On Sequester, GOP Beginning to Regret Believing the GOP.
One of the dangers of a long campaign of BS is that you stand a real danger of beginning to believe your own lies. Especially when that long campaign is carried out by an institution, not individuals. People who believe the lie will join the organization to support the lie and the whole thing just snowballs. What began as spin or propaganda for political advantage becomes a guiding principle. And when you go to war against your imaginary enemy, firing blindly into the dark because you know it’s there someplace, you’re going to have real casualties.
In this case, the lie is the GOP claim to runaway government waste. That was why Republicans pushed the supposed “nothing-burger nature of the sequester,” in the words of Ed Kilgore. The GOP ran around parading the sequester as a war trophy because “of course there’s so much waste, fraud and abuse that big cuts can be absorbed without pain.”
But of course, there is not. Kilgore’s commentary is in reaction to a report by two of the Huffington Post’s best political journalists: Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein. Terkel and Stein took a look at sequester cuts and found them to be much more severe than they’d imagined.
The Huffington Post set out to do an extensive review of sequestration stories from the past week, with the goal of finding 100. What seemed like a daunting task was completed in hours. No one region of the country has been immune. Rural towns in Alaska, missile test sites in the Marshall Islands, military bases in Virginia, university towns across the country, and housing agencies in inner cities are all beginning to feel the cuts.
It’s a disturbing list of hits to essential programs, of job losses, of decreasing demand. The only person in America who could believe this was good news is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose love of European-style austerity and stick-it-to-the-worker policies has dropped his state’s level of job creation from 11th in the nation to 44th — in just two years. Finally, Walker will have more competition way down there at the bottom, as state after state is forced to emulate his idiotic and destructive economic policies. When everyone is forced to suck as hard as he does, maybe he won’t look so bad.
European-style austerity is here, there isn’t a huge buffer of government waste that can soften the blow, and Republicans have greeted it all with an enthusiastic round of applause, because they’ve bought their own lie.
So how is this all going to work out for America? Well, it’s called “European-style” for a reason, so there’s a place look to answer that question.
The 17-nation Eurozone set another dubious record in the opening months of 2013, as its unemployment rate continued to climb from its already record-high rate. The jobless rate also rose for the European Union as a whole as austerity efforts continue to plague the continent’s recovery from the Great Recession:The jobless rate reached 12 percent in both January and February, the highest since the creation of the euro in 1999, Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, reported from Luxembourg.
The January jobless rate for the 17-nation currency union was revised upward from the previously reported 11.9 percent.
For the overall European Union, the February jobless rate rose to 10.9 percent from 10.8 percent in January, Eurostat said, with more than 26 million people without work across the 27-nation bloc.
Not well. It’s not going to work out well. Already, Republicans are starting to feel the sequester’s pinch and beginning to get cold feet about it.
That whole thing about billions in waste that can easily and painlessly be cut from federal spending is turning out to be a fairy tale. You hope enough Republicans realize they’ve bought a bill of goods before their chumpishness does too much lasting damage.
Hoping they learn a lesson about believing their own propaganda, however, is probably too much to ask.
[photo from Wikimedia Commons]
Even solid majorities of Republicans would support such a move.
The budget plan no one is talking about.
The correct counterpart to the unbridled ambition of the Ryan budget isn’t the cautious plan released by the Senate Democrats. It’s the “Back to Work” budget released by the House Progressives.
The “Back to Work” budget is about exactly what the name implies: Putting Americans back to work. The first sentence of the budget lays it out clearly: “We’re in a jobs crisis that isn’t going away.” So that’s the budget’s top priority: fixing the jobs crisis.
The budget begins with a stimulus program that makes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act look tepid. It includes $2.1 trillion in stimulus and investment from 2013-2015. The main policies there are a $425 billion infrastructure program, a $340 billion middle-class tax cut, a $450 billion public-works initiative, and $179 billion in state and local aid.
This is a lot of stimulus. The liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that would be sufficient to “boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 5.7 percent and employment by 6.9 million jobs at its peak level of effectiveness (within one year of implementation).”
[In an ABC News interview] Obama and George Stephanopoulos, a former White House aide in the Clinton administration, talked almost entirely in the cerebral, inside-Washington policy and strategy terms befitting two cerebral, inside-Washington strategists and policy wonks. In other words, Obama talked to Stephanopoulos instead of his audience.
Paul Ryan’s Self-Serving Budget Plan.
I don’t really like to visit the same post twice, but a Steve Benen piece I quoted earlier asks a damned good question: why does Paul Ryan feel the need to balance the budget in ten years?
Ryan’s budget prioritizes balanced budgets for no apparent reason: The point behind the new GOP plan is to balance the budget within 10 years. Why? No one has any idea, and most credible economists believe such efforts might even do severe damage to the economy. Ryan’s op-ed said his rushed efforts to eliminate the deficit that Republicans built up during the Bush/Cheney era will help thanks to low interest rates — but as Ryan should know, interest rates are already extremely low.
And, it pays to point out, those low interest rates aren’t exactly helping. Ryan either pretends not to know or legitimately does not know that interest rates represent the creation of wealth in its most common form. So low interest rates may be good for a short term economic boost, but in the long term they’re actually not all that great. Doubt me? Look at the awesome and rollicking economy today’s low interest rates have brought us.
Which makes another observation by Benen seem like an obvious answer:
Ryan’s budget is needlessly confrontational : There’s simply no way Senate Democrats would ever endorse such a far-right budget plan, so there’s no real point to Ryan’s vanity exercise. It will put House Republicans on record in support of a fairly radical vision — which the American mainstream will find outrageous — but to no practical end.
From a PR standpoint to rally the base, it serves an excellent purpose. People never seem to notice that the Republican base makes heroes out of those who throw the most victim cards around (Sarah Palin, anyone?). Having the entire Democratic Party pointing out how ridiculous and terrible your plan is isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. If Ryan’s trying to carve out a larger role in his party, this is exactly how you’d do it — put out a uselessly austere proposal with no chance in hell of ever becoming law, then welcome the criticism heaped upon said plan by the left and the “biased” media. If the public hates it, who cares? It’s about getting Rush Limbaugh to say nice things about you.
This isn’t an alternative to anything, this is picking a fight for the sake of picking a fight.