When you think about the job that intelligence officials have to do in order to keep us safe, it is somewhat mind-boggling. You need to find people who are plotting to attack America, either here at home or abroad, and then you need to intervene in that attack. Hopefully, you’re able to intervene early enough to prevent any loss of life. You can’t intervene too early or you would be arresting people for thinking. Yesterday, Jose Pimentel was arrested and charged with plotting to detonate bombs in New York City. This alleged terrorist supposedly sympathized with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim militant killed in a predator strike several months ago.
I’ve been listening to this debate over the budget for weeks. I have followed every stop-gap spending measure. I saw the Tea Party rally where participants were chanting, “shut it down (referring to the government).” We have seen House Democrats reduced to nothing more than lapdogs. Lines were drawn in the sand by both sides. Dire predictions were made by the media, by Democrats and by Republicans. One of the major sticking points was the level of cuts which needed to be implemented. Needed to? Planned Parenthood (signed into law by Nixon and championed by Barry Goldwater) was on the chopping block. The whole process was dizzying and nauseating. Both sides had excesses. I guess, after all the smoke is cleared, someone needs to declare victory and I just don’t think it was the American people.
The American people need a government that works. We need a government that protects the environment and that sets up economic rules that don’t allow big business to run over small business and abuse customers. We need a government that protects us from terrorism and from foreign invaders. We need a government that provides a safety net for the most vulnerable among us. I’m not sure that this deal actually helps strengthen our government or our economy.
Republicans successfully argued, just several months ago, that raising taxes on the rich, in the middle of a recession, would hurt our economic recovery. Their arguments had some merit. In theory, raising taxes could cause the rich to spend less. The problem, in a recession, is that people are already spending less. You need people to spend more. It is that spending that stimulates business which will in turn stimulates the economy. Yet, when it came to government spending, which also stimulates the economy, Republicans successfully argued that we needed to cut the budget. We need to cut $38 billion out of the budget (this was the final compromise). John Boehner stated last night, “we fought to keep government spending down because it really will in fact help create a better environment for job creators in our country.” What? How does that make any sense? Government spending equals 25% of our economy. Therefore, cutting government spending would also hurt our economy in the middle of a recession. How is this a good thing?
Both president Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid seem to be rejoicing over these budget cuts. The president stated that these were the largest annual cuts in our history. Why is this a good thing? I think I would feel differently if these cuts were making the government more efficient.
Maybe the Political Animal said it better:
Consider it this way: on Feb. 3, just nine weeks ago, the House Republican leadership unveiled their spending-cut plan, which would have cut $32 billion for the remainder of the fiscal year. They acknowledged that this was far less than they’d promised during the campaign, but additional cuts, they said, were unrealistic. Democrats, at the time, thought this level of reductions was outrageous, and they were right. Indeed, the leadership’s plan was considered so severe, one report referred to the proposal as “the GOP Chainsaw Massacre.”
What’s more, the $32 billion offered by the GOP leadership two months ago was their opening bid. They expected to compromise from there, and their plan included no policy riders at all.
It seems ridiculous now, but if Democrats had, on that very day, accepted the House Republican leadership’s spending cuts right there on the spot, it would have been a better deal than the one we ended up with last night.
Of course, whether Dems agreed to $32 billion in cuts or $38.5 billion in cuts is only part of the larger dynamic here. At a more fundamental level, the question that mattered most — with a weak economy and high unemployment, who’s bright idea was it to scrap public investment and take billions out of the economy? — was never even asked. Because Dems flubbed the debate from the outset, the entire discussion ignored job creation, leading to a fight that boiled down to “a lot of cuts vs. a whole lot of cuts.”
I realize Dems were left in an untenable position: allow a shutdown that would hurt the economy or accept spending cuts that would hurt the economy. Republicans, and the voters who mistakenly gave Republicans considerable power and influence, came up with the misguided agenda and relied on a hostage strategy that tends to work for them.
But those realizations don’t change the relative strength of the deal, or lack thereof. I’m glad the shutdown was averted, but I’m trying to think of a way to defend the budget agreement on the merits, and nothing comes to mind.
The Errington Thompson Show will look at, discuss and dissect meteorites, volcanoes, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, the state of the financial sector, the progress of the financial bill in the Senate, taxes and the tea partiers. We are happy to welcome from the popular blog, Jack and Jill Politics, Rikyrah. Join me this Friday for some fun, entertaining and progressive discussion at 6 PM (EST).
GREAT show. If you missed it, I’ll have the podcasts up later.