Sunday, January 25, 2009

Memo To The GOP

Hey, John Boehner!

You guys lost.


Two years in a row.

So maybe, you know, there’s been something wrong with the way you’ve been doing things for the past 8 years. Especially since you had both houses of Congress and the White House until 2006.

So you can quite stamping your little feet and whining about stuff like this:
“Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all of the spending in this package, we don’t think it’s going to work,” the House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And so if it’s the plan that I see today, put me down in the no column.”

While the plan can potentially pass the Democrat-dominated House without Republican support, it will continue to face opposition when it comes before the Senate, said Senator John McCain of Arizona, speaking on “Fox News Sunday.” At least two Republicans will need to approve the bill for a filibuster-proof majority vote of 60.

Senator McCain, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Obama in November, said that he planned to vote no unless the bill were changed.

“We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes,” Mr. McCain said. “We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes.”

McCain ran on making the Bush tax cuts permanent--those tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans--and he lost. Clearly Americans are smart enough to know that it’s time for John McCain’s friends to start toting their share of the load, because “trickle down” never does seem to make it much further than a pool of the privileged.

Furthermore, none of you idiots gave a damn about “spending” on things like the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay. Every time Bush had his hand out for more money for war you were happy to sign the blank check.

So I have a steaming cup of STFU for the Republican Party right now.

A few weeks ago I started to work on a post about the New Deal and then put it aside. But now would be a good time to post a few of those salient points.

• Number one: In a recent op-ed piece, Nobel-prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman reiterated the point that dollar-for-dollar, tax cuts do not stimulate the economy as well as government investment:

The Romer-Bernstein report acknowledges that “a dollar of infrastructure spending is more effective in creating jobs than a dollar of tax cuts.”

I realize this will initiate brays of protest from the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute folks who keep touting the idea that tax cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy. The fact is, those people have been in charge during this economic crisis, they were in charge during the Reagan years, and it seems to me every time they are put in charge and give their wealthy buddies big tax cuts, all we’re left with is a ruined economy which a Democrat has to try to save.

So, let’s ignore the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the AEI for a while, shall we?

• Number Two: The GOP talking point that the New Deal failed and it was really World War II that saved America’s economic bacon is laughable rewrite of history. For one thing, it overlooks the fact that when America entered WWII, President Roosevelt took over the entire American production system, retrofitting American factories for a war footing, and putting American consumers on strict rationing. It was a nationalized production system that would strike terror in the hearts of conservatives today.

It’s hard to imagine that amount of government intervention and control over production and consumption under any circumstance other than the needs of war. So if that’s your idea of what pulled America out of the Great Depression, fine -- but you’re giving a ringing endorsement to the greatest government intervention in private enterprise in American history.

• Number Three: Adam Cohen attacks the GOP talking point that the New Deal failed with this point:

The anti-New Deal line is wrong as a matter of economics. F.D.R.’s spending programs did help the economy and created millions of new jobs. The problem, we now know, is not that F.D.R. spent too much priming the pump, but rather that he spent too little. It was his decision to cut back on spending on New Deal programs that brought about a nasty recession in 1937-38.

The second problem is that the criticism overlooks the relief Roosevelt’s programs brought to millions. When F.D.R. took office, unemployment was 25 percent, and families were losing their homes, living in shantytowns, even fighting one another for food at garbage dumps.

The difference that the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration and other New Deal public works programs made in people’s lives is incalculable. Congressional Republicans say Mr. Obama’s stimulus will cost too much, and that over time the economy will cure itself. When critics raised the same objections to F.D.R.’s programs, his relief administrator, Harry Hopkins, had a ready answer: “People don’t eat in the long run. They eat every day.”

I’ve heard that same “over time” remark from modern-day conservatives: “We’ll muddle through somehow, we always have,” is what one conservative told me.

I’d say that remark comes from someone who is not facing the reality of being evicted because they are three months behind on their rent and they just lost their job last week. I got a call from a lady last week who told me that story; she was calling me because of my work with a non-profit that assists the working poor. There are thousands like her. So no, “muddle through somehow” doesn’t cut it for this lady and millions like her.

Anyway, I bring this all up as a reminder to the Democrats in Congress that they were sent a clear message in the last two elections. We want change. We need new policies. We do not need to listen to the same tired voices yammer the same tired lines about the need for “making the tax cuts permanent.” We’ve been hearing that for years.

The Republicans had their chance. Their policies failed. They drove this nation into a ditch. It’s time to do something new.