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The Cynical Right

There are, I believe, two ways to read what the GOP is doing at the Congressional and state levels.  On the one hand, this may be all driven by ideologues -- it's easy to dismiss the budget battle in Washington and the craziness in Wisconsin as the overreaching of Tea Party Republicans emboldened by their electoral success.  That would explain why House Republicans would be willing to force through budget cuts that will, in all likelihood, stall the economic recovery and cost the economy nearly 700,000 jobs.  It would explain why Scott Walker, Wisconsin's newly elected Tea Party Governor, would be willing to alienate teachers and union workers in his pursuit of a political agenda that goes far, far beyond "fiscal concerns."

On the other hand, this could be a coordinated and, frankly, strategically sound attack on the Democratic Party and the Obama Presidency.  Weaken unions and teachers' associations, two of the party's core constituencies, to the point where they are unable to protect themselves and their jobs much less raise money for the party.  And at the same time, cripple the economy in the name of "budget savings," so that next year, when unemployment has spiked again and the economy has slipped back into recession, they can point fingers at the President and, they hope, win back the White House.

Are Republicans that cynical?  Would they sacrifice hundreds of thousands of jobs and sabotage the American economy in order to win an election?  I really want to say no.  I really want to blame this on Tea Party ideology run amok.  But the truth is, I think they are just that cynical.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 3rd, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
Speaking as someone who's lived in DC most of her life, yeah, they're that cynical. And heartless. And happy to exploit the fools who believe their rhetoric.
I'm not saying the Dems. are saints. They ain't, but they haven't quite figured out the whole self-serving plutocracy gig. Will Rogers's comment on the subject remains true: "I don't belong to an organized political party...I'm a Democrat."
Mar. 3rd, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, always loved that quote. Thanks for the comment.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
I don't approve of what they're doing, either, but... when the budget is this far out of whack, how can you _not_ make cuts? Honestly, I think _both_ parties behave like irresponsible prigs while the rest of us get tossed around in the political $&*! storms.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)
Jen, I certainly agree that the budget deficits need attention. But where were the Republicans when George Bush was squandering the Clinton Era surpluses on tax breaks for millionaires? Why would they support cuts in environmental regulation, nutrition programs for kids, women's health programs, etc. that account for $61 billion, but then turn around and continue to defend those same tax cuts for the wealthy that account for hundreds of billions of dollars? There is plenty of irresponsibility to go around -- you're right about that. But the GOP, in my opinion, isn't worried about the deficit as much as they are about pursuing an ideological agenda on social issues and scoring politically.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Interesting take on that here. Also, when they're in charge, the debt has skyrocketed. So, they're not deficit hawks, they're hypocrites. Why else blast the debt and call for huge spending cuts...and then allow big oil subsidies to continue?

Yeah, they're really serious people...
Mar. 3rd, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)
It is a battle of ideologies, David. The Democrats tend to follow keynesian economics where you spend yourself out of reessions. Conservative Republicans (Tea Party Republicans (Yes there can be Tea Party Democrats)) believe in cutting excess spending and lowering taxes to spur long term sustainable growth. Your derided "tax cuts for the rich" helped keep the economy afloat during the economic downturns thanks to 9/11 and the Houseing bubble bursts.

These cuts in the budget have been building up ever since the Liberal Democrats and Liberal Republicans spent ourselves into a black hole. hey are hard and they will be unpopular, but our grandchildren and great grandchildren will thank us.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, Mark. Not surprisingly, I disagree with your interpretation of events a bit, but as always I appreciate your willingness to share your views and discuss this stuff civilly. I would argue that what drive the post-9/11 economy was not spending by the wealthiest 2% of the nation, but instead middle-class spending, which, I will admit, was spurred in part by the Bush tax cuts (tax cuts, I'll add, that President Obama has vowed to preserve). As for the housing bubble, when it burst the economy went to hell, and the continued low marginal rates for the richest in our society did nothing to slow the economic crash. Nor have they spurred a recovery. This is the problem with all the arguments in favor of keeping those tax cuts in place. They've been there this whole time. There's nothing new about them. They have been there, and they have done nothing except balloon the deficit. This stands in stark contrast to the Obama stimulus package, which absolutely did have a positive impact. Did it do enough? Clearly not. But the President and Dems in Congress didn't get all that they wanted. Most economists agree that a larger stimulus would have helped even more. Yes, I'm a Keynesian, because Keynesian economics has been proven to work again and again, unlike "supply-side," or "trickle down," or whatever else you want to call it.

But you're right. This is an ideological issue at root. And I also agree with you that we have to get the debt under control. I'll support cuts if they're targeted and reasonable. Will you support raising some taxes if they meet the same criteria?
Mar. 4th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
I am always loathe to raise taxes, thereby increasing government touch in our lives. However, if I was given bi-partisan affirmative advice that doing so would spur our economy, I would agree to tax increases for a limited time only. In the long run, high taxes are a poison to a healthy nation. Any increase would have to be targeted and limited in scope. I believe keepnig money in the hands of those who earn it rather than having the government beuracracy grab a hold of it.

As for what is better between Keynesian Economics and Reaganomics.... well that debate would take more space/time than we have here. I will just have to assert that I think Reaganomics is better for long term growth of the nation and for keeping the government small.

Thank you for allowing my dissenting opinion on your blog. It is interesting to read the other perspective on these matters.
Mar. 4th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
EDIT: In that last sentence, I mean to say that I enjoy reading your (and your other reader's) opinion on these matters as they often represent one different from my own.

I am terrible with words sometimes... :)
Mar. 3rd, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Yes...to them being that cynical.

Next question. :-)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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David B. Coe

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