Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A "pledge" to do more of the same--nothing that will help the people who most hurt

Perpetual candidate Dino Rossi is the state of Washington’s version of Jason and Michael Myers: the uninvited guest who just won’t stay prone. This non-descript Republican has most recently failed at two runs for the governorship, and is now attempting to unseat Patty Murray as U.S. Senator. You have to hand it to him, though: He’s got the current Republican simple-minded talking points down pat on taxes, budget deficits, Wall Street bailouts, financial regulation and health care reform. Of course he hasn’t given us any details on exactly what he is going to cut in order to achieve “balance,” particularly since the only thing he seems to support is the continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. He might tell us that he supports cutting student loan programs, Medicare and Medicaid, and privatizing Social Security, which he has intimated in the past. But Rossi knows that these are non-starters with most voters. So what does he support that doesn’t make things worse instead of better? Not much, really. He will merely become, if elected, yet another useless Republican cog in the machine. He doesn’t really care about you or your problems.

In the meantime, Rossi’s current attack ads on Murray are quite amusing if you take the time to think about them. The ads seem to blame Murray almost exclusively for every ill that has befallen the country in the past 18 years, which coincidentally equates to Murray’s three terms in office. Naturally, Rossi’s ad fails to mention that Murray wasn’t in a position to destroy the country for at least 14 of those years; Congressional Republicans were busy doing that themselves.

This is part and parcel with the national “pledge”—it can hardly be called a “plan”—hastily concocted by the Congressional Republicans, basically a compendium of Fox News and radio show slogans. The Huffington Post recently included a video in which Republicans lawmakers are heard disseminating the precise same wording in their various speeches; it is clear that there is no independent thinking involved. The pledge pamphlet includes a graph on job growth (and loss) since 2003—which besides conveniently leaving out the first two years of the Bush administration when job losses were rampant, depicts an impossibly sharp drop in job growth at the very moment the Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006. But then again, what are facts to Republicans and the Tea Party people? What else—um, create jobs? How, more tax cuts? Didn’t they try that in 2001 and 2003 and it all it gave us what spiraling budget deficits and anemic job growth in real terms? What else? Add a provision that all federal programs “sunset.” The health care and financial reform bill are obvious targets, but it is not clear if Social Security and Medicare are part of this Republican scheme to create a permanent poverty class—and blame the Democrats for creating it. The Republicans want to end TARP, justifying it by playing the "class war" card themselves; they ignore the fact that slow or no job creation after the 1990-91 and 2001-2002 recessions were largely blamed on financial market weakness. They also want a provision that deems a bill “constitutional” before it comes to the floor. They want any regulation that costs the economy $100 million or more to be approved by Congress. Who is to make these determinations, and how? And once more, the Republicans “pledge” to reduce the federal deficit, something for which they have displayed extreme incompetence in doing since the Reagan administration.

The “pledge” has been rightly attacked for its lack of detail, which is about the only thing that Republicans have shown a “competency” for; cutting taxes, deregulation and starting unnecessary wars don’t require much thinking. Visionary thinking is a non-starter; The Republican “plan” even rejects continued investigations into alternative energy. What did Obi Wan Kenobi say? “Who’s the bigger fool—the fool or the fool who follows him?” We shall see come November.

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