Bill Maher: Obama Didn't Support Simpson-Bowles Because Republicans Didn't
Bill Maher is either a blithering idiot, a pathological liar, or both.
On HBO's Real Time Friday, the factually-challenged financier of Barack Obama actually had the gall to say the President didn't support the recommendations of his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (aka Simpson-Bowles) because - wait for it! - Republicans didn't support it (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ART LAFFER: Let me just say first of all, Paul is completely right. We are in a depression. This has been the longest worst recovery ever. It’s just terrible. And that decline while it's not as bad as the Great Depression as far as down as we went, the recovery is really rotten. But I don't think we have to do it by spending, government spending. My view is I've never heard of a poor person spending himself into prosperity. The government doesn't create resources, the government redistributes them. And it redistributes them from workers to people, they get the resources based upon some characteristic other than work effort.
So what you really need to do is I think you need to incentivize producers, and what you need to go along, and my way of going would be Simpson-Bowles. Something that lowers the tax rates, broaden the base, get rid of the loopholes, I mean really get a production base that efficiently starts. That's the way you really get out of this depression, like we did in the 1980's.
BILL MAHER, HOST: The president was behind Simpson-Bowles.
LAFFER: But he didn't follow through on it.
MAHER: Let’s be honest about why he didn’t.
LAFFER: He appointed them.
MAHER: Let’s be honest why he didn’t: because the Republicans who were with him when he started Simpson-Bowles after he said he was for it said they weren't, because they can't do anything he does because it has cooties. That’s what happened. That’s what happened.
LAFFER: That’s not the way Simpson and Bowles describe it.
PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: We have long-run problems. We have long-run budget problems. I don't like Simpson-Bowles, but okay, it was a good-faith effort, but those don't solve our short-run problems
Let's begin with the actual vote of the panel. For those that have forgotten, it needed fourteen votes for formal endorsement.
Here were the Ayes: Erskine Bowles (Former Clinton Chief-of-Staff), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Id.), Dave Cote (Republican CEO), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ann Fudge (Independent CEO), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Alice Rivlin (OMB Director under Clinton), former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.), and Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.)
That's five Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent voting Aye.
Opposed: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mi.), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Andy Stern (former President SEIU). That's five Democrats and four Republicans voting Nay.
As such, more Democrats were opposed to this panel's recommendations than Republicans.
How much you want to bet Maher doesn't know this?
I bet this nincompoop also didn't know that just two months ago, the panel's recommendations were voted on in the House and lost badly with a huge bipartisan majority opposed to it 382-38. Only 22 Democrats supported the measure along with sixteen Republicans.
Was all this Democrat opposition due to Republican opposition? Have Democrats INCLUDING the President lost all autonomy and free will at this point doing exactly what they're instructed by their opponents?
Is this lack of leadership what Maher expects in return for the million dollars he gave to get Obama reelected?
Of course, this is all revisionist history.
Obama didn't support Simpson-Bowles due its proposals regarding Medicare and Social Security. The far-left never would have accepted this and it could have seriously harmed him at the polls.
This is why the commission's recommendations weren't published until after the 2010 midterms as they were seen to be very damaging to the President. Representing such opposition was Krugman himself who wrote on November 12 of that year:
[W]hat the co-chairmen are proposing is a mixture of tax cuts and tax increases -- tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the middle class. They suggest eliminating tax breaks that, whatever you think of them, matter a lot to middle-class Americans -- the deductibility of health benefits and mortgage interest -- and using much of the revenue gained thereby, not to reduce the deficit, but to allow sharp reductions in both the top marginal tax rate and in the corporate tax rate.
It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction?
Let's turn next to Social Security. There were rumors beforehand that the commission would recommend a rise in the retirement age, and sure enough, that's what Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson do. They want the age at which Social Security becomes available to rise along with average life expectancy. Is that reasonable?
The answer is no, for a number of reasons -- including the point that working until you're 69, which may sound doable for people with desk jobs, is a lot harder for the many Americans who still do physical labor.
But beyond that, the proposal seemingly ignores a crucial point: while average life expectancy is indeed rising, it's doing so mainly for high earners, precisely the people who need Social Security least. Life expectancy in the bottom half of the income distribution has barely inched up over the past three decades. So the Bowles-Simpson proposal is basically saying that janitors should be forced to work longer because these days corporate lawyers live to a ripe old age.
As such, the pressure Obama felt to not support this commission's findings was not from the Right.
He knew full well he couldn't back anything that alters Social Security and Medicare in a fashion that reduces benefits in any way.
His base won't stand for it, and neither would Maher.
But you do have to hand it to the so-called comedian.
He more and more is behaving like the president he admires and finances, for he too is becoming quite adept at blaming every one of Obama's missteps on Republicans.