Political Nutz

Observations on the pathetic state of American politics

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Americans DID vote for gridlock

In comments following today’s bipartisan group hug President Obama repeated his past optimism with stock phrases like “there must be some sensible common ground” and “the American people did not vote for gridlock.”  Did the President sleep through the November elections?  The Republicans stonewalled everything in Washington for the past two years, pledged to repeal the little legislation that did pass, and have sworn to block any Democratic proposals on anything from now until the 2012 elections.  And guess what? Republican and Independent voters cheered and sent more naysayers to DC.  It’s clear that the American People like what Congress has done over the past twenty-four months and want a return to the Bush years of massive spending, relentless warfare, high unemployment, and tax breaks for the super wealthy.  And that’s what we are all going to get.

As usual, the President showed no resolve or leadership.  He suggested he was largely at fault for the lack of cooperation. “The president was pretty clear in acknowledging that he needed to do better, and he would,” said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Republican leaders offered no similar contrition. So fasten your seat belts America, we’re headed back to 2009-2010 and maybe even further into the Good Old Bush Days.  Whoopee!

Obama in 2012: He won’t get my vote

President Obama threw a bone to the Republican’s today and threw two million federal workers under the bus in proposing a two-year pay freeze on government salaries. The President eschewed any effort to use such a freeze to negotiate with the Republicans over extending the Bush tax cuts.  Instead, the U.S. Park Ranger down the street will have his $42,000 a year salary frozen for two years while Bill Gates gets a few million dollars in tax savings.  But even this isn’t enough for the Party of No.  Representative Boehner immediately called for a federal hiring freeze. And Rep. Darrell Issa of California, perhaps the wealthiest of all federal employees with a net worth in excess of $300 million, called the freeze “long overdue.”

GM Success Story: Republicans Wrong Again

In a CNN interview in February 2009, Senate leader of the Party of No, Mitch McConnell, stated: “I opposed the bailout …. the companies are not doing what needs to be done to save the companies. So that puts us on a long-term policy of the government simply propping up this industry endlessly“.  Again, in August ’09 Mr. McConnell reiterated his position: “I think the government auto bailout was a big mistake.”

Well, with the GM IPO, repayment of $11 billion, and the federal share of the company down to around 33% it looks like “endlessly” could be a couple of years.  The Republicans need to suck it up and recognize the auto industry “bailout” for what it was and is–an investment in America’s working class that has saved in the neighborhood of one million jobs and which may end up costing taxpayers nothing in the long run. If the Republicans had their way I guess they would just hand that $11 billion over to the wealthiest 1% of Americans as a supplement to the Bush tax breaks.

Congresspersons Doing Just Fine; Still Out of Touch

While most of America was struggling financially over the past two years, members of congress saw their personal worth grow by 16%.  These are the same people who can’t fathom continuing benefits for the long-term unemployed and want to extend tax cuts for the super wealthy.

One of those voting to block the extension of unemployment benefits in today’s vote was California Republican Darrell Issa, whose personal wealth exceeds $300 million.

The Reality of Tax Cuts and Economic Growth

The Republicans continue to push for extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy insisting those dollars will drive economic growth.  But history doesn’t support that argument.  Granted the economy is a complex beast and there is rarely a simple cause-effect relationship between one action and a specific outcome.

That said, the Bush cuts of 2001 were passed with the promise of economic stimulus. The Cato Institute testified before a House subcommittee in 2003 that the cuts would “increase economic growth, boost the stock market, and increase business investment”; the same arguments we’re hearing now. However, the period 2001-07 yielded the slowest growth in GDP in the post WWII era, worse even than the dreary 1970s. The rate of new business start-ups also declined as did the number of workers in the labor force.  Thus three key indicators of economic growth decreased in the post Bush tax cut years.  There is no reason to believe Trickle Down economics will be any more effective than it was during the Reagan years.

See: Were the Bush tax cuts good for growth?, Before the Bush Recession

As for back as 2003, economists were warning about the impact of the cuts on the economy and deficits: Bush’s Tax Cut Plan Slashes Growth, Trickle-Down Economics: Four Reasons Why It Just Doesn’t Work

Palin for Prez? Ya know, I can’t wait

Sarah Barracuda tells Barbara Walters she can defeat President Obama in 2012.  To quote a famous American leader: “Bring it on.”  Such a race would provide a wealth of intrigue and entertainment. Who do you think would be her choice for VP?  Well, Todd the “First Dude,” no doubt. I mean, you must have somebody on the ticket to draw in the snow machine wing of the party, right? I’m thinking some voters will worry though that the Momma Grizzly might drop out mid way through her first term to do a book tour or TV series.  No one would abandon a major elected office for that, would they? <wink, wink>

Federal pay cuts? Yeah, let’s do it.

Republicans say a good start to reducing the budget deficit is to cut the pay of federal employees and roll back all federal spending to 2008 levels.  I might be able to go with that but how serious are the Donkeys when they say these things?  Would this cut apply to the 100,000 U.S. troops risking their lives in Afghanistan.  What about the guys making the really big bucks over there: the 100,000 plus private contractors?  Will they take a cut too?  Fat chance.

If there is a move to reduce federal payrolls, it will certainly include the members of the House and Senate, right? They will happily take that 10% reduction, I’m sure.  Why stop with simple tweaks to payroll?  Let’s do something really impactful now and over the long term.  Seriously.  Let’s reduce the size of congress.  Why do we need 435 congressperson, anyway?   What if we had, let’s say, 350 or 300? We would have a far more efficient, cost-effective Congress.  Less salaries and generous benefits for life, way fewer staffers, less time wasted debating, quicker votes.   Come on, people.  Think outside the box and reduce the size of the federal government where it will make the biggest difference.

Murkowski: Republicans can’t even treat each other fairly

I guess it’s just part of the Republican psyche; they just can’t do the obviously fair, right thing.  Thus Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller continues to challenge votes for write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski based on miniscule spelling errors.  The Republicans think it’s fine for banks to effectively falsify home foreclosure documents but misplacing one letter in a name should invalidate a voter’s right to choose their elected official. Mr. Miller is an Army veteran, West Point grad, with a law degree from Yale and an active Christian.  How can a guy with this kind of pedigree stoop to such practices to ignore the clear intentions of the electorate?  Then again, this is the same Joe Miller who praised East Germany and claimed that the Berlin Wall was a great example of a way to control illegal immigration.

Boehner Flies on the Cheap

Well the nation’s financial problems are about to be resolved.  Speaker of the House to be, John Boehner, will fly on commercial flights rather than use those opulent military aircraft that Ms. Pelosi has used.  Never mind the added security costs of escorting Mr. Boehner through public terminals; never mind that he’s next in line in presidential succession after Vice President Biden.  What a knuckle head.

Bush still in denial about Iraq, WMD, al-Qaeda

George Bush still can’t provide a truthful account of the rationale behind the invasion of Iraq. In his book, Decision Points, the former President justifies the endeavor by saying “for all the difficulties that followed, America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD and supporting terror at the heart of the Middle East.” He conveniently ignores the fact that Saddam Hussein had no WMD program and no links to Middle East terrorism.  These kinds of statements are, sadly, consistent with the “Bush Doctrine” of pre-emptive war: that is, it’s ok for the United States to blow away people and nations that might, some day, some how maybe do us harm. In the case of Iraq this meant dropping the ball in dealing with the folks who had already actually done something bad to us: those al-Qaeda fellas in Afghanistan who now, almost a decade after 9/11, continue to flourish.