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Posted by on May 13, 2009 in At TMV, Politics | 68 comments

Just When You Think The GOP Has Jumped The Shark

Jump_The_Shark.jpg

.it gets ready to jump the whole ocean. Demonization politics seems to trump all (even political wisdom: so someone thinks this might attract younger voters, Latinos, African Americans, moderates and independents?). Democrats should have some fun with this because if most non-Rush/non-Hannity/non-Beck listeners don’t see it this way the flip side is that they will see the GOP as a party that uses an extremist prism to view opponents who many of these other Americans voted for or don’t see as a threat.

And Democrats? You wonder if they have moles in the RNC and GOP. Already some seem to feel Christmas has come early.. Some are stunned.

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  • AustinRoth

    The GOP is re-branding them? I don’t think so. The Democrats, and the Obama team in particular, are doing a fine job all on their own.

    Sorry if the truth offends you Joe, but how can you NOT look at the way they are running roughshod over the banks, strong-arming them now to bend to their will on ancillary matters; directly running auto companies while throwing senior dept-holders to the side of the road to enrich their friends (the unions); running deficits that would embarrass anyone short of Mugabe, causing the bond market to start to walk away; and now talking about their plans for the health care industry and newspapers?

    What comes next? Why, punitive taxes on business and higher-income earners, of course, and “reducing inequalities via incentives and regulatory nudges”.

    In fact, Socialist is a nice term, compared to what could be used for all this.

    • StockBoySF

      AR, if I were to accept your premise that the Dems are enriching the unions (which I don’t think they are), at least the unions represent the average American, and not the typical wealthy oil exec (which the Bush team further enriched).

      And the deficits the Dems are causing at least go to the rebuilding of America, and not to an unnecessary war in Iraq which has killed thousands of Americans (and countless more Iraqis).

      And I’ll also remind you that it was the Bush administration that started down the bailout path to companies… and in fact it was the Republicans who actually called for the NATIONALIZATION of banks, which would have wiped out the equity of tens of millions of shareholders, many of them retirees or people nearing retirement. Thankfully Obama opposed the Republicans and the nationalization of the banks. Because the government does own large chunks of companies then the government as a shareholder SHOULD get a say in how those businesses are run…. It’s like two people buying a house- they both own it and they both get to make decisions as to whether there are additions done to it or not.

      I hate to burst your bubble, but senior debt holders don’t actually own companies through the senior debt…. They just have a loan (probably secured) to the company.

      Besides why are you defending the auto companies? They made the decisions which put them into bankruptcy. The government is trying to SAVE them. Without the intervention of the government the auto companies would be out of business. Is that what you’re suggesting? And I think any Republican with any Republican principles would support that because the Republicans are all about free, unregulated markets (except when they’re not- if they can make a fast buck by stealing from government). 🙂

      • AustinRoth

        SB –

        OK, first, they are ‘enriching’ the unions by moving their junior debt ahead of bond-holder senior debt. It is the capricious and arbitrary manner of simply choosing to ignore contracts and liabilities that is very concerning, whether you are a union fan or not. No economic system can function without known, defined rules (even the known, defined rules once in bankruptcy). And what is being attempting to be done at GM is being done outside of the defined mechanism – bankruptcy courts. Also, as the Detroit News asks today, how can the goverement perform its role as an inpartial regulator if it is a major stockholder in GM? http://detnews.com/article/20090513/OPINION01/905130323/1008/Uncle-Sam-throws-wrench

        Deficits for rebuilding America? Democrats are SO cute when they bury their heads in the ground and pretend they doing it ‘for the children/future’, rather than the real reasons – enriching THEIR donors, and social engineering.

        I also never said the bond holders, or any other senior debt holders, ‘own’ any given company. They are, though, first in line for any bankruptcy payouts or debt-to-equity transactions. Or they are in other than Socialist countries, and even in those they are, except the corrupt ones.

        An I am NOT defending the auto companies – I think they should have received NO bailout money, and either reorganized or liquidated, respectively, as required.

        • StockBoySF

          AR, sorry- I didn’t mean to imply that you thought debt holders “owned” a company… I was trying to make the point that stockholders own the company, appoint boards who make decisions on which activities the company engages in, whereas debt holders may be left with very little in a bankruptcy situation (and have very little say in the company’s operations).

          As far as the senior v. junior debt holders… Going back to that housing analogy… It’s like two people own a house with a foundation that needs repairs (or else it will tumble down). One person refuses to pay for the repairs (let’s say they live elsewhere) while the other person, who lives there, is forced to pay for the repairs. They both benefit even though only one person paid for the repairs. In the case of the senior debt holders v. unions (junior)… it’s very similar… The senior debt holders view their investment (in the debt) as an investment and knows that the unions will give more up…. because the unions represent people who actually work at the company and whose livelihood the union is tasked to protect. That’s what happened… the unions gave up more benefits to help the company stay afloat while the “investors” did not want to give up anything.

          So in a bankruptcy. or bankruptcy like situation (where the alternative is bankruptcy) situation, where everything is on the table, including debt, things are re-jiggered…. and if one party has given up more than another party than that is also considered.

          As far as the government being impartial towards the automakers.. that’s another questions for another time. Though the very short answer is that the government is not a majority shareholder (the article says the gov. owns 8%)…

          Personally I agree with you- that the government should not have received any bailout money. But once the Bush administration and Republicans started down that path the clean-up was left to Obama and the Dems and I think Obama is trying his best in a difficult situation. The bailouts were started by the Republicans, and I don’t see them comping up with any good ideas in this situation- just their usual screeching at how the Dems are socializing America. Funny how the GOP called for nationalization just a few months ago…

          • AustinRoth

            SB –

            the government is not a majority shareholder (the article says the gov. owns 8%)

            Dude, 8% of a company the size of GM (even a diminished GM) is one hell of a significant holding. Companies that size almost NEVER have a majority stockholder, and anything over 3% -5% can often be leveraged as a controlling interest, especially when your friends in the UAW have an even bigger holding.

    • jchem

      AR, look at the bright side. Soon, we’ll see tax increases on soda, fats, and beer, in addition to those massive tax increases already levied on tobacco. I wonder if 95% of all Americans do not smoke, or do not drink soda or beer. After all wasn’t that the number of folks expected to see tax cuts? But then again, that extra $13 should be enough to compensate for all of our sins.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124208505896608647.html

  • StockBoySF

    Democrats to Republicans, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

    If this is how Republicans approach problems thank God they no longer have their sticks and stones.

  • CStanley

    I’ve been one to criticize the GOP for past uses of the term socialism, but I really don’t know how anyone can make the case that the current economic policies aren’t strongly aligned with Democratic Socialism (the dominant moderate left wing of European politics.) For Pete’s sake, just this morning there’s the report that non-TARP receiving banks may become subject to regulations on compensation- so one more prediction of right wingers (which were ridiculed as fearmongering) is coming to pass.

    When will the moderate left wake up? If anyone here does not see that we’re moving much closer to the European economic model (which hasn’t worked out so well for Europe), then please explain why not.

  • jwest

    AR, CStanley,

    I think you’re being too hard on Joe.

    I’m sure every website he reads thinks that this is a bad idea. Personally, I’ll withhold judgment until Joe quotes Media Matters on the subject.

  • CStanley

    By the way, don’t look now but the US may be about to lose its AAA bond rating, and Social Security is going bankrupt even faster than previously predicted. Foreclosures are up, unemployment is up, the first quarter GDP shrinkage was shockingly high, the US is in red ink territory in April for the first time ever, and the rosy economic growth predictions that the Obama budget was based on are obviously not going to happen.

    Are you guys sure you don’t want to start taking a more critical look at this administration’s economic plan? You really think the main story here is that the GOP is exaggerating in order to fearmonger? Seriously?

    • mikkel

      CS, Obama has called for very little increase in the deficit. If you look at tax receipts decreases, you can see that at least 75% of the deficit is structural, that was built up over the last 30 years, and increased a ton during Bush. Perhaps even closer to 85% once you account for the change in accounting to bring more things on book.

      The only real additions that Obama has called for are the infrastructure spending and medical…and the medical stuff will only be about the same size as the Medicare Drug Act. Republican Presidents are primarily to blame as they presided over the vast bulk of this time period where everything has exploded. So yeah, a little political smearing to absolve themselves of guilt is stupid by the GOP.

      That said all your larger points obviously stand, and the issue is that there is no economic model that exists that will work that we know of. We’ve been consuming at too high of a rate, and now worldwide population is going to get much older, and this is going to force a massive decrease in living standards. That’s the real issue, and what no one wants to talk about…although we should be. It’s also why a large part of me is contrary and believes that if we do have another depression (which I still think we will) it could turn out to be a net positive, because we’ll change as a society to the point where these issues that are going to show up in the coming decades will be reduced, as consumption is ratcheted down.

  • jwest

    The GOP should couple the name change with a campaign designed to expose how liberal thinking and policies lead to the ignorance, poverty, starvation and death of millions each year.

    Time to show people that stupid kills.

  • rudi

    LOL Obama has only controled the Titanic for 100 days after EIGHT years of Republicans spending like drunken sailors and the USA is now the USosialistStatesA(USSA).

  • CStanley

    Rudi, anyone who was concerned about spending during the Bush administration but isn’t concerned about Obama doubling down on that spending in an unprecedented manner in just 100 days, is a partisan hack.

  • kathykattenburg

    … I really don’t know how anyone can make the case that the current economic policies aren’t strongly aligned with Democratic Socialism ….

    Assuming for the sake of argument that this is true, I am puzzled as to why you think this alignment is harmful, and the unfettered, unregulated capitalism favored by the Bush administration is beneficial.

    And setting aside even that point, and assuming for the sake of argument that democratic socialism is bad whereas unfettered, unregulated capitalism is good, I must ask you: And so you believe that a productive way to deal with this problem is for the RNC to formally rebrand the Democratic Party as the Democratic Socialist Party? This is productive, how? This will incline Americans to take the GOP more seriously, how?

    Are you guys sure you don’t want to start taking a more critical look at this administration’s economic plan?

    You mean, the economic plan that says massive amounts of stimulative spending by the federal government is the only sensible way to address an economic recession/depression that is caused by a lack of demand for goods and services?

    Yeah, I’m sure I think that’s the sanest, most sensible approach to a crisis of demand.

    You really think the main story here is that the GOP is exaggerating in order to fearmonger? Seriously?

    Yep. Seriously. Except I think we’ve gone beyond fearmongering now, and are well into the territory of delusional, suicidal thinking and a deep desire to make the GOP completely irrelevant. And as you might expect, I’m with them all the way on this. I think they should just keep on doing what they’ve been doing. As long as they’re holding meetings to re-name the Democratic Party instead of trying to come up with the glimmerings of a clue about a viable alternative vision for resurrecting the nation’s economy, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans will continue to plunge. It’s at 20% now — maybe it’ll be in the teens by next week.

    • jchem

      Kathy: “And so you believe that a productive way to deal with this problem is for the RNC to formally rebrand the Democratic Party as the Democratic Socialist Party? This is productive, how? This will incline Americans to take the GOP more seriously, how?”

      This is probably about as productive as the Dems portraying Limbaugh as the Repub leader, or labeling the Repubs as the ‘party of no’, or by classifying moderate Repubs as part of the “non-Rush/non-Hannity/non-Beck listeners”. Oh wait, that does seem to stick.

      When can we begin to take the Democrats seriously? And I mean this in the most honest way possible. Every day it seems that here and elsewhere most everyone can actually agree that the Repubs are nearly irrelevant or keep digging themselves deeper. But day in and day out the focus always seems to be on the next stupid thing the Repubs did, or what Rush or Cheney or some other dirtbag said. This is great, isn’t it? Look, I’d consider myself to be left-of-center, but seriously, this constant focus on the party that is nearly on life support makes me wonder what the party in power is doing. The Repubs had all this power not that long ago and look what they did with it. I’d like to at least try to keep the Dems honest, so that they don’t make the same bonehead mistakes that the Repubs did.

  • shannonlee

    Again, here is the GOP using the wrong word and using it too often. They were so good with words a decade ago. They can’t brand everything the Dems do as socialist…it is like crying wolf. After a while, people stop listening.

    They can rail on about empathy and socialism all they like, but no one is listening. I believe those words cause most people to immediately tune out to whatever is being said.

    When Reps speak, they CANNOT come off as partisan hacks…..talking about socialism make someone immediately appear to be a partisan hack.

  • tidbits

    While disagreeing with much of the Administration’s economic policy, I don’t see how the Republican “re-branding” is helpful. Too many people have now been convinced that the Republicans are playing political gimmickery rather than presenting substantive alternatives. I speak of perception, not reality.

    Attempts to “brand” Obama in particular as “socialist” failed dismally in the campaign, and it is unlikely to have positive traction for Republicans now. A Party that is perceived (and portrayed) as marginalized and extreme should focus on projecting maturity and strong thinking, not gimmicks which will be perceived by many as juvenile. Even if the label “socialist” has some core truth, the effect of the Republicans using it will likely backfire to further isolate them.

  • CStanley

    Kathy, pretty much your entire comment is based on putting words in my mouth which I didn’t say.

    To dispense of the easiest one first, I never said that I thought that the way the GOP is going about this ‘rebranding’ is productive-strategically, I think they’re going about this in a stupid manner. But what I said in my comment stands- that the label of Democrat Socialist is now quite apt. If the GOP were to incorporate that message into a much broader conversation, including what alternatives they advocate, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but this is just making them look desperate.

    Second part is that it’s also a false dichotomy (faulty logic) to claim that if I oppose socialist economic policy that this means I must be an advocate of ‘pure unfettered unregulated capitalism.’ Scarcely anyone is an advocate of that, and those who claim that dichotomy are just as guilty of sloppy (or misleading) rhetoric as are the right wingers who call everyone left of Reagan a socialist.

    Third is that George Bush was not at all an advocate of unfettered unregulated capitalism- he was a big government conservative, and while I’m sure you have reasons to disagree with some areas that he didn’t adequately regulate, he also pushed for more regulation in some arenas (most notably, the GSE’s, which was rabidly opposed by certain Democrats.)

  • CStanley

    The only real additions that Obama has called for are the infrastructure spending and medical…and the medical stuff will only be about the same size as the Medicare Drug Act. Republican Presidents are primarily to blame as they presided over the vast bulk of this time period where everything has exploded. So yeah, a little political smearing to absolve themselves of guilt is stupid by the GOP.

    Accepting your general points here, mikkel, but let’s look at that for a moment. OK, so the size of increase in medical spending is about the same as Medicare Drug Act. First, are you counting just the ‘down payment’ part that’s already been committed, or are you talking about estimates for the full amount that it will cost to enact his plans? I’m asking honestly because I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips. If it’s the former, then obviously we’re going to be on the hook for a lot more than is even currently being accounted for.

    And in either case, the Medicare expansion was a boondoggle that is now a huge liability- so why in the world would such a comparison make the new expenditures seem more acceptable?

    So yeah, a little political smearing to absolve themselves of guilt is stupid by the GOP.
    But the converse is just as idiotic, and that’s what I see happening- any discussion of the exploding deficit from current additions is deflected by saying that the Bush administration started it.

    • mikkel

      “First, are you counting just the ‘down payment’ part that’s already been committed, or are you talking about estimates for the full amount that it will cost to enact his plans?”

      I don’t know what all the estimates are or how realistic they are, he’s earmarked $600 billion for the next 10 years, so I figure if you double that then it’s around $1.2 trillion and the Drug bill is $1.2-$1.4ish. So unless they really expand it much more than normal, it’ll be comparable size.

      The Medicare Bill did a terrible job of a) reducing costs and b) expanding coverage (in a permanent way). It’s just a total waste of money. I’m not sure how effective these things will be since they haven’t really presented a full plan yet…so it is to early to know if they are “acceptable.”

      Still I think you’re conflating two different arguments. One argument is whether the policy is wise. In that, saying “Bush did it” isn’t an argument. This is more about the politics. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to point out that Bush expanded discretionary spending far more than Obama has so far proposed, and that the GOP was actively parading it around then. The few Republicans that stood up at the time were made pariahs.

      One thing that I think is bad politics is that the Democrats (rightly) complained about the lack of shared sacrifice asked during Bush’s term, yet now there is an implicit message that there doesn’t need to be much shared sacrifice moving forward for these new programs. Other than that, I think the GOP politics on spending is way worse than the Democrats (and has been for a long time ever since they started buying off people with tax cuts and increased spending) regardless of the merits of either’s policies..which I think are flawed.

      • CStanley

        I agree that both sides use flawed arguments, and that spending was out of control before Obama took office…but beyond that, I can’t imagine how you can say with a straight face that Bush’s spending was ‘worse’ when Obama has only been in office for 100 days and you’re comparing that to the spending increases over eight years! The rate of spending certainly has to factor in there.

        • mikkel

          CS, once again I referred to the “politics” as way worse…as separate from the policy. I.e. the Republican mantra of small government meaning tax cuts, while they expand the government through debt and structural imbalances; then call Democrats socialists and trying to ruin capitalism for slightly expanding those policies (although if the government takes a controlling stake in GM and starts running it I’ll be the first to say that is socialism). Obama’s policies are rather in line with his politics, other than the sacrifice thing that I mentioned.

          I think Obama’s politics are heads and shoulders above Bush in nearly every way (with a few exceptions). I saw this thread more about politics rather than policies, it’s a lot more iffy if all his policies are…and that’s what you keep bringing up when other people are talking about politics.

          • CStanley

            I saw this thread more about politics rather than policies, it’s a lot more iffy if all his policies are…and that’s what you keep bringing up when other people are talking about politics.

            Well, maybe you missed that this was actually the main point I was trying to make- that these problems are so serious that we need to stop focusing on politics 24-7 and start actually discussing the policy.

            CS, once again I referred to the “politics” as way worse…as separate from the policy. I.e. the Republican mantra of small government meaning tax cuts, while they expand the government through debt and structural imbalances; then call Democrats socialists and trying to ruin capitalism for slightly expanding those policies (although if the government takes a controlling stake in GM and starts running it I’ll be the first to say that is socialism). Obama’s policies are rather in line with his politics, other than the sacrifice thing that I mentioned.

            I look at the same thing and come to the opposite conclusion though. As a conservative I did not like the direction that the GOP took over the last eight years on economic issues (they took the easy path of selling tax cuts all the time instead of exercising good policy decisions on spending restraint.) But at the same time, I felt that the damage would be self limiting because even during those eight years, despite what some people here saw, I did hear many conservatives complaining about the deficits and I knew that it wouldn’t go on indefinitely.

            Similarly, the conservatives who did support the bailouts under Bush felt it was a necessary evil (and that was not at all a unanimous opinion- I was among those who did not think it was a good decision.) But then what you characterize as ‘slight expansions of those policies’ (which I think is an absurd understatement- I’ve lost track if we’ve doubled or tripled the dollar amounts by now but there still seems to be no end in sight) are being done by a president who’s ideologically predisposed toward accepting this sort of policy.

            IOW, what you see as an internally dissonant policy to me is a feature, not a bug. Some conservatives didn’t complain that loudly about deficit spending under Bush because of partisanship, but another element of acceptance at that point was that it wasn’t considered a permanent expansion of government- there was some assumption that conservatives would reach a point of saying ‘enough’ (as did happen in ’06 and ’08.) That’s what has so many people concerned enough now to take to the streets- the feeling that there’s no limit or constraint in sight.

            I suppose an analogy would be liberals who didn’t feel concern over Clinton involving us in war in Bosnia, but then when a GOP administration led us to war in Iraq it was seen as in improper assertion of American imperialism. I realize there are other differences that might explain differing views on those two wars, but still, the assertion of American power to overthrow a dictator in Iraq is more internally consistent with liberal views than with conservative ones, but sometimes that kind of exception actually gives people comfort that the administration isn’t going to go too far (whereas in the case of a GOP administration, liberals’ assumption was that the invasion was based on desire to assert American hegemony.)

            So in the present economic situation, the difference in scale of response to ‘Bush doing this’ vs. ‘Obama doing this’ is somewhat based on what you think the ulterior motive is. I realize most moderate liberals don’t see the current situation as a power grab, but it certainly looks that way from the conservative seats and there’s a lot in Obama’s past rhetoric that looks like he’s ideologically disposed toward big government solutions and economic redistribution policies, and the seeking of equity over growth for the economy.

          • mikkel

            What has Obama “doubled or tripled?” Are you talking about the stimulus? That’s also “temporary” in the same way that the tax cuts were temporary. If you’re talking about the bailouts…same thing. If you’re talking about the Fed actions, that’s outside of ideology as it’s deemed “necessary.” The only things I’ve heard of that are new is his health thing, and a measly $60 billion a year more for research/alternative energy.

            I still don’t understand how you can say that acting in line with your ideology is bad, as opposed to contrary to it. Yes, Obama believes the government can be a positive force and is very consistent in that message, and his actual actions reflect that. Again, other than highlighting the shared sacrifice he is pretty good (economically) about that. Is it a “power grab?” Depends what you mean by that. He does want to permanently change the balance but guess what — if it works then it’ll work and people should like it, and if it doesn’t work (and we limit the amount of corruption, etc) then people can say “well we tried to do it and it didn’t work.”

            The GOP tactics are WAY more of a naked “power grab” because they rile up people with anti-government messages and say the government can’t do anything, but yet they are responsible for 80% of the increases over the last 30 years. The very foundation of conservatism is to be skeptical that any expansion of government power will be temporary or rolled back…I think it’s unbelievable that anyone can believe that the tax cuts were supposed to be temporary. Remember “deficits don’t matter?”

            So the GOP spent out the wazoo, greatly expanded government power, hired terrible people to run things, performed awfully and then say that it’s because government can’t work because of some magical reason. Is it because government really can’t work in those things, or is it because they were incompetent? Who knows! They acted completely contrary to their message.

            I really don’t see how you can justify your position, especially on a thread where you’ve been complaining that the focus has been too much on politics and not enough on policy…but then justify the GOP actions by saying that it has a “feature” of all these implicit assumptions and secret triggers and that it was all temporary even though none of that was expressed. If it really was temporary, how come conservatives didn’t rally to Obama’s side and say “no no, remember, Bush said those were temporary. It’s a good thing that the tax cuts are expiring because that was the plan?” Instead they attacked him.

            And about Kosovo (I assume you meant Kosovo since Bosnia only saw very light action) that actually did change some liberal opinion. I remember reading a lot of people (and felt this way personally) that if Kosovo — a tiny, well occupied, relatively stable region country — still was having problems, that no way could we think we could nation build in Iraq. I agree that Iraq was more of a liberal pursuit, but again at the time, some people explicitly said so and said the problem was that Bush was being inconsistent. One of the top GOP guys (I forgot who, a Reaganite) said Bush was the worst President he’d seen, because he took the worst Liberal characteristics and the worst Conservative ones, and merged them to be something far worse than even a die hard Liberal.

          • CStanley

            mikkel, you seem to be saying that I want it both ways in my argument, but how are you not doing the same when you talk about ‘temporary’ spending in the stimulus (among other things like bailouts) and then slam the GOP for pushing through supposedly temporary tax cuts which they really had no intention of letting expire? If you’re naive enough to believe that the spending programs in the stimulus bill are going to be temporary, then I don’t know what to tell you- but at least grant me that I’m making the SAME argument as the complaint you have about the tax cuts. I realize that back in 02 or whenever the first Bush cuts were passed if you’d told me that you didn’t believe they’d be temporary I might have said, “well, that’s what they’re saying, so we’ll see”, but we have seen now, haven’t we? And since the stimulus bill created a whole bunch of new programs (I can’t recall the number- but a lot of the stuff wasn’t just appropriations to existing programs) those ALWAYS take on a life of their own even if the spending isn’t allocated beyond a certain year. Even the increased spending for existing programs will be described as the new baseline when the expiration date comes and anyone who tries to put the brakes on at that point, or refuses to endorse further increases, will be accused of cutting something that is supposedly critical in some way. I mean look how long it took to roll back a lot of stuff that was supposed to be temporary after the New Deal- instead of rolling back, we got more and more all the way up through LBJ’s Great Society, and poverty got worse and worse. It wasn’t until the welfare state got to the point where no one could defend those policies anymore that there was finally bipartisan will to reform welfare.

            In your second and third paragraphs, you seem to be making the mistake of assuming that I’m defending the GOPs actions over the last cycle- I’m not. But I DO see this administration doubling down on the spending (regardless of whether or not you call it temporary- which I don’t believe- and regardless of whether or not there’s been some bipartisan agreement about necessity for some of it, because I don’t agree with that.) And I think we’re being led over the cliff economically- the policies are so anti-growth that I can’t see how we’re not going to prolong and deepen the recession or tip it into depression.

            As far as Obama’s actions matching his words on believing that government can work well, how so, exactly? They posted a website on the recovery but the data’s not going to go public till next year now. Biden gives a press conference on how the stimulus spending is going and even the AP reports on misstatements of fact. And have they ever started posting bills online for five days before passage? I haven’t heard anything about that lately but when they were ramming huge and important bills through, they said there wasn’t time for that (not even time for the legislators themselves to read them.) Can you give examples of where you DO think Obama’s improving the way government works, because I just don’t see it.

            And the part where I said that acting against principle is a feature not a bug applies when the policies are ones that you don’t agree with ideologically. I’m not saying that it’s good for politicians to say one thing and do another, but when that does happen and it’s portrayed as something exceptional, and you know that the people who politically back that person will hold him to the fire for it being an exception rather than the rule, then you aren’t as concerned about it getting out of hand as you are when the person enacting that policy actually believes in what he’s doing as a general principle (he has no constraint on doing it ad infinitum.)

            It’s not that I say that it was a feature for Bush to overspend- I didn’t mean it in that way or to defend his administration and the previous Congress. What I meant though is that I feel it’s why conservative voters didn’t take to the streets in protest, although you certainly did hear grumbling and even some of the pundits who normally would be water carriers turned on Bush over things like the Medicare expansion. So people did complain, but again from where I sit, no one felt that Bush wanted to radically shift the public/private balance in the way that Obama seems to desire.

  • The Republicans are, as usual, focused purely on the optics rather than the substance. “Maybe if we call Obama and his allies something else, people will hate them!”

    It wont work, if anything, it might make actual socialism more palatable to a larger number of Americans. After all, the public thinks Obama is good, so if Obama is a socialist, socialism must be good too.

    ****
    AR,
    The banks continue to get a sweetheart deal. Trillions in bailouts from the Fed and the Treasury, and continuing guarantees going forward. Meanwhile, no one has been forced out and there has been no serious restructuring.

    Taking over GM will be actual socialism if it happens. But I think everyone wants any government intervention to be short lived, and given the circumstances you can hardly say it’s part of some evil scheme to take U.S. industries in the name of proletariat.

    Meanwhile, the auto unions have agreed to cut after cut in their pay and benefits. So this is hardly a sweetheart deal for them. Would you honestly rather be a banker or a factory worker right now?

    I don’t think there are enough jobs in newspapers to warrant a bailout. Although the gov’t may push a deal between old media (like WaPo) and new media (like Google).

    Health care is already largely financed by the government. There is medicare, medicaid, Federal grants for research and more. Besides, the situation is messed up. Even the worst of the public options (a system like the UK) would be better than what we’ve got now.

    Your talk of punitive taxes and whatnot is the same myopic fearmongering we’ve heard for a while now. Bringing us back up to 1990s levels of taxation isn’t going to end the world or capitalism. Hell, the levels under Reagan were higher.

  • ljm

    A reeling, grossly unpopular political party/ideology saying this is only going to make socialism look better.

  • shannonlee

    If Steele had any brains he would be rebranding the Dems as the new Bush Adminstration.

    “We’ve learned and are changing, but the Dems keep on acting like GWBush.”

    Selectively declassifying memos to support their agenda.
    Strong arming the weaker party on legislation. ie…”We won”, by Obama.
    Disreguard for the rule of law. ie…Chrysler Deal.
    Hiding the truth about their involvement in torture. ie…Pelosi.
    And last but not least…out of control spending.

    And this is just after the first 100 days….my goodness, why use socialism when you have all of this?!?!?

    Both parties are bad, but only one isn’t running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

  • Don Quijote

    When will the moderate left wake up? If anyone here does not see that we’re moving much closer to the European economic model (which hasn’t worked out so well for Europe), then please explain why not.

    Euro Zone

    The eurozone (officially the euro area[1][2]) is a currency union of 16 European Union (EU) states which have adopted the euro as their sole legal tender. It currently consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Eight[3] other states are obliged to join the zone once they fulfil the strict entry criteria.

    Depending on the exchange rates used, the eurozone’s economy is either slightly larger or smaller than that of the United States, the largest national economy in the world.[4] The eurozone has a population of 326 million people and has a GDP (PPP) of 8.4 (14.6% of global GDP). Monetary policy of the zone is the responsibility of the European Central Bank, though there is no common representation, governance or fiscal policy for the currency union.

    And all of this was accomplished with 4 to 6 weeks paid vacation depending on the country, a greater life expectancy than the US and a lower infant mortality rate.

  • kathykattenburg

    This is probably about as productive as the Dems portraying Limbaugh as the Repub leader, or labeling the Repubs as the ‘party of no’, or by classifying moderate Repubs as part of the “non-Rush/non-Hannity/non-Beck listeners”.

    jchem, please. Democrats are not “portraying” Limbaugh as the Republican leader. Republicans are treating him as their leader. Do you need to be refreshed on the long, long list of Republican leaders who have apologized to Limbaugh after saying things that Limbaugh did not like?

    As for being the party of no, Democrats may have come up with the label, but Republicans did the hard work of earning it. Not one single yes vote (except for the traitor “moderates”) on the stimulus bill? Not one single yes vote on the budget? Threatening Republicans in Congress who might even be thinking of voting with the Democrats, on anything? Having no serious alternative at all to any of the things they criticize?

    Why don’t Republicans take responsibility once in a while for their problems?

    • jchem

      Kathy, I certainly don’t need a refresher. I can come here and many other places on any given day and see who the newest clown in the Repub toilet is. But why do we have to constantly focus on these know-nothings when they are the MINORITY? If anything, they should just be ignored because they have shown themselves to be anti-everything. But shouldn’t that make the rest of us focus on what the Dems are doing? They have unfettered control right now, they can do whatever they want. But that doesn’t mean its all good.

      My point is simply that it’s just a bit tiring to hear day in and day out about the Repub party. Who cares? What can they do? Let them behave like the children they are portraying themselves as. But that doesn’t mean that the “adults” in power need to be constantly rubbing their faces in it anytime Rush or any of the other clowns speaks, does it?

  • tidbits

    While not an economist, and admitting that there are those here more knowledgable than I, let me take a shot at this. As a starting point, there are social democratic elements to the Administration’s economic agenda. Second, some socialism is necessary and good…Interstate Highway system, public education, social security, national electric grid, hydroelectric projects, public libraries,museums, parks and concert halls. The political question is not whether we should have some socialistic policies for our common welfare, but rather where one draws the line between necessary socialist institutions and excessive socialist institutions. As an example, where does universal health care fit on the continuum? And, if it fits as being for our common welfare, should it be a public/private consortium, quasi-socialist, as proposed by Obama during the campaign or single government payor, socialist, system?

    While the issue of degrees of socialism is political, the current and future impact of the Administration’s policies is economic. A majority of economists, as I understand it, agree that a large short term stimulus is a useful tool in a serious recession. This should or could include infrastructure spending, payroll tax cuts and short term unemployment assistance. The concern with the Democratic stimulus package is not that it fails to include these items (it does), but that it goes beyond them and creates, or threatens to create, ongoing expenditures that do not meet the criteria of a stimulus being short term.

    The stimulus was followed by the Omnibus Bill, ostensibly to fully fund the ’09 budget passed during the Bush Administration, but which contained nearly 2000 earmarks, and which was not seriously pared down in light of the $700 billion TARP program and the $800 billion stimulus. The Omnibus Bill was followed by the Obama Budget.

    What all of this has in common is not so much socialism, as it is unchecked spending and borrowing, all on top of the extension of the deficit during the Bush years. More importantly, we should consider the rise in percentage of GDP devoted to deficit spending which has reached historic highs, perhaps acceptable during a short-term recovery effort, and will remain at historic highs. The ten year projections on the optimistic side, are for ongoing deficits of $500 billion/year.

    Ultimately, the question must become whether we tax our way out of the spending binge, much of which will be ongoig entitlement spending, or whether we inflate our way out. Neither is particularly pallatable. Just as Reagonomics does not honestly present a scenario of non/deficit fiscal stability, neither does the extended entitlement spending of the current Administration. The American people will, at some point, have to determine what level of socialism is needed for the common good and by what means we will pay for it.

  • The best line of the day comes from Steven Taylor of PoliBlog.

    “And if that doesn’t work, they plan on just calling them “Stupid Poopyheads.”

    http://www.poliblogger.com/?p=15784

  • $199537

    A couple of comments…

    tidbits, outstanding summary of what concerns me as well about the Obama/Democrats spending.

    on the GOP – they are making themselves look petty re-labeling the Democrats, but frankly they are petty in the sense that they are essentially powerless. Why does this website seem to cling to their every word?

    On the auto bailout, Obama has placed the UAW ahead of bondholders, the opposite of how bankruptcies have traditionally been handled. In this sense he has usurped the power traditionally left to the courts and conveniently rewarded a loyal political donor. He has tried to demonize bondholders but in the case of GM a lot of bondholders are ultimately Mom-and-Pop type investors. He has also left the UAW essentially controlling GM and Chrysler with help of the government. Essentially he is using the Bush excuse “it’s legal if I say it is”. How could anyone miss the obvious conflicts of interest?

  • kathykattenburg

    … anyone who was concerned about spending during the Bush administration but isn’t concerned about Obama doubling down on that spending in an unprecedented manner in just 100 days, is a partisan hack.

    What about the reverse? Anyone who is concerned about Obama’s spending levels in just 100 days, but was not concerned about former Pres. Bush taking the country from a $128 billion surplus that he inherited from Clinton to a trillion-dollar deficit on his last day in office, is a partisan hack?

  • kathykattenburg

    To dispense of the easiest one first, I never said that I thought that the way the GOP is going about this ‘rebranding’ is productive-strategically, I think they’re going about this in a stupid manner. But what I said in my comment stands- that the label of Democrat Socialist is now quite apt. If the GOP were to incorporate that message into a much broader conversation, including what alternatives they advocate, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but this is just making them look desperate.

    Uh-huh. But apparently it took my “putting words in your mouth” to get you to say that. You did not give even a hint that you thought that the “re-branding” was counterproductive. You were focused entirely on the accuracy of the label as applied to the Obama administration.

    Furthermore, regardless of whether the label “democratic socialist” is actually accurate to describe the Obama administration’s policies so far (for the record, if you want to be factual, it is not), using that term at all, in any context, broad or narrow, with regard to Obama’s policies is, in my view, counterproductive. “Democratic Socialism” is a label that has far more emotive than substantive content, and it’s used by Republican leaders as a demagogic tool, not as a means to discuss policy alternatives or rational disagreement. If the GOP wants to be productive, it should be taking up Pres. Obama on his challenge to come up with specific ideas for areas of compromise, instead of trying to discredit Obama’s ideas with scare words (or words they think are scary, even though they really aren’t scary to any reasonably well-informed person).

    • AustinRoth

      “Democratic Socialism” is a label.

      Better than “National Socialism”.
      Better than “Fascist Socialism”.
      Better than “Communism”.

  • kathykattenburg

    But why do we have to constantly focus on these know-nothings when they are the MINORITY?

    If this is what you were trying to say, I agree with you,

  • pacatrue

    The parties are names, not descriptive labels. I call myself Paca here, but in fact am not an alpaca. My actual first name is Hunter, but I don’t really go hunting, though I did have a permit as a teen. The names of the parties are the Republican party and the Democratic party. While we can make up some justification for these names (Republicans have had some more interest, sometimes, in states rights and hence advocate a more “Republic” mold, while Democrats have had some more interest in democratic people power) that is not where the names came from. As we all know, Jefferson’s party used to be in fact the Democratic-Republican party.

    Tacking Socialist onto the name of the Democrats is as petty as the Democrats tacking “hates gay people” onto the Republican party’s name. We could all come in here and debate whether the Democracts are truly socialist or whether Republicans really hate gay men and women and have a rip-roaring good time. In the end, it’s just name-calling, and it seems that part of the RNC has called a special session to do it. That deserves ridicule.

    After we make fun of the RNC for this, we can then have a real discussion about whether parts of the budget are a good idea or not, whether the stimulus is warranted, whether the Chrysler deal was appropriate, etc. That’s what the RNC should have called a special session for.

  • pacatrue

    To add a bit more to why the troubles of the Republican party keep coming up on TMV, I think there are two reasons: 1) Posters with Dem / Liberal partisan leanings who love to revel in the difficulties of the opponent. 2) Most of the Republican posters on this site see themselves as moderate Republicans and find themselves being pushed away from the party they want to belong to. Good riddance and all that. This will naturally be of great interest to them and will warrant post after post.

  • Calling Democrats socialist is dumb since they are no where near that. Do they have socialist policies? Sure. It is not a bad thing. But are they actually socialist? please, if they were it would be the best thing for this country i think, but many of them, as most republicans, are still too dependent on the deep pockets of corporations.
    BTW, anyone who says they are against any and all things socialist are not telling the truth, otherwise they would be out there supporting every road in the United States being privatized and most likely tolled, the end of trash service, and screw the rural people because it would no longer be the area of government to provide basic services (water, trash, electricity) where private companies will not go because it is not profitable.

    And the American people already learned that stupid kills, which is why the majority voted Democratic over Republican in the last election.

  • Dude, 8% of a company the size of GM (even a diminished GM) is one hell of a significant holding.
    Dude, GM is a sneeze away from being worth nothing. Their current market capitalization is under $1 billion. (Their stock is hovering at a little over a dollar.) Even a crippled tech company like Yahoo is worth over 20 times that.

    • AustinRoth

      Chris – you mistake market capitalization with asset value and intrinsic valuation, which itself is very different than net worth.

      Companies like Yahoo trade almost exclusively on future earnings potential and goodwill valuation – they have little in the way of tangible assets. The tangible assets of GM, even now, are north of $12B – $15B (which is why in reality a chapter 7 would be the best bet, given the market cap of $1B).

      The current market value of GM also still doesn’t change the fact that an 8% equity stake in a company that even in severe straights still has $22B in quarterly sales is significant.

      BTW – Yahoo’s quarterly sales were $1.6B, about 7% that of GM last quarter.

  • CStanley

    What about the reverse? Anyone who is concerned about Obama’s spending levels in just 100 days, but was not concerned about former Pres. Bush taking the country from a $128 billion surplus that he inherited from Clinton to a trillion-dollar deficit on his last day in office, is a partisan hack?

    Fine, Kathy, but who here was unconcerned about the Bush deficits?

  • CStanley

    Uh-huh. But apparently it took my “putting words in your mouth” to get you to say that. You did not give even a hint that you thought that the “re-branding” was counterproductive. You were focused entirely on the accuracy of the label as applied to the Obama administration.

    Kathy, how about we make a deal…I won’t assume that I can read your mind and I’ll ask you to do the same. Would you not be annoyed if I responded to most of your comments by complaining about what you DIDN’T say, on the grounds that you should have said something and thus I feel I can presume that your opinion is the opposite of the one that I think is appropriate?

    And perhaps the reason that I don’t feel the need to express negative opinions about the GOP is because the good folks at TMV have that subject quite adequately covered, and I am attempting to point out that there are quite a few more serious topics worth discussing. Quite frankly I’m past giving the benefit of the doubt to some of the editors who have journalism backgrounds, because there’s absolutely no way that they aren’t aware of the propaganda they’re peddling with selective attention to stories here.

  • tidbits

    CStanley, I agree with the need for more substantive dialogue on issues, and also agree on the difficulty in weeding through editorial slant, reporting slant and thinly disguised commentary to get to the facts. Those slants, by the way, are both left and right. Unfortunately, the missteps of the Republican Party have become a form of entertainment, like Hollywood reporting from Washington. Perhaps we have the energy and capacity to be reflective, observant and, ocassionally, entertained.

    • CStanley

      Perhaps we have the energy and capacity to be reflective, observant and, ocassionally, entertained.

      Sure, but in times of crisis I’d say we ought to be leaning much more toward the first two and the mix has definitely been WAY in the opposite direction. With the exception of gay issues, hardly anything of substance even gets mentioned here, let alone the stories the reflect badly on Democrats.

      • tidbits

        No argument with your having that perspective. For me, as a recovering Republican, now registered Independent, I will confess my bias. After working in two successful election campaigns for Sen. Mark Hatfield (R – ret.), I left the Party following the hijacking of the State party by the extreme right wing in the mid-90’s. Now that the national Republican Party has been, or is being, similarly hijacked, I take some perverse pleasure in watching the extremists implode. Perhaps you would have it be otherwise, but my bias is what it is and I take unapologetic responsibility for it.

  • kathykattenburg

    Fine, Kathy, but who here was unconcerned about the Bush deficits?

    Well, Christine, with a respectful nod to your annoyance at being called on what you didn’t say, when you write:

    Foreclosures are up, unemployment is up, the first quarter GDP shrinkage was shockingly high, the US is in red ink territory in April for the first time ever, and the rosy economic growth predictions that the Obama budget was based on are obviously not going to happen.

    Are you guys sure you don’t want to start taking a more critical look at this administration’s economic plan? You really think the main story here is that the GOP is exaggerating in order to fearmonger? Seriously?

    and you do not mention or even hint at mentioning that all these economic problems began under the previous administration, and you do not offer the slightest suggestion that the eight years that came before Obama should be taken into account when appearing to imply that Obama has screwed up the economy, made things worse, and turned the U.S. into a democratic socialist state (something I know you regard with horror, even if I don’t), then perhaps you also believe there is some other conclusion I can reach other than concluding that you are unconcerned about how Bush screwed up the economy — but alas I cannot.

    Then, too, my presumption that you are unconcerned about the Bush administration’s role in this crisis is affected by our many discussions about the economy on another blog where, I distinctly recall, you were one of several individuals who insisted that there was no recession at all long after any reasonable person could believe there was no recession. I have a clear memory of one particular discussion in which you told me (paraphrasing from memory) — when the recession had been going on and getting worse for many months — that maybe there were certain parts of the country where the economy was in recession, but overall things were fine.

    All these things factor in to my sense that you are criticizing current economic policy and its effectiveness while disregarding any historical context older than January 20.

    • AustinRoth

      kathy –

      appearing to imply that Obama has…turned the U.S. into a democratic socialist state (something I know you regard with horror, even if I don’t)

      Which part is it you do not view with horror, the implication, or the becoming a (more) democratic socialist state? I am going to go WAY out on a limb, and guess the latter.

      Furthermore, I have to wonder if you are not deep down inside a true believer in full collectivism for the common good (or to call it by its rightful name, Communism). I am NOT say that in a way meant to be an insult, BTW; I am truly wondering if that is part of your core beliefs.

  • mlhradio

    When this news story first broke about three weeks ago, someone in another blog commented, Does that mean the Republicans will now be known as the Republic Nazi Party?”

    After all, it’s just as accurate and has just as much basis in truth.

    Frankly, I don’t really care, this makes about as much sense as the silly, failed attempt by paleocons to label suicide bombers as ‘homicide bombers’ a few years back. This whole nonsensical rebranding effort does nothing to change the view of Democrats, and instead reflects entirely on the republicans. Makes them look petty and insignificant. Then again, what can you expect from the party that decides to make mustard choice a major political talking point?

  • CStanley

    When this news story first broke about two weeks ago, someone in another blog commented something to the effect of “That’s fine, as long as we can use the term ‘Republic Nazi Party’.

    After all, it’s just as accurate and has just as much basis in truth

    See, that’s completely wrong and this is why I joined AR in responding to the substance of the post by pointing out that the claim itself is NOT inaccurate. And those who are arguing the opposite don’t seem to be remotely aware of the various manifestations of social democracy in European politics, because the bottom line philosophy there has more to do with prolabor policies and broad social programs than with how the government runs corporations or doesn’t run them. I honestly don’t see how anyone who has any familiarity with social democracy in Europe could claim that the comparison to current US Democratic party policies isn’t apt.

  • CStanley

    you do not mention or even hint at mentioning that all these economic problems began under the previous administration, and you do not offer the slightest suggestion that the eight years that came before Obama should be taken into account when appearing to imply that Obama has screwed up the economy, made things worse, and turned the U.S. into a democratic socialist state (something I know you regard with horror, even if I don’t), then perhaps you also believe there is some other conclusion I can reach other than concluding that you are unconcerned about how Bush screwed up the economy — but alas I cannot.

    I highlighted the phrase in this paragraph which shows why you are unable to read my comments without reading your own interpretations into other parts of my thinking. What you are stating there is what you inferred, not what I implied. I had no intent of stating that these problems began under Obama (which is why I didn’t state that, even though you chose to infer it) but I do believe that his policies are going to be disastrous and have begun making a very bad situation worse. What’s more important though, is that even if other people don’t believe that, I would like to have actual discussions about the topics instead of people deflecting all attention from the worsening situation in order to avoid having to look at this administration with even a modicum of critical reasoning. If there are logical reasons to support the current policies, I’m open to being persuaded, but the lack of any discussion at all would suggest to me (if I were to attempt mindreading as you do) that most people have no clue as to whether or not these policies could work and they’re completely going on blind faith.

    So, since the deal that I offered is off the table as you are apparently unable to read my comments without inferring things that are not correct about my opinions, how does it feel to be on the recieving end as I judge you to be a blind partisan or syncophant since you haven’t mentioned whether or not you’ve reasoned through the Obama economic plans to determine if they make sense or not?

  • kathykattenburg

    Which part is it you do not view with horror, the implication, or the becoming a (more) democratic socialist state? I am going to go WAY out on a limb, and guess the latter.

    Neither one of those. I did not say, nor do I agree, that the U.S. is becoming a more democratic socialist state. Almost all functioning economies are mixed economies of some sort or another, with the extremes on either end being communism and fascism.

    The economies and governments of countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, and most of the other Western European countries can accurately be called democratic socialist. The U.S.? Nowhere near. There is no evidence that Obama wants to turn the U.S. into Sweden, nor could he even if he did want to, and especially nor could he do so in 100 days for freakin’ god’s sake. A little common sense would help here.

    If you believe that democratic socialist countries are totalitarian hellholes, thus by extension believing that Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, the French, Germans, Spaniards, Italians, etc., etc. all are living in hell on earth, then you go, guy. Believe what you believe. Go for it. I, however, do not believe that. Are countries like Denmark, France, Germany, and on our side of the ocean, Canada, better to live in than the United States? In some ways, I think they are. In other ways, not as much. I do, however, think that Americans can learn and benefit from some of the economic and social features of Western European-style democratic socialism. Nor do I understand why some people are so, so, incredibly terrified of the word “socialism” or “democratic socialism.” There’s nothing to be scared of. To the extent democratic socialism works for us as a nation, we will hopefully have the wisdom to go in that direction. To the extent it doesn’t, we won’t. What are you scared of? I am far more scared of the ways in which constitutional protections and freedoms were compromised by the previous administration — and in ways that will be very hard to undo — than I am by the thought that someday, there will be no such thing as women and men with otherwise treatable forms of cancer dying because they don’t have health insurance and the only hospital anywhere near them that provides low-cost or no-cost care for people without health insurance has to shut down that program for lack of funding. Somehow, the idea that no one has to die of cancer because they don’t have health insurance does not upset me, even if I do have to pay higher taxes.

    Furthermore, I have to wonder if you are not deep down inside a true believer in full collectivism for the common good (or to call it by its rightful name, Communism).

    Before I can answer that question, AustinRoth, you will have to tell me how you define Communism. Do you define it as Stalin did, or do you define it as J. Edgar Hoover and Bull Connor and George Wallace did?

    • StockBoySF

      Kathy, “Nor do I understand why some people are so, so, incredibly terrified of the word “socialism” or “democratic socialism.” There’s nothing to be scared of.”

      There are certain areas of the country where “socialism” (and whatever derivative of that) is used to scare people. I think the South, for instance, is strongly opposed to “socialism” because for them it means welfare and supporting the poor African Americans…. Which of course plays into race fears that blacks are lazy, worthless and are leeches on society. Then for other people there are ties of socialism to communism which play on other fears.

      When people hear “socialist” their fears (whether race related or communist Soviet Union or whatever) start to bubble up. It’s essentially two people hearing the same statement made by someone and interpreting it in two different ways.

      • kathykattenburg

        Yeah, I know all that. But I still don’t understand it. 🙂

        • StockBoySF

          “Yeah, I know all that. But I still don’t understand it.”

          Sorry I couldn’t help you. But I think the media is playing it up more than is the actual case. You know, the Republicans come up with this nonsense and the media jumps on it without checking in with the typical American. Not that the media has ever played anything up…. I think most Americans just roll their eyes at whatever the Republicans come up with next. After all…. what HAVE the Republicans done for Americans lately?

      • AustinRoth

        SB – there are those of us that are opposed to Socialism simply on intellectual grounds, that believe in Capitalism over Socialism, despite the recent, short-term problems in the economy, which have less to do with unfettered Capitalism than to do with corruption from BOTH parties in the economy, and the effects of some of our already Socialist-oriented tendencies.

        I find it offensive that the Left has to convince itself, yet again, that the only reason anyone would oppose their Egalitarian desires is due to some combination of ignorance and malice. You and others on the Left talk about being the people of ideas and open exchange, and the Right only being able to demonize their opponents, but I think the pot is calling the kettle black right now.

    • AustinRoth

      Kathy –

      I define Communism as Marx did in the Communist Manifesto.

      So, I have provided my definition. What is your answer? Although, strangely, I would think you would be more inclined to provide YOUR definition, rather than use someone else, but in this case I am using the ‘real’ definition, if you will, rather than someone’s interpretation, so that should make it easier to reply.

      And how can you say ”neither one of those’ to the earlier statement? What a complete cop-out! Those are your own words. Please then tell me what exactly it is that CS views with horror and you do not in your statement?

  • StockBoySF

    Weren’t the Republicans in power when the Great Depression hit? And we know that it was eight years of Bush administration policy (Republicans again) that brought us to this place. And furthermore under Clinton the stock market tripled in value, while under Bush for eight years…. the stock market lost about 25%. And the Republicans say that their ideas are better than Obama’s and want MORE of what got us in this mess?

    Americans want their government to protect them. Not just from threats externally, but from threats internally, too. And one of those threats is financial instability. Americans have come to expect some sort of safety net if they fall on hard times. And of course there’s social security which helps people with their finances in retirement.

    The majority of the American people don’t trust Republicans on domestic issues (according to all the pundits during the election season) and when the Republicans’ solution to an issue is to attack someone else and sit around the campfire coming up with a new name to call them, even more Americans are going to run from the bullies known as Republicans. CAn you imagine where we’d be if the Bush administration had gotten its way with privatizing social security? The stock market would have gone up more, but it probably would have crashed even harder as millions of Americans sold their stocks, hoping to get something back…. and the Republicans call to nationalize businesses (which would have wiped out all the shareholders) would have wiped out the savings of millions of (more) people.

    You can call Republicans whatever you want, including “Republic Nazi Party”. However at this point I think the best and scariest term to use for a Republican is simply “Republican”. Last year all the kids wore scary Halloween masks of Bush… This year if the kids want to be frightening they can just wear a sign that says, “Republican”.

  • kathykattenburg

    I highlighted the phrase in this paragraph which shows why you are unable to read my comments without reading your own interpretations into other parts of my thinking. What you are stating there is what you inferred, not what I implied.

    Actually, you did imply that the economy was not screwed up before Obama took office. You implied it by not putting Obama’s handling of the economy in the larger historical context. You implied it by not acknowledging or indicating you are aware, that Obama’s economic policies, to date, have been developed in response to and in an attempt to fix an economic crisis that is, in large part, the result of disastrous policy choices over eight years of the Bush presidency. I am not arguing here that all of Obama’s decisions in the first 100 days have been perfect — far from it (although we would probably disagree on where he’s gone wrong). This particular argument we’re having right now is not about the rightness or wrongness of Obama’s policies. We can have that discussion, and I’d love to. But we can’t have that discussion if we do not begin with the understanding that Obama is trying as best he can to fix someone else’s really, really, really horrifyingly bad economic and political decisions. And we do not have that understanding if you do not indicate that you understand it.

    I had no intent of stating that these problems began under Obama (which is why I didn’t state that, even though you chose to infer it) but I do believe that his policies are going to be disastrous and have begun making a very bad situation worse.

    Whether you had the intent or not, that is the impression you created. And I’m sorry, Christine, but the fact of not stating that these problems began under Obama does not absolve you of responsibility for implying that these problems began under Obama by precisely that fact that you did not mention the previous administration at all.

    So, since the deal that I offered is off the table as you are apparently unable to read my comments without inferring things that are not correct about my opinions, how does it feel to be on the recieving end as I judge you to be a blind partisan or syncophant since you haven’t mentioned whether or not you’ve reasoned through the Obama economic plans to determine if they make sense or not?

    Well, and not meaning to sound too cute by half here, but I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other about that — and that’s mostly because you are so straightforward about telling me that you are calling me a blind partisan or a sycophant so I might think about how it feels. When you tip your hand like that, I know you’re only calling me those names because you want to ask me how it feels, and so I feel neither angry nor pleased.

  • Don Quijote

    Highly humorous thread…

    I have been reading this blog since at least January 08, and I don’t remember anyone being all that concerned about the debt or the deficit prior to Obama being elected.

    Just saying…

    • AustinRoth

      DQ –

      I don’t remember anyone being all that concerned about the debt or the deficit prior to Obama being elected.

      Then you were not paying attention.

  • StockBoySF

    DQ, yeah… the Republicans couldn’t talk about the debt with Bush’s budgets, his supplemental budgets and then his $750 billion bailout package…. But the GOP can throw whatever mud they want now and see what sticks. After all the GOP is not in control of either the WH or Congress so they can bash the Dems relentlessly. And of course the GOP can say that obeying the law is a “nicety” when it comes to their previous actions when they were in power and they told the law to go take a hike. 🙂

  • mikkel

    “you seem to be saying that I want it both ways in my argument, but how are you not doing the same when you talk about ‘temporary’ spending in the stimulus ”

    I meant temporary in the same way that you used it for the tax cuts. If you remember I was always very skeptical of the idea of the stimulus in general and outright opposed the final bill. On the flip side, I said if they wanted to tackle some of these problems, it should be coordinated over the next 10-20 years as a major rebuilding effort that was pitched as anything but temporary. So no, I don’t support “temporary” spending at all and Obama’s projections about their affect on growth and hence tax receipts are plainly ridiculous.

    I’d go even one step further and say that a huge problem with the budget is that each time the people at the top change, they push their pet projects and those get embedded into the budget and then never spoken of again.

    The fact of that matter is that it’s become clear that even if Obama’s vision is right, there is not the economic nor political room to implement it. I’m trying to figure out how to present the post, but the conclusion is that it is very likely that in the next 10 years of the most realistic best case scenario, the US, EU and Japan will suck up every single cent of global economic expansion in debt issuance. Japan may very well be at 250-300% debt:GDP, the US and EU will be 150-200% and emerging economies will have a decade of credit crisis and be completely destroyed.

    But the private sector is even in worse shape. In a year or two, once the commercial real estate and next wave of residential defaults happen, the private sector will be eviscerated.

    I don’t see any possible way to get around any of this through pro-growth policies. It seems to me that it’ll take a combination of massive contraction in government, price deflation and low operating margins. I’d say realistically speaking government needs to be cut in half but corporate profits will fall even more than that. The government policies that are in place will need to be pro-efficiency, not pro-growth. That means helping setup alternative energy sources and such — which private industry won’t want to do because there won’t be much money in it since there will be no profit margins, each increase in efficiency will just drive the price lower instead of profit higher.

    This is fundamentally the problem: all the debates are set up in a way that assumes that growth is a given, and it’s just how you manage it. There is nothing that’s setup for a time where the population is rapidly aging, and the most commonly used natural resources are quickly dwindling in supply. So I’m going to be insane and say that what makes most sense is a pro-contraction policy with massive debt writeoffs — and then in that framework figure out the government/private sector balance.

    Actually I misremembered. Global GDP is at $60 trillion, so assuming 2% annual growth for 10 years (which isn’t crazy since the world grew at 3.5% during the boom) that gets it to $72 trillion. The US debt will increase more than $12 trillion in the next ten years. That’s even without Japan and Europe who could combine for another $12-$20 trillion. That’s absolutely insane.

  • CStanley

    Sorry but now I’m totally confused. You said earlier that you approve of Obama’s policies overall but that last comment sounds like a refutation of most of them.

    I meant to comment on this earlier:
    He does want to permanently change the balance but guess what — if it works then it’ll work and people should like it, and if it doesn’t work (and we limit the amount of corruption, etc) then people can say “well we tried to do it and it didn’t work.”
    Well, that’s all fine and good if you’re agnostic on the policies or at least believe there’s a possibility that they’ll work, but none of the explanations for the rationales behind the policies make any sense to me and then I see the ridiculously rosy predictions that the potential success is based on and I can’t see any reason to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Even in normal times, if someone was pushing through programs that I disagreed with, I’m not going to sit back and be quiet until I see how they work out- and somehow I doubt you would if someone was pushing through a radically right wing economic program and you thought that was going to be disastrous.

    I don’t see any possible way to get around any of this through pro-growth policies. It seems to me that it’ll take a combination of massive contraction in government, price deflation and low operating margins.
    The first sentence I really don’t get (I get that progrowth policies aren’t going to miraculously fix things quickly, but I don’t see why growth can’t be stimulated at all) and the second sentence, again, this is where I see you advocating things that aren’t at all what Obama is doing so I don’t see why you’re expressing support for the current course.

    I’d still really like to hear your take on the good governance/ transparency type of stuff. Do you really see anything positive happening in that regard? Even on the decision making process where we were told that Obama would listen to contrary views, it doesn’t appear to me that he does anything but pay lip service to that idea at best. He makes people feel that they’ve been listened to, then he ends up doing what he originally would have done anyway. I say this in regard to domestic economic policy mainly- I do see where he’s probably made decisions on military stuff based on what the generals are telling him. Anyway, I’m interested in hearing your take on it.

    • mikkel

      I said I thought his policies lined up rather well with his politics. I also agree with the policies in theory, i.e. on an ideological level. In reality I think they will fail miserably. If he was president in 1993 instead of 2009 then I think we would see enormous success.

      The reason why there will be little growth is because there is so much bad debt in the system that it will be impossible for the economy to grow faster than the amount of interest/writeoffs related to that debt. We have more debt than Japan had — except globally this time — and they still haven’t worked through all their bad debt 20 years later. If they are going to stop massive deflation, then they have to issue even more bad debt, which will add even more time with little recovery.

      My position on this has been very consistent. My first impressions about Obama back when I really started paying attention in 2006 was that he was going to become President, that he would have a very rational and good idea about how to fix a lot of the country’s problems, but that the amount of debt we had would undermine all efforts and that he would be forced to abandon his plans and improvise. Thus, even though I associate with his professed ideology nearly 100% when it comes to how to manage a Post-WWII economy, I strongly disagree with his defense of the current system…as the Post-WWII paradigm has been eclipsed.

      Even more to the point it’s dangerous because the underlying things that matter are still getting worse in a way where there should be a breaking point again in a few months…and we’ll be unable to react.

      As for the point about trying it and see if it works: I wasn’t advocating that we do try it and see if it works, what I meant was that he has a core set of underlying principles that he seems to be trying to actually implement. Thus, it gives results about his principles. On the other hand, what have the GOP principles since Reagan been? The only area they have been consistent in both word and deed was deregulation…but they didn’t push the appropriate monetary or fiscal policy needed to support said deregulation, so it just turned into a massive debt bubble. Clinton had no underlying principle at all, so can’t really say anything about what he showed worked or didn’t.

      The good governance thing is hard to determine. Congress is as dysfunctional as ever and a lot of the opposition ideas are jokes. To me it seems like Obama seems that he has good intentions but then it goes through the grinder of his inner circle then out to Congress then through the press then back and it’s nothing like the genesis of it. Whether that’s his plan or not I dunno.

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