Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why Republicans win - Updated

There was some buzz yesterday was about how the GOPers, after only 19 days in power, are already claiming their takeover of the House is responsible for the improving economy. These are the same people who have been claiming the economic crash is all Obama's fault from before he even took office. Neither cause and effect, nor linear time appear to have any meaning in their world.

The Republicans have this down to an art. They shift the blame for the disasters they cause and take the credit for successes they had nothing to do with. And they get away with it because they don't back down. Not ever. Not even when the empirical evidence proves they're unrepentant liars.

The Democrats can't seem to counter this strategy effectively. I'd like to think it's because their conscience just won't let them lie with impunity, but this is DC and Kevin Drum raises an important point that the establishment Dems can't seem to get.
As for the broader electorate, they don't care much about generic economic growth either. They care about their own paychecks. This means that if Democrats want to win them over, they need to support policies that support economic growth and channel that growth largely toward the working and middle classes. Those are separate challenges, but without them both an agenda dedicated to economic growth won't really do us much good.
My friend Jay Ackroyd would argue it's because today's Democratic party doesn't want to win the fight since their agendas are virtually the same. I don't think he's wrong about that, at least in terms of the old guard establishment. But the emphasis is on old here. The old guard is aging out of power. The stubborn optimist in me still sees some hope that the next generation of Democrats might really try to bring the party back to its populist roots.

Update: Jay Ackroyd of the fabulous Blog Talk Radio show Virtually Speaking checks into comments to say I've mistaken his position. I urge you to read his comment because he makes some excellent additional points, but to be clear, I don't think the Obama administration's agenda is the same as the GOP. However, I do believe the old guard CorporaDems are pretty much on the same page as the GOP. Which is what I think prevents Obama from pushing for more progessive liberal policy.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Perhaps foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but tactical inconsistency has it's place of majesty in the politics of small minds; making small differences loom and great contradictions disappear in the muttering gloom.

No comment on someone who starts something bad, but listen to them criticize for not ending something they denied existed and they loudly supported.

8 years of zero job growth, rising debt, falling incomes and the largest government fostered redistribution of wealth in history? You'd get louder peeps from a hummingbird nest.

Well he must be smarter because he has a larger cubicle, says the wage slave, but if you own the cubicle, own the company, own the town? Well then you're an "elitist!" Foolish inconsistency, or the consistency of fools. I'm not sure it makes a difference.

It's only the puppets who don't notice the strings.

11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Wow Fogg. So well said. Wish I had said that.

6:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capt Fogg Wrote in part "8 years of zero job growth, rising debt, falling incomes and the largest government fostered redistribution of wealth in history? You'd get louder peeps from a hummingbird nest."

The devil is in the details

Bush inherited a recession from Clinton. (Unless you are going to blame him for the "dot com" crash and Fed policy). Factor in the economic shock of the 9/11/01 attacks and the economy was definitely in trouble.

In Feb 2001 132.5 million people were employed. Employment peaked at 137.9 million in Jan 2008, a gain of 5.5 million. By Jan 2009 it had dropped back to 133.5 million. (www.bls.gov)

Contrary to some peoples opinion, the recent recession was not 100% Bush's (and GOP's fault)

President Obama's responsibility was the policies to end the recession and promote a recovery . Lets not forget that President Obama's economic advisors claimed that the "stimulus" legislation was needed to keep the UE rate below 8%
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Debt.. No argument there. The national debt $5.7 trillion In Feb 2001. In Jan 2009 it was 10.63T., basically a increase of 5 trillion. I voted "not Bush" in 2004 for that reason

However..since you commented on debt..since Feb 2009 the national debt has increased 3.4 trillion. Since the 'dems won Congress in 2006 (took office in Jan 2007)the debt has increased 5.46 trillion (http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np)

Is all the debt since Feb 2009 President Obama's fault..no, but the trends are bad, and to date has has not done much more than pay lip service to the problem

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"Largest redistribution of wealth in History" I'd be glad to discuss your point if you could provide a credible source for the data supporting such a claim

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A few of us on the right opposed the spending of the Bush era. However the deficits of the current administration and 'dems make them look like models of fiscal responsibility (imo)

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-tdc

7:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Ackroyd said...

Libby,

I do not in the least think the GOP and the administration agendas are the same. On health care, for instance, the centrist/Obama position is for private/public partnership, where the government provides guarantees (the individual mandate) and price controls (the Medicare pricing schedule) to the existing health care industry.

This is very different from the GOP position that would eliminate the mandate and the subsidies, and leave it to individuals to make their own health care decisions, with consumers subsidized directly with tax free health savings accounts.

But the centrist/Obama plan is ALSO very different from a liberal position. Liberals support systems like those in the rest of OECD, with universal health care (funded in different ways in different countries) available to everyone, built-in mechanisms to foster the use of preventative care and strict regulation of prices for procedures and pharmaceuticals by the government.

Likewise, Liberals would not have given an SOTU that decried deficits; we consider unemployment the most pressing national problem, and do not fear short term deficits.

Brad Delong

I thought that no advanced country government with as frayed a safety net as America would tolerate 10% unemployment. In Germany and France with their lavish safety nets it was possible to run an economy for 10 years with 10% unemployment without political crisis. But I did not think that was possible in the United States.

And I thought that economists had an effective consensus on macroeconomic policy. I thought everybody agreed that the important role of the government was to intervene strategically in asset markets to stabilize the growth path of nominal GDP. I thought that all of the disputes within economics were over what was the best way to accomplish this goal. I did not think that there were any economists who would look at a 10% shortfall of nominal GDP relative to its trend growth path and say that the government is being too stimulative.


The fact that the centrists and the GOP agree that the deficit is more important than unemployment does not make the same. The GOP opposes spending programs the centrists support, like NPR and infrastructure improvement. Moreover, they claim to oppose (I think they're lying here, but it's what they say) the entire basic idea of the Federal government providing a safety net in the form of Social Security and Medicare. The centrists would prefer to turn those into means tested poverty programs, but that is not the same thing, at all, as eliminating them.

One of the sources of difficulty in our discourse is that we are happier (and the press is MUCH happier) talking about two sides in a debate or a conflict. The reason the criticism of the left irks everyone in the Beltway so much is because it messes up the narrative. They HAVE to paint those opponents as shrill parts of a strange Code Pink fringe (even when they include a Nobel prize winning economist writing on the oped pages of the paper of record) or their whole "he said, she said" thing gets disrupted.

That's why Bernie Sanders is not ever on Meet the Press.

8:31:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"I'd be glad to discuss your point"

Perhaps you would, but I'm not an educator, have better things to do with my time and am not used to talking to argumentative people about economics and government policy.

Suffice it to say that an increasing proportion of the nations wealth has been transferred upward and to fewer and fewer and ever wealthier people. I'm not the richest person around, but I'm still one of those people. Most of my friends are multi millionaires: investors, international bankers, industrialists, fund managers - yet most of the people who rage about higher taxes aren't paying higher taxes and many of them are paying less than ever. That's how I see it. If you don't, that's fine but either way, there's no reason I should care at all what you think. Nothing personal.

So whether or not you consider a transfer of wealth to be a transfer of wealth, that's how I see it and I'm not going to get trapped into sorting through your data and rebutting your arguments. There are more interesting viewpoints here and I have better things to do with my time.

10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Like most of the Purple gang you seem to have a preconceived notion of who you're talking to. Did the boss give you a hard time today? Have to scrape ice of your leased Lexus this morning? Not my problem.

This isn't a Punch and Judy show anywhere but in your own mind. No, I'm not a school teacher, I don't have to do your silly homework and you? Your qualifications?

Look, the only reason I engaged you and the rest of the Trollhatten diplomatic mission in the first place is that I do not like to see my friends abused and insulted. I'm not and never have been under any obligation to endure your dour, lead lined pontification.

That the income of people in the top 0.1% has soared while everyone else's has stagnated or declined and that this is the result of "conservative" policy is to me an upward transfer of the nation's wealth. I don't care if you call it that, I don't care what you call anything. You'd be laughed out of any discussion between people who really make the world work.

This is obviously far more of an ego inflation exercise for you than it is about discussing ideas. I don't share your obsession. I've already won the game of life. I don't enjoy your narcissistic self pity. I'm not the one deluding myself that I'd be Bill Gates if only I had another 1% off earnings over the first $250K I don't make.

It's not me trying to fit every observation into some Procrustean bed. It's not me trying to wear down dissent with relentless pontification, with an ever increasing multitude of challenges and correlates to challenges and huge dumps of dubiously provenanced data all designed to obscure. It's not anyone else -- it's you -- and whether you agree with anything I say or don't, I really don't care. People with credibility do. Yours is a voice of a small minority, a declining minority. I don't give a damn whether you agree, disagree or wet your pants with anger.

You're not in a position to gloat here. You're not in a position to co-opt discussion, so stop thinking I owe you any time at all.

Now if you don't mind, I have a life that doesn't include sitting in some damned office in the nation's latrine trying to sound like a policy expert. If it helps you to go away, I'll declare you a winner and I'll toast your victory in every Tiki hut from Dominica to St Kitts. But just go.

10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

TDC, since you're polite enough, albeit always wrong, you're free to comment on the substance of any of my posts. However, I will be deleting any posts in which you continue to bait Capt. Fogg as they are verging on harassment.

10:35:00 AM  

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