and insurance plans; those cuts are limited to 2 percent of such payments in any year, or $11 billion in 2013. This means that Medicare providers will continue to bill Medicare in the normal way but will be reimbursed at a rate of 98 cents on the dollar.

    About $5.2 billion in cuts in the other mandatory programs that are subject to sequestration, the biggest of which supports farm prices; other affected programs include student loans, vocational rehabilitation, mineral leasing payments, the Social Services Block Grant, and dozens of smaller programs. A number of key mandatory programs are exempt from sequestration, including Social Security, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), child nutrition, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), refundable tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, veterans’ compensation and other benefits, and federal retirement.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3635

    Right now, entitlements are protected under the sequester, so the Repubs have already bargained away entitlement cuts. Game. Over.

    1. In theory, they could cut a deal that would get rid of the sequester (which Republicans don’t like because of defense cuts) and overhaul Medicare.

      1. But there’s very little in the sequester that the Dems don’t like, especially since they can blame the Repubs for it.

        Higher taxes? Check.

        Defense cuts? Check.

        Entitlement cuts? Umm, no, not really, so check again.

        The Dems hold all the cards, because Boehner gave them all the cards when he agreed to the sequester deal. Sure, they could work a new deal to replace the sequester, but only if it results in more of what Dems like, and we know what they don’t like: entitlement reform.

        1. The debt ceiling deal was retarded.

      2. Hahahahaha!! I can tell that your sense of humor was one of the drawing points for Megan.

  5. “Neither will actually fix the problem they’re supposedly intended to address. And they both allow their respective parties to maintain the fictions that the vast majority of voters in the middle and even upper middle classes can continue to enjoy the current mix of entitlement benefits and federal taxes.”

    This is why if the Repubs had any sense (they don’t), they would just give Obama a metaphorical blank check so he will have to, for once, own the results of his policies.

    1. Exactly. They’ve played the Linus and Lucy game before, and made a proposal that served the sole purpose of giving the Dems a stick to beat them with.

      Lay back, let the Dems draft the bill, do what you can to fix the worst abuses, and let it go.

      Don’t worry; the growth of the Crony State will produce plenty of lucrative opportunities for apparatchiks on both sides of the aisle.

      1. Then they get primaried in 2014.

        You guys don’t seem to understand the importance of VOTING. You don’t vote for someone, don’t bitch about them not doing what you want them to do. If you voted for Johnson, bitch at Johnson for not doing enough to win.

        1. What if that person is legally considered my representative to the federal government? I have no right to call up their office because I didn’t vote for them?

          God, Tulpa, you are fucking retarded.

          1. You have a right to call up their office. Just like you have a right to go to Walmart with a busted TV that you have no receipt for and demand a refund.

            Doesn’t make it any less of a futile endeavor.

            1. So, your saying that, hypothetically if my kid needs a letter for West Point, my Congressman can and should refuse to give it because I didn’t vote for him?

              1. I think Tupla is saying that he can’t ever complain about Obama again.

                1. I can complain about him as an adversary, not as a faithless friend.

                  Reason isn’t saying “ohhh those eeeeevil Republicans want to raise taxes!” They’re saying “the Republicans won’t protect us from the eeeeeeevil Democrats who want to raise taxes!” Big difference.

                  1. Yes, Tulpa, how dare we expect the Republicans to stick to their own stated principles. How insane are we, am i rite?

        2. Yes dipshit, my vote for Romney in Kalifornia really would have made a big difference. How dare I complain now that he’s bouncing around La Jolla because of me while the Dems reek havoc?

        3. You don’t vote for someone, don’t bitch about them not doing what you want them to do.

          You’re sadly mistaken. If you vote, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

        4. Tulpa, politicians have to earn votes. Not the other way around. And if there are more votes in going the statist route, then ok, go ahead. Just don’t bitch about not getting my vote come election time

          1. They do, they will, and they’re not.

            But if you don’t want them to go the statist route, you have to do what you can to encourage them not to.

            1. And voting for them when they support statist policies is encouraging them to do the opposite? You can’t make this shit up

        5. So Repubs have their ass in a crack.

          Either play the Dem’s game, and make a proposal that the Dems will beat them with in 2014 and beyond (regardless of what actually passes), or

          Decline to play the Dem’s game, and get primaried.

          Yeah, they’re in a tough spot, especially if/since their number one priority is to both (a) avoid a primary and (b) win a general election. If they hadn’t dug this grave for themselves, I might feel a twinge of sympathy.

          1. It’s not about sympathy. Jesus Christ, I have no illusions about Republican congresscreatures being despicable people for the most part…. and they will do just fine with their govt pension.

            What I’m concerned about is the rest of us out here who will not do fine under the iron fist of BO.

            1. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

              You’re literally concern trolling. Well done, Tulpa, you’ve outdone your own stupidity. I’m proud of you.

            2. Think Obama is bad? Then you should have voted for him. Cause now you can’t complain about him not caring what you think.

              1. I knew all along he doesn’t care what I think. You don’t see me bellyaching about how he’s not playing hardball about closing Guantanamo, the way Reasonoids are complaining about the GOP not playing hardball about spending cuts.

        6. If they vote “Present” en masse? I don’t think so.

      2. Its not like the Democrats are dumb enough to go up against the defense contractors, Republicans.

  6. The question hinges on whether the Dems are willing to go past the “fiscal cliff” deadline and let tax rates rise, creating a new environment from which to make budget policy. It seems to be in Obama’s nature to want a deal before then, but some Democrats are being even more stubborn on not touching entitlements than some Republicans on taxes.

    1. Honestly, at this point, I have no problem letting the tax cuts expire. All the tax cuts.

      If the middle class would like a lot of government, then they should pay for a lot of government, as their brethren in Sweeden and Norway do for those countries massive government.

      1. Seriously, dude, don’t respond to it. If you would just ignore it, it would wither and die. Just walk away. It craves your responses.

        1. Did something similar happen to your dick? Cuz that would explain a LOT.

          1. MY DICK IS JUST FINE THANK YOU. Except for the lesions. I’m not sure about those.

            1. Your lesions are named T O N Y aren’t they?

              1. I just had a disturbing vision of Quato…

      2. I agree. We should be willing to pay for the things we want, and we overwhelmingly do want the more expensive programs like Medicare. It would be of immense help if people stopped trying to sell the snake oil that we can be a low-tax society and still have all the modern goodies we’re used to.

        1. There is a lot of merit in this post, Tony. I think that people would get religion fairly quickly if handed the bill for the full panopoly of goodies they’re voting for.

        2. No, the electorate does not want to pay for those things. They want their neighbors to pay for those things.

          Going back to Bastiat, government is the great fiction where everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.

        3. Fuck off, sockpuppet.

          1. They keep responding to it, Restoras. When it’s so clearly a construct designed to get them to respond to it. I don’t get it. Do they like being manipulated?

            1. Arguing with Tony is fun. It sharpens one’s wits. Whether Tony is an actual individual or an impressive bit of performance art by a dedicated (group of) regular(s) is irrelevant to the question.

              1. But you aren’t arguing with him. He posts in bad faith and responds in bad faith. Bad faith precludes argumentation. That you think you are arguing with him is what’s getting him off. And he’ll keep doing it as long as you provide him stroke material.

                1. Oh, I know that we will never convince Tony to change his ways – you can’t persuade a person to give up their conclusions that are emotionally arrived at. Tony is racist, envious and selfish, and no wall of text on the internet will ever change that.

                  But rebutting his bad-faith arguments can be a fun mental exercise. It *is* like talking to a brick wall, yes. However, many people who publicly perform will practice alone pretending that there is an audience because it prepares them for the times there *is* an audience.

                2. Yes but as sad as this is to say, for some of us this forum is pretty close to our entire social life and if we didn’t have the sock puppets to argue with we may as well just go off and live in the wilderness becauser we’d have absolutely no use for language skills again.

            2. I dunno. Maybe they just like yelling with a brick wall? Arguing with Satan? Flexing their libertarian muscles against a punching bag? That’s fine and all but it is so transparetnly a sock it seems like wasted energy…

              1. I just don’t understand being willingly manipulated. It’s one thing to argue in good faith. It’s another to argue with a completely made up character. I mean, would you argue with Cookie Monster over what cookies are the best? It makes no sense.

                1. would you argue with Cookie Monster over what cookies are the best? It makes no sense.

                  It’s pretty obvious that oatmeal chocolate chip are the best.

                  1. Holy shit you’re a moron; clearly Fig Newtons are the best. Wait, are you the Cookie Monster?

                    1. Fig Newtons aren’t cookies; they’re fruit and cake.

                    2. clearly Fig Newtons are the bes

                      Now who’s the one arguing in bad faith?

                    3. Oh, so nobody but me likes Fig Newtons?!? And you’re accusing me of bad faith?

                    4. No, no, Epi, you are right: Fig Newtons are the best. I’ll stand on this hill with you, brother.

                    5. I like Fig Newtons, but they are not cookies.

                    6. I like Fig Newtons, but they are not cookies.

                      Nabisco says they are.

                    7. Fig Newtons are a “roll pastry.” Nabisco even marketed them for years as not being a cookie with the slogan: “A cookie is just a cookie, but a Newton is fruit and cake.”

                    8. Times have changed, SugarFree. Nabsico says it has been and always will be a cookie.

                      RETCON’D!

                    9. Times have changed, SugarFree. Nabsico says it has been and always will be a cookie.

                      The status of the entire Newton line was changed after the time-shattering events resulting from Thanoseid’s pursuit of the Anti-Infinity Formulet.

                    10. No, sorry they can’t hold a candle to Pims

                    11. WHO ELSE IS WITH ME?!?

                    12. I like Fig Newtons plenty, but they aren’t the king of all cookies, you know, like the Reuben is the king of all sandwiches.

                    13. The Dagwood is the King of Sandwiches, and it is treason against the King to state otherwise.

                    14. What? Are you insane? Seriously, someone go and commit Randian to the Home for the Clinically Insane with Poor Sandwich-Selection Skills.

                    15. I hate it, but I actually agree with ProL about the Reuben. Fuck, now I need a shower.

                    16. Nay, you must bathe in a bath of sauerkraut juice while singing “Edelweiss.”

                      True story: A friend of mine got alcohol poisoning playing (and failing) Cardinal Puff in college. He felt horrible and insisted that sauerkraut juice was a remedy. I gave him some. He vomited nonstop for almost thirty minutes.

                    17. Now I want a Reuben for lunch.

                    18. I just had sushi, yet I agree.

                      You know what goes great with Reubens? German potato salad. Based on vinegar, potatoes, bacon, and bacon grease.

                    19. I make that exact potato salad, but I usually make it with paprika schnitzel. God damn my paprika schnitzel is awesome.

                    20. Mein Gott, I will have a Reuben and some German potato salad before this week is out.

                    21. Reuben is pretty hard to beat. It is a very balanced sandwich in terms of flavor, like it’s close cousin, the Cuban Sandwich.

                      B?nh m? are high on my list as well.

                    22. I’ll have to try that, because I’m totally aligned with your Reuben/Cuban commentary. It wasn’t long ago that finding a Cuban sandwich outside of Florida was a real chore.

                    23. A good Banh Mi is pretty amazing. But nothing tops a chicken cutlet, broccoli rabe, and fresh mozzarella sandwich on a long loaf from the pork store.

                  1. Can we at least agree that Oreos suck?

                    1. Oroes suck, unless you dunk them into milk, preferably cold whole milk. On their own, I see no reason for them to exist.

                    2. I suspect that the old Oreos that were made with sugared lard may have been good.

                    3. I have a cunning plan. A Hydrox knock-off (yes, they were first) based on chocolate cookies and a creme filling built on a bacon grease foundation.

          1. It would be of immense help if people stopped trying to sell the snake oil that we can be a low-tax society and still have all the modern goodies we’re used to.

            Hahahahahahhahaa

            oh yes, i can’t live without the fucking prison worker’s union.

        4. T o n y| 11.27.12 @ 1:13PM |#
          “we”

          That’s a turd in your pocket, shithead.

        5. Definitely. Not only should we let the Bush cuts expire, but we should have another 100% increase in all tax rates so that the government can raise enough revenue to pay all of the current costs for programs people want so much plus start paying down the accumulated debt. Once people see their tax bills go up several thousand dollars each, we’ll get a real test of how much they like Medicare, SS, etc.

        6. I agree. We should be willing to pay for the things we want, and we overwhelmingly do want the more expensive programs like Medicare.

          Who the fuck are “we” buddy?

          1. A large majority of your fellow citizens. Do you think you should be able to impose your minority view on them? Even by appealing to half-baked principles, that’s what you’d be doing.

            1. TOny is arguing for Jim Crow again.

            2. Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone… Obamaphone…Obamaphone…!

              T o n y be a dear and get the phone!

    2. The question hinges on whether the Dems are willing to go past the “fiscal cliff” deadline and let tax rates rise, creating a new environment from which to make budget policy.

      My point is that the “new enviroment” is one that the Dems like, a lot. If it becomes the new baseline on January 1, the Dems win.

      So the Repubs are going to have to give even more to the Dems to avoid the fiscal cliff, right? If you’ve got a pretty decent deal in the bag, you won’t agree to a different deal unless its better, right?

      1. That would seem to be so, but I try not to overestimate Democrats’ negotiating skills.

        1. Fuck off, sockpuppet.

          1. Again, with conviction.

  7. Libertarians demonstrated on Nov 6 that they won’t vote for them under any circumstances

    Ah, yes, the libertarian Hive Mind strikes again. All libertarians everywhere voted the same way, for exactly the same reasons.

    Eerie.

  8. It’s just theater. They’ll whine and fret until the very last minute when there will be a compromise of some sort.

    One thing is for sure, no one will allow spending to be cut.

    1. Or taxes to go up on the vast majority of Americans.

      1. Oh they’ll allow that. It’s two years before the next chance to fire Representatives or Senators. I’m sure tax hikes are on the table. But spending cuts? That would hurt the political class and the dependent class. Not going to happen.

        1. Tax hikes on anyone but some vaguely defined group of the rich reveal the man behind the curtain. They reveal that you can’t spend on this level and not have a big ass middle class tax increase. No fucking way do they let people know that government spending actually has real costs, not abstract shit like “80,000 per person” debt.

          1. They reveal that you can’t spend on this level and not have a big ass middle class tax increase.

            You can spend as much as you want when you can print your own money. Well, until hyperinflation happens. But we’ll just kick that can down the road for now.

            1. At a certain point, I sort of wonder if there will just be a quiet global agreement about hyperinflation. Its the only way out for Europe, the US, and Japan. China can’t say shit because it has its own problems and furthermore it needs those markets to be buying its shit. India is chaotic at the best of times, and they aren’t really going to object if everyone else is on board.

              Seriously, who says no? Brazil? They’ll be facing a tidal wave of new currency. The bond markets? Their opinion won’t matter as governments print money to buy up their own debt.

              I mean, their probably will be ramifications in the commodities market, but we’ll just get some Latin America-style populists to deal with that.

              1. What’s going to happen is that at some point there will be a global agreement to stop using the dollar as the default currency. What will replace it? I don’t know.

                When that happens, invest in wheelbarrows.

                1. Bretton Woods II this time with an increasing value of gold to compensate for the creation of dollars would be my guess.

              2. At a certain point, I sort of wonder if there will just be a quiet global agreement about hyperinflation.

                I suspect there already is, although the players are probably delusional enough to think that all they signed on for was moderate inflation that they could control.

                The bond markets? Their opinion won’t matter as governments print money to buy up their own debt.

                We’ve certainly passed that point as well; we have been monetizing over 2/3 of our debt for at least a couple of years.

                The idea that we can quietly paper over the debt by adding a zero or three to our currency is, to put it kindly, fucking nuts. That kind of inflation destroys savings, capital formation, and economies, and (here’s the kicker) pushes economically marginal populations into starvation, which most people can be a little stroppy about. What do you think kicked off the Arab Spring, anyway?

                1. If I had to guess, I think that the US will, within my lifetime, elect a populist president who then proceeds to nationalize industries. Definitely the oil industry in the US.

                  I mean a full on nationalization, none of this half-assed shit like GM.

                  1. I mean a full on nationalization, none of this half-assed shit like GM.

                    I think that might be the straw that could instigate armed rebellion.

                    1. Eh, they’ve already started laying down the rhetoric for it. “Fair share” and all that shit.

                      It’s a pretty standard play in Latin America for a reason.

                    2. Well, the decline in the capital stock in 2011 would support the notion that SOMEONE agrees with your assessment. It would be truly amusing if they nationalized a company and found it’s entire operations were losing money papered over with accounting gimmicks and their entire plant and equipment was just worthless junk.

                  2. Houston would actually straight-up revolt if they nationalized the oil industry.

  9. You guys don’t seem to understand the importance of VOTING. You don’t vote for someone, don’t bitch about them not doing what you want them to do.

    FUCK

    OFF.

    1. You left off the part of the quote were he said “except for me and Obama”.

  10. I think Tulpa has officially hit peak retard. At least for him.

    1. Yeah, this is an impressive retardathon for him. Way to up your tard game, Tulpa. It can’t be easy to top your other retard achievements.

      1. He was inspired by the Jets’ performance this week.

        1. That game was painful. And the Patriots did it without Gronkowski and some other key players. God damn the Jets are terrible. Why won’t they let Timmah have a chance? Nothing can be worse than Mark Sanchez.

          1. If anything can, it’s Tebow. Also he apparently has cracked ribs so they didn’t want to put him in because of the injury (no idea where he got them considering he’s not playing), but was for some reason still on the game day roster, instead of the 3rd string guy who is healthy enough to go in.

            1. How the fuck did he get cracked ribs? Did he get hugged by Jesus too hard?

              1. Well, according to the Half Men who has come out as an adventist, feeling the Holy Spirit is like getting hugged from the inside out. So the answer to your question is probably.

            2. If anything can, it’s Tebow.

              I fail to see how.

              I mean, give it a shot Jets. It isn’t as if what they’re doing now is working.

              1. Nothing can be worse than Mark Sanchez.

                I still remember the Browning Nagle era.

                no idea where he got them considering he’s not playing

                Sometime against Seattle, apparently. Not sure when, they only ran like 15 plays.

                I mean, give it a shot Jets. It isn’t as if what they’re doing now is working.

                They don’t have the personnel to make some variant of the spread-option work and they know it (slow RB’s, finesse OL, poor secondary blocking). McElroy is a better bet at this point.

        2. Mark Sanchez and that bucket of lard aren’t taking the retard crown from me!-Tulpa

          1. “You can take my dignity, but you can never take my RETARDATION!!!”

      2. I have long filtered Tulpa out on Reasonable. I have explicitly unfiltered Tony. As annoying as Tony’s greed, racism and selfishness get, his comments are nowhere as worthless as Tulpa’s peevish journeys from hamfisted attempts at Socratic questioning to hysterical pearl clutching.

        Tulpa should contemplate that on the tree of woe.

    2. Nah. The snowball fight, the international rock throwing murder defense, the red light camera worship, his “it’s OK to execute the innocent” defense of the death penalty, and his insistence that immoral laws have to be followed for appearance sake is much more retarded than this. This is just butthurt partisan nonsense.

      Everyone on the board could have voted for Romney twice and he still wouldn’t be president. Tulpa’s just being his usual “only sane man in the room” arrogant self.

      Remember, he doing us a favor by arguing with us. We should cherish him.

      1. Remember, he doing us a favor by arguing with us. We should cherish him.

        Is that sarcasm?

  11. I just had a vision of hell: Being on the same jury as Tulpa, 12 Angry Men style.

    1. I was actually on a jury a few weeks ago. You might be surprised to know that I was by far the most skeptical of the prosecution of the 12 of us.

  12. Speaking of pearl clutching, it looks like I’m pissing off all the right people. Not intentionally, as I’m no troll, but it looks like even if I’m cremated I will have made an impact on this earth.

    1. You’re not pissing me off. I just happen to know you are wrong. You, personally, are extremely irritating in that you never seem to acknowledge when your opponent has made a good point, and instead you double-down on your wrongness.

      Blaming libertarians for this mess is rich, I’ll give you that.

      1. I acknowledge good points from time to time. This isn’t a warm fuzzy club.

        And I know one isn’t supposed to argue the man, but seriously? Randian irritated by people who double down on wrongness? There are threadfuls of you being proved wrong (on a matter of fact, not opinion) and then acting like it never happened.

        1. *eyeroll*

          OK, Tulpa, whatever you say.

    2. Your delusions are delicious, Tulpy-Poo. Please keep them up, as they are far more entertaining than any of the other retards, trolls, and sockpuppets.

    3. The GOP long ago destroyed what little fiscal brand identity they had. You are just a party of SoCons now (but I repeat).

      1. And you’re a party of Fiscal Libs. Congrats on your rank profligacy and avarice.

        1. I am very aware that we cannot afford all the entitlement programs in place now. They should be drastically curtailed.

          At least Democrats attempt to pay for them though.

          1. I don’t like that criminals buy cocaine they can’t afford, but at least they attempt to pay for it by mugging people.

          2. At least Democrats attempt to pay for them though.

            That’s a lie and you know it. If they wanted to “attempt to pay for them”, then they would raise tax rates on everybody.

            As it stands, they want to raise them on the “rich” to (a) make someone else pay for the ponies and (b) show how “serious” they are about paying down debt.

            Fact:

            Retroactively repeal Bush tax cuts for $250k+ earners, bill them for taxes underpaid since 2001. You’ve almost covered 40% of 2012 deficit.

            How is that “attempting” to pay for anything?

            1. Yes, the tax hike on the top rate is only a feeble partial payment.

              I don’t expect anything more.

              Hey! Maybe the LP will take over for the GOP and then we will have a party that actually wants to cut current spending and not 10-30 years out like Paul Ryan cowardly proposed.

              1. Hey! Maybe you’re trying to deflect your apologetics for the Democratic Party by making a weak acknowledgement of its flaws + a “hey look over there it’s a dragon!” red herring!

              2. As opposed to the permanently keep spending jacked up policy those you’re backing advocate.

  13. I would just like to state that I hated Tulpa way before it was cool.

    as I’m no troll

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    1. You’re quite the early adopter of hate. Congrats.

      1. So Tulpa, which particular mental illness do you suffer from? I’m trying to place it but yours is…unusual. Delusions of grandeur combined with absolute irrationality and a penchant for circular logic is a weird combo.

        1. They removed homosexuality from the DSM, you idiot.

          1. Tulpa’s not remotely fabulous enough to be a homo. No, he’s probably asexual, or some sort of bestiality fan, but with non-mammalian species.

            1. Well, whatever you call it, he loves to get buttraped vigorously.

            2. I think Tulpa is probably a fecal-pheliac.

              Or whatever they call it when you like to have people shit on you. Literally.

              1. Coprophelia is the word for which you are looking.

  14. I think Tulpy sees himself as Joan of Arc at the stake, clinging defiantly to his godly calling, even as the flames lick his toes.

    1. He fancies himself our Socrates, but he’s more like our Zoidberg.

      1. “You still have your old pal Tulpa! YOU ALL HAVE TULPA!!!”

  15. And here comes the swarm of glibster insults. Yep, all the right people.

    1. Free hint: the word “glib” is not a trump card that says “I obviously win all arguments”.

      There are two possibilities with glib: you are so right and we’re all so stupid that we just can’t see it, or you really do grate on people that badly.

      Consider what your interactions look like with almost every person here. Are we all so irrational? I doubt it.

      1. I have civil relationships with several people here. The main glibbies, such as Epi, Warty, and yourself have storminess with many other people here too. (witness Epi ripping into sarcasmic on the Friedman thread above this one for questioning anarchy…and sarcasmic is not notably a questioner of libertarianism)

        Look, this is a very ideological place by design. It’s to be expected that outsiders who question this ideology are going to be treated badly by some elements. To use your same argument, why do you think that so many outsiders have bailed on this place in recent times?

        1. I am glib with you because you refuse to take an argument seriously.

          1. Or your arguments aren’t good enough.

            You guys define bad faith as “not accepting everything you say totally.”

            1. You guys define bad faith as “not accepting everything you say totally.”

              Projection thy name is T o n y!

  16. The phrasing “Bargain Away” makes it sound like they already had the intention, will, or capacity to enact some entitlement reform.

  17. Embrace your martyrdom.

    You earned it.

  18. Tulpa is the cuntiest cunt that ever cunted.

  19. the expiration of the Bush-era income tax cuts, the end of a temporary payroll tax cut

    If both programs were written to expire after a certain period of time, why are the payroll tax cuts deserving of explicitly being called out as “temporary”, but not the income tax cuts?

  20. JW| 11.27.12 @ 12:39PM |#

    Will Republicans Bargain Away Entitlement Reform in the Fiscal Cliff Deal?

    Republicans had 8 years under GWB to make entitlement reform an Agenda Item and punted.

    Shit, members of the ways and means committee were talking about the looming insolvency of SS & Medicare back in the 80s… and no one has ever done fuck all about it. Why start now?

  21. Say you have an idiotic set of ideas, and when you present them to the public, they are roundly mocked and torn to pieces.

    What you should do then is accuse the public of being “unserious” and “glib”, and unfit to properly understand or asses your wise and brilliant notions. Then pretend you are being unfairly persecuted and act as though a unruly mob has abused you before you could even get a fair hearing.

    You might as well carry a large cross around all the time, just in case.

    1. Are you describing the way libertarians introduce their ideas to the public?

  22. It is real simple: tell the FED to hit a few presses to add another $1T of kindling. Real simple. So what to expect? Why, raise the debt ceiling of course!

  23. Why can’t the FED just printing money? I expect the debt ceiling to be raised until there is a dollar crisis.

  24. Republicans are just as interested in massive spending, high taxes, huge deficits, and runaway entitlements as democrats. They will do whatever it takes to prserve those things including “compromise” with Obama.

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