A Question For Scott Brown
Whine, whine, whine:
Why is it that I’m always the one that has to vote with the Democrats? Bipartisanship is a two-way street, you know? Why can’t they also work together to pay for these things within the budget, within the monies that we already have? Why is it that we always have to add to the deficit?
A Daily Kos blogger today argues that the Republican Senator from Massachusetts should be able to vote his conservative principles and is able to do so. Procedural rules this Senate "controlled" by Democrats have adopted, without a Constitutional basis, require a supermajority, 60 votes, for passage of major legislation.
It is not a nod, but an embrace, to the bipartisanship this President worships and the Democratic Party believes the nation demands. With eeven one GOP vote (a major slog, these days), it still requires unanimity in the Democratic caucus (which includes conservatives Nelson of Nebraska, Landrieu of Louisiana, Begich of Alaska, and Pryor and Lincoln of Arkansas). It is a major gift to Senate Republicans, who value cohesion more than anything else, which enables a mere 41 Senators to block measures essential to the nation's recovery and economic justice.
No one at Daily Kos, or anywhere else, should have to explain that to Scott Brown. Nor should anyone have to explain to him why it cannot be done "within the monies that we already have," that we "always have to add to the deficit."
Of course, we don't "always" have to add to the deficit. There was plenty of money during most of the 1980s but President Bush enthusiastically cut the income taxes of the wealthy, increased spending, and borrowed prolifically. That was just fine with virtually every member of the Republican caucus of which Brown now is an unapologetic member.
So, no doubt, he is questioning why at this time the deficit must be increased. Aside from the reluctance of Congress or the White House to question the defense budget, there is a simple explanation, one which a young Scott Brown probably was taught in college, if not in high school:
The basic economic problem is not very complicated: If no one spends, no one works. Since the financial market crash in late 2008, consumers, businesses, and state and local government have cut back on their spending. In order to keep people working, as the Great Depression taught us, the federal government must therefore compensate by increasing its own fiscal deficit. As jobs return, consumers resume buying, businesses respond by investing, and state and local government revenues grow. When we're back to full employment, the federal budget should return to balance.
(For a complicated explanation of the ameliorating impact of a budget deficit during recession, here is Krugman.)
At Daily Kos, the answer to Brown's complaint, reported by the Boston Globe, that he must be "always the one that has to vote with the Democrats" is the inability of the Senate, and hence the federal government, to accomplish anything without at least a modicum of GOP support. Though true, it begs a more basic, political question. Why does Scott Brown have to be the one? Who is telling him that?
Is it the Democratic leadership (and why would he be listening to them)? Is it Bown's constituency in Massachusetts, a state in which Barack Obama and liberal/progressive policies are still fairly popular? Is it the Republican leadership, which feared defeat of a bill clamping down (gently) on unpopular Wall Street due to uniform opposition of the GOP? Passage of the bill with little Republican support may be the best of both worlds for the national GOP. Tout to its conservative supporters opposition of the party to a bill which may be insufficient to provide major reform- while still depriving the DNC the opportunity to attack the GOP for scuttling popular legislation.
Or there could be an alternative explanation. Apparently, Matt Viser of the Boston Globe didn't think to ask the Massachusetts Senator who is twisting his arm. Somebody, though, ought to. It may answer a few questions- or at least raise a few worthy ones.
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