I have been saying this for 2 years now…and I can’t say it any better than Krugman just did…
Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system.
And no, I don’t mean the fanaticism of the right. Well, OK, that too. But my feeling about those people is that they are what they are; you might as well denounce wolves for being carnivores. Crazy is what they do and what they are.
No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.
Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.
So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.
The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president. Once again, health reform — his only major change to government — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.
What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on.
You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.
And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.
It’s a terrible thing to watch, and our nation will pay the price. – Paul Krugman
Krugman is on point…once again.
Bear in mind that G.O.P. leaders don’t actually care about the level of debt. Instead, they’re using the threat of a debt crisis to impose an ideological agenda. If you had any doubt about that, last week’s tantrum should have convinced you. Democrats engaged in debt negotiations argued that since we’re supposedly in dire fiscal straits, we should talk about limiting tax breaks for corporate jets and hedge-fund managers as well as slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. And Republicans, in response, walked out of the talks.So what’s really going on is extortion pure and simple. As Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute puts it, the G.O.P. has, in effect, come around with baseball bats and declared, “Nice economy you have here. A real shame if something happened to it.”And the reason Republicans are doing this is because they must believe that it will work: Mr. Obama caved in over tax cuts, and they expect him to cave again. They believe that they have the upper hand, because the public will blame the president for the economic crisis they’re threatening to create. In fact, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that G.O.P. leaders actually want the economy to perform badly.Republicans believe, in short, that they’ve got Mr. Obama’s number, that he may still live in the White House but that for practical purposes his presidency is already over. It’s time — indeed, long past time — for him to prove them wrong. – Paull Krugman
These guys are the height of unprincipled…except when it comes to undercutting the President…
They have blocked policies that they themselves have initiated or co-sponsored or supported, as far back as ’08, as soon as the President says he agrees with it. Too often this sort of context is missed by the mainstream media and the Repugs continue this unpatriotic behaviour and get off scot-free. This portion of the political debate needs more light given to it and the American people need to make these hacks pay…
An address to the President… I hope he hears it and follows through with these suggestions…
As the debate over deficits ramped up in Washington on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders laid out the compelling case not to slash programs for working families. Any deficit reduction package must rely on new revenue for at least half the reduction in red ink, he added in a major address in the Senate. Sanders spoke at length about what caused deficits (wars, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the rich) and how to shrink them (more revenue from the wealthiest Americans to match spending cuts). He urged fellow senators not to yield to Republican congressional leaders who “acted like schoolyard bullies” when they walked out of budget negotiations. He summed up the situation in a letter to the president that had been signed by more than 16000 people by the time he completed his speech. Sign the letter » http://www.sanders.senate.gov
Without coalescing around some type of political power, legislators too often don’t give those most in need top priority. The poor don’t “butter their bread” so they fall down the list of important constituents…
It is in that context that I am forced to assume that if Washington politicians ever knew the sting of poverty then they have long since vanquished the memory. How else to qualify their positions? In fact, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires, and between 2008 and 2009, when most Americans were feeling the brunt of the recession, the personal wealth of members of Congress collectively increased by more than 16 percent. Must be nice.
Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.
You defend yourself with hope, hard work and, for some, a helping hand. But these weapons grow dull in an economy on the verge of atrophy, in a job market tilting ever more toward the top and in a political environment that would sacrifice the weak to the wealthy. – Charles Blow
A legitimate critique…
“Today’s economy has made it easier to fall into poverty. … Every American is vulnerable to the insecurities and anxieties of this new economy. And that’s why the single most important focus of my economic agenda as president will be to pursue policies that create jobs and make work pay,” Obama said that day to his mostly black audience.
At that time, the nation’s overall unemployment rate was 4.7%. Whites had a jobless rate of 4.2% while the black unemployment rate stood at 8.1%. Today, the black rate is 15.5%, nearly double that of white job-seekers.
I don’t blame Obama for the economic conditions that are responsible for so many blacks being out of work. The seeds of this problem were planted long before he moved into the Oval Office. But I do fault him for not doing more to fix this problem.
The poor in urban America, he said in that 2007 speech, “suffer most from a politics that has been tipped in favor of those with the most money, and influence, and power.” And then he asked rhetorically, “How can a country like this allow it?” To which he answered, “We can’t.”
But so far, under his leadership, he has allowed it.
Finding work for the jobless is the best anti-poverty program this nation can mount. But while the Obama administration spends $608 million during the first 17 days of its involvement in Libya’s civil war — it can muster neither the money nor the will to combat black unemployment. – DeWayne Wickham
Robert Reich makes it simple and easy…
Needless to say, Republicans are counter to any constructive and fact based approach to repairing the economy. They would rather continue doing the same things that led us down this road. Their policies are the same policies that were discussed and implemented under Reagan and both Bush’s…