Posts Tagged ‘Congressional Republicans’
There will be a bunch of upcoming punditry in the media about which party got the better deal and which political party benefits more from the shameful Republican debt ceiling episode, but one thing’s for sure: the loser was the American people’s faith in the political system to solve the problems of this country.
A movement that represents a reactionary minority of Americans has effectively taken over the Republican party and used a technicality that a majority of Americans have never heard of in order to create a crisis that tied up the government for months with a ridiculous debate about whether the United States should decline to pay the bills that were run up by presidents of both parties over decades.
Mewanwhile, back in the real world, unemployment is at 9.2% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but measures of “real” unemployment (including people who stopped looking and the underemployed) are closer to 16%. A majority of Americans want to balance the budget, but this is a long term issue, not a short term issue, and you would be hard pressed to find many economists who would tell you that cutting government funding (AKA jobs) in a recession is a way to spur economic growth.
Remember when the Democrats took over in 2008 and spent a year arguing about health care when the country was in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression? Well, this is like that, but even worse. The Democrats failing at that time was ignoring the public’s desire for a strong focus on jobs. Not only have the Republicans not done one single thing to foster job creation in the United States since they were elected, they have actually done the opposite by threatening to set off a world economic crisis in order to get their way.
My sense is that the whole “let’s hold the world economic system hostage to our narrow ideological agenda strategy” hurts the Republicans more than it hurts the President, but this should be little consolation for Obama, who’s approval rating dropped to a new low of 40 percent in this weekend’s Gallup Poll.
More than a little dramatic, but a great summary of how the Republicans underestimated Obama and how he outmaneuvered them on the debt ceiling.
If there was any doubt that these guys aren’t serious about deficit reduction, there shouldn’t be any more. They only want to cut the deficit if they can get tax cuts as well. The president put $4 trillion in deficit reduction on the table and the Republicans turned it down because they didn’t want to increase taxes on the top 2%.
Wednesday update here.
Great article by David Brooks on the Radical Republicans and their debt ceiling negotiations. Brooks takes these guys to the woodshed:
The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities…The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency….The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name…
The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation….
If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
And they will be right.
I love it!
Just catching up from the holidays and posting a few things I missed while gone.
This is from the aftermath of the tax deal.
While the Democrats were damning the president for giving up core principles and Republicans were crowing about the fact that they got their number one priority (tax cuts for the top 2%) by threatening to stop all legislative activity, (including benefits for 9-11 first responders and tax cuts for 98% of Americans) Fox News Commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote this piece, in which he called the tax cut deal a “really big win for the president.”
He cited some of the same reasons that I had given for arguing that it wasn’t such a bad deal for Obama, namely that Obama, in effect, tricked the Republicans into running short term deficits to stimulate the economy after they spent two years arguing that deficits were no good and very bad, even during a recession.
In a somewhat discordant note, Krauthammer noted that the deal “will add as much as 1 percent to gross domestic product and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points.”… Sounds good to me so far… but, he quickly added, ”that easily could be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.”
For someone who spends their time writing and thinking about politics, that is a stunning statement to make. We’re in the greatest recession since the Great Depression, hiring has stagnated and we are debating a policy that you believe will add 1% to the GDP and lower unemployment by 1.5%… But you consider that a bad thing because Obama might get re-elected when more people have jobs? That’s positively Limbaugh-esque.
But I digress…Krauthammer followed this one up with another article in which he said that, if Obama is reelected, “historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010.” There’s a lot of water that needs to pass under that bridge, but this may ultimately be true. If the economy comes back, Obama’s going to get the lionshare of the credit. The stimulus effectively built a floor under the economy and (we can hope) the new package will prime the pump for more private sector hiring to get this economy going.
All in all, Obama ends his 2nd year with a ton of challenges, but also a ton of accomplishments.
As I joked recently, Obama’s first two years have been a total failure:
- preventing a Great Depression
- stabilizing the US banking system
- rescuing the American Auto Industry
- equal pay for women
- a children’s health care expansion
- ending subsidies to corporate banks for college loans
- a major national service program expansion
- the largest federal investments in energy and education in the country’s history
- the largest federal investments in infrastructure in the country’s history
- health care for 30 million more Americans (which eluded progressive presidents for 70 years)
- significant increases in assistance for veterans
- repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
- a new START Treaty with Russia
And even though the Democrats had historic losses in the House, his approval is still better than Reagan and Clinton at the same time in their presidencies.
and now comes the pivot to the center.
All this against the backdrop of a Republican Congress that ended the year explaining how some $17 billion in unemployment extensions during the worst recession since 1932 “need to be paid for” but $140 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% can just be added to the deficit.
As Krauthammer notes, soon after they voted for the tax deal,
Republicans began righteously protesting $8.3 billion of earmarks in Harry Reid’s omnibus spending bill. They seem not to understand how ridiculous this looks after having agreed to a Stimulus II that even by their own generous reckoning has 38 times as much spending as all these earmarks combined.
Hey, I’m all for ending earmarks. They’re symbolic of a broken process in which even the so called “fiscally conservative” bring home the goodies for their constituents. But let’s get real: they account for one half of one percent of the federal budget; and defeating a proposal that has $8.3 billion in earmarks with one hand while you increase the federal deficit by $900 billion with the other does not show “fiscal responsibility.”
As I noted before, the biggest short term benefit to this deal for Obama is to show how hypocritical the Republicans are when it comes to running deficits that benefit their core constituency (those in the upper income brackets).
At least on that point, I’m with Krauthammer.
Here’s Joe Scarborough from a couple of days ago.
This is a long discussion (fast forward to 6:45 if you don’t have a spare 20 minutes, or 11:45 if you have less time).
Scarborough talks about how there is a lot of revisionist history with regards to Bill Clinton. While it’s true that he tacked to the middle after his defeat in 1994, Scarborough points out that Clinton ”beat the hell out of us for a year” before he compromised and that Clinton would have hung the Republicans current position on taxes and unemployment benefits around their necks and only then cut a deal with them.
I’m not one of these people on the left that thinks extending Bush tax cuts for the rich for two years (insuring that any additional extension will be vetoed by Obama) is a great betrayal of principles, but I do think the president needs to take the opportunity to draw a clear distinction on this issue.
The Republicans are planning on filibustering an extention of middle class tax breaks so that they can preserve tax breaks for the top 2%. In the House today, 168 Republicans refused to vote for an extention of tax cuts for 100% of Americans on the first $250,000 they make next year because they couldn’t get tax cuts for the 2% of people who make over $250,000. At a time when there are five job seekers for every one job opening, the Republicans are refusing to extend unemployment benefits for 2 million people unless the benefits are “paid for.” At the same time, they are refusing to allow any other votes until they get tax cuts for the top 2% that will add $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years (the same deficit they’ve been complaining about non-stop for two years).
I’m fine with an eventual compromise (even a quick compromise). I just want the president to take the opportunity to let the Republicans show how out of touch with the American people their priorities truly are, just as they insist that their month old victory shows how much Americans agree with them.
Take a lesson from President Clinton, Mr. President. He might have compromised with the Republicans after 1994, but he would never have let an opportunity like this pass him by.
I’ve been wanting to write about the Democrats punting on tax cuts ever since it became clear that this was the plan, but haven’t had time.
Here’s a nice little piece from Rex Nutting on the issue.
The roots of this issue go back to the early Bush Administration when the Republicans were working on their tax plans. Congressional Republicans (for parliamentary reasons as well as to hide the disastrous long term effects of their tax cutting spree) setup the tax cuts to expire after 2010. As a result, in 2011, taxes will increase to the levels they were during the Clinton Administration for all income brackets, on capital gains and on dividends. The estate tax will also revert to Clinton levels along with a number of additional smaller changes.
In typical fashion, the Republicans are in favor of extending all Bush tax cuts forever, but offer no plan to pay for those tax cuts. These are the same people who have been complaining incessantly about the deficit for 2 years (they apparently discovered it as soon as a Democrat was elected president), but they have no plan to cut it and, in fact, they are insistent that $3 trillion be added to it in the form of tax cuts.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have a slightly less irresponsible plan, which is that the tax cuts should be extended for 98% of the people, but allowed to expire for the top 2-3%. They’re out there campaigning on the fact that they’re opposed to the additional $700 million and hoping the American people ignore the approximately $2.5 trillion that they’re in favor of adding.
I’ve talked about this issue in detail here. Basically, my take on the tax cuts is that they should be allowed to expire for all income levels because we just can’t afford them as a country. We have a $9-$10 trillion deficit on the books for the next ten years and these tax cuts represent $3-$4 trillion of this. The defcit is one of the biggest and most intractable issues in American politics and in one action (in fact one inaction) $3 trillion could be wiped off of that deficit. At the same time, as I’ve been arguing for some time, the economy still needs stimulus in the short term and I’d be okay with extending all of the tax cuts for two years and then letting them all expire. This is the optimal compromise and has been endorsed by experts like Obama’s former OMB Director Peter Orzag.
Th Republicans’ budget gimmickry allowed the Democrats to craft a great political plan around the tax cuts. Since all tax cuts would expire in 2011, the plan was to allow only the middle class tax cuts come to a vote. It was assumed that the Republicans would filibuster this attempt, effectively holding 98% of Americans’ tax cuts hostage to the top 2% (which some 60-75% of Americans oppose) and giving the Democrats a clear contrast and a great issue to run on.
This looked good until the Senate Democrats met two weeks ago and found that (surprise!) their caucus was divided on the issue. They decided to punt the vote on taxes into the lame-duck session.
It’s really unbelievable. Somehow, faced with a multitude of options, the Democrats managed to do the wrong thing for their party as well as for the country.
I’m as partisan as the next guy (perhaps more so) and I would love to have an issue to bash the Republicans over the head with, but more importantly I want to do what is right for the country and for the economy. Whether you think that decreases in tax rates are stimulative or not, the reality is that we’re nearing the end of the year and individuals and businesses are setting their business plans for next year. After two years of debate and legislation over changes to health care, financial regulation, energy, etc it’s time for some certainty: certainty over what the rules are and certainty over what the tax rates will be.
The bigger picture here is that we elect leaders to lead and they should do that, not wait for the results of the election and then tell us what they think. The Democrats held large majorities in the House and Senate and the Presidency for 2 years. Saying that they ran out of time or that they don’t want to vote on raising taxes because the Republicans will attack them on it is ridiculous, cowardly and irresponsible. The Republicans are going to attack on taxes no matter what. Democrats: whether you’re giving out tax breaks to 98% of people or just extending all tax cuts for everyone, let us know where you stand. Give people a reason to vote for you. Take tough votes and then defend them.
Don’t act so cowardly. I’ll be voting for you because I’d rather have the cowards than the hypocrites, but I can’t speak for everyone else. This year, you might want to consider giving the other people a reason to vote for you, not just against the other side.
This was good stuff on Friday.
I caught it live and I thought it was amazing.
It was so extraordinary that MSNBC had a two hour prime time special with all three anchors on the discussion.
By contrast, Fox broke away from the live sparring between the GOP members of the House and the President of the United States to have pundits talk about what a bad president Obama is (in other words, their regular programming).
I gotta say, I like the post-Massachusetts Obama.
He’s not going down without a fight.
For a little while, he put the spotlight back on the Republicans and showed how irresponsibly they have acted since he became president and how bereft of good ideas they really are. The Party of No indeed.
The Democrats probably already cooked their goose for 2010, but maybe a few people will think about the alternative before they just vote blindly against the Dem’s. If they do they’ll realize that these are the same guys who put us in this mess and were overwhelmingly rejected by the voters in 2006 and in 2008.