Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, November 19th, 2010.


Failure Is the GOP’s Only Option

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Obama Administration

There’s movement among House and Senate Dems to force a vote on extending the Bush middle-class tax cuts, defying Republicans to vote against them. And they didn’t do this sooner, why?

If the message the Dems got from the mid-terms is that they have to fight back, then maybe the loss was a good thing. We’ll see. Glenn Thrush at Politico is skeptical that the Senate will actually pass anything, but to get Republicans to vote against a tax cut is an accomplishment in itself.

Elsewhere in Put Up or Shut Up News, Ezra Klein writes that senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) have introduced a bill called the “Empowering States to Innovate Act.”

The legislation would allow states to develop their own health-care reform proposals that would preempt the federal government’s effort. If a state can think of a plan that covers as many people, with as comprehensive insurance, at as low a cost, without adding to the deficit, the state can get the money the federal government would’ve given it for health-care reform but be freed from the individual mandate, the exchanges, the insurance requirements, the subsidy scheme and pretty much everything else in the bill.

A variation of this idea was inserted into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by Wyden and Senator Bernie Sanders (S-Vermont), but it won’t go into effect until 2017, three years after everything else kicks in. The Wyden-Brown bill allows states to have their alternative programs in place by 2014, when everything else kicks in.

The Republican fantasy, of course, is that they can find a “free market” solution to health care reform. What this bill says is “go ahead — try it. Good luck making it work.” It also would allow progressive states like Vermont to enact a statewide single payer system, which Senator Sanders advocates.

This law also would kick the legs out from under right-wing efforts to repeal the mandate and other parts of the PPAC Act. The Republicans are flapping around saying they want to repeal the law and enact “real” reform. So, let them try, I say. Make them take their stupid theories off the shelf and actually try to make them work in the real world. I predict at least some Republicans will resist this idea, because they know in their hearts their theories were never meant to be tried out in the real-world light of day. They’re all just empty talking points, meant to keep the lemmings moving.

It’s that real-world thing that always trips up right-wing ideology. A couple of days ago David Leonhardt of the New York Times published a post that argued the Bush tax cuts were a colossal failure, so why are we talking about extending them? He followed up with another post responding to reader criticism of his data.

Bottom line, any way one measures it, there is no data showing that the Bush tax cuts spurred economic growth, created jobs, or encouraged entrepreneurship. All they did was drain the treasury of revenue. Not that you’ll get a True Believer to admit any of that.

Paul Krugman today writes about Repuplican efforts to stop the Federal Reserve from creating jobs. The only rational answer for what Republicans are doing is politics — it benefits Reublicans if the economy remains stagnant, so the government must be stopped from doing anything that might make it better. It’s all they can do; they can’t succeed, so in order to sell themselves to voters they have to make Democrats fail, too.

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