I’ve been trying to avoid the whole sequester drama. I mean even for a political blog the material is so just so dry. Just writing the words non defense discretionary spending makes me yawn a little. Even so, the fact that our government set up a series of budget cuts so severe, so scary and so foolish that they’d simply have to come together and compromise makes my head hurt. Can’t you people just do your jobs without it being a hostage negotiation? Well, apparently not. So that’s the uninteresting portion of the proceedings. The more interesting part has been the discussion around the sequester itself. Specifically that discussion in conservative circles. I submit to you the alternative reality version of events authored by the Wall Street Journal’s own Peggy Noonan.
It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.
Well I guess it wouldn’t be a WSJ editorial if the piece didn’t start out blatantly unfair. According to Ms. Noonan, it’s the President who’s been precipitating these catastrophes. It’s such an interesting and scary trip into the minds of arch conservatives. In April of 2011, Republicans threatened a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood. Then in September of 2011 there was another shutdown threat by Republicans. More recently,we’ve had debt ceiling drama. The debt ceiling has never been an issue before this President was sworn into office. It’s a bill that has been routinely passed for years under previous administrations. In fact, it was raised 19 separate times under GWB. But the Republicans took what used to be a legislative non-issue and turned it into a fight the caused the first downgrade in the nation’s credit rating in history. Then through some sort of WSJ editorial alchemy, a fight that didn’t need to happen and was entirely precipitated by the Republican actions, gets transformed into a Barack Obama catastrophe. Amazing!
Here’s Ms Noonan talking about all the specifics the President used to scare folks.
That’s what’s happening now with the daily sequester warnings. Seven hundred thousand children will be dropped from Head Start. Six hundred thousand women and children will be dropped from aid programs. Meat won’t be inspected. Seven thousand TSA workers will be laid off, customs workers too, and air traffic controllers. Lines at airports will be impossible. The Navy will slow down the building of an aircraft carrier. Troop readiness will be disrupted, weapons programs slowed or stalled, civilian contractors stiffed, uniformed first responders cut back…
Mr. Obama has finally hit on his own version of national unity: Everyone get scared together.
Here she is barely a paragraph later saying the President’s lack of specifics is really scaring people:
Obviously the potential budget cuts the administration is announcing — well, not announcing but warning of — are the kind that would cause maximum pain, inconvenience or alarm. Obviously too, the administration doesn’t want to be clear about exactly who might be affected, how or when. Let the imaginative dwell on the extent of the menace; let them do it on cable news.
How is it possible that she can make a list of all the potential cuts in one paragraph and then say the President wasn’t at all clear on what the cuts would be? Forget all of the speeches he’s been giving on the subject there’s also info on the White House website which give even more detail. She makes it sound like the President just came to the podium and said the word: DOOM! A small bit of advice, it’s already difficult for your crappy arguments to take root if you immediately contradict yourself. Try keeping the overt contradictions no less than two paragraphs apart. But back to what passes for an argument in her piece. Notice she isn’t saying that what the President has been presenting is untrue. She just doesn’t like the he’s been highlighting the worse case scenarios because…it’s effective. I guess the President should make the least effective arguments possible so conservatives will fare better in the polls. I’m certain if positions were reversed with the Republican in charge and the Democrats constantly gumming up the works with government shutdown threats, they’d only highlight the cuts to government agencies that peopled loathed like the Internal Revenue Service. Right.
Only in the mind of a conservative would reality be considered a scare tactic. And even if it were, this is not a political party that can make a moral stand against scare tactics. Remember the whole electing John Kerry means we’ll be attacked by terrorists nonsense that the Bush Administration used? Or how about when Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security was pressured to raise the terror alert system just before the election for political purposes? Nothing like a little fear to swing a close election. I’m constantly amazed that these people don’t simply implode by the sheer force of irony. But who needs irony when you’ve got imagery like this:
And then you remind yourself why. Because Mr. Obama thrives in chaos. He flourishes in unsettled circumstances and grooves on his own calm. He spins an air of calamity, points fingers and garners support. His only opponent is a hapless, hydra-headed House….
With this gift he ties his foes in knots to get what he wants, which is higher taxes. He wants the rich to pay more and those he judges to be in need to receive more. End of story. Debt and deficits don’t interest him, except to the extent he must give them lip service.
I’m not really sure what “grooves on his own calm” means. But I do get the feeling that Peggy Noonan gets all of her information about people of color from the Blacksploitation films Shaft and Dolemite. The pathology that Ms. Noonan is ascribing to Obama is actually quite twisted. So not only does the President purposefully and constantly govern from calamity but he also really enjoys it. It’s not that the Republicans picked a fight on the debt ceiling back in 2011, promised to do so again via the fiscal cliff negotiations and the sequester in 2013. It was just Obama grooving on his own calm. And debt and deficits don’t matter to him except for the fact that our deficit is shrinking faster than anytime since World War II. But don’t let facts get in the way Peggy. It’s never stopped you before. What I liked especially about your piece on why Romney would win the election because it was so…grounded in reality. 1.) Ignore all polls that say Obama has a lead. 2.) Ignore the huge ground game advantage that Democrats possessed. 3.) Talk about lawn signs!
What could possibly go wrong? But I digress.
Now if you’re serious about deficit reduction (which the Republicans are not) you have to both raise revenue and shrink some government programs. It’s not class warfare. It’s math. One of the ways you can raise revenue is by getting rid of tax subsidies and closing all sorts of tax loopholes. There are far too many to name here but some of my favorites are subsidies for energy companies and deductions for things like corporate jets. If it’s a choice between funding Head Start Programs or giving billions a dollars a year to companies that are already insanely profitable, its not a hard choice. At least it’s not supposed to be. Through our tax system it’s literally possible for companies to pay almost nothing in taxes. Companies like Amazon which paid an effective rate of 4.33% or NextEra Energy Inc. which paid an effective rate of 1.74% in taxes. I love Amazon Prime. It’s changed my life. But if it’s a choice between them paying a little bit more of their billions or having less air traffic controllers, then Amazon and other large corporation that have been paying fractions of what they should need to ante up.
But raising taxes can never be contemplated in the GOP. Ever. Whether it’s through raising actual rates or through closing loopholes. It’s antithetical to their entire raison d’etre. Luckily they have President Grooves to blame for deficits. Forget that the previous Democratic President left a budget surplus. Ignore the entire War on Terror, coupled with two rounds of tax decreases and the unfunded drug benefit Medicare D which turned a surplus into a deficit. Forget that all of those things were passed into law under a Republican President and Congress. Forget the Dick Cheney saying deficits don’t matter. Then forget the worse financial calamity since the Great Depression started on Bush’s watch. Once you do all of that it’s quite clear who the real culprit has been. So worry not hapless and hydra-headed Republicans, you guys are doing great. President Obama is the one with the problem. And that’s how Ms. Noonan concludes her piece.
The president looks strong now, but governing by freakout has too many costs. Again, he is overplaying his hand.
Sure Peggy. The Republicans have vowed to destroy the President by any means necessary. They even had a secret meeting during his first inauguration to plan exactly how to do it. Then when they took over Congress in 2011, they’ve threatened a crises approximately every three months. Everything from de-funding the government to playing chicken with our nation’s credit rating. But it’s President Obama who’s overplayed his hand? Luckily, there’s a name for this sort of mental dysfunction. It’s called Obama Derangement Syndrome. The Urban Dictionary defines ODS as:
When a person stops disagreeing with Obama on political policy and believe every single policy decision that he makes is a part of a sinister conspiracy to weaken or destroy America and possibly the world.
Sounds about right.
Categories: Politics Fix