Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stupid And Cowardly

David Horsey's cartoon and column on the sequester is a pretty solid piece of work.  While I think he's taking the "cost" of the sequester to the economy a little too seriously, he certainly does a fine job in outlining just what is driving the process.

 The delusions of tea party Republicans are about to create a lot of misery for America. The "sequester" -- the drastic set of budget cuts formerly known as the "fiscal cliff" -- seems very likely to go into effect at the end of this week due in no small part to the fact that hyper-conservative lawmakers, such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, actually think it's a pretty swell idea.

Their obsessive and mistaken belief that the federal deficit is the greatest threat to the republic is leading them to block any compromise with Democrats that would delay or repeal the looming budget reductions.

They want government to get smaller and smaller, even if the cuts will come too quickly and slash too indiscriminately. The supreme absurdity of their position is that this could so damage the American economy that federal revenue will drop and deficit reduction will become even harder to achieve.

The tea party folks may be sincere, loyal citizens, but their notions about how the economy works are exactly that: mere notions. Their core notion is that government needs to do nothing more than get out of the way of business in order for the economy to boom and bloom. ...

Pete Peterson, President Nixon’s secretary of Commerce, has campaigned for years against rising deficits and has earned the ire of liberals who think his insistence on restructuring Social Security and Medicare is too extreme and unnecessary. Yet, even Peterson, in an interview on public radio's "Marketplace" on Tuesday, said many of his fellow Republicans are crazy to think the sequester cuts are a smart idea.

Peterson said the deficit problem is long-term and must be dealt with comprehensively through spending reductions, entitlement reforms and revenue increases, a.k.a. taxes.

What should not happen, Peterson insisted, is a governmental retreat from investing in America’s economic future through funding of things such as education, infrastructure and basic scientific research. Of course, to the tea party Republicans, such talk is heresy.

Now if even Pete Peterson thinks the sequester is bad policy, something is afoot.  It's going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

Horsey's main point, that the Tea Partiers are wrong in this scenario (as they are in every one I can think of), is what is driving more than half of the recalcitrance from the GOP.  Republicans are still scared to death of the Tea Party, even though the old party regulars are trying to shake their hold on the party loose.  I'm sure Boehner would love an opportunity to cut a deal with Obama, especially since Obama is certainly not the strongest negotiator in the world.  Unfortunately, his own Majority Leader stabs him in the back at every opportunity and Paul Ryan, the rising star, joins him.  As a result, the rest of the Republicans in the House and those in the Senate continue to kowtow to the whackaloons.

Why?  None of them want to be primaried in 2014 or 2016.  They don't want to lose, but they also don't want to have to spend precious campaign money in the primary and then face a Democratic challenger, even in safe districts or states.

It's too bad the Democrats dispensed with Howard Dean's 50-state strategy.  It might actually work at this juncture.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  Today and tomorrow I predict a lot of popcorn consumption.

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Blogger thurbers said...

Sadly, I wish that Obama also had to face a Democratic caucus who were afraid of being primaried or having to run with the 'look who's cutting Medicare and Social Security' ads that would be the result of supporting his bargain. If he did, this might be ending right now. Because it would be dead from two direction. And Boehner would go for just kill it with Dem votes.

But no, he isn't afraid of that, so the kabuki continues.

9:09 AM  

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