The Eclectic Quill

February 10, 2009

Dumberer and Dumbererest, Republicans Play Game of “One Dumbsmanship”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 4:37 pm

As Obama and the Democrats shape the stimulus package over what is for the most part, objections, from the national Republican Party, its Representatives, Senators and pundits, it is becoming increasingly clear that the minority will say and do anything to sabotage it. However, as it becomes increasingly clear to them that they really aren’t in charge of anything anymore, it is almost comical to watch them flail about in search of that telling sound bite that will persuade the American public they are right and the Democrats are wrong. In fact at times it almost seems that there is a new version of that old "one upsmanship" game where each person tells a story that tops the other. Only this is "one dumnsmanship" and the goal is to say something even stupider than one the last did.

Let’s start with the bill in Congress, where after Obama had met with the Republican leadership and left concessions for their two top concerns, the Republicans failed to even cast one vote for the bill. In justification of their failure to do so Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, defending his counterparts in the house said, "The way this bill was managed with a heavy partisan hand by congressional leaders kept it from being an effective economic stimulus package." So let me get this straight, the reason the Republicans didn’t vote for the bill was Nancy Pelosi and nothing to do with the content? Is it just me or does this particular whine sound familiar? Even if you take him at his word, Grassley’s comments then it seems the Republicans are using the playground argument "She started it!!! Waaaahhhhhh!!!" Is this really the type of maturity we need to see exhibited from our leaders in a time crisis? Really? And, for what it’s worth, need I remind Senator Grassley that when the Republicans were in charge they were known to literally shut the Democrats of the process?

Not to be outdone Pete Sessions, GOP fundraising director touted the lessons the Republicans have learned from the Taliban. "Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban, and that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes" This admission is stupid on two levels. Firstly, in that it compares the Republican Party with the Taliban, and secondly in its actual message. Now he did say "I’m not saying the Republican Party is the Taliban" admittedly, but he did it in the midst of comparing it to the Taliban. I’m just curious, what do you think the Republican airways would be like today if a prominent figure in the Democratic party compared themselves to a terrorist organization that we are at war with? But that’s not really the worse part of this statement, although it’s the most obvious. The deeper and more troubling aspect of this quote is the inherent admission that strategy here is not constructive but destructive. They aren’t actually trying to do anything except throw a wrench in the works. Who exactly is being partisan here?

Richard Steel, vying for the stupid title piped in his two cents trying to explain how "work" and "jobs" are different. Steele thinks, "A job is something that a business owner creates." So let me get this straight, there are currently 1.8 million people employed by the federal government, and another 1.5 million in the US military. Do these people merely do work or have jobs? Additionally what about the people in the fire and police departments, the public school teachers and the others who work for state and local governments? Do they do work or have jobs? The ridiculous kind of "work ends but jobs don’t" justification is just wrong. All kinds of people with government jobs retire. Meanwhile all the jobs that are ending are private sector jobs!!!

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a1/US_Employment_Graph_-_1920_to_1940.svg/400px-US_Employment_Graph_-_1920_to_1940.svg.png

Next up the Wall Street Journal decided to opt into the game, proclaiming the new Conservative mantra that the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, prolonged it 7 years etcetera and so on. What a load of hooey! I could give you a long involved and detailed analysis of why, but 2 pictures here are worth 2000 words. First up this is what happened to employment under the new deal. The chart above shows the number of jobs under FDR. Note how it went from below 24 million to over 36 million, i.e. the total jobs increased by slightly more than 50 percent under FDR. He really knew how to slow down an economy didn’t he? Not convinced? How about a gander at picture number two.

Over to the left we see a picture of what the GDP looked like under FDR. Notice how it went up, up and more up until 1937 and then took a dip? Know why it took a dip? Because the dips that can’t acknowledge reality when they see it managed to get the notion across that we needed to cut back on the New Deal spending. Once we resumed it again the economy went back on its merry way to recovery. Internet Economists, and failed supply side economists are desperate to convince you otherwise, but history tells the tale. It was laze faire economics that sank us in the first place and it Keynesian economics that got us out. It’s really not any different this time. If we want to get out o the economic hole we’re in we need to (and I’m really not afraid to say it) redistribute the wealth. The thing that people don’t realize is that there is a class warfare going on and the thing the Republicans have done the best is to convince you that there’s not. The middle class has shrunk dramatically and it’s a little less "middle" than it once was. Real wages, especially age adjusted, have dropped consistently since Reagan, with a brief reprieve during the Clinton years. Furthermore savings from the middle class have absolutely plummeted. Some say credit is at fault but that’s not sensible. Let’s add one and one and see if we get two. Real wages have gone down and people are buying on credit instead of saving. Gee, do you think there might be a link?

Next up is Richard Shelby that "the package and efforts to shore up the struggling banking system will put the United States on "a road to financial disaster."" Precisely what road are we on Richard Shelby? This is the kind of Republican party we heard from in the 1990s. Remember how they, after fighting for Reagan’s and Bush’s record spending for all those years, suddenly grew "fiscally responsible" in the 1990s and signed a "contract with America" which they then burned the moment Bush was "elected" President? Hey Shelby, I think you need to realize that enormous brick wall we are racing towards at ever increasing speeds was one built by the Republican Party in its never ending praise of "free enterprise" and its mystical ability to solve all problems. Take your foot of the gas Richard!!! The road to disaster is the one we are on. The road to recovery means we have to take a different road. More of the irresponsible, private enterprise governing you advocate is what has brought us the brink of disaster.

Trying to gain the upper hand in the dumb game, former (emphasis on "former" here) Senator Coleman writes in an op-ed on in Minneapolis Star Tribune, "The people need to be firmly behind this legislation; recent public opinion polls do not show that kind of support." Really? According to the polls the American people favor the stimulus package by a margin of 54 percent compared to 45 percent who are opposed. Now I’ll grant you that number reflects that support has fallen off a bit but that’s the fallen off numbers, and as far as I can tell 54 is still a much higher number than 45 and a clear majority. Norm, you must not be very good at math. The polls show that a clear majority of Americans ARE behind the package. I’d also like to point to point out something else, that the way the Republicans are behaving is not reflected well in the polls. While President Obama is receiving approval ratings in the 70s the Republican leadership is getting ratings in the 40s. Clearly, if we are being governed by polling the Republicans, not the Democratic congressional leadership (who are also enjoying a 60 percent approval rating), and certainly not the President, are the ones who need to start listening to the American people. But we are not governed by polls; we are governed by democracy. The last elections spoke volumes as to what the American people wanted. This, more than any election in recent memory was one of ideology, pitting those who have a fervent, almost religious notion of the infallibility of unlimited, unregulated free enterprise, and those who believe that capitalism needs to be checked by a social conscience and moderated by regulation. It was, in sports terms, a blowout. Norm, you personally, and the rest of the Republican party need to realize you lost and get over it.

Ayah karumba but I grow weary of responding to all the stupidity they throw up. They insist that tax cuts will solve all the problems, but then they oppose the payroll tax cuts, under some misguided concept that only income tax should be cut. Plenty of people have jobs (both private and public sector) who don’t pay a dime of income tax but pay a lot in payroll tax. Particularly I want to point out that people who are self employed, who don’t have matching funds on their Social Security taxes, and who don’t make enough money to pay income taxes are the ones who would be the most helped. And furthermore, people who don’t have jobs wouldn’t be able to get a dime out of tax cuts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, any economic theory that is built upon the premise that the problem with the economy is that rich people don’t have enough money is utterly and completely specious.

The Republican Party just needs to grow up and start behaving like adults. Compromise isn’t getting it all your way, especially when you aren’t in power any more. The grand champion of all things stupid came when I heard one Senator (didn’t catch the name) say on the radio in the press conference that "I don’t think this is the change the American people voted for (or something very close to that). This led me into what I can only describe as a complete and total tirade and became the impetus of this blog entry. This is precisely the kind of change the American people voted for! It’s time for the Republicans to realize that. This election was about the economy and what kind of government we wanted. The paradigm question was settled. It’s not time to revisit that debate, it’s time to act on what the American people said, in no uncertain terms what they wanted. If the Republicans don’t realize this soon they may be longing for the good old days when they had enough to filibuster in 2011.

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14 Comments »

  1. Excellent!

    Comment by chris — February 11, 2009 @ 7:24 am | Reply

  2. It is a great challenge for the Republican party to envision that providing jobs/work actually gets something done!
    The Richard Steel interview was hilarious – I was cracking up laughing. I work in a multibillion dollar private industry which has a trade surplus with the rest of the world and by his analysis I have not had a job now for 15 years. No-one I work with has a job. We work, we make good money. Richard Steel has NO idea how the world of employment has changed in the last 20 years.

    Comment by Antony — February 11, 2009 @ 9:54 am | Reply

  3. watching O’Reilly rant (albeit avia a clip on the Daily Show) had me howling.

    For the GOP = it’s business as usual : being obtuse

    Comment by 3rdStoneFromTheSun — February 11, 2009 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  4. Concerning the argument you address of whether or not the New Deal worsened the depression, there is no clear unanimity among economists and historians. No small number of economists believe that the New Deal did worsen the depression (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/GreatDepression.html), while historians tend to reject the argument. Most notable among economists are UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian. I tend to believe that most people will choose to believe what they want to believe and then highlight the relevant facts to bolster their case.

    However, almost all economists and historians would agree that the New Deal was not nearly the engine of job growth and production that World War II was. Almost all historians and economists would agree that World War II finally ended the Depression, with the exception of a few libertarian economists. This explains the sharp rise in figures of both job growth and GDP (which doubled) in the years following the 1937 recession and consequent outbreak of hostilities on the European continent in September of 1939. As you well know, though the United States did not formally enter the war until December, 1941, lend-lease was well under way by the Fall of 1940. Additionally, by 1939, the GDP per adult was still 27% below trend (http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/research/seminars/02-03/02-21.pdf)

    Second,

    Comment by Michael Kan — February 11, 2009 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  5. I was prepared to write more, as indicated by my hanging “Second,” but I’ll let you mull on that a bit first.

    Hope all is well.

    Your Favorite Right-Wing Nutjob,

    Mike Kan

    Comment by Michael Kan — February 11, 2009 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  6. Hey there favorite nutjob!!! Thanks for dropping by.

    Comment by kelly — February 11, 2009 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  7. OK, now I understand your second comment now that I found the first, which for some reason was waiting for approval.

    Your response uses a lot of relative words, so its hard to say categorically whether anything is “true” or “false”. I certainly believe that it is agreed the war helped to end the recession, sort of. In another sense the recession was already over. However, the discussion of how much the War helped isn’t at issue here, it’s whether the New Deal helped, and in that sense it’s a straw man but I’ll burn him in a minute anyway, just for kicks.

    The notion that the New Deal slowed down the recovery is nothing more than the revisionist history of neoconservatives. There’s no merit to the discussion. The charts above prove that. Incidentally the US didn’t start getting into any war spending until 1939. During the Roosevelt years the US took a one year hiatus from the New Deal and it was coincidentally the same year that the country took a step back. I’ve heard arguments about Germany invading Poland having implications for that, but I believe the event to be coincidental, not causal and until I see some line of logic drawn to show otherwise I’ll continue to believe so. Call it Ochcan’s Razor.

    Comment by kelly — February 11, 2009 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  8. Ach, I forgot to burn the strawman!!!

    Even if the war did end the recession it’s because of public spending. Ironic isn’t it.

    Comment by kelly — February 11, 2009 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  9. Kelly … simply well done! … a couple of thoughts.

    1) Senator Shelby has been getting way too much air time the past few months. Embracing Joe the Plumber says a lot.

    2) The GOP has become intentional obstructionists … thus no matter how serious the situation, they seek to an oppositist approach. Now that’s surely constructive!

    3) On the other hand, Congressional Dems pushing an agenda isn’t that much better. Dems won the election, but they should procede with caution.

    4)Politically speaking, independent moderates decide elections … and right now, they are 50/50 on the stimulus bill … which serves as a caution statement.

    Well done on the post!

    Comment by Frank — February 12, 2009 @ 6:12 am | Reply

  10. Kelly this is BRILLIANT! Well researched, well outlined and presented in a fabulous way.

    The GOPs are simply being azzholes. They are whining for whining sake — nothing else. They are ridiculous and ought to be ashamed of themselves for attempting to sacrifice Americans for their own foolishness – there isn’t even anything for them to gain politically!

    Brilliant piece!

    Comment by Paulette — February 12, 2009 @ 10:17 am | Reply

  11. To answer the question of whether the New Deal worsened the Depression is much more challenging than answering if the New Deal brought us out of the Depression, which the majority of historians and economics say no. World War II brought us out of the Depression not because of public spending; FDR consistently insisted on maintaining a balanced budget throughout the Depression, even at the personal behest of your favorite economist Keynes suggesting he embark on deficit spending in 1934..

    I’m very impressed with your numbers analysis on Lebron vs Kobe. As an addendum, I would add some intangibles here. First, Lebron has done more with less. He single handedly took the Celtics to seven last year, while Kobe could only manage six with a favored squad. Second, he clearly makes his teammates better, in the same way Jordan did. I think casual fans forget that beyond Pippen and Rodman, Jordan won those six titles with the likes of Bill Wennington, John Paxson, BJ Armstrong, Jud Buschler, Steve Kerr, Ron Harper etc. In the same way, Lebron has his team of overachievers primed for a title run and already taken a worse team to the Finals.

    On the other hand, Kobe has multiple rings and an MPV trophy. Lebron should even the score on the latter this year, but concerning the former, I know most will say those were with Shaq.

    I doubt Lebron will ever drop 81 in a game and the king has also never made an all-defensive team, an honor Kobe has already won several times. Regardless, I agree that at this juncture, Lebron is the superior player.

    Comment by Michael Kan — February 14, 2009 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

  12. Michael,

    The only reason answering the question is “challenging” is that it requires manipulating the data into something unrecognizable. Also, the fact is that all economists and historians agree that federal spending is precisely the reason that the economy got such a boost. In fact, due to rationing etc, it was about the only kind of economy there was. Almost everything was committed to the war effort. Whether it was the government buying war supplies, ammo, guns, planes or tanks much of the US manufacturing, even the private sector, was involved in the war effort. Also, FDR did not keep a balanced budge, but he did constantly worry over deficit spending (a worry that Reagan and the Bush’s apparently didn’t share).

    Comment by kelly — February 15, 2009 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  13. Ok, this is my final post on this thread, a most stimulating discussion that I thank you for. I think we can agree on this point then, that the New Deal did not bring us out of the Depression. However, it did have the positive effect of accustoming Americans to a national government that played a prominent role in the private sector, which would obviously be needed in a total wartime economy.

    I do not agree with the theory that the New Deal worsened the Depression, but no small number of economists believe this to be the case, which is why I mentioned it here- and not all neo-conservatives as you suggest. Most notably, a group of Austrian economists- obviously non-partisan- have also argued the theory. FDR’s policies lead to the recession of 1937-1938. After eight years of the New Deal, unemployment remained at 15 percent- double the figure for today.

    The larger ideological question here that I suspect we will not agree on in the near future is how much government should be involved in the economy. I think most Americans would agree with your position right now, but the pendulum will swing back (unless the Lord comes back).

    Always a pleasure Mr. Scaletta.

    Comment by Michael Kan — February 16, 2009 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  14. Michael,

    I don’t think we agree on what we agree on. I think that the New Deal very much put us on course to recovery form the Depression. While we agree that War finished the job, I think you would differ in my assessment that the war was not necessary for the job to be finished.

    That “no small number of economists” believe that the New Deal made it worse isn’t much of an argument. The fact remains that the majority of economists believe that the New Deal is what put us on the road to recovery. Also, while the Austrian economists might not be partisan, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a bias.

    As to your unemployment numbers, you should understand a couple of things. 1) Unemployment didn’t factor in all those who were federally employed at the times. So all those people who the government was putting to work were still counted as “unemployed.” Ergo, the same figure by today’s measure would be much smaller. 2) Unemployment at the time he took office was 25 percent. Cutting unemployment by 40 percent can’t be considered a failure by any measure. 3) The number of manufacturing jobs doubled, from 7 million to 14 million and the total number of jobs, as stated above, increased by 50 percent. There can be no question whatsoever that the New Deal had a stimulative effect on employment numbers.

    I think the reason most Americans would agree with my position right now is that they’ve seen the robust effect 28 years of “trickle down” economics has had on the economy.

    I also disagree with what the larger ideological question is. I think that Republicans tend to view government as a problem and Democrats tend to view it as a solution. While this might be anathema to a Republicans ears, the government has tended to solve many more social and economic ills over the years than it has caused.

    Comment by kelly — February 16, 2009 @ 3:47 pm | Reply


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