David Axelrod’s Quaint Idea of Middle Class “Security”

There’s a lot to despise about David Axelrod’s announcement of Obama’s capitulation to the oligarchs on tax cuts, not least that he made this announcement on the same day Obama’s Catfood Commission Chairs started the process of stealing from seniors to “fix” our deficit.

Let yesterday be marked as the day when a nominally Democratic President began to dismantle Democrats’ signature policy achievement, social security, so he could shovel $700 billion to the very rich.

But I was particularly irked by what Axe described as “middle class security.”

“There are concerns,” he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. “But I don’t want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point.

Here, Axe is defining “security for the middle class” as tax cuts. Not “jobs.” Not “access to health care, not just insurance.” Not “a guarantee a bankster can’t just foreclose on their house with a trumped up piece of paper.” Not “some basic safety net for retirement.” But “tax cuts.”

According to Axe, we have to shovel even more money on the already rich so as to ensure the “security” of the middle class by giving them a tax cut.

And while I agree that raising middle class tax cuts at this point would be bad for the economy, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to the economy.

In fact, the worst thing that could happen to this economy may well be passing legislation that continues to hollow out of the middle class and with it increasing the massive income inequality that continues to subject the American people to the craven demands of a few very rich people. That is, precisely what Axe and Obama have now agreed to do.

These men either don’t know or don’t give a damn about the security of the middle class.

  1. klynn says:

    They know.

    Maybe the mind control experiments Jeff wrote about yesterday are working and the subjects are Axe and O.

    If not, then you are correct, they do not give a d—.

    • OldFatGuy says:

      I don’t know the answer to your question.

      And I’m pretty sure you know this, but I’m adding it for others that may hear that word and do a doubletake. I don’t know why they chose the “permanent” to describe tax cuts that don’t have a sunset date, but just want everyone to remember that there is NO SUCH THING as a “Permanent” tax cut, unless they put it in a Constitutional amendment, and even then it could be undone with another amendment.

      But permanent merely means no automatic sunset date. Any future Congress can set tax rates whereever they want whenever they want.

      All that said, I would prefer it have a sunset date if they get passed.

      But IMO, there is no rationale, NONE WHATSOEVER, for extending them for the top bracket. NONE.

      I’m going to work the phone and email with my Senators and Rep, I urge all others to do the same, especially if you’re rep is progressive.

  2. SaltinWound says:

    Just to stoke a bit of generational warfare, at some point can we reevaluate the Greatest Generation? They are known as the people who were self sacrificing but were reluctant to talk about it. But they are also the generation that received full social security benefits and, once they did start talking about themselves, they never shut up. Senior citizens are an incredibly powerful lobby but I have not seen them using that power to ensure the retirement of future, less great, generations.

    • behindthefall says:

      The Greatest Generation, those who served in WWII, are now about 90 years old; I don’t think they’re in any position to do what you ask of them. My Dad sure isn’t.

      How anyone can say that the cost of living has not and is not rising is beyond me: I have watched items cost I’d estimate about 15% more per year.

      On a fixed Social Security income with fixed expenses, that’s not funny. There used to be a margin between in and out that could be tucked away for when it was needed. Recently I have not dared to look to see whether that margin is still there.

      What are we supposed to do? Yes, I am retired, but my wife and I would like to live long, helpful, happy lives, nonetheless. Are seniors so unwanted?

      • cate says:

        Yes, indeed. Obama is no friend of ordinary seniors or younger Americans. The catfood commission now states that it plans to increase the Social Security retirement age and peg the yearly cost-of-living increases to the rate of inflation rather than to wage growth. The cut in annual increases would affect current retirees — which was supposed to be off the table. Benefits for those currently on Social Security would gradually go down. The wealthy, of course, will be OK. This angry senior wants to “thank” Axelrod and his boss.

        • ernestinebass says:

          At the rate our jobs are disappearing overseas, seniors may end up better off receiving a COLA based on inflation rather than “rising wages”.

          Just sayin’.

    • nonplussed says:

      In a manner, I must agree. I have seen all too many LTTE deriding later vets for “losing” Korea and Nam, demanding tax breaks on their property and other assessments. these missives are invariably accompanied by some variant of; “After all, we are the ‘Greatest Generation’!”

    • jwill5587 says:

      You mean the same generation that sat on their hands while their fellow veterans were being persecuted and killed in the South for standing up for their civil rights?

    • workingclass says:

      I was born in 1944. My parents are long dead so they probably won’t cause you any trouble. When generalizing about older generations remember, the world was already fucked up when they got here.

    • liberaldem says:

      The “Greatest” generation also includes individuals who were quite content to live with discrimination against African-Americans, lesser rights for women,so I take that description with a big salt shaker handy.

  3. IntelVet says:

    It is from the middle class that will bring job creation. Rarely. the. rich.

    I define the middle class as anyone who makes less than $250,000 AGI and is not at the poverty level.

    • mgloraine says:

      Why should they? Their personal wealth is assured for the rest of their lives, like most of the people in Congress and all of the people on the CatFood Conspiracy. This is the perpetual status quo: those who have inherited, cheated, stolen, or otherwise finagled their way into enormous wealth decide the fate of the peasants, which is everyone else. This has now become a permanent feature of American politics since the Citizens United sell-out by the SCOTUS crooks. Henceforth, all governmental decisions will be made exclusively by billionaires whose motto is: “Money isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing!”

      • klynn says:

        Shocking link isn’t it?

        That little scroll on the side is quite the info bit.

        You are correct, that would make an important post. I’ll have to think about it.

        One aspect is important, if the food costs are rising like that and cost of living is being ruled out as a factor in discerning policy, we are all going hungry.

        My guess is financially run us down, emotionally run us down…Just do everything to break our spirit and… look how easy serfdom and slavery become.

        This requires all of us using our voice to confront this evil.

  4. OhioGringo says:

    “These men either don’t know or don’t give a damn about the security of the middle class.”

    They know. They don’t give a damn. They are plutocrats advancing the agenda of the plutocracy. And they and others like them will not stop until they are forced to do so. Of course, they don’t believe that will ever happen. Neither did any ruling class that was eventually overthrown one way or the other.

    • PJEvans says:

      They don’t know what the middle class actually is; they’re all high-income people who only socialize with other high-income people, and they think that ‘middle income’ is $500,000 a year. Those of us who have 5-figure incomes are, in their minds, low-income workers who are probably also low-class.

      Fuck the MOTU.

  5. TheCallUp says:

    Just another huge betrayal by our timid, duplicitous President, Barack Obama. He is literally to the right of Ronald Reagan. I’m starting to see him as the threat to our country that the Tea Partiers espouse him to be, only for the opposite reasons.

  6. Cynthia says:

    It seems pretty obvious to me that Obama is using the office of the presidency only to enrich himself and enrich his already rich campaign contributors. I get the impression that it’s not one of his goals to make America a richer place for ordinary Americans. In fact, he comes across to me as someone who is such an elitist in his thinking that he’s probably looking forward to seeing America turn into a land of haves and have-nots with nothing in between.

    So I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that there’s only one of two things that we can do to keep politicians like Obama from using Washington as a place to strike it rich: 1) get rid of all private campaign contributions or 2) elect only people to public office who are so damn rich that they don’t need to raise a dime to win elections. I’m sure that there are a few wealthy people out there, who’d seek public office in order to represent the interest of ordinary Americans, even if it means having to lose a few of their multimillionaire friends. We just need to seek them out and throw our political weight behind them.

  7. bobInpacifica says:

    What is the major difference between the perpetual deficits now and the balanced budgets half a century ago? The top tax rates for individuals and corporations.

    For individuals it was 91% during the Eisenhower years and I don’t recall a severe shortage of rich people back then. Even during the Reagan years it was around 50%.

    Since Social Security isn’t part of the budget, all the talk about it is confusing the issue. Removing the ceiling on the payroll tax would removed any future shortfalls forever.

    Thank you.

  8. TarheelDem says:

    Axelrod and the “military advisers” have made policy statements which are interpreted as trial balloons. And they have done it when the President is out of the country talking to heads of state. Authorized or not, it is tone deaf to the implications it will have on Obama’s consultations with the G-20. If neither was authorized, Axelrod proves himself to be a showboater and governance amateur, and the “military advisers” prove themselves to be trying to box in the President’s options politically with Congress. But they learned from McChrystal. They did not go on record. Axelrod did.

    • econobuzz says:

      Axelrod and the “military advisers” have made policy statements which are interpreted as trial balloons.

      The Trial Balloon Presidency.

    • IntelVet says:

      I wonder if these “trial balloons” can be for some purpose for the consultations with the G-20 and “other” leaders. Perhaps the outrage from left and right are being used for some positive purpose, but, based on the last two years, I do tend to think otherwise.

      • econobuzz says:

        Trial balloons are traditionally meant to test the public’s receptivity to ideas or proposals that push the envelope in advancing one’s cause.

        Obama’s use of them is novel to say the least: His trial balloons are meant to assess how badly his supporters think an idea or proposal sucks.

        • Margaret says:

          Obama’s use of them is novel to say the least: His trial balloons are meant to assess how badly his supporters think an idea or proposal sucks.

          I would agree with that except for the fact that no matter how much we think his ideas and proposals suck, he does them anyway. Why waste the time assessing if he’s just going to do it and then go on the teevee and tell the hippies to sftu?

            • knowbuddhau says:

              Pithy put down, Oilfieldguy, I like it!

              Sister Margaret, Brother SouthernDragon, front and center!

              Looks like I arrived a bit too late on the EMS thread, so let me take this opportunity to wish all vets (Margaret and SouthernDragon, to name two I know of), and the loved ones left behind, a happy V Day. Thanks for your efforts on behalf of forming our more perfect Union. I bow in your virtual directions.

          • OldFatGuy says:

            It would seem that perhaps Obama uses the level of disatisfaction on these trail balloons to make decisions.

            The more pissed off the left is, the more likely the trial balloon is to becoming policy.

          • econobuzz says:

            Why waste the time assessing if he’s just going to do it…

            Premature capitulation and pissing off the DFHs are closely intertwined and central to his approach to governing. That’s the way he thought he was going to win cooperation from the Rs. Of course that failed. So now he is left with just pissing off the DFHs.

            He’s in so-o-o far over his head at this point. He’s toast.

  9. perris says:

    I cannot tell you how much I despise this president, it is definitely getting close to the level of vile hatred I had for bush

  10. veganrevolution says:

    No surprise here. Baroque OilyBumbler and his ragtag group of evil capitalist oink oinks want us all eating out of garbage pales.

    One day the Dims will pass a law making it mandatory that us wage slaves must tithe the gov’t 50% of our income to the vile banksters. Wait and see. Anything is possible in this corrupt country.

  11. allan says:

    Short history of the Obama Administration:
    A tragedy wrapped in a political suicide inside of a self-inflicted humiliation.

  12. jwill5587 says:

    I would like to thank FDL for not joining in the nauseating tradition known as “saluting the veterans.” Already today I have been barraged by a dozen websites admonishing me to spend a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by veterans that allow me to enjoy life, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but attacking a third-world country in the middle east didn’t do anything to secure my freedom. Even most libs have bought in to this propaganda.

    • OldFatGuy says:

      I’m a veteran, and I can’t speak for others, but I personally don’t expect anyone to salute me.

      I do however, expect that the country as a whole owes a great deal of gratitude to the men and women serving (mostly honorably) even in wars that are…. questionable. The men and women in uniform didn’t make the decision to go there, the politicians did.

      I applaud them, and thank them.


  13. OldFatGuy says:

    These men either don’t know or don’t give a damn about the security of the middle class.

    Pretty sure it’s the latter EW.


  14. Margaret says:

    I’ve often talked about the straw that broke the camel’s back for me when it came to ever voting for another Republican and that was Newts shutting down Congress because he wanted to throw a temper tantrum. If the Democrats do this. as I live and breathe, I will never vote for another. Ever again, until the end of time and several weeks thereafter.

  15. radiofreewill says:

    It feels like we’re right on the brink of the absurdity of the disparity between the rhetoric and the reality being so great that we could all spontaneously, collectively break-out into doublespeak at any moment.

    With everything of middle-class value turning to dust in our hands, when do we conclude that we’re being plundered by a shadow side that is so powerful that it uses both Parties and the Apparatus of Government to legislate and enforce the robbery?

    With the tranquilizing of Principled Reason, Inclusive Compassion, Personal Accountability and Justice for All – why aren’t we wondering if the Criminals are in-charge?

    Externally, it appears that we’re being played-off against each other for small rewards on the basis of superficial differences, when, in fact, if we just take the time to ‘see’ – it’s our common plight – Tea Party or Progressive, Right and Left, that we’re all powerless within the ‘legitimized system’ to pull the curtain back on those who operate with immunity from ‘our’ law.

    At what point does the political narrative separate so far from the experience of our daily lives that we can only conclude – ‘Things are not what they are said to be’?

    I’m not looking to encourage conspiracy theorists, but I do think there’s a part of human nature – typified by the Greed of the ‘Haves’ not wanting to share their Wealth, Power and Position – that seeks to secretly and immorally ‘game’ every system for their own self-interest.

    And, I’m saying that it’s worth considering that they might be ‘cashing out’ America – right before our very eyes, while ‘telling us an increasingly preposterous story’ – in advance of moving on to their next gold mine…leaving us in a wasteland of broken delusions.

    I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

  16. planet73 says:

    Hey, Obama and Company: Go ahead. Make the Repugs’ day. When you’re finished painting that picture of a noble, kind administration that is performing a martyr’s act to “save the security of the middle class”, fold up your easel, clean out your desk, and go on home now. Nothing you do in the next 2 years will make any difference. You will have just guaranteed your own defeat in 2012.

    Your party members will never forgive you if you indeed give in to Boehner and Cantor and McConnell – NEVER.

  17. keone says:

    How anyone can be still drinking the Obama administration’s Kool Aid any longer is beyond this old geezer. I’m fuckin gob-smacked with the audacity of fucking over the American people that is taking place as we speak! It truly is change I can’t fuckin believe in!

  18. tominct says:

    U.S. Grant got the nickname of of Unconditional Surrender Grant during the Civil War for demanding unconditional surrender from Confederate foes. Obama deserves the nickname of Unconditional Surrender Obama for entirely different reasons when dealing with his foes.

  19. jedimsnbcko19 says:

    People are starting to vomit, when people say OBAMA is a Democrat

    listed below is the reason

    1st Obama endorses the Bush agenda of spying on and killing americans

    2nd Obama attacks Unions (the F! the UAW moment screams republican)

    3rd Obama double downs on Bush Wars, (now they are Obama wars)

    4th Obama attacks Teacher Unions (teacher unions now hate OBAMA)

    5th Obama does not attack the Banks? he bails them out? (sorta like what the GOP does)

    6th Obama passes the Bob Dole Health Care Bill (Bob Dole is a republican)

    7th Obama kills the Public Option

    8Th Obama kills Drug Importation

    9Th Obama APPOINTS an insurance executive to manage his health care Bill

    10th Obama does not APPOINT Dawn Johnsen

    11th Obama hand picks the cat food commission to destroy Social Security

    12th Obama supports Blanche Lincoln, a candidate who hates Unions, and has no chance of winning

    13 Guantanomo still open for business

    14.Patriot Act renewed

    15. renditions continue

    16. Bernanke reappointed

    17. Americans targeted for assassination

    18 Obama is all for sending more USA jobs off shore

    19 Obama is for tax cuts for the RICH!

    last check the top 1% now control and own 24% of the wealth of the USA

    the bottom 46% of the USA has no wealth

    and you thought it was morning time in the USA

  20. Mary says:

    “These men either don’t know or don’t give a damn about the security of the middle class.”

    They’re big tenters – they don’t limit their conjunctions to “or”

  21. Mary says:

    IOW, Axelrod is saying that the tax structure under Clinton was horrificaly detrimental to the middle class and, if Obamaco “loses” the war to ONLY extend the Bush tax cuts to everyone but the top 2 %, then the middle class will return to the insecure tax structure of the Clinton years.

    And the way the poverty rates have grown under the Bush (now Obama) tax cuts – well, golly, you know, as long as moving more of the middle class into the impoverished column makes the middle class more secure, what’s not to like?


  22. orionATL says:

    obama needs to get rid of more of the chicago crowd (plus the golum-ghost of tom daschle).

    most presidents get caught like this in their first two years – with the trusted pals they brought into the white house because they (prezs) were ignorant, suspicious, and freightened of the washington political environment.

    inevitably, as they acquire experience and confidence, the prezs end up having to dump their hand-holders for advisers with less loyalty and a wider view.

  23. Mary says:

    Btw,if no deal had been cut, most tax advisors to the very wealthy were encouraging them to sell appreciated stock before the end of the year to lock in their capital gains at the uber lo Bush cuts rate. Of course, when a lot of people start selling, price goes down. But gosh, who would want to see market softening to accompany the swearing in of the Republican House and Rand Paul?

    Gotta avoid that optic. ;)

  24. Mary says:

    Tangentially on topic. I was listening the other day to the NPR interview with Charles Ferguson for his documentary, Inside Job, and one of the really stunning things they talked about was the Harvard (and other ivy league) academics who were doing things like writing about how wonderful dereg was while, undisclosed, taking huge $$ from industry. The mroe stunning part, though, was how the academics responded when they were asked about their conflict and whether it should have been disclosed. They were dumbfounded to be asked such a question. The tangential relationship is that Obama had kind of a three tier group coming into office. One tier were the fundraising, politicos who could wear either party label just as easily, like Rahm. Another tier was those like Dawn Johnsen, who he was using for bootstrapping creds without really having any personal or ideological ties with them. The biggest failure in his tiers, though, were the “serious” advisors he brought in, from the Brennans on the one hand, to the same kinds of academics Ferguson highlights on the other. His Harvard experience left him not only deferential, but basically incapable of even asking the right questions – of even implying by his questions that his advisors might have competing interests.

      • klynn says:

        Inside Job opens here tomorrow and all theaters are sold out except for a few seats early Saturday morning.

        The Tillman Story keeps selling out too.

        People are chomping for tickets to Fair Game opening here on the 19th.

    • Mauimom says:

      His Harvard experience left him not only deferential, but basically incapable of even asking the right questions – of even implying by his questions that his advisors might have competing interests.

      I went to graduate school at Harvard, and that experience left me with a profound hatred of and disgust with the place.

      My biggest criticism is that all there are self-reinforcing. They spend all of their time congratulating themselves on how smart they are [and how great Harvard is]. They have no critical ability whatsoever — amend that to say they are QUITE critical of “outsiders” who didn’t make it to within the Harvard bubble, but they won’t criticize the ideas of another Harvard person.

      I counseled a friend whose son was admitted to Harvard, among other places, and told him that Harvard simply could not provide the kind of challenging, mind-expanding experience one should seek in a college education.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, I do think there is a problem when such broad swaths of power at the top are concentrated in the Harvard/Yale/Princeton triangle with the great weight on Harvard. It is unquestionably a great place to go to school, but graduates from there are simply not the only ones that are qualified to be the highest leaders. In fact their insular elite world may make them less fit. That is not to say that bone dirt morons like Palin etc are the answer either of course.

  25. b2020 says:

    This is true 11-dimensional chess. Obama is cutting your cognitive deficit. You can either spend the next decade in stimulus-response dissection of any bit of bipartisan kabuki, or you can stop paying attention to their mumbling of the week and move on to: What are you going to do about it?

    Pelosi, Reid, Obama and all their enablers – you judge them by their actions, and by the time you can do that, it will be too late for action. If you want agency, you need to act before they do.

    There is a simple response to even the most dysfunctional representative democracy, and that is “no incumbency without results”. We are talking oath breaking here, so no incumbent – neither party – deserves to be re-elected.

    If you look closely, it appears that the electorate’s flip-flopping choices have reached the “every two years, throw the bums out”. Except it is not a movement, and it has not put the message out there. The message is: There will be only single terms, no re-elections, for anybody, until the lot of you delivers. If there is not enough anger for even this kind of signal, you might as well pack up and leave.

  26. wigwam says:

    Getting money into the hands of the needy has a high multiplier effect on the economy. Tax cuts have a much lower multiplier. So, raising taxes and spending them on the middle and lowerclasses is a win for the economy. Obama is, instead, taking from the poor and giving to the rich in the form of tax cuts. Swell!

  27. wigwam says:

    And while I agree that raising middle class tax cuts at this point would be bad for the economy, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to the economy.

    Taxes have a lower multiplier than say aid to state governments. So let’s tax the middle class and give the money to the states. When the economy wins, the middle class wins.