Monday, February 11, 2013

Why Give a Paragraph When One Word Would Suffice?

A: To avoid the question.

During the White House press conference, when a reporter asked Jay Carney whether the President supported chained CPI, Carney gave the following answer:

Again, as part of a big deal, part of a comprehensive package that reduces our deficit and achieves that $4 trillion goal that was set out by so many people in and outside of government a number of years ago, he would consider the hard choice that includes the so-called chained CPI — in fact, he put that on the table in his proposal — but not in a cherry-picked or piecemeal way. [...]

He has put forward, as a technical change, as part of a big deal—and it’s on the table that he put forward to the speaker of the House. [...] But as part of that deal, a technical change in the so-called CPI is possible and is on offer as part of a big deal.

First of all, the phrase "hard choice" is a political cliché.  The President is not agonizing over whether or not to make the choice.  Clearly, he wants to but knows that it is unpopular.

Moreover, is there value in the modifier "so-called" other than to create a mild confusion--to distance the President's proposal in name from what it is in substance?  You use "so-called" as a modifier when you want to imply uncertainty or perhaps disagreement.

Carney also seems to be trying to assert a difference between chained CPI as a unique policy and chained CPI as a part of the fetishized "grand bargain"; however, he does not frame it as a "concession" to the GOP.  Rather than a concession, it is and was an offer.

One cannot claim to be opposed to something as a stand-alone policy but not as a part of a greater deal; one might be weakly opposed or neutral to it and accept it as a concession, but then one would say so.  I'm sorry, but sh*t in a sundae is still sh*t.  And, my friend, a "grand bargain" is no sundae.

He then continues on to the Orwellian language of "technical fix"  and "technical change," deceptive ways of saying "cut."  If the President believes in cutting Social Security, he needs to make the case for it in an open debate, and we need to see his position clearly stated.  He should affirm, "Yes, I want to cut Social Security."  He can give his reasons why.  If you have a jug of water and are running low, you can, of course, either pour more slowly or refill; he wants to pour more slowly and should argue why we can't get a refill. I can respect those who at least own their beliefs.

Carney also doesn't address why chained CPI should be under consideration for a larger deal.  Why should we impoverish our seniors and veterans for this "larger deal"?  Why should Social Security be a part of a deficit-obsessed "grand bargain" when Social Security does not add to the deficit?

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