Friday, February 06, 2009

Worst of Politicians: Same Old GOP Obstructionism

Dead Rattlesnakes Do Bite

Captain Jessie, BuzzFlash:

Well the republicans have gotten out front on Obama's stimulus plan and it appears the Senate will not be passing the bill. So what else is new?

When I was a kid, adult men told us that a dead rattlesnake could kill us if its fangs somehow scratched our skin. That scenario fits republicans to a tee. They may be dead, but they continue to be potent in obscure ways.

They are getting on camera as often as possible claiming that there is pork in the stimulus plan. Have the democrats pushed in front of news cameras to tell Americans that only 1% of all of the stimulus money is geared toward improvements that are not absolutely vital to the economy right now? No! They just let the obstructionists romp all over them. Now there is talk of the republicans adding an amendment to the bill to strike that 1%. Democrats with backbones need to beat the obstructionists to the punch and offer the amendment first.

Naked Republicans Display Their True Colors

George Gerber, Buzzflash:

It would be nice to look into the window of politics and see Democrats and Republicans walking the halls with their clothes on. However, since Barack Obama has taken office it appears the Republicans can be seen walking the halls naked. It is not a particularly pretty sight but it does make it easy to see their true colors once stripped of their clothing woven of lies and liars.

Why the GOP's Tax Gimmick for Homebuyers Won't Help One Bit

Let's apply a bit of common sense.

Joshua Holland, AlterNet:

And the GOP's approach is based on the theory that a "rising tide will lift all boats." A simple question: how's that theory been workin' out for ya?

Let's set aside the fact that those who are in a position to shop for a house right now are probably not the people who are suffering the most pain from the economic downturn. And let's set aside for a moment the fact that a tax credit passed now wouldn't have any impact on people's ability to buy a home in the short-term because they wouldn't see a dime until they filed their 2009 returns in 2010.

OK. Theoretically, if you could reinflate the bubble to some extent by increasing the number of people looking to buy, it'd help distressed homeowners, who would be able to refinance at lower rates or for longer terms, and it'd help lenders, who would have fewer "nonperforming" loans on their books. And it would help the financial industry unwind all those complex "toxic" mortgage-backed securities. In theory.

But nothing in that equation would change the fact that home prices were out of line with the fundamentals of the economy. It also wouldn't change the crucially important underlying issue: that American families are maxed out in terms of debt, have no savings, and all but the top ten percent haven't seen their real wages increase in 35 years. For these reasons (and I'm simplifying here), this approach: A) won't work, and B) even if it were to work, it would only kick the problem down the road a bit. After all, that which is unsustainable shall not be sustained. [...]

Again, common sense: trying to reinflate an artificially inflated bubble is a fool's errand. Or a Republican's errand -- same thing when it comes to economic policy.

'Are these folks serious?' Obama rips into stimulus-plan critics

David Neiwert, C and L (with video and transcript):

We can't delay, and we can't go back to the same, worn-out ideas that led us here in the first place. In the last few days we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read, but you'd be very familiar with, because you've been hearing them the last ten years -- maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems, that government doesn't have a role to play, that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough. That we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They have taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars. And they have brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now it is time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.

Obama Asks: ‘Are These Folks Serious?’

Brad Johnson, Think Progress (with video):

In a speech at the Department of Energy today, President Obama announced he was signing a memorandum to direct the department to issue new energy efficiency standards for common household appliances — something Secretary Steven Chu has highlighted in the past as a top priority. He also responded to critics who “ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles,” asking, “Are these folks serious?”

Obama pens stimulus op-ed in The Washington Post

Silent Patriot, C and L:

President Obama took to the pages of The Washington Post this morning to continue to make the case for his economic stimulus package.


By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished. People everywhere are worried about what tomorrow will bring.

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

President Obama finally sells the stimulus: "I reject the failed economic theories that got us to this point"

Silent Patriot, C and L:

Now, in the past few days I've heard criticisms that this plan is somehow wanting, and these criticisms echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can ignore fundamental challenges like energy independence and the high cost of health care; that we can somehow deal with this in a piecemeal fashion and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject those theories. And so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. So I urge members of Congress to act without delay. No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger.

Michael Steele: The new king of the GOP hypocrites

BuzzFlash, Honors:

It may seem like a cheap shot for BuzzFlash to name the new leader of the Republican party as our GOP hypocrite after only his first week in office, but Michael Steele's first speech as RNC chair was duplicitous enough that we couldn't help but call him out.

Last week, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Steele was elected the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee. For a party in crisis, it was again time to embrace the terminology of change. Without, of course, actually changing anything. [...]

In his acceptance speech, Steele spoke to the values of political innovation. He said that his ascendance shows that "the Republican party gets it."

"It's time for something completely different. And we're going to bring it to you," he promised.

Well, turns out that when Steele says "completely different," he means "absolutely the same."

Senate Republicans and the Stimulus: Playing Politics When the Economy Burns

Robert Reich, TPM:

Tomorrow's job report is likely to be awful. January's job losses could easily top half a million. We're deep into the most vicious of economic cycles: Consumers are slashing their spending because they're perilously in debt and worried about keeping their jobs. But as a result, businesses are facing shrinking sales of goods and services, so they're slashing payrolls, which of course makes consumers even more anxious and further reduces their spending power. Meanwhile, businesses are cutting way back on new investments in equipment, which hurts upstream suppliers, who are now slashing their payrolls. And so it goes, downward. The gap between what the economy could produce if it were running near full capacity and what it's now producing continues to widen. The shortfall is projected to be over a trillion dollars this year.

How do we get out of this downward plunge? [...]

When government spends to repair a highway or build a school or help pay for medical services, the money and the jobs stay here in America.

Finally, those who say cutting taxes on businesses is the best way to create or preserve jobs forget about the demand side. Even with a tax cut, businesses won't hire workers unless there are customers to buy what those workers produce. A government stimulus that creates jobs is a necessary precondition.

This isn't a matter of more or less government, however much Republicans and conservatives would like to wedge it in that old ideological box. The issue is how to revive the economy. When consumers and businesses can't or won't spend enough to keep the economy going, government has to be the spender of last resort. Period.

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