In case you didn’t know, George Bush is still the effective President of the United States. The title of the New York Times lead article inadvertently proclaims this truth:
It’s as though George Bush is still President. And just consider what Bush redux is doing.
It seems our faux Democratic President, now in full moral and policy collapse, and with the mindset of what once passed for a moderate Republican, views his job as negotiating with the most radically conservative wing of his radically conservative party to give them what they want, while throwing a bone to the mantle of compassionate conservatism. Give the jobless benefits for another year at a cost of about $60 billion, but pay for it politically — deficit? what deficit? — with another bailout to the rich — an outright gift of $40 to $60 billions each year over two or three years that will surely grow to $700 billion in a decade and trillions more in those later decades when we’re supposed to be hysterical over a gap in Social Security.
So the jobless get a few hundred per month so they don’t have to live in their cars, unless they’re also losing their homes, and the rich get a cool hundred billion or two and trillions later. That’s damned expensive uemployment insurance, especially when you don’t have a meaningful program to put people back to work. Any morally sentient being would call this blackmail, extortion, and arrest the perps, but we don’t do that in America anymore. . . .
If you were the GOP leadership, your goals would be to continue these massive wealth transfers to your wealthiest contributors, disgrace the Democratic President, decimate and demoralize his party and then claim credit for lowering taxes. Then, as HuffPost’s Howard Fineman explains, you convince the President to make Nancy Pelosi round up enough defeated Blue Dogs and conservaDems to join Republicans to get this travesty through the House. If Nancy does it, she betrays and demoralizes her Party; if she refuses, well, they’ll just demonize her again. They’re good at it.
Today’s Paul Krugman column, Let’s not make a deal, explains how giving in to the GOP/Bush/Obama blackmail is bad public policy:
The answer is that they should just say no. If G.O.P. intransigence means that taxes rise at the end of this month, so be it.
Think about the logic of the situation. Right now, the Republicans see themselves as successful blackmailers, holding a clear upper hand. President Obama, they believe, wouldn’t dare preside over a broad tax increase while the economy is depressed. And they therefore believe that he will give in to their demands.
But while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils. . . .
America, however, cannot afford to make those cuts permanent. We’re talking about almost $4 trillion in lost revenue just over the next decade; over the next 75 years, the revenue loss would be more than three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending.
And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare.
This is a litmus test for determining whether there is a Democratic Party worth saving. Perhaps the verdict is already in. But they can choose to stand for protecting the structures that built and provided security for the middle class, or they can join the GOP in letting the wealthiest continue looting the country’s wealth and concentrating it in the hands of a tiny few. That strategy is destroying everything progressives have accomplished over decades.
Looks like a no-brainer, if you have a heart.
Update: Same theme but far more eloquent post from Jamie Galbraith at HuffPost: Whose Side is the White House On?
Recovery begins with realism and there is nothing to be gained by kidding ourselves. On the topics that I know most about, the administration is beyond being a disappointment. It’s beyond inept, unprepared, weak, and ineffective. Four and again two years ago, the people demanded change. As a candidate, the President promised change. In foreign policy and the core economic policies, he delivered continuity instead. That was true on Afghanistan and it was and is true in economic policy, especially in respect to the banks. What we got was George W. Bush’s policies without Bush’s toughness, without his in-your-face refusal to compromise prematurely. Without what he himself calls his understanding that you do not negotiate with yourself.
It’s a measure of where we are, I think, that at a meeting of Americans for Democratic Action, you find me comparing President Obama unfavorably to President George W. Bush. . . .
What is at stake in the long run? Two things, mainly, in my view. First, it seems to me that we as progressives need to make an honorable defense of the great legacies of the New Deal and Great Society — programs and institutions that brought America out of the Great Depression and bought us through the Second World War, brought us to our period of greatest prosperity, and the greatest advances in social justice. Social Security, Medicare, housing finance — the front-line right now is the foreclosure crisis, the crisis, I should say, of foreclosure fraud — the progressive tax code, anti-poverty policy, public investment, public safety, and human and civil rights. We are going to lose these battles– get used to it. But we need to make an honorable fight, to state clearly what our principles are and to lay down a record which is trustworthy for the future.
Beyond this, bold proposals are what we should be advancing now; even when they lose, they have their value. . . .
Read the whole thing.