How Crazy Are They?

Republicans yammered about a balanced budget amendment through most of the 1990s, shutting up only when the Clinton Administration balanced the budget without one. They continued to keep their mouths shut while George W. Bush borrowed and spent trillions of dollars and ran up the Deficit That Could Eat Cleveland. And now they are pinning that deficit on the guy who inherited it and are demanding another balanced budget amendment.

Any respectable economist, meaning any economist not on the payroll of a right-wing think tank, will tell you that a balanced budget amendment would permanently cripple the U.S. economy. David Leonhardt provides a basic explanation why this is so. See also Stephen Foley, explaining our little pickle to British readers of the Telegraph:

[A] balanced budget amendment is terrible economics. It effectively means an end to counter-cyclical fiscal policy: when a recession strikes, the federal government would not be able to stimulate the economy by spending more. Instead, it must cut back at the same time householders and businesses are doing the same, making the recession worse. It could condemn the US to a perpetual recession, a depression even.

Wiser heads tend to regard any balanced budget amendment proposal as a gimmick Republicans periodically use to bash Democrats. “As it is such terrible economics, the tendency has been to assume it cannot pass,” Foley writes. The problem is that after years of such demagoguery, enough ideological zealots have been elected to Congress to possibly make it real, and the American public is brainwashed enough to support it.

Grassroots organisations have been lined up to agitate in support of the plan; Republican governors, including at least two potential presidential candidates, have written in support in the past few days. It could easily become a touchstone issue for next year’s elections, with moderate Democrats not wanting to be seen as weak on cutting the deficit.

Leading to:

After all the drama of last week, Republicans had the chutzpah (or, in Minnesota, “choot-spa,” possibly from Old Norwegian “sjøsltsbÃ¥t,” the act of sniffing reindeer glue) to trot out another hard-right proposal over the weekend that is absolutely devoid of compromise and which is nothing but another Dem-bashing tool. “Cut, Cap, and Balance” was praised as a “common sense” proposal, which in Republicanese means it’s wearing a tin foil propeller beanie and crazypants.

Ezra Klein explains,

It begins with the McConnell plan, in which the debt ceiling is raised three times between now and November, and each time, Republicans are able to offer a resolution of disapproval. Then it adds in $1.5 trillion in spending cuts harvested from the Biden talks. Then it creates a committee of 12 lawmakers charged with sending a deficit-reduction plan to Congress by the end of the year. Whatever they decide on would be protected from the filibuster and immune to amendments.

Ezra doesn’t mention a balanced budget amendment, but they’ve thrown that in as well.

The only bright spot in this mess is that opposition to this proposal can be found across the political spectrum. The teabaggers don’t like it because it gives too much away to Obama. Face it; any raising of the debt ceiling will be seen as a failure and betrayal by the wingnuts, which makes me think the Republicans should just do it and get it over with and think of something else to stir up the mob going into the campaign season.

And, of course, anyone sane enough to not believe pixies are hiding behind the light socket plates is nervous about this, also.

Amy Fried writes that Republicans, as always, justify whatever lunatic thing they are pushing by claiming it’s what the American people want, even when polls say the American people want something else entirely. But, in Republicanese, “the American people” means “large donors to the Heritage Foundation.” If you understand that much, then the rest of it starts to make sense. Sort of.

15 thoughts on “How Crazy Are They?

  1. If we all lived with a BBA, none of us would ever buy a house, a car, pretty much anything. Like most things having to do with economics, Americans are woefully stupid. They view everything in simplistic supply and demand terms. Gas prices are high now because we are driving more. Some what true but mostly, gas prices are high because the futures market is betting that the cost of gas will continue to rise. That’s right, people who probably don’t even drive are driving up the cost of gas. I’m still at the point where they haven’t made a decent argument for why the deficit is that big of a deal. If it’s me and my finances, then maybe that’s a problem, though I think most of us operate with more debt as a percentage of our income than the gov’t does. Plus, I can’t arbitrarily raise my income, as much as I would like to, unlike the gov’t which can.

  2. Thanks for the etymology on that Bachmannism, it nearly made me shoot coffee out my nose.

    Ever since Clinton, my response to the Balanced Budget Amendment has been the same: “I just don’t see why the Republican Party’s inability to do the same bookkeeping that Democrats have shown they can do means we need to amend the Constitution. Maybe the GOP should just take some remedial classes or something.”

    It is pretty ridiculous that they’ve un-crated that dusty old idea at a time when they are actively jumping up and down having their tantrum about not raising a single penny of new revenue, to the point that they’re saying NO to the sweet deals Obama is offering. I mean, they used to kind of keep the fact that it’s really a ‘cut everything the government pays for’ amendment on the down-low. But if we have to balance the budget, and we absolutely, positively can’t get ANY new revenue, the math is pretty clear.

  3. (or, in Minnesota, “choot-spa,” possibly from Old Norwegian “sjøsltsbåt,” the act of sniffing reindeer glue)


    So, with the debt ceiling crisis about 2 weeks away, they want to waste this week debating the insane “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” which they themselve admit has no chance of passing.
    It is, though, aptly named, since it will ‘cut’ all aid to anyone but the rich, ‘cap’ any help to anyone but the rich, and ‘balance’ the budget on the backs of the poor, the middle class, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and women and children.

    Poor dears, they need to work on ‘cut, crap, and unbalance’ for their own self-esteem. It’s been taking a beating, what with anyone with an IQ higher than 3-digit’s calling them every variation of stupid, ignorant, and reckless.

    Where’s Charles Dickens when you need him?
    He’d have a great time making up names for these villians. Like Senator Heratio S. Childsnuffer, Governor Phineas I. M. Teabagger, Congresswoman Ann E. Thinfordarich, industrialist Hugh B. Jobless, FOX News blonde news reader Steph Enfektion, pundit Randover D. D’Isabled. and women’s expert I. B. Forfetus.

  4. The American people want their jobs back, for starters.
    Gonna have to go to China, or some place else for those. They’re not in this country.

  5. Pingback: The ‘Championship Rounds’ of the Debt Ceiling Fight | The Western Experience

  6. “Any respectable economist, meaning any economist not on the payroll of a right-wing think tank”

    Unfortunately most of the yuks that subscribe to the teabagger way only listen to FAUX news and right-wing talk radio. They only hear “expert” opinions that are bought and paid for by the corporate overlords that are playing them like a plastic (made in china) fiddle. It seems the only way many of these folks will learn is to actually experience the devestation that will happen once the teabaggers get their way. Unfortunately us folks that think once in a while will have to suffer right along with them.

  7. Heard this morning – the only reason Americans haven’t taken to the streets to protest the two failed wars in which we’re now engaged is because there is no ‘draft’ in place. The ‘draft’ is what drove us to the streets protesting the Nam War.

    So what will it take for us to take to the streets (our sheer number is our only defense) to protest the rape of the poor and middle class by the influential, wealthy (aided and abetted by their toadies in Congress) 2% of us.

    All our ‘talk,’ in the end, only drives windmills.

    • Heard this morning – the only reason Americans haven’t taken to the streets to protest the two failed wars in which we’re now engaged is because there is no ‘draft’ in place. The ‘draft’ is what drove us to the streets protesting the Nam War.

      There’s some truth in that, but I think the real reason is that huge numbers of people DID take to the streets beginning before the invasion of Iraq, and it made absolutely no difference. Here in New York, the news media establishment completely ignored demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people taking place within blocks of its main offices. After a while, I think people just plain gave up.

  8. Gulag – I discovered William Irwin Thompson decades ago, when I was in college. He was way ahead of everybody else back then. Haven’t heard from him in almost as many years. Didn’t know he was still alive. Thanks!

  9. So what will it take for us to take to the streets

    One round of delayed Social Security checks will get people hopping.

  10. Also, it is the young people of America who need to take to the streets; and, I don’t think the young people have even a clue that they are losing their country. I know my 20-year-old niece has no clue about politics. She only wants to know what’s the newest thing for her to buy despite the fact that she doesn’t have a job. Those of us on this blog probably all believe in demonstrations. Unfortunately, at 65 and two very bad knees, I only dream about the days of demonstrating. I was out demonstrating during the Bush years; but, that’s when I discovered how much my age impacted my abilities. And, as Maha said, it did us little good because the pseudo-MSM refused to cover it. There is historical evidence of Democrats balancing the budget. There is historical evidence of Republicans doing nothing but spending the country into oblivion; but, as we all know rightwingers and our lazy press are not known for their knowledge of much, let alone history. The Republicans are NOT honorable peole; they have NO integrity; they have committed fraud by spending and charging every thing to America’s credit card and now refuse to pay the bill they ran up. If any of us had done that, we would be in jail. If this country is too stupid to not vote for a BBA; then, I think I will just remain retired and do my best to survive.

  11. So what will it take for us to take to the streets (our sheer number is our only defense) to protest the rape of the poor and middle class by the influential, wealthy (aided and abetted by their toadies in Congress) 2% of us.

    Well… something to consider.

    When dealing with Health Care Reform, everyone agrees that it’s important, right? But the fact of the matter is, 70% or so of the people had good health insurance. Hell, call it 60%, and another 15% had reasonable insurance. That’s plenty of people who you can scare, and only 25-30% of the people who will take anything you offer.

    Similarly, unemployment is at 9% – call it 9.5%, to avoid worrying over tenths – and underemployment takes it up to, what, 20% or so. But that’s still 80% of the people who can see things getting worse, but are kinda-sorta okay with what they have.

    So, there’s still plenty of room to scare people, and not enough people who see a need for action.

    But the other side of it is that there’s no real energy direction people either.

    I’ve been on a kick about this, about liberal folks providing political cover, so feel free to ignore me here, but here is what I haven’t been hearing.

    I haven’t been hearing lots and lots of liberals pointing out that *everyone* knows that when demand is low, and the fed rate is 0, the government should spend big on infrastructure and such to improve demand.

    Now, I mean, doing stuff like that in the same way the right wing does. If a TV show has an expert on who says that cutting spending and getting the deficit under control is important, I haven’t heard liberals organizing letter writing campaigns pointing out that *everyone* knows better than that. I haven’t seen ordinary, common folks called out as fools for going back on that tired old discredited idea that one should cut spending in a recession.

    I’ve seen more people angrily denounce Obama for buying into that damn-fool idea, than I’ve seen just criticizing the idea itself. Well, criticizing Obama for trying to buy into a damn-fool idea isn’t awful in and of itself, but it’s not enough. Yelling at a potential ally doesn’t generate change; repeating the statement until it takes over conventional wisdom does. And then, once “everyone knows” that spending for stimulus works when monetary policy won’t, then the next time, we’ll have a better chance at winning the battle.

    (Hopefully, there won’t be a next time for a long time. We really need to get deficit and debt under control soon!)

    That is what I’ve been thinking about when I’ve been talking about how Republicans control the messaging and the media. Even if people think the Republicans have gone overboard on taxes, at the very least, a Republican gets a pass for holding the line because it’s well known that the rank and file demand it.

  12. Bonnie, I joined the “two bad knees” club this year, the doctor says I’m too young for knee replacements, so I guess I’ll have to grin and bear it ’till my working years are over (or something).
    It appears we have been an empire for about a quarter century or so.
    A study of British history is in order, as we seem to be on that same path.
    “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains
    And the women come out to cut up what remains
    ‘jes roll to your rifle and blow out ‘yer brains
    and go to ‘yer Gawd like a soldier!”
    OR, as Sonny and Cher sang, “the beat goes on”.
    The ONLY thing that will make change is a general strike by the billions, and billions of “consumer units” the world over; taking to the streets is like a child stamping his feet and holding his breath.
    Where ever the US military goes, the Bank of America is sure to follow.

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