It appears that negotiations over the federal budget deficit are about to begin once again, and presumably Senate Republicans will insist that Obama and the Democrats give way on taxes and spending in exchange for reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling for at least another year.
But keeping the government running and paying the nation’s bills should never have been bargaining chits in the first place, and the President and Democrats shouldn’t begin to negotiate over future budgets until they’re taken off the table.
The question is how thoroughly President Obama has learned that extortionist demands escalate if you give in to them.
(read complete post at robertreich)
We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too.
We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government. We have elected a national legislature in which Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann have more power than does the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been made a piteous spectacle in the eyes of the country and doesn’t seem to mind that at all. We have elected a national legislature in which the true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade that believes that its opposition to a bill directing millions of new customers to the nation’s insurance companies is the equivalent of standing up the the Nazis in 1938, to the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and to Mel Gibson’s account of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th Century. We have elected a national legislature that looks into the mirror and sees itself already cast in marble.
We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.
This is what they came to Washington to do — to break the government of the United States. It doesn’t matter any more whether they’re doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party’s mouthbreathing base. It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately. The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which government “was” the problem, through Bill Clinton’s ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being “over,” through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find “common ground” and a “Third Way.” Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country’s higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.—
More appalling facts from the same opinion in the NY Times:
With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has almost one-quarter of the world’s prisoners….
…When almost 1 percent of Americans are imprisoned (and a far higher percentage of men of color in low-income neighborhoods), our criminal justice system becomes a cause of family breakdown and contributes to the delinquency of a generation of children. And mass incarceration interacts with other government policies, such as the way the drug war is implemented, to have a disproportionate effect on African-Americans. Black men use marijuana at roughly the same rate as white men but are more than three times as likely to be arrested over it.
From Robert Reich: Why Republicans Want Jobs to Stay Enemic
Robert Reich: Why Republicans Want Jobs to Stay Anemic
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2013
Job-growth is sputtering. So why, exactly, do regressive Republicans continue to say “no” to every idea for boosting it — even last week’s almost absurdly modest proposal by President Obama to combine corporate tax cuts with increased spending on roads and other public works?
It can’t be because Republicans don’t know what’s happening. The data are indisputable. July’s job growth of 162,000 jobs was the weakest in four months. The average workweek was the shortest in six months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also lowered its estimates of hiring during May and June.
It can’t be Republicans really believe further spending cuts will help. They’ve seen the effects of austerity economics on Europe. They know the study they relied on by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff has been debunked. They’re no longer even trying to make the case for austerity.
It could be they just want to continue opposing anything Obama proposes, but that’s beginning to seem like a stretch. Republican leaders and aspiring 2016 presidential candidates are warning against being the “party of ‘no.’” Public support for the GOP continues to plummet.
The real answer, I think, is they and their patrons want unemployment to remain high and job-growth to sputter. Why? Three reasons:
First, high unemployment keeps wages down. Workers who are worried about losing their jobs settle for whatever they can get — which is why hourly earnings keep dropping. The median wage is now 4 percent lower than it was at the start of the recovery. Low wages help boost corporate profits, thereby keeping the regressives’ corporate sponsors happy.
Second, high unemployment fuels the bull market on Wall Street. That’s because the Fed is committed to buying long-term bonds as long as unemployment remains high. This keeps bond yields low and pushes investors into equities — which helps boosts executive pay and Wall Street commissions, thereby keeping regressives’ financial sponsors happy.
Third, high unemployment keeps most Americans economically fearful and financially insecure. This sets them up to believe regressive lies — that their biggest worry should be that “big government” will tax away the little they have and give it to “undeserving” minorities; that they should support low taxes on corporations and wealthy “job creators;” and that new immigrants threaten their jobs.
It’s important for Obama and the Democrats to recognize this cynical strategy for what it is, and help the rest of America to see it.
And to counter with three basic truths:
First, the real job creators are consumers, and if average people don’t have jobs or good wages this economy can’t have a vigorous recovery.
Second, the rich would do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than their current big share of an economy that’s hardly moving.
Third, therefore everyone would benefit from higher taxes on the wealthy to finance public investments in roads, bridges, public transit, better schools, affordable higher education, and healthcare — all of which will help the middle class and the poor, and generate more and better jobs. (Aug. 3, 2013, Robert Reich)
Thanks, Robert Reich, for pulling the rather shameful and cynical Republican excuses for stalling and damaging the US economy into one concise column.
Krugman sounds just about fed up with Boehner and his Republican colleagues destructive threats. (More reporting on this game of deadly “beanbag” from the Atlantic here)
I thought it was funny that Boehner recently said in his own speech:
Americans aren’t asking, ‘Where are the speeches?’ They’re asking, ‘Where are the jobs,’
Exactly, and why are Republicans threatening to push the economy to the brink again? Krugman theorizes:
Republicans seem to have a hearing problem; they are so deep into their worldview that when, say, Ben Bernanke refutes that view they simply hear him saying the opposite .