Thursday, June 14, 2012

Obstructionism- And Sabotage

Last year, we had the Gas and Oil Party engineering a downgrade of the nation's debt.      It was not to cut taxes, or cut spending, or reasserting some vague notion of traditional American values.     The money already was authorized and spent and, refusing to honor our debts probably would have violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.    But that was of little concern to the GOP, which persisted. successfully prompting one of the  ratings agencies to downgrade the nation's credit status.   So on August 11

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans.

Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

The statement seems likely to bolster one Democratic line of attack, that it was tea party intransigence — not a shortcoming of leadership by President Barack Obama — that is to blame for the U.S. downgrade, from AAA to AA+. Obama himself called on Republicans to “put country ahead of party” Thursday — a dig at conservatives in Congress who are blocking his agenda.

In retrospect, there were two chances- fat and slim- the Gas and Oil Party would do that.

On June 13, Dick Polman summarized the political history of the last three-and-a-half years when he explained

The Republicans' 2012 election strategy is perversely brilliant: Sabotage President Barack Obama's job-creation efforts, then blame him for the wreckage. This strategy was in action the other day, when Mitt Romney assailed Mr. Obama on the stump. Mr. Romney said that "with America in crisis, with 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn't put forth a plan to get us working again."

Mr. Romney conveniently omitted the fact that Mr. Obama put forth such a jobs plan last autumn. The American Jobs Act would have put as many as 2 million construction workers, cops, teachers and firefighters back to work -- so said economic forecasters -- if only congressional Republicans hadn't dynamited it.

Yes, sabotage was required. Republicans knew their prospects for beating Mr. Obama would be damaged if they signed on to a plan that got more Americans working again. They're far too invested in economic misery to let that happen. As Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell candidly remarked in 2010, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president"....

What's fascinating about Mr. Obama's sabotaged jobs bill is that he tried to attract Republican support by packing it with Republican provisions. For instance, some GOP senators had come up with the idea of creating jobs repairing America's decaying infrastructure through an independent, privately bankrolled fund. A good idea, but once Mr. Obama embraced it, the Republicans naturally deemed it a bad one.

So goodbye, construction jobs. Goodbye also to the funds that would have saved the jobs of 30,000 teachers who have since been laid off by financially strapped states. And goodbye to other Republican provisions, such as slashing payroll taxes for small businesses and allowing them to fully expense new investments. Better for the Republicans to simply reap their sown seeds and blame Mr. Obama for the jobs deficit.

Convinced they haven't done enough damage to the economy, the Republicans are not giving up.    The Olympian of Olympia, Washington editorializes

Democrats and Republicans reached bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate on a transportation spending bill that would send $44 million next year to Washington state for construction on roads, bridges, rail and public transit, creating an estimated 30,000 jobs.

The bill merely approves the current transportation spending appropriations, which expire at the end of June. If the bill isn’t passed by the House, $109 billion in federal money for highway projects over the next two years would dry up and scuttle projects ready to go, and pull the rug out from under thousands of construction workers nationwide.

After last week’s weak jobs report, you’d think our national leaders couldn’t wait to pass a bill that puts so many Americans back to work. And if U.S. senators reached bipartisan support, what’s the problem?

Two words: House Republicans.

We could wait before addressing the nation's infrastructure or we can do it now, when short-term interest rates are near zero, unemployment remains high, and spending by the public sector is critical to replace the spending absent from consumers or the private sector.     As with oil filters, we can pay it now- or pay it later.

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