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If you have to sabotage the economy to win, your ideas suck

I’m more and more impressed by Eclectablog, whose plain-speaking posts are like a breath of fresh air during this election season.

A good example is the recent post there by LOLGOP “The GOP is Threatening Your Job“, which is about Republican efforts to sabotage the economy. The GOP figured out that if the economy is bad, it makes it more likely for the party out of power to win elections. If the economy is doing just fine for big corporations and the top 1% (their donors), and the economic hit is being taken by the poor and middle class, even better!

How are Republicans sabotaging the economy? Let’s look at one particularly obvious example:

last summer, the House GOP did something unprecedented in American history. During a jobs crisis they helped create and did nothing to end, the GOP decided that they would not approve an increase in the debt limit without trillions in deficit cuts. They added to the insanity by saying that they would not approve one dollar in tax increases, even on the richest Americans.

The last time the Republicans took the country to the edge of default was during the Clinton administration, and it cost them control of Congress (forcing Newt Gingrich to resign in disgrace).

But they did it again in 2010. As a result, our credit rating was downgraded and the recovery stalled. At the last minute the GOP blinked, making a complex debt deal (which not surprisingly they now refuse to honor).

Incredibly, they are now doing it a third time! On May 15, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would (again) force a government default. That statement alone cost many Americans their jobs.

The real question is how do they get away with it? Why haven’t we thrown them out like we did the first time? The answer:

the GOP has enough message discipline and sympathetic media to help them avoid the blame.

I love the phrase “message discipline”. I guess it means when a group lies in unison and repeats them often enough that people start to believe them. That, plus millions of dollars spent on misleading television ads by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.

So what the Republicans learned from their failure during the Clinton administration was that they needed Faux News, Citizen’s United, the Tea Party, and more message discipline. Unfortunately, it seems to be working.

The Republicans have even managed to convince many Americans that the Stimulus didn’t work, when there is plenty of evidence that it was the most successful economic revival since World War II.

The most damming evidence that the GOP is sabotaging the economy is that — other than opposing everything Obama and the Democrats try to do to improve the economy — what are their own proposals for fixing the economy? Even more tax cuts for the wealthy (on top of Bush’s tax cuts, which should be left to expire), and huge increases in military spending. That’s right, they are doubling down on the exact same economic policies that got us into the worst economic mess since the Great Depression.



  1. Jeff wrote:

    This kind of stuff really drives me nuts. It just convinces me all over again that the GOP has learned to roll with the collective ADD of the US public. We don’t seem to remember things that happened last week, let alone a few years ago, making us susceptible to the bait-and-switch tactics the GOP is pulling off now. Being the party of small government, the GOP has realized that ineffective governing is their friend, and stalemating Congress is a solid strategy for regaining power in Washington. I still find it hard to believe that so many people swallow this stuff, and honestly believe in it.

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    If you haven’t read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, you really should. It was published in 1986, is “about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse,” and looks at “what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment.” Pretty common themes for readers of this blog.

    In some ways, I really can’t blame the GOP for adopting poorly thought-out, short-sighted policies. As Jeff pointed out, ineffective government provides a great rationale for shrinking it. So if they just screw up bad enough, they can get what they want…

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I just want to comment on one small piece of the post. “huge increases in military spending”, I don’t know where they got that info, but its absolutely not true. From the boots on the ground perspective, we have no money to send Soldiers to training, can’t order any equipment, can’t even get new clothing and any travel has to be approved at the highest level and shown to be absolutely necessary. The % of budget delegated t the military as a percent of GDP is the lowest it’s been for a while and even lower then during the post Korea cold war times.

    This link has a wealth of current and historical data and too many links to count to other sources of data. It may help to put more fact in the discussion.

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  4. Falkelord wrote:

    @Patriotsgt I’m still trying to figure out exactly why we need to increase our military spending at all. Just stop spending so much goddamn money on the war(s) and you’ll free up a pretty big chunk of change. I find it hard to believe they’re actually having trouble providing equipment or training when that’s basically all they’re given money to do. That the travel has to be top-approved is good: I don’t want my tax dollars paying for some second lieutenant to take a helicopter from Barksdale AFB to Little Rock. I’ll gladly pay for the 4-star general to take a plane flight from New York to Andrews.

    But it’s a win/win too. Republicans love cost-shaving and austerity and they should go wild for that sort of thi-

    Oh wait they don’t?

    Nevermind why am I even here?

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    PSGT, the GOP are proposing huge increases in military funding, the increases haven’t come to pass yet.

    As for using Heritage, their agenda is pretty clear in the first sentence when they talk about Obama “gutting” defense spending. The fact that they link only to themselves or to columns by their own writers is also a bit misleading.

    I can’t figure out why they threw in the bit about the founding fathers not being isolationist, anyone who has looked into US history knows we averaged about one foreign military action between 1800 and the First World War, not to mention our first war in the Middle East was in 1801 (First Barbary War).

    But back on track, your second link is also ALL government spending, with State spending “guestimated” Federal spending projections for this year look a bit different, with defense making up nearly a quarter of the budget and being the largest single slice of the pie.

    You are right that it is lower than Cold War % of GDP, but doesn’t that make sense? We no longer have a sworn enemy that we’re on the edge of nuclear war with. What we need is smarter spending, and smarter use of our forces. Iraq was a massive mistake which allowed the war in Afghanistan (which I think is justified) to get worse. Meanwhile the country spends way too much money developing weapons that were either never used ( ) or were ordered to fight the Cold War, built even after the USSR fell and have problems to boot ( ).

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Patriotsgt, first, the link you provide is to defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget, not GDP. This one shows defense spending as a percentage of GDP. And according to that, the 2010 budget accounted for 5% of GDP, compared with about 3% in 2000. Clearly, it’s not “the lowest it’s been for a while.”

    You could make the argument that the projected budget comes out to 3.4% in 2015, but that depends on a number of things. For one, pulling out of Iraq in 2011 and pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014. Those sure seem like the kinds of things that would reduce defense spending.

    It’s also interesting to note that Heritage compares the projection with the 45-year average, which happens to include 25 years of the Cold War and Vietnam. What country, again, are we at war with?

    Now, I understand you’re writing from a “boots on the ground” perspective, and it sounds like there are real and legitimate financial concerns there. But you have to recall that the defense budget includes significant research and development efforts for things like drones, and Obama has very much increased funding for those types of programs.

    So while you and the troops around you may be getting the shaft (and I’m sorry that’s the case), a complete picture does show that, in terms of actual spending as a percentage of GDP up to 2010, Obama’s spending IS higher than both Clinton and GW Bush. By the way, if you are concerned that Obama’s numbers as a percentage of GDP are inflated because of a lower GDP, that is not the case. Both GDP and defense spending as a percentage of GDP are higher. That means more spending.

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    PatriotSgt, I got the “huge increases in military spending” from Romney’s campaign statements. CNN Money took the statements on Romney’s campaign website, and ran the numbers for them — they project over $2 trillion in additional military spending in the next decade. They use real numbers, not silly numbers like the Heritage Foundation’s military budget as a percentage of the federal budget.

    And that does NOT include money spent on wars, like the one Romney likes in Iran. Read the sabre rattling in his own words.

    Romney fecklessly says:

    Beginning Nov. 4, 1979 , dozens of U.S. diplomats were held hostage by Iranian Islamic revolutionaries for 444 days while America’s feckless president, Jimmy Carter, fretted in the White House. Running for the presidency against Carter the next year, Ronald Reagan made it crystal clear that the Iranians would pay a very stiff price for continuing their criminal behavior. On Jan. 20, 1981, in the hour that Reagan was sworn into office, Iran released the hostages. The Iranians well understood that Reagan was serious about turning words into action in a way that Jimmy Carter never was.

    Somehow, Romney completely forgets the Iran-Contra scandal, where we illegally facilitated the sale of arms to Iran (which was under an arms embargo) in order to secure the release of the hostages. Romney says “The overall rubric of my foreign policy will be the same as Ronald Reagan’s”. Oh Great.

    Thing about that again. Reagan lied (by his own admission). He sold arms to Iran (again by his own admission), giving them more weapons. This is what Romney aspires to?

    Finally, you’re worried about money for our troops? Back to his own campaign website, Romney says:

    The men and women of America’s military are among the finest who have ever served any nation at any time. They are all volunteers; they have all chosen to dedicate their careers in the service of their country. Many have spent more time in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years than they have spent at home. Thousands of them went overseas and will never come home. They have willingly chosen this path of sacrifice. It is unconscionable that these men and women must fly in airplanes that are old and unreliable, must sail in ships that have cracked hulls, or must ride in vehicles that are urgently in need of replacement — all because their government has had neither the vision to plan for their needs or the simple common sense to manage its own budget.

    After five sentences praising the men and women of the military, we finally get to Romney’s solution — no, not more salary, benefits, training, clothing, or travel money for the troops, but shiny new airplanes, ships, and other vehicles paid for by throwing lots of money at the defense industry.

    PSgt, I expected more from you. You’ve made strong statements about the need to reduce military spending in the past. What happened?

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    One more thing. The original post was supposed to be about the economy, not the military. I mentioned military spending because it affects the economy. But if you want to talk about the military, let’s look at results.

    First Bush: Largest terrorist attack in our history, after he ignores warnings. Starts wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Declares “mission accomplished”.

    Next Obama: Bin Laden, dead. Saddam Hussein Muammar Gaddafi, dead. Actually got us out of Iraq war, and is working on Afghanistan. Actively fighting against terrorists in Pakistan and other places. No new major terrorist attacks.

    And if you believe your links that Obama did this while “gutting the military budget”, then more power to him.

    Romney’s solution to the military is to throw money at it, by increasing the Pentagon budget to 4% of GDP.

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  9. ThatGuy wrote:

    Saddam died under Bush though, didn’t he?

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    oops, I meant Muammar Gaddafi. My bad. Gaddafi was an actual terrorist.

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  11. ebdoug wrote:

    I think if you believe in American ideals, you just don’t vote for a Republican. In my tiny town of 2500, there are people I want to vote for. if they are on the Republican line, they don’t get my vote. I tell them. Once someone put his name on another line. I finally got to vote for him. My family came to this country about 1613. The Republicans do not represent those freedoms. Simple. DON’T VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN

    Friday, June 1, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink
  12. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I am for reducing the military budget, but responsibly. Ending the wars is a start. Our military budget is large, I do get it, but its not the largest line item any more. Additioanlly, it has grown more under Obama then even Bush, so where is all the money going? Not to troops, not to training, not to equipment. Its going to pork missions. Things even DOD said they didn’t want congress gave them. Whats really happening is training, personnel and soldier needed equipment are being reduced, while pet projects on both sides of the aisle are being funded. Thats what pisses me off. Reduce our worldwide footprint, don’t end the wars then say we need to increase our Asian presence.

    Here’s an insider observation, the Guard has a program that employs roughly 2500 Soldiers country wide. They provide technical and asset assistance to local and federal law enforcement counter narcotics units with half the program, and the other half puts soldiers in inner city schools to work with kids and spread the anti drug, anti bullying, message through programs like DARE and Stay On Track. These Soldiers touch the most vulnerable and troubled of our youth and the kids listen because there is a uniformed military person who likely came from their environment telling them how to improve their life.
    Obama’s FY13 budget called for a 55% cut to the program, congress wrote in a 25% cut instead. A great program that actually helps the local communities. However, the overall budget increased, but the program in my state has to lay off 25% of it’s force.
    Other cuts to the military are in Operations and Maintenance, Procurement. I have vehicles sitting in my motor pool that don’t run because we can’t order parts. I have 15 year old radios that weren’t used in either Iraq or Afghanistan because they only have about a 2 km range and there is no money for the current ones. So on convoys we have to use our cell phones. New Soldiers have to share helmets when we go to the rifle range because there isn’t money to buy new equipment.
    So whats really being cut, the things we need. Whats really being spent, the pork projects that get votes.

    I don’t think Obama is doing a bad job, he’s just not changing anything. He just wants to be re-elected so he can implement the change he postponed until his 2nd term and thats the reason we should re-elect him. Buy the way we finally left Iraq because the Iraqis kicked us out by not agreeing to our SOFA which they knew was a deal stopper. The administration was trying hard to keep our forces there because of the big dollars stateside companies made and consequently donated back to politicians. Thats the real truth.

    Friday, June 1, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  13. Iron Knee wrote:

    PatriotSgt, I agree with you, but I do want to make two comments.

    I would change “the pork projects that get votes” to “the pork projects that get campaign donations” — it is all about the money.

    I also have one problem with your last paragraph, which seems to be blaming problems in Congress on Obama. Saying he “postponed” changes until his second term ignores the insane opposition to everything Obama does coming from the Republicans in Congress.

    I have a post coming up tomorrow where in an interview, Grover Norquist (one of the most powerful men in Washington) is asked what Republicans should do, and he says they should make a list of everything Obama is doing and “do the opposite”.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink