"Anyone who isn't really confused doesn't understand the situation." -Edward R. Murrow

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Republican Hypocrisy

It's amazing how much $hit the Republicans get away each year and this year is shaping up to be no exception. Whether the issue at hand is the stimulus bill, current recession or health care reform, the GOPs are doing everything they can to take credit where credit was not earned, place the blame on anyone but themselves and block legislation for political gain. These choices may be good politics, but they're not good leadership, and it won't be long before the American people realize this.

Republicans strongly opposed President Obama's stimulus package last fall and plan to make this opposition one of the centerpieces of their 2010 campaigns. However, just earlier this month it was announced that 65 Republican members of Congress have proudly claimed credit for the stimulus dollars that have flowed into their own states. In other words, the Republicans are now trying to take credit for what has resulted from a bill they voted against.

Another thing that Republicans have been doing lately is trying to blame the recession and the slow economic recovery on the Obama Administration, when they should really place the blame on themselves and George W. Bush. Before Obama was even elected, we were in a deep recession party because of the lack of government regulation in the financial sector, so if we feel the need to blame a public leader for the recession, we should blame President Bush, who didn't force the Fed to raise interest rates when spending was at a high in 2004, which led to the creation of the housing bubble, and didn't intervene in the financial sector until several banks came close to collapse.
The above chart shows the amount of jobs lost in the U.S. each month during the last year of Bush's presidency and the first year of Obama's presidency. As the chart shows, we are losing fewer and fewer jobs each month. This is because we've hit the trough of this recession and are now beginning to recover. One of the reasons why we're beginning to recover because the stimulus package was passed soon enough to save and create jobs. It should also be noted that the stimulus package extended unemployment benefits; people who still have unemployment benefits still have them because of Obama.

Lastly, the most pathetic Republican hypocrisy relates to health care.

How can members of Congress say that the government can't intervene with health insurance and the private sector when they receive government insurance themselves?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tax cuts may a panacea for the GOP, but not for the rest of us

Senator Max Baucus and good ol' Senator Chuck Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee released the Senate's first jobs bill this morning. Putting together the bill was very much a bipartisan effort, with a top-ranking Republican Senator being a cosponsor and all, so it received loads of praise from the media ...until people realized that most of the bill's components wouldn't actually create jobs.

In order to gain the support of the Republican camp, the Democrats gave into to the Republican cure-all that really doesn't cure anything: tax cuts.

Harry Reid put his foot down regarding the bill shortly after it was introduced and proposed to write a bill focused solely on job creation. But, because Republicans are so convinced that tax cuts can solve any economic problem, and because Reid killed a (weak) bill with bipartisan support in favor of a (better) bill that Republicans are less likely to support, two huge problems remain: Republicans are as misled as ever and Dems are going to take a blow for being "uncooperative".

The idea that economic growth is most likely to be achieved by granting tax cuts to suppliers originated in the 1970's. Supply side economics was adopted by the Republican Party during Ronald Reagan's presidency. In 1983, Arthur Laffer developed the Laffer Curve which suggests that a decrease in taxes can actually lead to an increase in tax revenue because there is more of an incentive for people to work and earn money if they can keep more of it.

At the end of Reagan's presidency, because of a decrease in taxes and an increase in spending, the federal deficit was over $200 billion. So, you know, following Laffer's advice worked out really nicely.

I'm not completely opposed to supply side economics, but I do think that demand side economics make much more since. Tax cuts can help people and businesses in the short run. But, in order to really create jobs and pull an economy out of recession, the government needs to invest in infrastructure and other programs in addition to providing tax cuts.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama's First SOTU

Obama was at the top of his game as he delivered his first State of the Union address on Wednesday night. He showed no signs of nervousness and appeared to be confident, funny, likable and on top of the world, in a way. To quote Erza Klein of the Washington Post, 'Towards the end, you expected him to say, 'thanks, folks, I'll be here all term!' and then give Joe Biden a chest bump on his way off stage."

The content of the speech was also excellent. If a Martian had watched the address, he or she would've thought that Obama accomplished more in one year than any US president previously. He did a great job selling the policies he hopes to focus on 2010 and reselling the policies he focused on in 2009. Obama made his distaste of the partisan politics that have crippled our country for years well known and did as much as he could to appeal to the middle class.

I was happy with the speech because it was well written, well executed and will hopefully help Obama accomplish his goals with proper follow through. On the flip side, I wasn't happy with the speech because it definitely signified Obama's move to a centrist. I'm not exactly against Obama moving away from the left and partisan politics, but I'm not exactly comfortable with it, either.

I think that governing as a centrist will ultimately be good for the Obama Administration, our country and our political system. But at the moment, I don't feel this way at all. Instead, I feel more like my voice is being ignored and that I've been snubbed by Obama and the Democratic Party. How else would you expect a very liberal Democrat to respond to a Democratic president's approval of nuclear power, offshore drilling and a spending freeze?

Monday, December 21, 2009

'The Geography of a Recession'

I saw this on Andrew Sullivan's blog a few weeks ago and have been meaning to post it ever since. This video shows how the unemployment rates have skyrocketed in basically every county in the US since 2007. Pretty unbelievable.

Republicans, how do you propose to fix our health care system?

At 1 a.m. this morning, the Senate passed a cloture motion regarding its health care reform bill, 60-40. Yes, 60-40, meaning that not a single Republican voted to end debate on the bill.

I've spent a lot of time pondering why this might be, but the only answer I've come up with is that Republicans are self-serving, whiny politicians with inferiority complexes. After months of complaining about small things in the bill that have all been removed by now, they don't want to give in and vote for a piece of legislation that the Democrats wrote, and are therefore willing to do everything in their power to make sure that the Democrats fail in their effort to pass health care reform. Hell, I think this may be going too far, but something also tells me that they also secretly want America to fail.

As Joe Biden said of Republicans at this year's JJ Dinner, "I sure as Hell know what they're against, but I have no idea what they're for."

If opening up the health care market across lines, making it illegal for insurance companies not to cover someone if they have pre-existing conditions, etc., are not the ways to fix the health care system, then what are? What do you suggest, my conservative friends? Do you have any ideas? Any at all?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Health Care Reform: Let's Get Er Done

Thanks to Senator Ben Nelson, it looks like the Senate will pass its health care reform bill before Christmas Day.

Nelson was the last member of the Democratic caucus, which has 60 participants, to declare his/her support of the bill. This means that the Republicans cannot use a filibuster to further block the bill and are therefore out of stalling options, since we all know they don't have any proposed solutions of their own.

So what's in the bill?

Well, not a public option or single payer program like I and many other progressives had hoped for. But, really, that's okay because there are a lot of good other things in the bill. If passed, it really would provide the foundation needed to fix our health care system.

The bill requires every American to purchase basic health care insurance, makes denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions illegal, allows people to purchase insurance plans from any state in the US, provides subsidies for those who can't afford insurance, requires that all businesses pay at least half of the cost of a basic insurance policy for their workers and the workers' immediate families, taxes extravagant plans, includes malpractice reform and allows children to remain on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26.

The Senate bill is supposed to reduce the federal debt by $132 billion by 2019, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

I'd love to see a public option in the bill and, after conference committee between the House and Senate, there very well could be a public option. However, if it comes to taking the list of reforms above or not taking anything at all because the public option is too unpopular in the Senate, I'd rather take the bill as it is with a few changes.

We've come too far over the past few months to scrap everything.

(The Iowa Independent and Washington Post have good articles on this sentiment).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can you explain the public option?

According to a new Vanity Fair poll, two-thirds of Americans are unable to explain the public option.

If you fall into this category, shoot me a message because we need to talk.