A while ago I expressed my concern about the cross-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in if a budget deal can’t be reached. As Republicans get ready to brazenly renege on a deal that they never really intended to keep, I find myself even more concerned.
But I was off on one point. I thought the most significant factors were that Democrats don’t feel strongly enough about cutting military spending and that Republicans are willing to sacrifice the military in order to cut vital services for the poor and middle class. As it turns out, the most significant factors are that Democrats don’t feel strongly enough about cutting military spending and Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about keeping their promises.
I felt that Republicans would be more willing to let the cross-the-board cuts kick in than Democrats would because Democrats are more afraid of being branded as the party who weakened our national defenses than Republicans are afraid of being branded as the party who allowed people to die because they couldn’t afford shelter, food, or health care. What I didn’t realize is Republicans felt they could get whatever they want simply by lying.
Apparently the Republicans feel they can earn points by overtly behaving like charlatans, as long as the only people they’re lying to are Democrats. I hope they’re wrong. I hope that the Right wing base won’t actually cheer such a public act of chicanery because if it does, we will be at the brink of having a one-party government ruled by maniacs with the support of middle class citizens convinced that the reason they can’t get ahead is the poor have too much of their money. I don’t see such a future as being good for anyone but the ruling class.
Immediately the Republicans are blaming the mess they created on Obama the way a rapist might blame the ineffectiveness of the local police. Romney (via NPR):
“America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty in President Obama’s failed record of leadership on the economy.”
Romney is a lying, flip-flopping, soulless piece of garbage. He was always a liar and a flip-flopper but the loss of soul is a more recent development.
If you think there’s too much crime in your neighborhood, firing the police and putting the criminals in charge would be a bad strategy. But Republicans are expect the American people to put them in charge as a reward for the damage they’ve done.
Although the S&P press release does spread the blame around a bit, the overwhelming message is clear (via TPM):
The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.
Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.
How bizarre it would be if the Republicans benefited by causing mayhem and then blaming Obama and the Democrats for failing to stop them.
If the crime rate rises in my neighborhood, my solution would be more cops, not more criminals. Elections are coming soon.
Imagine you have a great business idea. You run it by a few friends and they love it. You mention it to some very smart people and they agree that it will be a hit. But you have no money to start with, so you consider going to the bank. At this, your father snorts and says, “Borrow Money! Back in my day we didn’t borrow. We scrimped, and saved. When times are tough you don’t borrow and spend, you tighten your belt”.
No simplistic analogy can cover the scope of our economic situation. But I hope my little story casts some doubt on the one-liners that right wingers are trying to sell us as their economic policy, like “when times are tough you tighten your belt”, or “when you’re in a hole you stop digging.”
The truth is, sometimes when you’re in a hole you have to dig yourself out. Most economists seem to agree that we need to raise the debt ceiling. Even Republicans seem to understand how vital it is, which is why they feel emboldened to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to force more of their draconian “Fuck the poor” policies. The wealthiest Americans remained wealthy through the Great Depression. Republican politicians have little to fear from the economic consequences that they’re willing to risk.
No matter what happens, Republicans will be able to keep their wealth and blame any problems on Obama. If they get their way and cripple the economy, they won’t say “Darn, our obstructionist tactics ruined the economy”, instead they’ll say “Imagine how bad it would have been if we weren’t there to keep it from getting worse.”
The economic policies that the president has enacted are working. In 2004, President Bush got reelected in part because we were in the middle of a crises and people said, “Don’t switch horses in the middle of a river”. Right now we’re in the midst of an economic crisis, but things are starting to get better. Let’s not take this moment to switch strategies and go back to the economic practices which got us into this crisis in the first place.
Most importantly, while simple analogies are important to help us understand complicated issues, remember that analogies usually leave out important details. Let’s not make important decisions on the bases of simplistic one-liners.