Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tom, this is not really helping

By Directioner via WeHeartIt.
Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Contrarianisticus, has a fun take:
Thank God for WikiLeaks.
After all these months of nailbiting over what kind of monstrous evil Hillary might be revealed by the transcripts of her secret meetings with the employees of the Goldman Sachs firms, now that WikiLeaks has published them it turns out she's nothing but a left-deviationist Friedmanite! Exactly what the mustache ordered!
I confess, I was starting to wonder about what the real Hillary Clinton — the one you never get to see behind closed doors — really stood for. 
Right, how come the Clinton we see behind closed doors is never the real one? Wait what?

Seriously, those speeches are great! They show someone with a vision, a pragmatic approach to getting things done and a healthy instinct for balancing the need to strengthen our social safety nets with unleashing America’s business class to create the growth required to sustain social programs.
Uh, Tom, I'm not sure that's really helpful. It reads a little more like all the rest of us worried about, if that's code for cutting Social Security, which I guess it is, because
In a speech to a Morgan Stanley group on April 18, 2013, WikiHillary praised the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, which included reforming the tax code to increase investment and entrepreneurship and raising certain taxes and trimming some spending and entitlements to make them more sustainable.
Actually, let's just stipulate that she did not praise the 2010 Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan in that speech, as far as we know from the Tony Carrk excerpt published by WikiLeaks; she praised the Simpson-Bowles "framework":
Simpson-Bowles -- and I know you heard from Erskine earlier today -- put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues, and we have to incentivize growth. It's a three-part formula. The specifics can be negotiated depending upon whether we're acting in good faith or not.
No loose talk about cutting Social Security or Medicare benefits there. I should mention one reason for not mentioning Social Security cuts was that they weren't, strictly speaking, a part of the Simpson-Bowles disagreement. Simpson-Bowles was about deficit reduction, and Social Security, as any fule kno, does not contribute to the deficit. They did propose cuts to Social Security anyway, but only on the side, as a kind of lagniappe, and Congress could have voted on the plan without them, if they could have voted on it at all, which of course they couldn't.

(It was always my belief, or at least since I wrote it in about August 2012, that President Obama set up the Simpson-Bowles commission specifically in order to not do anything about the deficit, though nobody has ever seemed able to understand this. As people like Tom Friedman would not get off his ass begging him to do something about the deficit, and as he had no intention of doing something so harmful to the economy, but couldn't possibly say so in public, or people like Tom Friedman would be dying in the streets and TV studios of apoplexy, he pulled the sophisticated maneuver of naming a bipartisan commission to do something about the deficit in the understanding that it would certainly fail while he got the credit for doing his own part.

As the ancient Chinese general Sunzi didn't say, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting; the supreme art of legislation is to win without risking any political capital; the supreme art of avoiding legislation is to name a bipartisan commission.")

I thought I'd been through this excerpt last week as much as I could without getting to see the context of utterance, but today's Friedman has enabled me to add some more. Namely, I think I have a clue why Hillary Clinton began talking about a Simpson-Bowles plan for as far as we know the only time in her life at this particular conference of somebody or other for Morgan Stanley in Washington, April 18 2013, and it wasn't because she was divulging her otherwise secret insidious plans to institute a radical deficit-reduction plan when she became president in January 2017.

It was especially because Erskine Bowles, Bill Clinton's old chief of staff, was now a leading member of Morgan Stanley's board of directors (he's been the Lead Director since February 2014), and in the audience (as her nod indicates), and a speaker at whatever it was himself, when he had just introduced a new Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan that very same day—a plan even deader in the water, obviously, than the one the commission had proposed three years earlier.

She was making a kind, though empty gesture to the harmless old bastard. The discussion was dead by 2013 in any case, as the deficit radically declined without the help of a commission.

And by now, the deficit has (properly) disappeared as an issue, as we heard or rather didn't hear in tonight's debate when poor old Chris Wallace tried to raise it, and Hillary doesn't plan to cut Social Security benefits, as she's been saying in various venues consistently since at least 1994. And
the Clinton policy of 2016 is to expand Social Security benefits, in particular for widowed women, and
Hillary understands that there is no way to accomplish that goal without asking the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system.
Which would be a "tough decision" for a bunch of Goldman Sachs executives, to be sure.

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