Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do Right-Wing Parties, Representing Corporate Special Interests And Great Wealth, Really Have A Legitimate Role In Modern Governance?


In an op-ed at the National Post this weekend, Republican David Frum worries that "while most Americans struggle with economic hardship, the American political elite engages in high-risk political games that put at risk not only the U.S. economy, but global security."

In his desperate quest for leverage in an unending right-wing battle to wreck the social safety net, Boehner is pushing the U.S. into what Frum calls "its third artificial fiscal crisis in as many months."
The first artificial crisis was the so-called “fiscal cliff”: the expiry of many tax cuts at the end of 2012. The second artificial crisis was the debt ceiling: the U.S. government bumping against its borrowing limit this month. The third crisis is the looming “sequester”: a law passed in 2011 to mandate big, automatic spending cuts if the two parties cannot agree on a deficit-reduction package in March.

The first two crises were averted, more or less, by last-minute compromises. On the third crisis, the sequester, Republicans are vowing, “no concessions.” They are demanding that Barack Obama meet their terms in full: a budget for 2013 that contains only spending cuts, no additional tax revenues at all-- or else they will allow the sequester ax to fall.

The sequester ax is sharp. It will cut government spending in the next fiscal year by 0.5% of GDP and continue to chop deeper and deeper over the decade ahead, until an alternative budget deal is reached. A half a point does not sound like much, until you remember that the U.S. economy is growing at a rate of barely 2%.

...This is no way to govern a great country. Actually, this is a mode of government by which a great country may rapidly cease to be a great country. A political elite obsessed with its own feuds and rivalries is ignoring genuine economic and security problems. Out of its own animosities and ignorance, it repeatedly has created utterly unnecessary crises that only aggravate America’s genuine problems.

Twice, the political elite averted the crisis at the last minute. Let’s hope they do the same this third time. And then the rest of America should ask: Isn’t it time to find leaders who see their job as making things better, not worse?

On Friday, President Clinton, who no one with a straight face can accuse of being anything but an economic and fiscal conservative-- albeit a "mainstream" one-- warned House Democrats that the siren song of Austerity being pushed by the Republican Party and by the special interests behind it (and behind too many Democrats) is a dead-end. He almost sounded like a refreshing mash-up of Bernie Sanders and Paul Krugman. “Everybody that’s tried austerity in a time of no growth has wound up cutting revenues even more than they cut spending because you just get into the downward spiral and drag the country back into recession." Just ask increasingly unpopular David Cameron, as he ushers Austerity-plagued Britain into a triple-dip recession.
Democrats should oppose dramatic cuts to federal spending at a time of sluggish economic growth, former president Bill Clinton told House Democrats gathered here for their annual retreat Friday.

"Here's the dilemma: we do have a long-term debt problem, but that doesn't mean that austerity now is the right response," Clinton said, adding that Republicans only support austerity measures "when Democrats are president." An affirmative plan on how to spark job creation and growth is a more powerful argument to the public than the GOP's advocacy for spending cuts and downsizing government, he contended.
Remember, Paul Ryan-- the godfather of Ayn Rand-style Austerity-- was a physical fitness trainer spotted by corporate special interests to carry their message. That is his only credential as an economic policy wonk, a title the Beltway media has bestowed on him for no apparent reason. Joseph Stiglitz, on the other hand, is a Nobel Prize-winning economist. He has pointed out exactly why Ryan is full of crap and why his crackpot schemes and "budgets" should be ignored, if not laughed at in derision. Last week Stiglitz repeated it, in the simplest of terms, for viewers of Chris Hayes' MSNBC show:
What sustains particularly the American economy is consumption, and the people at the top spend on consumption a smaller fraction than those at the bottom... So when you move money from the bottom and the middle to the top, overall spending gets constrained, and that weakens the economy... In 2010, 93% of all the gains went to the top one percent. With that kind of a recovery, not a surprise that we’re not going to have robust demand, and without robust demand, we’re not going to have a robust recovery... People invest when there’s a return. And there’s no return if there’s no demand, if you can’t sell your goods.
It amazes me that Members of Congress actually let their narrowly ideological partisan dogma get in the way of understanding something so clear and simple. But that's what I meant when I implied in the title that there is no legitimate role for rightists in modern democratic governments, other than as whatever function should be assigned to special interests lobbyists.

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At 8:11 AM, Blogger gcwall said...

The game that the republicans are playing is very close to sedition. They appear ready to let the economy tank in order to have talking points for 2014.

Conservative movement rationalizations are nothing more than fantasies rooted in greed and more exploitation. They refuse to see the danger of limited resources and economic instability to move power into their corner. Their game may not be actual sedition, but the result of their game will not be a win for America.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

And I thought the right wing's purpose was to put an end to modern governance. You can see it as early as the 17th century in Sir Robert Filmer's apology for monarchism, the Patriarcha, against which John Locke wrote his Two Treatises of Government.

Come to think of it, as an economist, Paul Ryan makes an excellent physical fitness trainer...


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