Partisanship and Vacations

Partisanship as Cosmetic Surgery

You have to hand it to the Republican party. They have found a can’t-lose approach to our current economic crisis.

Case 1: The economy recovers. The Republicans, only three of whom voted for the stimulus package, will say that markets are “self-healing”. The economy has rebounded in spite of the stimulus package. The natural ups and downs of the market have manifested themselves. Boy are we lucky the stimulus package didn’t do more harm!

Case 2: The economy continues to sink. Ah, we said it wouldn’t work! You see, that stimulus package has made matters worse. It’s 2010 folks, vote for lots of Republicans!

Do you need proof of their strategy? Look at Karl Rove’s warning to his party in the Wall Street Journal:

But if Republicans predict economic doom, they will overplay their hand. The Democratic stimulus will slow recovery, but not stop it. Recessions don’t last forever and, if history is a guide, sometime late this year or early next the economy will rebound on its own. When that happens, Democrats will argue that their untargeted, permanent spending actually revived the economy.

via Karl Rove Says Barack Obama’s Stimulus Package Will Cost Him Fiscally and Politically – WSJ.com.

The emphasis in the above quote was added by me. Of course Rove here accuses the Democrats of doing the inverse of what the Republican plan is. The Democrats will take credit for an inevitable upturn to which they have made no real contribution.

Am I the only one who sees an incredible smugness and cynicism to this line of thinking? First, it confounds me how Republicans can advocate doing next to nothing while the markets self correct. How many people have to lose their jobs and their homes while we wait for this economic theory to materialize? The cynicism comes from this idea of unanimously opposing the President’s initiatives so if they don’t work, the GOP will look like geniuses who were ignored.

While I may not like the idea, partisanship is probably the best play the Republicans can make in this government ruled by contention. In six of the last eight years, they betrayed their creed, they spent us into the ground (partly on a war we shouldn’t have been fighting) and now they have their chance to be self righteous. In the words of Rove, “Over the past month, House Republicans have used the stimulus bill to redefine their party”. Doesn’t it comfort you that our nation’s dismal state provides the Republican party with an opportunity for a makeover? They can focus on their image while the rest of us struggle.

Hurry Up, I’m Late for My Plane!

Democrats are no saints in this mess either. Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Boston based columnist Mike Barnacle expressed understandable outrage at one of the motivating factors for the rush to sign the stimulus bill. Joe Scarborough agreed with him and so did I. You see, it’s vacation time for Congress right now. Our representatives had a choice to cancel their planned vacations and read the bill more carefully and perhaps negotiate it to a better standard or they could go ski in the Rockies. They chose the latter.

According to a pundit I watched on TV last week, this mindset is not at all unusual and it is exclusive to no party affiliation. You don’t get in the way of Congress and their vacation. So when you watch congressional hearings where the various representatives rake bankers and corporate big wigs over the coals for “not getting it”, you’re actually witnessing the pot calling the kettle black.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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10 thoughts on “Partisanship and Vacations

  1. Am I the only one who sees an incredible smugness and cynicism to this line of thinking?

    How is this anymore cynical than Obama calling this current ‘crisis’ a Depression? We’re not even to 1981-82 recession levels of unemployment and certainly not anywhere near the doom and gloom of Jimmah Carter days of 16% prime.

    I think the Republicans have a legitimate point. Other than FDR’s New Deal, there has rarely if ever been huge jolts to the economy in the way of porkulus courtesy of the Federal Government. And each time without intervention, the market did recover on its own. The historical record clear shows a cyclical phase from recession to recovery. How did that happen without stimulus packages and government intervention?

    Again, we think just the opposite. I believe Obama must first greatly lower the expectations to the point that any recovery can be attributable to government action. If things turn worse, your gang will simply say it’s Bush’s fault. If things get any better, you’ll claim Obama and his cronies were right.

    I think one difference between you and me “R” is undoubtedly you are under the impression that government can create wealth. I think just the opposite – I don’t think the government creates wealth in the least. I don’t see that they sell a physical product, sell a service, or generate any revenue. What they give to one must be definition come from someone else.

    Another difference in our philosophy. You want more government, or less government?

  2. I almost forgot…

    How many people have to lose their jobs and their homes while we wait for this economic theory to materialize?

    But that is not the right question to be asking “R”. That is not thinking things through but simply reacting to the situation.

    The real question we ought to be asking ourselves is first answering the question “how did we get here”, and then asking “what can we do to prevent it from happening again” while avoiding making things worse. Have we done that? I don’t think so.

    I’ll make an analogy. You go to the doctor and find out your weight has ballooned, your starting to show preliminary signs of heart disease, and your blood pressure is hypertensive. On top of that, the very doctor that gave you the order to go on the crash diet, was just three years before telling you that you needed to gain some weight to be healthy.

    The doctor instructs you that you must immediately begin a crash diet to save yourself. Or might you be better to begin a routine diet slowly losing the weight, making lifestyle changes that slowly lead to better health? Maybe you do a little of both for a short time, but the real emphasis should be on changing what is causing the problem.

    Again, I’m not saying necessarily dictating for the government to do nothing. We need to provide some temporary assistance with respect to health care, allowing some flexibility concerning home ownership and mortgage rates, maybe even create some temporary jobs doing something tangible like repairing infrastructure. What ever we do, there should be a requirement by the receiver that something of benefit is expected in return.

    The fact that we just let the most inept, bloated, inefficient organization on earth this side of the U.N. decide on the way out our mess, when they are half to blame for the mess to begin with, seems incredibly shortsighted to me.

    More importantly, you seem to think pain always a negative. And it is not. Back to my previous analogy, pain is what tells the body something is wrong so that corrections may be made to return to homeostasis.

    If you don’t begin to change the mindset of the people that were living beyond their means, we will never return to a healthy economy. And eventually the body will die.

  3. You want more government, or less government?

    I want neither. I want effective government. To my knowledge, Obama has not stated we are in a depression nor have any credible economists. What has been said is without some intervention we may very well descend into a depression. The rate of job loss in this country should scare the crap out of anyone half awake.

    Interestingly, I think that the stimulus bill was originally intended to do exactly what you call for in your second comment. Home finance relief, health care initiatives and infrastructure investment. In a previous post I acknowledged that we did this in too great a rush with the Democrats throwing too much stuff in the bill. I still concede that. But the stance of the Republicans still appears obstructive, not constructive. There are reports that Republican House leaders had already sent out the word to vote “nay” before the original House bill ever got off the presses.

    As for pain being good, I can’t argue with that. Obama has stated that each individual needs to change his financial outlook. What the government was doing on a large scale, spending money it did not have, is the same thing lots of citizens have been doing. Recently I heard an interesting statistic that the standard of living of the middle class has not really improved since the 1970’s. The illusion of progress was achieved by credit. Folks enhancing their standard of living via debt. That has got to change.

    Clearly we agree that government cannot sit by and do nothing. It is a matter of degree.

  4. I want neither. I want effective government.

    Then we are in agreement. But you honestly tell me you think government effective and efficient while doing so? You have more faith in our government than I do. Then you might find this article interesting. I did.

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/2009/02/06/obama-stimulus-not-necessary-as-this-is-no-great-depression.html

    Actually, the Republicans are now practicing, albeit much too late, what I wanted from Bush. I don’t consider obstruction when based on sound principle (see article).

    I don’t know about the middle class being squeezed, because I can’t get anybody to define middle class for me. Give me an absolute yearly salary figure, or a net worth. Either will work and I’ll tell you if I agree with you.

    One thing I would add. No doubt most families have sustained themselves for this long because of a two family income – less common even thirty years ago.

    I’ll see if I can find record of Obama using the word Depression. I could be wrong about that – but if he hasn’t, he certainly has hinted toward slouching toward Depression.

  5. We can go on forever debating the short term effects of this bill. The way I see it, its guaranteed to give at least some short term stimulus in the same way I can get stuffed at Red Lobster on a credit card.

    Mathematically, an economic grim reaper has been unleashed to rape the future of America. I don’t see how anyone can debate this fact. Let me rephrase that: I haven’t even seen anyone TRY to debate that.

    Our currency WILL one day be debased and we WILL one day have to bite a catastrophic bullet.

    Let the record show that at least the Rabbit gave a crap. Will you able to look the youngins in the eye, Rutherford?

  6. It doesn’t look like the spendulus has given even short-term stimulus. The stocks still dropped. Not only was this a partisan pork bill, it hasn’t even done what the smaller bills (that I didn’t support either, by the way) under Bush did.

  7. Solar, the days of Wall Street being an indicator of what shape we are in are temporarily over. They are largely responsible for our current situation and I think the focus of the government right now is focus on putting people back to work … get companies back in the profit game, and then the stock market will follow.

    Dead Rabbit sadly your Red Lobster analogy is pretty much a bullseye. Our recovery plan is being financed by the Chinese. I’ll tell you how I look my youngin’ in the eye. I tell her that this one is too tough for Daddy to figure out and that all we can do is hope that there is a way out.

    Bottom line DR, in 1929 there were folks who jumped out of windows and there were folks who hung in there and saw things get better. I choose to be in the latter category.

  8. Rutherford,

    The companies suffering the most, the automobile and mortgage companies, are losing money for reasons that the government can’t and shouldn’t handle. The automobile industry is having problems because (A) It can’t produce cars as cheaply in America as in other nations because we have a high tax on buisnesses, our work force is expensive to hire (relatively), and the government is mandating what type of cars it can build; (B) People aren’t buying as many of their cars because other companies that previously didn’t exist are taking off; and (C) it has CEO’s that don’t belong working for any buisness.
    The mortgage companies are having problems because the government encouraged them to give mortgages to people who shouldn’t be asking for any type of loan at all, and the companies went along with it without complaning.

    Our economy is going through a time of huge changes. The labor force that can effect the U.S. is going from 600 million workers to 6 billion workers. And most of those new workers will work for a salary that we make in a day. Jobs that we thought were ours forever are now theirs. Jobs that we don’t even know exist yet will be our future. BUt these old companies are going to have huge changes if they want to survuve, much less thrive.

    The government thinks it can save these buisnesses with bailouots. What it is trying to do is prop up houses with billion-dollar toothpicks. I won’t say that it can’t be done, but unless anyone wants to double our national debt, it won’t happen.

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