Thursday, January 21, 2021
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If McDonnell Hates Spending, Why Isn’t He Blaming His “Friend” Cantor?

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IMG_0307Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was on WTOP this morning, taking a break from blowing $200 million on a bypass Charlottesville doesn't want & won't solve traffic problems, to bravely armchair quarterback the DC debt ceiling negotiations.

While Gov. McDonnell spends plenty of time attacking President Obama, he has nothing but kind words for his "friend" Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), universally acknowledged as the person most responsible for the mess we're in. And it's not just Cantor's reckless behavior this summer - he voted for every single unfunded spending measure & tax cut that created our current deficit:

[T]he speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation's debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.
Steve Benen says, "It'd be amusing if it weren't so ridiculous":

Breaking: Boehner Plan Wouldn’t Stop Downgrade of US Credit

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Taegan Goddard's Political Wire flags this CNN report:
House Speaker John Boehner claimed last night if President Obama simply signed the House legislation he has introduced, which would raise the debt ceiling in two stages, the "crisis" atmosphere over the nation's credit rating would simply disappear.

However, CNN reports that Boehner's debt plan would actually not meet the threshold of ratings agencies to avoid a downgrade of the naton's debt while Sen. Harry Reid's debt plan would would preserve the country's AAA credit rating.

If the Boehner plan wouldn't stop a downgrade of America's credit & the hit to our economy that goes along with it, while Reid's would preserve America's pristine AAA credit rating, why is WashingtonPost.com calling them "similar plans"? The Beltway media might as well wave the white flag on covering the Tea Party-manufactured debt ceiling crisis. Just post the competing press releases with a note that says, "We give up. You try to figure out what's true."

84% of WashingtonPost.com Readers Blame GOP for Debt Talk Breakdown

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Granted, this isn't a scientific poll, but: Holy crap. Have any two politicians in history bungled an issue worse than John Boehner & Eric Cantor? Freshmen House Republicans like Scott Rigell have to know standing behind these guys is political suicide, don't they?

Washington Post Debt Poll

Extraordinary Day: Obama Vents (And Rightly So)

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The machinations of right-wing destructos continues. No matter how much our president bends to GOP pressure, it will never be enough. The GOP is not operating in good faith. During this presidency, the GOP never has. Enough is enough! I personally thought it was enough quite some time ago. I thought the President should use the Fourteenth Amendment and lift the debt ceiling. Holding the nation hostage as the GOP has been doing is unAmerican. And they stepped up their subversion of America's economy today. There have been many low points in this unseemly train wreck.  But perhaps the lowest point came today.

John Boehner's behavior in the face of imminent default of the United States has been reprehensible. Today, he would not return the president's call(s). When the president finally caught up with him, what ensued, apparently, was (to put it mildly) not productive.  From what the President says here in this video, the failure to return calls was the least of it. Ultimately, Boehner, like Cantor before him, walked.

All of this is happening because GOP opportunists and predatory disaster capitalists want to use the need to raise the debt ceiling to impose their will on the majority in this country. They  want to circumvent the 2008 presidential election, the Senate election of 2008, and the will of the overwhelming majority of the American.

The majority says leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone. Give us jobs. President Obama said he has stopped listening to his base and the Republicans should do the same. Trouble is, long ago Obama dissed his base and he has not really ever listened to it. John Boehner and Eric Cantor, on the other hand are letting about 25% of the most extreme Republicans try to dictate that the two of them hold this nation hostage.

It's beyond me how anyone could possibly be a Republican after this toying with the economic security of our country.  As some of you well know, KathyinBlacksburg is pretty irritated with certain Dems, including one from Virginia. But even she recognizes that the President is right that he has met the other side in good faith. The GOP doesn't listen to Americans, so I have nothing to say to them.  

The Onion Mocks Rep. Eric Cantor’s Indifference to Wrecking Economy

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IMG_0307From The Onion, Congress Continues Debate Over Whether Or Not Nation Should Be Economically Ruined:
"It is a question that, I think, is worthy of serious consideration: Should we take steps to avoid a crippling, decades-long depression that would lead to disastrous consequences on a worldwide scale? Or should we not do that?" asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), adding that arguments could be made for both sides, and that the debate over ensuring America's financial solvency versus allowing the nation to default on its debt-which would torpedo stock markets, cause mortgage and interests rates to skyrocket, and decimate the value of the U.S. dollar-is "certainly a conversation worth having." "Obviously, we don't want to rush to consensus on whether it is or isn't a good idea to save the American economy and all our respective livelihoods from certain peril until we've examined this thorny dilemma from every angle. And if we're still discussing this matter on Aug. 2, well, then, so be it."
Only because of this website, I feel compelled to add the disclaimer that The Onion is satirical. Which means not real.

Rep. Eric Cantor’s “Strategic Sneer” at America’s Economy

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Dana Milbank absolutely destroys Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and his slick upper lip:
He draws out the vowels in a style that is part southern, part smarty-pants. Had young Cantor spoken like this at his prep school in Richmond, the bigger boys may well have wiped that sneer off his face. Yet even then, Cantor was accustomed to having things his way. According to Cantor's hometown Richmond Times-Dispatch, the quotation he chose to accompany his yearbook photo was "I want what I want when I want it."

What Cantor wants now is power - and he is prepared to risk the full faith and credit of the United States to get it. In a primacy struggle with House Speaker John Boehner, he has done a deft job of aligning himself with Tea Party House members in opposition to any meaningful deal to resolve the debt. If the U.S. government defaults, it will have much to do with Cantor.

From Rappahannock to Richmond, do voters in Virginia's 7th Congressional district really want their representative playing chicken with destroying America's economy to build his own personal power?

The Dark Side of US Politics

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In a perfect world, we would have enlightened political representatives willing to put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political careers. Instead, we live in world where elected officials play Russian roulette with economic policy in the hopes that their jobs will be renewed the next election cycle. When Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) suddenly reneged on the "big deal" deficit and debt goals, Boehner was exemplifying some of the worst tendencies in U.S. politics.

Many of us talk now as if it is "practical" or "rational" for elected representatives at the national level to look out for the interests of a rather narrow section of the American people. Our "political speak" also implies that the only individuals who matter in the country are the ones able or likely to vote. Of course, you'll say, that's simply how politics in the U.S. works. But we, the people of America, have the ability to make politics in Virginia and throughout the country more equitable, less intrusive, more efficient, and less self-interested.

What lofty goals, you may respond. But since when has the U.S. become so cynical as to believe that the U.S. is not capable of "enlightened" government? I do not refer here to the philosopher-kings of Plato but the wise representatives of the Founding Fathers of America. The goals I speak to are well within the reach of a people who value them and are willing to stand up for them in the political sphere.

Rep. Boehner could have done the right thing and pushed towards a $4 trillion deal in the debt/deficit discussions, taking on the disorderlies in his party for the greater good of the country. Instead, he has chosen to take the path of least resistance and, for now, to save the precarious hold he already has on his leadership role in the House. But while Boehner eases a tidal wave of protests among some in his party, the certainty of the U.S.'s economic outlook continues to deteriorate. One has to hope that the momentary elixir of political survival outweighs the potentially lifelong consequences of a catastrophic showdown on the country's debt ceiling and deficit spending.  

Libya vs. the Deficit

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There are two discussions going on in Washington right now, which by all appearances have nothing to do with one another.  One is about how our government is supposedly "broke" and thus we need to slash spending and make massive sacrifices to eliminate the deficit and start paying down the debt.

The other is about how we need to send our military to a distant land once again, to bomb a country we've barely ever had anything to do with, and probably start our third concurrent war in a Muslim land.

No, these discussions seem to have nothing to do with each other, and yet I'm starting to have a little cognitive dissonance here. If our budget situation is so dire that we have to lay off USDA meat inspectors, stop enforcing the Clean Air Act, eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public workers, kill Amtrak and public broadcasting, etc., etc. -- then tell me why it is we still have unlimited money to invade any country we choose, at will?  

LET’S BE FAIR: Unions, Jobs, Deficits, and Debt

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"I work for a private company, I had to take a pay cut, it's only fair that public workers do, too." Well, isn't that true?  Isn't that fair?  The concept of "fairness" does not occur in Nature. Fairness is an entirely human invention. Anyone who has watched tiny children in action knows that even the youngest has an innate idea of what's fair, especially when it applies to themselves individually, and their toys.  As we grow older, our sense of "fairness" grows more subtle, and tends to expand, sometimes to the sophisticated level of rationalization to excuse personal greed (when one is on the receiving end of more toys), and perpetual victim-hood (when one is not on the receiving end of more toys). What does fairness have to do with unions in Wisconsin, or jobs, or the current fad of concern for budget deficits/debt ("it isn't fair to saddle our grandkids with paying off our huge debt")? Answer: a lot.

What's considered fair by a human being is completely determined by what is included in the description of the situation; in other words, what is within the framework. The one who draws the frame, deciding what to include and what to leave out, is the one who will determine what is "fair." In the current discussion of the deficit, the budget, and so-called entitlements, the corporatists and the Republican Party have completely dominated the discussion.  Why? Because they have created the issues, defined the terms, and decided what is to be included in the discussion.... the mass media and the Democrats, including President Obama, seem to have completely accepted their terms of debate.

Let's look at how the fairness frame of each topic has been designed, and what happens if you change the frame to include other factors, or exclude a factor or two currently included.

Reagan’s Budget Director Rips Republicans for Ditching Fiscal Conservatism

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In this morning's New York Times, former Reagan Administration OMB director, David Stockman, rips Republicans a justified new you-know-what.  The cause of Stockman's righteous rant?  How about the fact that Republicans - and a few foolish, craven, pandering Democrats - are calling for continued tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, even as our nation's public debt "will soon reach $18 trillion." According to Stockman, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's stance on this issue "puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy."

In other words, so much for traditional, Republican, balanced-budget, fiscal conservatism. Instead, according to Stockman - and he's absolutely right about this, of course - today's GOP has subscribed to an approach that involves "little more than money printing and deficit finance - vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes."  And that, in Stockman's view, has both "made a mockery of traditional party ideals" and "led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy."

I strongly urge that you read the entire article, including Stockman's appeal to Republicans that "the old approach - balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline - is needed more than ever."  It's a refreshing and important reminder that today's Republican Party wasn't always the crazy hybrid that we see today: theocrats, anti-science and anti-reason "know nothings" like Ken Kook-inelli, foreign policy super-hawks like Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, supporters of enormous corporate welfare (to whatever their favorite industry happens to be - oil, agriculture, etc.), and supply-side/la-la "Laffer" land loonies on budget matters (translation: spend and borrow, cut taxes for the rich, launch wars that aren't paid for, repeat until we all go bankrupt).