Monday, March 7, 2011

Why Can't Democrats Do The Right Thing?

I am not an economist, but I get to play one here in cyberspace, and speaking as a cyber-economist, it is obvious that before tackling the long term deficit problem, the government first must stimulate the economy to create jobs and ensure a more robust recovery.  It is also obvious that the Republicans are exploiting the concerns over the deficit to support their never-changing argument that we must cut domestic discretionary spending, i.e., gut social programs that help the disadvantaged, poor and middle class.  Notwithstanding the consensus from mainstream economists (and me) that cutting federal spending now will cost jobs, President Obama and his centrist allies have bought into Republican talking points by repeatedly stressing the importance of national "belt-tightening," and proposing freezes and cuts to domestic programs and agencies.

And so, with Republicans framing the issue and threatening to shut down the government if they don't get agreement on the draconian spending cuts they seek, Democrats, typically, are all over the place, with many seeking their usual combination of compromise and capitulation.

Instead of a debate over how much to cut, wouldn't it be incredible if the Democrats not only spoke with one voice, but if that voice were Oregon Representative Jeff Merkley's?:
The GOP budget plan will destroy 700,000 jobs. The last thing our nation can afford right now is further job losses. We need to be creating jobs, not destroying jobs.
There are common-sense budget cuts that could reduce our deficits without wrecking the economy or attacking working families. We can start by cutting back on the bonus tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that Republican leaders insisted on just ten weeks ago. We could end tax subsidies for oil companies and save tens of billions of dollars in the process.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner summarized his perspective on the Republican budget as follows: if people might lose their jobs, 'So be it.' You might think the House Republican leaders would show some humility after their failed agenda turned record surpluses into massive deficits in 2001, or after their policies reduced the wages of working Americans during the modest expansion in the middle of the decade, or after they burned down the economy with unregulated derivatives and predatory mortgage securities in 2008.
Apparently not. Their proposals are exactly the same: give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest, shred the safety net, and eliminate investments that would help restore American economic leadership.
Despite what the Republicans say, and what the media reports, a solid majority of Americans care more about jobs than deficits, and are not in favor of steep budget cuts.  Merkley's principled position is not only right on policy, it is also right on politics.  This is so obvious to me, a mere self-anointed cyber-expert.  Why isn't it obvious to all but the most progressive Democrats?

[Related posts:  Crazy-Making Democrats, Telling the Truth About Social Security, Dead Armadillos; Let 'Em Eat Catfood; Must Read: Krugman]


lonbud said...

The Democrats can't seem to do the right thing because there are not enough of them in congress who are interested in doing the right thing. There are a few, such as Merkely, or Vermont's Bernie Sanders, or Tennessee's Steve Cohen, or Ohio's Dennis Kucinich -- but there is no cohesive progressive headway to be made because the majority of Democrats -- led by the man in the White House -- have sponsors who are not interested in creating jobs.

The sponsors are interested in cutting jobs (and all costs related to labor and production) because those cuts go straight to the bottom line, below which sit the deep pockets of C level executives, an insatiable maw that is the true cancer on this society.

I'm not an economist either, but I know what I see and I'm not afraid to say this country is on a direct heading toward out and out class warfare.

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