What the hell is everybody smoking in DC?

And where can I get me some of that in New York?  I, too, want to live in a fantastic, richly detailed, bizarro world.  Ezra Klein recounts the debt and deficit negotiations, and sums the whole thing up neatly in the first paragraph:

Over the past year, Republicans have learned something important about negotiating budget deals with Democrats: If you don’t like their offer, just wait a couple of months.

The piece takes us through deal after deal, starting with the lame-duck Congress.  Democrats, who held the majority then, tried to pass a spending bill funding the government through 2011:  Republicans killed it by filibuster.  Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) proposed a compromise:  Democrats killed it — by one vote.  Then the Dems made a deal with Speaker John Boehner, capping the year’s appropriations at $1.05 trillion and agreed to cut even more spending in the coming years.

Each subsequent debt and deficit proposal hurtled along on a rightward trajectory, focusing more and more on spending cuts to social services and less and less on increasing tax revenue.

Then came the debt-ceiling debate. By the end of those negotiations, Obama had offered Boehner a deal that would cut the deficit by about $4 trillion, with only $800 billion to $1.2 trillion coming from revenue. That deal would also have raised the Medicare eligibility age to 67, cut Social Security and made the Bush tax cuts permanent. It was far to the right of both Obama’s previous offer and the Bowles-Simpson commission.

That’s right:  a Democratic president offered a deal that (a) raised the Medicare eligibility age to 67, (b) cut Social Security benefits, and (c) made the Bush tax cuts permanent.  This is exactly what Republicans have been trying to do for years, and Obama handed it all to them on a silver platter.  And yet Republicans stuck their snouts up in the air and sniffed, unimpressed.  Which brings us to today:

Last week, some of the Democrats on the supercommittee offered the Republicans a plan that would include about $1 trillion in revenue. That put it near even with the president’s proposal to Boehner. The expectation this week is that they will offer the Republicans yet a bit more than that, putting them well to the right of the president’s offer to Boehner, which was in turn well to the right of the president’s previous proposal, which was in turn well to the right of Bowles-Simpson.

So far, Republicans have not said yes to any of the deals the Democrats have offered. They continue to assume a better deal is just around the corner, and thus far, they have been right.

The Republicans do not care one whit about the deficit.  If they did, the Bush tax cuts would be jettisoned: the tax cuts are by far the major drivers of the deficit going forward, followed closely by the Great Recession, the proximate cause of which is obscene and criminal greed with near-total government collusion.

Joan McCarter at DailyKos points out the obvious:

They will never give up on making the Bush tax cuts permanent and they will never agree to revenue increases that would actually make a trade for the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts they demand worth it, in terms of politics or policy.

A Catfood Commission II [“supercommittee”] failure would create far less damage for the nation than the kinds of bad deals we’ve seen offered by so far—by Republicans and Democrats. With what they’ve produced so far, failure is the best option.

I tend to agree with digby here:

If the deficit really is a crisis, it’s not difficult at all to see how to fix it. That [letting the Bush tax cuts expire] isn’t even on the table proves that the entire exercise is about something else.

And whatever that is, it is not going to be good for the 99%.  And if Social Security really is a crisis, it’s not difficult at all to see how to fix it either:  raise the goddamn cap.

Meanwhile, further to our report on Wednesday that the U.S. is developing a military presence in Australia:

President Barack Obama said cutting the U.S. budget won’t reduce the nation’s military and economic commitments to the Asia-Pacific region in remarks that reflect a U.S. effort to contain China’s growing regional influence.

“Reductions in U.S. defense spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia Pacific,” Obama said. “As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region. We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace.”

Translation: “No matter how badly we have to fuck over our own citizens, we will always find the money to project our enormous penis military presence all over the globe.”

Obama is seeking to address concerns that the U.S. won’t be able to act as a counter-weight to China’s rising military and economic influence because of domestic budget constraints.

The president is in Australia as a 12-member special committee in the U.S. Congress is closing in on a Nov. 23 deadline to come up with a plan to trim the U.S. budget deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

[U.S.] troops will be deployed on a six-month rotation, starting with 250 personnel and eventually expanding to as many as 2,500. The two nations also agreed to more cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force, resulting in more U.S. aircraft passing through northern Australia.

That’s 2,500 U.S. troops — no mention of the number of “contractors,” but we can be pretty sure that number is not “zero.”  Either way, though, don’t you worry.  There’s plenty of money to pay for it.  PLENTY.

Obama said U.S. engagement in the region is about economics as well as defense.

Get. Out.

Asia’s growth has boosted earnings for its companies and led to stock market gains that have beaten U.S. equities. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of stocks has outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average seven of the past nine years through 2010.

China is the world’s second largest economy — for now.  If these trends continue, and there’s no reason to believe they will not, it won’t be very long until China eclipses the U.S. economy and leaves it in the dust.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit he hosted in Hawaii during the weekend, Obama announced the U.S., Australia and seven other nations will join in forming a Trans- Pacific Partnership trade accord within a year in what would be the biggest U.S. pact since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

After all, NAFTA was such a boon for U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“All of our nations have a profound interest in the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China — and that is why the United States welcomes it,” Obama said. “We will do this, even as we continue to speak candidly with Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people.”

How does he even spout this crap with a straight face?  I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of people in Beijing — and elsewhere — laughing their asses off right now.

From the same article:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday in Manila that the U.S. will upgrade a defense treaty to give the Philippines more naval support.

Of course.  Tell you what, Philippines:  we’ll throw in a couple warships, no extra charge.  No, no, no — we insist.  The American people will be more than happy to pick up the tab.  We’ll just tell ’em it’ll create jobs, and they’ll lap it up like kittens.

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