*Politicizing the national and potentially global economic crisis in an effort to unseat the president is an integral part of Republican strategy and goes unchallenged by any notable Republican. So far as I’m concerned, all Republicans—even the most benign centrists—are tainted by it. This is your party. These are your people. And your silence is deafening.
One of the most difficult driving skills to acquire
is that of turning into the skid. If you’ve lost control of your vehicle, you’re supposed to turn your steering wheel into the direction in which your car is moving. This is the exact opposite of what instinct tells us to do. Instinct tells us to turn in the direction we want the car to go—away from the tree we’re about to hit. But you’re actually supposed to turn *toward* the tree, which will break the momentum of the skid and snap you back into controlled movement. But it is fighting against instinct, which makes it a difficult skill to acquire. Similarly, in a severe economic downturn, people almost immediately stop spending. They shut their wallets and purses, banks stop loaning, businesses stop hiring. This is precisely the wrong thing to do in an economic downturn; it just moves you faster toward that tree you’re about to crash into. Any economist will tell you: the only way to get out of a recession is to keep the wheels of the economy moving. That requires spending. Businesses, usually run by idiots, are more concerned with hoarding cash than the overall economic health of the nation, which big business usually considers somebody else’s problem. The private sector—you and me—become terrified by whatever Wall Street is doing, even if we have no money in the stock market. A plummet in the Dow Jones is all it takes for most of us to immediately stop spending. With both business and the private sector immediately shutting off spending, the economy slows to a halt. Goods are not sold so orders stop almost immediately. Orders stop so manufacturers and importers manufacture and import less. Manufacturers and importers manufacture and import less, and thus factories and businesses slow down, which means they need fewer workers so they either lay off existing workers or cut the salaries and bonuses of existing workers in order to prevent layoffs. Which scares the wits out of the workers who, yes, stop spending money.
In a serious economic recession, the number one priority
keep the economy moving. Or, in this case, to start the economy,
which had all but completely stalled, moving. The only way to do
that is to put money into the economy, which neither business
nor the private sector is going to do. So, who’s left? If
business won’t do it, and you and I won’t do it, the only entity
left that can get the economy moving and prevent economic
disaster—which would spread throughout the entire planet
virtually overnight—is the government. This is simple economics.
Economics 101. Economics For Dummies. The major cause of the
Great Depression was not the stock market crash or the reckless
policies which led to it, but was President Herbert Hoover’s
inept response to the economic downturn and his focus on debt
reduction during an economic crisis. Prior to the start of the
Great Depression, Hoover's first Treasury Secretary, Andrew
Mellon, proposed and saw enacted, numerous tax cuts, which, when
combined with the sharp decline in incomes during the early
depression, resulted in a serious deficit in the federal budget
(sound familiar?). Like our current Republicans, President
Hoover was a firm believer in balanced budgets, and was
unwilling to run a budget deficit to fund welfare programs.
Hoover signed into law the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The
legislation raised tariffs on thousands of imported items. The
intent of the Act was to encourage the purchase of American-made
products by increasing the cost of imported goods, while raising
revenue for the federal government and protecting farmers.
However, economic depression now spread through much of the
world, and other nations increased tariffs on American-made
goods in retaliation, reducing international trade, and
worsening the Depression. [Wikipedia] The current crop of
Republicans seem to have learned absolutely nothing from history
as the press the president for Hoover-esque responses to the
The country’s astronomical debt is keep-you-up-at-night scary. It clearly and obviously must be dealt with. But not in the middle of a severe economic downturn and anemic, jobless recovery. Working on debt reduction while in the middle of a potential economic meltdown is precisely like turning your steering wheel away from the skid. It sounds right: the economy is in severe trouble, we must lower the debt. But it is completely wrong. It sounds totally insane, but, again, ask any economist: in a crisis like the one we are in, the right thing to do is the thing that sounds most preposterous: spend. Put money back into the economy. Turn into the skid. The Great Depression lasted sixteen years because President Hoover refused to turn into the skid. He did exactly and precisely what Eric Cantor and the Republicans insist President Obama do: implement austerity measures in the middle of an economic downturn.
The Obama Administration has utterly failed to communicate that simple, Economics 101 message. The Republicans are beating the president like a drum and winning the message war. Why? Because the average American is incredibly impatient and intellectually lazy. We can't imagine what's taking so long and thus assume the recession is being prolonged because of something the president is doing or not doing. It never occurs to us that the recession will take as long as it takes, or that the recession is probably a lot less steep than it could or should have been because of the administration's actions, or that the president's Pollyannaish determination to change the way things are done in Washington simply enabled the Republicans' nihilistic and ruthless politicizing of national and global crises and thus prolonged and expanded the economic downturn for political reasons, or that things might have been a lot better by now had the president simply ignored the Republicans and pushed his agenda through Congress (which the GOP now accuse him of doing, anyway) instead of wasting two years in useless rope-a-dope with insincere Republicans anxious to appease freak-show reactionary extremists who don't know Paul Revere hung lanterns—lanterns you idiot—in the Old North Church and who never intended to compromise in the first place but engaged in phony talks simply to run out the clock.
The debt ceiling struggle is not about increasing spending. Raising the debt ceiling is a normal administrative function, one which occurred seven times as a matter of routine housekeeping under the Bush Administration. The debt ceiling has nothing to do with taking on more debt and does not allow the U.S. government to take on more debt. What it does is acknowledge the debt the U.S. already has. This is not about new spending, it is about spending Congress—including these phony lying Republicans—already approved, already voted into law. This is debt the country already has, and the debt ceiling should have been raised as a matter of routine when the spending bills were passed. The Republicans have successfully connected the debt ceiling—a routine administrative function—to new spending. In the minds of "average" (i.e. white) Americans and certainly of the cracked Teapot-types, raising the debt ceiling equals a blank check to the president to go spend more, which is absolutely not true. All spending, every dime of it, must be voted by Congress, including Cantor, Boehner and the crew. They are lying, and bald-facedly so, as they successfully paint the president as tax-and-spender and convince the American public raising the debt ceiling will give the president free reign to spend more. They know all spending has been voted on—by them. Any new spending will need to be voted on—by them. It is an amazing con job, and the Obama White House is, frankly, getting the thumping it deserves for being so inept at exposing this lie for what it is.
The Republicans are right to this extent:
the president has failed. Mainly because he keeps caving in to
these people. The recession is taking longer than anybody had
thought for two reasons: (1) President Bush destroyed the U.S.
economy. Nobody wants to say that, and the Republicans roll
their eyes at it and accuse Obama of not taking responsibility.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office nearly *two terms*
before the U.S. economy began to recover from the damage Herbert
Hoover did to it (though Roosevelt’s misguided National
Industrial Recovery Act is blamed for prolonging the Depression
by at least seven years). Ask any economist: the Bush presidency
utterly destroyed the U.S. economy, mis-managing it to the
literal brink of the Second Great Depression. This is no
ordinary, run-on-the-beach recession. This is the Apocalypse.
And not just for the U.S., but for the planet. Obama cannot say
this and the Republicans know it, which is why they continue to
play politics with potential global disaster. For, if the
president actually used words like, “global economic disaster,”
if the president actually said, “Folks, we’ve been soft-pedaling
this recession to prevent widespread panic,” Obama would end up
causing the very Great Depression he’s struggled to avoid. But
The Republicans know it’s bad. Know its far worse than
Washington would ever dare say. They know why it’s taking so
long, but they also know the American public is gullible,
impatient and under-informed. So, rather than write three
paragraphs explaining the economic climate, they write four
words: “Obama has failed us!” and those words stick. They stick
because the American public is just that gullible and just that
intellectually lazy and the Republicans now it.
The other reason the economic recovery is taking so long is simple: (2) The Republicans. It’s Obama caving to Republicans in a time of crisis when he held all the cards. We’d be much better off today if the president had simply rammed everything through Congress when he had majorities in both houses. Instead, he got rope-a-doped by these evil, selfish people who actually allow millions to lose their jobs and their homes simply to better their chances at reelection. So, to some extent, the GOP is right: the slow recovery *is* Obama’s fault. It’s Obama’s fault because he keeps trying to work with *them,* with evil people actually willing to do the American people harm just for political gain.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is clearly if not brazenly angling for House Speaker John Boehner’s job, is even more brazen about his overarching goal: to spoil the debt limit negotiations and force the president to accept a “mini” deal: a debt limit increase without substantive budget agreements. This way, the Republicans can drag the deal-making (and economic downturn) out further. In so doing, Cantor will blame the president and make the Speaker look bad at the same time—win-win for Cantor.
It’s as if the president just doesn’t get it: these people *hate him.* It’s *personal.* I keep screaming at my TV: Mr. President, wake up. He should have mowed these guys down when he held all the cards. Now he’s got to negotiate with them, and their agenda is not now nor has it ever been to fix the country. Their agenda is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. And they just might pull it off. Mainly because the president is so frustratingly slow to respond, has no apparent political strategy, and thus comes across as naďve and weak. And because the Republicans are absolutely ruthless and without conscience.
*Politicizing the national and potentially global economic crisis in an effort to unseat the president is an integral part of the Republican strategy, and goes unchallenged by any notable Republican. So far as I’m concerned, all Republicans—even the most benign centrists—are tainted by it. This is your party. These are your people. And your silence is deafening.