Thursday, August 11, 2011





Because They Feel So Bad About Being Hypocrites


Last night, Rachel Maddow addressed (show transcript, here) the 9.1% unemployment rate and recommended a solution which she credited to Steve Benen, a blogger at The Washington Monthly. She explained, without breaking out in hysterical laughter:

Michele Bachmann has an idea to create 1,500 new jobs in the city of Big Lake, Minnesota, by providing funding for something called the Big Lake Rail Park, a project she notes that will enhance economic development and job opportunities in this rural Minnesota community. There`s 1,500 jobs right there at the Big Lake Rail Park.

We know Michele Bachmann wants these jobs because of the intrepid Sam Stein at "The Huffington Post." Sam Stein filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if while presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was denouncing the stimulus as -- in her words -- "an orgy of spending," while she was doing that in public, she`s also asking for stimulus funding for her district at the same time. Because, really, regardless of what she was saying publicly for political effect, she actually knows this is the way that government can create jobs.

Was she saying something in public that contradicted what she was doing in private? Yes, she`s doing that over and over again. Sam Stein was able to dig up at least 16 separate occasions where Michele Bachmann was publicly denouncing the futility, even the job-killing nature of the stimulus act while privately telling the Obama administration that stimulus programs would create jobs and please, could she have some of that good job-creating federal money for her district.

And again, this is not a personal thing, this is not the kind of personal hypocrisy of denouncing Medicaid as a program, like Michele Bachmann has done, while personally benefiting from Medicaid dollars at her family`s business. It`s not the same thing as denouncing farm subsidies, which Michele Bachmann has done while personally benefiting from farm subsidies, which she has also done. That`s a whole different kind of hypocrisy. That`s frankly about the politician as the person, that`s a personal thing.

But this is the kind of hypocrisy proves a policy point, which is that Republicans know that there are some things government can do to create jobs. They know that. And so, whatever hypocrisy political points you can score against an individual politician on this sort of thing, that`s sort of beside the point when the country is in the trouble that we are in right now.

Look at the Dow today, down another 520 points. We are in an economic pickle right now, we are in really big trouble and, frankly, we need to do something fast.

This demonstrative hypocrisy from politicians like Michele Bachmann -- sure, it`s interesting if you`re interested in Michele Bachmann as a person or as a candidate. But more than that, it could be constructive for the whole country. This could actually save the country right now.

Steve Benen writing at "Washington Monthly," he`s the man to be credited with this proposal, we`ll be talking about this with Steve about this in just a moment. But, essentially, the idea is this, it`s genius -- right now, we are at risk of a double-dip recession, right? The recovery is sputtering. Things going on globally in the economy are really, really hurting us. There`s both an urgent, urgent need to create jobs quickly, to put jumper cables on the dead battery of this economy.

And Republicans are saying they will not let that happen. They don`t want government action to stimulate the economy. There`s nothing government can do to create jobs. That`s what they say.

So, in Steve Benen`s words, "Here`s the pitch: have the White House take the several hundred letters Republican lawmakers have sent to the executive branch from 2009 asking for public investments to create jobs and let President Obama announce he will gladly fund all the Republicans` request that have not yet been filled...."

Don`t tell me that we can`t fund economic stimulus right now. Don`t tell me that the government cannot do anything to create jobs right now because Republicans will object to that. These are things that Republicans asked for, because they know it works. They themselves made the argument that it would work. They put numerical figures on the number of jobs these things would create. They are asking and the answer should be yes....

You don`t have to call it a jobs program, you don`t have to call it stimulus if you don`t want to, just start there. All their bridges and road building projects that would create jobs, approve it.

Yes, every program they lobby for that is a national program that will create jobs and help the economy, approve it -- even if they are only asking for it for their own district, approve it for the country. If they know it would work in their districts, that means it would work in other districts, too.

Say yes -- just start there. Don`t call it a stimulus. Don`t call it anything. If you call it anything, they`ll say they are against the thing.

Just start creating jobs and use what they asked for as the reason to do it. If the Republican opposition is the problem, this is the way around it.

Then Rachel chatted with the "genius" inventor, after which she maintained "You can flummox them by saying, yes -- I suppose, which I think is the basic idea here."

Definitions of "flummox" include "baffle, confuse, bewilder." Rest assured Republicans would respond to this approach with nothing approaching despair or confusion. President Obama's re-election strategy is geared toward securing the support of moderate and independent-minded voters. We cannot "win the future," the President has determined, by antagonizing the GOP or its wealthy base. If someone needs to suffer, to go without, it's going to be liberals, who will have nowhere else to go in November 2012.

Republicans have been through two years of getting most of what they want from the other party, culminating in House Speaker Boehner observing that the debt deal included 98% of what the GOP wanted. They wouldn't be baffled, but pleased, by funding for their pet projects . And then they'll demand more.

Give money to Republican districts, Rachel says, because surely they'll be "flummoxed." Then, with limited funds available and deficit mania sweeping Washington, we can get to projects in districts represented by Democrats. Or not. Because, surely, those Republicans then will admit they were wrong. Or stop promoting "shared sacrifice," sacrifice solely by those without yachts and corporate jets. Or stop calling Democrats socialists and accusing liberals of "class warfare." They will be just oh, so grateful that, having battered and condemned stimulus spending and big government, they will throw in the towel,wve the white flag, and lavishly praise the Administration for its generosity.

There would be no need to set up an infrastructure bank to fund construction projects nationwide. Instead, Rachel Maddow and Steve Benen can establish the GOP Congressional Bank with an ATM earmarked to fund Republican re-election campaigns. Send the money to Michele Bachmann's district and, once she has been eliminated from the presidential race, she can coast to re-election while bragging to her constituents about the jobs she has created. Or, if the Benen-Maddow program has been applied on a wide scale, Republican candidates can boast about the decline in unemployment in GOP-represented districts compared to those represented by Democrats.

Surely, though, congressional Republicans will feel guilty about all of this- they possess, as they have demonstrated, such an acute sense of shame.




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