Monday, November 21, 2011

Meet Some People Who Don't Give a Damn About the Supercommittee

I didn't have to go far. This is gracing the front page of the DNews at this moment.

More than 5,000 people showed up at Cobo Center today for DTE's annual Customer Assistance Day, but many were turned away because space was at capacity, a company spokesman said.

People with difficulty paying their bills began lining up at the convention center at 6 a.m. to get help from DTE representatives and other human service organizations such as the Department of Human Services and The Heat And Warmth Fund. People who could not make it into the Cobo Center's downstairs were told they would not be seen by officials today and were instructed to call the company's customer service number (800-477-4747).

So I turn over to WOOD TV's site, and here is this:

As many as 20% of Michigan residents now have difficulty affording food. These people face what's called food insecurity -- which means they often don't know where the next meal will come from.

The statistic includes the group called the "New Poor." Sudden financial crises caused by the poor economy and dismal housing market have caused once-successful families to become the new face of hunger in America.

These people certainly aren't concerned about deficit reduction. Matter of fact, according to Gallup, the vast majority of people aren't concerned about deficit reduction. Hat tip to Dave Weigel:

A November 14 Gallup poll, taken as the supercommittee crunch was on, which asked voters what they were worried about. You'll notice that six percent of voters say they're worried about the debt, six percent say they're worried about a "lack of money," and 66 percent say they're worried about jobs or the economy. These voters are wise. If the economy recovers, more people get jobs, and more tax revenue goes into the Treasury to pay for things.

Ezra nails the real failure of the supercommittee (and Congress in general), from Wonkbook this morning:

Despite the overheated rhetoric in Washington, the markets are giving us plenty of space. So though deficits will eventually prove a problem, they're not our most pressing concern. Not right this second. That distinction goes to growth. We need more of it, and now. At the very least, we don't want to do anything to harm it.

And, although the Democrats and President Obama have done their best to point out it's the Republican refusal to budge on taxes that is the problem here, already the media is falling back on the "both sides" argument. David Kurtz from TPM:

That GOP refusal to even deal on taxes is *not* how supercommittee outcome is being framed is itself a huge victory for GOP

So, if you think that anyone is going to get credit for offering up cuts to programs that the American public did not want to see in the first place, not only is that a big mistake, the Dems will have fallen right back into the same trap they always fall into - chase the GOP talking points (in this case, that deficit reduction is the most important problem right now, it's not), offer up concessions that not only makes them look weak on principles, but also will be used against them in campaigns (did they really want to face a half a billion in advertising that screamed "Democrats cuts Social Security!" next year? And Mitch McConnell has already proclaimed that Republicans focused on "protecting Medicare and Medicaid"), and end up looking totally out-of-touch with the real concern of the majority of the people - it's the economy, stupid.

Pivot back to jobs immediately. Dwell on deficit reduction, and we are screwed.

Know who got it right? Debbie Stabenow.

“Also, by the way, we won't get out of debt with 14 million people out of work, so we have to focus on jobs, growing the economy and cutting things that don’t make sense.”

Amen, Senator. Tell your friends. The DNews also lists the major concerns Congress has to address before the year is out: The payroll tax cut, extending unemployment benefits, R & D credits which affect the automakers, other tax credits like tuition and the AMT, Medicare payments to doctors, and funding the overall government itself, which expires Dec. 16th. Failure to address these issues has a far greater immediate impact on the economy than long-term deficit reduction.

So, enjoy your turkey, and get ready for the important battle yet to come. It means everything.